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Wednesday, June 03, 2009
As I suspected earlier this evening following the Nate McLouth trade, Pirates top prospect OF Andrew McCutchen has been called up. He'll start tomorrow night. Go get him NL-only leaguers. Mixed leaguers, show some restraint unless you're going to try and spin him off immediately.
Posted by Derek Carty at 8:09pm (0) Comments
First big trade of the year. Pirates OF Nate McLouth has supposedly been traded to the Atlanta Braves for prospects P Charlie Morton, P Jeff Locke, and OF Gorkys Hernandez (h/t Rotoworld). This is great news for Brandon Moss owners (like me in LABR NL!) as he no longer has to worry about being replaced when the team decides Andrew McCutchen is ready. Nyjer Morgan's playing time is also secure now, and this improves the short-term value of OF Craig Monroe and OF Eric Hinske.
It also could mean that a McCutchen promotion is upcoming. I'd grab him in all NL-only leagues but only in the deepest of mixed leagues where you're desperate for steals. With the emergence of Morgan, he almost certainly will not lead off and may only provide real value in one category.
As for the Braves situation, Gregor Blanco looked like he would be starting with Jordan Schafer demoted, but now he'll have to settle for a fourth outfielder/platoon role.
Posted by Derek Carty at 6:31pm (0) Comments
The Braves have released SP Tom Glavine and will promote top prospect Tommy Hanson to start on Saturday (h/t Rotoworld). All NL-only leagues in which he's not owned, get him now! He should also be stashed in all but the most shallow mixed leagues. This will likely wreck the short-term value of SP Kris Medlen, who is moving to the bullpen. He could put up good numbers in relief for NL-only leaguers, so don't drop him yet. He could move back into the rotation if Javier Vazquez or someone gets traded.
Posted by Derek Carty at 6:28pm (0) Comments
The Angels are apparently seriously contemplating sending Howie Kendrick to the minors. If they were to do this, they'd have a few options:
1) Replace him with Sean Rodriguez
2) Move Chone Figgins to 2B and let Brandon Wood play at 3B
3) Let Maicer Izturis start at 2B
My money would be on Sean Rodriguez, who has nice power for a 2B and also has a little speed. AL-only leaguers need to stash him now, and deep-ish mixed leaguers should keep tabs.
Posted by Derek Carty at 4:07pm (0) Comments
David Gassko informed me that he's recently made some tweaks to the LIPS formula, so here are updated numbers to account for them. The list is pretty similar with a few changes.
LIPS ERA Top 25 (through 6/2/09)
+------------+----------+----+------+------+----------+-------+------+-------+--------+ | LAST | FIRST | GS | IP | ERA | LIPS ERA | K/9 | BB/9 | xGB% | IF FB% | +------------+----------+----+------+------+----------+-------+------+-------+--------+ | Greinke | Zack Z | 11 | 82.0 | 1.10 | 2.77 | 9.66 | 1.32 | 44.33 | 3.94 | | Santana | Johan | 11 | 72.0 | 2.00 | 2.83 | 11.13 | 2.63 | 32.79 | 11.48 | | Lincecum | Tim | 11 | 71.7 | 3.01 | 3.13 | 11.43 | 2.64 | 45.90 | 2.73 | | Vazquez | Javier | 11 | 70.3 | 3.58 | 3.16 | 11.00 | 2.05 | 45.30 | 3.87 | | Peavy | Jake | 12 | 74.7 | 4.10 | 3.20 | 10.13 | 3.13 | 40.64 | 4.28 | | Halladay | Roy | 12 | 91.0 | 2.77 | 3.26 | 8.11 | 1.19 | 55.94 | 2.68 | | Haren | Dan | 11 | 78.0 | 2.42 | 3.30 | 9.00 | 1.15 | 40.39 | 2.96 | | Verlander | Justin B | 11 | 69.3 | 3.63 | 3.36 | 11.68 | 2.60 | 31.58 | 2.92 | | Harden | Rich | 8 | 43.7 | 4.74 | 3.37 | 10.92 | 4.33 | 38.53 | 9.17 | | Weaver | Jered D | 10 | 68.7 | 2.36 | 3.40 | 6.95 | 2.36 | 33.16 | 7.65 | | Hamels | Cole | 9 | 48.3 | 5.21 | 3.42 | 9.31 | 1.86 | 43.48 | 2.90 | | Johnson | Randy | 10 | 52.0 | 5.71 | 3.63 | 9.35 | 3.29 | 46.21 | 3.45 | | Hernandez | Felix A | 11 | 71.3 | 3.41 | 3.67 | 9.08 | 2.52 | 49.76 | 2.44 | | Johnson | Josh | 11 | 74.3 | 2.66 | 3.68 | 7.75 | 2.18 | 54.98 | 2.84 | | Slowey | Kevin | 11 | 68.0 | 3.97 | 3.70 | 6.49 | 0.93 | 34.63 | 5.63 | | Jackson | Edwin | 11 | 74.3 | 2.30 | 3.74 | 6.90 | 2.18 | 36.28 | 6.05 | | Scherzer | Max M | 10 | 54.3 | 4.47 | 3.85 | 9.44 | 3.64 | 43.14 | 2.61 | | Oswalt | Roy | 12 | 69.3 | 4.28 | 3.91 | 7.14 | 2.47 | 41.23 | 5.69 | | Lester | Jon T | 11 | 65.3 | 5.65 | 3.92 | 10.19 | 3.31 | 45.16 | 2.15 | | Bedard | Erik | 10 | 60.7 | 2.37 | 3.92 | 9.05 | 2.67 | 41.72 | 4.29 | | Baker | Scott S | 9 | 52.7 | 6.32 | 3.94 | 6.66 | 1.71 | 29.07 | 8.14 | | de la Rosa | Jorge A | 10 | 54.7 | 5.43 | 3.97 | 9.38 | 4.28 | 43.92 | 4.05 | | Gallardo | Yovani | 10 | 65.0 | 3.18 | 3.98 | 9.00 | 3.32 | 43.68 | 2.30 | | Richmond | Scott | 9 | 54.0 | 3.50 | 3.99 | 7.33 | 3.00 | 41.25 | 4.38 | | Pavano | Carl | 11 | 63.0 | 5.29 | 4.01 | 7.14 | 1.86 | 46.23 | 3.52 | +------------+----------+----+------+------+----------+-------+------+-------+--------+
Also, there was a good comment that I think should be given more attention: "Does this mean I should pickup and stash Blanton and De La Rosa?" The answer is "No, not necessarily." What LIPS ERA gives us is a luck-neutral indication of how well a pitcher has performed so far this year. It is a much more solid indicator than ERA, but it is not the be-all-end-all. Just because Edwin Jackson has a 3.74 LIPS ERA right now does not mean he will post a 3.74 ERA going forward.
What we're looking at right now is a 65 (or so) inning sample of a player's true pitching ability. This sample is relatively small in the grand scheme of things and should not be the only thing considered. To better estimate a pitcher's true ability, we need to look at a larger sample — i.e. his performance in previous years. While LIPS ERA is much more stable than actual ERA, it is still prone to small sample size caveats.
As an example, let's say you go to a restaurant and have an awful meal. While the restaurant may truly be an awful one, we can't say for sure after one single meal. Maybe you go there another five times and have really good meals. The more times we go to the restaurant, the more accurate we will be when we talk about the overall quality of the restaurant. If we simply judged it by any single meal, though, the chances of being wrong would be relatively large.
If we roll a six-sided die twice and it lands on '3' both times, are we going to say that this die is more likely to land on '3' than any other number? Of course not. The sample we're basing this on is too small. If we roll that die another thousand times, I can assure you it will land on each number about evenly.
The same logic applies here. Right now in 2009, we're looking at one meal (or one die roll). For the guys on the list, it's a very good meal, but one meal nonetheless. It's certainly better than if it were a bad meal (or a bad LIPS ERA), but we still need more to go on before we make any definitive assertions. A lot can happen over 65 innings. For those who followed CAPS in the off-season, we see that a lot can happen with a pitcher's peripherals over the course of an entire season.
One thing to keep in mind is for leagues where you can stash players on your bench. In this case, even though Carl Pavano may not be a true 4.01 ERA pitcher, it might be worth holding onto him to see if he is. Maybe his true talent level has changed and we just don't know it yet because the 'meals' that will tell us this haven't happened yet — they'll be happening throughout the rest of the season.
Hopefully this helps put things into better perspective for everyone.
Posted by Derek Carty at 12:12pm
I firmly believe that daily fantasy sports contests are a better investment than the stock market. Actually, I should clarify that. I firmly believe that for someone who has had an overall winning record in daily fantasy sports contests, they are a better investment than buying and holding a portfolio of stocks in the future. Obviously, fantasy contests of any sort are not a good investment for losing players. And other than in cases where sites offer "freerolls" or "overlays" to generate new business, daily fantasy contests will be a negative sum game for the "average" player, while the stock market is probably a positive sum game.
So what exactly am I saying? I’m saying that daily fantasy contests have lower variance than buying and holding a portfolio of stocks. That means that your past results give you a much better idea of whether you’re making good picks in daily contests, and that your future performance will be a lot more consistent. If you’re a winning player, you can count on a much higher percentage of winning days, months, and years than in the stock market, and the downswings should be much smaller relative to the growth of your bankroll.
To make any kind of fair comparison, we need to set up some parameters. For the stock market, I’m talking about a portfolio of U.S. common stocks. The best comparison to that in the daily fantasy world would be playing a bunch of heads up contests each day, with similar (but not identical) lineups. Each day, each stock may go up or down. The various stocks in the group will show moderate (but far from perfect) correlation with each other in their daily performance. Each day, you may win or lose each fantasy baseball contest. Your results in each contest on the same day will show moderate (but far from perfect) correlation with each other.
Let’s look at stocks first. What percentage of days will my portfolio of stocks go up? I don’t have the data available, but I suspect it’s around 50.5%. What percentage of months? I’m going to guess around 52% or 53%. Years? This one I actually remember reading about … the U.S. stock market has gone up in 57% of years. That’s an old statistic, but probably still not far off.
How about fantasy contests? What percentage of days will I come out a winner? Let’s assume that I’m a very good player, going up against average competition. I’d guess that I’m coming out ahead at least 55% of the time. If that’s the case, and I’m playing almost every day, what percentage of months will be winners? I think estimating 75% is conservative. Years? Again being conservative, I’m going to say 90%. I suspect the actually number is above 95%. Even the best stock pickers would have trouble getting that kind of results.
Assuming that I’m right about these percentages, the question is why this would be the case. Do daily fantasy contests have some characteristics that the stock market lacks that make them easier for skilled players to beat? I think they do. And I think that those characteristics have to do with what makes markets of all sorts more or less "efficient." Here are the three factors that I think going into creating an inefficient, or easily beatable market or game:
New markets: Daily fantasy contests have only been around for about two years. Most of the people who will ultimately be most successful at them probably don’t even know they exist yet. The stock market has been around for hundreds of years, and many of the best and brightest people spend their lifetime studying how to select stocks that will be winners. In other words, daily contests provide weaker competition.
Closed markets: Each daily fantasy contest is a "closed market" in the sense that entry is limited to a fixed number of participants. Once two people are entered in a heads-up contest, nobody else can enter that contest. That means that sometimes you’ll find yourself in a contest against only weak participants. In the stock market, stronger "competitors" can always get involved.
No Scalability: The size of "bet" that can be made in each fantasy contests is limited. Each participant in a $33 contest can only invest $33 in that contest. In the stock market, "bet size" is theoretically unlimited. That, combined with the openness of the markets, means that a single person with unlimited funds and omniscience can theoretically remove ALL of the inefficiency or profit opportunities.
On a separate note, I'd like to invite readers to take a look at the new site I launched this week in conjuntion with Dave Hall of Rotoguru. The site is Daily Baseball Data, and will showcase a variety of tools for players of fantasy baseball formats that use daily transactions. The initial three tools are:
1. MLB Weather Dashboard - Hour by hour forecasts for all games displayed on one screen.
2. Batter vs. Pitcher Report - Showing history of matchups for all of the day's games.
3. Sortable Statistics - For a variety of daily transaction contest formats.
Posted by Alex Zelvin at 2:18am
Let's start with some quotes...
Part of Vazquez's inability to win at home so far can be attributed to hard luck, but part of it can also be explained by his tendency to be victimized by one bad inning.
Vazquez's problem has been one bad inning, usually the fifth or sixth.
He holds the patent on the Really Bad Pitch and is currently litigating for trademark rights to the term "One Bad Inning,"
This time, Javier Vazquez didn't have reason to be frustrated about that one bad inning that doomed him courtesy of a number of soft singles.
Javy has three quality pitches, but the one thing that has got him into trouble this year is just one bad inning, a hiccup. ... When he avoids that, he has been dominant.
Javier Vazquez had that one bad inning syndrome thing we had heard so much about when he came over here, though, like Frenchy said, it wasn't like they hit him hard or anything.
Vazquez has a reputation as a “1 bad inning” guy. Now, I have yet to find anyone who has actually studied his game lines to see if he’s prone to clumping his hits and walks together (producing more runs than expected for that numbers of hits/walks), but it’s at least logically possible, and given his reputation, it’s worth investigating.
On Monday, I talked about why I believe Javier Vazquez will be one of the top pitchers in baseball this year. A couple commenters were less than convinced, saying that even with the improved peripherals predicted by CAPS (and which he is currently displaying), he still may not get to that elite level. I pasted an excerpt from commenter Mark above, essentially summarizing what so many sportswriters have been saying for years. Today, I'd like to examine whether or not this is actually true of Vazquez or if it is simply incorrect conventional wisdom that has developed into a sort of conformation bias each time it happens.
To test the validity of the claim, I used the ever-useful Retrosheet to examine Vazquez dating back to 2004. There were a couple different ways to tackle the problem, but I went with what Mark suggested—how often Vazquez bunches hits and walks (and HBP) together, "producing more runs than expected for that numbers of hits/walks."
To define "bunching," I'll say that it is any inning in which Vazquez allows more hits and walks than his WHIP would indicate. As almost every pitcher posts a WHIP between 1.00 and 2.00, every inning in which he allows two or more runners will be examined. In my calculations, I broke things down by the percentage of time Vazquez allowed at least two, three, four, five, six, and seven hits and walks in an inning.
[For those really interested, I made sure to use the number of instances in which a pitcher started an inning, not his total combined innings for the year (i.e. when a pitcher is taken out after recording just one out, this counts as a full inning for our purposes).]
In addition to testing Vazquez's numbers, I also ran the numbers for league average. I wanted to test a group of pitchers with similar peripherals to Vazquez as well, but I couldn't quite get it done in time. I may post those results in the future, though it's entirely possible they don't differ too terribly much from league average.
If you'd like to see the results for each year individually, click here.
Overall, the results don't lend too much weight to the arguments that Vazquez is prone to bunching his hits and walks together. He has been better than average in allowing two, five, and six H/BB innings and below average at three, four, and seven H/BB innings, but not by a whole lot (he also never allowed more than seven, while some pitchers allowed as many as 11). In addition, there doesn't appear to be any recognizable year-to-year trend. He was almost exactly league average in 2004 and 2005, terrific in 2007, and poor in 2006 and 2008.
The fact that he is below average in the three and four H/BB innings might lead us to believe that this is what sportswriters are seeing, but what we're really looking at is just 0.7% more three- and four-runner innings than league average. That comes out to 1.5 innings per season (assuming 210 innings pitched). Plus, in the really damaging five- and six-runner innings, he's a bit better than league average.
The net result of his 2004-2008 work is actually the bunching of 1.6 fewer hits and walks than league average per 216 inning appearances (his average number pitched since 2004). If you want to exclude the innings with two hits and walks (which are much less likely to end in runs scoring), he would still only be bunching 5.4 hits and walks more than league average. Exclude the three H/BB innings? Drops to 5.1. Hardly seems condemning, and although it would be useful to see what similarly good pitchers are doing, I think it's relatively safe to say that Vazquez isn't some super-magnet for quick, sudden blow-ups.
More likely, I'd wager we're seeing at least some degree of confirmation bias. After all, a full 16 percent of Vazquez's innings have resulted in three or more hits and walks. That raw percentage is pretty high. While this comes with the territory for all pitchers, because Vazquez has such a reputation for it, it gets noticed and pointed out much more often when it happens to him.
I may delve a little deeper in the future, but for now, I think this should definitely give us something to think about. At the very least, it means we shouldn't rule out the possibility that he'll pitch like an ace for the remainder of 2009. In fact, I think it makes it a little more likely.