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Thursday, May 23, 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.
A reminder: The Grind will be going on a one week holiday starting tomorrow.
Pitcher (to start): Kevin Gausman's ownership has more than doubled from 14 to 32 percent. He will face the Blue Jays in his debut.
Edwin Jackson has pitched better than his numbers and should be relatively safe to start against most teams.
Zach McAllister gets the nod only because of the thin pool of options today. Usually I would avoid starts against the Red Sox.
Pitcher (bum): For years, Joe Blanton has underperformed strong peripherals. And now his peripherals have gotten worse and he's still underperforming them. Stack Royals.
Rick Porcello is also underperforming his peripherals, which suggest he's the same 4.50 ERA pitcher he's always been. Remember when he was a monster prospect with swing and miss stuff?
Hitter (power): Nate Schierholtz, Oswaldo Arcia, and Travis Snider are a few names who could swat a long ball today.
Hitter (speed): Lorenzo Cain and Aaron Hicks may be your best bets to pick up a stray steal.
Pitcher (to start): Samuel Deduno is an unusual Twins prospect in that he strikes out a lot of batters and walks more than his share. You may not want to get mixed up in this roller coaster, and especially not against the Tigers, but deep league owners should give him some thought.
John Lackey is looking like vintage John Lackey. His strikeout rate looks a bit high while his walk rate may be a shade low. He's currently sporting a low 3's ERA that his peripherals support, but I expect that to be closer to 3.90 over the remainder of the season.
I don't know what to make of Marco Estrada. He has a strong strikeout rate, respectable walk rate and solid ground ball rate, and yet he keeps turning in disaster pieces. I'm entertaining the possibility that we have a new Ricky Nolasco on our hands (or Javier Vazquez is you prefer), but I'm also sticking with him.
Pitcher (bum): Freddy Garcia is having trouble getting pitches past hitters. Right now, he's showing non-terrible numbers thanks to a .179 BABIP against. The Blue Jays are a threat to hit some balls out of play.
The Braves draw buffet manager Jeremy Hefner for tomorrow's feast.
Luis Mendoza: Redefining Mendoza. Actually, he's pitched solidly after some early season combustion. His skill set remains unimpressive and exploitable by most teams.
Apparently, Joe Saunders kills it at Safeco (9-0 with 1.72 ERA), but gets killed everywhere else. I have to bet on the Rangers lineup over Saunders, regardless of locale.
Hitter (power): Let's watch Juan Francisco take some big hacks.
Travis Hafner will see Roberto Hernandez. On the other side of that match-up. Kelly Johnson is showing a lot of value as a platoon option at second base.
Righty Chris Carter will face lefty Tommy Milone.
Cody Ross has been quiet thus far. He's not striking out or hitting for power. He'll face a lefty tomorrow - Eric Stultz.
Hitter (speed): Cain will gain the platoon advantage tomorrow against Jason Vargas.
Craig Gentry should start against Saunders.
I learned yesterday that Brian Urlacher was retiring. Today, I learned that he is calling quits on his stealth MLB career. Read the headline, and if it makes sense, it's because they fixed it.
Every game except the Angels and Royals is at risk to see thunderstorms and/or rain. Of course, the Orioles and Blue Jays will be playing in a dome, so it doesn't matter if it rains in Toronto, but the other three games will likely be affected.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 6:18am
Last week, I wrote a piece Evaluating Hitter Schedules This week, I will mimic that format while substituting in pitchers for hitters, although there is one main difference in that pitcher results in schedule-rating barometers come less often in team-wide waves than the hitters. So, here are five players whose perceived values should be altered thanks to their strength of schedule.
Note: all data used in this article was aggregated by the fantastic website BaseballProspectus.com, and it only includes pitchers with at least 25 innings pitched.
Matt Moore, Rays
On the surface Matt Moore has all the sabermetric characteristics of a guy destined for regression. He has an absurdly low .197 BABIP so far this season, a 91.8 percent Left On Base Percentage (LOB%) which is the highest in major league baseball, and his ERA is only a little more than half his xFIP (2.29 ERA, 4.24 xFIP). However, Moore also has the highest Opponent’s Slugging Average (oppSLG) in baseball at .448, meaning that the hitters he has faced have hit for more pop for the year than the hitters any other pitcher has. I still think he’s going to regress because of that LOB%, but instead of up towards his 4.24 xFIP, I think he’ll regress more towards a 3.50 ERA or so the rest of the way as he faces worse hitters.
Jordan Zimmerman, Nationals
To me, Jordan Zimmerman is one of the most blatant sell-high candidates among starting pitchers. He has a huge name, has already amassed seven wins, his 1.62 ERA is less than half his xFIP, and most importantly for his trade value he is currently the number four pitcher on the ESPN Player Rater. Added onto those basic regression indicators is the fact that Zimmerman also has the fourth lowest oppSLG in major league baseball (.395), meaning the batters he has faced have hit for essentially no power. That probably is a large part of the reason his HR/FB rate is only 5.4 percent so far this season, and as he faces better hitters, I’d look for him to get worse and worse. Sell high while you can.
Tony Cingrani, Reds
Cingrani impressed in his short stint in the big leagues, but due to a crowded rotation, he still got sent back down to Triple A. Over his six starts, Cingrani posted 11.18 K/9 to only 2.45 BB/9, which would seem to indicate that he has the upside to be elite despite never being touted as an ‘elite’ prospect.
Well, that indication would be wrong, and is a big reason why digging deeper pass the base-most stats is a good idea. Through those six outings and 33 innings, Cingrani also has the lowest Opponent’s On Base Percentage (oppOBP) in major league baseball at .310, meaning the aggregate OBP of every hitter he has faced is only .310. So, that means that his 2.45 BB/9 rate is definitely in question, as he was facing hitters that were already prone to not walk, as is the 11.18 K/9 rate, as guys with low OBP’s generally strike out more. In a keeper format, if I owned Cingrani, I’d be looking to move him right now.
Yovani Gallardo, Brewers
A quick glance at Gallardo’s stats would make it seem like the Brewers starter has become way, way worse this season, dropping from his usual nine or more K/9 rate down to a sub par 6.67 K/9. However, Gallardo also has the second highest oppOBP in major league baseball at .340. Given that, his walk rate of 3.26 BB/9 so far this year is actually really encouraging, and implies that once he faces worse competition that number should come down, perhaps even to around 3.00 BB/9. I wouldn’t pay draft day value for Gallardo, but if I could flip a Cingrani or sell high on a Patrick Corbin type for him, I’d happily do it.
Roy Halladay, Phillies
Anyone who watches baseball could tell you that Roy Halladay just didn’t look like himself this season, but his awful statistics before his recent surgery belie just how bad Doc really was in 2013. Yes, an 8.65 ERA speaks for itself, as does his 6.24 FIP and 4.17 xFIP—however, what the casual fan might not know is that these stats were accumulated against the second lowest oppOBP in all of baseball. That means that not only has Halladay been horrible, but he has been horrible against some of the worst competition in baseball. I hate to say it, but unless he looks drastically different after these surgeries, I don’t think Doc is going to have any fantasy value the rest of his career. I wouldn’t even speculate on him in a keeper league, as sad as that might be.
Posted by Moe Koltun at 3:58am
Z-score is a useful statistic to compare player performance in roto categories relative to an average player’s performance in those same categories. But what does average performance really give you in a fantasy league? Well, it depends. In some leagues, likely deeper ones, average performance in home runs may be enough to secure you upper-tier roto points. However, in most leagues, only the best 175 or so hitters will ever be used in the league, and so an MLB-average home run hitter may be nearly worthless in fantasy.
Here is the table of the top-10 hitters from my previous article based on their combined Z-scores:
It is pretty clear from the table that Mike Trout was the best fantasy player last season, and you would have to be in an extreme circumstance in fantasy for context to change that fact. However, you’ll notice that as soon as you exit the top-five, the differentiation between players gets pretty small. Given their disparate production in various roto categories, it would not be hard to think of situations where you might have rather had Edwin Encarnacion last season than Andrew McCutchen, even though McCutchen provided more total value relative to an average player in each roto category.
So, to really make Z-scores useful to fantasy, I need to change their contexts. I do not want to compare performance to that of an average MLB player. I want to compare it to an average player of the roto points tier I am targeting.
A few posts ago, I linked to this set of tables of average values for each roto point tier of each category in an ESPN standard league. I can use those benchmarks as a replacement for the means in my Z-score calculations.
With that small adjustment, here are a few different total Z-score top-10s based on different roto point targets. First, here is one for all 10s:
Here is one for all eights:
And here is one for all fives:
You’ll notice that the order of the top-10 never changes, which is what we should expect. Because each roto category is equally valuable and because we maintained a 1:1 ratio of each category, one player never actually passes another. However, the relative value of players does change. That is because the gaps between point tiers are not equal for every roto category, and those differences help and hurt some players more than others depending on the distribution of their production.
To illustrate, consider the relative value of Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera. In the original table of Z-score values based on the MLB league averages, Trout was worth 44 percent more than Cabrera ((13.02 – 9.07) / 9.07). With a target of five roto points in all categories, Trout was worth 51 percent more than Cabrera. With a target of eight roto points in all categories, Trout was worth 57 percent more. And with a target of 10 roto points in all categories, Trout was worth 66 percent more than Cabrera. The more extreme the target, the more valuable Trout becomes relative to Cabrera because of the improvements we are making in our benchmark player.
So which is the correct target to use? Before the season and without a specific strategy in mind, the answer is probably the all-eight point table. Prior to the 2012 season, Matthew Berry revealed that the average winner of their standard leagues from 2008-2010 scored 80 combined roto points, which is an average of eight points per category. However, that answer will be different for every team, a topic I will discuss next week.
Posted by Scott Spratt at 3:28am
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