December 5, 2013
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Monday, September 13, 2010
Brett Myers is having a really nice season seemingly out of nowhere. He's 10-7 on a really poor team with a career-best 3.02 ERA. His peripherals are terrific as well: His 7.02 K/9 is a boost from last year and his 2.59 BB/9 is a career-low. Even his groundball rate is up to 49.2%, it's highest rate in seven years. Meanwhile his WHIP is nearly a career low (1.24) despite his BABIP (.299) being essentially equivalent to his career rate (.301). The end result is that his FIP is a career-low 3.46 and his xFIP* is the best it's been as a starter in three years at 3.81.
*xFIP is actually a very poor way to measure Brett Myers. Myers has a career HR/FB rate of 14.4%, meaning that the statistic prior to 2009 has always overrated him. As a result, there have been several years of Myers having a pretty good xFIP (such as his xFIP of 3.36 in 2005). However, because his true HR/FB rate appears to be worse than the standard rate of 11%, Myers has basically never before this year had an ERA lower than his xFIP.
So the question is: Is this performance for real? Or is it a fluke? Can we count on Myers to continue his performance next year and be a valuable fantasy player? To answer this question, I'm going to take a look at Myers' pitches each of the last three years to see if his great results this year are the result of something new that is likely to continue, or just lucky results of the same pitches he has thrown before.
Table 1: Showing the average speed and spin deflection on each of Myers' five pitches. Note: A negative horizontal spin deflection means that the pitch "moves" in on right-handed batters, while a positive horizontal spin deflection means that the pitch moves in on left-handed batters.
Brett Myers throws five pitches: A four-seam fastball*, a two-seam fastball*, a change-up or split-fingered fastball**, a slider or cutter**, and a curveball.
*Myers clearly throws two types of fastballs in addition to his three other pitches, but in some cases it is difficult to differentiate between the two types of pitches when the movements and speeds overlap. I've classified all of these pitches myself and am about 95% sure that these classifications are correct.
**It seems like his "slider" might actually be a cut fastball (cutter) and the change-up might be a split-fingered fastball, but for the purposes of this article I'm going to refer to those pitches as a slider and change-up respectively.
The movement and velocity of Myers' pitches have not changed much over the last three years. His four-seam fastball has a little less rise than it did in previous years, but at least some of that is probably measurement error from moving from Citizens' Bank Park to Minute Maid Park in Houston. Otherwise, the pitches themselves do not appear to be much different in movement than in any previous years. So what has changed? Well first lets look at the results of these pitches:
Table 2: The Results of Myers' pitches over the last three years.
Whiff Rate: (# of Swinging Strikes)/(# of Pitches Swung at by Batters)
Swing Rate: (# of Pitches Swung at by Batters)/(Total Pitches Thrown)
Swinging Strike %: (# of Swinging Strikes)/(Total Pitches Thrown)
In-Strike-Zone Rate: % of Pitches in a wide (2 feet wide) strike zone.
In Play Rate: % of total pitches (of that type and year) that are put into play.
GB Rate: % of balls hit into play by batters that result in ground balls.
FB Rate: % of balls hit into play by batters that result in fly balls.
HR/FB: % of Fly Balls that result in Home Runs
Run Value Per 100 Pitches: The Run Value per 100 Knuckleballs thrown. NEGATIVE Run Values are good while Positive Run Values are bad (The opposite of fangraphs).
*NOTE: The 2009 data, particularly that of the change-up, is of a much smaller sample size than the rest of the data, as Myers was injured part of the season and spent some of 2009 relieving. Don't pay too much attention to the exaggerated rates in the rows with the asterisks.
There are a few things that are fairly obvious to note in this table. First, Myers' curve ball is pretty good and this has not changed over the three years. The pitch has a solid swinging strike rate and is an extreme groundball pitch (It's the second-best pitch this year at getting ground balls, behind only Gio Gonzalez's curve ball).
In a similar vein, it's fairly obvious that the four-seam fastball is the worst of Myers' pitches at getting ground balls. It also doesn't have a good strikeout rate, and has what seems to be a high HR/FB rate. It is this pitch that has been mainly responsible in the past for Myers' tendency to give up a much larger amount of HRs than usual.
A few things have seemed to change in the table: First of all, Myers' curveballs, four-seam fastballs, and sliders this year have missed the strike zone more frequently than previously (especially the slider). This is a strange result, when we remember that Myers' walk rate is at a career low this year. But the key is that the decrease in accuracy is the result of Myers throwing these pitches (especially the slider) on 0-2 and 1-2 counts and purposefully missing the strike zone more often. The slider, for example, on these counts is now thrown farther outside and lower than before. Thus he's missing the zone more often, but not during the counts that are most dangerous.
Second, Myers' fastball has increased it's groundball rate this year. This might be a result of the slight decrease in "rise" on that fastball this year, but could just be a fluke. It's worth noting that the HR/FB rate on the pitch has stayed the same along with most of the other rates.
Third, Myers' slider has a vastly decreased HR/FB rate this year: It's down to 6.38% from 29% in 2008. This is a huge decrease, considering how often Myers throws the slider. This change might be due to the fact that he's hitting a different location with the pitch this year: Whereas before he would try and hit the corner away from right-handed batters and low, this year he's aiming even more away and low, which has resulted in the decrease in sliders in the strike zone we noted before. That said, this seems like too large a change to be completely skill-based; it would be wise to bet on this rate regressing next year.
Fourth, you may have noted that the amount of each pitch type seems to have changed this year from previous years. It seems like he's throwing more sliders and two-seam fastballs this year. Lets see if that's true by looking at the breakdown of Myers' pitch selection for right-handed and left-handed batters over the last three years:
Figure 1: The Breakdown of how many of each pitch Myers throws to each type of batter. Note for reading the chart: FF = four-seam fastball, while FT = two-seam fastball
As you can see here, Myers has changed two things this year in how he pitches to both kinds of batters. First, he's increased the use of his slider to both left- and right-handed batters. This should be somewhat successful since the pitch gets a decent amount of swinging strikes and has a low HR/FB this year. On the other hand, as we said before, we would expect the HR/FB to regress next year, which might make this pitch selection choice look worse.
Second, and just as importantly, Myers has seemed to increase the amount of two-seam fastballs he throws to both types of batters at the cost of decreasing the amount of four-seam fastballs he has thrown. This is key to remember because Myers' two-seam fastball has several better features than the four-seam fastball. First, it's more of a groundball pitch, with a steady 55% GB rate in each of the last three years. Second, its HR/FB seems to be much lower than the super-large HR/FB rate of his four-seamer. This low rate this year (8.11%) might regress a little, but not very much. Thus the switch to the two-seam fastball as the dominant pitch is likely to result in Myers' performance continuting to be at least somewhat good in the future.
So what should we expect from Myers next year? Well, obviously, some regression in his slider's HR/FB rate is going to affect most of his numbers (WHIP, ERA, Wins). But if he continues to use his two-seam fastball as his primary fastball, his HR/FB rate shouldn't regress totally to his career norm: I'd expect the result to be a HR/FB rate of around roughly 11%, putting his results in line essentially with his xFIP next year.
Regarding his other numbers, I haven't seen anything in these numbers that clearly explains the decrease in his walk rate this year, so I would expect that to regress slightly. His K rate might not regress if he continues his new trend this year of throwing the slider out of the strike zone more often, so that's not bad.
All in all, if in 2010 he continues to throw his pitches in the same manner he is this year, I would expect his xFIP and FIP to regress a little (because of the BB rate increasing) and for his ERA to rise to match the new xFIP. Thus I'd expect his ERA naturally to rise toward a new xFIP of roughly around 4 (For the record, I haven't calculated the exact amount of regression, so take this number with a grain of salt. It's a prediction based on the above, but should not be treated as an exact).
Thus Brett Myers should probably be on your fantasy radar next year, but he shouldn't be ranked too highly. If he maintains his current pitch-selection, he'll still be a good pitcher, but he should not be able to repeat an ERA of around 3 again.
Posted by Josh Smolow at 2:38am (0) Comments
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I wanted to take a minute today to introduce you to a new crop of writers for THT Fantasy.
Josh Smolow also writes at Beyond the Boxscore and Amazin' Avenue and will contribute player analysis through the lens of PITCHf/x. Check out this great article about R.A. Dickey for an idea of what to expect. He posted his first article for THTF yesterday about Brett Myers.
Brad Johnson's name might sound familiar as he has been writing for THT Live for the past couple months. He's a terrific writer and analyst who should beef up our player coverage.
Alex Zelvin's name might also sound familiar as this will be his second tour with THTF. Alex runs Dailybaseballdata.com (a terrific resource, if you're not yet familiar with it) and will resume writing about daily leagues for THTF.
For those who haven't yet, head on over to The Book Blog to participate in Tom Tango's Fan Scouting Report project. It appears he's still in particular need of Marlins fans to fill out ballots, but I'm sure a fan of any team would be welcome. The data generated from this project can be very useful (and you'll likely see me make use of it during the off-season), so head on over and help out if you've seen 10+ games for any team in 2010. Read all the directions, and don't let the stats influence your opinion one drop. Fill it out based solely on what your eyes tell you.
Finally, the CardRunners Expert League is starting to look towards season two. To any fantasy baseball writers who have followed the goings-ons of the league this year and would be interested in joining myself, Jeff Erickson, Jason Grey, Peter Kreutzer, Chris Liss, and Joe Sheehan, please contact Eric Kesselman to express interest.
Posted by Derek Carty at 4:04am (0) Comments
For the past three years, at the end of each season I've made it a habit to discuss keeper league strategies for acquiring cheap closers. As I did last year, I'll simply copy and paste the underlying theory behind the strategy, changing a few examples to make it feel current.
Closers in keeper leagues
All keeper leagues are different, but if you are in one where your league-mates make a habit of keeping top closers, this strategy will be especially good for you.
In these leagues, when auction day or draft day rolls around, the number of closers will be limited. Those who haven't kept a top closer will be bidding against each other for the left-overs ... the second-tier closers. By default, their price will rise, quite possibly above their raw value. This can trickle down the list of closers until Kerry Wood (to take an example from this year) is being auctioned for some crazy amount, like $16.
So how do you avoid this? Do you simply punt saves? Do you overpay for a closer? I hope you won't have to do either, that this draft day inflation won't happen. The intelligent owner, though, will prepare—just in case—read the market come draft day, and decide on a course of action.
If you're out of the running this year, the stats you accrue over the remainder of 2010 make no difference to you. You shouldn't have your keepers set in stone yet, although you definitely should have a good idea who they will be. You could, theoretically, drop every player you don't intend to keep, tank, and it wouldn't make an ounce of difference. Of course, I don't advocate this; this type of behavior skews league results, and it certainly would anger the rest of your league if you drop a $49 Miguel Cabrera because you decide he's too expensive to keep. Might even get you kicked out before you make your run for the title in 2011!
Knowing this, feel free to drop any overpriced, old, or otherwise unkeepable players (within reason) and pick up some that fall into the next category: middle relievers with the inside track for a closing job. The owners in your league who are in it for this year might be ignoring these guys since they can't afford to waste active (or even bench) roster spots. Since you are concerned with next year, however, take the inside track while you can. Any advantage you can get is one worth pursuing, and there are several to be gained this time of year while many of your opponents don't have the flexibility to make moves you can if you're out of the race.
When Fernando Rodney gets auctioned for $17 next year, you might be sitting on the Braves' newly anointed closer, Jonny Venters, for $1. The great news is that it won't cost you anything in the short term because you're already out of it! How's that for value?
Of course, there's no way to predict who will be closing next year for certain, but you don't have to. If you're out of it, you just need to play the odds a little bit. Pick up five guys from the next list and, come March, if any of them have been promoted, decide to make that guy a keeper. That'll show the guy who's keeping Brian Wilson for $17.
Last year's results
As I've said in years past, this plan is far from fool-proof. If these guys were guaranteed dominant closers, there's a good chance they'd be closing already. Some of them do have the right stuff, though, and if they are given the opportunity to start 2011, they could run away with the job.
Last year, of the 19 guys who made the list, two opened the year as their team's closer (and four more inherited the job for some portion of 2010). This is far from a great raw percentage, but I think that's more the nature of the beast than anything else (and I did give strong recommendations to both guys who opened the year as closers). This has been the fewest number in the three years we've done this, though, likely because there were a lot of free agent signings and trades, mostly making it a game of musical chairs without too many new names being thrown into the MLB closing mix.
Matt Capps went to Washington, so the Bucs signed Octavio Dotel to replace him. Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano left Atlanta for the O's and Rays, and the Braves signed Billy Wagner to replace them. Jose Valverde signs with Detroit, and the Astros trade for Matt Lindstrom. Really the only new names we saw were Carlos Marmol and Jon Rauch (and Rauch was only because of Joe Nathan's spring injury). It was that sort of year.
So, bearing in mind that this is all speculative, here is my list for 2011. Lots of potential closers, but many on this list are long-shots.
+----------------------+------+---------------------+ | Name | Team | Current Closer | +----------------------+------+---------------------+ | Sam Demel | ARZ | Juan Gutierrez | | Jonny Venters | ATL | Billy Wagner | | Takashi Saito (FA) | ATL | Billy Wagner | | Mike Gonzalez | BAL | Koji Uehara | | Daniel Bard | BOS | Jonathan Papelbon | | Matt Thornton | CHW | Bobby Jenks | | J.J. Putz (FA) | CHW | Bobby Jenks | | Clay Hensley* | FLO | Leo Nunez/Hensley | | Kevin Jepsen | LAA | Fernando Rodney | | Octavio Dotel (FA) | LAD | Jonathan Broxton | | Joe Nathan | MIN | Matt Capps | | Brian Fuentes (FA) | MIN | Matt Capps | | Jon Rauch (FA) | MIN | Matt Capps | | K-Rod (FA) | NYM | Hisanori Takahashi | | Bobby Parnell | NYM | Hisanori Takahashi | | Jose Contreras (FA) | PHI | Brad Lidge | | Evan Meek | PIT | Joel Hanrahan | | Adams/Gregerson | SDP | Heath Bell | | Brandon League | SEA | David Aardsma | | Joaquin Benoit | TBR | Rafael Soriano | | Chad Qualls | TBR | Rafael Soriano | | Frank Francisco (FA) | TEX | Neftali Feliz | | Jason Frasor | TOR | Kevin Gregg | | Shawn Camp | TOR | Kevin Gregg | | Tyler Clippard | WAS | Drew Storen | +----------------------+------+---------------------+
Arizona's closing situation has been a mess this year, and they've said that they'll actively look for a closer this winter. Sam Demel might be their best in-house option, but there are going to be better speculative options available to you as the 2011 D'Backs closer may not be on the team right now.
Billy Wagner has said he'll retire after 2010, leaving the closer's chair vacant in Atlanta. Takashi Saito has been fantastic this year, but he'll be 41, is a free agent, and rookie Jonny Venters has dazzled. Rotoworld seems to think Craig Kimbrel has the inside track for the job, but I don't see how he'd make a better choice than Venters. Little experience at the upper levels and control troubles would likely spell a short reign as closer even if he were to take the job. Saito has previous experience closing and is a possibility to lock on somewhere, but his age might make him seem too risky for some teams.
Koji Uehara is doing a good job holding down the gig, and should remain the closer for the remainder of 2010. As long as he doesn't implode, he looks like a good bet to open 2011 as the closer. Mike Gonzalez will still be around, though, and is someone we'll need to keep an eye on since the O's do have a relatively large investment in him. If he comes back healthy and effective in 2011 and Uehara struggles (I don't expect him to, but bad luck happens. Ask Frank Francisco), Gonzalez could take back over for good.
Boston Red Sox
With Jonathan Papelbon struggling this year, there is some speculation that the Sox could trade him this winter. If they do, Daniel Bard would be able to step right in and make for a top-15 closer if the Sox don't bring in a free agent to take the job or to compete with Bard.
Chicago White Sox
Bobby Jenks has been a mess this year. A lot looks either injury-related or simple bad luck, but in either case, the White Sox may be done with him. A trade or non-tender is a distinct possibility, leaving Matt Thornton as the obvious candidate to replace him. J.J. Putz will be a free agent and will likely seek a job closing somewhere (and has a good chance of getting it), but it wouldn't make sense for Chicago to give him the big bucks with Thornton around.
Leo Nunez has been temporarily removed from the closer's role and Clay Hensley is now closing, but he's owned in just 3% of ESPN leagues (and he went unclaimed in Tout Mixed for the past two weeks). Part of that could be end-of-the-year inactivity, but if he's somehow available in your league, he's been fantastic this year and should, at the very least, compete for the job in 2011 (barring a FA or trade addition).
With Brian Fuentes traded, Fernando Rodney is closing in Anaheim, but Kevin Jepsen would be a better choice. Rodney simply isn't closer material, and even if he opens 2011 closing, I doubt he'll make it very long.
I expect Jonathan Broxton to resume closing in 2011, but Octavio Dotel will be a free agent and is worth mentioning as he could be one of those cheap, veteran options some teams like to bring in (like he was in Pittsburgh this year).
Matt Capps is a perfectly capable closer, but we can't forget about Joe Nathan. It doesn't look like he'll be ready by Spring Training, but if he is and looks good, Twins brass might have a decision to make. Brian Fuentes will be a free agent and would surely like to close, but he's probably more of a middle-tier option, maybe in the Dotel mold. Ditto Jon Rauch.
With Francisco Rodriguez done for the year, Hisanori Takahashi is closing most games for the Mets, but he'll be a free agent at the end of the year and will likely seek a job somewhere he can start. That might end up being with the Mets, but odds are against him closing in 2011. Omar Minaya will likely be gone this offseason, so it's anyone's guess who gets brought in and what direction they go, but going in-house at closer probably isn't the most likely scenario. A free agent makes sense, but if they do go in-house, Bobby Parnell has been great (2.46 xFIP), although this is the first year we've really been able to say that about him since Single-A. K-Rod will almost certainly be leaving the Big Apple, but he should land a job closing elsewhere.
Brad Lidge is the closer here, but Jose Contreras has had a good year and received some ninth-inning experience, so as a free agent he could be a long-shot to find a job closing.
Joel Hanrahan has been getting most of the saves in Pittsburgh, and he's a perfectly capable closer. He's a pretty good one, actually. Still, Evan Meek is younger and perhaps the more "exciting" choice. Keep an eye on this, as the two could end up battling in Spring Training.
The long-standing Heath Bell rumors may finally be quieting down, especially with the Padres potentially playoff bound, but a winter trade is possible, which would leave Mike Adams and Luke Gregerson to duke it out. Neither makes for a great keeper play (despite great skills) with the presence of the other in San Diego.
David Aardsma looked like he was going to get traded in July, but that failed to materialize. If talks pick back up again this winter, Brandon League could find himself closing games to start 2011. He's got the skills to hold down the job and shouldn't have much other competition unless the Mariners go external.
Rafael Soriano has been great, but he'll be a free agent again this winter and will likely seek a long-term deal that the Rays may not be able to provide. Unless they bring in another cheap, Soriano-like option, their in-house choices include Joaquin Benoit and Dan Wheeler. Chad Qualls will be a free agent but could re-sign, especially if he's offered first crack at the job. Lots of uncertainty here.
Frank Francisco may be a distant memory to those in shallower leagues, but we may need to remember him real quick. If Neftali Feliz is moved to the starting rotation in 2011 (he absolutely should—he's being wasted in the bullpen with his stuff), Francisco could resume closing. While he was removed after two unlucky weeks in April, he's been nothing short of dominant since. The potential problems are that the Rangers' rotation picture is very crowded (see: Cliff Lee, Colby Lewis, C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, Rich Harden, Scott Feldman, Brandon McCarthy, Martin Perez, etc.) and the Rangers might not see Francisco as a viable closer because of his past "troubles." We also need to consider that Francisco is a free agent, so he could go elsewhere. If the Rangers offer him a chance to close, though, I'd have to think he'd stick around. It's also possible someone else offers him a job closing.
Kevin Gregg could be a trade option and Jason Frasor and Scott Downs will be free agents this winter. It seems somewhat unlikely that Frasor or Downs sign on to close anywhere, but it could happen. If Gregg is traded, a cheap outside option might be most likely, although Shawn Camp has had a good 2010 season for the Jays and has long been underrated.
Everyone knows that Drew Storen is supposed to be the closer of the future in Washington, but he just hasn't been that great this year. He should start 2011 closing, but if he struggles, Tyler Clippard looks like the better pitcher right now.
Teams in the market for closers
Everyone. Or at least it seems like it. Plenty of closing situations will be in flux this winter, so a lot of movement seems likely if teams decide to look externally. Here is a list of teams who could be in the trade or free agent market for closers:
A lot of these teams (Reds, Rockies, Red Sox, Royals, Rangers, Jays) would only be in the market if they move their current closer, but others could be seriously looking to acquire someone (D'Backs, Mets, Rays). Others have in-house options but could bring in a cheap veteran to compete (Braves, Brewers, O's, White Sox).
Of the teams that are definitely look for a closer, the Mets are the only team likely to have big bucks to spend, though things can change since there appears to be so much uncertainty this year. If the market is more dormant, we could see more trades (good news for guys like League) and closers re-signing with their current teams (bad news for guys like Benoit).
If I had to pick right now, here are the five guys I'd pick up now in my keeper league to speculate on (in order):
There of course will be other guys vying for closers job (more so this year than in recent years, in all likelihood), but these guys all have good enough skills to close and a decent chance of receiving the opportunity to do so.
Disagree with my choices? Did I miss someone entirely? Did you use the strategy last year? Any thoughts, questions, or comments, leave 'em below.
Posted by Derek Carty at 4:37am (15) Comments
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Although I often prefer to indulge in the existential and theoretical questions surrounding fantasy baseball, today I thought I’d offer up some good old-fashioned practical information. At this point in the season, many of us are wrapped in extremely tight races in categories with crucial one or two point swings on the line. Stolen bases is a category that is often separated by small gaps, in terms of raw numbers. The last few weeks of the season can be a good time to make a move in stolen bases, if you’re opportunistic.
Before giving some useful info, let me explain why I think late season is a good time to go after steals. First, as I already mentioned, the gaps in that category are usually small in absolute value due to steals being a low volume category. Second, few owners actually play to maximize their team speed, so the competition for helpful waiver-wire additions may be low. Third, if you maximize your chances for steals by playing match-ups, shallow and moderate depth leaguers can often find players with above average base stealing ability on the wire. Fourth, and related, many of the late season call-ups are young -– fresh legs, eager to prove their worth and breadth of skill, while the position of catcher is often dominated by veterans. There’s a bit of a fresh runningback spinning and juking against a beleaguered defensive line dynamic here. And, fifth, good basestealing ability is often correlated with batting average skills, and batting average is not only a category where you can improve your performance, but the only category of the standard five that allows your opponents to regress.
A strategic pick-up of a speedy player with a favorable catcher match-up can really pay dividends. I noticed that an owner in one my leagues had dropped Coco Crisp for last week in order to make room for a spot start. By chance, I happened to notice Crisp on the wire and that he was due to play Boston and the weak throwing Victor Martinez. I put in a claim for him and watched Crisp swipe six bases this past weekend. Crisp’s spree has netted me 1.5 points in that category in four days, with another 1.5 potentially in range as well. Now, I realize this performance is not representative of what one should reasonably expect from executing this strategy, but a good unowned basestealer can easily swipe three in a series against a poor catcher. It is my opinion that one could reasonably expect a greater return on a strategic attempt to up stolen base production via a waiver wire pick-up than to improve home run production (homers are more of a fair comparison because, like stolen bases, they are less team-based). This contention is even stronger when you convert the relative value of a steal to a home run, in respect to the overall volume of the stat. And, just for good measure, it is quite likely that in order to make room for your new wheels, you will dump a player with very little chance to steal a base (there are tons of players who steal between zero and five bases every year, some of which aren’t even very good otherwise). The converse is not exactly true though. The marginal likelihood of you new speedster nabbing a base will almost undoubtedly be higher than your improved chance at a homer should you have tried to optimize that skill on your roster. This is likely to be true especially because players whose home run totals are egregiously low are often too valuable in other ways -– often, in steals –- to just drop in even a rational fit of short-sighted opportunism.
So, without further ado, below is a table of regular MLB catchers and their success at throwing out runners. Obviously, starting pitcher plays a role here, but if you’re going to look at this strategy in terms of the series as the unit of pick-up, here are the biggest marks and deadliest assassins who regularly suit up behind the dish.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 4:15am (2) Comments
Thursday, September 16, 2010
At the most basic level, what is the most important aspect of any prospect? His ability to eventually be a full-time big leaguer, whether it's a an everyday position player, member of the pitching rotation, or, to a lesser extent, a prominent fixture in the bullpen.
The following group of players are from the bottom of my current Top-100 list, but they all project to be full-time players. I feel that these statistical projections form a nice, neutral viewpoint on which we can all base our expectations. Some of these players will outproduce their projection, and some will under produce or even flat-out bust.
Check out my Top-100 list to see how these guys stack up against the rest of the Top 100. You can also view Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3 of these installments.
Danny Espinosa / SS / Washington
Average Year Projection:
.263 / .315 / 12 HR / 26 2B / 3 3B / 69 RBI / 76 R / 42 BB / 122 SO / 14 SB / 4 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.276 / .335 / 17 HR / 28 2B / 4 3B / 78 RBI / 86 R / 49 BB / 114 SO / 18 SB / 5 CS
Chris Carter / 1B/OF / Oakland
Average Year Projection:
.249 / .336 / 24 HR / 32 2B / 2 3B / 85 RBI / 70 R / 74 BB / 149 SO / 3 SB / 2 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.259 / .351 / 28 HR / 32 2B / 2 3B / 94 RBI / 77 R / 80 BB / 142 SO / 4 SB / 2 CS
Dee Gordon / SS / LA Dodgers
Average Year Projection:
.261 / .315 / 7 HR / 24 2B / 7 3B / 52 RBI / 79 R / 42 BB / 104 SO / 28 SB / 8 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.273 / .335 / 9 HR / 25 2B / 8 3B / 59 RBI / 88 R / 48 BB / 96 SO / 33 SB / 9 CS
Tanner Scheppers / SP/RP / Texas
Average Year Projection:
152 IP / 4.74 ERA / 1.40 WHIP / 11 W / 11 L / 147 SO / 154 H / 59 BB
Prime Year Projection:
169 IP / 4.22 ERA / 1.30 WHIP / 12 W / 11 L / 170 SO / 161 H / 58 BB
Ian Desmond / SS/2B / Washington
Average Year Projection:
.264 / .308 / 10 HR / 32 2B / 4 3B / 66 RBI / 73 R / 35 BB / 104 SO / 17 SB / 5 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.275 / .325 / 12 HR / 33 2B / 4 3B / 73 RBI / 83 R / 41 BB / 97 SO / 20 SB / 5 CS
Jason Castro / C / Houston
Average Year Projection:
.266 / .339 / 10 HR / 22 2B / 1 3B / 53 RBI / 61 R / 56 BB / 100 SO / 1 SB / 1 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.277 / .355 / 13 HR / 23 2B / 1 3B / 61 RBI / 69 R / 61 BB / 92 SO / 2 SB / 1 CS
Carlos Triunfel / 3B/2B/SS / Seattle
Average Year Projection:
.258 / .296 / 12 HR / 24 2B / 2 3B / 68 RBI / 69 R / 30 BB / 81 SO / 10 SB / 4 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.269 / .315 / 15 HR / 26 2B / 2 3B / 75 RBI / 77 R / 37 BB / 74 SO / 13 SB / 4 CS
Austin Jackson / OF / Detroit
Average Year Projection:
.276 / .332 / 6 HR / 33 2B / 8 3B / 49 RBI / 84 R / 47 BB / 140 SO / 25 SB / 6 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.286 / .347 / 8 HR / 34 2B / 9 3B / 55 RBI / 92 R / 52 BB / 133 SO / 30 SB / 7 CS
Lars Anderson / 1B / Boston
Average Year Projection:
.264 / .339 / 18 HR / 38 2B / 2 3B / 78 RBI / 70 R / 63 BB / 138 SO / 2 SB / 2 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.275 / .355 / 22 HR / 40 2B / 2 3B / 87 RBI / 78 R / 69 BB / 130 SO / 3 SB / 2 CS
Reid Brignac / SS/2B / Tampa Bay
Average Year Projection:
.268 / .329 / 12 HR / 26 2B / 3 3B / 68 RBI / 72 R / 38 BB / 118 SO / 8 SB / 3 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.278 / .345 / 15 HR / 27 2B / 3 3B / 74 RBI / 79 R / 44 BB / 111 SO / 11 SB / 4 CS
Jemile Weeks / 2B / Oakland
Average Year Projection:
.260 / .328 / 9 HR / 30 2B / 5 3B / 65 RBI / 69 R / 56 BB / 114 SO / 13 SB / 5 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.272 / .344 / 12 HR / 32 2B / 6 3B / 74 RBI / 78 R / 61 BB / 107 SO / 16 SB / 5 CS
Jose Iglesias / SS / Boston
Average Year Projection:
.271 / .311 / 3 HR / 27 2B / 5 3B / 55 RBI / 70 R / 32 BB / 106 SO / 8 SB / 3 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.281 / .327 / 4 HR / 28 2B / 6 3B / 62 RBI / 79 R / 38 BB / 99 SO / 10 SB / 4 CS
Hank Conger / C / LA Angels
Average Year Projection:
.274 / .348 / 13 HR / 29 2B / 2 3B / 68 RBI / 62 R / 57 BB / 83 SO / 1 SB / 1 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.284 / .362 / 17 HR / 30 2B / 2 3B / 77 RBI / 69 R / 62 BB / 77 SO / 2 SB / 1 CS
Fernando Martinez / OF / NY Mets
Average Year Projection:
.255 / .307 / 16 HR / 35 2B / 3 3B / 73 RBI / 76 R / 42 BB / 128 SO / 5 SB / 2 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.266 / .326 / 23 HR / 37 2B / 3 3B / 83 RBI / 85 R / 49 BB / 120 SO / 8 SB / 3 CS
Posted by Matt Hagen at 1:03am (1) Comments
Whether you’re trying to select a pitcher for a daily salary cap format or evaluating which pitcher to use in a traditional weekly league, it would be really useful to be able to accurately forecast the number of innings a pitcher will last on any given day. Not only would that give you some idea of how much impact his performance that day will have on his rate statistics, but it also is part of the equation for determining how many strikeouts to expect and how likely he is to get the decision in the game. It’s also a topic that I’ve never seen addressed in any detail.
What makes projecting innings pitched for an individual game interesting is that expected performance will have an impact on expected innings pitched. It’s easy to mistakenly think that because most pitchers average somewhere between 5.5 and seven innings pitched per game, it wouldn’t be worth the trouble of trying to forecast innings pitched. But that’s misleading, because it averages out performance in a variety of situations. Taking all of those into account, we might be looking at a range of expected performance that goes from around four innings pitched at the low end (a bad pitcher against a good offense in a hitter's park) to maybe eight innings pitched at the high end (a good pitcher with a high pitch count limit against a weak offense in a pitcher's park). That makes the attempt to forecast innings pitched seem much more worthwhile!
In this article, I’m going to build a simple model for forecasting or projecting how many innings a pitcher will last in any given game. I’ll keep things simple, focusing on the impact of the opposing offense on innings pitched. I hope to follow it up in the future with another article that tests the effectiveness of the model. Depending on the results, maybe I’ll tackle some of the other factors that impact innings pitched too.
The majority of the time, a pitcher will come out of the game for one of two reasons. Either he's removed because he's pitching badly, or he's removed because he's reached some sort of pitch count or innings pitched limit determined by the team. There are other reasons such as injury or being removed for a pinch hitter, but these generally play a relatively minor role. When looking at a pitcher’s average innings pitched in past games, we’re looking at data that takes both major factors into account. It reflects both the effectiveness (and efficiency) of the pitcher in past games, as well as any pitch count or innings pitched limits he's been subject to.
Likewise, when looking at the average innings pitched by starting pitchers against the opposing team, we’re looking at data that reflect all aspects of how the hitters on that team have impacted opposing pitchers’ innings pitched. While it won’t be as precise as it would if we created a model based on the specific hitters in today’s lineup, we’re trying to build a simple, usable model…not a perfect simulation.
What I’m going to propose is laughably simple, but I suspect that for most situations, it’s going to be good enough to have value for many people. I’ll need three data inputs: average innings pitched for the league (NL or AL), average innings pitched of starting pitchers against the opposing offense, and average innings pitched for the starting pitcher. Basically, I’m going to create an adjustment factor by dividing the average innings pitched of starting pitchers against the opposing offense divided by the league-average innings pitched. This value (which will average one) will be used to multiply the average innings pitched of the starting pitcher being evaluated. That’s the IP forecast for today’s game.
Yes, there are all sorts of other factors that would make this a more accurate model:
-Which players are in today’s lineup?
-What are the effects of the park?
-What are the effects of being home or away?
-Should we use regression to the mean on the pitcher’s average innings pitched?
-Should we weigh the pitcher’s recent performance more heavily?
However, I believe that even the incredibly simple model I’ve described would provide value. For my next article (which should be in about a month), I’ll do some back-testing comparing the accuracy of using this model to forecast innings pitched rather than simply using the pitcher’s average innings pitched without taking the opponent into account.
Posted by Alex Zelvin at 1:06am (0) Comments
Friday, September 17, 2010
Hello boys and girls. I’m Adam Kaplan your substitute host for this week and fellow Game Of Inches blog author along with Jeffrey Gross. This week Jeff is not lying on his death bed, but being a productive member of society doing a lot of writing for his law school. So while your original host Johnny Carson is temporarily away, I’ll be your David Letterman for this week.
Before I begin: I this far you're in the playoffs, or atop the standings in your roto league, it might be best to let sleeping dogs lie. You don’t want to pull a Joe Girardi and overmanage your team (For the purposes of this analogy we’ll say 2008 Girardi, not 2009). You should just trust what got you to this point. And on that encouraging disclaimer, let’s begin!
All stats are current through at least Sept. 13.
Chris Sale | Chicago (AL) | RP | 5 percent Yahoo ownership.
YTD: 0.57 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 12.06 K/9, 5.74 BB/9
MLS MLE: 8.45 FIP, 1.50 WHIP, 18.00 K/9, 7.50 BB/9
Like most White Sox bullpen guys this year, Chris Sale throws hard, with an average fastball velocity of 96 mph in the majors. This has translated to plenty of strikeouts (21 in only 15.2 innings). The walks are outrageously high (10 in 15.2 innings) but as a reliever and a high strikeout pitcher, those walks can be easily masked (see Carlos Marmol and The Joker’s bank robbery crew. Masks. Get it? Never mind).
Along with those high strikeouts comes a decently high propensity to get ground balls with a 46.9 GB percentage and a 1.15 GB/FB percentage. High strikeouts + a lot of grounders = fantasy (and I guess reality) success. This is Sabermetrics 201 (I teach the advanced class).
I view the fact that Sale has not given up a home run as a bad sign. I know it’s the Gambler’s Fallacy to say someone "is due,” especially in baseball, but Sale still has a decent propensity for fly balls and I don’t really trust any pitcher with a decent fly ball percentage (currently 40.6 for Sale) who calls The Cell home (it's second among major league parks in home runs given up. And unfortunately I don’t have access to super secret THT data about fly ball suppression and such, so I have to go off what ESPN’s Park Factors tell me. Also, Paul Konerko is not the only one hitting those dingers).
So I think Sale will give up at least one home run before the year ends and with the small sample he will pitch on the year, I expect that ERA to go up. But how bad is it really to have your ERA go up from .57 to 2.00? Just ask Ubaldo Jimenez; he’s good with it.
However, the reason I mention Sale is because everyone who plays fantasy has to go after the ever-elusive “save” category. And I know some of you might be tempted to pick up Sale because you recently saw he got a save. Well don’t be fooled. Sale has two saves on the year and one of them came last Friday against Kansas City.
As a White Sox fan, I was actually watching this game (and being pissy, too, because going into the eighth inning the ChiSox were down and in a "close" race with the Twins.) Because the Sox were down in the eighth they had Sale (the lefty) and Scott Linebrink (the righty) warming up. Linebrink pitched a scoreless eighth and the White Sox (because let’s face it, it’s the Royals bullpen) just kept on hitting singles to take the lead 4-3 going into the ninth. However, because Sale was already warmed up (and is very good and J.J. Putz and Bobby Jenks were injured/unavailable) Ozzie Guillen just had his young'un pitch the last inning for the save.
However, now that Putz is healthy (and Jenks is injured/bad at pitching right now), I think Putz gets the most saves from the White Sox from here on out (and has only 10 percent Yahoo! ownership). And if Jenks ever comes back (and I think he will), I think he gets save opps over Putz and Sale.
Recommendation: A pickup only if you’re extremely desperate for saves and Putz is unavailable.
Coco Crisp | Oakland | OF | 39 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD: .273/.338/.435 with 30 SB
Oliver ROS: .264/.332/.395
As a favor to Jeff, I’ll say that if you’re looking for speed he will tell you that you should pick up Cleveland outfielder Michael Brantley (9 percent Yahoo ownership, .282 BA with four SB and one homer in the past 30 days. Jeff wants me to point out that he's on an extrapolated full season pace of a .285/35 steal/100-run season with eight homers and 60 RBI in the second half). However, if Crisp is available on the wire, I would choose him first. Not only do I think Crisp steals more bags with a higher average along with hitting more home runs, but Crisp is currently fifth among outfielder’s on Yahoo!’s player rater over the last 30 days over Brantley who is 52nd.
Crisp already has 30 swiped bags with only two caught stealing. And despite what we all read in Moneyball like a decade ago, Billy Beane is letting his players run (especially when you’re running as effectively as Crisp is this year. See: Rajai Davis. Crisp also has a neutral .300 BABIP (.306 career) so I expect his .273 batting average (.277 career) to stay relatively put. Sure it’s nothing special, but at this point in the year (especially for Roto leagues) the small sample size makes his average moot.
Crisp also has eight dingers to go along with his stolen bases. Like Jacoby Ellsbury lite (minus a rib injury). Now, realistically, I don’t know how many home runs we can expect out of him in the few weeks left of playing time (what I’m saying is that it’s such a small sample size) but I wouldn’t be surprised if he hits one or two to go along with average (batting) average and high stolen base potential.
Recommendation: A must-add in all AL only leagues and deeper mixed leagues and an add in shallower leagues where you’re looking to make up ground in stolen bases.
Brian Duensing | Minnesota | SP | 41 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD: 2.02 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 5.21 K/9, 1.85 BB/9
Oliver ROS: 3.77 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 4.9 K/9, 1.6 BB/9
As a White Sox fan, I’d hate to give props to anyone in Minnesota, but I’m not a hate-ah and will give props when props are due. And props are due to Duensing of the Twinkies. Sure his K/9 is Mark Buehrle-esque bad, but his control and low walk rate are fantastic. Another thing Duensing has in common with Buehrle: I have to look up how to spell their last names correctly. As Kevin Costner said to Tim Robbins in Bull Durham, “Strikeouts are fascist” and Duensing must have taken that sentiment to heart. So if you’re in a points league that heavily favors strikeouts, maybe Duensing isn’t your best option, but I think he’ll be great in the other three main pitching categories.
I give all Minnesota Twins pitchers an extra boost for playing in the extremely pitcher friendly Target Field (at least in 2010). This year, Target Field ranks last in home runs given up—fewer home runs than Safeco, Petco or any other “co” parks. Add to that Duensing’s extreme worm-burning tendencies (51.7 GB percentage) and low fly ball tendencies (32.5 FB percentage) and you have a recipe for a low ERA and WHIP. (Side note: I also have a good recipe for homemade pizza).
Lastly, Duensing has an awesome, Morneau-less offense to give him run support and every team’s former closer in Minnesota’s bullpen to help give B-Dawg (I just made up that nickname, you like it? Yeah, me neither) some wins. In nine games started (and 49 games total). Duensing already has eight wins, three of which came within the past 30 days and ranks 10th among all starting pitchers within the past 30 days.
Now Duensing’s ownership has gone up significantly, so if he’s not available in your league I recommend his teammate Nick Blackburn (17 percent Yahoo ownership, 1.71 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 5.77 K/9 the past 30 days) or fellow AL Central pitcher Rick Porcello (38 percent Yahoo ownership, 3.51 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 4.61 K/9 the past 30 days)
Recommendation: A must add in all leagues.
Marcus Thames | New York (AL) | OF | 9 percent Yahoo ownership
Oliver ROS: .252/.317/.459
I want you to stare at what Thames has done this year. Look at that triple slash line. Stare at it like one of those Magic Eyes you had when you were a kid (But not as hard as Ethan Suplee did in Mallrats). He’s hitting over .300 with an OPS of .900 (.389 wOBA). He’s got David Wright power this year (.219 ISO) and a career .245 ISO. This was a man who in 2006 hit 26 home runs for the Tigers in only 390 plate appearances and hit 25 home runs in 342 PA in 2008. This is a guy about whom we all keep saying “this guy can’t keep it up” and yet continues to prove us wrong time and time again.
His only flaw is playing time, but with an “injury” to Lance Berkman (I guess in New York being bad at offense is an injury), Thames is getting consistent playing time as the Yankees DH (and they’re smart in not keeping him on the field with his -4.1 fielding rating this year). Add to this ISO that Thames calls home the best park in the league for hitting home runs (although this I do believe has to do with the fact that the Yankees are just an extremely talented team) and you’ve got success.
I will admit that his .369 BABIP scares me a little bit. But at this point in the season, I’m not worried about BABIP. If this were June I would tell you (like I said for Austin Jackson—that turned out well) that Thames’ batting average is going to take a huge hit. But with only a few weeks to go, I think Jackson and Justin Morneau have proved to us this year that guys can sustain good fantasy numbers (like batting average) with seemingly unsustainable peripherals.
I believe in my heart (and I know this seems extremely blasphemous and counter intuitive from a “stats guy”) that sometimes your true talent will prevail despite bad peripherals, and I think Thames' case is one of them. For this year. I believe Thames will have at least a .280 batting average the rest of the way with five to seven home runs. If you’re looking for some cheap power, there might be better guys out there, but I think Thames will provide you nice power along with runs, RBIs and a better batting average than most power guys in free agency.
Recommendation: A must-own in all AL-only leagues and in deeper mixed leagues and an own in shallower leagues if you lost a Josh Hamilton or your top outfielder and are scrambling. (Although no one in the waiver wire is going to replace what Josh Hamilton has done for you).
Russell Branyan | Seattle | 1B | 11 percent Yahoo ownership
Oliver ROS: .239/.327/.484
Speaking of power guys with a bad batting average…
I think one of the lines in the new XX "The Most Interesting Man in the World" commercials should be "In the midst of a fantasy baseball playoff win, he once started Russell Branyan." This is a guy who I picked up early in free agency last year when he hit 19 homers and .303 before July. Now while it was obvious that Branyan’s batting would decline (and it did), his power never did. He had a .269 ISO last year and has a .249 ISO this year. Man has pure raw power.
I’m going to play a game with you. Name me the three players who lead all players with 10 HR over the past 30 days. The first player to come to your mind should have been Jose Bautista (the dude just leads all players in HR). The second player should have been Albert Pujols because the dude is just a machine (Why didn’t you eliminate them, Albert?). The third player, well considering I’m asking you this in the middle of my Russell Branyan piece, yes it’s Branyan (or at least it was when I initially wrote this piece. At this point, Troy Tulowitski now leads all players with 11 home runs, Bautista has 10, and Branyan is tied with Jay Bruce in third with 9).
Now I know Branyan also has a .228 batting average and the fact is that Branyan is going to have a Carlos Pena-eqsue batting average, but if you’re in a roto league, the small sample size for the rest of the year will not affect your average. Although if you want Branyan type power without the batting average dent, might I suggest Jim Thome (.308 BA with 8 Homers over the past 30 days; 17 percent Yahoo! ownership).
At this point Jeff and I are on a mountaintop screaming about the awesomeness of Branyan. If you don’t want to own him, that’s cool. No no no, it’s okay. You go on with your team. I mean, I’m only here to give you advice. Whatever. Be that way. That’s cool.
Recommendation: Not ownable for head to head owners who want to preserve their batting average, but a must own for AL-only teams, deeper mixed league teams, and all owners in desperate need of home runs.
Jhonny Peralta | Detroit | 3B, SS | 42 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .261/.320/.418
Jeff told me to write about Jhonny Peralta. Personally, I think there are better guys out there (in particular his teammates Don Kelly, 4 percent Yahoo! ownership, and Brandon Inge, 1 percent Yahoo! ownership, who both qualify at third base along with Peralta) if you need some last minute pop and counting stats and who are more likely to be available in your league. But since this is Jeff’s world and we all just live in it, let’s discuss Peralta.
Since being traded from the Indians to the Tigers, Peralta has decreased his strikeouts and increased his BB percentage, ISO, BA, OBP, SLG, wOBA and any other abbreviation statistic you can think of, all while keeping his BABIP constant. In exactly 200 fewer plate appearances, Peralta has exactly as many home runs in Detroit as he does in Cleveland (seven). His crappy fielding has even slightly improved from -2.5 to now -0.4. He’s essentially hitting the same number of line drives, fly balls, ground balls, etc., but his HR/FB percent increased from a meager 5.6 rate in Cleveland to (practically) a major league average of 12.7 percent. I guess everything in Cleveland is lifeless. I can understand why LeBron left. Although according to Peralta's former teammate Shin-Soo Choo, it’s still better than South Korea. I guess.
Peralta has been the fifth best third baseman and the fourth best shortstop in Yahoo over the past 30 days and there rationally is no reason why Peralta can’t keep it up. But I never was a Peralta fan (even when he was fantasy gold a few years ago) and I personally don’t like him now. But Jeff owns him in both fantasy leagues (12 and 11 mixed leagues respectively with no MI or CI slot) we’re in together, so take that for what it’s worth.
Recommendation: Ownable in all leagues (as per what Jeff would say)
Thank you to THT and Jeffrey Gross for letting me write this piece, thank you for reading, and good luck to everyone down the stretch and in your fantasy playoffs.
Posted by Jeffrey Gross at 5:19am (2) Comments
Monday, September 20, 2010
The Tampa Bay Rays have a well-established pipeline of top talent.
On the mound David Price has put up shinier numbers than his peripherals support, but that just means he's only established himself as a good, not elite, pitcher. Wade Davis has struggled some his first full season but should improve. Jeremy Hellickson has been spectacular in the minors and I think will better adjust to his first full season than either Price of David—Hellboy is a more polished pitcher.
In the field Desmond Jennings is the heir apparent to a departing Carl Crawford and if he stays healthy should hit for a solid average and challenge league leaders in stolen bases—he may even hit a few more home runs than he's shown this year with an iffy wrist.
But if you are in a deep keeper league, guys such as Hellickson and Jennings are long gone—in my 12-team American League auction league, both were signed in 2009—Jennings was on a roster in 2008 too but was dropped because of injuries and then picked up after a healthy and strong start in 2009.
But even with those players gone there is room for a couple of sleepers I think may surprise in 2011 and both are solid candidates in deeper keeper leagues:
(1) Jacob McGee—Fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, McGee is getting a September audition and might even make the postseason roster if the Rays decide he's a better fit for the bullpen than Jeremy Hellickson. Was all jitters his first appearance but showed his stuff in his second game with an average fastball of 95.5 and a peak of 98.5. Doesn't have great secondary pitches but with plenty of movement on his fastball, he doesn't need it. It's likely he'll start the year as a LOOGY, but I think he has an outside chance of taking the closer's role by year's end. Not only will Soriano be gone but Benoit may too—both will be free agents.
(2) Leslie Anderson—With Carlos Pena almost certain to leave as a free agent and Matt Joyce mediocre again this year, there may be two open spots at first base and right field. Anderson can play both. While he doesn't have the power of a typical corner player, he has shown moderate power and an insane line drive rate of 39% at Triple-A. Has struggled a bit against lefties but could find himself in the better half of a platoon. He'll turn 29 next March, so he's hardly a prospect, but he adjusted well to his first year here and I expect he'll be a solid hitter.
Both player fit profiles of guys who are often underrated.
McGee was once one of the top five or 10 pitching prospects in baseball, rated more highly than Davis and Hellickson, but he lost his luster with his injury and the predictable struggles upon his return. If it is a truism that fantasy owners over-pay for hyped rookies, it's also true they often under-estimate the ceiling for players who either struggled or were hurt.
Anderson has two conventional knocks against him: He's far too old for a prospect and he lacks the power of a prototype first baseman or corner outfielder. While both are true, the former was the product of Cuban citizenship, not a lack of production, and as for the latter, while that may handicap his long-term success, if you're interested in winning your fantasy league next year, the opportunity may be there for him to get at-bats in a good lineup.
Posted by Jonathan Sher at 2:07am (4) Comments
Jameson is in a 12-team, 10-category OBP league. He may select any six keepers. They cost the average round they were selected in the previous year. His roster is as follows:
Bench Mike Stanton
DL Carlos Santana
Bench Chad Billingsley
Bench Brian Duensing
Bench Colby Lewis
Bench Ted Lilly
DL Stephen Strasburg
First let’s tackle the easy part, who’s worth keeping and/or trading? Listed in parenthesis is the player’s expected draft round cost. Hanley Ramirez (1st), David Wright (2nd), Ryan Braun (1st), Matt Kemp (1st) , Jason Heyward (19), Mike Stanton (last), and Carlos Santana (last) are the seven guys that I think are very good keeper options. Matt Cain (8th) should be fairly marketable depending on the league. Personally, I would avoid pitchers as keepers unless a particularly good and cheap option floats your way.
Positional scarcity is probably my No. 1 concern when selecting keepers in a format like this. You’re in a great position on that front. Hanley Ramirez, David Wright and Carlos Santana adequately fill three of four “scarce” positions.
I’m probably not saying anything unexpected when I tell you that Ramirez should go nowhere. I doubt any collection of talent is worth the downgrade from Hanley to whoever is available in the draft. And while Carlos Santana is not without risk, he’ll only be costing your last pick and likely will be a top-four catcher. Again, I’d be happy to count him as a keeper, although if you’re particularly risk averse you can tinker with trying to acquire Joe Mauer (1st) or Buster Posey (28th). With Wright, I would first look into acquiring Evan Longoria (1st) before settling for him. It’s only a minor upgrade, but worth it if you’re dealing a guy you would have cut anyway.
None of that was particularly enlightening advice. Now we’re at the tricky part. You have Kemp, Braun, Heyward, and Stanton and only three keeps remaining. My first recommendation is to contact the owners of Robinson Cano and Chase Utley to see if either player can be acquired. Who to use in such a trade depends on those owners. First, allow me to digress.
I like Heyward and Stanton a lot as value keepers. However, the keeper rules in your league effectively limit that value because neither player is really a multi-year option at this point. Heyward in his brief tenure with the Braves has demonstrated great talent and questionable durability. He’s a great value in 2011 but might not be a keeper in 2012. If an owner values him as a top-15 OF, you’re getting enough value to consider trading him. With Stanton, I expect to see similar performance to this year, large peaks and valleys in his production. You’re probably going to have a shot at several players over the waiver wire who will have similar seasons (recognizing them when they’re available is a different matter). Again, if an owner really likes him, don’t be afraid to deal him. You can encourage that by talking him up and feigning an unwillingness to trade him. Both players are likely to have an early average draft round in 2011 relative to their talent. Kemp and Braun on the other hand are likely to remain first-round-quality talent and can be kept for the remainder of their prime.
If you’re finding that owners aren’t willing to offer up a ton of value for Heyward, Stanton, Johan, and Cain, you can try marketing Kemp and Braun. The latter remains the first outfielder on my draft board, so if you do market him, aim high. I would be willing to part with Braun for Utley or Cano straight up; otherwise I might turn my nose up. And don’t open with that! That’s a last resort offer. You’re going to find that people are down on Kemp after a merely decent season. He’s still a nice outfielder to have and since we’re talking about keeping Hanley, Wright, and Braun, he effectively costs you a fourth-round pick, not too shabby.
What you do with those four outfielders really depends on what your options are in the trade market. If you can grab a top second baseman, do so. Otherwise do your best to trade up a little. Any of Braun, Kemp, Heyward, and Stanton are nice options. If you had to choose today, I’d leave out Stanton and settle for the established elite guys.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:17am (8) Comments
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Fantasyland is a great novel from 2006 about fantasy baseball which details Sam Walker's experience as a rookie amongst a field of "seasoned experts" in one of fantasy baseball's highest profile leagues -- that which is known as Tout Wars. For a little more about the book, you can read SexyRexy's old blurb about the book.
Anywho, a documentary based upon the premise of the book (aptly titled Fantasyland) was recently produced (partially by Terminator: Salvation director McG of all people) and released. There is still no word (at least not to my knowledge) on when the DVD will (if ever) come out, but the film is available to view online for free (I've embedded the film for viewing, via Hulu, below). It's a fairly interesting and worthwhile watch, though I found the book significantly more fascinated because it detailed the genesis of the game of fantasy baseball and its historical impact on the actual game.
The movie stars a Jed Latkin, a financial trader and fantasy baseball enthusiast, who is given entry into the elusive Tout Wars league in 2008 to, like Sam Walker before him (who is also in the movie), test the hypothesis of how successful an "amateur" could fair against the experts and lead authorities of fantasy baseball. Jed mostly does what Sam did before him, including making team T-Shirts for the players on his fantasy team, and breaks little new ground. Readers of the book will know what to expect, but those never before exposed to Fantasyland will be an awe of just how far fantasy baseball players are willing to go to win.
All in all, the film presents an interesting portrait about the world of and players of fantasy baseball worth indulging, even if you have read the book. The film is not dull at any moment and Jed's persona is charmingly quirky.
3 stars out of 4.
Watch more free documentaries
(Hat tip to SexyRexy for finding this movie)
Side note for after you watch the film:
I do have one gripe with the film. When I first saw it, I felt as though many scenes were dramatically contrived and beyond the scope of unbelievable-but-true realism from Walker's novel. Upon my second viewing, my suspicions have been confirmed, to some extent. Look at the following still (below) from a scene that supposedly occurred just before the start of the 2008 baseball season (click to enlarge):
Notice two things. First, there is an advertisement for 2009 MLB.TV on the MLB.com website. Why would MLB.TV be advertising for the 2009 season before the 2008 season has even begun? Secondly, Marcus Thames' actual 2008 stats are listed on his player page: .241 BA, 25 HR, 56 RBI. Additionally, at an earlier point from this scene, Latkins is looking over a stat sheet for Justin Verlander which lists Verlander's actual 2008 statistics. I understand that movies are filmed anachronistically for editing and logistical purposes, but the purely outlandish nature of some scenes and these continuity errors make me question the reality of certain scenes such as when Latkins spontaneously shows up to Ron Shandler's house to try and make a trade.
Nonetheless, still worth a viewing.