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Tuesday, December 09, 2008
There are many ways to classify a fantasy league. One way is by the host. Is it a Yahoo, ESPN, CBS league, or other? Another is by the scoring system. Is it rotisserie or head-to-head or total points? I could go on and on about classification leagues; the number of people, the draft type, the roster adjustments—you've seen how detailed people can get telling their league's specific dimensions in the mailbag—it never ends.
One thing to notice is that each of these variable league conditions require different strategies. In this article I am going to highlight one of those variable conditions and discuss how it should affect your strategy in a league.
This league condition has to do with the people in your league, but not the number or ability of them. It is whether or not you know the other people in your league. And by "know" I do not mean know of them, I mean know them, personally. If you think about it, leagues with your close friends and those with random internet people play out quite differently.
Before I take a step forward, let me make one important clarification. What I am really taking about is how you communicate with the other people in your league. If you talk through any sort of direct communication—i.e. talking in person, over the telephone, or even instant messaging—with the other people in your league, then I would consider that a "private" league. If you only use e-mail or texting or any other type of communication in which responses are not sent and received immediately, then that is classified (by my definition) as a "public" league.
So even if you are in a league with your best friends but you never talk about the league through any of the direct mediums, I would still consider that a public league because, in effect, it will function like one.
With that said, let's start talking about how strategies should differ in these two types of leagues.
Trading is the aspect that is most affeted by the difference between public and private leagues. Because no direct communication between teams occurs, the entire arena of trading is severely restricted in public leagues. Most commonly, one team sends an offer without any prior negotiations, and if the receiving team thinks the offer is halfway decent, they will send a slightly modified counter-offer. This offer, counter-offer method of trading is boring, inefficient, and often leads to neither side willing to compromise, effectively breaking down "negotiations".
In private leagues, however, trading has a much larger impact on the league as a whole. Terrible draft? Not a big deal. Some slick negotiation and lopsided deals can fix that. In public leagues that ability to quickly improve (or worsen) your team does not exist. For that reason—because public leagues are generally more static—a different strategy should be employed during the draft.
So far, we've concluded that in private leagues altering your team is a more easily done than in public leagues. Therefore, in public leagues I would think of being more conservative when drafting because the players you get, are pretty much yours for the season. It is important to understand exactly what I mean by "conservative" because I'm not using the word in the traditional sense.
I do not mean avoiding injury risks like Rich Harden or even Albert Pujols. If one of your players gets injured, you will not be able to trade him regardless of what type of league you are in. Nor am I advocating avoiding high risk-reward players like Francisco Liriano because if they work out, you probably will not be looking to trade them; and if they bust, you won't get value for them in a trade anyway. What I do mean is being conservative to your personal rankings.
In public leagues, picking players that you want—even if it is a round before their normal average draft position—is important because, quite frankly, if they get selected by another team there is little chance you can get them onto yours without blatantly ripping yourself off in a trade. So I am saying that perhaps you might want to reach for a couple players you covet strongly instead of trying to pick them as late as possible. (The Fantasy Baseball Generals recently had a great discussions on reaching by the way) You are better off feeling good about your players than feeling like you got the best value for your players. Adhere to your rankings and get the players you want, simple as that.
In private leagues I would still follow your rankings in the draft, of course, but not as religiously as in public leagues. That does not mean drafting a player based on how other people value him, because you should never draft to trade. While trading is not a bad thing, you should never fell like you must or have to trade, because that often leads to undesirable trades
Private leagues allow you to gamble by letting the players you want fall an extra round before picking them to get a "super bargain." If someone else takes the player you want (usually it is the guy who picks right before you), get mad for a couple seconds, then make your pick and know that you can trade for the player if you so choose.
One caveat is anytime I say to be conservative here or a little more aggressive there in a strategy article like this, understand exactly what I mean by conservative or aggressive and know that it is a very, very small change in mindset I am looking for. Everything is subtle. If I do say be conservative, think of it more as not aggressive than actually conservative.
One more thing to consider is how many people will follow the league. I know that it is tough when you are drafting to know who will follow and who will not, but I usually have a good idea of how competitive a league will be when I join it. Do not expect to do much trading in a dead league (one in which you are the only one following).
Posted by Paul Singman at 1:02am (0) Comments
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
These results could end up having a big influence on pitchers like C.C. Sabathia, Jake Peavy, A.J. Burnett, Derek Lowe, Francisco Rodriguez, and numerous others in 2009. Javy Vazquez will certainly be affected given his recent trade to the Atlanta Braves (on this note, be sure to read Josh Kalk's great Vazquez article from yesterday if you haven't already).
My process is slightly changed from when I looked at hitters as I thought it would be appropriate to use multiple years to increase the sample size and to try and drown out single-year noise. I'll be re-posting the hitter results using this altered process sometime soon.
I used seasonal data pairs from 2004 through 2008 (i.e. 2004-2005, 2005-2006, etc). I examined all players who played in one league in year one and the other league in year two. The results I'll present are the aggregate of all data pairs included in the sample, which totals 415. Each player's contribution to these results were weighted based on the lower of his at-bat, plate appearance, or other such denominator total for each data pair.
The year one numbers were age-adjusted to put them on par with the year two numbers, and the numbers for both years were park-neutralized. Finally, year one numbers were also adjusted for differences in league average.
In the tables presented, the first column gives the total weighted denominator, as explained above. The second column gives the aggregate change simply as a result of switching leagues. These numbers are to be read as if an AL pitcher moves to the NL, and you would simply take the inverse for an NL player moving to the AL.
Just like when we looked at hitters, we find that pitchers do better moving from the American League to the National League (as expected). In some cases, the changes are extremely significant. In moving to the NL, a pitcher's strikeout rate (K/9) would be expected to rise more than a half-point. That's huge. Walk rate is less significant at just an 0.05 difference.
[Non-fantasy comment] As a general comment, compare this to the relatively large gain the hitters saw in switching leagues (roughly 5-to-1 per 630 plate appearances/batters faced). We know that the NL issues/draws more walks than the AL each year (8,816 to 7,521 this past year), but these studies seem to indicate that this discrepancy is mostly due to the talent level of the pitchers, not the hitters. With guys like Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn and Barry Bonds playing in the NL in recent years, one might be under the impression that the batters are the cause of this. Not really so.
To put it simply, NL pitchers have worse control than their AL counterparts; NL batters don't necessarily have better patience (or at least not much better). This isn't of super-importance for fantasy owners, but I thought it was interesting enough to note. [/Non-fantasy comment]
A pitcher moving to the NL would drop .008 points in BABIP—very favorable. This is particularly strange because the pitcher would also give up a few more line drives, though not enough to make too large of a dent in the BABIP. A pitcher would also induce a few more ground balls and infield flies and strand more of the runners that he allows on base.
Aside from the aforementioned line drive rate, the only other stat that a pitcher would be better off moving to the AL for is HR/FB. We see a small increase here, but it would really only equate to three-tenths (0.30) of a home run over 150 innings or so.
Overall, a pitcher moving from the AL to the NL would see his ERA drop by about 0.41 points, a very large difference and one well worth noting on Draft Day. In a traditional mixed league, this would make the difference between drafting a player in the mid-teens (4.10 ERA) and not drafting him at all (4.51 ERA). A lot of this comes from the strikeout increase (which is the best outcome for fantasy owners since strikeouts are a category in-and-of themselves), though the little gains in walks, hit-by-pitches, ground ball rate, infield fly rate, BABIP, and LOB% all add up to contribute.
Hopefully you guys found these articles interesting and will find some use for the results. I'll certainly be referencing them in player profiles. If you have questions about any of this (or anything fantasy related at all) or suggestions for future studies, always feel free to drop me an e-mail. Also, as I mentioned earlier, I'll be sure to post the results for hitters using multiple years' worth of data shortly.
Posted by Derek Carty at 1:15am (0) Comments
Thursday, December 11, 2008
In a typical head-to-head fantasy league, you'll compete across 10 categories for a week's time against one person. Since each category counts the same in the standings, intuition would lead you to believe that you should draft talent to compete across all 10 categories equally.
However, not all categories are equal in your ability to control the outcome. How many times have you seen a team with Matt Holliday, Joe Mauer, and Albert Pujols (nice draft!) losing to Adam Dunn, Jim Thome, and Mike Napoli in batting average for a week?
After playing in three Yahoo Head-to-Head leagues, I wanted to answer the following question: Are there certain categories in which I can control my performance to a greater extent than others? In other words ... which categories tend to allow the truly best teams to win? And which categories have results that are largely a product of luck?
Across three 12-team head-to-head leagues, I summarized each team's statistics in each category, and their won-loss record in each category as well. I was tempted to simply rank each team as a measure of their performance. However, it immediately becomes apparent that sometimes the difference between first and second place is 45 runs, but the difference between fifth and six is a mere three runs. To account for this, I calculated the mean and standard deviation in each category, and then assigned a z-score to each team in each category based on their performance.
The analysis was simple: correlate the z-scores for each team in each category with their respective W-L record in the respective category. The results are below:
Above is the "r" correlation for each statistic, relating the degree to which a team's performance and it's won-loss record are related. From taking statistics courses in college, I remember that squaring the "r" will tell you the percentage of variance in one statistic that is due to the other. In other words, squaring the .91 for strikeouts gives us (.91 x .91) = .8281. So about 83 percent of the variance of a player's won-loss record in strikeouts is due to their team's performance. What is the other 17 percent due to? A combination of luck, and perhaps some managerial skill. But mostly luck.
Stolen bases, saves, and strikeouts top the list. I'd expect strikeouts to be high—readers of this site know that a pitcher's strikeout rate is pretty stable over time. The small amount of variance here could be due, in part, to the randomness of two-start weeks.
Home runs being fourth on the list surprises me. In general, I'd expect the categories with low totals to be more subject to variance. But, at least through three leagues, teams seemed to accumulate home runs at a steady enough rate to have their won-loss record in that category reflect their team talent.
Let's skip to the bottom of the chart: ERA and batting average. These are the two categories that are most influenced by luck. And this is the heart of what I was trying to learn by examining these numbers. When you are examining preseason projections and trying to craft your team during a draft, these numbers would suggest that you place less emphasis on a player's projected average or ERA. While there is a positive correlation between having a good ERA as a team and having a good W-L record in that category, we can see that (.66 x .66) = .4356. So 44 percent of the variance in a team's ERA record is due to actual overall ERA, and a whopping 56 percent is due largely to luck.
There are a few shortcomings in this analysis. Saves and stolen Bases are the two "one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other" stats. Every season, in every league, there is likely to be a couple players who give up on one or both of these statistics in order to bolster their other stats. Consequently, there are a lot of players with incredibly low save and stolen base totals, who rightfully lose each and every week. This will artificially inflate those correlations, so they're not as useful for drawing inferences that relate to your typical teams who have a typical number of closers or base stealers.
In addition, some managerial skill can reduce correlations. If, going into the weekend, I am leading in strikeouts, wins, ERA, and WHIP, and I know my opponent has no starting pitchers going, I may opt to bench my starters to ensure I maintain my lead in ERA and WHIP. Doing so will make my win and strikeout totals lower than they could have been, but I'll still get wins in both statistics for the week. So that will artificially reduce the correlation between won-loss and each of those stats.
The bottom line is, if you are trying to build a fantasy team that competes across all 10 categories, it pays to trade some talent in average and ERA for talent in home runs, strikeouts, and other stats at the top of the chart. You're more likely to get guaranteed returns in the standings with those stats ... and when 56 percent of the variance in your chance of winning ERA for the week is due to luck, you're never really out of contention in that category.
Posted by Michael Lerra at 2:59am (0) Comments
In Part 1, I looked at how the recent flurry of moves by the New York Mets affected Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz. Now let's take a look at the affect on the closer market and on some of the lesser names involved in the trade. To quickly refresh ourselves about the trade:
Mets receive: Putz, Jeremy Reed, Sean Green
Indians receive: Joe Smith and Luis Valbuena
Mariners receive: Aaron Heilman, Franklin Gutierrez, Endy Chavez, Mike Carp, Jason Vargas, Ezequiel Carrera, and Maikel Cleto
Fallout: Aaron Heilman and Brandon Morrow
For the past few weeks, word has been that the Mets were marketing Heilman as a starter and that several teams were interested. It's very possible the Mariners decide to use him in the rotation, which makes Brandon Morrow the odd man out unless they make another move to clear room. As it looks right now, the rotation for the M's looks like this:
If Heilman starts, that's three spots locked in. If Bedard is non-tendered or Washburn is traded, Morrow would likely start, but he might instead begin the year closing games.
+------+-----+----+------+------+----------+-----------+-------+------+---------+------+-------+-------+ | YEAR | AGE | GS | IP | ERA | LIPS ERA | DIPS WHIP | K/9 | BB/9 | K/BB RI | xGB% | BABIP | HR/FB | +------+-----+----+------+------+----------+-----------+-------+------+---------+------+-------+-------+ | 2007 | 22 | 60 | 63.3 | 4.12 | 4.89 | 1.64 | 9.38 | 7.11 | -0.05 | 34 | 0.329 | 3.8 | | 2008 | 23 | 45 | 64.7 | 3.34 | 3.72 | 1.30 | 10.44 | 4.73 | 0.66 | 32 | 0.207 | 12.8 | +------+-----+----+------+------+----------+-----------+-------+------+---------+------+-------+-------+
Morrow made big strides with his control in 2008 in addition to cranking his K/9 up a point. He's an extreme fly-ball pitcher, but if he can maintain most of those control gains he'll make a fine closer. His fastball is simply ridiculous at 97 MPH (on average!) with lots and lots of rise (more than a foot according to PITCHf/x). He'd also make quite the interesting pick as a starter, as of right now it's not looking like we'll get to see that.
+------+-----+----+------+------+----------+-----------+------+------+---------+------+-------+-------+ | YEAR | AGE | G | IP | ERA | LIPS ERA | DIPS WHIP | K/9 | BB/9 | K/BB RI | xGB% | BABIP | HR/FB | +------+-----+----+------+------+----------+-----------+------+------+---------+------+-------+-------+ | 2006 | 27 | 74 | 87.0 | 3.62 | 3.79 | 1.22 | 7.55 | 2.90 | 0.34 | 44 | 0.286 | 5.4 | | 2007 | 28 | 81 | 86.0 | 3.03 | 4.06 | 1.21 | 6.59 | 2.09 | 0.24 | 46 | 0.256 | 9.1 | | 2008 | 29 | 78 | 76.0 | 5.21 | 4.33 | 1.50 | 9.47 | 5.45 | 0.26 | 43 | 0.323 | 13.3 | +------+-----+----+------+------+----------+-----------+------+------+---------+------+-------+-------+
Heilman's LIPS ERA has risen each year since he became a full-time reliever (for those who don't recall, Heilman was drafted in the first round as a starting pitcher out of Notre Dame). This year, he cranked his strikeout rate up three points, but his walk rate went up more than three points itself, all while Heilman's BABIP and HR/FB went well above league average. This led to a miserable season on the surface and only a so-so season peripherally.
My main concern with Heilman as a starter, however, is his lack of a breaking pitch. He has a great two-seam fastball and a nice change-up (actually looks like he might throw a change-up and splitter), but taking a quick look at his PITCHf/x data, we see that his slider is really isn't anything special.
In 2007, he didn't throw the slider at all, so it's possible he's still re-learning it (he threw a slider at Notre Dame, in the minors, and a bit in 2005 and 2006) and it will improve in 2009. It was apparently good at some point, though I've seen reports like these on pitchers who's sliders really aren't very good, so it's hard to say.
Heilman could end up doing well as a starter with just the fastball and change with a few sliders mixed in, but his peripherals as a reliever would never have been great for a starter, and they'd surely take a hit once the switch is made. If you'd like, you could take a late round flier on Heilman (as we noted with Putz, Safeco does inflate strikeouts), but I see him as mostly a high-risk, medium-reward selection. In the end-game, I'm opting instead for the high-risk, high-reward guys.
If Morrow ends up starting and not Heilman, however, Heilman would be a real candidate to close games and an excellent sleeper. This trade also helps the value of the rest of the M's bullpen (Cesar Jimenez, Mark Lowe, etc.) since there might not be a clear-cut closer if Morrow starts.
Fallout: Franklin Gutierrez
For sections that are divided, the left section shows his numbers with the Indians and the right shows his numbers translated to the Mariners.
+------+-----+---------+-----+----+--------+-------+---------+--------+-----+---------+ | YEAR | AGE | TEAM | AB | HR | tHR | HR/FB | tHR/FB | nHR/FB | RAW | OF FB% | +------+-----+---------+-----+----+--------+-------+---------+--------+-----+---------+ | 2007 | 24 | Indians | 271 | 13 | 12 / 9 | 17 | 16 / 13 | 16 | 2.7 | 39 / 42 | | 2008 | 25 | Indians | 399 | 8 | 5 / 6 | 7 | 4 / 8 | 10 | 0.0 | 36 / 39 | +------+-----+---------+-----+----+--------+-------+---------+--------+-----+---------+
Gutierrez flashed nice potential in 2007, but took a huge step back in 2008. He would put up respectable enough power numbers in a neutral park, but Jacobs did him no favors and Safeco won't be much kinder. He wouldn't have hit a single ball out of Jacobs given neutral weather for the park and would have hit just one out of Safeco this year. Safeco will allow him to hit more fly balls, and he'll likely get regular playing time, but I wouldn't expect more than 15 homers given 550 at-bats.
For sections that are divided, the left section shows his numbers with the Indians and the right shows his numbers translated to the Mariners.
+------+-----+---------+-----+-------+---------------+-----+-------+--------+-----+--------+---------+ | YEAR | AGE | TEAM | AB | BA | tBA | CT% | BABIP | mBABIP | LD% | BIP/HR | BIP/tHR | +------+-----+---------+-----+-------+---------------+-----+-------+--------+-----+--------+---------+ | 2007 | 24 | Indians | 271 | 0.266 | 0.264 / 0.268 | 72 | 0.326 | 0.329 | 15 | 15 | 16 | | 2008 | 25 | Indians | 399 | 0.248 | 0.249 / 0.258 | 78 | 0.299 | 0.317 | 17 | 39 | 62 | +------+-----+---------+-----+-------+---------------+-----+-------+--------+-----+--------+---------+
Gutierrez figures to hit for a higher batting average in Seattle, but not much higher. He'll still be below average and won't be helping many fantasy teams. He made some nice strides with his contact rate, but it's still below average. Coupled with his so-so power and mediocre BABIP numbers, Gutierrez is simply an unspectacular player.
He'll steal a few bases, but he won't have much fantasy value unless he gets a good spot in the batting order. This is a possibility with Raul Ibanez leaving and Adrian Beltre a trade candidate, but overall Gutierrez doesn't look like much more than a deep mixed league or AL-only pick.
Fallout: The rest
The rest of the guys involved in this trade really don't see much change in their fantasy value. I really liked Joe Smith as a sleeper candidate for saves, but the Mets didn't seem to view him that way. Sean Green doesn't figure to get involved with K-Rod and Putz around, and none of the prospects are close to the majors or figure to make much of an impact. You can keep an eye on Carp, but he isn't anything too special.
Endy Chavez derives the majority of his value from defense and won't be much of a fantasy threat, and Jeremy Reed will simply take his bench spot for the Mets (which is a clear downgrade from a pure baseball perspective).
Fallout: Ben Francisco
I'll cover Francisco in more detail at a later date, but this trade pretty much assures Francisco of regular at-bats. He makes a very nice sleeper this year.
Fallout: Closer's market
The three-year, $37 million contract given to K-Rod was far below what he was looking for earlier in the off-season. This sets the bar very low for closers, and with the only big-market team now out of the game, guys like Brian Fuentes, Kerry Wood, Trevor Hoffman, and even more so Brandon Lyon and Juan Cruz, may get signed to smaller contracts with smaller market teams. It's currently looking like the Indians will sign Wood. The Angels' name is being floated around a little bit, and it seems like they might end up with one of these guys if the price is right. That's bad news for Jose Arredondo and Scot Shields.
This also makes it more likely that guys like Huston Street and Matt Capps will stay put. Why would teams give up prospects for a closer when they can sign one for pennies? This doesn't bode well for their potential replacements, namely Manny Corpas.
Posted by Derek Carty at 1:13pm (0) Comments
Mets receive: Putz, Jeremy Reed, Sean Green
Indians receive: Joe Smith and Luis Valbuena
Mariners receive: Aaron Heilman, Franklin Gutierrez, Endy Chavez, Mike Carp, Jason Vargas, Ezequiel Carrera, and Maikel Cleto
In addition to these players, there are a lot of other players who will be indirectly affected by the trade, so let's dive right in.
Fallout: K-Rod and Putz
The Mets' plan is clearly to use K-Rod as their closer and Putz as his setup man. This drastically decreases Putz's value as he goes from a closer with essentially no competition to a setup man for one of the elite closers in baseball. Let's check out the numbers for these two guys, accounting for the ballpark and league changes.
For sections that are divided, the left section shows his numbers with the Angels and the right shows his numbers translated to the Mets.
Suggestions for improving the clarity of these tables are welcome.
+------+-----+------+----------+-------------+-----------+---------+-------------+-----------+ | YEAR | AGE | IP | LIPS ERA | K/9 | BB/9 | xGB% | BABIP | HR/FB | +------+-----+------+----------+-------------+-----------+---------+-------------+-----------+ | 2006 | 24 | 73.0 | 3.02 | 12.1 / 12.1 | 3.5 / 3.5 | 36 / 37 | .287 / .275 | 7.7 / 9.3 | | 2007 | 25 | 67.3 | 3.39 | 12.0 / 12.1 | 4.5 / 4.6 | 41 / 42 | .309 / .295 | 4.8 / 5.4 | | 2008 | 26 | 68.3 | 3.64 | 10.1 / 10.2 | 4.5 / 4.6 | 43 / 44 | .296 / .281 | 6.2 / 7.1 | +------+-----+------+----------+-------------+-----------+---------+-------------+-----------+
While the move from the American League to the National League is usually a positive one, it seems like there will be little affect on K-Rod's numbers. His strikeouts and walks will remain relatively unchanged while his BABIP should drop and his HR/FB should rise. This should all equate to very little difference in his final numbers. Now, you'll notice that his LIPS ERA is on a three-year rise, culminating in a not-so-elite 3.64 mark in 2008, mostly due to the two-point drop in K/9.
We do need to take note that LIPS assumes a roughly league average BABIP and HR/FB. Elite relievers like K-Rod are able to post well-below average numbers in these categories, so he could definitely exceed his LIPS ERA by 0.75 points or so.
Surely you've heard by now of K-Rod's lost fastball velocity (91.6 MPH in 2008 after being above 93.3 from 2005-2007). This — in addition to the additional MPH he added to his change-up this year (further bridging the gap in speed between his fastball and change to just 7.5 MPH) — likely makes up a good portion in that decline.
Omar Minaya has said that he's looked into the fastball decline and still heavily pursued Rodriguez, though I wouldn't consider Minaya one of the top GMs in the biz. In the same breath, he said that K-Rod's change is still one of the best in the game (courtesy MetsBlog), but looking at that low speed differential and his PITCHf/x data, that really isn't the case. It's good, but not great.
Regardless, even if K-Rod doesn't regress at all to his 2006 and 2007 numbers, he should still be a fine fantasy option. Closers are closers, and the vast majority of their value comes from saves. K-Rod's expected ERA, WHIP, and strikeout numbers should be lower than they were at this time last year, but the difference isn't very large. If you're into drafting closers early (I'm not), then K-Rod is a fine choice after guys like Jonathan Papelbon, Joakim Soria, Joe Nathan, and Mariano Rivera are gone.
For sections that are divided, the left section shows his numbers with the Mariners and the right shows his numbers translated to the Mets.
Suggestions for improving the clarity of these tables are welcome.
+------+-----+------+----------+-------------+-----------+---------+---------------+------------+ | YEAR | AGE | IP | LIPS ERA | K/9 | BB/9 | xGB% | BABIP | HR/FB | +------+-----+------+----------+-------------+-----------+---------+---------------+------------+ | 2006 | 29 | 78.3 | 2.55 | 12.0 / 10.8 | 1.5 / 1.4 | 48 / 50 | 0.311 / 0.310 | 6.7 / 7.9 | | 2007 | 30 | 71.7 | 2.90 | 10.2 / 9.2 | 1.6 / 1.5 | 41 / 42 | 0.200 / 0.199 | 9.2 / 11.1 | | 2008 | 31 | 46.3 | 3.98 | 10.9 / 9.9 | 5.4 / 5.1 | 40 / 41 | 0.350 / 0.354 | 8.0 / 9.6 | +------+-----+------+----------+-------------+-----------+---------+---------------+------------+
While K-Rod's numbers should remain the same, Putz's should actually decline. While Safeco Field has a general reputation as more of a pitcher's park, it actually inflates strikeouts by a huge nine percent. It also inflates walks, but not nearly enough to compensate for the full-point drop in K/9. He'll also allow a few more homers, while his BABIP should remain about the same. Unlike K-Rod, though, Putz's BABIP and HR/FB seem to be about league average, so the LIPS ERA should be pretty accurate.
His biggest problem in 2008 was his control, and boy was it a problem. Shea and the NL will help it just a bit, but he'll need to make legitimate strides to improve his raw control. It's very possible his injuries were the cause of these problems, so a complete and total bounceback is a definite possibility. Back in June, our own Chris Neault said this about Putz's injury;
Symptoms of ulnar neuritis can vary, but generally include numbness or tingling of the small and ring fingers, medial elbow pain and lack of grip and pinch strength (kind of important for pitchers to be able to feel and grip the ball).
If Putz was having trouble feeling the ball in his hand, that could absolutely lead to poor control. Even if his control does come back, he'll still be a setup man, severely limiting his value.
The only bright side here is that K-Rod has long been looked at as an injury-risk. I'm really not qualified to say whether or not he is, but that's going to be Putz's only chance at closing games in 2009. He's worth a flier as a late-round pick as he could very well be the game's top setup man next year, but that's about all I'd be willing to spend on him.
Posted by Derek Carty at 1:14pm (0) Comments
With a lot of big signings and trades the past few days, the Tigers and Rays quietly made an interesting trade. The Tigers attempted to improve their rotation by obtaining Edwin Jackson while the Rays got themselves a right fielder by acquiring Matt Joyce. Jackson had a decent year last year on the surface, winning 14 games while putting up a so-so ERA. Joyce surprised many with his power after he was called up, putting up an impressive isolated power of .240. What is the fantasy outlook for these two guys for next year?
Analysis: Edwin Jackson
YEAR AGE TEAM IP ERA xFIP TRA* K/G BB/G GB% BABIP HR/FB% 2006 22TB 36.3 5.45 5.5 5.11 6 5.5 52.1 0.346 6.3 2007 23TB 161 5.76 5.02 5.66 6.6 4.5 45.1 0.351 11.1 2008 24TB 183.3 4.42 5.16 5.51 5.3 3.7 39.1 0.301 10.8
You can see that despite those 14 wins last year, Jackson does not have that great a skill set. While he has been making progress with his walk rate, his strikeout rate took a big dip last year as well. That didn't harm him last year pitching in front of an improved Tampa Bay defense. We'll talk more about Detroit's defense a little later. xFIP and TRA* are not big fans of him, which can be expected from a pitcher with a poor skill set. Another concern is Jackson's declining groundball rate. Jackson also got lucky with his strand rate of 76.1 percent; expect that to regress.
Jackson has also seen his fastball velocity decrease his last three years. Without a great secondary pitch, this can partially explain his decrease in his strikeout rate. Jackson is going to either have to improve his secondary pitches, pick up a new one, or have another big drop off in his walk rate to make any gains in his skill set.
Last year, Detroit had one of the worst fielding teams in the league while Tampa Bay had one of the best. With Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez slated to play the corners next year, it would be best for Jackson to try and get his groundball rate back up. The Tiger's infield defense should be improved with the addition of Adam Everett, assuming he's healthy, and Brandon Inge now playing third base full time. Detroit probably won't have as bad a defense as they did last year but Jackson is still downgrading defensively by going to Detroit.
Given his mediocre skill set and worsened defense, I would try and avoid Jackson next year. Best case he lucks out a league average ERA, worst case he blows up. There should be much better options available in your league. And if Jackson is the best starter left at your draft or auction, ignore hime, take a highly skilled reliever, and wait to pick up or trade for a starter.
Analysis: Matt Joyce
YEAR AGE TEAM PA CT% UBB% ISO GB% FB% LD% SB/CS HR/FB% 2008 23DET 277 76.5 11.2 0.24 35.2 35.2 18.40/2 14.3
Joyce showed some pretty good power skills, with a good flyball rate and very good .240 isolated power. The power looks legitimate as he hit only one just enough home run. While he hit only one no doubt home run, the rest of his homers were in the plenty category. Also, Baseball America reported that Joyce has "the power to hit 20-25 home runs annually."
Despite the power, Joyce will struggle to hit for a good average unless he improves his contact rate. He was also platooned in Detroit, reflecting his struggles with lefties in the past. Despite having the speed to play center, Joyce has never had high base stealing totals in the minors and you should not expect many from him now.
As of now, Joyce should be Tampa Bay's starting right fielder. However, their is a chance he gets platooned with someone like Jonny Gomes. While Joyce did have a solid debut, we only have 277 plate appearances of major league data on Joyce. And despite performing well in the minors in 2008, he didn't really do anything that impressive his previous two years.
Given the uncertainty around Joyce's projection, I would say to only pick him up as a late round pick or $1 gamble. There are going to be a ton of safer outfielders available to take. Best case Joyce hits something like .275 with 25 home runs, worst case he kills your batting average.
Posted by Victor Wang at 6:39pm (0) Comments
Perhaps the most anticipated and predicted signing of the off-season, C.C. Sabathia has finally agreed to join the New York Yankees. The Yanks will be dishing out at least $140 million over seven years to bring the big man to the Bronx, and they're surely expecting to get one of the top pitchers in baseball. C.C. definitely has top-shelf skills, but the big questions is whether or not he will be able to stay healthy.
For sections that are divided, the left section shows his numbers with his actual team and the right shows his numbers translated to the Yankees.
Suggestions for improving the clarity of these tables are welcome.
+------+-----+---------+-------+------+-----------+-----------+-----------+-------+ | YEAR | AGE | TEAM | IP | ERA | QERA | K/9 | K/BB RI | xGB% | +------+-----+---------+-------+------+-----------+-----------+-----------+-------+ | 2005 | 24 | Indians | 196.7 | 4.03 | 3.96/4.03 | 7.4 / 7.1 | 0.28/0.27 | 50/47 | | 2006 | 25 | Indians | 192.7 | 3.22 | 3.53/3.62 | 8.0 / 7.8 | 0.64/0.60 | 45/42 | | 2007 | 26 | Indians | 241.0 | 3.21 | 3.30/3.40 | 7.8 / 7.6 | 0.70/0.66 | 44/42 | | 2008 | 27 | Indians | 122.3 | 3.83 | 3.38/3.46 | 9.1 / 8.8 | 0.76/0.72 | 43/41 | | 2008 | 27 | Brewers | 130.7 | 1.65 | 2.85/2.91 | 8.8 / 7.9 | 0.85/0.79 | 53/52 | +------+-----+---------+-------+------+-----------+-----------+-----------+-------+Note: I use QERA as opposed to the usual LIPS ERA because it is much easier to compute and is similar enough to LIPS for our general purposes.
Looking at the numbers, it seems that C.C.'s numbers will decline just a bit with the Yankees. The conversion from the Indians to the Yanks is pretty similar, but the conversion from the Brewers to the Yanks is more drastic, mostly because the Brewers are in the NL. His strikeout rate, for instance, would have fallen nearly a full point had he pitched with the Yankees last year. That has a big affect on his fantasy value. In fact, his Yankee K/9 would have been above 8.0 just once in his career (last year with the Indians).
Still, though, he posted great ground ball numbers in his time with the Brewers, and his K/BB Run Impact has risen every year since 2004. His Yankee QERA would have been below 3.40 for the past two seasons, and at age 28 that will likely continue. He surely would have been better off with the Brewers — his ERA will be a bit higher and he probably won't be an elite strikeout pitcher (though still well above average) — but the Yankee offense will add some value in the way of wins.
Nobody truly doubts Sabathia skills, and he'll surely be one of the first five or so starters selected on Draft Day. If he throws 240 innings again, his place in the top five will be wholly justifiable. The one problem, however, is that he's no lock to pitch another 240 innings.
The main problem with C.C. Sabathia is that we really have no way of quantifying his injury risk. Rob Neyer at ESPN (by the way, congrats on the BWAA, Rob!) called it the "unanswerable question." It's a short article that I'd highly recommend reading, but the most important couple of lines come at the very end:
If I were considering signing Sabathia, there's really just one thing I would worry about: He's the most massive great pitcher we've ever seen. Sabathia's listed weight is now 290 pounds. Maybe it's because of rank political correctness, but Sabathia's build seems to me like the elephant in the room that everyone's ignoring.
As far as baseball analysis has come over the past few years, injury risk is one field that really hasn't seen much research yet. Even if we had research, however, and could quantify risk based on age, workload, etc., we still couldn't entirely trust those results for C.C. As Rob said, what happens to 290-pound pitchers as they move into their late 20's? That's where C.C. will be next year, coming off two straight years of 240+ innings.
The skills are obviously there, and the Yanks' offense should net him plenty of wins when he's on the mound, but will he actually be able to stay on the mound all season? Some say that, despite his size, C.C. has a rigid workout regimen and is dedicated to keeping himself fit. Whether or not that (if true) will be enough to keep him healthy, I'm not sure.
Whether you draft him will have a lot to do with your risk preference. Personally, I think there are better bets out there, but I really couldn't fault anyone for drafting C.C. after round five of a traditional mixed league.
Posted by Derek Carty at 8:20pm (2) Comments
Friday, December 12, 2008
Just days after inking C.C. Sabathia to a record-breaking contract, the Yankees inched one step closer to forming a super rotation by signing A.J. Burnett to a five-year, $82.5 million deal earlier this evening. Let's take a look at how this affects Burnett's value as well as some players who are indirectly affected.
For sections that are divided, the left section shows his numbers with the Jays and the right shows his numbers translated to the Yankees.
Suggestions for improving the clarity of these tables are welcome.
+------+-------+------+-----------+-----------+---------+-------+-----------+-----------+ | YEAR | IP | ERA | QERA | K/9 | K/BB RI | xGB% | BABIP | HR/FB | +------+-------+------+-----------+-----------+---------+-------+-----------+-----------+ | 2006 | 135.7 | 3.98 | 3.69/3.77 | 7.8 / 7.6 | .48/.44 | 51/49 | .317/.302 | 11.8/11.2 | | 2007 | 165.7 | 3.75 | 3.43/3.50 | 9.6 / 9.3 | .72/.68 | 52/50 | .262/.253 | 17.7/16.6 | | 2008 | 221.3 | 4.07 | 3.60/3.67 | 9.4 / 9.2 | .64/.60 | 49/47 | .321/.304 | 9.6/ 9.1 | +------+-------+------+-----------+-----------+---------+-------+-----------+-----------+Note: I use QERA as opposed to the usual LIPS ERA because it is much easier to compute and is similar enough to LIPS for our general purposes.
The first thing we notice about Burnett is that, in all three years he was with Toronto, his actual ERA far exceeded his QERA. This can mostly be attributed to his BABIP in 2006 and 2008 and to his HR/FB in 2007. Toronto's Rogers Centre is one of the easiest parks to hit home runs in, inflating them by nearly 20 percent. Yankee Stadium inflates them by about three percent, but that is still a huge drop that figures to really help Burnett. In addition, while Toronto is generally pretty neutral in terms of BABIP, Yankee stadium deflates BABIP, which should also help Burnett.
If we take a rough weighted average of Burnett's "Yankee totals" for the past three years, we arrive at a .286 BABIP and 10.6 percent HR/FB. Both are a good deal better than league average and are great news for Burnett and his fantasy owners. We do need to take defense into account, though, which is a pretty big downgrade. The Jays posted a 2.6 UZR/150 last year while the Yankees came in at -5.2 (third worst in baseball).
This will likely improve a bit with Bobby Abreu leaving (-25.9 UZR/150 last year!) and with a Mike Cameron acquisition looking pretty likely. So while we'd need to crank Burnett's BABIP up a little bit, the Yanks defense doesn't figure to be as bad as it was last year.
Taking this into account, Burnett's BABIP should be league average at worst (assuming neutral luck), and combining it with the nice HR/FB may actually reverse his current trend and allow him to post a lower ERA than his QERA or LIPS ERA will indicate.
Yankee Stadium will cause that QERA and LIPS ERA to be slightly higher than it would be in Toronto (thanks to small decreases in Ks and GBs and small increases in BBs), but all told, Burnett should be able to post an ERA between 3.50 and 3.60, a WHIP between 1.20 and 1.25, and strike out 195 batters or so (given 200 innings). Plus, the Yankees' offense should allow him to approach 15 wins.
Looking at things from an opportunity cost perspective, Burnett's fantasy value would definitely have been higher had he signed with the Braves or another NL team, but those are still numbers that will be plenty valuable.
Fallout: Starting pitcher market
After the signing of C.C. Sabathia, we received mixed signals on the Yankees' plans. Some writers said that they could only sign one of Burnett or Derek Lowe plus either Ben Sheets or Andy Pettitte. Others have said that they would be able to sign both. It's very tough to get a read on the situation, though Jayson Stark's report that they'd be able to sign both is the latest I've heard.
If the Yanks don't sign Lowe, that likely increases his value as the Red Sox and Phillies (and possibly the Mets) become the most likely suitors. While the Yanks would be preferable to the Sox, that would make the AL-to-NL ratio 1:1 (1:2 if the Mets get back into the mix) as opposed to 2:1 with the Yanks involved.
Furthermore, if the Yanks don't sign Lowe, that decreases the value of Ben Sheets, who could become their next target (although they do seem to have an outstanding offer to Andy Pettitte). Sheets has seen a big drop in strikeout rate over the past two seasons, and a move to the AL could send it all the way into the low 6.00s and his ERA above 4.00. I could definitely see the Braves (who have said they're not interested in Lowe) getting in on Sheets now that Burnett is out of the picture, which would be far better for him than any AL team.
If the Yankees do sign Lowe, Sheets's value goes up for the time being, as does Pettitte's. Retirement might be a possibility, but he could also go to a team like the Astros or Dodgers, both of which would be better for him than the Yankees.
Fallout: Yankee rotation
Be sure to keep a close on eye this situation if your a keeper league owner of Joba Chamberlain as there is an outside chance his value plummets. The Yankees rotation currently looks like this:
What happens to Joba if the Yanks sign Lowe and then bring fan-favorite Pettitte back? That shoves Joba back into the bullpen. It's definitely not the most likely scenario, but I certainly think there is a non-zero chance of it happening. Just something to keep in the back of your mind. As you also may have surmised, things aren't looking so good for Phil Hughes's value.
Posted by Derek Carty at 5:28pm (2) Comments
Monday, December 15, 2008
Every year a few players that are highly rated going into the year struggle. Often times these players can become underrated the following year. A key principle of sabermetric analysis is that you should look at a player's weighted average of his last few years, not just his previous year's performance. With this in mind, we'll take a look at some guys who did not live up to their 2008 expectations and what their forecast is for next year.
Carl Crawford, OF, Tampa Bay: Many were expecting Crawford to break out last year. Instead he struggled with injuries and ended up with only a .273 batting average and 25 steals. Look for Crawford to bounce back next year. He made gains with his walk rate and strikeout rate and his batted ball numbers were right in line with his previous years. He only had a .297 BABIP, which was likely due to some bad luck and decreased speed due to injuries. While he may never be much of a power hitter, Crawford should be back to the old Carl Crawford, providing a good batting average with plenty of steals next year.
David Ortiz, DH, Boston: Ortiz was an extremely reliable player coming into 2008 and a good example of why past risk should not be used to predict future risk. His struggles can be attributed to his injury and a very low BABIP, which his injury may also be responsible for. Some may see warning signs of another Travis Hafner, but Ortiz was still able to show good power skills last year. Their is always a risk of a collapse with players that are Ortiz's age and have his skill set, but I think Ortiz will be a safe play for at least another year as he maintained much of his past skill set in 2008.
Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit: Many thought Verlander was ready to establish himself as one of the top aces in all of baseball. Instead, he took a step backwards, putting up an ugly 4.84 ERA. Verlander has never had the peripheral statistics of an elite pitcher and this got even worse with his strikeout and walk rates worsening from 2007. Also, it has been noted that Verlander's velocity took a one mile dip last year. This would be my biggest concern with Verlander as it might be a sign that the innings are catching up with him. If he can get his velocity back up Verlander should be a good value pick for next year but a lot depends on where he's available in your league and your risk preference.
Corey Hart, OF, Milwaukee: Hart wasn't terrible last year, providing 20 home runs and 23 stolen bases but many were expecting more. However, his batting average took a hit as his poor approach caught up. Looking for something in between his 2007 and 2008 seasons, with a 25/25 years being in reach. As Hart enters his peak, he offers some interesting power potential.
Huston Street, RP, Colorado: Street entered 2008 as Oakland's closer but struggled at times and gave way to Brad Ziegler. While his strikeout rate regressed to where one would probably expect it, Street really struggled with his control, which could be due to him trying to pitch through an injury. Despite this, Street still retains a solid skill set, one that's a bit better than Manuel Corpas. Street's ERA may not be as stellar as it was in the past due to a move to a tougher ballpark, but he'd be a good value pick for those looking to acquire cheap saves.
Ian Snell, SP, Pittsburgh: After a solid 2007, Snell took a big tumble in 2008. Every one of his statistics took a turn for the worse last year. His BABIP was also a very high .351. His poor 2008 could be due to injury, overwork, decline, or some combination of all three. If Snell was hurt, it wasn't shown in his fastball velocity, as Fangraphs shows that right in line with his past years. I'm honestly not sure what to make of Snell. This could be a case where a guy who has shown decent skills in the past has a really unlucky year and bounces back like Ervin Santana or Cliff Lee. Of course, it is far more likely that Snell improves slightly or is soon out of the league.
Eric Byrnes, OF, Arizona: Byrnes had a monster 2007 and completely tanked in 2008. His skills declined in almost every category and had a terrible BABIP as well. Of course, a lot of this can attributed to his injuries but how much is the big question. Byrnes needs his legs to be healthy for next year as that's where a lot of his value is in. He could provide some decent value at the end of a draft if you're looking for stolen bases, but I wouldn't invest too much in him. Even if healthy, he's just not that good a player.
Posted by Victor Wang at 1:06am (0) Comments
A couple of notes: (1) It is helpful for our authors to know your league setup (number of teams, roster spots, any other important specifics), so if you'd like to raise the chances of getting your question answered and receiving a good answer at that, please include that information in your e-mail. (2) Though we'll consider any question, we prefer general questions that might be useful to our other readers. Those questions are also more likely to get answered, though again, we encourage any question you would like to ask.
And now, on to the mailbag!
Do you think CC Sabathia can hold up another season, the way he has been pitched recently?
As you probably know, CC Sabathia is one of the top free agents this offseason, and much has been discussed regarding what type of contract he'll receive. Among that speculation is not only the amount of money involved, but the duration of the contract. From what I have read and heard thus far, much of the talk hasn't been in regards to his workload, which, I am assuming you are asking about.
Sabathia has shown that he is a very durable pitcher, having pitched at least 180 innings each year and averaging 32 starts per year. He doesn't have much of an injury history either, or at least one worth worrying about. In 2005, he missed a couple weeks with a strained oblique and in 2006, he missed nearly all of April with the same injury. And I believe that's it. In addition to all of this, he is still only 28 years old.
The biggest issue that seems to arise is his weight. Sabathia is a very, very large individual. He's listed as 290 lbs on his own site, and one of the bigger questions seems to be how he'll look a few years from now. Assuming his weight increases as his age does, how will this growth affect his performance? That seems to be the biggest concern, Cory, but for next year, I'd continue to rank him as one of the best pitchers around. It's the subsequent years that I worry about.
- Marco Fujimoto
Can you name some specific players that can break out in 2009? More specifically, what do you think about Chris Davis? How about James Loney? Clayton Kershaw? Brandon Morrow?
For a closer look at James Loney, I would refer you to this article.
The other three you mention are all high risk, high reward players.
Davis has monster power potential, but he still has problems making contact, causing him to be a batting average risk. If you think you can risk the batting average by making it up somewhere else, Davis will be a great source of power and you should be able to put him at 3B as well. Davis may have a Ryan Howard-type season in him, but he’ll need to work on his plate discipline a little more.
Kershaw of course is one of the top young pitchers in the game. He’s shown the makings of a good skill set with a good groundball rate and an excellent strikeout rate. However, he’s got a lot of work to do with his control and command. I’d say Kershaw would be a decent fantasy option for next year depending on your league type, and it’ll likely be another year or two before a big breakout. He’s definitely one to stash away if you’re in a keeper league.
Morrow has some downright nasty stuff and has shown a similar skill set to Kershaw, though he’s more of a flyball pitcher. Like Kershaw, he has shown a very good strikeout rate with a mediocre walk rate. Also, Morrow is transitioning into his first full year as a starter in professional baseball, so there will be questions with his durability. However, it’s tough to find pitchers with arms like Morrow. I would argue that Morrow has a greater chance of breaking out in 2009 than Kershaw, while I would rather take Kershaw in a keeper league.
Some other guys I would consider as breakout candidates for 2009 include Jason Kubel, Clay Buchholz, Taylor Buchholz, and Alex Gordon.
- Victor Wang
I'm in a fourteen team keeper league in which each team is allowed to keep up to three of its current players. It is also an auction league and to keep a player you must pay him what he was bought for the previous season. All free agent pickups cost the minimum, $200. Each team has a $15,000 payroll that needs to be distributed to 20 players. The rosters are as follows: C, 1b, 2b, 3b, SS, LF, CF, RF , OF, UTIL, SP, SP, SP, RP, RP, P, P, P, and two bench spots.
The stat categories are as follows. Offense: doubles, home runs, total bases, RBI, stolen bases, strikeouts, BA, OBP. Pitching: innings pitched, wins, complete games, saves, strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, K/BB. (I don't care much for the categories, but the league is fun and competitive.)
My year ending roster was (with price tag in parenthesis): Jeff Clement (200), Conor Jackson (200), Chase Utley (3030), Aramis Ramirez (1470), Stephen Drew (250), Joey Votto (200), Rick Ankiel (260), Chris B. Young (1500), Nick Markakis (1000), Edwin Encarnacion (300), Kosuke Fukudome (630), Orlando Hudson (200), Ryan Braun (200), Aaron Cook (200), Aaron Harang (1200), Adam Wainwright (460), Chad Billingsley (840), Johan Santana (3000), Jon Garland (230), Josh Johnson (200), Rafael Perez (200).
There is one player on that list I can't keep, Ryan Braun, who I kept from last year's roster. After looking at price, position and skill level, I narrowed down my list to seven players: Wainwright (460), Ramirez (1470), Billingsley (840), Votto (200), Markakis (1000), Ankiel (260) and Drew (250). From that list I chose Votto, Drew and Markakis. I am fairly confident with my picks but would love to hear/read what you would do if you were in my situation.
It is tough for me to answer your question confidently, even with all of the information you gave me, which is much appreciated. It would be easier to answer if I knew such things as the salaries of some other players, other players likely to become available, etc., but I'll still give you my best input. (And by the way, you gave the right amount of background info, any more than you gave would get overwhelming.)
The one obvious choice to keep is Markakis, who, at $1000 seems to be an absolute steal. With one outfielder already secured, I wonder if Votto should also be kept. I'm not even sure he will keep his outfield eligibility next season, which makes him less valuable as a first baseman only. Both Wainwright and Billingsley are steals, and I would definitely keep at least one of them, probably Billingsley even though he is a bit more expensive. I project a great 2009 for him.
Drew is certainly cheap at $250, but I don't believe he is worth keeping. He had a nice season with a .290 average and 20 home runs, but he's precariously close to becoming just average. The home runs seem legit to me, but do not be surprised if his average falls into the .270-.280 range, further hampering his value. Also, the offensive stat categories do not curtail to his game. Drew is more of a slugging shortstop and your league values OBP over slugging, and he's a leadoff hitter so having RBI and not Runs disagrees with the run totals he will put up.
If you are willing to go pitching heavy, then you could also secure Wainwright along with Billingsley, but if you want to keep at least two batters you could go with Votto or Encarnacion. Wainwright will most likely give you more value than either of those two players, though.
- Paul Singman
Our CBS head-to-head keeper league uses the entire site's Average Draft Position for each player to determine where I keeper will be kept in the draft. We take this snapshot at the All-Star break each season. So, for instance, the Average Draft Position as of 7.15.08 for Josh Hamilton was 136, which means I will get to keep (draft) him in the 14th round in 2009, which is tremendous value.
With this in mind, can you give me guidance on who you recommend I keep from the following list of players (the more detailed analysis the better)? We can keep up to 6 and I have already made the decision to keep Tulowitski (fifth round, under contract), Hamilton (14th), and Longoria (22nd). Who would you take with your remaining three slots from the following:
Morneau (4th Round)
S. Drew (19th)
E. Santana (20th)
Alexei Ramirez (25th)
It definitely depends on the number of people in the draft and where you're picking, especially for the Morneau decision.
I'm probably most excited about Harden in the 15th slot. You know the upside—you saw most of it this year. The downside is simply losing the 15th-round draft pick for some or all of the year. I'm fine with that level of risk for a guy with his strikeout rate, on a team that should pile up wins again in 2009.
I like Matt Kemp a lot. Great numbers and he's just so young that his power and patience should continue to improve. He's also young enough that he shouldn't lose too much speed. Only concern here is playing time; Torre can be unpredictable in his allegiance to veterans.
Lastly, I'd definitely pick Scherzer. Again, young guy who has yet to peak—in fact, for the 25th round, he might be the guy I'm most excited about. Tremendous strikeout numbers, and pretty reasonable walk numbers for his first partial season in the bigs. Best case, I'd hope for 9-10 K/9 and 3 BB/9, which is pretty ace-like, if you ask me. Mean expectation, probably 9 K/9 and 4 BB/9.
For the non-choices, I'd say Morneau depends on what number pick it is. If you're in an eight-man league and have an early round four pick, I'd pass. If you're late in the round in a 12-man league, I might consider picking him up. Liriano, I feel like his best-case scenario is a James Shields-type season. Not quite an elite strikeout guy, but with good control and a sub-4.00 ERA. That kind of production is fine in the 11th round, but I think that's the best case. We just don't know if he's got the guts (or the elbow) to keep throwing the slider like he did before he got hurt. And without that, he's nothing amazing.
- Michael Lerra
I was wondering where you would look to draft Stephen Drew and Curtis Granderson in a 12-team, mixed league with categories: R, 1B, 2B, 3B, RBI, HR, OBP, BB, SLG, NSB, K. If it's relevant, our hitting positions are: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, LF, CF, RF, OF, UTIL, UTIL.
Stephen Drew is not someone I am particularly high on going into 2009 right now. He will probably go pretty early in drafts, near rounds 6-7-8, and based on the prediction I gave Drew in Isaac's question above—.280 average, 20-25 home runs—I think he's more of an eighth or ninth round value. So that is where I'd look to pick him, but I would not expect him to fall that far. Your stat categories also favor a more patient hitter's game, and Drew is one of those free-swinging "sluggers", so his value is further hampered in your league.
Granderson is a player I am expecting to have somewhat of a bounceback year in '09. A .290, 20 HR, 20 SB season would not surprise me and with his great run totals, spending a fourth round pick on him seems justifiable. In fact, with triples as a category in your league, I would consider pulling the trigger on him in the third or late second round.
- Paul Singman