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THT's Fantasy Archives
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
While nothing in Khalil Greene's first season as a Cardinal has gone right so far—having lost his starting job, getting DL'ed for a social anxiety disorder—there is now a glimmer of hope for the 29 year old shortstop's season as the Cardinals are going to send him back down to the minors to learn third base, the position he played in college (h/t Rob Neyer).
Greene most likely was not going to be able to win back the starting shortstop job from Brendan Ryan, but as long as the Cards do not go out and acquire a new third baseman, Khalil has a decent shot of winning playing time at third over the disappointing Joe Thurston and coincidental last name sharer Tyler Greene.
In NL-Only leagues Greene is worth keeping an eye on when he returns to the majors as he could begin playing like his 2007 self, when he blasted 27 home runs.
Posted by Paul Singman at 6:39pm
Yesterday, Brewers infielder Casey McGehee had three hits for the second straight game. With 12 hits in his last 21 AB, McGehee in eight days has raised his BA from .265 to .357.
It won't last. McGehee's BA is now 60 points above his highest previous BA at any level. His career-high BA is .297, posted in 2005 at Double-A. McGehee did bat .296/.345/.429 last year in Triple-A, at age 25. But in line with his minor-league history, he struck out twice as often as he walked, whereas thus far with Milwaukee he has 10 BB to 12 K. He has inconsequential speed (1.6 SB per 162 games in the minors).
Heater lists McGehee's "True" batting line as .257/.318/.378, and we rank him as the 18th-best NL second baseman in predicted OPS. Obviously, he'd rank a bit lower at 3B. With only 70 AB to his name, his BA could plummet quickly with a cold streak, so start dangling him.
Posted by John Burnson at 10:29am (0) Comments
It’s been almost four years since I first tried to devise a defense-independent pitching metric that incorporated batted ball data. I was inspired, then, by Voros McCracken’s articles on DIPS, both the original where he showed that pitchers appear to have little control over the results of balls put into play against them, and his follow-up, where Voros examined various improvements that could be made to DIPS, one of which was to incorporate batted ball data.
For years, I’ve been tinkering with various ways to do just that. The first incarnation of this statistic I called DIPS 3.0 (since Voros had already released two versions), but since I’ve switched to LIPS, which stands for “Luck Independent Pitching Statistics.” See, in my research I have found that not only do pitchers have little control over the results of their balls in play, but they also have little control over the number of home runs they allow, outside of their flyball or groundball tendencies. I repeat: Outside of forcing ground balls, an ability by the way, which is very persistent, there is little a pitcher can do to prevent home runs.
In light of this, we must re-assess Voros’ spectrum of what a pitcher can and cannot control. Rather than giving a pitcher credit for his strikeouts, walks, hit-by-pitch, and home runs and ignoring everything else as Voros did, we want to give him credit for his strikeouts, walks, hit-by-pitch, infield flies, outfield flies, and ground balls, while ignoring or adjusting everything else. At this point, we are not just removing defense from the equation, but luck itself, which is why I eventually changed the name of my statistic from “DIPS 3.0” to “LIPS.”
So how do we calculate LIPS? It’s a complicated process, one which has undergone many revisions, so in the interest of making it clear to all, I thought I’d show you through an example, using Rich Harden as my guinea pig (note that I haven’t updated my database in about a week, so these stats are a bit dated):
That’s the basic process. OK, I understand that it’s anything but basic, but I hope my explanation was simple enough for all to follow. Every step is based on thorough research, a lot of which you can read in The Hardball Times Annual 2007 if you so desire, but otherwise you’ll have to take my word for it. LIPS takes the luck out of pitching statistics better than any other such stat I’ve ever read about, and that’s why we use it so often here at THT Fantasy.
If you have any questions, fire away in the comments section and I’ll try to answer them as best I can.
Posted by David Gassko at 3:30am
If you’re lucky enough to be near the top of the standings in your league, you probably haven’t spent a lot of time considering those who are unfortunate to be near the bottom. But you should.
Last week, on subscription Website BaseballHQ, Ron Shandler posted a column entitled: “How to make enemies and influence pennant races.”
In the piece, Shandler talked about going into the 2009 season in one of his expert keeper leagues with a strategy to punt the year in the interest of rebuilding for 2010. Heading into the draft this year, he only kept players whose contracts would be desirable the following spring. During the draft, he built a large reserve of high-ceiling prospects. And when things didn’t go exactly as planned to start this season, he e-mailed the league to let everybody know that his best players, including Carl Crawford and Ryan Howard, would soon be dealt for attractive keepers.
Dump trades can be an irritating but inevitable aspect of keeper leagues, but Shandler took things a step further: After receiving some offers, he then upped the ante by sending out another e-mail that publicized in full detail all of them—inviting league members to step up to the plate and win the competition for his players with full knowledge of what everyone in the league was offering.
Unfortunately, in many fantasy leagues and particularly in keeper ones, those who are out of competition can, as Shandler’s column title accurately puts it, influence pennant races.
Not every hard-luck team is a rabble-rouser like Mr. Shandler either. Some can shake up the competitive balance of the league in more subtle ways.
Consider the team who falls out of competition, loses interest, and fails to make basic lineup adjustments like replacing an injured player in the active lineup. That team’s neglect may amount to free points and standings gain for some teams who under normal circumstances might languish.
Other teams may do things much more drastic like cutting a good player out of spite.
In short, any team that loses hope becomes prone to irrational roster moves, rash trading behavior, and unbecoming conduct that dampens the competitive security of those who are in the lead.
Successful teams need to take time to consider how to deal with the less fortunate.
In some instances, this requires, yes, charity.
If I’m doing well enough in the standings and I see a player on waivers who I can’t use, but I know this player might help one of the struggling teams, I might tactfully point it out to the team. (Besides, a good player that’s added to the last-place team’s roster doesn’t get taken by your nearest competitor.)
Also, I try not to go into trade negotiations with a struggling team with the idea that I’m going to rip them off and rob them of any competitive hopes. First, being generous makes a potential deal more likely. Second, the strategy raises the bar on negotiations between the struggling team and other competitors. And lastly, I want to mitigate the risk that a struggling team’s further performance decline becomes beneficial and advantageous to other teams.
Sometimes, however, being nice won’t do the trick.
Some stubborn teams have given up hope and wish to have some fun and excitement at the expense of others. What to do? Challenge their pride? Organize some sort of collective action against the trouble-maker? Sink to their level and become the beneficiary of the league’s king-maker?
It often depends on circumstance.
In Shandler’s case, he is, no doubt, a rabble-rouser, but at least he’s got his team at heart.
If I’m playing in his league, I don’t ignore him. Being non-cooperative can only result in ending up as the loser. Dealing with Shandler becomes the only choice.
Playing Shandler's game by Shandler's rules, however, is a completely different story. In next week's column, I'll be delving into some classic game theory to try to figure out a strategy that counters Shandler's gambit.
Posted by Eriq Gardner at 3:02am (16) Comments
Once again, we're looking for the online fantasy leaguer with the most aggravating Monday. Each weekly winner gets a year of Heater Magazine. The winner with the lowest score for the season gets a free copy of the 2010 Graphical Player, coming out in December. (Our debut winner, and current season leader, put up -4.5 points.)
Entering's a snap:
2. Put Worst Monday in the subject line along with your Monday point total.
3. Attach a screen shot of your roster and their points scored for Monday. (You can paste the screen shot in a Word document and attach that.) We need the screen shot—don't spell out the tallies in the email.
4. Add brief biographical material.
We'll sift through the entries and announce the winner on Wednesday. Let's hear from all you owners of Dave Bush, Carl Pavano, and Barry Zito! Counselors are standing by....
Posted by John Burnson at 3:00am (2) Comments
Normally we post a full roster and give advice based on what we see. But let's cut to the chase this time.
One reader writes an e-mail with the subject line: "Dear Lord Do I Need Help."
I question why this reader is asking for my divine help after he clearly has cut a deal with the devil. How else to explain a roster comprised of this All-Star injury list: Jose Reyes, Josh Hamilton, Carlos Quentin, Joey Votto?
The reader asks: "So, I have six bench spots and five of them are occupied by players on the DL with no set timetables on when they may return and then there is Denard Span, who seems to have wandered into the same Mystery Spot that Votto did and so one can only imagine when he will resume playing. I know that 3/5 of my starting rotation is rather mediocre at best and would like to improve it, but what I can realistically expect to get back for any of the players currently on the DL?"
Personally, I wouldn't give much for any of these players—too much risk involved—but I'm betting you'll still get a decent return. At very least, you should be able to get a starting pitcher who has struggled out of the gate, but whose fortunes may rise. According to data, players like Quentin and Hamilton have recently netted pitchers like Jon Lester, Roy Oswalt, John Lackey, Rich Harden, Francisco Liriano, and Josh Beckett.
We see that Jose Reyes and Joey Votto are commanding a bit more. Maybe it's because teams expect them back sooner. Regardless, these players have been netting pitchers like Dan Haren, Cole Hamels, Carlos Zambrano, Josh Johnson, and even Johan Santana.
With this many injuries, in a weekly H2H league, it's imperative to deal quickly and upgrade where you can. Put all your injured superstars on the block, announce you want to trade at least two of them for great pitchers, and take the best offers. Sit on the remaining superstars and hope you can squeak by in time for a playoff push.