May 23, 2013
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Friday, June 05, 2009
American League by Rob McQuown
Gordon Beckham | Chicago | INF
YTD: .299/.366/.497 (Double-A)
True Talent: .233/.293/.368
Next Week Forecast: N/A
In AL keeper leagues, it's probably right to blow your entire FA budget on this guy if he is available. As a hitter, Beckham has already been compared to Paul Molitor and Ryne Sandberg. He hit in Spring Training. He hit in the minors. And the Sox have a clear opening for him at 3B (and they aren't getting much from 2B, either), so he doesn't have to pull a Longoria to keep his roster spot. In AL re-draft leagues, he's worth gambling on, but not exciting.
Randy Choate | Tampa Bay | RP
YTD: 12.0 K/9, inf. K/BB, 3.00 ERA
True Talent: 7.1 K/9, 2.1 K/BB, 4.31 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.0 saves, 4.35 ERA
Saves on consecutive days?? Woo hoo! Randy Choate and his sub-90 fastball are the latest “find” of the clever Ball Street geniuses in Tampa. For his career, Choate has walked a guy every 2 IP, and he hasn't destroyed LHB as a LOOGY should, but his low SLG Allowed against both sides makes him useful. The Saves were sort of accidental, totaling just 1.0 IP combined. He won't hurt a team in an AL-only league.
Ben Francisco | Cleveland | OF
True Talent: .265/.331/.434
Next Week Forecast: 0.8 HR, 4 R, 3 RBI, .267 BA, 0.7 SB
Ben Francisco isn't a particularly good ballplayer, but sometimes “opportunity” is the most important thing. That, and “speed,” turn an ordinary player into someone who should be grabbed in most formats. With Sizemore possibly missing extensive time, Francisco should stay in the line-up and easily tally another 12-HR/12-SB (or more) the remainder of the year. And even without Grady, there are opportunities for Runs and RBI in this line-up.
Travis Hafner | Cleveland | DH
True Talent: .260/.375/.473
Next Week Forecast: N/A
The guy who led the league in slugging in 2006 (.659 SLG) has been MIA since. The question is how much of that batter remains in 2009. Hafner is not old (just 32), and he has a big contract. The “safe” road is to assume that even the True Talent projection is too optimistic and to stay away; after all, he's not even rated at a position. But for a team in dire need of power, he has a puncher's chance of being good.
Josh Outman | Oakland | SP
YTD: 7.0 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 3.02 ERA
True Talent: 6.1 K/9, 1.2 K/BB, 5.03 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 11.2 IP, 0.7 wins, 8 K, 4.65 ERA
One can almost hear Billy Beane last year saying “This guy is better than Blanton ALREADY!” as he lands Outman as a supposed throw-in with Adrian Cardenas. Outman throws 95 and plays in a pitcher's park for a team with a great defense. Four of his starts have been against the lightweight offenses of Chicago, KC, and Seattle, so expect some ERA inflation, and for sure his team doesn't score a lot. But Outman will be much better than the prediction. Could be spotted even in shallow mixed leagues.
Clayton Richard | Chicago | SP
YTD: 6.8 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 3.97 ERA
True Talent: 5.8 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 4.30 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 12.1 IP, 0.7 wins, 8 K, 4.37 ERA
Richard doesn't throw as hard as Outman, but he induces more ground balls. Overall, though, Richard is quite a bit riskier because of his home park. When Carlos Quentin returns, the Sox should score for Richard, but he is still only good enough to start against Oakland in a shallow mixed league, as both KC and Seattle hit LHP better than RHP. Richard should be a reliable innings-eater (but little more) in deeper leagues for many years.
Sean Rodriguez | Los Angeles | INF
YTD: .279/.364/.637 (Triple-A)
True Talent: .241/.312/.408
Next Week Forecast: N/A
We have seen how badly a swing-from-the-heels approach works for Angels prospects (see: Brandon Wood). “S-Rod” is slugging over .630 in Triple-A again, but his Ct% has dropped to 72% as he has whiffed 58 times in 209 AB. A former shortstop, Rodriguez is expected to be a fine defensive second baseman, but until he is traded out of L.A., he faces an almost insurmountable challenge between his skill set and Scioscia's preferences.
Luke Scott | Baltimore | OF/DH
True Talent: .277/.360/.517
Next Week Forecast: 1.1 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, .272 BA, 0.1 SB
In his career, Luke Scott has hit LHP as well as almost any lefty power hitter, and he sports a ridiculous .906 SLG against them this season. Sadly, he suffers from Trembley's lack of imagination—Scott didn't even start against Bedard, who has always been more vulnerable to lefties. Scott's reduced playing time dilutes his fantasy value, but the O's good offense makes him a decent option in shallow mixed leagues, and a great one in anything bigger.
National League by Michael Street
Clint Barmes | COL | MIF
True Talent: .262/.311/.425
Next Week Forecast: 0.6 HR, 4 R, 3 RBI, .254 BA, 0.6 SB
Barmes has been sharing time at 2B, but now that Tulowitzki’s injury looks worse than expected, he could shift to SS. The dual qualification increases his value, even if True Talent isn't terribly impressed. Barmes is a good play at home, where his OPS is .920 (versus .650 away), and against lefties, where it’s 1.041 (versus .678 against righties). Play him situationally or ride his recent hot streak, but he’s best suited for NL-only leagues or 14-team or deeper mixed leagues.
Antonio Bastardo | PHI | SP
YTD: 7.5 K/9, 5.0 K/BB, 1.50 ERA
True Talent: 7.9 K/9, 1.4 K/BB, 5.47 ERA
Next Week Forecast: N/A
The Phillies brought up Bastardo, one of their top pitching prospects, to replace Brett Myers. A tired shoulder kept the 23-year-old from the majors last year, but his 2009 Triple-A line (9.6 K/9, 5.0 K/BB, 1.89 ERA) says it's time. That line is eerily similar to what he put up in his first MLB start. True Talent is skeptical because Bastardo offers so little to go on (only 114 IP above Single-A); you have to trust the scouts on this one. Bastardo will almost certainly stumble at some point, but he is still worth a pick-up in NL leagues and 12-team and deeper leagues.
Joe Blanton | PHI | SP
YTD: 8.2 K/9, 2.7 K/BB, 5.86 ERA
True Talent: 6.5 K/9, 2.3 K/BB, 4.74 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.2 IP, 0.3 wins, 4 K, 5.11 ERA
After Blanton won three straight, fantasy owners grabbed him up. Unlike with Bastardo, though, Blanton has a lot of recent innings, and they point to a "True" ERA of 4.50-5.00. In one of his recent wins, Blanton allowed 5 Runs but the Phils scored 12; in another, he recorded an uncharacteristic 11 K. His YTD ratios would be career highs if he managed to sustain them, but don't bet on it. Don’t follow the crowd: Let another owner take Blanton.
Jake Fox | CHI | 1B/OF
True Talent: .254/.311/.452
Next Week Forecast: 0.4 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, .260 BA, 0.1 SB
Fox ripped up Triple-A with a .424/.503/.881 line before getting called up, and he has looked good since. Unfortunately, his MLB line consists of 8 appearances in 5 games. Fox is blocked at 1B and OF, so the Cubs would like to use him at 3B, a position that he has played only 5 times since 2005. Unless he can make that shift or earn regular PT elsewhere, he is just someone you’ll want to watch.
Paul Maholm | PIT | SP
YTD: 5.0 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 3.82 ERA
True Talent: 5.7 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 4.23 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.1 IP, 0.4 wins, 4 K, 4.20 ERA
Maholm is like that last band at the end of the party: No matter how good he is, nobody’s watching. Just like that band, Maholm will sometimes be really good, sometimes awful. And he'll always be backed by the anemic Pirate offense. Frankly, he ought to be 6-4, as he has put up six great starts (2 ER or less) and four awful starts (4+ ER). But even at his best, his True Talent rates are marginal, though he does tend to have a strong GB/FB. Not a bad flyer if you don't care about Wins.
Andrew McCutchen | PIT | OF
YTD: .303/.361/.493 (Triple-A)
True Talent: .262/.332/.381
Next Week Forecast: N/A
The latest arrival on the Prospect Train is Andrew McCutchen, someone whom you want on your team for his batting eye (career 0.64 K/BB, steadily improving to 0.78 K/BB last year) and his speed (34 SB last season, and 105 SB total). Like all prospects, the 22-year-old McCutchen will hit some bumps, and he might never display the power he once promised. But NL-only leagues, keeper leagues, and anyone who could use more steals had better take him.
Randy Wells | CHI | SP
YTD: 7.6 K/9, 3.86 K/BB, 1.69 ERA
True Talent: 7.1 K/9, 2.1 K/BB, 4.49 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.4 wins, 5 K, 4.33 ERA
Wells got pulses pounding this week when he carried a no-no into the seventh, but it wasn’t his only strong start in 2009. He got hard-luck losses in three of his first four starts, giving up 5 ER total against 9 runs of support. Wells could stick after Rich Harden returns, since True Talent likes his stuff. He’s a good short-term risk for owners in NL leagues or those deeper than 14 teams.
Chris Young | ARI | OF
True Talent: .234/.297/.427
Next Week Forecast: 0.8 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, .234 BA, 0.6 SB
You could speculate on a rebound based on Young’s True Talent numbers, but even those are not all that robust. Young might recapture his speed and power someday, just not any time soon. He looks lost at the plate, and he can’t give you steals if he can’t get on base. The only reason that Young is playing now is because Conor Jackson is on the DL—when CoJack returns, Young is AAA-bound. In the near term, you don’t want any part of this guy.
Posted by THT Staff at 12:37am (8) Comments
Welcome to THT Fantasy's Roster Doctor. If you'd like your team to be analyzed by one of our fantasy baseball experts, please send your full roster to this address. Also be sure to include your league's player pool (mixed, AL-only, NL-only), number of teams, scoring format (roto, head-to-head, points, etc.), categories, whether or not it's a keeper league, and any other pertinent information. If your roster is selected it will be analyzed in a future Roster Doctor column.
Player Pool: Mixed
No. of Teams: 12
Categories: Traditional 5x5
Scoring Type: Head-to-Head
Other Notes: First year of dynasty league; Seven minor league slots; "Awesome league"
C - Matt Wieters
1B - Billy Butler
2B - Brian Roberts
3B - Evan Longoria
SS - Stephen Drew
OF - Nick Markakis
OF - Jason Bay
OF - Gerardo Parra
U - Luke Scott
P - Jonathan Broxton
P - Mariano Rivera
P - Josh Johnson
P - Javier Vazquez
P - Ryan Dempster
P - J.A. Happ
P - Jeff Niemann
BN - Manny Ramirez
BN - Russell Branyan
BN - Kelvim Escobar
BN - Gil Meche
BN - Franklin Morales
BN - Ricky Romero
BN - Jose Valverde
DL - John Smoltz
DL - Tim Hudson
ML - Aaron Hicks
ML - Michael Stanton
ML - Madison Bumgarner
ML - Clay Buchholz
ML - Jake Arrieta
ML - Jordan Walden
ML - Martin Perez
Well, your catcher spot is locked up for the next twenty years; congratulations. With Longoria, third base will not be a concern for quite some time as well.
Billy Butler is a relatively weak starting first baseman right now, but he is young enough (23), has a good minor league track record, and has performed well enough in the majors for me to be excited about his future. Roberts is one of my favorite palyers and is playing great this year, but in the next couple of years you will probably see his stolen base totals—the main source of his value along with his batting average—decrease dramatically, severely limiting his value. His average will probably suffer a bit also, but I can see it hanging around the .280 mark a few years past that.
Stephen Drew entering his prime at age 26 had a great season last year but cannot seem to do anything right this year. He went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts on his own bobblehead day! However, now would be the worst time to trade him since his value is probably the lowest it will be. He still has the skill set to have some good seasons in the near future, but I do not think he will ever develop into the All-Star player people once thought he could become.
His strikeout tendencies will prevent him from posting an average above the .290s and he has never displayed exceptional power or baserunning ability, so his ceiling is somewhat limited. Still, I can see him stringing together some solid seasons similar to his 2008 one in his late 20s, not that you are interested in three years down the road right now. Right now you should be happy Drew is showing some signs of life with his current seven-game hitting streak and just hold onto him.
Markakis and Bay are two great hitters, no reason to mess with them. And Parra is a solid, young fill-in until Manny's glorious return. Luke Scott's numbers are not as fluky as you might expect. Besides his home run totals, everything else is reasonable and he should play solidly the rest of the season at about a .285 average, 25 home run pace.
There is not much I would change about your hitting right now; if later in the season you decide to make a championship push this season, Scott, Drew, and Butler are three guys you can try to upgrade.
Your pitching is very top-heavy with the two big guns of Johnson and Vazquez heading your rotation, but after that there is a severe drop off. Although Meche and Demspter are seasoned veterans, they are not pitching that way and I would not start Dempster right now. Meche has been unlucky so far with a .344 BABIP so I can see him turning it around.
I like how you are taking the risk on young, high-upside guys like Happ, Romero, and Morales; any one or all of them could be a valuable asset in a few years. Niemann is not on the level of the others and would be the guy I cut if you want to free a roster spot for Smoltz or Hudson.
Overall, the best course of action is to sit tight with this team now. Near the trading deadline (if there is one) you should make the decision to either push for this year or wait another year. If you are still in the top three later in the year and do decide to make that push, sacrificing possible future production from a guy like Butler for a better player now is a necessary sacrifice to make because winning the championship just once makes it all worth it.
Posted by Paul Singman at 1:47am (2) Comments
Monday, June 08, 2009
For fantasy owners in weekly leagues, nothing's worse than a bad Monday—surveying the standings and finding that you're already 20 points down... that your hitters compiled more K's than a Duke basketball press release... that your starters pitched like promotional stars for "Up"... that your relievers rushed home baserunners like a hot take-out meal.
Well, we've decided to brighten one (un)lucky person's day. Each week, we'll put out the call for fantasy owners who had terrible, awful Mondays. The GM with the lowest point total for that Monday wins. To help set the person back on the right path, the winner will receive a year's subscription to Heater Magazine.
For this contest, we're concerned only with online points-based leagues with weekly scoring periods that start on Monday. Entering is easy:
2. Put Worst Monday in the subject line along with your Monday point total.
3. Attach a screen shot of your roster and their points scored for Monday. (You can paste the screen shot in a Word document and attach that.) We need the screen shot—don't spell out the tallies in the email.
4. Add brief biographical material.
Entries that don't meet these criteria will not be considered. Don't submit an entry until all of Monday's games are finished.
We'll sift through the entries on Tuesday and announce the winner on Wednesday. We'll award one subscription per week; ties will be broken through random draw.
Best of (bad) luck!
Posted by John Burnson at 12:05am (1) Comments
For the past two weeks, I have focused on bailing and will continue to do so into a third week. By now, you’ve likely seen the first couple bail trades and received notification from a couple other teams that they’re bailing, too. The problem right now is the teams that have ended their 2009 seasons have likely scooped up what was easily available and dealt enough to bloat the rosters of a couple other teams.
Despite the intentions of a couple more teams to bail, those competitive teams who didn’t luck out in round one of bail season have the same constraints (roster violations, cap problems, not as attractive cheap player) dealing with you, a third, fourth or fifth team to declare, as they did with the first movers. This leaves you sitting in lower half of the standings with no real chance to win it all but no chance to sink to the bottom for free agent priority.
This is an uncomfortable place to be as your team can’t take the free-for-all risks on players the last place teams do nor can you expect to catch-up to the roster-enhanced teams at the top. Likely, you have already lost out on Carlos Gonzalez in free agent priority and stood no chance of grabbing the newest Washington Nationals closer Mike MacDougal.
What is needed, though rarely advised, is a strategy that straddles the fence between competing in 2009 and setting-up for a run in 2010 and beyond. In real life, people understand that sitting on the fence of a two-sided battle leaves one open to crossfire from both sides. In fantasy baseball, that knowledge leads many to conclude and/or advise that fantasy players should either go all out (Flags fly forever!) or quit entirely on the current season.
These intuitively appealing conclusions are then buttressed by the math of expected payouts that provides the sheen of mathematical certainty. If you decide the likelihood of finishing in the money is already small, the chance of winning everything is zero. Multiplying that probability by the payouts for each money finish gives an expected payout.
An easier way to figure this, and the one I believe is more frequently employed, is a payback analysis. If the first place finish is 10 times the entry fee, then one needs win just once every 10 years to break even. Who isn’t confident they can win more frequently than that? So the decision to go for it all next season has been intuitively and mathematically justified.
The monkey wrench is there are considerably fewer teams who can accept your out-of-time players and/or expensive keepers. What do you do? Many force a bail deal and end-up making trades that marginally look better for themselves only to see a piece get hurt, lose their job or get traded to the other league before 2010 rolls around. This isn’t the best option.
A better decision is to toss out the all-or-nothing, flags-fly-forever advise and the expected outcomes/payback analysis and semi-punt the season. Yes, sit on the fence. The question is how to execute this fence-straddling decision.
First, the counting categories on offense are nearly impossible to semi-bail on because every team knows home runs, RBIs, wins, strikeouts and saves. The place to look are the ratios categories. These escape the simple math of “+1” involved the counting categories.
Why? Ratios are basically weighted averages, and these are not intuitively appealing but work very slyly to improve a team on both ends. A ratio category worsens with every hit or walked allowed and every at-bat without an accompanying hit. That provides three ways to improve: by adding players who are net gains, subtracting net losses and avoiding negative outcomes.
Typically, this is easiest to do by dumping hitting in favor of pitching. Given your unimpressive performance, you’re likely in the bottom half of the pitching ratios anyhow. Every team has good hitters and understands them much better as a result of ease of counting math. The difference between the bailing team’s hitters and the winning ones are just magnitude. The teams at the top have 10 or more contributing hitters and those near the bottom have 7 or less due to inexplicable ineffectiveness (David Ortiz), injury or lack of opportunity.
What you do is look to deal your hitters for the other guys pitchers. A three-or four-for-one trade that nets you Yovanni Gallardo sets-up a possible ratio run as time passes. Given the ubiquity of the harmless middle reliever, you also begin to shed your mediocre starting pitching when you can’t trade it to set-up a synergistic situation that has you adding a high inning great ratios starter and avoiding high innings mediocre-to-bad ratios SP.
Does this work? Do you believe a team can successfully straddle between bailing and competing? Have you done it, intentionally or not?
Posted by Eric Hinz at 1:22am (2) Comments
For those following along, I dedicated last week to Braves SP Javier Vazquez. I first stated my belief that he'll be a top five fantasy pitcher for the rest of 2009 and then briefly explored the claim that he bunches his hits and walks together. I found little evidence to suggest he did, but there were some things I didn't get a chance to look at. Today, I'd like to go a couple steps further and look at some of these things.
First, while I found that Vazquez was merely league average-ish at bunching hits and walks, I didn't check how similarly-skilled pitchers performed. I also didn't check the quality of the hits, treating every hit and walk equally. Unfortunately, I ran out of time today and didn't get to look at a few other things I would have liked to, so I'm sure you'll all be happy to hear that there should be yet another follow-up in the coming days.
Also, please note that, because we're digging into somewhat complicated matters, this may get a little technical for some readers' likings, and the charts certainly aren't as straight-forward as many of you would like. Please don't feel overwhelmed. I'll do my best to summarize, in simple terms, what's going on at the end of each section.
Note: All data presented in this article was arrived at using the stupendous Retrosheet for the years 2004 to 2008.
Comparison to his peers
As I noted in my previous article (and as a few commenters also made note of), it would be best to compare Vazquez not only to league average, but also to similar skilled pitchers (henceforth known as 'peers').
To define "peers," I selected all starting pitchers who were within 0.25 LIPS ERA points (to assure that they were exhibiting similar skills to Vazquez and not getting lucky) and within 0.05 WHIP points (to assure that there weren't differences in the overall number of hits and walks allowed that would skew the study) for each year. Arbitrary, yes, but that's kind of the nature of the beast. This gives us a sample of nearly 11,000 inning appearances from 2004-2008. The results are shown below:
The format of this chart is a little different than last time. Each column shows the percentage of time that this exact number of hits and walks were allowed in an inning (as opposed to the percentage of time that at least this many hits and walks were allowed, as was displayed last time. This was done to make for easier comparisons to the next couple charts).
The important thing to take away from this is that Vazquez's peers don't perform much differently than league average and that Vazquez doesn't perform much differently than them. In fact, we see almost the same exact net result: the bunching of 1.6 fewer hits and walks than his peers per 216 inning appearances (his average number pitched since 2004). If we remove the innings with two hits and walks, it drops to the same 5.4 deficit we saw last time as well.
Let's dig a little deeper...
Damage done by hits and walks
In my first study, I didn't include the actual damage done by the hits and walks, but simply looked at the raw totals. It was suggested that perhaps Vazquez's problem isn't how many hits and walks he bunches together, but the types of hits (i.e maybe more doubles and homers than singles and walks). Using Linear Weights, we can check this pretty easily.
If you're the kind of person who's interested in the specifics, you can click here to see the average damage done per single inning of a particular type. Here, it appears that more damage is done to Vazquez than both league average and his peers in innings with two, three, or four hits and walks, but he has been able to make up for it a bit by bettering (or tying) both the league and his peers in innings with 5 through 11 hits and walks.
After finding this, I combined the frequency with which Vazquez allows each type of inning with the cumulative damage done by the walks and hits in that type of inning (scaled to 216 inning appearances). You can see the breakdown by inning type here. Vazquez seems to take the biggest (relative) beating in innings with four hits and walks, and these innings happen frequently enough to wreak a little havoc.
For those who would rather not be bored with the specifics (the majority of you, I'm wagering), below is a chart with (hopefully) an easily understandable version of the final effects. This takes into account both the frequency with which Vazquez allows each type of inning and the cumulative damage done by the walks and hits. It has been scaled to show the net linear weighted effect per 216 inning appearances (Vazquez's average since 2004). I've also broken these effects up by types of innings: those with at least 2 hits and walks, 3 hits and walks, and 4 hits and walks.
To put it into simple terms, what we're seeing is that Vazquez's peers are a bit better than league average, but Vazquez himself is a bit worse than both. At best, he's about 2.2 runs worse if we only focus on 2+ H/BB innings (about 0.08 points of ERA). At worst, he's about 4.2 runs worse if we only focus on 3+ H/BB innings (about 0.17 points of ERA). While some of this may be noise, it still looks like it might be justifiable to dock Vazquez's value a little bit... just don't go crazy. I still believe that an ERA below 3.30 is a very real possibility for Javy.
As always, comments are welcome. As I mentioned earlier, I'll probably be doing one final follow-up in the coming days.
Posted by Derek Carty at 2:01am (15) Comments
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Player Pool: Mixed
No. of Teams: 12
Scoring for Batting Categories
Walks: 1 point
Caught Stealing: -2 points
Hitting for the Cycle: 20 points
Errors: -2 points
Hit by Pitch: 1 point
Strikeouts: -1 point
Runs: 1 point
RBI: 1 point
Stolen Bases: 2 points
Total Bases: 1 point
Scoring for Pitching Categories
Walks Issued: -1 point
Blown Saves: -7 points
Complete Games: 10 points
Earned Runs: -1 point
Strikeouts: 1 point
Losses: -10 points
No-Hitters: 50 points
Quality Starts: 5 points
Saves: 8 points
Shutouts: 10 points
Wins: 15 points
Active Players 14
Reserve Players 6
Active SP 4
Active RP 1
Brian McCann (C)
Miguel Cabrera (1B)
Aaron Hill (2B)
Jorge Cantu (1B, 3B)
Ryan Theriot (SS)
Andre Ethier (OF)
Nick Swisher (1B, OF)
Ben Zobrist (2B, SS, OF)
Prince Fielder (1B)
Dan Uggla (2B)
J.J. Hardy (SS)
B.J. Upton (OF)
Chris B. Young (OF)
Dan Haren (SP)
Ted Lilly (SP)
Jonathan Papelbon (RP)
Max Scherzer (SP)
Javier Vazquez (SP)
Jair Jurrjens (SP)
Hiroki Kuroda (SP)
Jason wrote to the Roster Doctor concerning a mild headache (he's trying to see if he can upgrade his bench). However, I am going to abuse my authority as Roster Doctor of the day to address the patient's overall corpulence (his league's strange scoring system) as well.
Scoring systems, like beer, are matters of taste and not ethics: I don't like shaking the "thou shalt not" stick at league's preferences. That said, with so many empty Coors Light cans on your league's floor, I can't help but feel that maybe we can do better (PBR?). There are some stats that are clearly gimmicks, like no-hitters, hit-by-pitches, cycles, and (somewhat) shutouts. Scoring stats like these provide for some added entertainment but are mostly luck driven. They're also hard to equate to any kind of "true" baseball value. As a manager, I'd take two home runs or two one-hitters rather than a home run and a triple (extend accordingly to a cycle) or one no-hitter. But cycles and no-hitters are rare enough events that they're not worth upsetting things over.
More importantly, as Jason himself noted in the e-mail, his league heavily rewards power batters and pitchers that get wins. I like that the league includes walks (which are not counted in total bases) and total bases instead of home runs. Using total bases smooths the scoring system out. Doubles and triples are better than singles (everything else equal) but worse than home runs.
On the pitching side of the ledger, however, there are a lot of dis-continuities. Instead of innings pitched, the league rewards quality starts and complete games. So there's little difference between going six innings and giving up three runs versus going eight innings and three runs. Going eight innings and giving up four runs gives many fewer points, despite the same ERA! In general, there is too much emphasis on luck-driven stats like wins and not enough on better (though imperfect) measures of pitcher quality like hits allowed.
Anyway, on to your roster. Ideally, what you'd like is to put Zobrist into your middle infield somewhere (probably for Theriot) and upgrade your outfield. Perhaps you can trade Theriot or Uggla to someone in your league who needs insurance or an upgrade in the middle infield (perhaps Jose Reyes' owner, for instance). Young has value, though obviously it is only for his upside. Opinions differ sharply on him as to how much upside he really has anymore. He might be a small chip to throw in on a trade. Given that you're waiting on Upton as well, maybe replacing Young with Aaron Rowand (whom you wrote was available) is something you should consider.
I like your pitching staff. I would not replace Kuroda as I think he'll be a source of quality starts and wins. Instead, if you're thinking of dropping a pitcher for either Rick Porcello or Josh Outman, then I might think about Scherzer. However, I probably wouldn't pull the trigger for either.
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 1:55am (1) Comments
The day is Saturday in a Head-to-Head league and you are tied with the team you are playing against in wins. This is a great situation to add a pitcher for just one day to make a spot-start to increase your chances of winning the category. Let's go through a few of the criteria that you should go through when selecting the spot-start pitcher perfect for you.
The overwhelmingly most important thing to weigh is the spot-starting pitcher's skill. LIPS ERA, True ERA, xFIP—whatever measure of pitcher's skill that works for you is the overriding factor. But if there are two or more pitchers available that have about the same level of skill, there are some tiebreaking factors that should next be taken into account.
Almost everybody takes into account the lineup the pitcher will face, which is smart because there is a better chance a pitcher gives up more runs against a better-hitting team. Another thing most people account for is how well the pitcher has pitcher in his last few starts. Even though small sample size alerts may be going off in a few people's heads, The Book does show that hot streaks for pitchers do exist to an extent.
Although relatively unimportant compared to the other criteria used to evaluate spot-starting pitchers, many people also are influenced somewhat subconsciously by the team of a pitcher. There is something unjustifiably more enticing about adding a Dodgers starter than a Nationals one.
Admittedly, some merit exists in considering the pitcher's team since we are looking for a win and a Dodgers pitcher is definitely more likely to get the "W." Still, I would put it at the bottom of the list because there is another tiebreaking factor few people look at that has a much bigger impact on whether your pitcher comes away with the win: The opposing pitcher.
My theory is that it takes a little more effort—and by effort I do not mean eight minutes and running a mile, but 30 seconds and a couple extra clicks with your index finger—to find out the starting pitcher for the opposing team and that is why so few factor it in even though it can have a tremendous impact.
Sometimes it will not matter because the opposing pitchers for two potential spot-starters are about equal. Other times however, one pitcher will be facing Doctor Roy and the other Jamie Moyer. Clearly, you want the guy countering Moyer and not Halladay, as this will have a huge impact on whether your pitcher gets the win.
Overall though, the spot-starting pitcher's skill is by far the most important factor and can override all of the others. When two pitchers are close in skill, then you can start looking at secondary and tertiary factors. For a reminder of their order of importance:
At the beginning of the article I made the context for needing a spot-start from a pitcher a daily updated, Head-to-Head league, but really I could have made it any type of league. Spot-starters are necessary in all league formats, just in some more than others.
Any factors you use that I forgot to mention? Let me know in the comments.
Posted by Paul Singman at 1:50am (4) Comments
Last week, I talked about selling players low.
One of big reasons why many people in fantasy leagues need to start selling low is because it's getting more tough every day to sell high and buy low. A few years ago, even after the publication of Michael Lewis' "Moneyball," a smart fantasy owner could steal players who were the victims of poor luck and had inflated ERAs or depressed batting averages. Not anymore. Jon Lester may have an ERA over 5, but if you make an offer for him, the other owner has likely seen all the notes about a high BABIP and low FIP.
The days of assymetrical information in the fantasy baseball marketplace are just about over, perhaps leaving successful owners in pursuit of new strategic edge towards success.
Well, almost over.
For whatever reason, I've found that many in fantasy leagues hate to think about the category of runs, even though almost all leagues count this category, and success in the category has been demonstrated in many statistical studies to show the highest correlation with overall success in fantasy baseball leagues.
Everyone looks at BABIP these days, but what about xR, or expected runs?
Indeed, by using an xR formula developed by Jim Furtado and later shown on this website to have good correlative merit, we can plug this year's numbers to see which batters are getting lucky and unlucky on the runs front.
First, the unlucky bunch. Here are the 10 batters whose peripheral stats indicate they should be scoring more runs:
Name/Actual Runs/Expected Runs/Difference
Ichiro Suzuki / 23 / 37 / +14
Adam Dunn / 30 / 44 / +14
Prince Fielder / 35 / 48 / +13
Carlos Ruiz / 8 / 20 / +12
Russell Branyon / 33 / 44 / +11
Carlos Lee / 28 / 39 / +11
Victor Martinez / 37 / 47 / +10
Lyle Overbay / 20 / 30 / +10
Albert Pujols / 44 / 54 / +10
Shin-Soo Choo / 33 / 42 / +9
Next, the lucky bunch. Here are the 10 batters whose peripheral stats indicate they should be scoring fewer runs:
Jimmy Rollins / 34 / 20 / -14
Willy Taveras / 33 / 22 / -11
B.J. Upton / 36 / 25 / -11
Jerry Hairston / 34 / 24 / -10
Rafael Furcal / 29 / 19 / -10
Dustin Pedroia / 45 / 36 / -9
Emilio Bonafacio / 30 / 21 / -9
Orlando Cabrera / 28 / 19 / -9
Jody Gerut / 20 / 11 / -9
Fred Lewis / 33 / 25/ -8
Some people may object to this assessment of runs based on the notion that the category is a context stat, indicative of a manager's decision about lineup position and the strength of a team's offense.
Of course, some of that might be true. The formula does weight for the number of at-bats, but doesn't measure the strength of a players' teammates. Still, players in good lineups and poor ones populate both lists. Luck can certainly be a factor in run production.
We'd also point out as we did a month ago that many people in fantasy leagues offer or consider a trade in consult with a league provider’s player rater. Runs certainly get weighted in the calculation of a player's value on these raters so it may help to know some context.
Posted by Eriq Gardner at 1:55am (1) Comments
This week, it's THT Fantasy's turn to host the Fantasy Baseball Roundtable. Thanks go to Eriq Gardner, Eric Hinz, and Michael Lerra for helping to put this question together:
Is there ever a time when you 'Buy High' or 'Sell Low' on a player (interpret the meanings of those two phrases as you wish)? Choose a player who you would currently 'Sell Low' (i.e. David Ortiz, Garrett Atkins) or 'Buy High' (i.e. Michael Young, Raul Ibanez, etc.) and give us your sales pitch for that player. If, for example, you're trying to trade Ortiz, how would you market him to the other owners in your league? Finally, what is the minimum requirement you would accept in a trade for the player you selected (or the maximum you would offer in the case of a 'Buy High' player')?
Jon Williams - Advanced Fantasy Baseball
This is a great question. If I must do one or the other, I would prefer to ‘Buy High’ rather than ‘Sell Low.’ I guess I would rather ride out a hot streak than wait for a player to come around. I think it is just as likely that a Raul Ibanez has an unexpected great season as David Ortiz continues to have a miserable one. However, before I bought Ibanez, I would kick all the tires at least twice.
Ibanez spent the last few years of career playing at Safeco Field one of the better pitcher’s parks in the American League. This season he moved from that difficult situation to much more favorable one at Chase Field. He moved from an okay at best lineup in Seattle to a killer lineup in Philadelphia. This all gives me reason to expect to see some improvement.
Ibanez’s strikeout-rate, walk-rate, and BABIP are about the same as always so nothing to worry about there. He is hitting a few more groundballs and fly balls but fewer line drives, but he’s mostly in his career ranges here as well. Ibanez’s production looks very real to me so I would be willing to offer what it takes to get a top outfielder who is probably priced very well in NL-only leagues. I would be okay with offering a solid outfielder and a top prospect to a re-building team, or a solid starter, or an extra closer (assuming I had one) if trading pitching for a bat was an option.
If I had to sell David Ortiz, I would have done it after he hit his first homerun. I would mention his consistent production as a Boston Red Sox. I would note that he began slow last season and still finished as a productive player. I would mention that Dave Magadan has found a mechanical problem with his swing (he was holding his hands lower than usual to start his swing), a problem that Ortiz believes he has finally addressed. I would also wish you luck.
Patrick Cain - Albany Times Union
This idea of Buy High/Sell Low is very much how I approach players, as I treat players like stocks. Whaaaat? you might say. The old notion of buy low, sell high is flawed. From a stock stand point its very difficult to do; for each Warren Buffet you have 10 broke schmucks. There's a reason stocks go down, it's because they stink. Baseball players aren't much different. It's really hard, with the information available to fantasy managers, to determine what is a good buy low opportunity. Yes, occasionally we'll strike gold and pick up CC Sabathia or Roy Oswalt early in the 2008 season. But for each of those starts in decline, there are people mired in a bad season or in the declining phase of their career.
Buying high is relative. Right now there is no person flying higher than Zach Greinke. Let's say he was valued at like $20 in the preseason and now he's worth $50. Buying high doesn't mean paying $51. It means paying $30. He's not going to end the season with a sub 1 ERA (I think). But he's also not going to become a pumpkin (I think, again).
I think buying low is just playing with fire. Right now Ortiz is playing like a $2 player. But you're not getting him for $2. You're probably not even going to get him for $12. Whoever owns a slumping guy, believes in said slumper. Or, that is, he probably believes a lot more than you do.
If I was trying to get rid of a guy mired in draught or a collapse, I'd move him in a package. That way the owner feels like their risk is diversified. He'd get not only Ortiz, but also Ibanez. That way you set them up with base of stats and get them dreaming of what could be. But guess what, it won't be. It simply won't.
Brett Greenfield - FantasyPhenoms
I consider a "Buy High" a player who is exceeding expectations, yet has the ability to sustain such a high level of production. On the other hand, a "Sell Low" is somebody who is underachieving but, for example, because of age or lack of lineup protection could continue to underachieve. It isn't often, but there are times when buying high or selling low make sense.
This year, Adam Jones has started off scorching hot. I say "Buy High." He was the main cog in a deal that sent Erik Bedard to Seattle a few years ago. Bedard had come off of a Cy Young-like season and Jones was the Mariners best prospect. Jones hits in an ideal spot in the Orioles lineup. This spot is similar to the spot that Shane Victorino was put in when he broke out for the Phillies in 2007. Jones is sandwiched between Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis, two quality, proven fantasy studs. After them, lies Aubrey Huff, Melvin Mora and the potential of Matt Wieters.
Currently batting .359, Jones' average is certain to drop. He only hit .270 last year, but is seeing a better selection of pitches this year because of where he's batting second. A .290 - .300 AVG is possible. After hitting only nine homers last year, Adam has already hit 10 and should easily surpass 20 at this rate. Jones is on pace for over 100 runs scored and over 100 runs driven in. If I had to choose one to stick, it would be the runs scored. It seems likely that he'll score 100+ runs, while the RBI are likely to come back down, but 80+ is possible. Somewhere between 15 and 30 stolen bases seems like a realistic number for him to steal. He was 7-7 this spring in stolen bases, yet has not attempted many so far during the regular season. Expect his to steal more bases in the near future. Fifty percent of Jones' hits have gone for extra bases, limited his opportunities to steal.
Jones is only 24 years old and is quickly becoming a five-tool fantasy stud. Despite batting .359 and on pace for 140 runs and 117 RBI to go along with 36 homers, Jones is the ultimate "Buy High."
If I were to try dealing for Adam Jones I would have no problem parting with someone like Alex Rios, BJ Upton or Matt Kemp. You might even be able to get something else thrown back along with Jones in exchange for one of the aforementioned hitters.
Mike Podhorzer - Fantasy Pros 911
Yes, there is absolutely a time to "Buy High" or "Sell Low" on a player. In fact, I think this type of strategy may be a lot simpler to execute than the mythical "Buy Low" and "Sell High" trades that are nearly impossible to make in leagues with any bit of competitiveness. Though his 6.60 ERA will undoubtedly come down, I would sell Francisco Liriano low. His skill set has changed dramatically since his pre-TJ Surgery days and he now looks like a slightly better than league average pitcher at best, with little upside or potential to post a sub-4.00 ERA like his owners counted on.
The great thing about Liriano is that he still carries much more name value than other pitchers who have performed just as poorly. It would be easy to point to Liriano's strong second half of last season and convince a league mate that he is buying low and Liriano's value can't fall any further. Point out that he is still only 25 years old and as he moves further away from TJ Surgery, he should continue to gain strength and improve, leading to another strong second half. In addition, a 7.7 K/9 is still above average and could help any fantasy team in the strikeout category.
The minimum pitcher I would require in a straight up deal for Liriano would probably be someone like fellow buy low candidate and rotation mate Scott Baker. Though I would definitely expect to get more than Baker, in terms of projected future value, he would be acceptable. The hitter would depend on my positional and categorical needs, but based strictly on value, I would say someone like Jose Lopez or Kelly Johnson.
Tommy Landry - RotoExperts
First off, never get high before managing your fantasy team, unless you like the nickname "Bob" (a.k.a. Bottom of the Barrel). That goes for buying OR selling.
But seriously, I am never one to go out and pursue a guy who is already playing like an All-Star, unless I think his ceiling is still much higher than what he has done so far. Unfortunately, it is rare that you'll find a taker in that situation without seriously overpaying. In the case of selling low, I have been known to have the occasional fire sale in hopes of landing a replacement guy who I think is due to come out of a slump himself. This is where you can achieve some nice profit. You start by highlighting extended slumps that the player-to-be-dealt has endured in the past and sell it as the same thing. Then you show all the big chinks in the armor of the guy you secretly covet. Typically, I like to do this with players of different styles - e.g. dealing away a "stick a fork in him" power slugger for a speed guy who just healed up from a lingering hamstring problem. You can really harp on the hammy issue in this case, meanwhile playing up the "his walk rate is still great, his contact rate has to get better, and look at all the doubles he hit last week" angle for the slugger.
Of course, you have to draft a bust to have someone to sell low, and I'm risk averse to the point that I wouldn't have taken a guy in severe decline like Big Papi before the tail end of any of my drafts this year. Then again, I'm sitting on Rafael Furcal in two leagues waiting with baited breath for him to "come around". I might be waiting a long time.
Posted by Derek Carty at 2:01am (8) Comments
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
When we surveyed Monday's box scores, we figured that the winning Worst Monday entry would include a starting pitcher or two—Jeremy Bonderman, Jon Garland, and Andrew Sonnanstine all gave up at least 5 ER in personal Losses, and Zach Duke got decked.
However, in our inaugural edition, reader Gavin Konkel trotted out no pitchers. And yet, Gavin still managed negative points.
Because, of course, when you send Miguel Cabrera and Justin Morneau to the plate 12 times, you expect numbers like these:
AB R 1B 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB K DP Pts Cabrera 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 -1.5 Morneau 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 -3.0Keep in mind that Cabrera and Morneau entered Monday with a combined .343 BA and 1016 OPS.
And so, on a day in which his leaguemates earned as many as 22 points, Gavin got -4.5 points. For that feat, he is our debut Worst Monday winner. Congrats to Gavin!
For his efforts (or lack thereof), Gavin gets a free subscription to Heater Magazine. We may also enshrine "to konkel" as a verb meaning "to get no production from elite hitters" ("The Mets are really konkeling").
In addition, the owner of the worst Worst Monday for the season will get a free copy of the 2010 Graphical Player, coming out in December. Gavin immediately leaps to the top (bottom?) of the leaderboard.
We'll open up the balloting again next Tuesday. Can you best -4.5 points? Konkel it!