December 12, 2013
And here's the full roster.
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Monday, March 28, 2011
The countdown has begun, and my fridge is stocked. Opening Day is less than 96 hours away. Unless you count all the Thursday games as the real Opening Day, then simply subtract 12 hours. I will forgive baseball for confusing us simpler baseball folk with multiple opening days, mainly because I’m aching to get this party started. I have compiled five simple tips to help jump-start 2011 and guide the newer fantasy baseball enthusiast. Enjoy.
Know the difference between "want" and "need."
The No. 1 mistake I find myself making both in the draft and in season is that I tend to favor my favorite players. Favoring your guys is good in a sense, but you must always treat you fantasy team like it’s a business.
Holding grudges is silly, but a very real element to fantasy management. For example, it’s tough for me to see past the problems Matt Kemp created for me last year when I selected him in the first round. He seems to be a new player this spring, one more similar to 2009 than last season. My dislike was well documented earlier in a 2011 analysis, but I feel like my personal feelings were distracting from a more fair assessment of his long-term value.
Another example: I want Roy Halladay on all my fantasy teams. He is a legitimate ace and will be a top five pitcher by season’s end. I won’t have him on my team because I believe I can find pitching value much later. So it’s pretty basic. My want for Halladay doesn’t equate with my need for quality pitching.
Now, concerning the waiver wire. I know my tendencies, and I know that I will always gravitate to risk on the free agent list. In fact, the riskier, the better is the motto I live and die by. The riskiest guys on the free agent list are the injured, the rookies, and post-hypers, and I am in love with all of them. Granted there is a much lesser degree of actual risk to a fantasy team found in the free agent pick-up, but proper FAAB budgeting/waiver priority is still very important.
Sometimes, I have to approach the "want" or "need" dilemma like I am dieting. I’m a pizza lover. I genuinely could eat pizza every day and be perfectly content with my eating choices. I have to limit my pizza intake to not only avoid being the size of a bus, but also to promote good health in my rapidly aging body. You may be one who loves power guys. I don’t blame you; we all love the long ball, but when building a fantasy champion, you can’t load up on one category. There must always be balance, and I will be able to eat pizza only once (or twice) a week.
Playing time is as underrated as any analytical tool for evaluating future player performance.
As some of you may know, our own fantasy hall-of-famer Derek Carty and I will be drafting our FSIC NL Only Expert team on the Sunday prior to this going live. We have exchanged notes, and I have studied his strategies used in prior drafts (LABR, Tout Wars, Yahoo F&F). The shallower the league is, the more importance Derek has placed on playing time. It’s a novel idea to monitor at-bats with such ferocity, but after long examining his teams, he has labored to let playing time set the table of his roster. It’s a great strategy in super deep leagues, and it can even be a serviceable one in all other league types.
Monitor the preseason ins and outs. Make sure to note all health issues, both present and possible future. I like to always evaluate the player’s role with the team. Take a guy like Brandon Belt. He went from a top prospect to the probable starting first baseman for the Giants in a few weeks. Conversely, a closer like Francisco Rodriguez is most likely going to be traded before his bonus kicks in so there’s no real way you can pencil in a season of closeresque numbers for him.
Another reason to monitor playing time is the advantage it will always offer by way of accumulating stats. Victor Martinez’s value is greater as a catcher because he won’t actually have to deal with the rigors of the position, and the same goes for Jorge Posada. The potential for 500-plus at-bats is greater for these guys than a Geovany Soto or Brian McCann, and thus they have an easier chance of accruing the bulk stats. This strategy can be used for all positions. Batting order is another good indicator for increased at-bats.
You must always take into account your team's depth, both categorically and positionally.
Drafting Hanley Ramirez within the first three picks has as much to do with his position as it does with his skill set. Derek was just showing me the lack of speed guys in the National League. Well, what does that mean? Well, that means that you NL-only leaguers must strategize a plan to secure speed. Positional scarcity is a fun term thrown around by us all, but the understanding of positional scarcity at shortstop, second base and third base lets you perfect your roster without blowing all your money or early round picks on first basemen.
As we move onto applying this principle to the waiver wire, it’s imperative to your roster to always, always, always be searching to add depth, both categorically and positionally. The baseball season is long, and there will always be freak injuries (::cough:: Adam Wainwright). Building depth allows you to maneuver through the rough times.
For example, on all my teams I have been able grab a guy like Danny Espinosa to back up my second base starters (Gordon Beckham and Neil Walker). I like having Espinosa not because I am sold on his skill set but because I’m not sold on Beckham or Walker just yet. Loading my hand with several options affords me the opportunity to watch the cream rise and increases the odds of that cream being mine, whatever that means.
I can’t preach categorical depth enough. If you have already drafted a catcher like Joe Mauer, don’t draft a Brian McCann. It will do you little good to add a skill set like McCann's on the hopes of trade bait. If you intend to use him as a DH until the trade, that logic is flawed as well because his skill set can be found much cheaper and trades can be difficult. Furthermore, I don’t understand why people draft speed like it’s going out of style. Inevitably, there will be one guy in your draft who will nab four or more steals-only guys. My advice to you: Don’t be that guy.
Ensure stability by knowing your player(s).
I can’t stress the importance of knowing every thing you can possibly know about your players. There will be guys on my team that by the end of the year I will know better than my own wife. It’s so important to know how they react to adversity or respond to success. Do they like to play at home? Or are they road warriors?
A friend and I the other day began discussing the need for in-depth, to-the-minute information tailored to your particular fantasy team. Even more than that, we were discussing the need for TMZ-like information about the players. Off-field distractions can be a fantasy season killer for owners. Some 2010 examples are Matt Kemp vs. Rihanna, Pablo Sandoval divorce, and K-Rod assaults.
If only we could follow our players around like an episode of the Real Housewives of Wherever. I’m only kidding, but it is important to know the way your players are in certain circles. Even more so, it is vital to know the game of your players, especially in daily leagues. Platooning correctly can have extreme payoffs for the fantasy manager. It’s not as important for the weekly, roto guys, but understanding the streakiness of certain players like Ryan Howard can be beneficial come trade time. I will always target Howard and Adam LaRoche post-trade deadline.
Most important of all these tips: Date the waiver wire, but don’t marry the waiver wire.
Alternately, you can love your team, but don’t fall in love with your team. I say this because I see a significant amount of you fantasy gamers out there who over/under manage good teams.
I was in a league with a guy who had one of the best drafts I’ve ever seen. His team was stacked top to bottom. He had elite pitching and phenomenal hitting. After the draft, I walked away so defeated that I contemplated my own skills. Afterward, I had several conversations with said drafter, and he had already convinced himself that his team was invincible. To make a long story short, this manager neglected the waiver wire for fear of breaking his “masterpiece” of a roster, and needless to say, he lost that league. It remains one of my favorite championships.
Every week there will be a guy who is “the next big thing.” He’s young and streaking, or he’s out of his slump, or, my personal favorite, he’s just been called up. It’s really quite easy to hype the players in the free agent pool, but there's a lot of smoke-and-mirrors saturating the waiver wire. You must always be careful. A fantasy player who marries himself to the free agent list is either admitting the ineptitude of his team, becoming overwhelmed by the hype, taking advantage of league settings, or in rare circumstances, showing sheer ingenuity. I have yet to see that last example, and all the other example are poor excuses for getting hitched to this strategy.
Maybe I’m pushing this analogy to the edge, but it’s important to recognize the line in the sand. Walking the waiver wire can be a treacherous feat, but if accomplished can be a very rewarding experience. Good luck in your adventures.
Posted by Ben Pritchett at 2:47am (3) Comments
There may be no more frustrating task in fantasy baseball than trying to predict how many wins a pitcher will accumulate. Fantasy writers constantly talk about how fickle wins are and how chasing wins is a fool's errand. This may be true, but I found myself wanting to know more about predicting wins when I joined the Yahoo! Friends & Family expert league this year. Not just any wins, mind you, but the trickiest of all: reliever wins. I wanted to know which relievers had the greatest chance of vulturing wins. Could we have predicted Tyler Clippard's 11 reliever wins last year, or were they a complete fluke?
Predicting reliever wins
In an effort to see which relievers were more likely to win games than others, I put together a data set with a 14 stats that I thought might be relevant. I then ran a correlation test between each variable and the number of wins a reliever accumulated in a given year. I also ran them against the number of wins per game played for each reliever because for those in daily leagues where you can simply pick up a new reliever every day, a reliever's seasonal total doesn't matter—only whether he might get one that day.
Here are the variables I choose:
Using all relievers since 2004, we get more than 2,700 pitcher seasons to work with. Here are the results:
+-----+------+------+------+-------------+ | | IP | G | gmLI | HIGHER_gmLI | +-----+------+------+------+-------------+ | W | 0.75 | 0.73 | 0.47 | -0.43 | | W/G | 0.31 | 0.27 | 0.31 | -0.23 | +-----+------+------+------+-------------+ +-----+-------+-------+-------+--------+------+ | | xFIP | ERA | RA | HAND_T | SV | +-----+-------+-------+-------+--------+------+ | W | -0.29 | -0.22 | -0.13 | 0.08 | 0.26 | | W/G | -0.18 | -0.16 | -0.10 | 0.09 | 0.07 | +-----+-------+-------+-------+--------+------+ +-----+----------+-------+-------+-----------+-------+ | | RUN_DIFF | IP_G | SP_RA | TEAM_RUNS | SP_IP | +-----+----------+-------+-------+-----------+-------+ | W | 0.05 | -0.07 | -0.06 | 0.04 | 0.03 | | W/G | 0.04 | 0.03 | -0.03 | 0.02 | 0.01 | +-----+----------+-------+-------+-----------+-------+
What we see is that the most important factor is the number of innings a guy throws. Even when we're looking at W/G, if a guy is trusted to throw a lot of innings in general, he's going to be trusted to win games.
Just as important in terms of W/G is gmLI. This makes complete sense as a high gmLI means that the game is close, late, or in question. If a pitcher is trusted in these situations, he's going to be in position to pick up the win frequently. Similarly, if a team has more than one reliever who is trusted in these types of situations (think San Diego with Luke Gregerson and Mike Adams), each one's win total will be cut into by the other. After that, we see that how the reliever actually performs is most important, with (surprisingly) xFIP beating out RA and ERA.
At this point, our results start bordering on irrelevant with r-squared of 0.01 or below and high p-values. Then a pitcher's handedness comes into play (right-handed is better), followed by whether he's a closer, and then the rest of our stats that don't mean very much. Of note is that the reliever's starting pitchers and his team's offense have almost no bearing on whether he picks up a win. So when deciding between Rafael Soriano and Tyler Clippard, it's not going to matter much that one plays for the Bronx Bombers and the other plays for the lowly Nats.
Strategic implications for Yahoo! Friends & Family
The whole point of this exercise in the first place was to aid my team in the Yahoo! Friends & Family expert league, so I might as well explain why that was the case. In Yahoo! F&F, there is a 1,250 innings cap. This means that, essentially, if your team reaches that maximum, every pitcher's W/IP effectively contributes the same amount towards total wins.
That is, what you essentially must do is maximize your W/IP. Because if everyone reaches 1,250 IP and can't accumulate any more, everyone's win total is going to be equal to 1,250 x team W/IP. So if Cliff Lee posts an 0.75 W/IP (15 wins in 200 IP) and you're able to put together a collection of four relievers who post an 0.8 W/IP (4 W in 50 IP each), they are effectively worth the same.
Given this, you can see how important it is to target the relievers who are in the best position to pick up wins.
2010 xW/G% Leaders
If I create a regression equation using the most important variables, I can come up with a formula that will give us a reliever's expected wins per game played. Based on that formula, here are 2010's top 20 relievers in terms of expected wins per game.
+------------+---------+-------+--------+ | LAST | FIRST | W/G | xW/G | +------------+---------+-------+--------+ | Bard | Daniel | 1.4% | 10.7% | | Belisle | Matt | 9.2% | 9.8% | | Gregerson | Luke | 5.0% | 9.8% | | Clippard | Tyler | 14.1% | 9.7% | | Adams | Mike | 5.7% | 9.6% | | Berken | Jason | 7.3% | 9.0% | | Betancourt | Rafael | 6.9% | 9.0% | | League | Brandon | 12.9% | 9.0% | | Masset | Nick | 4.9% | 9.0% | | Guerrier | Matt | 6.8% | 8.9% | | Romo | Sergio | 7.3% | 8.9% | | Camp | Shawn | 5.7% | 8.9% | | Moylan | Peter | 7.0% | 8.8% | | Loe | Kameron | 5.7% | 8.7% | | Jepsen | Kevin | 2.9% | 8.7% | | O'Day | Darren | 8.3% | 8.7% | | Crain | Jesse | 1.4% | 8.6% | | Benoit | Joaquin | 1.6% | 8.6% | | Hensley | Clay | 4.4% | 8.6% | | Perry | Ryan | 5.0% | 8.6% | +------------+---------+-------+--------+
Naturally, this will change for 2011, but it will give you a decent idea of which relievers are worth targeting. Some potential changes to the list include Jason Berken, who will surely drop with Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez back in the mix in Baltimore. Rafael Betancourt could drop a little with the addition of Matt Lindstrom (but should still stay very strong). Kameron Loe will drop with the addition of Takashi Saito. Joaquin Benoit could improve going to Detroit (and Ryan Perry could drop). Nick Massett could drop with Aroldis Chapman now in the majors.
Also of note is that it is possible for two relievers from the same team to rank highly as long as both are highly skilled, pitch a lot of innings, and pitch very high leverage innings, as evidenced Gregerson and Adams both making the top five.
If anyone has questions or would like thoughts on a specific reliever you're considering, feel free to comment or e-mail me. I've also joined Facebook, so now you can add me as a friend and catch up with me there too!
Posted by Derek Carty at 5:32am (9) Comments
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
With fantasy baseball draft season winding down, I wanted to dedicate this edition of “The Verdict” to the league commissioners who organize and administer the thousands upon thousands of fantasy baseball leagues. Whether your league is on CBS, ESPN, Yahoo, MyFantasyLeague, or any other website, most likely there is an individual in your league that takes the time and energy to put everything together.
From organizing the draft, inputting the league rules and settings, creating a schedule, approving trades, keeping the peace between league members, dealing with technological issues with the host site, the commissioner is responsible for quite a bit. Unfortunately, when things go wrong or issues arise, the commissioner is usually the first to be blamed. Anyone who is or has been a league commissioner will probably agree that it is a thankless job. But hey, someone has to do it.
Often a commissioner’s contributions to a fantasy league are taken for granted, minimized, and overlooked. When the commissioner has to do less, it means he is doing a good job. This is because the rules that he created and implemented are likely being adhered to without conflict or controversy. If the commissioner is not rejecting proposed trades, it possibly means he is surrounded by league members who understand the concepts of fairness and equity without the specter of collusion. But when the commissioner does have to get involved, he exposes himself to criticism and judgment because usually there will be one person not satisfied with the decision that has been rendered.
Once a commissioner makes a decision either based on the rules of the league or his own interpretation of what is in the league’s best interests, he must then remain consistent when dealing with the same issue down the road. Sure, there are extenuating circumstances that justify deviating from precedent. But generally speaking, once the commissioner has utilized his discretion in making a decision, he should abide by that ruling for all future scenarios of the same ilk.
A commissioner gets into real trouble when he contradicts himself. Not only does his inconsistency anger and frustrate paying league members, it also opens the door to questions and skepticism about potential improprieties and favoritism. This is not a road that the commissioner wants to travel down. Once your integrity and trust is questioned, then everything you do is viewed under a microscope.
So what can a commissioner do to effectively govern his fantasy baseball league? The first step is to author a league constitution that delineates every rule and guideline in the league, including scoring system, trades/transactions policy, roster submission requirements, etc. Of course there is the possibility that something will arise that has never happened before, so the commissioner should provide some safeguards and procedures for dealing with issues of first impression. If these procedures are explicitly written in the constitution, then the commissioner can make rulings on issues that do not appear in the governing document.
The second step is to invite people into your league that you trust or at least have a foundation for some sort of relationship. You may not know everyone in your league (especially if it is a public league). But the commissioner should try and establish a rapport with everyone in the league to help break down any possible barriers of communication. Also, the character of every league member should be scrutinized because you don’t want to invite someone into the league who has a history or reputation for colluding with other teams.
Finally, the commissioner should make his decisions with the utmost of confidence. These decisions may not always be popular, but if you feel it is the right decision and the best decision for the league, then defend it with vigor. On the same note, it is not wise to leave an issue open for interpretation. If people are left still scratching their heads as to what decision you have made, the ramifications could be far worse. That is not to say that you shouldn't listen to opposing arguments and keep an open mind. It simply means that once you have made a decision based on all of the objective and subjective criteria available, then stand by it.
These recommendations come from over 15 years of experience being the commissioner of various fantasy baseball and fantasy football league. Specifically, my fantasy baseball league that has existed since 1999 has helped me grow as a person and as a commissioner. I wasn’t always keen on taking suggestions from my league members, but I have grown to learn that everyone else’s input is good knowledge to have and analyze. For example, my 18-team, H2H mixed league has had a fresh draft every year since 1999 without keepers. I heard from several of my league members that they really enjoy doing some keepers. So I broached the topic with my league and we may look into this starting in the 2012-2013 seasons. I have also learned from just being a participant in a league and watching how those commissioners operate. Some are very hands on and some are very hands off. It all depends on the individual
In the end, someone has to organize the league(s) you are in. While it may not seem like much of a big deal to you, I can assure you that your commissioner cares very deeply for that league and spends a lot of time in that capacity. The role of commissioner is not one that many people clamor to take. For those that do, they should be appreciated for their efforts in trying to make your fantasy baseball experience a little more fun and a lot less stressful. The verdict is that fantasy league commissioners deserve some love and their efforts should be appreciated as we embark on the 2011 fantasy baseball season. Play ball!
Posted by Michael Stein at 1:08am (0) Comments
On Saturday, six months of hard work and preparation culminated as my co-managers and I arrived at Arlington Park in Chicago for the 2011 NFBC main event. This day in all honesty, really does feel like being a kid on Christmas morning. All the excitement and anticipation builds up the entire year waiting for this glorious moment. To sit down at that draft table with 14 other competitors who love and respect this game as much as I do is an awesome feeling. Though I had a bit of panic in the days leading up to the draft, I felt extremely calm once I settled into my seat. I knew that I was ready.
If you have been reading my articles this offseason, you know already that I had a well thought out plan in place with contingencies based on any possible scenario that we could foresee happening. My main goals heading into the draft were to make sure I acquired one of the top seven players at first base and also shortstop, as I believe there is a significant drop-off after those groups at each position. I wanted to grab one of the top tier pitchers as my ace in round three. I wanted to get one of the top closers, and then supplement him with another solid guy who had job security, grabbing both before round 11.
Here’s an in-depth breakdown on how the draft turned out, with analysis and thought process along the way. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!
Round 1, Pick 12 (12): The plan we developed before the draft had us starting with two corner infielders in the first two rounds. Alex Rodriguez was the top choice on our board here, with hopefully Prince Fielder or more likely Ryan Howard falling back to us in round two. This would give us a tremendous power base while covering both corner positions which are a bit shallow this year. The top five picks off the board seemed like it would be a normal first round with Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria. The guy sitting in the sixth chair was wearing a Joey Votto jersey to the draft, so I assumed his pick would be an easy one. He shocked everyone though when he selected Alex Rodriguez.
With A-Rod off the board, our target now shifted to one of the top first basemen or possibly David Wright. Picks seven through nine quickly followed taking the top three in order Votto, Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Teixeira. This means that at pick 10, Carl Crawford, Ryan Braun and Carlos Gonzalez are still on the board. In our preparation, we really didn’t think that any of these players would fall to us, but now we were assured to get one if that’s the route we wanted to take. Braun went off the board at 10, followed by CarGo at 11.
We’re now on the clock at pick 12. In our discussions leading up to the draft, the one player who intrigued us if he did fall was Crawford. The original plan called for two power corner infield bats, then hoping to fill speed with Jacoby Ellsbury in round three, or Elvis Andrus in five. Crawford would certainly fill that void for us, but with all of the top first basemen off the board already, would Prince or Howard make it back to us in two? Should we even go as far to take Prince here to assure that we get one of those top players at his position that we so desperately covet? David Wright would certainly be a solid pick here as well, but can we really pass on Crawford here? The answer to that last question, is no. Carl Crawford becomes the face of our 2011 franchise.
Round 2, Pick 4 (19): With Crawford in tow, we now pray that either Fielder or Howard make it back around. If they both go, Kevin Youkilis could also get some consideration. Robinson Cano, David Wright and Josh Hamilton round out round one. Prince goes off the board with the first pick in round two, and at this point we don’t like the chances of Howard making it back. Then Matt Kemp and lastly Kevin Youkilis are taken before we are up again. This pick is the easiest one we make in the draft, Ryan Howard.
Round 3, Pick 12 (42): Our plan heading into the draft was to take Jacoby Ellsbury if he fell, or one of the top-tier starting pitchers in round three, preferably Jon Lester, Clayton Kershaw or Justin Verlander. The way the first two rounds played out, we now also considered another stud corner infielder should Jose Bautista or Adam Dunn fall back to us, and then we’d just grab our ace in four. Bautista goes off the board at 3.2, and Dunn makes it all the way to 3.11 before he’s snaked right out from under us. With Lester and Kershaw off the board, Justin Verlander becomes the ace of our staff.
Round 4, Pick 4 (49): After taking Verlander, there are a lot of interesting names still on the board that would merit consideration should they make it back to us in round four. Most of them go off the board in the six picks between ours, leaving us with a couple of options. All along we wanted to assure ourselves of a top seven shortstop, and Alexei Ramirez, Derek Jeter and Andrus are still on the board here. Another favorite of ours, Justin Morneau is still here, and he was an absolute monster the first half of last season, but is he really healthy and worth the risk this early? Brandon Phillips is another intriguing option that could help our team across the board. In the end, since we missed out on our corner/corner start, and because we believe in his tremendous upside when healthy, Justin Morneau becomes the pick.
Round 5, Pick 12 (72): At the 5-6 turn our original plan called for us to take our shortstop (preferably Elvis Andrus) and then either a third basemen depending on who was still available, another outfielder, or the top tier closer that we coveted. Hunter Pence is another guy who I loved if he fell back to us, but he went earlier in the round. We were more than delighted to see Elvis Andrus on the board, especially after Derek Jeter went with the first pick in the round.
Round 6, Pick 4 (79): Again, our original plan gave us some flexibility here depending on what was on the board. Carlos Marmol was the first closer off the board at 6.01, and had another one gone before it got back to us we may have looked in that direction. The top outfield options remaining were Drew Stubbs, Corey Hart, Colby Rasmus, Brett Gardner, Delmon Young and Rajai Davis. Though we liked some of these players to varying degrees, we felt like at least one of them would surely make it back to us in round seven or eight. This turned our attention towards third base, where Michael Young, Pablo Sandoval and Pedro Alvarez were on the board. We valued Young and Sandoval pretty similarly, but Young had the more proven track record and was the better bet to finish with a higher average. This would help offset the potential average drain from Andrus the round previous. Welcome to the team, Michael Young.
Round 7, Pick 12 (102): Our main focus here is to grab that top-tier closer should one be available, and then follow it up with either our second outfielder or second starting pitcher. Brian Wilson went the pick after us in round six, quickly followed by the rest of our top tier in Neftali Feliz, Joakim Soria, Mariano Rivera and Heath Bell. As the snake moved back towards us in round seven, several of those outfield options we briefly considered in round six were still there. There are also a couple of starting pitchers, namely Chad Billingsley and Chris Carpenter who stand out among the rest. Billingsley gets taken two picks before us, which leaves us a difficult choice. Colby Rasmus, Corey Hart and Delmon Young are all on the board, and all players who we value pretty similarly. Chris Carpenter is also there and would make a fantastic second starter, but would he make it back to us in round eight? Looking at the three teams between us, two of them had two starters and only one outfielder, so it seemed likely that they could each go with one in the next pair. Now the debate turned to which outfielder we liked the best. Corey Hart was the top guy on our board, but came with a small injury concern and may even miss the first week of the season. If healthy, he could be a 25/25 player though. I also really like Delmon Young and his .300+ bat in the middle of the Twins lineup. As time winds down, we come to an agreement that Corey Hart fits our team the best here.
Round 8, Pick 4 (109): Whether or not we made the right decision on Hart is debatable, but at least it appears that we played the snake correctly. In the six picks in between, Delmon Young and Colby Rasmus both are selected, while no starting pitchers leave the draft board. We now grab our number two starter, Chris Carpenter.
Round 9, Pick 12 (132): As we’re winding down before the break, we try to figure out what exactly we need out of our next two picks. Though we missed out on the top tier of closers, our plan all along was to grab two who had job security before round 11. If we don’t grab one in the next two picks, then this can’t be accomplished. Our team could also use another high power/high average bat, but how many of those are readily available in round nine? By the time we are called, another closer run has seriously depleted the inventory at the position. It’s extremely hard to differentiate the remaining options and assuredly one of them will be there for us in round 10. As far as the high power/average bats available, Kendrys Morales and Vladimir Guerrero are still on the board, yet I don’t think either one still should be. Morales is ruled out simply because we can’t afford any more unnecessary injury risk. Vladimir Guerrero is the pick.
Round 10, Pick 4 (139): Well, we know exactly what we need to do here. Though it may not be the sexiest pick, if we don’t grab one of these closers here then we’re basically punting the position which I can’t allow myself to do. We like Ryan Franklin a little bit better than Joel Hanrahan and Leo Nunez simply due to job security. Ryan Franklin becomes our first closer.
At the first break we are fairly pleased with the team we have assembled. We have our first baseman, third baseman, corner infielder and shortstop covered. We also have two outfielders, two starters and a closer. Vlad fills our utility position, but will cause us to lose a lot of flexibility for the rest of the draft, but we felt that he was worth that risk in the ninth round. I know that drafting to targets isn’t always the best idea, but I like to keep track of our power/speed ratio with a goal of 270 homeruns and 175 steals for the draft. Through 10 rounds, we have roughly 160/110 which is right around where we want to be at this point in the draft.
Our predraft plan for rounds 11-20 have us taking our second closer in round 11, hopefully our second basemen in round 15, then mixing in the outfielders and starting pitchers that we like in between. Our plan at catcher is to grab a solid guy in rounds 12 to 15 then wait until later for the second option.
Round 11, Pick 12 (162): We are obviously looking to still grab our second closer here, and to our surprise the other guy we strongly considered in round 10 is still on the board. We will happily select Joel Hanrahan here.
Round 12, Pick 4 (169): We are looking for our third starting pitcher here, with two names very closely bunched on our board to consider, Matt Garza and Wandy Rodriguez. I am leaning in the direction of Wandy simply due to the higher strikeout potential. My co-managers like Garza more for his youth and move to the NL central. They are so close on my board that I digress to them, and Matt Garza becomes our third starter. Chase Utley is still on the board here, but we just can’t convince ourselves he’s worth the risk.
Round 13, Pick 12 (192): Our plan all along for rounds 13 and 14 is to grab our third and fourth outfielders as this is a point in the draft where we identified considerable value in the outfield rankings. Specifically, Travis Snider, Will Venable, Ryan Raburn and Mike Morse are all players that we planned to look at with these two selections. Snider was taken earlier in the round at 13.05, but the other three were still available when it came to our pick. Venable differs from the other two in that I think he has a higher ceiling and has 40+ stolen base potential. We did also debate taking James Shields here, but decided that the value in the outfield was too much to pass up and that Shields might make it back to us later. It may seem like a reach to some, but Will Venable was a very easy choice here.
Round 14, Pick 4 (199): James Shields was taken in the six picks between, so he no longer required consideration here. Both Raburn and Morse are still available and either one would slot in nicely as our fourth outfielder. Another intriguing name on the board is Drew Storen. After missing on the first couple of closer runs and having to settle for Franklin/Hanrahan, I think that Storen would really help to solidify our bullpen, but I can’t seem to justify taking three closers in five picks. Jordan Zimmerman is another name we tossed around, but again thought the value in the outfield was too great to pass up. The Raburn/Morse debate came down to the last couple of seconds, but in the end we decided to welcome Ryan Raburn to the squad.
Round 15, Pick 12 (222): The predraft plan for the 15-16 picks was to take my top sleeper and second base in Danny Espinosa and then grab either our 4th starting pitcher or 4th outfielder depending on how the earlier rounds shook out. Jordan Zimmerman and one of our favorite sleepers, Erik Bedard were both selected before our pick in round 15. Surprisingly, two players we considered in round fourteen, Drew Storen and Mike Morse are also still available. Not wanting to take our fifth outfielder already, we decide pass on Morse. The teams on the snake have two, two and three closers respectively so we figure there’s a decent chance that Storen could make it back to us in round 16. We opt instead to stick to our original plan and take their Nationals teammate, Danny Espinosa.
Round 16, Pick 4 (229): As we had hoped, Storen made it back around and was available here. While a bullpen of Franklin/Hanrahan may seem like a weakness, adding Storen could help to really solidify them as a group. Morse and Peter Bourjos are still available as options here as well, but the value on Drew Storen is too much to pass up.
Round 17, Pick 12 (252): Well, sometimes you wait just a little bit too long on a position and pay the price for it. Hoping that either Morse or Bourjos would make it back to us in round 17 proved to be futile, and left us with a lot of very questionable options. We could look into grabbing our first catcher here, but shockingly only 13 have been selected so far, and that includes Jesus Montero who was taken earlier in the round. With many serviceable options still there, we decide to take a gamble. I know that I preach not to take players with injury concerns, yet still have done so at earlier points in this draft. In round 17 though, and as a fifth outfielder, we decide that the potential profit to be made on far outweighs the risk and select Carlos Beltran.
Round 18, Pick 4 (259): Still nothing standing out at the catcher position as there are numerous quality options that have fallen still available. We do however need to shore up our starting pitching. The debate comes down to the trio of Scott Baker, Wade Davis and Michael Pineda. With the risks that we have already taken in the draft, we settle on the most consistent and proven performer of the bunch in Scott Baker.
Round 19, Pick 12 (282): As we have to sit through the 22 picks before it makes it back around to us, we decide that the best idea would be to again focus on a starting pitcher in round 19. Hopefully one of the guys we considered in round 18 would fall, but if not we still needed to build up our depth at the position. Other than starting pitchers, we also had needs at catcher and middle infield that need to be filled. When it rolls back around, we are thrilled to see Michael Pineda still on the board. I banter with my co-managers a bit about Kyle McClellan who’s a guy that I desperately want on our roster, but we agree he can probably be had later and go with the extreme upside of Michael Pineda.
Round 20, Pick 4 (289): Of course, three picks after ours McClellan goes off the board which infuriates me, but still I don’t think we would’ve grabbed him in round 20. Of the catching options on the board, the debate came down to Russell Martin, Miguel Olivo and JP Arencibia. As time wound down, we came to the consensus that Russell Martin was the best fit for our team.
Through 20 rounds we now have all of our positions filled except for second catcher, middle infield and sixth starting pitcher. I think we’ve hit our goal for stolen bases and are just under in homeruns. Very pleased with how the draft has played out thus far. In rounds 21-30 we’re looking to build depth at starting pitcher, as well as grab a couple of outfielders who are getting close to full-time at bats. This will help to offset Hart and Beltran possibly missing the first couple weeks of the season.
Round 21, Pick 12 (312): Logan Morrison was the guy I hoped would fall to us here, but he was snached up earlier in the round. None of the other outfield options jumped out above the rest, and I definitely felt like we could use another starter with high strikeout potential. James McDonald fits in very nicely here.
Round 22, Pick 4 (319): Bill Hall was an option that we were planning to look at as our middle infielder here, but he went two picks before ours. JD Drew and Jonny Gomes received some consideration here as well, but we decided again to look for pitchers who could bolster our strikeouts. Though health is a major concern, it’s hard to ignore the potential upside of Jake Peavy. Brandon Beachy, JA Happ and Chris Young are other names that we debated in this spot, and looking back objectively were probably better choices, but we decided to go with Jake Peavy.
Round 23, Pick 12 (342): Heading into our 23-24 picks we wanted to fill that void at middle infielder with someone that has a bit of pop, and also snag our 2nd catcher. Ty Wigginton seems to be the perfect fit for us at this point. He has eligibility at first, second and third. He should also get 400+ at-bats and hit 20 or more home runs. Welcome aboard Ty Wigginton.
Round 24, Pick 4 (349): There are still several decent options at catcher available, to where we decide that we can still wait at least another round before securing our second one. Also, we desperately need an outfielder that’s getting close to full time at-bats to fill in at the start of the season. Brad Hawpe and Melky Cabrera are the two best options available, and it’s clear to me who the obvious choice here is. Brad Hawpe is the pick.
Round 25, Pick 12 (372): There are still several decent options at catcher available, to where we decide that we can still wait at least another round before securing our second one. Also, there’s a starting pitcher available whose name we mentioned back in round 22 that could give some nice depth to the back end of our staff. JA Happ becomes the selection here.
Round 26, Pick 4 (379): Eventually we have to take our second catcher. I’m definitely surprised that Nick Hundley has fallen this far and is still available; he’s an easy selection here.
Round 27, Pick 12 (402): Everyone likes to take shots at their favorite closers in waiting in the reserve rounds of these drafts, and I’m no different. I think that this guy might even be the favorite to close at the beginning of the season with the injury to Brad Lidge. We gladly select Jose Contreras here.
Round 28, Pick 4 (409): We still need another outfielder to cover for the Hart/Beltran, but to say the remaining options are underwhelming would be an understatement. As far as late round starting pitchers, I would much rather gamble on a young guy with upside than a boring veteran fifth starter type that you know will be dropped in the first couple of weeks. In this mold, we select Andrew Cashner to round out our rotation.
Round 29, Pick 12 (432): Outfielder with a starting job at the beginning of the season? With the Nyjer Morgan trade, Rick Ankiel at least appears primed to be the starting centerfielder in Washington.
Round 30, Pick 4 (439): Just looking for anybody who has fallen through the cracks that might be a potential draft and hold player. He might crack the 25 man roster, and I believe is only a fragile Scott Rolen injury away from becoming an impact bat. Welcome, Juan Francisco.
There you have it, the draft is complete! Here’s an easier look broken down by position.
C: Martin, Hundley
3B: Young (Francisco)
OF: Crawford, Hart, Venable, Raburn, Beltran (Hawpe, Ankiel)
SP: Verlander, Carpenter, Garza, Baker, Pineda, McDonald (Peavy, Happ, Cashner)
RP: Franklin, Hanrahan, Storen (Contreras)
Again any comments or feedback are greatly appreciated!
Posted by Dave Shovein at 1:09am (10) Comments
At this point in the fantasy baseball cycle—in between your draft and the start of the regular season—it is easy to be confident. You know exactly how much you value your players because you know exactly what you expect from them in the upcoming season. A few players, like Chase Utley, might have more questions than certainty around them, but for the most part if you were to receive a trade offer today, you would know fairly easily whether you would accept or reject this offer.
Only in rare moments of immense humbleness and self-honesty will I accept a preseason trade offer in which the players I receive were drafted later the players I am giving. Otherwise, the other 95 percent of time, I simply reply to the sending owner, "If I wanted those players I would have drafted them first." And usually do so in some manner of disgust.
As confident as you might be right now, in a very short time—two days to be specific—all that confidence will be eroded by the tidal wave that is the start of the regular season and all that you thought you knew will be washed away. All of a sudden new stats are being generated every day, and every day your opinions of players must be adjusted.
Now, a month into the season you receive a trade offer; not as easy to evaluate it now, is it? Before the season you thought Player A was better than Player B, but so far Player B has outproduced Player A and shows no signs of slowing down. Objectively speaking, you have Tom Tango shouting "Regress to the mean!" in one ear.
Midseason this means weighting the player's current performance by the number of plate appearances he's had (as a fraction of the total number of plate appearances you project him to receive over the whole year), then weighting your preseason expectations of that player by his projected plate appearances for the rest of the season (again as a fraction) and then adding the products together. So for example, if you pegged Nick Swisher for a .260 average in 600 PAs this season and through 100 PAs he's batting .200, you would project him for a [(.260*(500/600)) + (.200*(100/600))] = .250 batting average the rest of the way. It might not be the most statistically sound method of simulating regression to the mean (it is probably smart to over-weight the player's actual statistics a little compared to your true talent estimate) but I understand it and it works well enough.
Sometimes though, the specific circumstances surrounding a player overwhelm what the objective numbers tell you. Some people take this as an excuse to ignore doing even a rough mental estimate of the exercise I performed above, or ignore what a ZiPS or Oliver rest-of-season projection tells you. Even though a player is now playing through an injury or is facing the possibility of losing playing time, you can simply reflect these changes quantitatively by adjusting your "true talent" or plate appearance estimation of this player.
Used correctly, regressing to the mean works most of the time. Most of the time does mean, however, that a number of players will defy the rules. Every year there are Trevor Cahills who continue pitching shutouts, James Shieldses who continue to get shelled, and Jose Bautistas who continue to blast home runs. Plenty of players also obey the regression rule, but you tend not to hear about them as much.
The unfortunate truth is that because of the small samples we work with in partial seasons, our lack of perfect information, and the small number of roster decisions we make midseason, the edge gained by staying faithful to correctly calculated rest-of-season stats is slight over the person who over-indulges in hot streaks. And that is the overall point to take away here.
Although you should follow what a statistically sound rest-of-season projection tells you when deciding on a trade or roster addition, if the numbers are close enough and you have a gut feeling for one player, go with what your intuition tells you. And on the other hand, if you have no idea what to do, go with what the numbers tell you.
Posted by Paul Singman at 1:20am (0) Comments
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
As long time fantasy players know, the stolen base is one of the toughest of all categories to predict over a season. Needless to say, this task gets even more difficult when you try to predict who's going to swipe a bag from day-to-day in the world of daily fantasy baseball.
What follows is a compilation of stats that I feel can be a big help in predicting when guys have a good chance of being on the move, as well as circumstances that should show us that its not worth taking the chance.
But before we get into that, it is important to emphasize the point-scoring significance of the SB. On your typical daily fantasy site, the stolen bag is worth two points or roughly the equivalent of a double. And at the infrequent rate at which the SB occurs, this high value of scoring for that stat is most certainly worthwhile and warranted. So therefore it is something we would love to see happen on our daily team on a regular basis.
So how can we as the player, figure out when a guy is going to steal? Well we have to review what are the FIVE most significant stats relating to prediction of the stolen base, as chosen by yours truly. They are as follows:
Here are the eight MLB teams that averaged more than .70 steals per game in 2010
Tampa Bay Rays - 1.06
Chicago White Sox - .99
Oakland A's - .96
Seattle Mariners - .88
New York Mets - .80
Texas Rangers - .79
San Diego Padres - .77
Kansas City Royals - .71
Why this is important: It's all about philosophy. Some teams don't want to steal, while others need to if they want to have any chance at scoring runs. These 10 teams had running as a part of their offense in 2010 and, as you will see, these teams heavily correlate with some of the to top individual base stealers in the league. This is the first consideration I would like you to make when you are searching for the base stealer for your success. Is the team he plays on a team that runs?
Here are the nine MLB pitchers who allowed more than 25 SB against in 2010
A.J. Burnett - 37
Ervin Santana - 36
Fausto Carmona - 33
Tommy Hanson - 33
Carl Pavano - 31
Chris Volstad - 29
Jered Weaver - 27
Tim Lincecum - 27
John Lackey - 26
Why this is important: Some pitchers have absolutely devastating pickoff moves. Some do not. These are those guys. If the player you are considering is playing one of these pitchers who pays little attention to holding runners, there is a good chance he will take a shot at stealing a bag. Notice that all these guys are right-handed. Also notice that many of them have big strikeout numbers. These K masters often do not need to worry much about watching the runners. This is element two. How much attention will the night's pitcher be giving to the basepaths?
Here are the eight MLB players who had 40+ SBs in 2010
Juan Pierre - 68
Michael Bourn - 52
Rajai Davis - 50
Carl Crawford - 47
Brett Gardner - 47
Chone Figgins - 42
Ichiro Suzuki - 42
B.J. Upton - 42
Why this is important: These are the guys who run. You would think this would be the most important thing, and essentially it is. But the point I am trying to make is that when evaluating the stolen base prospects of your daily fantasy team, it is important to consider other factors first. I would love for my readers to get in the habit of identifying conditions first, rather than just picking a fast guy. Your opponents will be the ones doing this. And they will be the ones running into a brick wall on the bases, simply because they didn't evaluate all the factors related to stealing. Get a step ahead here, guys.
Four MLB catchers had a caught stealing percentage better than 30 percent in 2010
Yadier Molina - 49 percent
Miguel Olivo - 42 percent
Matt Wieters - 31 percent
Brian McCann - 30 percent
Why this is important: Guys do not run when they think they are going to get thrown out. These four catchers have shown over the long haul that they have the cannon needed to bust the speedsters. If a coach shuts down the basepaths because of a fabulous throwing catcher, than your guy has no shot of earning the bonus points the steals provide. So ask yourself, who's behind the dish for the opposing squad?
Five MLB catchers had a caught stealing percentage worse than 27 percent in 2010
Victor Martinez - 21 percent
Kurt Suzuki - 22 percent
Bengie Molina - 23 percent
Joe Mauer - 26 percent
A.J. Pierzynski - 26 percent
Why this is important: By the same token you need to know who can be run on. I've nicknamed this statistic the 'Mike Piazza' factor. Everybody knew they could run on the Pizza Boy and teams would take off at will against him. This list identifies those modern catchers who can be run on. Learn them. Monitor them. Utilize them. The speedsters are gonna be moving when they know they have the advantage. You as a player, need to know when it exists.
So now you have what you need. Hopefully this will help you predict as accurately as possible when the stolen base is most likely to come into play on any given night. Use it wisely. Please do realize though, that in order to steal a base, the player must first get on base. There is simply no way around this. So picking B.J. Upton when he is mired in one of his seemingly endless slumps is probably NOT a good idea. But picking B.J. during one of his hotter streaks when he's in a good 'stolen base scenario' probably is a good idea. A 2010 example isn't difficult to identify. Say it's one of the 18 divisional tilts against the Boston Red Sox. Combine the aforementioned battery of Victor Martinez and John Lackey with Upton's base stealing ability and you have what shapes up to be a base stealer's nearly ideal situation.
Keep these things in mind. Identify factors like the ones above that work in your favor. Don't look for a reason to take a base stealer. Instead, identify a series of players you are interested in. Then review the statistics relevant to base stealing and see if there is something there that can help make up your mind on a certain player. Base stealers should not be counted on as your cornerstones of daily success. But they can help shift the score in your favor on many nights. And if you can use the guys that are apt to steal on the nights that they choose to run, you will be well on your way to stealing some wins from the stiff competition that exists in the world of daily fantasy.
See you all in two weeks, for our first in-season edition of the column.
(It just makes me excited to say that)
Posted by Kevin Cearnal at 5:46am (1) Comments
I was prepared to pen one of my patented musings on the sociology of fantasy baseball this week—you know, one of my columns that reek of pretension and fail to offer any useful advice to our readership. Then, lo and behold, in the comments section of Paul Singman’s post running down his and Derek Carty’s teams in the Yahoo Friends and Family league, I made a point that I realized could actually be valuable for those of you getting in your last minute drafts and auctions.
Here’s the general axiom I’m going to preach:
In relation to the other teams in your league, one of the greatest comparative advantages you can give yourself with a single draft pick or auction purchase is the acquisition of a closer that puts you one closer above your league’s “fair share.”
For this article and for illustrative purposes, I’m going to make some overarching generalizations that assuredly are not always true. The first and probably most important one of these assumptions is that teams will draft or buy closers in a way that distributes them relatively evenly throughout the league. If you’re in a 10-team league, each team’s fair share of closers is 3, a 12-team league, 2.5, etc.
The other assumption that I’m going to make is that the closers I’m speaking of have some level of job security. They don’t have to be elite pitchers, but there’s reason for you to hold a strong expectation that they will acquire a typical closer’s bounty of save opportunities over the course of the season. This is certainly not the case with every closer, but it’s a useful assumption to simplify the discussion of the axiom.
Moving on, let me just briefly state the obvious. The value of a closer is tightly attached to the limited supply of saves. The capability of accruing a save is a rare human resource among the fantasy baseball player pool. At any given time, 30 guys are accruing well upwards of 90 percent of the saves being produced throughout the sport. Therefore, simply having one more player on your team with the ability to produce saves than most of your competitors is a huge advantage; it’s relatively easy to swing the balance of power in the category by merely stockpiling bodies.
Now, let’s get back to the idea of your league’s fair share of closers. Depending on the number of teams in your league, that number will obviously change. In some situations, the comparative advantage of owning more than your fair share of closers is actually more profound than others.
Paul and Derek are competing in a 14-team league. If all closers were distributed evenly, 12 teams would have two closers and two teams would have three closers. This means that if you already have two closers, and you see a third on the board, by adding a third closer, you’d immediately solidify a strong comparative advantage over almost your entire competition. That third closer gives you a 50 percent greater human resource capability of generating stats in a category than 92 percent of your competition (A three closers to two advantage over 12 of 13 competing teams). Again, were assuming an even distribution of closers here, which will likely be untrue, but even with a bit of variation, your comparative advantage stays strong.
Hypothetically, say you take closers in rounds nine and 11. If there’s another closer on the board in round 12, 13, 14, wouldn’t it seem that the comparative advantage of picking that third closer would be greater than the relative value gain you’d get from picking any other position in that round versus whoever is left to replace that player as the next best pick in the following round, especially if you are not in one of the bookend positions of a snake draft? In a roto league, that single pick would probably increase you categorical point projection by four-to-six points. Could any other pick at that point have a similarly profound influence on your team’s overall projected performance?
This dynamic varies with league size though. Now, let’s think about a 12-team league. The fair share for this league would dictate that 6 teams wind up with three closers and six teams wind up with two closers. By exercising the same strategy, you still give yourself a meaningful comparative advantage, but it’s not a profound as in the 14-team league, because now you have now you have the same 50 percent advantage in capacity, but it’s now only over 55 percent of the rest of the league six of 11 competing teams).
In a 10-team league, if you take a fourth closer you’d force on team to wind up with only two closers, giving yourself a 33 percent advantage over eight teams, and 50 percent advantage over the last team.
Another salient variable relating to the dynamics of this strategy is how close a team’s fair share of closers is to one. The raw expected share is what drives the degree of advantage you gain by being on the “over” side of the fair share number.
The fewer closers to go around per team, the greater the likelihood that your supply side advantage plays out in the standings. In a 14-team league, you could have three closers, none of whom are spectacular, and then fail to compile more saves than another team who has two closers who post expectedly or unexpectedly high saves totals. However, in AL- or NL-only league, or a 20-team mixed league, where the likely outcomes are winding up with one or two closers, the second closer is a 100 percent advantage over all teams with a single closer.
As a parallel, if you’re of the philosophy that in an AL-only league, reaching for Joe Mauer is strategically imperative, then reaching for Joakim Soria or Mariano Rivera and pairing that player with an entrenched but unspectacular Jose Valverde type should also be high on your list of strategic priorities.
Before wrapping up, let me make one further disclaimer and one recommendation. First, not all closers are equal. Some will have more saves than others. However, predicting saves totals is an inexact science, much like predicting wins for starting pitchers.
Every year, some random middle to low tier closer will place among the league leaders in save totals, perhaps without even pitching particularly well. One of my most vivid memories of this phenomenon was Danny Graves in 2004. So, I understand it is a bit of a reduction to just talk about how many closers each team has as the definitive barometer of their save potential, but at the same time it means that you don’t guarantee yourself more saves by selecting Joakim Soria as opposed to Chris Perez; the most reliable way to increase your team’s saves expectation is, wait for it, to add more closers to your roster!
Finally, I’d like to offer one recommendation that relates to the second of the assumptions I laid out at the top of this piece. A question that sounds simple, but isn’t so, is that of how we count our closers. Since not all closers can be expected to have job security and sometimes closer roles aren’t even fully defined heading into the season, we can’t—for the purposes of this strategy—simply count every player you draft with an opening day closing gig as a closer. In contrast, we can’t count every player without a closing job as having no saves potential. So, here are two ways you can think about counting your closers.
The first way is to think about each team having one closer job over the course of the season and think about your relievers in terms of the percentage of expected save situations your player will be given the opportunity to convert. If your player is the clear-cut best option, but is starting the season on the DL, maybe you consider him .8 of a closer. If you think you have a live underdog—a set-up man likely to inherit a job due to either trade or teammate implosion, then you could try to express those expectations as a portion of a singular whole.
A second way of thinking about this count is to consider that on any given day, there are basically 30 closers in baseball and that over the course of the season you want to average having a specific number of them per day. So, if you want to have three closers to get your comparative advantage, you may draft two healthy closers, one closer who begins the season on the DL and ends up closing for half a season, and one player who inherits a job midway and also compiles a half season’s worth of save chances. You might wind up owning two closers for half of the season and four closers for the other half, but that would mean that you are averaging three closers on your roster.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 5:48am (10) Comments
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Imagine you’re a doctor, and a patient comes in and just lies down but doesn’t say anything. If you are interested in sending me questions, please send me actual questions—not just rosters plus, “What do you think?”
On the flip side, some folks sent in quite interesting questions but coupled it with rosters full of “A-Gonz” and “Jason.” Here is Scott’s question: I’ve not changed a thing from it—it has nice question and a well-formatted roster.
“My league does an auction draft and then each manager can lock up their players for up the 3 years at the price they paid at the auction. There are 10 teams and we draft players from both leagues, our lineups are: 2C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, MI, CI, RF, CF, LF, OF, Utility, Bench, 8SP, 3RP. $260 team budget for 25 players. The points system tries to mimic actual value on the field but probably rewards power from hitters and strikeouts and innings from pitchers more than in real life.
My keepers from past years:
Russell Martin $20
Alex Rios $15
Adrian Gonzalez $12
Kevin Slowey $5
Joe Mauer $10
Hunter Pence $7
Justin Upton $3
Neftali Feliz $3
Daniel Bard $1
Cole Hamels $29
newly drafted players:
Albert Pujols $43
CC Sabathia $28
Dan Haren $17
Javier Vazquez $3
Aramis Ramirez $6
Paul Konerko $12
Kelly Johnson $9
Max Scherzer $20
Josh Beckett $10
Jose Lopez $1
Manny Ramirez $1
Rafael Soriano $1
Jake Peavy $1
Yunel Escobar $1
Jed Lowrie $1
I feel like I got Pujols pretty cheap and part of me wants to lock him up for 3 years, but at the same time its risky to commit so much of my payroll to only one player. Do you think there is enough value at $43 to make him worth the risk? Also what would you do with with Scherzer at $20? I feel like he has a pretty high ceiling but he pitched so bad in spring training that I'm a little nervous.”
I would not lock up Pujols. Scherzer is a close call, but I’m tempted to say that you shouldn’t lock him up either. Here’s why:
These auction values are a good indicator of how your league-mates value these players, so no one in your league thought Pujols was worth more than $43. Barring something Herculean on his part this season or a massive change of heart on the part of one of your competitors, I doubt Pujols will go for much more than $43 next year.
However, if something should happen to him injury-wise this year or beyond, you would lose a large chunk of your future budgets, putting you at a major disadvantage. Moreover, he’s getting to an age, 31, where performance starts to decline. Nothing much to worry about yet, but he’ll probably be worth $38 rather than $45 in three years' time.
Scherzer has more growing to do, unlike Pujols. So by keeping him, you could leverage the difference in expectations that you and your competitors have over him—apparently you have higher ones since you were willing to pay more. Locking him in gives you a chance to put some more money where your beliefs are.
But I’m not sure how dearly you want to hold onto those beliefs. If Haren is going for $17 and Sabathia for $28 in your league, then what is the realistic upside for Scherzer in two years? $25? You’d be making a bit of profit, potentially, but at some risk. Scherzer hasn’t yet proven he can be the consistent horse that Haren and Sabathia are. Not that he's going to be another Russell Martin, but Scherzer is a good example of the costs of locking in.
What would I do?
Your roster already has good examples of whom I’d target for lock-in. Upton, Bard and Feliz are great lock-ins. They are cheap and so pose little risk to your overall budget. (Note, I’m assuming that you can always cut a locked-in player so that he’ll just cost you dollars in the future and not roster spots. If you have to keep him on your roster for the next three years as well, then keeping low dollar players may not be as good a strategy.)
Of course, you have other great keepers as well in Mauer, Gonzalez and others, but I’m not sure why they went so cheaply initially.
So I’d lock in maybe Soriano and Peavy. Peavy is a cheap risk—I’m sceptical it will pay off—but I still think it is a good value. Soriano is borderline. In a ten-team league, he’s not that valuable. Actually, given that you need to play eight starting pitchers, Beckett at $10 is also interesting, but you’ll be able to find his ilk in the auction pool again next season.
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 5:11am (14) Comments
On Sunday, draft season came to an end for me as I completed my fifth and final fantasy baseball draft of the year, the Fantasy Sports Invitational Challenge (FSIC) NL. It's a 12-team, 5x5, NL-only league with 22-man rosters (one catcher). It uses a snake draft format to select rosters. The past two seasons I've partnered with Paul Singman for this league, and we finished in second in 2009. This year, however, my partner will be new THTF writer Ben Pritchett. Here's our roster.
FSIC NL roster
+-----+---------------------+-------+ | POS | PLAYER | ROUND | +-----+---------------------+-------+ | C | Wilson Ramos | R25 | | 1B | Joey Votto | R1 | | 2B | Juan Uribe | R9 | | 3B | Jose Lopez | R16 | | SS | Stephen Drew | R4 | | CI | Brandon Belt | R14 | | MI | Jonathan Herrera | R21 | | OF | Shane Victorino | R2 | | OF | Jay Bruce | R3 | | OF | Michael Bourn | R5 | | OF | Marlon Byrd | R9 | | OF | Mike Morse | R10 | | UT | Jay Gibbons | R19 | +-----+---------------------+-------+ | SP | Zack Greinke | R6 | | SP | Ted Lilly | R8 | | SP | Tim Stauffer | R12 | | SP | Clayton Richard | R13 | | SP | Brandon Beachy | R15 | | SP | Kyle McClellan | R17 | | CL | Jonathan Broxton | R7 | | CL | Sean Burnett | R18 | | RP | Rafael Betancourt | R23 | +-----+---------------------+-------+ | BN | Andrew Cashner (SP) | R20 | | BN | Mike Leake (SP) | R22 | | BN | Alex Sanabia (SP) | R26 | | BN | Yonder Alonso (1B) | R24 | | BN | Dee Gordon (SS) | R27 | +-----+---------------------+-------+
Overall, I think we drafted a very good team. I do think we have a couple holes, like UT now that Gibbons is headed to the DL and Tony Gwynn Jr. is starting in LF. Lopez and Herrera are also both question marks in terms of how much playing time they'll get. Ramos and Belt should start for the majority of the year, but just how large a majority is still in question.
Greinke will be out for most of April, but I think we ended up with a lot of quality pitchers late to help out until he comes back. Sean Burnett is only sharing save opportunities for the time being, but we drafted him late enough where he could be a real bargain.
Aside from all that, though, we're looking quite rosy . In all honesty, I think we landed some very good players early to anchor our team in Votto, Victorino, and Bruce, and some very good supporting players with the likes of Morse, Uribe, and Stauffer, among others. I think we have enough security wrapped up in certain players, and I think we picked our spots well in terms of taking risks to complement those players.
We'd love to hear your thoughts, so let us know what you think of our team in the comments.