May 23, 2013
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010
In last week’s column, I mentioned the idea of major fantasy sports providers instituting a census function and keeping a database of league performances. Most of those who reacted to the idea agreed that this would be a useful tool, so I thought I’d expand on the idea a bit and flesh out what how it might work and what I think it should provide. I’ve had this idea for a while (I assume others have too), so I’ve given it some thought.
First of all, I think this should be an optional feature. A league’s commissioner would choose whether he wants to enroll the league in the program. In fact, I’m inclined to think that only private leagues should be able to opt in. My reason for this is that I want to keep the quality of the data as high as possible. The nature of this data dictates that it is most likely to be used by serious fantasy sports participants, so I’d like to have at least some filtration of the data. I want to minimize the amount of data coming from leagues where somebody drafts Matt Kemp in the fourth round and a third of the teams aren’t even rotated on a regular basis. So, my broad sweeping assumption is that private leagues are generally of a higher quality than public leagues.
By opting in, your league’s settings are recorded and the system begins banking data about rosters, drafts and scoring. When using the database, the user would just input the preferred format in a series of drop-down menus: player universe, roto vs. head-to-head, number of teams, roster size/starting positions (there’s probably more variance here in pitcher starting roster set-up than batting, so I’m inclined to just have the system not distinguish between SP and RP and simply ask for the number of active pitching slots), etc.
On a side note, I really don’t understand why there’s an option to differentiate SPs and RPs in the first place and I encourage everybody who will listen to me to set up their leagues such that all the pitching slots are simply Ps. I mean, this is a totally artificial distinction; “starting pitcher” and “relief pitcher” are not real positions. Nothing is to stop a team from having nine guys pitch one inning each, so I don’t see why a fantasy league would issue mandates that owners own a minimum number of different types of pitchers. It’s no more sensible than having slots designated for righties and southpaws. OK, guys, rant over.
Anyway, here are a few things I think the system should track and why those things might be useful for the fantasy universe to know.
Scoring. For me, I think this is the most important vein of information to be gained from this hypothetical tool. Here are a few important questions that we could gain insight into:
Player ownership. Perhaps there isn’t a much to be gained from learning things like which players were most often found on championship teams and who was found on losing teams, but paired with some draft information it could be worthwhile to know these things.
Draft info. Some owners’ player acquisition strategies are driven very heavily by positional scarcity. Is, for example, forgoing first basemen earlier in the draft in favor of middle infielders a strategy common to winning teams? Of course, by establishing this database, this would allow the providers to publish their own ADP data.
There are some problems with this proposal, I’m aware. One of the main questions is whether there are too many junk leagues that will muck up the data. This is a question I’m not really sure about. I do feel like the majority of people who I meet randomly and start talking about fantasy baseball with seem to have no idea what the hell they are talking about. (If I had an agent, I assume he’d advise me against sharing this opinion with the public, as a fantasy baseball columnist.) A minimal step to try to improve the quality of the data would be to keep public leagues out of the process, but beyond that, I’m not sure how to “gatekeep.”
Another potential problem might me the myriad subtle variations of league and roster structures that could slice the data really thin. Again, I’m not certain this is a substantial problem, just that it has the potential to be. I think negating the distinction between SPs and RPs is a good first step. Perhaps you could ignore distinctions in bench spots and only focus on active roster spots, if the data started getting cut thin. But these would be kinks to work out once the evaluators get to see what they are working with. At the very least, it would be interesting to see how popular different league formats really are.
Got what you think is a fairly easily implemented idea for a valuable tool to advance the analysis of fantasy baseball, or suggested additions or criticisms of mine? Let’s hear ‘em.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 5:32am (4) Comments
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Jason Heyward / OF / Atlanta
To start the year, Heyward has done everything one could expect of him and nothing to deter me from his lofty future stat projections. A superstar is born.
Stephen Strasburg / SP / Washington
Strasburg has been fantastic in his first four Eastern League starts. His command has been especially impressive considering the level of competition and his lack of professional experience.
Jesus Montero / C/1B / NY Yankees
The best news regarding Montero's start is that the Yankees continue to stay dedicated to keeping him behind the plate.
Desmond Jennings / OF / Tampa Bay
A sprained wrist in spring training will keep Jennings out until at least May. Wrist sprains are notorious for lingering longer than they should and wreaking havoc on a hitter's swing. We will see soon how Jennings reacts.
Madison Bumgarner / SP / San Francisco
Bumgarner's last two starts have demonstrated improvement, and the dip in velocity that had many worried appears to be a thing of the past. The lack of strikeouts is what's worrisome at this point. I blame it on his secondary offerings. They need to develop if he is going to eventually be an ace.
Carlos Santana / C / Cleveland
Santana is off to a great start at Triple-A Columbus, while Lou Marson is struggling in Cleveland. It won't be long now.
Justin Smoak / 1B / Texas
After a strong minor league start, Smoak was promoted to Texas but has had a shaky six-game debut. It will be interesting to see how much patience Texas demonstrates if his struggles become chronic.
Buster Posey / C / San Francisco
Posey is off to a torrid start at Triple-A Fresno, including his trademark 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. However, it's going to take an injury to get him to San Francisco.
Neftali Feliz / SP/RP / Texas
Feliz has had an up-and-down start as Texas' closer, but he's proved himself enough to remain in high-pressure situations for the rest of the year, even if he eventually settles in as the setup man.
Martin Perez / SP / Texas
Perez has been impressive in the early going adjusting to the Texas League. Just 19 years old, his stock continues to rise.
Christian Friedrich / SP / Colorado
After a promising first three starts at Double-A Tulsa, Friedrich has landed on the disabled list with a tender elbow. It's expected to be a brief stint, but it's also prudent to always play it safe when dealing with a pitching arm injury.
Mike Stanton / OF / Florida
Wow! I'm finally fully buying into Stanton. I don't have a choice. The strikeout rate is still high, but a .338 batting average, nine home runs and 20 walks in 71 at-bats from a 20-year-old in Double-A is fantastic.
Michael Saunders / OF / Seattle
It's a small sampling, but Saunders has been disappointing in Triple-A Tacoma. I made up my mind to be aggressive with his preseason top-100 ranking, but I'm having second thoughts. His stock is falling.