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Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 8, Vol. III (13)
The Roto Grotto: targeted z-scores (4)
Strength of schedule: Adjusting pitcher values (7)
The daily grind: 5-23-13 (6)
Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 8, Vol. II (4)
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THT's Fantasy Archives
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Icons of the International League
Matt LaPorta is one of the game's top power-hitting prospects, despite his somewhat disappointing 2009. LaPorta's prime is coming on fast, and his strong plate coverage and natural home run swing are too much to ignore. He still has the ability to turn into a superior middle-of-the-order hitter, and he is one of my very top fantasy breakout players for 2010.
Scott Sizemore finally lived up to his skill set in 2009, blossoming into one of minor league baseball's best second basemen. His combination of power and speed really stands out, leaving his ultimate upside at an elite level. In his prime Sizemore could produce 20 home runs, 20 steals and a .280 batting average; and his prime may not be that far off. Place Sizemore on your 2010 fantasy watch list.
Wade Davis has an above-average and varied repertoire that could catapult him to the top of Tampa Bay's rotation in the near future. But, if that is his upside, his control, which is already suspect in the minor leagues, needs a makeover. Davis doesn't dominate as he should, but the light switch could go on at any point, as his prime is approaching quickly, and that could solve his control issues and turn him into one of the game's top pitching prospects.
Michael Bowden doesn't stand out as a blue-chip heat thrower, but he has all the makings of a strong middle-of-the-rotation type that combines sometimes brilliant control with average stuff. Bowden's ability to control the strike zone projects well to the big leagues, but carving out a spot in Boston's 2010 rotation will be a difficult task.
Prime Prospects of the Pacific Coast League
Alcides Escobar brings gold-glove leather to the ballpark, and, frankly, it's too good to be wasted in the minor leagues, which Milwaukee realized halfway through August. What is most impressive about Escobar's swing consistency is that it has improved at every stop he has made up the minor league ladder. But if he wants to be an exceptional major leaguer, his plate discipline and patience will have to make similar strides.
Brett Wallace has the makings of an above-average major league third baseman, but, as most of you know, I'm not overly excited by his upside. He has a consistent swing, with solid contact ability combined with displayed plate patience. He can be a .300 hitter, but I'm just not sure that he has the home run power to take his game to the next level.
Neftali Feliz has an elite, electric fastball that he had issues controlling early in the year. But he soon found his groove, and his year culminated in a terrific major league stint in Texas' bullpen. No one will deny Feliz's stuff or ability to miss an opponent's bat, but it is certainly fair to question his secondary offerings and endurance. And when it comes right down to it, Feliz may be best coming out of the bullpen.
Bud Norris sneaked up on most people in 2009, when in fact he should have been on everyone's radar screen heading into the year, as evidenced by his year-to-year improvement since his 2007 full-season debut. He finished his season in Houston enjoying a successful major league debut, solidifying his 2010 rotation spot. With further development, Norris' curveball could be one of the game's best.
Posted by Matt Hagen at 6:20am (1) Comments
The fantasy postseason can be long, very long—especially if you, like me, are stuck listening to the Yankees' postseason games on the radio. Their broadcasters have nothing more than shtick. If I had a TV right now (long story), I would prefer to listen to Joe Morgan; his wrong-headed theories only grate when I actually pay attention to them. John Sterling doesn't even work as background noise. The Mets' performance on the field may have been low comedy, but at least their radio and TV announcers gave us something closer to high art.
A more satisfying baseball fix is to start readying for next year's fantasy season. Even if you are planning on following your lifestyle guru's advice and taking a few weeks or months off from baseball, there are a few things that may be best to do right now to help you for next season. Even if you won your league, there's always room for improvement, and looking back at your past is as important as scouting for the future. Next spring, the foregone trades and free agents that you avoided may not be as fresh in your mind. Here are some steps for self-assessment.
1. What strategies did you use?
Try to recall why you did what you did during the draft or auction. (I'll just call this "the draft" from here on.) Did you decide to not pay for saves this year or perhaps not draft pitchers until the late rounds? Did you only draft players with androgynous names like Sidney or Drew?
Try to personalize the strategy a bit. If you didn't "pay for saves" during the draft, were you active on the waiver wire throughout the season? Were the other players in your league equally active?
2. Separate bad luck from bad strategy.
This is the hardest part—whole volumes could be written about it. No strategy is luck-proof—which means that even the very best strategies will fail to win the league, probably more often than not. It would be excessively capricious to simply throw out a sound strategy because you didn't win or you even finished last.
Distinguishing after the season what you should have known before the season started versus unforeseeable luck is incredibly tough. Using some very basic statistical analysis can help quite a bit. For instance, if you developed a valuation system or used someone else's, compare the predicted values that you had at the beginning of the season with their resulting values at the end. Don't just use the players you drafted; try to use as many fantasy-relevant players as possible.
Ask different questions from these before versus after comparisons: How well did your system do on average? How well did it do by position? Did it project the, say, top 40 players well? What about late-round ($5-$10) players? Of course, much of the difficulty here lies in determining what "well" and "poorly" mean. How many projected top-40 players have to stink for a system to fail? There will always be some.
Often times, though, the least sound part of your strategy will be glaring and you won't need to do much mathematical heavy-lifting to fix the largest mistakes. For instance, were you focusing too much on high-upside players during parts of the draft when there were still good value players available? Look at your league's draft. Maybe shortly after you took Lastings Milledge, one of your competitors took Jim Thome. Trying your best to not use the benefit of hindsight, try to recall why you didn't take Thome when you had the chance. Perhaps he just wasn't on your radar then, in which case you should make sure that next year you have a list of late-round value players with you.
A dirty, little secret of the fantasy world is that virtually no one sticks strictly to his valuation system. Our regressions may say that stolen bases are worth 1.2 times as much as a home run. Still, we can't help adjust values a bit based on factors that we didn't put in our system, like newly developing injury concerns or tips from a psychic hotline. Try to recall the adjustments you may have made. What types were helpful? Maybe your hunches about injuries (like the one to Ervin Santana) were better than the ones about blossoming players (Rickie Weeks, anyone?).
3. It's strictly business, kinda.
Your strategies aren't your favorite stuffed animals from your childhood. Don't let raggedy strategies with no stuffing left in them clutter your fantasy team. Some strategies are fine as they are, some need a bit of improving, but some belong in the rubbish or at least at a rest stop. If some of yours performed marginally, don't be afraid to experiment in different ways next year. Granted a season's a long time to be stuck with a lemon of a strategy, but even the best experts have taken ages to craft their philosophies. That's part of the fun.
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 6:30am
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