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Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Reader Jim Ulbrich on Monday sent forth nine batters—well, he hired nine batters to go forth. Most of them took the money and ran:
Monday's result J.D. Drew 3-for-5 Bobby Abreu 2-for-4 7 other batters 0-for-28Making things worse is that Jim plays in a linear-runs league in which all outs are negative. As a result, Jim's team put up -5 points. For his efforts, Jim receives a year's subcription to Heater Magazine. The race for the overall prize, a free copy of the 2010 Graphical Player, is still led by two past winners who recorded -5.7 points.
Of the other entrants, we are also going to recognize Brian Mills. Brian actually finished Monday with 1 point, which would have been a stroll on the beach for Jim Ulbrich; Brian's problem is that his opponent scored 65.5 points, for a Monday deficit of 64.5 points. That'll happen when your opponent runs out Tim Lincecum, and you run out Rick Porcello. For Brian's efforts, we will also be setting him up with a subscription to Heater.
Thanks to everyone who entered!
Posted by John Burnson at 10:50am (2) Comments
Thursday, July 02, 2009
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: 5x5, daily, Public, Keeper
C- Chris Iannetta
C- Ronny Paulino
1B - Lance Berkman
2B - Chase Utley
3B - Chipper Jones
SS - Michael Young
CI - Adam LaRoche
MI - Robinson Cano
OF - Matt Holliday
OF - Shin-Soo Choo
OF - Brett Gardner
Util - James Loney
BN - Manny Ramirez
BN - Andy LaRoche
DL - Carlos Beltran
DL - Carlos Delgado
SP - CC Sabathia
SP - Cliff Lee
SP - Felix Hernandez
RP - Joakim Soria
RP - Mike Gonzalez
RP - Andrew Bailey
P - Ricky Nolasco
P - Roy Halladay
P - Tommy Hanson
BN - Chris Volstad
BN - Joel Pineiro
This team, as you can probably tell with a quick scan, has a lot of big name players and appears like it would be near the top of even a shallow league. However upon closer inspection, you will see it has some faltering pieces and as a result, the owner told me he has dropped in the standings to eighth place.
Starting at catcher, Iannetta is having one of the odder seasons of any player, batting just .229 but with 10 home runs. I would hold onto him for the second half as his batting average should rise with his undeserved .243 BABIP, making him one of the better catchers to own. I understand that in a two catcher league the position can get scarce so if Ronny Paulino is the best catcher available, then I am fine with him on your team. He does, at least, seem to be getting a larger slice of the playing time pie lately with John Baker struggling.
Of your infielders Chipper is the sole disappointment now that Berkman heated up. A .290 batting average out of Chipper is only disappointing compared to his previous seasons' averages, but is still very good coupled with nine home runs. I have found that Chipper is one of the harder players to trade in fantasy baseball—be it because of his age and health risks—so you might as well hang onto him and hope his health holds. If you are looking for a replacement down the road, fellow Brave Martin Prado is getting harder and harder to ignore everyday.
Fortunately Beltran will not require surgery and you should be thankful he may return soon following the All-Star break. When your outfield comes back together as you originally envisioned it—with Beltran, Manny, and Holliday—it should rival the best. It will only help that Holliday will probably find his way out of Oakland and to a park friendlier to hitters.
Choo, who is quietly having a terrific season, should not be relegated to the bench then, instead you should check splits and what pitchers your batters are facing to only play guys during optimal conditions.
The other readers I know dislike this, but your pitching is almost beyond improvement. Since it is star-studded but also has the depth of Volstad and Nolasco and the potential of Hanson, you should definitely try and trade a pitcher to improve your hitting somewhere. Upgrading your second catcher or maybe acquiring a second third baseman to backup Chipper would be beneficial.
Sabathia would be the big name pitcher I would most want to trade considering that his front line numbers of a 1.09 WHIP and 3.55 ERA still seem alright on the surface. However his drop in strikeout rate, increase in walk rate, and low BABIP make me think his second half might not look as pretty as his first half does.
Your bullpen is solid with two-and-a-half closers (Gonzalez being the half) and does not need to be messed with. If anything, you could trade away a closer to a team that is looking for one.
Stay active and when your injured players return to the starting lineup your team should be good enough to climb in the standings.
Posted by Paul Singman at 2:59am (0) Comments
Recently, Ron Shandler of Baseball HQ did something that perhaps many fantasy players have been tempted to do. Having decided to start "playing for next year", Shandler had several high value players that he wanted to trade for players with better prospects or fantasy contracts and he made this information public knowledge. Of course, he got many (I think five) offers, but he felt that they were all low-ball offers from owners that were notorious low-ballers. So, he made all the offers public to his league, so that each team would "know" that there were many interested owners and that they had better up their offers. Predictably, the rest of the league was upset, but some teams made better offers and perhaps made those offers sooner than they would have if Shandler hadn't revealed the details. So, was this a good move by Shandler?
The easy and often heard answer is "yeah." These answers acknowledge that Shandler may have broken an Omerta code of silence in fantasy. This code is a part tacit agreement, part cultural norm (like not wearing white after Labor Day). But, fantasy baseball is a zero-sum game where winners win by, in part, making losers lose and "the ends justify the means."
However, revealing the details of trade offers may not be a good strategy, especially in a league like Shandler's where you are likely to make many trades with owners. Here are some things to consider if you're thinking of "pulling a Shandler:"
(Don't reveal) Private information may be useful to you.
If you have two (or more) teams making offers to you and each team knows (or even just suspects) that the other team has made an offer, you will get better offers. Revealing the details of your offer gives your opponents something to shoot at, though. The counteroffers that you'll get may only be slightly better than the offers you revealed. Removing suspense removes much doubt.
(Do reveal) To show that indeed you really do have all the offers that you claim to have.
Ideally, you'd like to tell your opponents that you have lots of good offers while not necessarily telling them who made the offers or what players where involved. Of course, your adversary may just assume you are lying (or exaggerating). Talk is cheap, after all.
(Don't reveal) Your talk is credible.
Have you had negotiations with these teams before where you pulled out in favor of a different trade? Then, perhaps, your claim of other offers (without actually naming names) will be more credible. On the flip side, have you been caught in a lie before where you claimed to have a better offer but then accepted your opponent's initial offer? Then this owner isn't likely to trust your protestations for a while.
(Don't reveal) If players know or expect that you'll reveal a trade they may make you fewer offers because they don't want the fact that they are willing to trade certain players made public knowledge.
Once the entire league knows that I am willing to trade a certain player and the price I want for that player, I'm not likely to get a good deal for that player in future negotiations. (On a related note: ever go for a job interview where the employer asks you what salary you'd be willing to work for?) Owners may also make more low-ball offers to you.
(Do reveal) Your opponents never make serious offers.
Most players prefer to get an offer than to make an offer. Often these teams will initiate trade talk by making a low offer that they know you'll never accept just to get negotiations going but never subsequently counteroffer. If they never make a serious offer it can be hard to get any information about what they are looking for and how much they value your players. Revealing these low-ball offers can be a way to get serious teams to make serious offers and give you some information.
In summary, I would be wary of Shandlering in leagues where I was likely to want to deal with these owners again, though not because I am worried about their fragile feelings. There are many ways to get what I want without dropping this atom bomb. If I was stuck with a bunch of low offers, I would first hint that I had some other offers, possibly implicitly threatening that I would cut off negotiations with a team if it didn't start making serious offers (this needs to be done politely - just say that you don't think there's a potential trade to be made at this time). If this didn't work, then I'd perhaps reveal that I had X number of offers.
If I really felt that revealing the details of a trade would yield a much better offer, I would probably ask first. Take the best offer currently made and ask that owner if you can reveal it. Of course, you don't need his permission to do it, but asking first is likely to make him less worried about you in future trades. If that owner says no, then ask him if he feels like he has truly made the best possible offer.
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 3:01am (0) Comments
Friday, July 03, 2009
Rod Barajas (reprise) | Toronto | C
True Talent: .249/.302/.405
Next Week Forecast: n/a
When we last visited Senor Barajas, he was slugging over .500, and the advice was, “it's time to trade him to someone who believes in 'hot streaks' and 'momentum.'” Now he's back to Earth, and while the Jays are no longer scoring six runs per game, they're still at nearly five, which provides enough run and RBI opportunities. He's tough as nails, shaking off an ankle injury to avoid the DL, and is a nice AL League value pick if someone kicked him to the curb.
Brett Gardner | New York | CF
True Talent: .261/.341/.362
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 HR, 3 Runs 1 RBI, .266 BA, 1.3 SB
A super-fast guy like Gardner, who puts 47% of his BIP on the ground, is more at the mercy of the defenses and groundskeepers than anything else. That gives reason to believe that his actual OBP may exceed the TT prediction. Yet, even at TT levels, the 50 steals would make him a dominant fantasy force if he wasn't a fourth outfielder. Any sign of failure/injury by a starter makes this guy a must-play in all formats.
Franklin Gutierrez | Seattle | OF
True Talent: .261/.322/.409
Next Week Forecast: 0.9 HR, 4 Runs, 4 RBI, .270 BA, 0.6 SB
Nobody in Cleveland is surprised that Franklin Gutierrez is dominating the CF defensive stats this year (.986 RZR, 60 OOZ plays, both tops among CF qualifiers). With the non-Felix portion of the rotation needing all the flycatching support it can get and Endy Chavez out for the season, his job is virtually slump-proof. As TT indicates, don't expect a star, but for AL-only leagues, just playing every game has value.
David Hernandez | Baltimore | SP
YTD: 5.6 K/9, 1.5 K/BB, 4.19 ERA
True Talent: 7.4 K/9, 1.4 K/BB, 6.17 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.1 IP, 0.3 Wins, 4 K, 5.52 ERA
Finally, an O's pitcher to get excited about! Scouts have been luke warm on Hernandez for his entire minor-league career, with BA's Prospect Handbook suggesting he gets by with “deception” and ranking him 16th. But his fastball velocity is higher than Matt Garza's (93.4 to 93.0), and he cranked his AAA K/9 rate up to an absurd 12.4 to earn a promotion. The rough division and young pitcher fickleness (see: “True Talent” projection, for example) make him a “no go” for 1-year Mixed leagues, but in keeper or AL Leagues, he's worth a long look.
Kenji Johjima | Seattle | C
True Talent: .258/.300/.383
Next Week Forecast: 0.5 HR, 2 Runs, 3 RBI, .266 BA, 0.1 SB
Johjima-san is returned. This probably comes as good news to the Mariners and fantasy teams (in really deep league) who had Rob Johnson (barely) active for the past month. Johjima has hit .280/.317/.421 in the second halves of seasons in his U.S. career, the increase over first-half stats being an oddity among catchers. It's been a while since he's been effective, but he averaged 16 HR and almost .290 his first two seasons in MLB. His BABIP should rise from .244; be cautiously optimistic.
Sean O'Sullivan | Los Angeles | SP
YTD: 6.5 K/9, 2.2 K/BB, 3.00 ERA
True Talent: 4.1 K/9, 0.9 K/BB, 6.62 ERA
Next Week Forecast: n/a
Almost certainly getting bumped from the rotation (and probably the majors) upon Santana's return this week, don't get too excited about O'Sullivan's birth certificate, even in a keeper league. He's a rare “crafty righty,” who gets deserved credit for surviving the California League in 2008, but is nowhere near ready for MLB success. That he has 18 decent IP under his belt is just a fluke.
Chris Perez | Cleveland | RP
YTD: 11.1 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 5.55 ERA
True Talent: 9.7 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 3.91 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.0 Saves, 3.87 ERA
Chris Perez has the best “True Talent” ERA on the Tribe. He can sometimes hit 98 on the gun. He blew through the minors in about two full seasons, after getting selected in the supplemental (1st) round in 2006. He struck out 12.0 minor leaguers/9 IP, and MLB hitters have posed little more challenge (9.8/9 career, 11.1 in 2009). He walks too many—and probably always will—but the expected slight improvement in control should make him into a relief ace sooner rather than later ... perhaps in 2009 if Wood is dealt.
Andy Sonnanstine | Tampa Bay | SP
YTD: 5.5 K/9, 2.3 K/BB, 6.61 ERA
True Talent: 5.6 K/9, 2.5 K/BB, 5.22 ERA
Next Week Forecast: n/a
Sonnanstine is an example of how fine the line is for pitchers ... the combination of two games started at the New Yankee Bandbox, some bad luck (BABIP up 18 points from '08, HR/FB of 15%), and slightly worse control (1.7 BB/9 up to 2.4 BB/9) ... and suddenly he's back in AAA. He should still be the same pitcher when he returns; about 90% as good as he showed in 2008. Hear that, Omar Minaya?
Chris Woodward | Seattle | 3B/2B
True Talent: .234/..296/..331
Next Week Forecast: 0.4 HR, 3 Runs, 3 RBI, .241 BA, 0.3 SB
Mixed-league players can skip this one. Chris Woodward is an “in case of emergency only” player for the deepest AL-only leagues. As a RH hitter whose only “plus” is that he's hit about 11 HR per 600 PA in his career, Safeco isn't even a good park for him. He is good enough on defense that manager Don Wakamatsu hasn't been tempted to shift Branyan to 3b to make room for Carp, but a cold week by Woodward could result in that changing over the break.
True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.
Posted by Rob McQuown at 1:59am (0) Comments
Everth Cabrera | San Diego | SS
True Talent: .233/.306/.309
Next Week Forecast: 0.1 HR, 3 Runs, 1 RBI, .229 BA, 2.0 SB
Cabrera is trying to make the nearly impossible leap from High-A to the majors in one season, and he's not a player with the offensive skills to accomplish this easily. Add to this the broken hand that kept him out of the lineup for two months, and it's incredible that he's performed as well as he has. True Talent tells you he's not going to keep hitting for power, and he needs to improve his batting eye (0.66 BB/K in minors) to leverage his contact skills. Those steal numbers have value, and they're for real (109 SBs in 235 minor-league games), which shows Cabrera has real value to any team as long as he holds onto his starting spot. HEATER pegs his True Talent OPS at No. 27 among NL shortstops, making him best for the deepest of NL-only leagues, or for owners who need his steals at any price to their ratios.
Sean West | Florida | SP
YTD: 5.3 K/9, 1.2 K/BB, 4.06 ERA
True Talent: 7.0 K/9, 1.0 K/BB, 6.00 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 10.1 IP, 0.6 Wins, 8 K, 5.64 ERA
The Marlins gush pitching prospects like the chocolate waterfall in Willy Wonka's factory—but that doesn't mean you should take a swim in the river. West is a fastball-curveball lefty who's still learning to hit the strike zone, as his YTD and True Talent numbers clearly show. Fantasy owners loved him after his six innings of shutout ball against the Orioles, only to see him cough up five ER in 4.1 IP against the lowly Nats. That's the wild Wonkavator ride you're in for if you want a taste of West. He's just a rookie and might put it together, but that probably won't be until 2010. Until then, he's good for strikeouts, heart palpitations, and little else.
Jack Wilson | Pittsburgh | SS
True Talent: .277/.322/.389
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 HR, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, .279 BA, 0.2 SB
As a shortstop who hits adequately and fields well, Wilson would be much better regarded in a different era. In today's game, when shortstops must not only field and hit but hit for power, the small-market Wilson is notable mostly for his ugly dentition. Fantasy owners have noticed him more lately, as he's on a .356/.397/.525 tear in his past 17 games, a line that would make even his dental hygenist smile. True Talent shows you that's not likely to continue, but even at TT's levels, he's a good enough shortstop for NL-only leagues deeper than 12 teams. Deeper mixed leagues can ride him in the short term, but all owners should realize he'll bring decent BA with very little pop in the end.
Chad Gaudin | San Diego | SP
YTD: 9.4 K/9, 2.1 K/BB, 4.97 ERA
True Talent: 8.0 K/9, 2.0 K/BB, 4.41 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.4 Wins, 5 K, 4.41 ERA
If you eliminate three awful starts where Gaudin gave up 21 ER in just 14 IP, his overall numbers aren't bad: 4-3, with a 2.86 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. But three bad starts are three bad starts, and Gaudin owners didn't wait around for his nine other decent-to-good outings. He's won two of his last three starts, striking out 28 against just five BBs over 21 IP over that time. You can see from True Talent that his strikeouts and control numbers are for real, if a little inflated. PETCO is a good place to pitch, and his ERA is almost a full run lower at home, but the Padres aren't going to give him many wins. Leagues counting Quality Starts can find value here—six of his outings have yielded a QS—as can any league counting his nice strikeout numbers. Just be aware that those disastrous starts may be just around the corner. That gives Gaudin some value in nearly all NL-only leagues, at least as a back-end starter, and makes him a worthy addition in mixed leagues at least 14 teams deep.
Martin Prado | Atlanta | 2B
True Talent: .287/.345/.404
Next Week Forecast: 0.1 HR, 1 Runs, 1 RBI, .288 BA, 0.1 SB
Bobby Cox announced this week that Prado would be his starting 2B, creating a flurry of activity among fantasy owners, and with good reason. Prado is not only hot since he started playing the keystone—.438/.486/.656—but his True Talent numbers are also strong for that position. His skills are well-balanced, with moderate pop, the occasional steal, and a good batting eye (0.64 BB/K in minors, 0.86 BB/K in 525 MLB PAs), so he's got the skills and the opportunity to stick. Despite that, he's clearly not going to sustain this level of production for the rest of the season, and a prolonged slump could bring Kelly Johnson back to the starting lineup. But even if he can only match that TT line, he's a good enough option for NL-only leagues 10 teams and deeper, or mixed leagues 14 teams and deeper.
Mike Hampton | Houston | SP
YTD: 6.0 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 4.44 ERA
True Talent: 5.4 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 4.75 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.3 Wins, 3 K, 4.70 ERA
As bad as Hampton's bloated Colorado contract was, he's at least still pitching, and can be a decent starter when healthy. Those overall ratios are his best in years, and True Talent shows you they're not far off the mark. His value is depressed by several factors, including his injury history, home park, and the Astros' recent announcement that they'll go to a six-man rotation. But he's pitched well over his past four starts (2-2 record, 2.16 ERA), with a DL stint for a strained groin in between. He'll bring a handful of strikeouts, probably hit the DL again or miss a start occasionally, and he's a smart enough pitcher to avoid complete disaster. He's a gamble for any owner, probably best suited for streaming or spot starting in mixed leagues greater than 16 teams; NL-only leagues deeper than 12 teams could use him on a more regular basis.
Nate Schierholtz | San Francisco | OF
True Talent: .290/.331/.466
Next Week Forecast: 0.6 HR, 3 Runs, 3 RBI, .294 BA, 0.4 SB
As Fred Lewis has slumped, Schierholtz has surged, making him the RF du jour for the Giants. He's made the most of his chance, hitting .389/.421/.583 in the last nine games, all of them starts, and he may be on the verge of realizing his promise. He's got power (.518 SLG in the minors) and a good contact rate (82%) but these are undercut by his strike zone judgment (minor league 0.33 BB/K). If he sticks in right, he'll be worth a pickup in 10-team mixed and nearly all NL-only leagues. In the meantime, grab him if you've got a spot or watch him to be sure this starting role is for real.
Homer Bailey | Cincinnati | SP
YTD: 4.8 K/9, 0.38 K/BB, 8.68 ERA
True Talent: 6.5 K/9, 1.4 K/BB, 5.40 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.0 IP, 0.3 Wins, 4 K, 5.95 ERA
The much-hyped Bailey has burned enough owners to make many forget he's only 23 and has solid skills. He's done very well in 89.2 AAA IPs this year, with 8.2 K/9, 3.04 K/BB and a 2.71 ERA. His MLB numbers this season come from just two starts—an ugly six ER, 4.1 IP debut and a stronger 5.0 IP, three ER outing—and his walk numbers in both outings were obviously unacceptably high. True Talent's 1.4 K/BB isn't really strong, either, so he's going to struggle, but there's a reason why he's been a top-ranked prospect in the Reds' system for years. If he can learn to throw strikes with his impressive heater, curve and developing cutter, he's going to be awfully good, but he's not there yet. Keeper owners who have given up on 2009 can stash him on their bench, but other owners should take a wait-and-see attitude. He's got the stuff to be an ace if he can put it all together.
Posted by Michael Street at 2:00am (0) Comments
Monday, July 06, 2009
Recently, 34-year-old Mark DeRosa was traded from the Indians to the Cardinals. The occasion brought to light an aspect of DeRosa’s value that is overlooked (or, at least, under-enumerated).
That aspect is DeRosa’s versatility. Thus far in 2009, DeRosa has played 44 games at third base, 17 games in left field, 9 in right field, and 8 at first. Last year, his main spot was 2B (95 games), but he also played at least 20 games at 3B, LF, and RF, along with one game each at 1B and SS.
Such flexibility is not trivial. Why did St. Louis want DeRosa? As Rotowire.com put it, DeRosa “can play all over the infield, which makes him a perfect fit for the Cardinals.” Assuming this is true (and it’s almost inarguable), then there is an element of DeRosa that we need to account for. Sure, we can go through and total DeRosa’s Wins Above Replacement at each position. But that exercise dodges the value of the ability itself to play multiple positions.
There are two major ways in which DeRosa provides greater value than does a player of the same total WAR but single-position eligibility:
1. Higher resale value
Because DeRosa can play multiple positions, he can fill holes on a larger number of teams; hence, the demand for his services is stronger and so the winning bid should be higher. (This is true even if each team intends for DeRosa to play only one spot; it’s the volume of bids that matters here.)
Cleveland almost certainly fielded more offers for DeRosa—and hence got a better deal for him—than if he played only one spot. Likewise, in the expert fantasy league LABR, the winning FAAB bid for DeRosa was so high ($80!) in good part because most teams could justify submitting bids. (There may even be an add-on effect, whereby teams pay a premium because they know that DeRosa will be easy to off-load later.)
If you want a bargaining chip, you can’t do better than one that appeals to every buyer.
2. Easier replacement of teammates
Because DeRosa can play multiple positions, he indirectly expands the list of tenable substitutes at positions that he can play but that he’s not currently playing. Your left fielder goes down? Well, you can keep DeRosa at 2B and look for a LF—or you can put DeRosa in LF and look for a 2B. Whichever's better.
The thing to note about this factor is that it’s REUSABLE—each time that DeRosa’s team loses a player at a spot that DeRosa can play, DeRosa’s owner can cast a wider net for fill-ins. And a larger pool of candidates should mean a higher-caliber substitute. (Note that we are not saying that DeRosa has the same value at each position, only that he expands options.)
Moreover, DeRosa’s owner can discriminate not only among overall value but among the nature of that value—maybe the team wants speed, maybe they want a left-handed bat, maybe they want a closer. Whichever the case, more applicants means a better fit.
Imagine two teams. Every player has the same relative value for his position, but on one of the teams, players can play only one spot, whereas on the other team, players can play every spot.
Which team will finish with the better record? The first team—IF two things are true:
1. Players are inconsistent. If players never got hurt or had bad genuinely match-ups, or they never went on stretches that (rightly or wrongly) left them open to demotion, then positional flexibility wouldn’t matter because players would never need to be replaced.
2. Replacement talent is not evenly distributed. If every replacement player who was available to a team had the same relative value for his position, AND talent was evenly distributed among replacement players such that players were identically skilled from both sides of the plate, on the basepaths, and with the glove, then positional flexibility wouldn’t matter because no player would address a need better than would any other.
Fortunately, both things are true: Players are inconsistent, and replacement talent is not evenly distributed. And if the first team does beat out the second team, then our notion of “value” must be incomplete.
In fact, it seems to me that NO extant valuation method properly accounts for DeRosa’s versatility. Valuation systems generally treat a season as a set of numbers—add up the player’s contributions at the plate and in the field and you have his value. However, a season can also be seen as a string of events (some within a team’s control, some out of it). In that light, finding a player’s value entails not a comparison of that player’s success to the success of other players at his position, but a comparison of his team’s success to the success of teams (real or conceived) that lack the player.
Current valuation models are static. They miss that flux; they miss the ebb and flow of a season.
Mark DeRosa “makes his team better,” not because of pats on the back but in a true economic sense: He expands the options for the team when one of his teammates goes down, or when the team is looking to deal him for a needed quantity.
Whatever Mark DeRosa’s making, it’s not enough.
Posted by John Burnson at 1:01am (4) Comments
With Fourth of July weekend wrapping up and the All-Star break quickly approaching, trading season is in full swing for Major League Baseball (or at least trade rumor season is). While lots of names have been bandied about, something that's caught my attention is how many closers seem to be on the trading block this year. Here's a list of closers who could end up being moved by the end of the month (in rough order of likelihood):
That's 12 closers, or nearly 40 percent of all players delivering saves for fantasy owners (and that's not even counting setup men like John Grabow, LaTroy Hawkins, and Rafael Betancourt, among many others). I'm sure I don't need to tell you that this is a huge number.
The problem that fantasy analysts haven't seemed to pick up on (or if they have, it hasn't been written about anywhere that I've seen) is that there are few teams actually looking to buy a closer. Check out this list of teams currently in playoff contention and their respective closers.
+--------------+-------+----+-----+---------------+ | Team | Place | W | GB | Closer | +--------------+-------+----+-----+---------------+ | Boston | 1 | 48 | - | Papelbon | | NY Yankees | 2 | 46 | 2.5 | Rivera | | Tampa Bay | 3 | 44 | 5 | Howell | | Toronto | 4 | 42 | 7.5 | Downs | +--------------+-------+----+-----+---------------+ | Detroit | 1 | 43 | - | Rodney | | Chicago Sox | 2 | 41 | 2.5 | Jenks | | Minnesota | 3 | 41 | 3 | Nathan | +--------------+-------+----+-----+---------------+ | LA Angels | 1 | 43 | - | Fuentes | | Texas | 2 | 42 | 1 | Francisco | | Seattle | 3 | 40 | 3.5 | Aardsma | +--------------+-------+----+-----+---------------+ | Philadelphia | T-1 | 39 | - | Lidge | | Florida | T-1 | 41 | - | Nunez | | NY Mets | 3 | 39 | 1 | K-Rod | | Atlanta | 4 | 38 | 2 | Gonzo/Soriano | +--------------+-------+----+-----+---------------+ | St. Louis | 1 | 43 | - | Franklin | | Milwaukee | 2 | 42 | 0.5 | Hoffman | | Cincinnati | 3 | 39 | 2 | Cordero | | Chicago Cubs | 4 | 39 | 2 | Gregg | | Houston | 5 | 38 | 3 | Valverde | +--------------+-------+----+-----+---------------+ | LA Dodgers | 1 | 50 | - | Broxton | | SF Giants | 2 | 42 | 7.5 | Wilson | | Colorado | 3 | 41 | 8.5 | Street | +--------------+-------+----+-----+---------------+Note: Standings are a couple days old, but it doesn't change my point.
This list is littered with the names of established closers like Jonathan Papelbon, Mariano Rivera, and Francisco Rodriguez. Despite how many teams are on the list, the only ones who may be looking for a closer are Texas, Detroit, Seattle, and maybe... maybe Florida. That's about it. The rest either have a closer, don't have the money, talent, or willingness to acquire a big-name reliever, or would rather upgrade elsewhere.
What this means is that, if some of the nine closers above are traded, there's a good chance it will be into a setup role. That would be absolutely disastrous for fantasy owners. While teams usually only sport one closer, every team is open to improving the rest of their bullpen, and this year in particular, several teams are without elite setup men (like the Yanks, Angels, Dodgers, Twins, Mets and Cardinals). If, say, Huston Street gets traded to the Yankees, his fantasy value in mixed leagues is shot.
There's already talk of the Yankees acquiring Street or Qualls, the Twins acquiring Capps, the Angels acquiring Street, and plenty of others that are being discussed internally or are being kept quiet for the time being, I'm sure.
It is, however, entirely possible that little comes of all this. Let's consider a few things. First, it's quite probable that the sellers view their relievers as closers, while most of the buyers will view them as setup men, leading to the sellers wanting more than the buyers are willing to offer.
Second, basic economics teaches us that when the supply of a commodity is high (and it most certainly is here, especially with all the good setup men available), the price of the commodity lowers. After all, if the Rockies try asking for a ridiculous amount for Street, the Yankees (or whoever else) could simply say, "Whatever, I'll go talk to Arizona about Qualls, Pittsburgh about Capps." This could lower the cost of all of these closers to the point where their teams no longer deem the return acceptable.
And that's not even considering the possibility of the endowment effect coming into play. Throw it all together, and we might only see a couple of these big names traded. Of course, this could be upset a bit if some teams ultimately decide to become buyers and not sellers (check the playoff contender list again—six closers on there overlap with the first list, lowering the supply and raising the price of all closers back up).
Suggestions for handling this tricky situation
Overall, I'd say that if you own one of these closers, it would be worthwhile to see if you can swap him out for a closer more stable in his job. Maybe offer up a two-for-two deal to conceal your true intentions, if you so desire (i.e. Matt Kemp and Huston Street for Nate McLouth and Jonathan Broxton or something like that).
A variation of this two-for-two ploy could be to ask for an unlucky starting pitcher in return (think Ricky Nolasco, Scott Baker, Randy Johnson types), actually allowing yourself to upgrade at two spots (i.e. Matt Cain and Street for Nolasco and Broxton). One more variation could be to ask for a closer with inferior skills or health concerns (think Kevin Gregg and Fernando Rodney types) and then upgrade at another position. If the other owner doesn't have these same deadline-deal fears as you, he might jump on it.
Don't go too crazy, though, and don't downgrade too much at another position if that's the route you choose—there's no guarantee that any of these closers will actually be traded. While guys like Jenks and Wood are probably safe, I would be pretty aggressive in shopping Qualls, Street, and (to a slightly lesser extent) Capps. Just don't make it obvious that you're looking to deal them, as you won't get the kind of offers you'll be looking for.
Guys to stash
For those looking to be a step ahead of the competition, here are the respective setup men who are next-in-line for saves should any of the 12 closers from the beginning of the article be traded. A (T) means that the reliever is also a trade candidate, so a third option will also be listed (in the event both the closer and top setup man are traded). A (?) means that next-in-line is somewhat unclear and this is more of a guess. A (DL) means that the reliever is on the disabled list at the moment, so a third option will also be listed.
Posted by Derek Carty at 2:01am (6) Comments
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
The upcoming All Star break offers a good opportunity to assess team performance and get ready for the second half.
Since it’s also a time that engenders a great number of trades, fantasy teams in Roto leagues need to be prepared to know how to analyze transactions for potential points gain.
In some cases, this comes easy.
For example, here’s a look at the saves category of a particular league.
Team 1: 68 saves
Team 2: 53 saves
Team 3: 50 saves
Team 4. 49 saves
Team 5: 48 saves
Team 6: 48 saves
Team 7: 47 saves
Team 8: 40 saves
Team 9: 35 saves
Team 10: 15 saves
Which team seems to be in the best position to pick up a lot of points in saves?
The obvious answer is Team 7, who stands a half dozen saves away from gaining ground in this category. In many instances Team 7 will look to acquire a closer to net him five potential points.
On the flip side, Team 1 and Team 10 are in good positions to deal a closer. Team 1 has a comfortable enough margin to begin thinking about trading a closer for a player who will help him in other categories. Team 10 is far enough behind to give up on the category and maybe trade his closer for better potential points gain.
That’s pretty basic.
Let’s move to something a little tougher to analyze.
For example, here’s a look at the strikeouts category of a particular league. Which team has the best chance of picking up points?
Team 1: 790 strikeouts
Team 2: 758 strikeouts
Team 3: 700 strikeouts
Team 4: 694 strikeouts
Team 5: 690 strikeouts
Team 6: 688 strikeouts
Team 7: 670 strikeouts
Team 8: 620 strikeouts
Team 9: 600 strikeouts
Team 10: 550 strikeouts
Did you say Team 7 again, noting that the team is within 31 strikeouts of picking up five points?
Maybe, but maybe not. Turns out this is a trick question. Consider that not all teams have pitched an equal number of innings. Let’s say Team 7 has pitched 850 innings whereas Team 6 has only pitched 750 innings. If the league maximum is 1600 innings, we can’t weigh each team’s strikeout potential as equal. Team 6 will have a much easier time picking up four points than Team 7 will have picking up five points.
Sometimes, it’s easy figuring out where to pick up points but hard figuring out exactly how to do it. Let’s say we’re in this league:
Team 1: 50 wins
Team 2: 49 wins
Team 3: 49 wins
Team 4: 49 wins
Team 5: 49 wins
Team 6: 49 wins
Team 7: 48 wins
Obviously, this is a tight race and whoever comes out on top in the wins category may go far in winning the league. But how does Team 7 chase wins?
Is it better to roster pitchers who go deep into games and pitch on high-scoring teams? Or is it better to roster middle relievers who won’t pitch many innings but may garner lots of vulture wins?
If Team 7 has already amassed a great deal of innings, is approaching its maximum innings allowed, and wishes to protect its ERA and WHIP, the team may opt for the middle reliever strategy. If Team 7 has pitched few innings, has a lot of upside in the strikeout category, and has assets to deal for an extra starter, he may go in a completely different direction.
The All-Star break is also a good time to analyze potential points gain because it’s roughly the half-way mark of the season, making the math easy on everyone.
For example, here’s a look at the AVG category in a particular league:
Team 1: .284
Team 2: .283
Team 3: .277
Team 4: .277
Team 5: .276
Team 6: .275
Team 7: .265
Team 8: .263
Team 9: .260
Team 10: .250
In doing an analysis, Team 7 has to measure its potential for catching up to Teams 3-6, potentially netting one to four points versus letting go of the chase for average, potentially sacrificing one or two points.
How conceivable is it that Team 7 gets to a .276 average? Because the season is half over, the team would roughly need to add double 11 points on his average. To get to .276, he’d need 22 points, or a .287 AVG the rest of the way. That’s going to be hard to pull off.
People in fantasy leagues need to figure out the categories to pursue and the categories to relax. But keep in mind that there’s more than one way to gain ground on a competitor.
For example, let’s pretend that the teams who play in Exhibit 1 & 4 participate in the same league. Let’s also say that our favored Team 7 is in a tough battle for first place overall with the dastardly Team 5.
If Team 7 trades some of his high-average players to Team 6 for a closer, he accomplishes a couple things all at once. He gains ground in the saves category, obviously passing Team 6 and hopefully Team 5. He also provides the ammunition for Team 6 to pass Team 5 in the average category.
Trading someone like Ichiro for Andrew Bailey may seem like an insane deal. But often, it’s this type of deal that wins someone a league.
Posted by Eriq Gardner at 2:20am (1) Comments
Do you have a Big Red Machine pounding in your head this morning? Or maybe you went to the Millwood once too often, or ordered "Pettitte" when you meant "petite"?
Let us know. Entering's a snap:
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.
We'll sift through the entries & give the lowest score on Wednesday. Each weekly winner gets a year of Heater Magazine. The winner with the lowest score for the season gets a free copy of the 2010 Graphical Player, coming out in December.
Posted by John Burnson at 10:20am (6) Comments
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Ian Stewart won't last at second base with such bad range and costing his team more than four runs in 18 games on defense. The good news is he will have the 20 games required for most leagues to have him second base eligible in 2010. His numbers so far have some similarities to Mark Reynolds, but could be a lower-average version of Chase Utley for 2010.
Name GP AB R HR RBI SB CS K% BB% BABIP HR/F P/PA Ian Stewart 77 221 37 15 42 6 2 27.6% 7.9% 0.228 16.5% 4.1 Mark Reynolds 80 301 53 24 61 13 5 36.9% 11.2% 0.343 26.7% 4.1 Chase Utley 77 279 56 18 55 8 0 19.0% 15.2% 0.317 15.3% 4.1
So far Stewart has not been enhanced by the Coors Field effect. His tOPS+ in Coors has been 97 with an OPS of .765 for a career OPS of .777. This is only 242 ABs at Coors, but his numbers look fairly solid home and away. So before we suspect his power is a factor of Coors Field, we can say his HR/F so far is a solid rate and should hold up.
Stewart had a tough time getting playing time before this year and when he did he was showing a K% over 35%. This year, though, his ABs have been much more consistent and so his strikeout rate has settled to an improved rate of 27.6%. So far this hasn't helped his batting average in 2009 at .217, but with a BABIP of .228 that should be expected to turn around in the second half. His K% in Triple-A was a bit better at 22%, so more improvement could be seen.
The team knows they can't keep him at second base and will look to move Garrett Atkins to free third base and give it to Stewart. Atkins is going to be entering his final year of arbitration and is already earning $7 million this year. Expect Atkins to be somewhere else in 2010 and Stewart to enter the season as the starting third baseman.
The first comparison for Stewart is to Mark Reynolds as a high strikeout guy with lots of power. In his first 530 ABs Stewart has 26 homers while Mark Reynolds was at 28 homers in his first 549 ABs. Reynolds also has played in a home stadium that has been more friendly to home runs, just like Stewart.
Reynolds still has league-leading totals in strikeouts, but with an OPS of .922 his value is clear and he has a wOBA of .394 that so far is 21 in the league overall. Stewart is trailing in this with only a .331 in his first full year at 24 years old, but in Mark Reynolds' age 24 year he had a .340.
As I covered earlier this week, Reynolds may be hitting over his head right now, but Stewart and Reynolds appear to be very similar hitters. They have solid walk rates with elevated strikeout rates. They can both top 30 homers, but also supply a surprising amount of steals. Look for Ian Stewart to have a Reynolds-type breakout in 2010 and finish 2009 with similar numbers to previous Reynolds years.
Stewart isn't going to push Chase Utley from the top of the board, but his fantasy value will be a potential second place to Utley. Much like Mark Reynolds this year, he seems like the type who will slip through drafts and fall to you much later than his value will supply.
Utley has shown an elite eye this year with a walk rate of 15.2%, but in his age 24 year he had a 7.6% in his first year and has averaged 9.6% so far in his career. On the other hand he has averaged an 18.2% strikeout rate and has never finished a season over 20.1%. This gives him a clear advantage over Stewart and has him as a solid bet to beat him in all fantasy categories from this. PECOTA, though, has some amount of agreement on this comparison as Utley is ranked sixth on Stewart's most comparable players.
It's a solid bet that Utley finishes 2010 as the No. 1 second baseman again, but Stewart will be eligible there, have plenty of power and has numbers comparable to Reynolds and Utley. Looking at ISO, Stewart had the best rate of the three in their age 24 season. His season is still under way and could change, but he is your sleeper at second base for 2010 with one season of eligibility there left. Once he gets to third base, though, you still have a 30/10 player with an improving lineup to help him out.