December 11, 2013
And here's the full roster.
Get It Now!
The tenth Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
Or you can search by:
Third Base: The Crossroads is THT's e-book, available for $3.99 from the Kindle store. The good news is that anyone can read a Kindle book, even on a PC. So enjoy the best from THT in a new format.
Get your very own THT merchandise from our CafePress store. We've got baseball caps, t-shirts, coffee mugs and even wall clocks with the classy THT logo prominently displayed. Also, check out the THT Bookstore. Please support your favorite baseball site by purchasing something today.
All content on this site (including text, graphs, and any other original works), unless otherwise noted, is licensed under a
Monday, May 03, 2010
Is 17 days too soon to give up on winning your keeper fantasy league this year and start building for the next? It wasn't too early for an owner in my 12-team American League auction league, who phoned me mid-April with a trade proposal. On the block was Justin Verlander, the Tiger stalwart expendable because he's in the last year of a three-year fantasy contract and will become a free agent at year's end.
"Doug," I replied. "You move fast for a team whose nickname is the Ladysmith Slugs."
The Slugs, though, were determined, and perhaps rightly so: They had no closer and seven dead spots out of 14 among active hitting slots. The only thing that stood between the team and the abyss was a hot start by Vernon Wells.
Some fantasy advocates lament leagues whose owners fold while the chips from the opening ante are still warm. Some go to great and creative lengths to devise rules that punish anyone who might dump this year's talent for next year's promise. But I'm not in one of those leagues. I'm in an old-fashioned auction league that embraces tradition. Only the top four teams get cash back. And the only difference between fifth place and 12th is the latter gets top pick in the reserve draft that follows our auction.
So the Slugs lacked the motive to compete this year, and in a league as deep as ours, the opportunity likely was gone too. Each of our league's teams has a 40-man roster, 480 players altogether or an average of 34 players per AL team. Every starting player is already taken. Most reserves and top prospects, too. There's just not enough talent left in the free agent pool to climb Everest.
If you're in such a league too and thinking of cashing in, move at slug speed. Ladysmith slug-speed, that is. If you're competing with experienced owners, some will see early what Mets General Manager Omar Minaya never has—the writing on the wall. They will move quickly, and if you don't, you may find yourself in what I call no-man's land.
No man's land was a term first used to describe the land between enemy trenches in the first world war, and while some may find our obsession with fantasy baseball equally senseless, I am borrowing the term from another context. In tennis, no-man's land is between the baseline—the line furthest from the net for those who don't play—and the service line, which is the line which runs parallel to the baseline about two-thirds of the way to the nest. The area is called no-man's land because most of your opponent's shots will bounce near your feet, making it impossible to hit a regular ground stroke or volley. So when you find yourself in no-man's land because your opponent hits a shallow shot, you should make a quick decision: Rush the net or fall back behind the baseline.
In a fantasy baseball keeper league, you are in no-man's land when your roster won't enable you to compete this year or build for next year. The perils of waiting will soon become apparent. In deeper auction leagues, there are relatively few players who offer great production at a low price, and if you wait, they will be gone.
That risk was evident last year in my auction league when I found myself in no-man's land after I went overboard in my auction strategy of targeting older, injury-risk players because the marketplace over-valued their injury risk. Vladimir Guerrero, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui and Mike Lowell all spent time in April and May on the disabled list and I saw my chance to compete ebbing away. By June, the owners of two struggling teams began to trade higher-priced stars for players who would be bargains in future years. The shallow pool of low-priced talent was at risk of running dry.
I wasn't going to win the league and I estimated my chance of finishing in the money was no better than perhaps 20 percent. But I did have intriguing pieces for the coming years: catcher Matt Wieters at $11, first baseman Kendry Morales at $1, shortstop Elvis Andrus at $5, stud pitcher Zack Greinke at $10, pitchers Phil Hughes and Brian Matusz waiting in the wings and Rangers prospect Justin Smoak and Rays prospect Desmond Jennings on my reserve. What I lacked entirely was an outfield keeper, a fatal flaw in deep keeper leagues. There are only 42 full-time equivalent outfielders in the American League and traditional rotisserie leagues have five outfield slots. In a 12-person league, that leaves 3.5 starting outfielders per team and many end up filling their fourth and fifth outfield slots with scrubs.
Looking at the low-priced talent pool, I saw two outfielders worth having: Adam Lind at $3 and Shin-Soo Choo at $5. That day I acquired both in two separate trades, getting Lind for Felix Hernandez, Guerrero and Delmon Young and getting Choo for Vernon Wells and Jorge Posada. All but Posada would be dropped at year's end because it would be the end of their contract or their salaries were too high to justify keeping. While Posada would be a keeper at $18, he wasn't the value of a $5 Choo. Later that season I traded a $21 Joakim Soria and $17 Mike Lowell for a $1 David Aardsma.
I'm not suggesting one should trade for next year at the first sign of trouble. My approach is this: Plan deliberately and trade decisively. Here are basic steps to take:
(1) Before the auction, calculate where you need to finish in each category to win your league, using league data from past years to formulate targets. During the auction or soon after, project where you will finish in each category, noting where you exceed, meet or fall short of your needs.
(2) Once the season begins, measure your team's performance against what you need in year-end stats to win—and forget how your team compares at any moment to others in your league.
(3) When performance varies from projection, determine whether this change is likely to persist. If it is, determine what you need to make up the difference and create a list of players to target, then ask yourself if you hold enough excess value in some categories to entice trades for those players.
(4) If improvement through trade seems attainable, seek those trades aggressively. If it does not, create a list of high-value players and target them in trades.
There is no shame in real sports for a team to rebuild. Should it be any different in keeper leagues in fantasy baseball?
Posted by Jonathan Sher
Whether we like it or not, relievers are a very real part of fantasy baseball.
I'm in one points-based league in which one of the members recently let loose with a tirade bemoaning the fact that we have three starting slots for relievers (mainly because he's tired of getting saddled with negative-point performances). This puts a big premium on owning consistent relievers.
I'm in another head-to-head league in which it's somewhat common to use at least one of the two mandated reliever slots on starters who are reliever eligible. Relievers are far less important in this league, obviously, yet no team in the league's 10 years has won the title without using two relievers on a regular basis.
While the impact of relievers certainly varies in each league, it never hurts to know which relievers are capable of having the most impact—both positive and negative.
Almost all of the relievers I reference here will be owned in at least 75 percent of ESPN leagues—and many of them will essentially be universally owned—but I've found that no matter what kind of league I'm in, relievers are among the easiest players to acquire via trade. Almost any owner is willing to swap a startable position player or starting pitcher in exchange for a solid reliever.
As usual, I'll be running Oliver's "Rest of Season" projections through Tom Tango's system when referencing ranking. For pitchers, it's calculated as (2*W)+ Sv + (K/5) + IP - (H + BB + ER)/2. The rankings are raw and not corrected for position scarcity.
Relievers you really need to get
These two guys will probably cost you too much, but if you can wrangle them away, they'll probably be worth the price.
Jonathan Broxton (Pitcher ranking: 28; Overall ranking: 111):
He's the only reliever in the top 30 among pitchers and the only one in the top 125 among all players. Unfortunately, he was also, on average, the second reliever taken in drafts (ADP of 61.9 in ESPN leagues) behind only Mariano Rivera
(who's the fourth highest-rated reliever). Broxton projects to pick up 31 more saves (tied for 10th) and 80 more strikeouts (second only to Carlos Marmol
's 90), according to Oliver.
Carlos Marmol (PR: 40; OR: 140):
The Cubs reliever has been absolutely electric this year, posting a 16.97 K/9 and and ERA of 0.77 while going 3-for-4 in save opportunities through Saturday's games. That may hinder your ability to acquire him, but there is hope: Marmol was, on average, the 17th reliever taken in ESPN drafts. In fact, he's one of the few closers whose projected overall ranking is actually better than his ADP (175.8). Even if you have to give up a little more than you'd prefer, there's probably not a better value out there in terms of closers.
Relievers worth chasing
This group is full of guys who are probably attainable, and worth a reasonable gamble.
Heath Bell (PR: 39; OR: 138):
On average, the Padres closer was the sixth closer off the board in ESPN drafts, with an ADP of 107.7. No one is going to give him away. Still, if he can be acquired, he projects to be the second-best reliever for the rest of the season. His projected 3.01 ERA is the third best among relievers; the 1.15 WHIP is the fifth lowest among relievers; the 64 projected Ks is fourth best among relievers; and the 32 saves is tied for first. Unlike some of the other pitchers on this list, his numbers come with a very attainable projection of 62 IP the rest of the way.
Billy Wagner (PR: 45; OR: 152):
We know all about the Braves closer and his deficiencies—basically that he's a big gamble in terms of health. Oliver's raw system (meaning it's not getting inputs from the humans who project playing time) projected just about 40 IP from Wagner. Right now, the "Rest of Year" system is projecting 63 more innings from him. It's going to be tough for him to reach that number, even if he stays healthy, so consider these numbers in that context. With all those caveats, he's another one of the rare pitchers whose overall ranking is better than his ADP (154.7). I don't think he's worth breaking the bank over, but we're projecting 32 more saves (tied for first) and 69 strikeouts (fourth). Those are strong numbers and if Wagner manages to stay healthy all year, he could be a bargain.
Rafael Soriano (PR: 51; OR: 167):
The Rays closer suffers from some of the same perceptions as Wagner, in that he's dealt with his fair share of injuries. Oliver's raw projections were much more kind, though, in terms of innings, projecting about 53 IP. With that in mind, our "Rest of Season" projection of 58 IP doesn't seem so outlandish, although I have to admit it's a little high. We project 32 saves (tied for first), 62 strikeouts (10th among relievers), a 3.47 ERA (10th among relievers) and a 1.19 WHIP (10th among relievers). He projects as the sixth-best reliever from here on out. He's already got five saves, which may drive up his price.
The newly minted
This group of relievers only recently took over the job. Since some of these players only got their jobs recently, I figured their rankings wouldn't tell us much so I didn't include them in this group.
Of all the the relievers I researched (basically anyone who is likely to get saves this year), he was the worst. He's already blown two saves as Huston Street
's replacement and Oliver doesn't see any reason to suggest this is out of the ordinary. He projects to have a 5.12 ERA the rest of the way to go along with a 1.61 WHIP. Run as far away as you can.
Although he hasn't registered a save yet, it appears as if he's going to take over for the recently demoted Jim Johnson
. This is probably somewhat pointless since the Orioles are bad enough that there won't be many save opportunities, but just in case you were considering adding Simon—DON'T! Oliver projects a 6.14 ERA and a K:BB ratio of 5.6:3.6.
I don't know that he's officially been named closer yet, but it seems only a matter of time with Octavio Dotel
's constant struggles. If he gets the job, he's probably worth a look. That 4.17 ERA doesn't look too bad, although probably his best number. He projects less than a 41:27 K:BB ratio and a 1.44 WHIP.
Unlike these others guys, there was actually a decent chance he was already owned in your league before he was named closer. Oddly, he's kind of struggled in the role, allowing six earned runs in his past five appearances. Still, he projects as a solid reliever with a 3.78 ERA (24th among relievers); 57 Ks (20th) and a 1.31 WHIP (37th). Not numbers that will blow anyone away, but they should be solid enough to nail down the vast majority of his save opportunities. Keep in mind, though, that Frank Francisco
has been pitching better since being demoted and it wouldn't be at all strange for him to regain his old job.
Relievers worth a look
As you might have guessed, a significant amount of relievers' values comes from their ability to get saves. This, obviously, is very much a product of opportunity and not necessarily indicative of any particular skill. For the next group of pitchers, I ran the Tango formula without saves. My goal was to come up with a ranking system for relievers that attempts to assess value regardless of opportunity. The rankings reflect only their rank among relievers minus saves. Most of these guys are stuck behind solid closers, but in case of injury they become almost instant must-adds.
Matt Thornton (Rank: 6):
The man blocking the White Sox setup man, Bobby Jenks
, is ranked 30th on this list. Thornton projects to have better a better ERA (3.21 to 3.74), more strikeouts (64-49) and a better WHIP (1.14 to 1.25) than man who's getting all the glory. Luckily, Jenks is currently sporting a 5.00 ERA and unless he gets his walks under control (currently 6.00 per 9), he's going to end up blowing some leads and probably lose his role. If that happens, add Thornton as soon as possible.
Luke Gregerson (Rank: 11):
Unfortunately, the chances of the Padres middle reliever are almost entirely predicated on Bell getting hurt, and possibly even Mike Adams
being unable to do the job (Gregerson is supposedly third on the closer's depth chart). Still, his non-save numbers project nicely a 3.24 ERA (eighth among relievers); 58 Ks (17th); and a 1.23 WHIP (14th). If your league counts holds, he's definitely worth owning.
Takashi Saito (Rank: 12):
One of the best things the former closer has going for him is the fragility of the man pitching the ninth on his team (Wagner). Saito is going to get some saves, and probably more than the one we're currently projecting. The 40-year-old projects a 3.64 ERA (18th among relievers); 1.24 WHIP (17th) and 62 strikeouts (eighth). If you have room, he's probably worth stashing on your bench.
Sergio Romo (Rank: 13):
The Giants' young setup man quietly had a pretty decent year in 2009. In just 34 innings after getting promoted from Triple-A, he post a 10.85 K/9 and 2.91 BB/9, while giving up just one homer. It's unclear how serious the recent groin injury Brian Wilson
suffered is and equally unclear who will fill in for him, but Romo projects at having the skill set to take over. The 3.25 ERA is ninth among relievers; the 1.14 WHIP is fourth and the 53 strikeouts are 28th. Jeremy Affeldt
, the other obvious candidate, also projects reasonably well, with a 3.84 ERA, 7.7 K/9 ratio and 1.30 WHIP. I'd say either player is worth picking up if it ever becomes clear which will assume closer duties.
Mike Adams (Rank: 15):
Whatever I wrote about Gregerson, it goes doubly for Adams (who is supposedly the next in line for the closer's job). If that happens, though, Adams projects to recover nicely from his unlucky start (4.50 ERA, despite a 1.20 WHIP and nearly 4:1 K:BB ratio). Oliver projects a 3.07 ERA (fourth best among relievers), 1.15 WHIP (eighth) and 49 strikeouts (33rd).
Posted by Jeremiah Oshan
Time for a quick update on the state of THT Fantasy.
Today, we'll be saying goodbye to our Buy On The Rumor blog. We're sad to see it go, but it will be replaced by what we think will be a more effective medium for communication. If you check out the right-hand side of the THT Fantasy homepage, you'll now see a live feed of our Twitter account. I'll primarily be the one posting to it, but my THTF colleagues will be joining in on occasion as well.
It will serve as a place where we can post links to external articles worth reading, quick comments on players, updates on our leagues, and anything else that may be relevant to fantasy baseball. I've been posting to it since last week, so be sure to go back and catch up on everything the dozen or so previous tweets. If you're looking to follow us on Twitter, our account name is "THTFantasy".
Next, I'd like to introduce you to the newest writer for THT Fantasy. His name is Jonathan Sher, and you'll be hearing from him every Monday. He's also an investigative reporter for the London Free Press and was twice a finalist for the Canadian equivalent of a Pulitzer. Glad to have you on board, Jonathan!
I'll also be resuming writing articles weekly (more or less, depending on the scope), which I'm very excited about.
As David noted last week
, Roster Doctor has returned, so keep sending in
your rosters and we'll evaluate as many of them as we can.
I think that covers everything. If you ever have any suggestions for things you'd like to see at THT Fantasy, I'd love to hear from you. Our primary goal is helping you win your league and providing you with the content you want to see, so don't hesitate to give us a yell if there's something you can we could add or improve upon.
Posted by Derek Carty
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
|While Pujols may not have a large chance of finishing No. 1 in an absolute sense, he still must be the No. 1 pick in the draft. (Icon/SMI)|
For those following along with the debate over at the CardRunners league site
, you'll know that the topic of accuracy and precision of player "projections" (or whatever you wish to call your impressions of a player) has been involved throughout. There are those in the fantasy community who have taken to talking about "false accuracy" and how projections are merely a crutch, a security blanket, and that because we can never truly know what a player will do in the future, precision is unimportant. Regular readers also know that this is not something I believe to be true.
Far too much has been written at CR for me to dig through and try to find the exact quotes, so forgive (and correct) me if this isn't perfectly accurate, but essentially, those on the "intuition" side of the debate
have said something to the effect of, "We've done projections and models before and have discovered that they have limits. Fantasy baseball is a complex game that can never be fully comprehended or predicted, and we will never be 100 percent accurate with our projections, so instead of being quantitative about it, we're just going to use our intuition instead. It's not important if Derek Jeter
steals 25 bases or 21 bases; having a general idea is enough."
Unnecessary precision and error bars
This line of thinking seems to be becoming more and more prevalent in the fantasy industry, even among those with reputations as "stat" guys. One of the analysts at the forefront of this movement is Ron Shandler, who had this to say in his Baseball Forecaster last year:
The player knowledge is not "Vladimir Guerrero is projected to hit 25 home runs, drive in 100 runs, and bat .300." These are lifeless pieces of projected data. Vlad could 27 HRs, or 22. He could bat .317 or .292. There are dozens of variables that may impact the actual numbers. The only knowledge that you can count on even a little is "Vlad Guerrero is a fading slugger who will get regular at-bats on a contending team." Anything more definitive is pointless.
I disagree with this.
Shandler, more recently, repackaged his point
using Miguel Cabrera
as his example (I've condensed it to be succinct—follow the link if you wish to read his entire explanation):
Coming into the 2009 season, we had projected that (Cabrera would) hit 39 home runs. That's his M.O.—he hits home runs in the 30s...
Cabrera finished 2009 with 34 HR. The difference between 34 and 39 is a bit more noticeable but does not substantively change who Cabrera is...
What's more, we already know that there will be a minimum 30 percent error bar around whatever number we attach to his projected home run output. For a 30ish home run hitter, that could be a variance of 10 home runs. Suddenly, my 39 HR projection doesn't look so bad...
Maybe, but by that logic, a 21 HR projection wouldn't look so bad either, and I think we can all agree that a 21 HR projection for Miguel Cabrera would be way off-base.
So I have to ask, why do we need to attach a "39" to his projected home run output?...
Perhaps we should just project that Cabrera will hit HRs "in the 30s." It's a wide enough range that not only covers our error bar—essentially taking into account some of the variability of playing time—but, oddly, also increases our accuracy. I'm more apt to be correct projecting Cabrera to hit HRs in the high-30's than projecting him to hit exactly 37.
Well, of course it's going to increase our accuracy. We're getting 10 guesses instead of one. "In the 30s" will never be wrong when "37" is right.
I think the problem here (and perhaps I'm misinterpreting) is that we seem to assume that this error bar is static, that Miguel Cabrera has one fixed error bar and that we're completely justified in projecting any number of home runs within that error bar, and that if we do this we'll be fine. But that's not true. Every number from 30 to 39 is going to have its own individual error bar. Because that "30 percent error bar" exists, if all we were to say is that "Miguel Cabrera will hit HRs in the 30s," we must
implicitly be saying that we're projecting him to hit 35 HRs.
Why? Because if we're not saying that he's going to hit 35 HRs, then that error bar looks very different:
Neither of these bars covers all the HRs in the 30s. So in actuality, by trying to remove precision, it seems that we may actually just be fooling ourselves. In trying to remove precision, we're actually implying precision (strange as it is), but not the good kind that's well thought-out. Rather, it's the rounding-off kind. So if we're going to be precise no matter what, why not make it count? Put me down for 37 home runs.
My point essentially boils down to this:
if you're using a range of outcomes as your projection, you're using an error bar. And if you're using an error bar, you're necessarily implying a precise projection—whatever happens to be in the middle of that bar.
The No. 1 pick question
In a similar vein, Shandler posited in a March newsletter that perhaps we shouldn't take consensus No. 1 pick Albert Pujols
with the first pick in the draft.
If I were to go into a public draft with the No. 1 seed and select Ryan Braun first, or Joe Mauer, or Carl Crawford ... well, I'd certainly keep the bloggers and tweeters busy for a few days.
But consider some facts...
Over the past six years, from 2004-2009, the player who was the consensus No. 1 pick has NEVER finished first. Never. This is a period when Pujols has been just as dominant as he is now. A-Rod was dominant during this time as well. Neither finished No. 1 in a year that the ADPs predicted they would.
In three of the past six years, the player who DID finish No. 1 wasn't even ranked in the top 15 coming into the season. Ichiro Suzuki, Derrek Lee and Jose Reyes all finished No. 1 in a year when they couldn't crack the pre-season top 15.
Yes, but how could we have known that Ichiro or Lee or Reyes would have been No. 1? Had we known, they would have been taken No. 1, wouldn't they have? Or at least they would have been in the top 15. Just because a non-top 15 player has a good chance of finishing No. 1 doesn't mean we know who it is. Sure, we could have guessed and taken Ichiro, but we could have just as easily guessed and taken Alfonso Soriano
or David Ortiz
and been wrong. Using hindsight to say that Ichiro should have been picked No. 1 is an example of the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy
You have a decision to make on draft day. You can avoid public ridicule and select Pujols and Hanley as your top two picks. Or you can consider other options. You can go for across-the-board consistency with a Ryan Braun or Chase Utley. You can hop onto the rising trends of a Matt Kemp or Justin Upton. You can play the speed scarcity card with a Carl Crawford or Jacoby Ellsbury. You can play the position scarcity card with A-Rod or Joe Mauer.
You're probably reading this and thinking, Justin Upton with a No. 1 pick? Well, unless you are convinced he will come back to you in Round 2, remember that we would have been saying the exact same thing about Ichiro, Derrek Lee and Jose Reyes just a few years ago.
I'm not convinced that Shandler is looking at this the right way. Sure, odds are Albert Pujols will not
be the No. 1 most productive player in fantasy baseball. Odds are, some player other
than Albert Pujols will be the No. 1 fantasy player. But, sitting with the No. 1 pick in the draft, we are not given the choice of "Albert Pujols or "the field". We're given the choice of "Albert Pujols" or "Hanley Ramirez
" or "Chase Utley" or "David Eckstein
." And therein lies the problem with the analysis. While Pujols may not have a great chance at finishing No. 1, he stands a greater chance
than anyone else. Maybe it breaks down like this:
Chances of finishing 2010 as the No. 1 fantasy baseball player
Albert Pujols: 12%
Hanley Ramirez: 10%
Chase Utley: 7.5%
Matt Kemp: 6%
David Eckstein: 0.0001%
12% may not be that high (and I'm just making these numbers up, they may be way off), but it's the highest of anyone else on the list. Were the list of available options to look like this, it'd be a different story:
Chances of finishing 2010 as the No. 1 fantasy baseball player
Albert Pujols: 12%
Someone other than Albert Pujols: 88%
To put it another way, it makes no sense to take a guy like Jacoby Ellsbury just because Pujols has some chance of not being the No. 1 player. Let's do one more thought exercise using a graph of Pujols' and Ellsbury's expected value distributions based upon the "30 percent error bar" (assuming reasonable $40 Pujols and $33 Ellsbury projections).
Sure, a scenario exists—and a somewhat likely scenario, at that—where Ellsbury is more valuable than Pujols. But we can't take Ellsbury over Pujols just because in a few scenarios he could end up being more valuable. In far more scenarios, Pujols will be more valuable (and in one he's almost $20 more valuable!). And this will be the case for every single player who is an alternative to Pujols (assuming you have Pujols ranked No. 1 on your cheat sheet, of course).
If you like Jacoby Ellsbury better than Albert Pujols, sure, take him No. 1 if you can't trade the pick and he won't be there in the second round. But don't take Ellsbury just because Pujols' chances of finishing No. 1 are low in an absolute sense.
I know it seems like I'm picking on Ron a lot here, but that's not my intention. I have the utmost respect for Ron and what he has done for the fantasy industry. I used him for most of my examples precisely because he is such an influential figure, because he is at the forefront of this line of reasoning, and because he has been so vocal about it in recent years. I think Ron is a very intelligent and talented fantasy player; I just don't agree with him in this instance.
Posted by Derek Carty
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Before I get down to business, I just want to let you guys know that this week’s podcast over at baseballhq radio
features an interview with me about the quants versus geniuses
debate springing from the Cardrunners
discussion a few weeks ago. Most of the topics covered are also done so in my column
, but if you’re a fan of stammering, “ums,” “likes,” and “you knows,” don’t miss it!
Over the last few weeks I’ve read a lot of commentary that makes claims, either explicitly or implicitly, about what fantasy baseball is or isn’t, or what it should or should not “be about.” Should it be about properly evaluating and projecting this year’s talent? Should it be about sensing the writing on the wall and dumping wisely in order to build for the future? Should it be value savvy evaluation to the exclusion of hustle and incessant tinkering? Everybody seems to have ideas about what fantasy baseball’s existential identity should be and I’d like to take the time to offer my thoughts on some of these questions.
Many of these more philosophical quarrels are known to escalate from seemingly benign, almost administrative league set-up issues. Of course, one of the drums I often beat is that league set-up questions are never really benign; they are the tactics by which an owner consciously or accidentally expresses what the league will and won’t value and encourage.
Here’s an example of an innocent enough question; should you limit roster moves? (This issue is clearly most germane in daily transaction leagues without free-agent bidding. In weekly transaction leagues, the limit is already set by the format and in FAAB leagues; this is also a non-issue because your free-agent budget determines how many moves you can make.)
Ostensibly, this question is asking whether to limit streaming, or preclude serial streaming as an executable strategy. Objections to chronic streaming and incessant roster tweaking come from two different perspectives, the practical and the philosophical. Let me touch first briefly on the practical beef.
Some claim that streaming is almost tantamount to a loophole and gives the owner utilizing this strategy an advantage. I happen to disagree and let me briefly articulate my rationale for this opinion.
First, let me state that a well-constructed league should generally try to establish a balance of counting and rate stats on the pitching side, saves aside. So, in your conventional 5x5 league you have two stats that are conducive to streaming (wins and strikeouts) and two that should not be (ERA and WHIP). It is my belief that the risks of serial streaming are inherent in the strategy, you risk one set of categories for the other. A statement I find myself making often in response to those who complain about the overactive owner is, “Those players are unowned for a reason.”
Beyond the risk of ballooning rate stats, the hidden cost of streaming is the opportunity cost of dropping otherwise roster-worthy players to create the dynamic of musical chairs on your last two or three roster spots. Streamers often begin on their road by dropping either a high potential player who isn’t working out or a veteran with a good track record off to a slow start. Of course, the flip side to this argument is that those who are most active on the wire are also most likely to pick up some of the gems that emerge every year.
I’ll refrain from getting into a very long discussion about the strategic merits of streaming, as most of you likely know the pros and cons. Very quickly, I will say that streaming works best if you are the only one doing it, when it is done in a H2H leagues, and when the league is shallow enough that there are legitimately attractive options on the wire. But none of these things make it anything resembling a loophole. Personally, I consider streaming a tactic and not a strategy. I’m not against using it either in principle or practice, but feel it is most productive when used either opportunistically or to mitigate a bad week.
If we can agree that the risks of streaming are inherent in its execution, that leaves only those who dissent on philosophical grounds. Some claim that aggressive streaming, travel-day bat pickups, etc. undermine the skill and player evaluation of the game by privileging hustle or access to one’s computer. I think this argument is patently absurd, to be honest.
This argument begs the question of what fantasy baseball is supposed to be, what it is supposed to value, and what qualities it should privilege among owners. Well, the simplest way of answering this question in the most agreeable manner is that it should mimic the experience of assembling and running a baseball team and privilege the skills needed to do so, or valued by the business of running an actual baseball team itself.
It is no small commitment to actively peruse the waiver wires daily, to process information nightly, pay attention to schedules and attractive daily match-ups. Sure, sometimes daily transaction leagues devolve into a race to the add button, but what is wrong with that? Doesn’t business itself value agility, attention to detail, dedication and sacrifice? How many culture-changing inventions were really just a race to the patent office all the same? Isn’t he who claims that the daily transaction devalues his skills really just saying that he’s not dedicated enough to exercise them on a daily basis?
In the age of increasing information and technological symmetry, hustle is now more important then ever in terms of differentiating between winners and losers. Information is ubiquitous and inescapable; the question is who can process and earn a profit from it most quickly and efficiently. And, most fundamentally, don’t actual general managers and franchise owners face these same problems daily?
To be fair, I understand that some people just have a circumstantial advantage in relation to these dynamics. Do you work at an office with access to a computer or not? Do you work at an office, but are blocked from visiting sports sites by the IT Gestapo and Orwellian corporate policy? Do you have a family? Do you work a 60-hour week (not including your Wednesday Hardball Times column)? I get all that, I really do.
However, if you think any of those issues are that important to your ability to compete in a daily transaction league, then I have a very practical rebuttal for your philosophical gripe – join a weekly transaction league! Or… account for that on draft day, as I always preach. Pay a little extra for saves, consolidate your roster in favor of core strength as opposed to depth, etc. Either extricate yourself from the problem or proactively address it. What I do not consider a legitimate response is self-righteously whining about it, while advancing the delusion that dedication and hustle are foreign to the recipe for success, generally speaking, and that the owner with the itchy add/drop finger is engaging in something that is antithetical to the fundamental principles of fantasy baseball.
There are many ways to play fantasy baseball, and as the game continues to expand even more variations will arise. The issue is not to argue self-righteously about which is the most pure (though I’d be a hypocrite if I claimed I was never guilty of being self-righteous), but of finding a format that reflects your preferences and values.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino
Thursday, May 06, 2010
If you've never taken a course in econometrics, I encourage you to do so if you have the chance. Actually, any course that teaches statistical methodology will do. Even if you never want to "crunch numbers," it will teach you how to think and read "probabilistically." Since nature, life and fantasy baseball are inherently random, understanding the semantics of probability is essential, doubly so if you're purporting to offer advice.
Things basic econometrics has taught me:
1. We can still say something about coin flips even though the outcome can be either heads or tails.
This may seem obvious, but I've seen educated people argue that just because we can't be sure about the outcome (or that "the outcome could be anything"), it is useless to talk about forecasts or numbers or statistics. Obviously not. We can still talk about which outcomes are more likely than others. We can still talk about the probability of outcomes. We can still say that the odds of a heads is 50 percent and that the outcome of a fair die roll is more likely to be between two and five (inclusive) than it is to be either one or six.
2. In an ideal world, tell me everything—give me the probability of everything.
Let's say you meet God. God turns out "to play dice with the universe." He doesn't know whether Chipper Jones
is going to retire midyear, but he does know the probability that it might happen. He knows his own dice.
Why ask God only how many home runs he "expects" (that is, the average amount) Chipper to hit? Why not get more information from him? What's the probability that he hits fewer than five (tantamount to asking the probability that Jones gets injured)? What the probability that he hits 10, 15, etc.? With this information, you'd have a better idea about how risky Jones is.
3. It can be very tempting to take shortcuts when writing.
Actually, I learned this writing about baseball. I like to keep my columns as simple as possible while still making my point. I try to avoid adverbs when possible (though I am rarely successful). Writing "probabilistically" without adverbs is difficult—words like "usually, probably, likely" are useful. I have the same problem with numerical information. Yes, in a perfect world, I would just give you my probability of everything when I talk about my forecasts for Chipper, but parsimony and limited attention spans demand that I give you only as much as I deem relevant and interesting.
On the relationship between "experts" and readers
The key is trust and establishing consistency. It is possible for one expert (say, Ron Shandler) to use mostly intervals and another (say, Derek Carty) to provide mostly point estimates. Intervals are kind of nice, but they require more disclosure. It is OK for Shandler to prefer to say (paraphrasing) "Miguel Cabrera
is likely to have a home run total in the 30s" as long as we know what he means by "likely"—40 percent? 90 percent? Similarly, it is OK for Carty to say "Cabrera is projected to hit 37 home runs." If Carty gives us some interval around it, too ("standard error bands" in statistics speak), then Carty's statement is very similar to Shandler's even though they've used different words. (In fact, I am just sort of rephrasing what Carty wrote
about on Tuesday. My problem with Shandler's recent writing is that he forgot a version of Lesson One above.)
Readers and writers need to come to a sort of tacit understanding about language. More often than not, writers are going to give numbers for everything. If a Shandler-esque writer wants to say "Cabrera is likely to hit around 35 home runs" instead of giving lots more numbers, than he should be consistent with what his words mean. Approximately what does "likely" mean?
On arguments within the expert community
What goes for communication between adviser and advisee goes doubly for these blogged exchanges between experts. It is very hard to champion your cause against another "expert" in a venue designed to still be accessible to the layman reader. Actually, it is very hard to do it in any venue.
I'll have more on the quants-versus-quaints (in case you can't tell which side I'm on) debate in my next article, the tenor of which has actually be very good I think. Many expert exchanges are not nearly as interesting in part because one expert will say something semi-informative but mostly substantive like "It is good to use statistics to forecast how many home runs Cabrera will hit." And then the opposing expert will say something like "Statistical forecasts are always wrong. I prefer to go with my gut."
My problem with the second statement is that it is absolutely true but totally practically false. Forecasts are always wrong, but they are still incredibly useful. Most experts, even those who haven't taken econometrics, know this to be true. The more literally accurate statement, "I project that Cabrera will hit between 35 and 45 home runs with 95 percent certainty" would be more bulletproof to these kinds of flatulent responses, but all of those numbers are superfluous to the argument. At some point it would be better if some details could be taken for granted.
Posted by Jonathan Halket
/ SP/RP / Cleveland
It's been a shaky April, complete with eight home runs given up and a 9.13 ERA over five starts. The main culprit has been inconsistent command of his fastball, but, on top of that, he has also been experimenting with a new-look slider. I'll let his performance pass for now.
/ 1B / Florida
Morrison was off to a solid start in New Orleans, but a bone bruise in his shoulder has sidelined him.
/ SP / Tampa Bay
Hellickson had a very strong April as he continues to await his shot in Tampa Bay.
/ SP/RP / Colorado
Injuries to Colorado's pitching staff prompted Chacin's promotion. He has responded remarkably well, allowing no runs and one hit over eight innings of work thus far. If you can afford the roster spot, Chacin is at least worth a short-term gamble, as a smoking-hot May could be in the works.
/ 3B / Kansas City
Moustakas has joined the Texas League and has been punishing pitchers in a small number of at-bats. If you were down on him after a disappointing 2009, it's time to upgrade his stock, even at this early-season stage.
Jacob Turner / SP / Detroit
A forearm strain has limited Turner to two starts, yet they have been very promising outings.
/ SP/RP / NY Mets
While he hasn't overpowered major league hitters, Mejia has been an asset coming out of New York's bullpen. I would prefer him starting down on the farm, but New York has pennant dreams and Mejia will play a role if he keeps up his current pace.
/ 1B/3B / Toronto
The question all along has been Wallace's home run power, but his early performance—nine home runs over 97 at-bats—is helping to ease that concern.
/ SP / St. Louis
While his endurance hasn't been tested yet, Miller is inducing ground balls and fanning batters at a tremendous clip in the early going. Those are great signs for anyone, let alone a teenager.
/ C/1B / Chicago White Sox
The bad news is that Flowers is striking out at an extremely high rate. The good news is that the high strikeout rate has not hindered the rest of his offensive game. The great news is that, for the first time, I really feel like Flowers will remain at catcher long term. His defense isn't even above average and has more room for improvement, but he has been solid this season.
Posted by Matt Hagen
Friday, May 07, 2010
| Colorado | SP
10.13 K/9, 3.00 K/BB, 0.00 ERA
6.00 K/9, 1.65 K/BB, 4.33 ERA
came into the 2010 season ranked in the Rockies' top five prospects according to Baseball America. Chacin has a perfect inning of relief and a seven-inning gem against the Giants to his credit thus far this season in the majors as well 21.1 dazzling innings in Triple-A. Chacin is a groundball machine (54.6 percent GB in 121.1 innings pitched in 2009 according to minorleaguesplits.com
) thanks largely to a sinking high 80s-low 90s fastball. He has been able to post solid walk rates throughout the minors with the exceptions being 14.1 innings in Triple-A last year and 11 innings pitched in the major leagues. The biggest question in regards to Chacin is how many hitters he'll be able to strike out. The early returns are good, but how he continues to fare will depend on how effective his breaking balls are as he already has two solid pitches in his sinker and his change-up. Yahoo! currently has Chacin listed as only being owned in 6 percent of leagues, a number sure to go up if he posts another solid start. At Chacin's worst, he's a groundballer who pounds the strike zone. At his best, he's a groundballer who pounds the strike zone and displays a knockout pitch. That's the type of profile I like, so I'll be hopping aboard the Jhoulys Chacin
Should be owned in some 12-team mixed leagues, all 14-team or larger mixed leagues, and all NL-only leagues.
| Atlanta | SP/RP
8.15 K/9, 5.33 K/BB, 2.55 ERA
8.5 K/9, 2.89 K/BB, 3.82 ERA
is making his second appearance in a Waiver Wire article this season because, as expected, he is getting a turn in the Braves' rotation replacing Jair Jurrjens
, who is currently on the DL. Medlen has been successful this season in large part because he's striking out a healthy number of batters while issuing few free passes, a definite recipe for success. In about 85 innings of work at the major league level, Medlen has posted approximately a 41 percent GB rate, which is acceptable but by no means spectacular. If Medlen is able to carry his near strikeout-per-inning K/9 from the bullpen to a starter role while keeping his walks in check and maintaining his current GB rate, success lies ahead. I expect, for the most part, Medlen's bullpen success to carry over to the starting role, and thus am endorsing adding him in a wide variety of leagues.
Should be owned in some 12-team mixed leagues, all 14-team or larger mixed leagues, and all NL-only leagues.
| Pittsburgh | SP
8.17 K/9, 2.88 K/BB, 10.30 ERA
6.2 K/9, 1.70 K/BB, 4.35 ERA
Allow me to borrow from one of my favorite television shows, Entourage
, and the fictional character of Bob Ryan specifically, for a second in saying, if I told you that you could add a starting pitcher off the scrap heap with a near three-to-one strikeout-to-walk rate who induces ground balls at a 43.5 percent rate and has posted a 3.80 xFIP to date, is that something you might be interested in? Charlie Morton
is the previously described, and almost entirely unowned, starting pitcher who has been ravaged by miserable luck to open the 2010 season. Thus far in the young 2010 season, Charlie Morton
has allowed an eye-popping 30.4 percent of his fly balls to leave the yard, posted a BABIP against of .398, all the while tossing in a strand rate of 42.3 percent for good measure. With such poor luck, is it any surprise he's posted a 10.30 ERA on the season? Morton's luck can't get any worse going forward, and once things normalize a bit for him he should be a usable starter in some formats with upside. Morton had not previously displayed a K/9 in the majors that has even rivaled his current one, so how much of that is reality and how much is mirage is up for debate; what is not up for debate is his ability to induce ground balls. If Morton is able to continue to rack up strike threes to go along with his already awesome GB rate he could be a real hidden gem as we go forward.
Should be owned in some 14-team mixed leagues and all larger mixed leagues, and owned in some shallow NL-only leagues and all medium-large NL-only leagues.
| Washington | SP
8.36 K/9, 2.89 K/BB, 3.54 ERA
5.5 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 4.98 ERA
No folks, I have not used a DeLorean to travel back in time to the year 2006 (though that would be pretty sick), but I do believe Olsen may be recapturing some of what made him successful during his best fantasy season. Last year Scott Olsen
underwent surgery to repair the labrum in his throwing shoulder, and early returns indicate that the surgery was a success. Olsen's fastball and slider velocity are up from last year and with it, he's been able to put up some nifty stats in 2010. Including a gem Olsen tossed as I was writing this, Olsen's ERA stands at 3.54 for the season. Because he's been able to post a K/9 of nearly a batter an inning and has limited the walks, I'm going to say his good start is more fact than fiction. My biggest concern is how his repaired labrum will hold up over the course of the lengthy MLB season, but in the meantime, enjoy his current production and dream of a day we can all own a DeLorean and travel back in time.
Should be owned in most 14-team or larger mixed leagues and watched in all, and owned in most shallow NL-only leagues and all medium-large NL-only leagues.
| Pittsburgh | 3B
Coming into the 2010 season Andy LaRoche
was largely viewed as nothing more than a placeholder for Pedro Alvarez
at third base. While Alvarez remains the larger fixture in the Pirates' future plans, LaRoche may be playing his way back into the Pirates' plans going forward. LaRoche has begun the season by displaying a keen eye at the dish, walking 8.6 percent of the time and keeping his strikeouts in check with a 16.4 percent strikeout rate. His ISO is up a bit from 2009 thanks to a career high HR/FB rate of 13.0 percent. A 13.0 HR/FB rate for the remainder of the season may be a bit high for LaRoche, but perhaps not given his minor league history and former blue chip prospect status. LaRoche's current 32.8 percent LD rate is unsustainable, but the fact he's squaring up the ball and hitting a few more fly balls (up 3 percent from last year) is promising for his season going forward. LaRoche smells like a classic post-hype sleeper who is putting it together to me, and given the lack of depth at third base, is an intriguing person of interest.
Should be owned in most 14-team or larger mixed leagues using a CI, and owned in all NL-only leagues.
| Cincinatti | OF
With a broken hammate bone shelving Chris Dickerson
for a while, Gomes should see a slight uptick in playing time in the Reds' outfield. By now Gomes is a known commodity, a low batting average slugger who can be of great assistance to owners in need of home runs. In 2009, Gomes was able to slug 20 HR in just 314 plate appearances. While I'm not going to suggest he can maintain that type of pace over a greater volume of plate appearances, he should be able to continue to mash round trippers at a high volume given that he's still lofting the ball and plays half his games at The Great American Ballpark. If you're an owner looking for some pop and can sacrifice points off your batting average and have an opening in the OF or at utility, Gomes is your guy.
Should be owned by most in 14-team or larger mixed leagues using five OF, and owned in most shallow and all medium-large NL-only leagues.
| Chicago (NL) | OF
Two years into his MLB career Kosuke Fukudome
is likely viewed by most as a fast starter and slow finisher given his substantial differential between pre-All-Star Break and post-All-Star Break splits (pre: .273/.380/.434 and post: .246/.355/.381). Fukudome is off to a hot start and is hitting a career-high 40.6 percent fly balls and posting another career best in HR/FB at 17.9 percent. There are some quotes from Fukudome's former hitting coach in Japan that suggest he may have adjusted his mechanics last season and the previous season to compensate for a troublesome elbow he'd had surgery on in 2007. While I like to take quotes like this with a large grain of salt, there may be something to it, so I'll give it some more merit than the typical coach talk and mechanical adjustment drivel. I don't expect Fukudome to continue posting a 17.9 percent HR/FB rate, but he won't need to in order to hit 20-25 HR if he's able to continue to hit 40 percent or greater fly balls and still post a HR/FB in the 11-13 percent range. If you have a need in your outfield, or believe the owner of Fukudome may be looking to "sell high" in fear of another second-half collapse, he is certainly a worthwhile trade target. If he is unowned in your league, I'd suggest adding him depending on the size of your league. For those playing in leagues that count OBP or OPS, Fukudome gets a huge bump up in value.
Should be owned in all 12-team or larger mixed leagues using five OF, and owned in all NL-only leagues.
Eric Young Jr. | Colorado | 2B/OF
After opening the season in Triple-A and posting a miserable slash line of .228/.302/.298, Eric Young Jr. somewhat surprisingly received a promotion to the Rockies when Brad Hawpe
hit the DL. Since his promotion, Young Jr. has done what he does best: swipe bags. In just 29 plate appearances Young Jr. has managed to steal four bases in five chances. No one questions Young Jr.'s speed, but questions remain about playing time and about how often he'll be able to get on base to show off his slick wheels. In the high minors, Young Jr. has posted a walk rate in the 10-13 percent range, which bodes well for stolen base opportunities even if his batting average suffers a bit while he adjusts to playing in the majors. As far as playing time is concerned, that is a bit dicier situation. When Hawpe returns from the DL, there will not likely be many opportunities to play the outfield, though some may still be presented to Young Jr. if he's able to force the Rockies' hand by raking and playing a passable outfield. The bulk of Young Jr.'s playing time is likely to come at second base backing up, and possibly moving into the starting second base role in place of Clint Barmes
if he is unable to right the ship batting. For now, owners in need of stolen bases should be rostering Young Jr. and worrying about the questions when they become a problem. With any luck, those rostering Young Jr. will see no problems and see Young Jr. supplant Barmes at second base when Hawpe returns from the DL to further muddy the outfield playing time situation.
Should be owned in some 12-team mixed leagues, owned in all 14-team or larger mixed leagues, and all NL-only leagues.
Posted by Josh Shepardson
Monday, May 10, 2010
Obviously, it's way too early to make any definitive statements about how well Oliver has done at predicting player performances, but a month into the season seems like enough time to get an idea.
Among the highlights have been pitchers such as Colby Lewis
(currently the 24th-best pitcher using the Tom Tango system
) and Ian Kennedy
(who's 46th, at least prior to Sunday's game). Oliver's best calls on the offensive side were Alex Rios
(currently 23rd using the same formula), Nelson Cruz
(who's ranked No. 32 despite missing more than a dozen games with an injury) and Franklin Gutierrez
(who's quietly having a pretty decent season and ranks No. 53).
Of course, it hasn't all been peaches and cream with Oliver projections. Among the more disappointing performers have been Ben Zobrist
(coming in at No. 106 and still homerless), Curtis Granderson
(who's batting just .225 with his new team), Jake Peavy
(his last start was helpful, but he's still ranked No. 69) and Max Scherzer
(a complete disaster his last three outings and is ranked No. 101 out of the 116 pitchers who currently qualify for the ERA title).
What I love about Oliver, though, is that it's constantly evolving. So a player's current performance factors into what it projects for the rest of the season. Basically, it inputs the player's latest stats and runs it through the same formula it used at the beginning of the season.
This can mean different things for different players. For someone like Rick Porcello
, whose 7.50 ERA and 1.87 WHIP are weighted against just one full season worth of major league work and relatively little minor league data, it means that Oliver's projections aren't nearly as rosy as they were to start the season. For a player like Zobrist, and his more impressive past major league performances, Oliver projects a strong finish.
I've selected 10 players to highlight, both guys who have performed up to snuff and guys who have flailed. Since we're mostly concerned about moving forward, though, I'll focus on how Oliver projects their numbers for the rest of the season.
Starting strong, getting stronger
Oliver projected that the Rangers outfielder would be among the top 40 offensive players. Despite an injury that has limited him to 74 plate appearances, his hot start still puts him in that kind of neighborhood. More importantly, Oliver sees an equally strong finish with projections of 34 more homers, 92 more RBIs and 17 more steals that would make him a top 10 offensive player the rest of the way. He's supposedly nearing his return, so this could be the last time you can grab him.
If you've been reading this column, you know that Oliver kind of has a thing for the Rangers starting pitcher. If you were smart enough to take that advice early, you've been reasonably rewarded. Lewis has already turned in one gem (nine IP, zero runs, 10 Ks, four baserunners) and struck out at least 10 on three separate occasions. As tempting as it may be to sell high, Oliver projects that to be a mistake. It actually projects even better numbers to close out the season, with a 3.00 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and a better than 5:1 K:BB ratio (all improvements over what he's doing now).
Slow starters, strong finishersBen Zobrist:
One of the real breakout stars of last year has gotten off to a slow start. He's hitting just .265 (which is actually about where Oliver projected him), but he's still homerless, has just 13 RBIs and has already struck out 24 times. Still, Oliver foresees a brighter future. Oliver projects 23 homers, 79 RBIs, 84 runs and a .283 batting average the rest of the way. Using the Tango ranking system, that would put him among the top 25 offensive players.
I own him in two leagues, so I know how frustrating the Tigers starting pitcher has been this year. After a third straight disappointing start, I know how tempting it is to cut and run. Oliver is pleading for patience, though. It projects a respectable 3.87 ERA, a tempting 172 strikeouts and a reasonable 1.27 WHIP the rest of the way.
You can take whatever I said about Scherzer and let it go doubly for Peavy. At least with Scherzer, you probably didn't have to waste a particularly high pick (ADP of 158). With Peavy, though, it was probably several rounds earlier (ADP 104) and therefore that much more painful. Oliver foresees a strong finish here as well, although not quite as strong as Scherzer's (3.86 ERA, 146 Ks and 1.30 WHIP).
Always a polarizing player, the Nationals first baseman is showcasing those exact qualities early in the season. Although he's got six homers, he's barely hitting .230 and has already struck out 32 times. Oliver isn't exactly predicting great things the rest of the way, but it does seem to think he'll perform at a level we've come to expect: 33 more homers, 91 more RBIs and an OPS of .939.
Your view of the A's outfielder's start is probably colored by where you drafted him. If you were lucky enough to grab him late, you're probably fine overlooking that .236 batting average and nonexistant power. The only reason you should have drafted him anyway is steals and runs, and so far he's producing just fine in those areas with 12 steals and 16 runs. As long as you maintain the proper perspective, Oliver projects similar levels of satisfaction with 40 more steals and 63 more runs to go along with a .274 batting average.
The Red Sox starter is another player on whom your opinion is probably based on expectation. If you've been drafting him year after year expecting him to flash the dominance he showed with that no-hitter he threw as a rookie, you're probably disappointed. If you grabbed him late, merely hoping to have a solid pitcher who plays in front of a very capable defense that will also help him pick up some wins, you're probably just fine with his 3.82 ERA, three wins and 25 strikeouts. If you maintain those expectations, Oliver thinks you'll continue to be satisfied. Oliver projects a 3.84 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, an 8-6 record and 112 Ks, which would make him a top-70 pitcher the rest of the way.
A year after he was bad enough to be released by his team, Oliver saw some promise in the White Sox outfielder. Oliver considered him a top-70 offensive player. So far, he's exceeded that expectation comfortably with a ranking in the top 25. There's bound to be some regression, but Oliver still sees a a finish in top 75 offensive players and a perfectly respectable 13 homers, 22 steals and .273 batting average. Still, I'd say deal him if you have the chance.
The Diamondbacks starter has been solid this season. You'd be excused for thinking that automatically means Oliver's projections would have him trending up. I don't pretend to fully understand Oliver's inner workings, I mainly just try to report on its findings. So, I'm not quite sure what to make of this Rest of Season projection: 4.21 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 7-6 record and 105 Ks. Those aren't horrible numbers, but they aren't really what I would have expected, either. Oh well, sometimes you just have to go with your gut.
Posted by Jeremiah Oshan
You may have noticed the addition to the "Features" box on the THT Fantasy homepage today. Closer Watch
is a new feature to THTF that will be handled by Paul Singman and myself. It's essentially a rundown of every 9th inning situation in baseball, giving each team's closer (or interim closer), their job security, and who figures to be next in line should the standing closer be injured, demoted, or need a day off. It will be constantly updated, so be sure to check back often to help manage those tricky bullpen situations.