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Tuesday, June 09, 2009
As a quick note, I'll be appearing on the Fantasy Baseball Roundtable Radio Show tonight at 10:30 PM EST (about 30 minutes from now). It was a last minute invite to help fill in for someone who won't be able to make it, so sorry this is coming a little late. Feel free to listen in if you would like.
Posted by Derek Carty at 8:53pm (0) Comments
The White Sox have called up their top pitching prospect and first round pick from 2007 Aaron Poreda from Double-A. It was Poreda himself who first broke the news, writing the following on his Facebook page:
This is the biggest day of my life... I'm goin to Chicago, the big leagues, and I ain't never goin back!!!!!
Poreda is a large left-handed pitcher who was having a great year in Double-A with a 2.16 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 58 innings for the White Sox affiliate. On a less positive note he also allowed 32 walks over that span and has never thrown a pitch in Triple-A or the majors before.
What his role will be on the White Sox is still unclear; he will either take the fifth spot in the rotation from Bartolo Colon or be assigned to a bullpen role. He should only be considered in deep AL-Only leagues and only in those leagues if he does indeed start.
Posted by Paul Singman at 3:00pm (0) Comments
Brad Lidge has been placed on the DL. His replacement will be Ryan Madson, who needs to be picked up in all league formats if he's unowned. I talked about the risks of Lidge here a few days before Buy on the Rumor went live, so hopefully some of you read back and stashed Madson.
Posted by Derek Carty at 1:26pm (0) Comments
This week, it's THT Fantasy's turn to host the Fantasy Baseball Roundtable. Thanks go to Eriq Gardner, Eric Hinz, and Michael Lerra for helping to put this question together:
Is there ever a time when you 'Buy High' or 'Sell Low' on a player (interpret the meanings of those two phrases as you wish)? Choose a player who you would currently 'Sell Low' (i.e. David Ortiz, Garrett Atkins) or 'Buy High' (i.e. Michael Young, Raul Ibanez, etc.) and give us your sales pitch for that player. If, for example, you're trying to trade Ortiz, how would you market him to the other owners in your league? Finally, what is the minimum requirement you would accept in a trade for the player you selected (or the maximum you would offer in the case of a 'Buy High' player')?
Jon Williams - Advanced Fantasy Baseball
This is a great question. If I must do one or the other, I would prefer to ‘Buy High’ rather than ‘Sell Low.’ I guess I would rather ride out a hot streak than wait for a player to come around. I think it is just as likely that a Raul Ibanez has an unexpected great season as David Ortiz continues to have a miserable one. However, before I bought Ibanez, I would kick all the tires at least twice.
Ibanez spent the last few years of career playing at Safeco Field one of the better pitcher’s parks in the American League. This season he moved from that difficult situation to much more favorable one at Chase Field. He moved from an okay at best lineup in Seattle to a killer lineup in Philadelphia. This all gives me reason to expect to see some improvement.
Ibanez’s strikeout-rate, walk-rate, and BABIP are about the same as always so nothing to worry about there. He is hitting a few more groundballs and fly balls but fewer line drives, but he’s mostly in his career ranges here as well. Ibanez’s production looks very real to me so I would be willing to offer what it takes to get a top outfielder who is probably priced very well in NL-only leagues. I would be okay with offering a solid outfielder and a top prospect to a re-building team, or a solid starter, or an extra closer (assuming I had one) if trading pitching for a bat was an option.
If I had to sell David Ortiz, I would have done it after he hit his first homerun. I would mention his consistent production as a Boston Red Sox. I would note that he began slow last season and still finished as a productive player. I would mention that Dave Magadan has found a mechanical problem with his swing (he was holding his hands lower than usual to start his swing), a problem that Ortiz believes he has finally addressed. I would also wish you luck.
Patrick Cain - Albany Times Union
This idea of Buy High/Sell Low is very much how I approach players, as I treat players like stocks. Whaaaat? you might say. The old notion of buy low, sell high is flawed. From a stock stand point its very difficult to do; for each Warren Buffet you have 10 broke schmucks. There's a reason stocks go down, it's because they stink. Baseball players aren't much different. It's really hard, with the information available to fantasy managers, to determine what is a good buy low opportunity. Yes, occasionally we'll strike gold and pick up CC Sabathia or Roy Oswalt early in the 2008 season. But for each of those starts in decline, there are people mired in a bad season or in the declining phase of their career.
Buying high is relative. Right now there is no person flying higher than Zach Greinke. Let's say he was valued at like $20 in the preseason and now he's worth $50. Buying high doesn't mean paying $51. It means paying $30. He's not going to end the season with a sub 1 ERA (I think). But he's also not going to become a pumpkin (I think, again).
I think buying low is just playing with fire. Right now Ortiz is playing like a $2 player. But you're not getting him for $2. You're probably not even going to get him for $12. Whoever owns a slumping guy, believes in said slumper. Or, that is, he probably believes a lot more than you do.
If I was trying to get rid of a guy mired in draught or a collapse, I'd move him in a package. That way the owner feels like their risk is diversified. He'd get not only Ortiz, but also Ibanez. That way you set them up with base of stats and get them dreaming of what could be. But guess what, it won't be. It simply won't.
Brett Greenfield - FantasyPhenoms
I consider a "Buy High" a player who is exceeding expectations, yet has the ability to sustain such a high level of production. On the other hand, a "Sell Low" is somebody who is underachieving but, for example, because of age or lack of lineup protection could continue to underachieve. It isn't often, but there are times when buying high or selling low make sense.
This year, Adam Jones has started off scorching hot. I say "Buy High." He was the main cog in a deal that sent Erik Bedard to Seattle a few years ago. Bedard had come off of a Cy Young-like season and Jones was the Mariners best prospect. Jones hits in an ideal spot in the Orioles lineup. This spot is similar to the spot that Shane Victorino was put in when he broke out for the Phillies in 2007. Jones is sandwiched between Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis, two quality, proven fantasy studs. After them, lies Aubrey Huff, Melvin Mora and the potential of Matt Wieters.
Currently batting .359, Jones' average is certain to drop. He only hit .270 last year, but is seeing a better selection of pitches this year because of where he's batting second. A .290 - .300 AVG is possible. After hitting only nine homers last year, Adam has already hit 10 and should easily surpass 20 at this rate. Jones is on pace for over 100 runs scored and over 100 runs driven in. If I had to choose one to stick, it would be the runs scored. It seems likely that he'll score 100+ runs, while the RBI are likely to come back down, but 80+ is possible. Somewhere between 15 and 30 stolen bases seems like a realistic number for him to steal. He was 7-7 this spring in stolen bases, yet has not attempted many so far during the regular season. Expect his to steal more bases in the near future. Fifty percent of Jones' hits have gone for extra bases, limited his opportunities to steal.
Jones is only 24 years old and is quickly becoming a five-tool fantasy stud. Despite batting .359 and on pace for 140 runs and 117 RBI to go along with 36 homers, Jones is the ultimate "Buy High."
If I were to try dealing for Adam Jones I would have no problem parting with someone like Alex Rios, BJ Upton or Matt Kemp. You might even be able to get something else thrown back along with Jones in exchange for one of the aforementioned hitters.
Mike Podhorzer - Fantasy Pros 911
Yes, there is absolutely a time to "Buy High" or "Sell Low" on a player. In fact, I think this type of strategy may be a lot simpler to execute than the mythical "Buy Low" and "Sell High" trades that are nearly impossible to make in leagues with any bit of competitiveness. Though his 6.60 ERA will undoubtedly come down, I would sell Francisco Liriano low. His skill set has changed dramatically since his pre-TJ Surgery days and he now looks like a slightly better than league average pitcher at best, with little upside or potential to post a sub-4.00 ERA like his owners counted on.
The great thing about Liriano is that he still carries much more name value than other pitchers who have performed just as poorly. It would be easy to point to Liriano's strong second half of last season and convince a league mate that he is buying low and Liriano's value can't fall any further. Point out that he is still only 25 years old and as he moves further away from TJ Surgery, he should continue to gain strength and improve, leading to another strong second half. In addition, a 7.7 K/9 is still above average and could help any fantasy team in the strikeout category.
The minimum pitcher I would require in a straight up deal for Liriano would probably be someone like fellow buy low candidate and rotation mate Scott Baker. Though I would definitely expect to get more than Baker, in terms of projected future value, he would be acceptable. The hitter would depend on my positional and categorical needs, but based strictly on value, I would say someone like Jose Lopez or Kelly Johnson.
Tommy Landry - RotoExperts
First off, never get high before managing your fantasy team, unless you like the nickname "Bob" (a.k.a. Bottom of the Barrel). That goes for buying OR selling.
But seriously, I am never one to go out and pursue a guy who is already playing like an All-Star, unless I think his ceiling is still much higher than what he has done so far. Unfortunately, it is rare that you'll find a taker in that situation without seriously overpaying. In the case of selling low, I have been known to have the occasional fire sale in hopes of landing a replacement guy who I think is due to come out of a slump himself. This is where you can achieve some nice profit. You start by highlighting extended slumps that the player-to-be-dealt has endured in the past and sell it as the same thing. Then you show all the big chinks in the armor of the guy you secretly covet. Typically, I like to do this with players of different styles - e.g. dealing away a "stick a fork in him" power slugger for a speed guy who just healed up from a lingering hamstring problem. You can really harp on the hammy issue in this case, meanwhile playing up the "his walk rate is still great, his contact rate has to get better, and look at all the doubles he hit last week" angle for the slugger.
Of course, you have to draft a bust to have someone to sell low, and I'm risk averse to the point that I wouldn't have taken a guy in severe decline like Big Papi before the tail end of any of my drafts this year. Then again, I'm sitting on Rafael Furcal in two leagues waiting with baited breath for him to "come around". I might be waiting a long time.
Posted by Derek Carty at 2:01am (8) Comments
Last week, I talked about selling players low.
One of big reasons why many people in fantasy leagues need to start selling low is because it's getting more tough every day to sell high and buy low. A few years ago, even after the publication of Michael Lewis' "Moneyball," a smart fantasy owner could steal players who were the victims of poor luck and had inflated ERAs or depressed batting averages. Not anymore. Jon Lester may have an ERA over 5, but if you make an offer for him, the other owner has likely seen all the notes about a high BABIP and low FIP.
The days of assymetrical information in the fantasy baseball marketplace are just about over, perhaps leaving successful owners in pursuit of new strategic edge towards success.
Well, almost over.
For whatever reason, I've found that many in fantasy leagues hate to think about the category of runs, even though almost all leagues count this category, and success in the category has been demonstrated in many statistical studies to show the highest correlation with overall success in fantasy baseball leagues.
Everyone looks at BABIP these days, but what about xR, or expected runs?
Indeed, by using an xR formula developed by Jim Furtado and later shown on this website to have good correlative merit, we can plug this year's numbers to see which batters are getting lucky and unlucky on the runs front.
First, the unlucky bunch. Here are the 10 batters whose peripheral stats indicate they should be scoring more runs:
Name/Actual Runs/Expected Runs/Difference
Ichiro Suzuki / 23 / 37 / +14
Adam Dunn / 30 / 44 / +14
Prince Fielder / 35 / 48 / +13
Carlos Ruiz / 8 / 20 / +12
Russell Branyon / 33 / 44 / +11
Carlos Lee / 28 / 39 / +11
Victor Martinez / 37 / 47 / +10
Lyle Overbay / 20 / 30 / +10
Albert Pujols / 44 / 54 / +10
Shin-Soo Choo / 33 / 42 / +9
Next, the lucky bunch. Here are the 10 batters whose peripheral stats indicate they should be scoring fewer runs:
Jimmy Rollins / 34 / 20 / -14
Willy Taveras / 33 / 22 / -11
B.J. Upton / 36 / 25 / -11
Jerry Hairston / 34 / 24 / -10
Rafael Furcal / 29 / 19 / -10
Dustin Pedroia / 45 / 36 / -9
Emilio Bonafacio / 30 / 21 / -9
Orlando Cabrera / 28 / 19 / -9
Jody Gerut / 20 / 11 / -9
Fred Lewis / 33 / 25/ -8
Some people may object to this assessment of runs based on the notion that the category is a context stat, indicative of a manager's decision about lineup position and the strength of a team's offense.
Of course, some of that might be true. The formula does weight for the number of at-bats, but doesn't measure the strength of a players' teammates. Still, players in good lineups and poor ones populate both lists. Luck can certainly be a factor in run production.
We'd also point out as we did a month ago that many people in fantasy leagues offer or consider a trade in consult with a league provider’s player rater. Runs certainly get weighted in the calculation of a player's value on these raters so it may help to know some context.
Posted by Eriq Gardner at 1:55am (1) Comments
The day is Saturday in a Head-to-Head league and you are tied with the team you are playing against in wins. This is a great situation to add a pitcher for just one day to make a spot-start to increase your chances of winning the category. Let's go through a few of the criteria that you should go through when selecting the spot-start pitcher perfect for you.
The overwhelmingly most important thing to weigh is the spot-starting pitcher's skill. LIPS ERA, True ERA, xFIP—whatever measure of pitcher's skill that works for you is the overriding factor. But if there are two or more pitchers available that have about the same level of skill, there are some tiebreaking factors that should next be taken into account.
Almost everybody takes into account the lineup the pitcher will face, which is smart because there is a better chance a pitcher gives up more runs against a better-hitting team. Another thing most people account for is how well the pitcher has pitcher in his last few starts. Even though small sample size alerts may be going off in a few people's heads, The Book does show that hot streaks for pitchers do exist to an extent.
Although relatively unimportant compared to the other criteria used to evaluate spot-starting pitchers, many people also are influenced somewhat subconsciously by the team of a pitcher. There is something unjustifiably more enticing about adding a Dodgers starter than a Nationals one.
Admittedly, some merit exists in considering the pitcher's team since we are looking for a win and a Dodgers pitcher is definitely more likely to get the "W." Still, I would put it at the bottom of the list because there is another tiebreaking factor few people look at that has a much bigger impact on whether your pitcher comes away with the win: The opposing pitcher.
My theory is that it takes a little more effort—and by effort I do not mean eight minutes and running a mile, but 30 seconds and a couple extra clicks with your index finger—to find out the starting pitcher for the opposing team and that is why so few factor it in even though it can have a tremendous impact.
Sometimes it will not matter because the opposing pitchers for two potential spot-starters are about equal. Other times however, one pitcher will be facing Doctor Roy and the other Jamie Moyer. Clearly, you want the guy countering Moyer and not Halladay, as this will have a huge impact on whether your pitcher gets the win.
Overall though, the spot-starting pitcher's skill is by far the most important factor and can override all of the others. When two pitchers are close in skill, then you can start looking at secondary and tertiary factors. For a reminder of their order of importance:
At the beginning of the article I made the context for needing a spot-start from a pitcher a daily updated, Head-to-Head league, but really I could have made it any type of league. Spot-starters are necessary in all league formats, just in some more than others.
Any factors you use that I forgot to mention? Let me know in the comments.
Posted by Paul Singman at 1:50am
Player Pool: Mixed
No. of Teams: 12
Scoring for Batting Categories
Walks: 1 point
Caught Stealing: -2 points
Hitting for the Cycle: 20 points
Errors: -2 points
Hit by Pitch: 1 point
Strikeouts: -1 point
Runs: 1 point
RBI: 1 point
Stolen Bases: 2 points
Total Bases: 1 point
Scoring for Pitching Categories
Walks Issued: -1 point
Blown Saves: -7 points
Complete Games: 10 points
Earned Runs: -1 point
Strikeouts: 1 point
Losses: -10 points
No-Hitters: 50 points
Quality Starts: 5 points
Saves: 8 points
Shutouts: 10 points
Wins: 15 points
Active Players 14
Reserve Players 6
Active SP 4
Active RP 1
Brian McCann (C)
Miguel Cabrera (1B)
Aaron Hill (2B)
Jorge Cantu (1B, 3B)
Ryan Theriot (SS)
Andre Ethier (OF)
Nick Swisher (1B, OF)
Ben Zobrist (2B, SS, OF)
Prince Fielder (1B)
Dan Uggla (2B)
J.J. Hardy (SS)
B.J. Upton (OF)
Chris B. Young (OF)
Dan Haren (SP)
Ted Lilly (SP)
Jonathan Papelbon (RP)
Max Scherzer (SP)
Javier Vazquez (SP)
Jair Jurrjens (SP)
Hiroki Kuroda (SP)
Jason wrote to the Roster Doctor concerning a mild headache (he's trying to see if he can upgrade his bench). However, I am going to abuse my authority as Roster Doctor of the day to address the patient's overall corpulence (his league's strange scoring system) as well.
Scoring systems, like beer, are matters of taste and not ethics: I don't like shaking the "thou shalt not" stick at league's preferences. That said, with so many empty Coors Light cans on your league's floor, I can't help but feel that maybe we can do better (PBR?). There are some stats that are clearly gimmicks, like no-hitters, hit-by-pitches, cycles, and (somewhat) shutouts. Scoring stats like these provide for some added entertainment but are mostly luck driven. They're also hard to equate to any kind of "true" baseball value. As a manager, I'd take two home runs or two one-hitters rather than a home run and a triple (extend accordingly to a cycle) or one no-hitter. But cycles and no-hitters are rare enough events that they're not worth upsetting things over.
More importantly, as Jason himself noted in the e-mail, his league heavily rewards power batters and pitchers that get wins. I like that the league includes walks (which are not counted in total bases) and total bases instead of home runs. Using total bases smooths the scoring system out. Doubles and triples are better than singles (everything else equal) but worse than home runs.
On the pitching side of the ledger, however, there are a lot of dis-continuities. Instead of innings pitched, the league rewards quality starts and complete games. So there's little difference between going six innings and giving up three runs versus going eight innings and three runs. Going eight innings and giving up four runs gives many fewer points, despite the same ERA! In general, there is too much emphasis on luck-driven stats like wins and not enough on better (though imperfect) measures of pitcher quality like hits allowed.
Anyway, on to your roster. Ideally, what you'd like is to put Zobrist into your middle infield somewhere (probably for Theriot) and upgrade your outfield. Perhaps you can trade Theriot or Uggla to someone in your league who needs insurance or an upgrade in the middle infield (perhaps Jose Reyes' owner, for instance). Young has value, though obviously it is only for his upside. Opinions differ sharply on him as to how much upside he really has anymore. He might be a small chip to throw in on a trade. Given that you're waiting on Upton as well, maybe replacing Young with Aaron Rowand (whom you wrote was available) is something you should consider.
I like your pitching staff. I would not replace Kuroda as I think he'll be a source of quality starts and wins. Instead, if you're thinking of dropping a pitcher for either Rick Porcello or Josh Outman, then I might think about Scherzer. However, I probably wouldn't pull the trigger for either.