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THT's Fantasy Archives
Thursday, April 18, 2013
The Daily Grind provides daily match-up advice for tinkerers and daily fantasy players. I welcome advice to help make this column more effective, including notice of impending weather events, new injuries, and changes to platoon situations. Ownership rates are from Yahoo!
The Fanduel picks are a mixture of Daily League specific advice and information for the more typical fantasy owner. Use the team-by-team TDG eligible players spreadsheet for more detailed information.
The Fanduel Daily League Players of the Day are:
Pitcher (to start): Today I have recommendations for four pitchers who I generally own outright.
I've been impressed with Patrick Corbin in the early going. He's not a fantasy standout, but he can eat innings with acceptable ratios.
Zach McAllister has some growth to do before he should be rostered outright, but I am streaming him in a league today based on his command and control profile.
Julio Teheran has been shaky thus far, especially with the long ball. I expect to see some of the fire that made him a trendy pick.
Tony Cingrani has his first start, which should be the most interesting outing of the night.
Pitcher (bum): I managed to justify a selection of Cole Hamels yesterday. In short, I don't think his stuff is quite as sharp as it usually is and it's hurting his fastball.
The Braves were finally quiet yesterday but they'll look to break out the whooping sticks against Jeff Locke.
Phil Hughes is my top target for a beating today. I incorrectly pointed at the Indians, but it's the Diamondbacks who will benefit from the match-up.
Hitter (power): Cody Ross was activated a few days ago and has so far been a quiet 4-for-12.
The Cardinals are trying to work Matt Adams into the lineup as often as they can. If he gets the start against Hamels, he's a good power threat.
Hitter (speed): Gerardo Parra should like that Hughes match-up.
Gregor Blanco is a pure steals option who offers very little else.
Pitcher (to start): Jhoulys Chacin had his start pushed back to Friday.
There are a lot of other great pitchers going today, but everyone except Jason Hammel (47 percent owned) is above the 50 percent threshold. Hammel starts against the Dodgers if he's available in your league.
Lucas Harrell is a stretch play, I think he's a good bet to earn a win, but I wouldn't expect great numbers.
Pitcher (bum): Tommy Hanson and Roy Halladay are today's veteran contingent of exploitable pitchers. Halladay faces the Cardinals while Hanson draws the Tigers.
Wandy Rodriguez is a solid pitcher and could even appear in the "pitcher to start" section. The Braves lineup is simply too dangerous to bet against right now.
Hitters against Joe Saunders have not been reaping rewards, but I'm going to recommend the Rangers anyway.
Brett Myers against the Astros could be a rare power outburst in Houston.
Myers has been homer happy, which causes me to really like the match-up for Chris Carter, Carlos Pena, Justin Maxwell and Brett Wallace.
Hitter (power): Seth Smith will be in against Alex Cobb.
Hitter (speed): Jon Jay is another one of those guys who I have filed under speed because he doesn't hit for much power. He's not a steals threat either but his match-up is solid.
Andy Dirks is similar to Jay, although I think he's a little more likely to attempt a theft.
I'm expecting a doubleheader tomorrow for the Rangers and Cubs, which means load up on David Murphy, Craig Gentry and Mitch Moreland (power).
The Rangers and Cubs will battle thunderstorms today, but the rest of the league appears in the clear.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:46am
Two weeks of baseball hardly gives us enough information to evaluate anything. Through two weeks, Coco Crisp and Dexter Fowler are two of the league’s best power hitters. Through two weeks, the Mets look like contenders.
At this point in the season, the average position player has had about 50 plate appearances and the average pitcher has thrown between 15 and 20 innings. It doesn’t make sense to write any player off just yet, but that is exactly what I am about to do.
After a posting a disappointing line in 2012, Cozart has struggled mightily in the early going. He can’t buy a hit, a walk, an extra base hit, or anything other than a ground out. The interesting thing about Cozart’s season thus far is that most of his peripherals haven’t changed much. He is making contact at a rate that is only slightly below what it was in 2012, and he is striking out just as often as he did last year. His plate discipline numbers look roughly the same. I wanted to write an article about Cozart before the season started, and it seems like my window for publishing something on him is getting smaller by the day—Dusty Baker is growing increasingly frustrated with his shortstop.
Cozart caught my attention because he is a dead-pull hitter. Actually, dead-pull might be an understatement. In 2012, roughly two out of every three balls Cozart hit were to left field. In 2013, we have seen more of the same (though we are looking at a small sample size). The power numbers don’t look so great, either. Cozart hit zero opposite field home runs in 2012, and two doubles.
Cozart’s inability to spread the ball across the field in his first full season as a major league ballplayer should have been a major concern for the Reds, as strong push/pull tendencies sometimes indicate that hitter might have a hole in his swing. It should be obvious that Cozart likes pitches on the inner half of the plate. The graph below confirms that most of his extra base hits have come off inside pitches.
Cozart’s inability to hit to right field is concerning, because it is tough to pull outside pitches. Cozart made most of his outs on outside pitches in 2012, giving us further reason to suspect that he can’t go the other way.
One thing that Cozart had going for him in 2012 was his pitch selection. Pitches on the outer half are tough to pull, and Cozart has yet to display any sort of opposite field approach. In 2012, he chose not to swing at pitches that he can’t pull, as the chart below confirms. Cozart’s plate discipline isn’t great, but this approach allowed him to play to his strengths. He avoids swinging at anything on the outer edge of the plate if he can, and he particularly doesn't like anything down and away.
2013: Word gets around
If major league pitchers find out that a hitter has a hole, they’ll attack it. Cozart doesn’t just have a hole, though, as he struggles with pitches on the entire right-hand side of the plate. Pitchers have made adjustments in 2013, so we’d hope that Cozart has improved his opposite field swing as well. How exactly are pitchers approaching Cozart in 2013? Take a look below.
Pitchers are pounding the outside part of the plate in 2013, because they know that Cozart can’t hurt them here. It looks like a season’s worth of evidence has convinced pitching coaches that there is no reason to offer up a pitch that Cozart can pull. I’m sure Reds fans can confirm that Cozart’s at-bats look somewhat repetitive, to say the least.
Cozart is still attempting to take pitches on the outer half of the plate, and he has had to resort to this strategy too often this season. He can’t leave the bat on his shoulders all season, though. Cozart can thrive when he is selective in hitter-friendly counts, but he finds himself in trouble when he is behind.
Cozart is still pulling the ball, but the results aren’t the same as they were in 2012. He hasn’t made as much solid contact on pulled pitches, and is rolling over increasingly often. He ground ball percentage for pulled batted balls is absurdly high (currently 68.4 percent), and he makes an ideal infield shift candidate. His abysmal BABIP should obviously regress and give him some help, but not by much if teams begin to shift against him.
I know that it is still early, but I can imagine a scenario in which Cozart takes a trip to Triple-A Louisville to spend some time developing an opposite-field approach that will work at the major league level. True, the Reds need a starting shortstop now—but with such a glaring weakness in his offensive game, Cozart won’t be able to put up the numbers that he did last year. If Cozart works through this rough period in Cincinnati, he could learn a thing or two from teammate and opposite field hitting guru Joey Votto.
Posted by Noah Woodward at 3:06am
I was introduced to fantasy through fantasy football, which typically has scoring analogous to points leagues in fantasy baseball. In points leagues, all points are created equal. If home runs are worth five points and stolen bases are worth five points, then you have no inherent preference for a player you expect to hit 30 home runs and steal 10 bases over one you expect to hit 10 home runs and steal 30 bases.
Because I learned to play in points leagues, I’ve always found rotisserie scoring to be somewhat alien. Baseball already introduced derivative statistics such as batting average and ERA which have components for both successes and opportunities. Those rate stats complicate matters because not all .270 averages are created equal. A .270 average over 600 at-bats can be more or less valuable than a .270 average over 300 at-bats, depending on the collective average of the rest of your starters and the available alternatives in your league.
Rotisserie scoring creates a derivative statistic out of every relevant statistic. A stolen base is not worth a clean five points. In fact, a stolen base is not worth a clean any amount of points because the importance of the next stolen base you receive depends entirely on the context of your placement in your league.
Context is a dirty word to sabermetrics. So much of the important research from projection systems to player value assessment is built upon the removal of context from individual production. Runs batted in remains a universal fantasy statistic, but most fantasy players would cringe if I asserted one player’s superiority in real baseball because of his advantage in RBI totals.
Fantasy players have learned to accept the dissonance that value in real baseball is not the same as value in fantasy baseball, but I continue to see that mentality falter in extreme situations that call for more radical departures in the valuation of players from the value of their brand names.
Here is a simple scenario to illustrate my point. In a hypothetical rotisserie league with one week left in the season, here are the standings of three teams:
Team A has a one-point lead over Team B, and only the average and stolen base categories are undecided. Team B is secure in first in average and needs only four additional steals to pass Team A. Similarly, Team C can potentially catch Team A in average but is too far behind in the other categories to make up ground in the final week.
With such a simple example, it is clear to see that Team B should trade its players who hit for average to Team C in exchange for players who steal bases. A Billy Butler for Michael Bourn swap would make sense. Butler and Bourn are similarly valued players—they went about two rounds apart in ESPN standard ADP in 2013—who are about as safe as possible in the relevant categories.
But what if Team C does not have Michael Bourn? What if its stolen bases came from players like Alcides Escobar and Cameron Maybin? Given the context, it does not matter at all. Neither Escobar nor Maybin provides the run production that makes Bourn a sixth-rounder, but because runs are already decided, they have no value in context. The only cause for preference of Bourn over either Escobar or Maybin is in the expectation for additional steals.
More than anything else, pride is what holds us back from making similar trades. Draft results are a reflection of expected value of players as of draft day and should be discarded as a rubric as soon as the season starts, but it is difficult to do so. If I drafted Billy Butler in the fourth round, it will feel like a loss to trade him for a player drafted more than a couple of rounds lower, but context can turn a trade of Billy Butler for Alcides Escobar into a fantasy title.
Posted by Scott Spratt at 3:04am
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