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Wednesday, October 22, 2008
When doing fantasy research, the Average Draft Position (ADP) is a great "stat" for fantasy baseball. I call it a stat because its purpose it to find the value of a certain player. Sounds similar to other stats, right?
Anyway, finding the ADPs for the current year isfairly easy; both Yahoo and ESPN have those easily accessible. The ADP data for past years, however, is not so easily found. This presented quite the problem in this article, in which I wanted to use ADP numbers from past seasons, but could not. So, starting this season I've decided to save the ADP data from Yahoo and ESPN while they still have this season's numbers up.
If you would like to start your ADP database along with me this season, feel free to click the links below to download both the Yahoo and ESPN data. And if you have a head start and have compiled the numbers from past years, I would love to see them.
The biggest issue with these numbers is the bias that come along with them. If you recall your fantasy baseball draft on either site, you will remember that Yahoo and ESPN (and all drafting sites for that matter) list the available players by their—the site's own personal—rankings. Not only does this influence people when drafting, but it also inflates the ADP of higher ranked players when auto-picking occurs, which happens surprisingly often. That is the major flaw in these numbers; however they still are useful and interesting, and it will be nice to be able to look at the numbers for all the years starting with 2008. Download away.
Update, 10/22: There was an error in the original ESPN spreadsheet I posted; it has since been corrected.
Posted by Paul Singman at 12:01am (0) Comments
Be sure to come back here at 11 a.m. EST for our first ever live THT Fantasy Focus Expert Chat!
Featuring: Derek Carty
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
11 a.m. EST
Posted by Derek Carty at 7:13am (0) Comments
Thursday, October 23, 2008
During a draft, and throughout a season, we're presented with many trade-offs in fantasy baseball. It's pretty easy to get a good sense of what your team's strongest and weakest categories are, and one of the toughest question a GM faces is how to approach trades and free agent acquisitions. Should I bolster my strongest categories and try to construct a team that's so good at a few categories that they're "automatic wins?" Or should I focus on my weak areas, and trade talent from categories I'm doing well in for talent in my weaker categories?
For a lot of managers, that question is one that leads to decisions based on gut feel. However, with a little bit of math you can get quick insight into what the correct avenue to pursue is.
When examining the question of which category to improve, the first step is understanding that not all performance is equally valued. Vince Gennaro explored this idea a few years ago when he wrote about the monetary value of a player's performance. In short, going from 90 to 92 wins is far more valuable than going from 70 to 72 wins, because the former carries with it a significantly higher chance of reaching the postseason.
Extending that thought, a team trying to sign a player worth two additional wins should be willing to pay more for that player if their win projections are in the 80s or 90s, versus the 60s or 70s. Note too, that at 105 or 110 wins, additional talent becomes superfluous (at least for the regular season). A team that wins 105 games is all but guaranteed a playoff spot, and getting 107 wins is just extra icing on the cake. Icing that isn't worth paying for.
So let's apply this to fantasy baseball. I took a look at one of my 12-team head-to-head leagues from this past season, and recorded the weekly runs and RBI that each team put up. Because I eliminated All-Star week and double-week postseason play, I have 272 run totals and 272 RBI totals. The overall mean was 30.6 Runs and 29.5 RBI. What does this tell us? If you're a team that can expect to score 30 Runs or 30 RBI, you can then expect about a 50/50 chance of winning that category for the week (to keep things simple, I'll continue this article as though the means were both 30). What we want to know is: How much does it help our chances of winning if we go from an expectation of 30 runs to 31 runs? Likewise, what about going from 25 to 26, or 35 to 36?
If each additional run and RBI carried with it the same value as any other, we'd have a linear chart. Looking back at my 272 samples, no team scored more than 50 runs in a week and no team scored less than 14, so you could graph the value of each run versus your chance of winning like this:
However, as Vince outlined, not all wins (or runs, or RBI) are worth the same amount. We can look at standard deviations to examine how performance impacts one's chances of winning. Scoring the exact mean number of runs would by definition be 0.0 standard deviations from the mean, and that comes with an expected win percentage of 50%. Consulting a table of standard deviations, I can see that being 1.0 SD above the mean would lead to an 84% chance of winning, and likewise being 1.0 SD below the mean would lead to a 16% chance of winning. Here is a complete chart showing the interaction between standard deviation and winning percentage:
Going back to my 272 observations of run totals, the samples had a mean of 30.6 runs and a standard deviation of 6.9 runs. So the mean of 30.6 is the point at which a team has a 50% chance of winning, and one standard deviation above that is 37.5. A team scoring 37.5 runs would be expected to win about 84% of the time. Here is the same chart as above, but with run totals in place of the standard deviation numbers:
The steepest portion of the line indicates the most marginal gains per additional run. As you move away from the mean (in either direction), the line flattens out; changes in Run totals at each end have very little impact on a team's chance of winning a matchup. So let's answer the original question: If you're looking to improve your team, what categories should you look to trade into? Find the categories in which you're at the steepest part of the graph: the mean. Whether above the mean or below it, gains in expected runs (or RBI, or wins or batting average) near the league average will bring you the greatest returns in terms of winning.
Posted by Michael Lerra at 12:01am (0) Comments
Friday, October 24, 2008
If you took an introductory economics class in college, you probably considered something like the following situation: There are two kinds of people—those with beer and those with pizza. There is lots of each kind. Everyone acts on his own, caring only about himself and colluding with no one. Everyone has identical tastes and would prefer to have some pizza and some beer, rather than all of one and none of the other. Put them all together in some kind of market place and trades will occur—but at what price? That is, how much beer would it take to get a slice of pizza in this setup (call this the pizza price of beer)?
Leon Walras first solved this problem about 120 years ago by asking himself the following question: Is there a price (say two cans per slice) such that all the pizza guys will be willing to sell just the right amount of pizza that the beer guys demand and vice-versa? This is the familiar equilibrium price at which supply = demand. Well, there turns out to always be an equilibrium price, but then an interesting question arises: Since the equilibrium price depends on how much beer and pizza each person has to begin with and what each person’s tastes are, how do all the people know the equilibrium price before the trading takes place?
Suffice to say, while market equilibria like the one above may help us understand free-agent pick-ups, they are not appropriate for discussing trades between just two players with few goods. Instead of lots of divisible beer, you have indivisible Ervin Santana (all or nothing at all). And instead of pizza, your counterparty has Jermaine Dye. And let’s suppose you’d prefer to have the outfielder and he the pitcher. Each of you stands to gain from a one-for-one trade, but that doesn’t mean you’d do it straight-up.
For instance, you know that your opponent really needs a starting pitcher and that he has lots of outfielders. So even though you’d be perfectly willing to trade Santana for Dye, you might try to see if he’d also be willing to throw in, say J.J. Putz to make the deal happen. Of course, he too knows that you need an outfielder much more than you need Santana and might similarly try to hold out for something extra. So now, this something extra that one of you will get from the other will be a sort of price for the trade. The natural question is: What is this price and what determines it?
In such a situation, we are now in the province of Bargaining Theory (BT). For economists, BT is more a tool used to help explain the outcomes of trades that we observe in real life, rather than a normative tool with which to give advice. But understanding the basics of BT can help you avoid some mistakes.
In the end, important determinants of the price are the relative gains that each of you stand to get from the trade. The key though is understanding that it is the gain over the next best option (the "outside option") that matters, not the gain over doing nothing. If you don’t trade him Santana, maybe someone else will give him Ricky Nolasco for Dye. In no particular order, the key determinants of each person’s outside option are:
2. How impatient are each of you? Bargaining can take a while. Both sides make offers and counter-offers and so forth. The side which is more impatient will be willing to pay the little extra needed to make the trade happen sooner rather than later. Dye may be an immediate upgrade for you, but perhaps your counterparty has a decent two-start sub for Santana next week. Patience isn’t a voluntary state of mind. I can’t counsel you to be patient—given the parameters of the situation, you either are or are not.
3. How much does each of you know about the other's answers to points one and two? Given two rational players, there is not a whole lot of scope for misinformation. Each of you knows each other's rosters (and all other players' rosters), the standings and so forth. However, you may be able to feign a higher outside option, for instance by pretending that you have an alternative trade with a different player in the works. In general, talk is cheap and anything you can fake, your opponent can too. But you may be able to take advantage of some asymmetries. Perhaps you both know that there is another player that is desperate need of a starting pitcher. You may know that that third player doesn’t have anything you’re interested in, but perhaps your opponent does not.
Extra Credit (Ultimatum Game): If you can credibly commit to limited conversation, you may be able to get the upper hand. For example, suppose your league’s trading deadline is at midnight tonight. You can make a once-and-final offer (a.k.a. "take it or leave it") tonight. Tell your opponent you’re going to bed and you’re not going to make or accept a different offer before the deadline. If it is credible, then you may be able to extract that something extra from him.
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 12:42am (0) Comments
While the Tampa Bay Rays have continued their miraculous 2008 season by shredding their opponents en route to the World Series, closer Troy Percival is sitting at home watching the action unfold.
Percival has struggled mightily this season, not only with his production, but with a slew of injuries. He has had knee problems, as well as injuries to his lower back and hamstrings that seem to be interrelated. What this really indicates is an aging pitcher who is likely hitting the wall of Father Time.
I was not surprised in the least when it was announced that he would be left off the World Series roster. This is a team of destiny, and I am sure that manager Joe Maddon understands what winning the Series is going to do for this historically-embattled franchise. His current bullpen members are all superior to Percival at this point in his career, so it would not make sense to carry him on the roster just for the sake of doing so.
You really have to give credit to Percival for being the consummate professional here—I have not heard anything negative in the press from him about being left off the roster. He knows he was a big part of their success this season, and the rest of the players know this as well. He has probably done more for this young bullpen staff than we even realize.
The “all hands on deck” committee approach seems to be working wonders for the Rays. Guys like J.P. Howell have been pretty much lights out, while Dan Wheeler has been a go-to man all season long. Grant Balfour and his 98 mph heater have stifled opponents in large part, while newcomer David Price is casting aside any possible doubts that he isn’t ready for the big time. Even Trever Miller and Chad Bradford have made positive contributions.
The Rays control Percival through the end of the 2009 season (at right around $4 million), but it is uncertain at this time where he will be positioned in the bullpen next year. Long relief is out of the question, and he will not be used as a setup man as a bridge to the 9th inning. It is possible that he remains part of a closer-by-committee situation, or he could end up being traded to another team altogether.
From a fantasy perspective going forward, I would not draft Percival under any circumstances next season. He has been a dominant closer for so many years—one of my favorites—but his time has come and gone, and there is a new generation of Rays that are ready to challenge the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox for the foreseeable future. If there was a draft held today, I would probably go with Grant Balfour as the leading candidate for closing duties. J.P. Howell is a close second, but he seems well-suited to be a setup guy. Dan Wheeler is likely going to be used as a 6th or 7th inning guy, so both he and Howell should be targeted in leagues that count holds.
Posted by Chris Neault at 8:44am (0) Comments
Saturday, October 25, 2008
We've already taken a look at the catchers and third basemen of 2008, and now it is the shortstops' turn. The basic format of this article will be the same as the others, with me starting off by throwing a table at you.
+------+------------+-------+---------+ | Year | Shortstops | OPS | WPA/LI | +------+------------+-------+---------+ | 2004 | 24 | .746 | -.144 | | 2005 | 25 | .735 | -.332 | | 2006 | 27 | .750 | -.224 | | 2007 | 27 | .755 | -.089 | | 2008 | 21 | .747 | -.093 | +------+------------+-------+---------+
Shortstops have been fairly consistent over the past five years, although a positive trend in offense is apparent especially in WPA/LI. Zero WPA/LI is league average, so shortstops are consistently below-average. However, in the past two years they have come awfully close to zero, though without actually touching it. The 2007-08 spike in production coincides with the emergence of the class of the shortstop position: Hanley Ramirez. Hanley, after batting .301 with 33 home runs and 35 stolen bases, has established himself as the dominant shortstop—if not player—in fantasy baseball.
Before this season, however, the shortstop position had been characterized by an elite triumvirate at the top. In the early 2000s, it was Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, and Derek Jeter. Then A-Rod became a third basemen, Nomar got hurt, and Derek progressively got worse. In their place rose Jimmy Rollins, Hanley Ramirez, and Jose Reyes. Because of the large gap in talent from the elite to the next tier, shortstops were a target of mine early in drafts. Either Rollins, Reyes, and Ramirez found their way onto my fantasy teams this year as a result; a move whose success depended on which player I got.
The overall change in character for the shortstop position, I feel, is that the triumvirate-then-steep-drop-off configuration has been replaced by a more balanced distribution of talent, save Hanley. Several shortstops who have enjoyed breakout seasons, and who I will discuss in the individual players section, have jumped from negative WPA/LI into positive territory. In doing so, they have bolstered the depth of the shortstop position, effectively making it a position not on my "target early" list for next year. We will go over draft strategy for each position at a more relevant date, i.e. closer to next season.
+----------------+-----------+-----------+-----+----+-----+----+------+ | Player | 07 WPA/LI | 08 WPA/LI | R | HR | RBI | SB | AVG | +----------------+-----------+-----------+-----+----+-----+----+------+ | J.J. Hardy | -.24 | 2.27 | 78 | 24 | 74 | 2 | .283 | | Stephen Drew | -1.12 | .83 | 91 | 21 | 67 | 3 | .291 | | Jhonny Peralta | -.90 | .64 | 104 | 23 | 89 | 3 | .276 | +----------------+-----------+-----------+-----+----+-----+----+------+
Based on WPA/LI, it appears that J.J. Hardy had a much better year fantasy-wise, but if you take a look at those traditional 5x5 stats, all three players had astoundingly similar seasons.
Hardy came out of nowhere to hit 26 home runs in 2007. Even to people who followed the second-round pick in the minors it was a surprise because he had never put up similar power numbers before. As you can imagine, people were skeptical about Hardy's ability to repeat his 2007 production in 2008, and consequently he fell to 139 overall in Yahoo drafts and 168 in ESPN. Hardy virtually replicated his 2007 season this year, proving his power totals are no fluke.
Stephen Drew was heading into 2008 with the weight of being one of the worst shortstops in 2007, as you can see from his -1.12 WPA/LI. Putting it all behind him, the talented Drew raised his batting average 50 points and nearly doubled his home run total. I'm not completely sold on Drew yet, but if he falls far enough in drafts I won't hesitate to select him.
Jhonny Peralta never seems to get any respect from the baseball community. He had played in three major league seasons, two of which have been solid, especially for a shortstop. Despite his young age and general success, Peralta was not drafted high in 2008. Proving we were wrong again for not selecting him, Peralta had another solid season, with a .276 average, 23 home runs, and 89 RBI. Compounded with the fall of some of the older shortstops, Peralta had arguably the third-best season of any shortstop this year. Overlook him no more.
Troy Tulowitzki was the fifth shortstop selected on average in drafts after a monster rookie season in which he batted .290 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI. Unfortunately, Tulo got off on a terrible note in 2008, batting just .152 through the month of April. Then, on April 29, Tulowitzki tore his quad muscle and missed all of May and most of June. Upon returning to action, Tulo regained some of his former self. From the day he returned to the end of the season, he posted a .834 OPS, which is almost exactly equal to the .838 mark he put up in 2007. So even though he is listed as a "faller," I do not believe Troy Tulowitzki is necessarily someone to avoid in 2009.
Jimmy Rollins came off his 2007 MVP season, in which batted .290 with 30 home runs and 40 stolen bases, looking like a fantasy stud. He was drafted inside the first round of most leagues and unfortunately for his owners did not deliver. Well, at least not to expectations. Rollins batted .277 with 11 home runs and a career-high 47 stolen bases, which are great numbers for a shortstop. But his value in 2006 and 2007 came from his power numbers—he had 25 and 30 home runs in those years respectively—and the 11 home runs in 2008 just doesn't compare. He went from the five-tooled Hanley to the overrated Carl Crawford. Still, Rollins had a lot of positive developments in 2008. He walked more, struck out less, swung at less pitches while making contact with a higher percentage, and hit more line drives. Whether Rollins can hit more fly balls and more fly balls for home runs will determine his value in 2009.
Carlos Guillen, Derek Jeter, Edgar Renteria, and Michael Young are all nice players, but are starting to show the effects of age and as a result did not put up the numbers we once saw from them. I would not expect any sort of resurgence from these guys.
Posted by Paul Singman at 12:01am (0) Comments
Monday, October 27, 2008
Elite prospects are the most sought after commodities in major league trades and for good reason. These type of players, if they reach their ceiling, can provide great production for a bargain price for six years. However, this general perception of prospects can cause them to be overrated in fantasy leagues. We'll take a look at certain fantasy leagues and see how the general value of prospects changes in these leagues compared to the majors.
In one-year fantasy leagues, prospects will almost always be overvalued. One reason for this is that prospects are partly evaluated on their ultimate upside. However, most prospects will be far away from this upside in their rookie year. Despite this, other owners will be dreaming of that upside, and ultimately overpay. Another reason is that there is so much uncertainty in creating projections for rookie players. We just can't put a confidence level on the projections we give to prospects. I would say the one exception for the case of prospects in one-year leagues being overvalued is rookies at scarce positions; it might be worth taking a shot on a rookie at an up-the-middle position.
I'd say that, in general, it would be wise for risk averse owners to avoid chasing after heralded rookies in one-year leagues. Of course, you should still keep an eye out in case a rookie falls a lot lower than his skills would indicate. For those who may be more risk seeking, rookies are a typical high risk, high reward situation. For both risk preferences, though, I would say that if you want to mix a few rookies into your roster it would be better to use a few late round picks or $1 fliers on some "sleeper" rookies than invest a high pick or a large portion of your budget on one of the hyped rookies.
In keeper leagues, the value of prospects depends a lot more on your league rules. In the majors, teams can control a prospect for six years in the big leagues. However, most keeper leagues I've seen do not allow an owner to control a player for that long. This means that once more prospects will not have the same value that they have in the majors. Often times, you may end up having to give up a prospect as he is just entering his prime. Also, a lot depends on whether you can stash prospects on your bench or if you have to keep them on the active roster.
For either rules set up, I like trading prospects for more established players. This occurs because I tend to be more risk averse. Of course, whether you trade the prospects or not does depend on where your team is in the league standings. If you have a decent shot at winning your championship, though, I would say go for it. Given the general risk involved with prospects and the large turnovers of rosters that often happen in fantasy leagues, it can definitely be worth giving up a top prospect for a player that can give you that extra push.
In conclusion, prospects tend to be overvalued in fantasy leagues, especially one-year leagues. This occurs in large part because of the great value they give to actual baseball teams. My general strategy for one-year leagues would be to avoid going after rookies, unless they are at a scarce position. For keeper leagues, a lot depends on the rules. However, I would generally recommend using prospects as trading chips. In the end, though, it is all about how your other owners perceive the prospects and leveraging their perceptions towards your advantage.
Posted by Victor Wang at 12:34am (0) Comments
During Game Five of the World Series tonight, Kevin Orris (Fantasy Baseball Generals, MLB Front Office, Major League Report), Brad Stewart (MLB Front Office, Major League Report), Jason Collette (Fanball), myself, and the newest member of the THT Fantasy Focus team, Marco Fujimoto (with more writers from around the net to potentially be added to the slate) will be conducting a live blog and chat.
While you're watching the game, pull up MajorLeagueReport.com, and we'll be fielding all of your questions on the game, fantasy baseball, off-season transactions, and anything else that we can help you with. Looking forward to chatting with you guys!
World Series Game 5 Live Blog and Chat
Hosted by: Major League Report
Featuring: Kevin Orris, Jason Collette, Brad Stewart, and
THT's own Derek Carty and Marco Fujimoto
(with more to potentially be added)
Monday, October 27, 2008
8:00 p.m. EST
Posted by Derek Carty at 3:00am (0) Comments
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
So far we've covered the catchers, third basemen, and over the weekend, the shortstops. Now, it's time for the second basemen. In my opinion, the second base position is mis-drafted and misunderstood, but we will get more into that later. I'll start with the table you should be used to by now:
+------+----------------+------+--------+ | Year | Second Basemen | OPS | WPA/LI | +------+----------------+------+--------+ | 2004 | 21 | .773 | .373 | | 2005 | 21 | .794 | .981 | | 2006 | 29 | .764 | -.170 | | 2007 | 29 | .777 | .402 | | 2008 | 21 | .779 | .550 | +------+----------------+------+--------+
The second basemen have consistently out-hit the shortstops in both OPS and WPA/LI. And compared to a league-average batter, these second basemen have been a little less than half a win better. Notice that I said "these second basemen" and not "the league-average second basemen," because only second-sackers with 450 plate appearances or more were included. For players who accumulated 450 plate appearances (350 for catchers), the average OPS is .787, so second basemen are slightly below average in that regard. Still, today's second basemen are not a light-hitting group.
The question is whether second base is a top-heavy or normally distributed group. In 2006, the second base position was unusually top-heavy, with Chase Utley dominating the position. He had a 3.45 WPA/LI; next highest was Ray Durham at 2.05. In Yahoo's player ranker, Utley was ranked 10th overall and the next highest was Chone Figgins at 85. After 2006, second base developed the reputation for being top-heavy, although in 2007 that was not exactly the case.
In 2007, through the Yahoo player ranker, Brandon Phillips would finish the highest at 13, with Chase leading the chase behind him at 24, and then Brian Roberts and B.J. Upton rounding out the top four at 44 and 54 respectively. Second base was no longer a monopolized position at the top, with the gap between Utley and the pack closing.
Heading into 2008, however, Utley still was selected far above all other second basemen, a full 15 picks higher than the second-selected second baseman, Phillips. That was the largest gap between the first- and second-drafted players in a position, larger even than the gap for starting pitchers.
Utley once again in 2008 did not blow the other second basemen away, and once again was narrowly beaten out for the top rank—this time by Dustin Pedroia. Another second basemen, Ian Kinsler whom I will discuss below, also played on par with Utley. So unless you feel Kinsler and Pedroia had lucky seasons and/or Utley had an unlucky one, we can assume Utley should no longer be drafted a round-and-a-half higher than the next second baseman. In that situation, either Utley is being overpicked, or Pedroia and Kinsler are being underpicked. Something should be changing.
Looking at CBS' preliminary rankings for 2009, the expert there, Eric Mack, has the gap between Utley and Kinsler widened! Chase Utley is ranked fourth overall and Kinsler is the next highest at 25, a 21-pick gap.
I understand boosting second basemen up the overall depth chart because they are not a relatively good offensive position; they are third worst ,actually. But when no second baseman stands out far ahead of the pack and the drop-off in talent as you go down the tiers is minimal, I see no reason why second base should be as heavily targeted a position it once was. I'll take Kelly Johnson—ranked 188 spots later on Mack's rankings— every time.
Already mentioned as the top second baseman of 2008, Pedroia really jumped the ranks considering he was drafted ninth in Yahoo and 12th in ESPN drafts. He is making a living knocking doubles off the Green Monster with 54 this season (35 at Fenway compared to 19 on the road), and even showed some ability to hit them over the wall, with 17 home runs despite his size.
Pedroia is young, he's got Big Papi hitting behind him, he's got more career walks than strikeouts, and he stole 20 bases in 21 attempts this year, so he's got pretty much everything going for him.
Mark DeRosa was the 18th second baseman drafted in 2008 and finished with the fifth-best stats. If you look at the luck and indicator stats for DeRosa over the past few years—such as BABIP, walk percentage, strikeout percentage, line drive percentage, and homer/fly ball percentage—they have not changed much with the exception of his HR/FB. That seven-point spike in percentage from seven to 14, coupled with an unexplainable increase in run total by 40 runs, brought DeRosa into fantasy relevance. Considering that few things changed from DeRosa's 2007 to 2008 season, I don't see why he cannot repeat his relative success next season.
Kinsler was drafted seventh in Yahoo drafts and sixth in ESPN ones, and ended the season with the third-best stats. However, you must account for the time he missed from Aug. 17 to the end of the season, more than a month of play. If you extrapolate his stats to a full season's worth, his line would have looked like this: 135 runs, 24 home runs, 94 RBI, 34 steals, a .319 average. Those stats are clearly superior to Pedroia's and Utley's. Kinsler, Pedroia and Utley are clearly on the same tier.
Jose Lopez was not drafted and finished with the eighth best stats for a second basemen. I'll be honest, this guy flew under my radar for most of the season and I never really noticed him until now. I know that's a bad thing for a supposed baseball expert to say but if Joe Morgan can say that for a player like Andruw Jones, I can get a break on Jose Lopez. Anyway, Jose had a solid season with a .300 average, 17 home runs, and at least 80 runs and RBI, but I don't see much potential for improvement and if anything he will regress slightly. That is all it will take to him not valuable again.
Phillips, as I mentioned before, was the top second base commodity in 2007, an honor he did not retain in 2008. Falling from a 30-30 guy to a 20-20 this season, Phillips, whose season ended on Sept. 12 because of a broken finger, finished with the ninth best stats. Phillips is a player that requires a more in-depth analysis to accurately predict his future, but somewhere between his 2007 and 2008 seasons seems about right.
Robinson Cano is a notorious slow starter and 2008 was no different. Problem is, he started slower than usual and never really caught fire, though he did enjoy a much better second half than first half. Similar to Phillips, it would take a more detailed analysis of Cano than what I briefly do in these articles to have a good idea of what to expect next year.
Posted by Paul Singman at 1:01am (0) Comments
I thought this would be a useful post for anyone who ever needs a quick reference for some of the stats that I use. Many of them you can't find anywhere else (which gives you a huge advantage over your competition!), so explanations are definitely going to be necessary if you're new to THT Fantasy Focus. Putting in a few minutes now to learn about these stats will be well worth the huge benefits you will reap from them.
Hitters - Contact stats
Contact rate (CT%) - The percentage of at-bats in which the hitter puts the ball in play, or how often he doesn't strike out.
Importance: The more balls you can put in play, the more have a chance of falling for a hit. If you strike out, there is no chance of getting a hit.
Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) - The percentage of balls in play that fall for hits.
Importance: Hitters have some control over it (each hitter tends to regress to his own unique level), but BABIP is prone to relatively severe random fluctuations, meaning a player can easily get either lucky or unlucky, potentially having a significant impact on batting average.
Marcels Batting Average on Balls in Play (mBABIP) - The BABIP that Marcels projects a player to hit going forward.
Importance: Since BABIP is unstable, the Marcels projection system gives us a truer estimate of a player's true talent in this area. It applies a three-year weighted average with regression to the mean and an age curve.
True Batting Average (tBA) - The batting average a player should have posted.
Importance: Batting average is prone to fluctuations (due to the uncertain nature of BABIP and HR/FB), so tBA uses a player's actual contact rate, mBABIP, and tHR/FB to arrive at an expected, true batting average.
Hitters - Plate discipline stats
Judgment Index - Essentially measures a hitter's judgment of what pitches he should swing at and take.
Importance: A batter's eye can be an important factor in determining his ability to see the ball well and make contact with it.
Aggressiveness/Passivity (A/P) - When a hitter does make a mistake in judgment, is it more likely to be a swinging mistake (aggressive) or a looking mistake (passive).
Importance: While all mistakes are bad, it's better to make aggressive mistakes than passive mistakes.
Bat Control - Measures the percentage of pitches in the strike zone that a batter makes contact with, given that he swings at it.
Importance: Since balls in the strike zone are generally hittable, batters who are able to make high contact on their in-zone swings have good control of the bat.
Bad Ball Hitting - Measures the percentage of pitches outside the strike zone that a batter makes contact with, given that he swings at it.
Importance: While swinging at balls outside the zone is generally not a very good idea, hitters who are good "bad ball" hitters will do much better than those who aren't when they do swing at pitches outside the zone.
Click here for a more detailed description of these plate discipline stats.
Hitters - Power stats
Outfield fly ball rate (OF FB%) - The percentage of balls in play that are outfield fly balls.
Importance: You can't hit a home run if the ball isn't hit into the outfield, in the air.
Home run per fly ball (HR/FB) - The percentage of outfield fly balls that are home runs, which hitters have a good amount of control over.
Importance: Combined with OF FB%, a pretty good measure of a hitter's power independent of the number of at-bats accumulated.
True Home run per fly ball (tHR/FB) - The percentage of outfield fly balls that should have become home runs.
Importance: While hitters have some control over actual HR/FB, tHR/FB uses HitTracker data (how far the ball is hit, specific park dimensions, weather effects) to show how many home runs should have been hit given a 50/50 home/road split and neutralized weather conditions. The full methodology can be found here.
Park-neutral Home run per fly ball (nHR/FB) - The percentage of outfield fly balls that would have become home runs in a league average park with neutral weather.
Importance: Useful to see how a hitter's power would fare in a neutral situation, especially for those who could be traded. If lower than tHR/FB, the hitter's home park helps him. If higher, his home park hurts him.
Hitters - Speed stats
Stolen base opportunity percentage (SBO%) - How often the hitter reaches first base (excluding intentional walks).
Importance: The majority of steals occur when hitters steal second, but you can't steal second unless you reach first safely.
Stolen base attempt percentage (SBA%) - How often the hitter attempts to steal given the number of times he reaches first safely.
Importance: You can't steal a base unless you leave first, can you? The more often you try, the more often you'll succeed.
Stolen base success percentage (SB%) - How often the hitter successfully steals a base given his number of attempts.
Importance: Once you know how often a hitter is in position to steal and how often he tries to once in that position, the final piece of the puzzle is how often he succeeds.
Fan Speed Score - The speed of a player (on a scale of 1-to-100) as measured by Tom Tango's Fan Scouting Report.
Importance: Speed is one component of a player's ability to successfully steal a base, and the Fan Speed Scores are a good predictor of stolen base success.
Pitchers - Skills
Strikeout rate (K/9) - The percentage of strikeouts a pitcher accumulates per nine innings pitched.
Importance: When a strikeout occurs, the ball is not put in play, which eliminates the possibility of a pitcher getting unlucky (see: BABIP). A strikeout is a guaranteed out that a pitcher has ultimate control over.
Walk rate (BB/9) - The percentage of walks a pitcher accumulates per nine innings pitched.
Importance: Like strikeouts, a pitcher has ultimate control over walks. Unlike strikeouts, walks are bad. The more batters walked, the easier it becomes for the other team to score.
Run Impact from strikeouts and walks (K-BB RI) - The relative number of runs a pitcher's strikeouts and walks either save or cause.
Importance: Serves the same purpose of strikeout-to-walk ratio (K/BB), to measure the impact of two most important isolated pitching statistics on the number of runs a pitcher allows, but this stat more accurately measures that impact since a strikeout and a walk are not worth the same amount.
Ground ball percentage (GB%) - The percentage of ground balls a pitcher induces per ball in play, which a pitcher has a lot of control over.
Importance: If the ball is hit on the ground, it can't become a home run. Not as good as a strikeout, but far preferable to a fly ball that could quickly put runs on the board.
Expected ground ball percentage (xGB%) - The percentage of ground balls a pitcher would induce per ball in play after normalizing line drive rate.
Importance: More accurate than actual GB% since allow too many or too few line drives will either increase or decrease GB% artificially.
Pitchers - Luck indicators
Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) - The percentage of balls in play that fall for hits.
Importance: Pitchers have very little control over BABIP, making them prone to even more random fluctuations than hitters. These fluctuations can have a significant affect on the number of hits the pitcher gives up, impacting WHIP and ERA. Most pitcher regress to league average (around .300), but some elite pitchers can maintain BABIPs as low as .280.
Line drive percentage (LD%) - The percentage of line drives a pitcher induces per ball in play, which a pitcher doesn't have much control over.
Importance: Line drives become hits at the highest rate of any type of ball in play. Because pitchers can't really control how many they give up, those who give up too many or too few are prone to either getting lucky or unlucky with their hits allowed (and BABIP).
Home runs per fly ball (HR/FB) - The percentage of fly balls that are home runs, which pitchers don't have much control over.
Importance: Home runs are automatic earned runs, so pitchers who get lucky or unlucky in this category can have drastically higher or lower ERAs.
Left on base percentage (LOB%) - The percentage of batters who reach base that the pitcher allows to ultimately score, a stat that pitchers have limited control over.
Importance: Pitchers have more control over this stat than BABIP or HR/FB, but those who have extreme rates will either have higher or lower ERAs than they deserve.
Run support (RS) - The average numbers of runs per game a pitcher's team's offense scores on the days he pitches.
Importance: The most important factor in whether or not a pitcher gets a win is how many runs his team scores for him, which is something he has little effect on. Pitchers who have less run support than his team's average should win more games going forward, and visa-versa as luck evens out.
Pitchers - Comprehensive stats
Luck Independent ERA (LIPS ERA) - The ERA we should expect a pitcher to have based on his peripheral stats (strikeouts, walks, ground balls, etc.) and a normal distribution of luck.
Importance: Mirrors ERA and gives a much more accurate depiction of the pitcher's true skill level.
Defense Independent WHIP (DIPS WHIP) - The WHIP we should expect a pitcher to have based on his walk rate, a normalized line drive rate, and a normal distribution of hits for each batted ball type.
Importance: Mirrors WHIP and gives a much more accurate depiction of the pitcher's true skill level in preventing base runners.
True Quality Starts (TQS) - Uses grades of Great, Good, Above Average, Below Average, Bad, and Poor to determine the quality of each of a pitcher's starts using only his peripheral skills (K, BB, and xGB) and innings pitched.
Importance: Potentially useful for finding players with hidden talent that perhaps isn't shown in the overall numbers because of inconsistency in the form of some poor starts. Click here to read the full methodology.