Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
And here's the full roster.
Most Recent Comments
A Look at John Buck (1)
THT Fantasy has moved to Rotographs (4)
THT Roundtable: How seriously do experts take mock drafts? (21)
Player-A-Day: Tim Lincecum (3)
Player-A-Day: Josmil Pinto (5)
All content on this site (including text, graphs, and any other original works), unless otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
THT's Fantasy Archives
Monday, June 29, 2009
Our own Alex Zelvin recently opened up the doors to a website called Daily Baseball Data, which has some cool tools for fantasy players to use. Over the weekend, he unveiled a new feature called Bullpen Usage Reports. As fantasy owners are constantly trying to gauge bullpen situations, this tool should become very useful. If you haven't yet, check it out.
Posted by Derek Carty at 2:52pm
CitiField will make for an incredibly interesting case study at the end of the season. During the preseason, while some said it would play as a hitter's park, the raw data seemed to suggest that it would play as an extreme pitcher's park. ESPN's Tristan Cockcroft recently discussed the situation to this point in the season using data from our good friend Greg Rybarczyk of HitTracker. Tristan noted that Citi has robbed hitters of 36 balls that would have been homers in Shea Stadium.
Earlier today, however, our own Dave Studeman noted that the Mets have actually hit more homers at home this year, giving it a very simple home run park factor of 1.12 — meaning that it inflates home run totals. Accounting for the robbed balls, the park factor for Shea this year would be an insane 1.74. Shea usually played as a pitcher's park, so something is amiss here. I don't have much to contribute to the discussion at the moment, but I think this is very noteworthy and worth bringing to everyone's attention.
The moral of the story: don't jump to conclusions about Citi just yet. My guess is that it will eventually be declared a pitcher's park, and what we're seeing now will be some sample size shenanigans, but we really can't say anything for sure yet.
Posted by Derek Carty at 2:38pm
As I'm sure you've heard, Mark DeRosa has been traded to the Cardinals for Chris Perez and a PTBNL. I discussed bidding on him in NL-only leagues earlier today, and I believe Paul Singman is putting together an article tomorrow to discuss the trade in more detail. Quickly though, it seems that both players will receive a boost in value. DeRosa is moving to the friendlier National League (albeit in a little tougher park for home runs) and will be batting cleanup for a very good team (he's sandwiched between Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick).
Chris Perez probably becomes next-in-line for saves in Cleveland, where incumbent Kerry Wood hasn't been very good at all. Rafael Betancourt will be in the mix when he returns from injury, but that is still probably a few weeks away. Unfortunately, the tougher set of batters Perez will face and his inability to harness his control could take him out of the saves picture soon. He doesn't look like a great short-term bet, but he should be owned in AL-only leagues anyway — at least for now.
Posted by Derek Carty at 2:30pm
Over the weekend, the St. Louis Cardinals shipped reliever Chris Perez (and a PTBNL) to the Indians for the everywhere-eligible DeRosa. The question many NL-only leaguers will be asking themselves this week is, "How much should I bid on Mark DeRosa" (or its close cousin, "Should I use my waiver priority on DeRosa?").
While DeRosa is a solid player, he's a far cry from a guy like Manny or CC. At this point, FAAB dollars are generally running low, and putting in the necessary bid to win DeRosa will all but eliminate a team from the competition to acquire any future league-switchers.
So what's an NL-only leaguer to do? There's no clear-cut answer, as is often the case in fantasy baseball, but there are some factors to consider that can lead us to a sound decision.
The DeRosa Factors
Note: All dollar amounts mentioned are on a $100 scale. Adjust as necessary to your specific league.
The league's normal "big bid": What does a big bid look like in your specific league? Did Adam Rosales go for $28 or just $8? Did Chris Coghlan top $30? This will determine, in part, how much you'll be bidding on DeRosa and other league-switchers. Holding all else constant, the smaller the required bid, the more favorable bidding on DeRosa is. Also keep in mind that the normal "big bid" will change throughout the year as teams start running low on cash. Evaluate your own league as need be.
My team's remaining FAAB: How much FAAB does your team have left? If you're following Scott Swanay's FAAB schedule I copied in my early season article on FAAB, you might only have $20 or $25 left right now. If you're low on cash, I would consider a bid unfavorable. While aggressive bidding is encouraged, leaving yourself with only a couple bucks to spend over the final 55 percent of the season will surely cause problems for you. If you have a medium or high total, I would consider a bid favorable since you will, at the very least, have some money left over to spend on hole-plugging role players the rest of the way.
Minimum bid: Does your league allow $0 bids, or is $1 the minimum? If it allows $0 bids, consider a DeRosa bid favorable since you can still acquire fill-in players even if you end up running out of cash.
Is FAAB tradeable?: If it is, a bid would be more favorable since you could still realistically acquire more, even if you run low.
Other teams' remaining FAAB: Perhaps the most important factor. If there are several teams with a lot of money left to spend, or a few teams who at least have you covered, a bid on DeRosa would be very favorable. Sure, it'll take you out of the running for subsequent league-switchers, but were you even in the running to begin with if Team X still has $90 left and is saving up for just this occasion? Make your bid now, and if you win DeRosa, great. If you don't, at least some team will have less FAAB the next time around. Waiting could be catastrophic if teams have a lot of FAAB left. You'll bid $35 on the guy who comes available next and Team X will bid $55.
My team's needs: Does this player fill specific needs or is it simply a value bid? Both are valid reasons to bid, but fantasy owners must always remember that the ultimate goal is to win the league, regardless of what shape that takes. If DeRosa fills a specific need for you, a bid is more favorable than if he would simply be a trade chip, especially as we get closer to August and the end of the season (and since owners will temper their offers with the hope they can land a better player via FAAB in a couple of weeks).
Who will he be replacing: This goes hand-in-hand with the previous factor. The worse your current player is, the more favorable a bid becomes. You're certainly not going to bid $30 on a guy if he's only going to be a marginal upgrade. In DeRosa's case, because he can play so many positions, he's likely a sizeable upgrade for just about every team in the league at some position.
How much work does my team need?: Would your team be better served with one big player (like DeRosa) or by acquiring a greater quantity of less-talented role players over the next month and a half? The less work it needs, the more favorable a bid is.
Quality of other potential league-switchers: Who else could be switching leagues this year? Is there another Manny coming, or will the remaining players simply be solid contributors in the DeRosa mold? Plus, we must consider the fact that we have no idea which players will actually be traded, much less whether they'll be traded into the NL (as opposed to an AL team dealing with another AL team). While there probably won't be anyone of Manny or CC's caliber this year, there are some appealing guys like Matt Holliday and Jermaine Dye, as well as some DeRosa-level guys like Aubrey Huff, Brad Penny, Jhonny Peralta, and Mark Teahen.
Unless you feel like you have enough money to make a serious run at a guy like Holliday, I'd say it's a pretty favorable year to make a bid on DeRosa. There's no guarantee who else will be traded or when, and getting DeRosa now will offer more value than a guy like Huff will in a few more weeks (not to mention the fact that bidding will improve your chances of ultimately ending up with someone instead of being left out in the cold).
Quantity of other potential league-switchers: Even if there aren't any superstar league-switchers, simply having a lot of them would drain FAAB funds and would likely make for some bargains later on. This factor should be considered in conjunction with the remaining FAAB of the other teams. Overall, though, I would lean towards bidding on DeRosa rather than waiting. Even if a lot of guys do get traded over (far from a sure thing), you'd likely have to wait until the end of July for the bargains and miss out on a whole month of production from DeRosa.
Standings fallout: Consider who the top pursuers will be and ask yourself this question: if DeRosa lands on another team, would it be the worst thing in the world? Maybe the 9th place team really needs a middle infielder, has a lot of money to spend, and is bunched up in home runs with a few teams who are near the top of the standings overall. If he were to win DeRosa, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. It would drain some FAAB from the pool and take some points away from your competitors. Just make sure to weight this against the likelihood that said team actually wins DeRosa and compare against how DeRosa would directly help your team if you were to win him.
What are your trade options?: While many would rather give up FAAB than talent for a quality player, others may not have that luxury. Or perhaps it would actually be cheaper to trade for a slumping hitter who will produce similar numbers to DeRosa (Garrett Atkins, maybe?). Every league will differ, but this is an option that should at least be considered.
If you evaluate all of these factors within the context of your own league, hopefully you will have a pretty clear decision laid out for you — or at least you won't be completely bidding in the dark. As always, feel free to send any comments or questions to me via e-mail or the comments section below.
What do you guys think? Did I miss any factors that you consider? What players could be switching leagues that would have an impact on your decision?
Posted by Derek Carty at 12:00pm
Jacoby Ellsbury had a huge 33 games in a 2007 call up and even made a great showing in the 2007 playoffs, but has yet to match those numbers since. He has been given many comparisons to other players, including Fred Lynn, Johnny Damon and Ichiro Suzuki. So far though he has fallen short in different ways, like batting eye or power. This leaves him in a dangerous position and looking dangerously more like Juan Pierre.
Name GP AB R HR RBI SB CS K% BB% BABIP HR/FB P/PA Jacoby Ellsbury 69 282 37 3 24 31 6 9.9% 6.6% 0.327 3.6% 3.8 Juan Pierre 67 229 37 0 24 18 6 7.9% 6.9% 0.357 0% 3.5
This season Ellsbury has shown improvement in his contact rate. His career strikeout rate is 12.9 percent, but he has been at or below 10 percent almost all season. Looking at his career he has a 13 percent strikeout rate in the lead off spot in 764 at-bats, but a 10 percent rate in any other spot in the order with 183 at-bats. This is still a small sample size, but may be a sign for the Red Sox to keep him at the bottom of the order.
However, the problem hasn't been strikeouts so much for Ellsbury, but the lack of walks. He has been extremely consistent with his walk rate, which is at only 6.8 percent in his career. This has always been a problem, and contributed to his OBP dropping to .336 last year. A reduction of his strikeout rate this year has pushed his OBP back up to .354. That isn't great, but for a bottom of the order guy with speed it doesn't hurt.
Unfortunately, the power has disappeared this season for Ellsbury as he has seen his HR/FB go from 10.9 percent in 2007 to 7.3 percent in 2008 and now 3.6 percent through 278 at-bats this year. This used to help differentiate him from Pierre. If he can't reach 10 homers, he starts to look like a one or two category guy and his value drops.
Ellsbury also hasn't been able to keep his BABIP as high as Ichiro's. While Ellsbury had a BABIP of .388 in limited time in 2007 year, his career BABIP is just .327. Ichiro's career BABIP is .358, resulting in better averages and OBPs.
Pierre is a well known entity at this point. He holds value in fantasy leagues for his batting average and steals, but in real baseball his value is limited. Now that teams are catching on, he has come to be a bench outfielder unless injuries strike. With Manny Ramirez out for a drug suspension he has seen plenty of at-bats and produced as we have come to expect.
In every season since 2001 Pierre has stolen 40 bases, scored 87 runs (except last year) and his career batting average is .301. He is as consistent as the come, but so is his walk rate. His career rate is 5.8 percent and this year's 6.9 percent is his highest since 2003 with the Marlins.
Power is the category where Pierre falls behind Ellsbury. Pierre has never topped three homers in a season, while Ellsbury hit nine in 2008 and has three so far in 2009. Pierre should be able to find full time at-bats as long as Willy Tavaras and Michael Bourn can get starting jobs. Unfortunately, that won't happen on the Dodgers now that Manny is back, and according to this LA Times report there is no interest in moving Pierre, so he will be dead weight to your team for the remainder of the year.
So being compared to Pierre doesn't make Ellsbury a bad fantasy option, but it certainly won't help him with the Red Sox. They are almost the same player, with a slight boost in SLG (about 30 points) for Ellsbury. Pierre's value will continue to fluctuate with his playing time, and his situation in Los Angeles, where he is behind both Ramirez and Andre Ethier, doesn't look good for now. Ellsbury has a firm grip on a starting gig, and is on pace for 60 steals this year, and should provide solid fantasy value going forward. If he could ever gain a few points in his walk rate he could head back to the top of the order and be an elite lead off man, but for now he's relegated to Pierre comparisons.
Posted by Troy Patterson at 1:49am
This is Page 1 of 1 THT Fantasy Focus pages