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
Thursday, April 25, 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 daily picks are a mixture of Daily League specific advice and information for the more typical fantasy owner.
Pitcher (to start): Garrett Richards' skill set continues to intrigue me despite that he doesn't get glowing reviews. With half of the Mariners offense broken, this should be a fairly safe start.
Some fringier choices include Kevin Slowey, Jorge de la Rosa, and (as a reader suggested) Nick Tepesch. Slowey and Tepesch have good match-ups—the Cubs and Twins respectively. De la Rosa has a tougher assignment against the Diamondbacks, but he's probably also the best pitcher of this trio.
Pitcher (bum): Four pitchers combine predictable shakiness with a tough opponent. I would bet most heavily against Brandon Maurer versus the Angels, although Vance Worley against the Rangers and Philip Humber at Boston are pretty rough.
Jeremy Hefner is matched up against the Dodgers, which is slightly more friendly than the other games. However, he might be the worst pitcher of the bunch.
Hitter (power): I'm hoping for big things out of Daniel Nava today since I snatched him up in a league.
Vernon Wells is up to 47 percent owned. Meanwhile, I still can't figure out if he should be owned. His match-up today is nice though.
Seth Smith and Brandon Moss will get a shot at Jason Hammel today.
Hitter (speed): Not a big speed day. Try Nate Schierholtz's five category production.
Pitcher (to start): Tomorrow has a lot of fringy names that could be used as a spot start or a target to start against. One name I'm excited to recommend is Andrew Cashner. I expect his ownership to shoot up from 10 percent to over 50 percent quickly.
Wei-Yin Chen is available in two-thirds of leagues, but I'm a little worried. His whiff rate has halved, which saps a lot of his value. He's also limiting home runs despite giving up an insane number of fly balls and line drives (over 70 percent of balls in play).
Ervin Santana's another guy I hate to recommend, but I do think his odds of earning the coveted "W" are higher than most. He opposes Scott Kazmir.
The Phillies always seem to get to Dillon Gee, but I'm not going to hold that small sample against him. If Cashner isn't available in your league, this is the guy I'd use.
Pitcher (bum): Erik Bedard is on some kind of pitch count limit, which means that the Red Sox will get to see a lot of time against the soft underbelly of the Astros bullpen.
Kazmir made his season debut last week and looked quite hittable. The Royals will try to prove me correct.
Jonathan Sanchez is just an auto-post here at this point. I could see a late career revival out of bullpen like Oliver Perez, but I think it's time to stick a fork in him. He faces the Cardinals.
The Angels face a potentially still-rusty Aaron Harang.
Hitter (power): I think a hold on Nava is advisable.
It's been awhile since I recommended Carlos Pena. I think the match-up against Dempster is tolerable for him.
Lucas Duda is up to 25 percent. If you recall from earlier in the season, I recommended starting Duda against Kyle Kendrick even when the two teams weren't playing each other.
Hitter (speed): Peter Bourjos is going to start swiping bases at some point.
Craig Gentry will get the start against Scott Diamond.
Robbie Grossman had a nice debut for the Astros yesterday with two doubles. He's a switch hitter with the ability to hit about 10 home runs and steal 10 bases. Which sounds to me like a good streaming option but not somebody to own outright.
The Royals and Tigers may be affected by rain, but they'll be able to play the game.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:34am
My father taught me how to play fantasy baseball. He’s been in the same AL-Only rotisserie league with his college buddies for 21 years and counting, and he uses his fantasy veteran status as an opportunity to confidently brandy about sweeping fantasy adages whenever he gets the chance. Some of them can be detrimental —for example, his proclivity for spending 50-60 percent of his budget on under six players in every single auction isn’t universally effective—but overall, there are a ton of useful nuggets of wisdom he’s passed down to me over the years playing together.
One of those nuggets is his FAAB bidding strategy. First, a quick recommendation: If your league still uses waivers, I’d urge you to talk with your league about switching to Free Agent Auction Bidding in the future. Sure, there’s some skill in managing waiver claims, and the process is a tiny bit simpler, but there is significantly more skill in taking a big budget and figuring out how you want to allocate your resources as needs arise throughout the season, rather than just selecting in an arbitrarily-ordered line. Not only is FAAB more comprehensive, it also more closely mimics what it would be like to run a real baseball team which, in the end, is what playing fantasy sports is vicariously about.
This strategy looks at FAAB from an entirely mathematical perspective. Quite simply, in most leagues there are either 25 or 26 fantasy weeks of the season, so with every week that passes, a player’s hypothetical FAAB "value" goes down by about four percent.
Think about it this way: a guy who you pick up in week five has the upside to give you production for the remaining 20 weeks of the season, whereas a guy you grab in week 15 can produce for a maximum of 10 weeks. That means, hypothetically, a player that you pick up in week five who has the exact same production as a player you pick up in week 15 is actually two times as valuable as the latter player. He has the upside to produce doubly in every category.
Even in the ratio categories, the two players’ batting averages or ERAs might be the same number, but the weight of that average or ERA over the greater time frame will count double to your overall team ratio. Clearly the opportunity for "counting stats" will also be doubled, given the player will have two times the number of plate appearances or innings pitched.
In mixed leagues, it’s easy to follow this formula to a T. I try to spend at least 50 percent of my FAAB budget in the first month and a half, putting in as many early-season speculative upside bids as possible. Sure, that makes me look stupid a high percentage of the time—like when I bid over 15 percent of my budget on the Royals’ Kila Ka’aihue in 2010 or two weeks ago when I, as a panicked AL-Only Greg Holland owner, luckily lost a bid for well over 20 percent of my $500 budget on Kelvin Herrera by exactly one dollar—but it’s also what got me Kris Medlen in more than half of my leagues last year, and Brandon Beachy the year before that, and Doug Fister the year before that.
More than any other time in the season, the beginning of the year is when previously unknown commodities can surprise, and allocating most of your budget during that span has the added bonus of providing much more opportunity for long-term value.
In single league formats, however, following this strategy has a slight twist. In mixed leagues there is no influx of talent that makes it more likely to find a huge amount of value on the wire later along in the season. However, in AL and NL-only leagues, talent doesn’t matriculate into the league at an even pace throughout the year. The existence of the trade deadline makes it possible, and even likely, that an otherwise impossibly good talent could be randomly placed on the wire at midseason.
There are always three or four teams that save almost all of their money until the deadline. As a guy who has been in an AL-only league for five years now, and tried the "Save It Up" strategy in three of those, I’m here to say: Do not be one of those owners.
Yes, it’s true that once in a while a stud will get traded into your league. And if you’re really, really lucky, you might get two at the same deadline. The problem is, there are basically never less than three teams with 90-100 percent of their FAAB budget still remaining at that time of the year. If you’re not one of those top two teams, you’re absolutely screwed, having wasted half of the season without adding any high-priced talent from the wire.
Even if you are one of those lucky one or two, though, you are committing yourself to spending 50-70 percent of your budget on this one player. That’s because the choice to bid on that traded player is almost always so obvious to the rest of the league that in order to make sure you actually get him, you have no choice but to bid one dollar more than whatever amount of FAAB the team one spot below you has.
Last season, three big names got traded from the NL to AL—Zack Greinke, Ryan Dempster and Anibal Sanchez. I had the fourth most FAAB remaining, and you know who I got? Omar Infante. For over 35 percent of my budget.
As a generality, I’d rather take a shot on five or six guys early in the year and hope one of them becomes a consistent contributor throughout. Even if I could have been in the hunt for Zack Greinke, the production of those five or six guys for double the timeframe has more potential value to my team.
When it comes to FAAB bidding, the optimal strategy is to spend early and often, because for every Matt Adams or Jordan Pacheco or Kila Ka’aihue there’s an Addison Reed and a Jose Bautista and a Buster Posey. If you’re going to add a high upside talent, they might as well have the opportunity to give you three or four months of production instead of just one or two, and given the high variance nature of players with upside, it behooves you to try to spread those resources out in as many avenues as possible.
As a loose rule, I try to spend anywhere from 40-75 percent of my budget in the first two months on four to six different players, and if you’re insistent on the "Save For The Deadline" strategy in single league formats, I would make sure you have 95 percent or more of your budget intact to ensure you’re one of those top two teams in FAAB at the time.
Posted by Moe Koltun at 3:54am
The hardest part of preparing strategy for a roto league is the lack of information. Even if you knew before the season the exact final statistics of your players, you would still need to put those statistics in the context of your league. 300 home runs will be enough for maximum points in some leagues, and only minimum points in others. Since I’m not attached to a site that hosts leagues, I do not have a database of league statistics to accurately forecast points for various statistical plateaus.
Fortunately, I can approximate those values with data that has been published. In their draft kit prior to 2012, ESPN published the minimum, maximum, and average benchmarks for all of their standard, 10-team roto leagues from 2009-2011. They may not help for deeper leagues or those with exotic categories, but these tables provide a solid foundation for the most common categories and league sizes.
Looking at those averages, you can see that a team that projects to have 300 home runs, 1,100 runs, 1,050 RBI, and 175 steals should expect to net 10, eight, seven, and seven roto points in those respective categories on average. You can also see that it would require about 24 runs, 42 RBI, and 26 steals to barely beat out an average nine-point team in each of those categories.
Since that example team has already reached 300 home runs, enough to earn the maximum 10 roto points, the owner can go ahead and trade away players he expects to hit home runs for players that produce in those needed categories. Since he needs just 24 runs compared to 42 RBI and 26 steals, he might be tempted to try to trade for players that score a lot of runs. However, he already expects eight roto points in runs compared to only seven points in both RBI and steals.
Really, even if the team needed the same number of runs, RBI, and steals for the same additional roto points in each category, the owner should not be indifferent to the category he trades; statistics in those categories do not occur with the same frequency. Fewer steals happen in a season than there are runs and RBI, and far fewer wins are earned by pitchers than any other traditional counting statistic.
Since I do not know which players were owned by what percentage of fantasy teams in a given season, I opted to calculate the roto point benchmarks as a percentage of the total of each statistic in the entire league. For now, I am assuming that a similar percentage of each available statistic is captured by the owned players in a fantasy league, which seems fair since each category has the same available roto points.
Here are the totals of each hitter counting statistic from 2010-2012, as well as the three-year average of each:
And based on the ESPN averages, here are the roto point benchmarks for each category as a percentage of the league totals of each statistic:
This table presents the relative cost of each additional roto point with every category on the same scale. You can eyeball the columns to get a sense of which categories are more dispersed than others. Standard deviation summarizes those differences in a single number for each category:
The hitter counting stats fall into three distinct tiers. On average, runs and RBI are the easiest categories in which to gain and lose ground, stolen bases are the hardest, and home runs are in-between. That may not be enough information to determine the optimal target category for the example team, but it is enough to demonstrate that the differences in volume of needed runs, RBI, and steals does not eliminate any category from consideration in a potential trade.
Posted by Scott Spratt at 3:39am
This is Page 1 of 1 THT Fantasy Focus pages