Waiver Wire retrospective: The best-laid plans

With the season rounding out this weekend, I felt it appropriate to take a quick retrospective look at the bold (and oft foolhardy) predictions I made in 2010. This week we will look at my 10 best/most accurate fantasy suggestions. Next week, we will look at my 10 worst.

1. Alex Rios‘ true talent line
Despite a first and second half that were as different as day (.305/.361/.518, 22.7 PA/HR, 14.8 PA/SB, 6.2 PA/R, 7.0 PA/RBI) and night (.258/.301/.383, 46.0 PA/HR, 25.1 PA/SB, 8.1 PA/R, 7.1 PA/RBI), Alex Rios’ overall season line of .284/.334/.457 with 21 HR, 34 SB, 89 R and 88 RBI over 617 PA almost exactly mirrors my preseason projection of .286/.331/.443 with 20 HR, 30 SB and 85 R/RBI. Though Rios is overpaid for his real life services, his 141 ADP on Yahoo entering the season made him an undervalued asset who provided the precise kind of fantasy gold I expected overall in 2010. I hope you were able to sell high on Rios in July. I wasn’t.

2. Max Scherzerwill be a top shelf pitcher
The Dirty Scherz was one of my top sleeper picks for 2010. Yahoo ranked him as the No. 261 player overall, which should have been illegal. (I had him ranked as a top 15-20 starter.) Despite expecting a decline in strikeouts from the NL to AL move, I expected Scherzer to end the season with a 3.78 ERA with a still strong 8.62 K/9.

Though he struggled through the first five weeks of the season (and needed to spend sometime in Triple-A), I begged owners to hold on and buy low to shares of his stock. Since his return to the majors, the Dirty Scherz has been nothing short of electric. His season ERA of 3.40 is solid, but it does not do justice to his second half dominance: 97 innings of 2.23 ERA, 93:32 K/BB (2.91), 1.09 WHIP baseball.

Some have lauded Justin Verlander‘s September performance (39 IP, 13 RA/9 ER, 41:4 K/BB (10.25), 2.39 xFIP on the heels of an atypical 52 percent GB rate), but Max Scherzer (38 IP, 11 RA/ER, 39:8 K/BB, 3.2 xFIP with a 40.8 percent ground balls has been just as filthy and posted batted ball peripherals in line with his career norms. Next year may be the last year you can get the him at some discount and I’d recommend exploiting that opportunity. Scherzer has some of the best stuff in baseball and he still has upside… call him a must-keep keeper. I’ll just tell you I told ya so.

3. Jake Peavy‘s poor ERA for the White Sox
One of my bigger and bolder (and surely the most criticized) preseason projections was my utterly bearish line for Jake Peavy: a 4.22 ERA with a sub-8.5 K/9. Though Peavy was perhaps starting to find his AL groove when he went down with injury, his season ended with a 4.63 ERA with a K/9 of 7.82, winning me a pair of bets. Heading into 2011, even if Peavy proves healthy, I stand behind my plus-4.00 ERA prediction for Peavy.

4. Jayson Werth‘s true talent line
Early in the season, I argued with a friend over what Jayson Werth was worth in fantasy. That is, what was he capable of? I initially projected a .284 BA with 27 HR, 74 RBI and eight steals. I later updated that projection slightly to reflect a 25 HR/10 SB plateau. Jayson Werth has more or less assented to my prediction, posting a .292 AVG with 25 HR, 12 SB and 79 RBI thus far.

Though he remains, as I noted, an elite outfield option and a top free agent this offseason, I felt I had my thumb pretty well on his pulse this year. Heck, I was dead on with his first half numbers. (His first half was .282 AVG, 13 HR, 5 SB over 81 games). Granted, I was simultaneous way off with Ichiro (who was the other part of the Jayson Werth discussion). Can’t win them all, I suppose.

5. My ridiculously high expectations for Ryan Madson
In one of the first weeks of the baseball season, I traded Ryan Madson (then closing for the then-and-always injured and oft ineffective Brad Lidge) for Kendry Morales. Despite the fact that I had Prince Fielder and Joey Votto occupying my 1B and UTIL positions (no CI in this league) and needed Morales only as a reserve player for off days, my league was in uproar. A non-closer for “that 2009 stud” Morales? People were ready to burn me at the stake for allowing the trade (I am the commissioner of this league). Things calmed down after a few weeks: Morales went down with a freak injury that cut his season short, and Madson went on to do great things.

Madson has a 2.28 ERA, a 63:13 K/BB ratio (4.85) over 51.1 IP and a 1.05 WHIP to go along with six wins and five saves. His ERA (1.66) and WHIP (0.92) on my opponent’s team are even better (six wins, two saves, 43 IP). Considering the amount of punch Madson provided fantasy owners this season over a mere 51.1 innings with a legitimate chance at stealing the closer role (via injury or ineffectiveness or both) from Lidge, I would say that I was, more or less, right about Madson. Say what you will, he’s a damn good reliever (much more valuable and more reliable than, say, Tyler Clippard).

If that prediction does not count, then I substitute herein my unwavering love for Ricky Nolasco/Wandy Rodriguez/Cole Hamels. I told you so on all three of those guys, despite poor first halves.

6. Colby Lewis is very good at pitching
Heading into the 2010 season, I was big on Colby Lewis. Thanks in part to Patrick Newman of Fangraphs bringing my attention to him sometime in January, I took a close look at Lewis’ numbers in Japan and concluded there was strong value to be found. I boldly forecast 13 W, 170 IP, 3.72 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and a 1.32 WHIP. Though Lewis has arguably succumbed to fatigue in the past few weeks (though his most recent outing was brilliant), his current season line stands at a 3.72 ERA, an 8.82 K/9 and 12 wins. I really only underestimated Lewis WHIP and innings potential. Otherwise, he came as advertised.

7. Geovany Soto is (still) very good at hitting
I have long been a big fan of Geo Soto. I bought his jersey (No. 18!) in 2007 and have not looked back since. I found plenty of reason for explanation for his 2009 sophomore struggles (power zapping injury” and poor batted ball luck) and reasons to be optimistic in 2010. Heck, I even ranted about him in an AL Waiver Wire column.

In the offseason, I boldly predicted a .270 AVG, a .370+ OBP and 20-plus homers (with upside to spare) for Soto. In fact, I went so far as to bet that he would out-homer both Victor Martinez and Joe Mauer to likely end up as the home run leader among catchers. My strong prediction of rebound proved correct and if not for Lou Piniella‘s unfounded love for Koyie Hill, Soto would probably have been the major league leader in catcher home runs.

Soto’s season ended early with a September injury, but he posted the highest walk rate (16 percent) of any major league player with 300-plus PA this year. This, combined with a ridiculous .280/.393/.497 (.385 wOBA) line resulted in +3.5 WAR over less than 400 PA. Only three catchers (Brian McCann +5.9, Joe Mauer +5.2, Victor Martinez +3.9) posted higher WARs than Soto and each received between 140 and 200 more plate appearances. The Cubs need to lock my boy up long term now, before it’s too late (and “costly”).

8. Brennan Boesch is NOT good at hitting
From day one on my job with THT, I did not believe in Brennan Boesch. Not even two months later, while he was still raking, did Boesch have me fooled. I did not peg him as anything more than a .272/.305/.425 hitter (see week 7). As apparent by his full season .261/.327/.426 line, Boesch did not disagree. Dontcha just love that feeling when everything is right in the world?

9 Gio Gonzalez is a post-hype sleeper talent with fantasy value
A lot of people scoffed at me when I tried to sell Gio Gonzalez as a legitimate pitcher and fantasy asset. A post-hype sleeper, with tons of strikeout upside, poor control and plenty of groundball induction, I saw Gio as a sub-4 ERA strikeout-capable pitcher with WHIP in the 1.30 range and wins upside. In my inaugural THT post, I predicted a 3.90 season ERA with a 8.65 K/9 and 4.40 BB/9 (1.96 K/BB).

His numbers have been better than expected (3.35 ERA, 14 wins) and though his strikeout rate (and swinging strike percentage) is lower than expected, his control has been unexpectedly better as well. His actual K/BB on the season (1.86) is quite close to what I predicted it would be (1.96). Gonzalez, along with Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Dallas Braden, is living proof that Billy Beane‘s still got that team-building talent. 2011 looks bright for Oakland fans.

10. Carl Pavano will rebound and have a useful fantasy season
Maybe it is the Luigi (from Mario Brothers) mustache, but Carl Pavano has been quite solid for the Twins this season. His ERA on the season (3.83) is good, though that number is slightly inflated by a poor September (6.18 ERA). In Week 9 of my AL Waiver Wire companion, I predicted Pavano’s talents worth a 3.80 ERA, a 6.00 K/9 and a 1.23 WHIP. His line so far is remarkably similar (3.83 ERA, 1.19 WHIP), but I seem to have oversold his whiff ability (4.79 K/9). In the offseason, I lauded Pavano as a solid SP4/5 option for fantasy. Those 17 wins are just gravy.

Honorable Mentions:
-Jim Thome and the White Sox 2010 DHing situation (as further established, controversially, in a THT Live post).
-Jim Edmonds probably still has some gas left in the tank.
-Kris Medlen has great stuff and needs a starting spot in the Braves’ 2010 rotation.
-Kelly Johnson is better than the Braves gave him credit for (and the Cubs should have signed him).
-Jose Bautista can keep up his power surge (see Bautista watch).
-Predicting Luke Scott‘s hot streaks (Booyah).
-My often skeptical, but endearing love of Brandon Morrow (see it fluctuate by week: week 7, week 10, week 15, week 19). He and I, like Jonathan Sanchez and I, have a love-hate relationship that goes way back.

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  1. Jeffrey Gross said...

    C) I never said drop him. I said “I Dropped him” but I never suggested dropping him. In the final lines of the article I say the season is young enough for him to right the ship and that you should BENCH him for Jaime Garcia. I never used the words drop

  2. Sexy Rexy said...

    Here’s a post you wrote about Max Scherzer on May 4th when Scherzer was doing awful and right before he got demoted to the minors http://gameofinches.blogspot.com/2010/05/what-is-wrong-with-mad-max-aka-dirty.html

    Yes, you, like me, liked Scherzer in the preseason. In fact, in one league we’re in, you drafted him. Because you, like me, liked in from the getgo.

    But when Scherzer had an awful April and beginning of May and right before he got demoted, you wrote the aforementioned article.  And I quote from the article:

    “Am I still behind my man? Not at the moment.”

    “I’ve cut him loose in all leagues which I owned The Dirty Scherz, either by trade or waiver claim.”

    “the decreased velocity, groundballs and strikeouts paired with an increase in contact makes me worried”

    “Nothing about those two numbers screams “bad luck.” Scherzer has just plain pitched poorly.”

    You can not bail on a player when he’s bad and jump on his bandwagon when he’s good and then in the end take credit that you were right from the getgo. That takes no talent or skill whatsoever to do. All that means is that you simple look at your league’s player rater. If when Scherzer was awful you still said “stick with him” then you get all the credit in the world. But because you didn’t stick with your guns all the way through the season, you can not get credit because at certain points during the season you liked a player when he was obviously doing well.

    Also, if you liked Colby Lewis so much, why did you not draft him in any league?

  3. Jeffrey Gross said...

    A) I think I drafted him in our Auction league
    B) I picked him up before the season in all leagues. I think I got him within a week of the draft.

  4. Jeffrey Gross said...

    You imply entirely too much. I specifically say BENCH him and I never told anyone to drop him. That’s like saying I told you to murder your wife by saying “I killed my wife” and “dont kill your wife”

    Seriously, your implication is way off base.

  5. Paul said...

    …but your tone in the article heavily suggested ‘drop’ to be fair

    and you have to drop someone to pickup Jaime Garcia don’t you?  And it would more likely be like for like, and you did drop him yourself (though i don’t know your league set-up – no bench would of course make a difference)

    So you may not have said ‘drop’ him outright, but it was very much implied

    And really do you deserve much credit for being high on a guy everyone was high on pre-season, advising ‘benching’ (but dropping him yourself) when he is getting hammered, and advising buying low/picking up when he looks good again in the minors?

  6. Jeffrey Gross said...

    You mischaracterize the post.

    It was Mad Max’s mechanics are off. I have dropped him in all my leagues, here is what is wrong with his mechanics, I’d ride him out. I specifically say he will probably right the ship. I specifically call for benching, not dropping. In the league I dropped him, you only get 6 pitching spots.

    No where did I say DROP MAD MAX. I simply pointed out what is wrong with his mechanics. When I say I was wrong, I did not mean I was wrong that Max was a great pitcher, just that my prediction has been offbase for 4 weeks of the season.

    So again, as I told you Saturday, you’re wrong. TBO 100% agrees with me.

  7. Paul said...


    “AT LEAST bench him” tells you to kick this guy to the bench and the ‘at least’ implies the possibility that you may want to do something less lenient

    what you didn’t say was bench but don’t drop (and how could you based on your actions?)

    The wife muder analogy is an epic fail – we would be talking about having (and murdering) the same wife as we own the same player – so that doesn’t work in real life does it?

    A better one would be a law firm where we could both use the services at the same time (like how it works for fantasy baseball pitchers)

    What you said:-

    Max is great

    May 4th
    I completely missed the mark on Max;
    Max is broken;
    Velocity Down (velocity and sucess is correlated);
    I have dropped him or traded him in all leagues where i own him;
    Points of concern if you want to buy low (declining GB%; lower veloocity; neutral luck)

    Then you say that long term he may right the ship, but “I would AT LEAST bench him” (well no you wouldn’t, because you have already dropped or traded him in all your leagues)

    Then you say that Jaime Garcia is available on the WW

    So taking the law firm analogy and applying it to what you said…

    I was wrong about the law firm, the law firm is broken at this point, has many peripheral points of concern, it may right the ship, but i don’t believe so based on my actions because I no longer use the law firm, so at the very least don’t actively use the law firm (but maybe retain if this is the same as keep on the bench), oh and by the way there is a good law firm available.

    what was i supposed to take from this?  The fantasy baseball expert who i am reading doesn’t believe in Max

    Yes you get plenty of credit the 28 May post highlighting Mad Max’s turnaround in triple A, and it helped a lot of causal players, but you do not get credit from the getgo because of the May 4 post

    It’s a strange logic to go:-
    Max is great/I was wrong Max is broken and I’ve got rid of him/Max is fixed so go get him/Max ends up great

    and think that you derserve credit for your pre-season prediction that Max is a top shelf pitcher

  8. STEVEN KERSTEIN said...

    Can you opine on this as a general topic.  In our league 2 people were clearly going down to the wire for 1st place

    Another owner who was out of the money by tons
    makes a transaction to get a player on the waiver
    wire.  It should be added that this owner had not made a transaction, adjusted his lineup, and had plain given up.

    What should a commisioner do?  The guy obviously has his rights to transact. At the same time he
    gains no benefit to himself and has the possibility of determining the result of the whole league.

    The league has a collusive trading provision.


  9. Jeffrey Gross said...

    At a point of clarification, I am in this league.

    As I said before, there was no rule violated, nothing unethical done. He had the right to manage his team as he wanted to keep any player from gaining pts as he so desired, absent a collateral agreement with a player to do that. No such agreement is shown.

    I was equally affected by his benching of a player on the final day—had he started Aubrey Huff I would have won 3rd in this league. Still, it was his decision not to start Huff, etc. Again, no illegal agreement, no foul play when he freely manages his team

  10. Jeffrey Gross said...

    Paul, let me address is a few parts (pointing out to that “SexyRexy” is one of my blogmates)

    1) Ryan Madson was ranked the #171 overall player in yahoo due to his W/SV contributions. While Meek/Thorton/Gregerson were at least as good, only Meek, no history of success, of those was on the wire. Madson was better than the rest. Further, Madson was in a key position to take over the closer job. Arguably, so was thorton, but again, thorton was drafted and unavailable. Further, Madson was closing at the time. Brad Lidge was no sure thing entering the season and between injury/ineffectiveness, he had a good shot at 9th inn. duties.

    2) With respect to Nolasco, the ERA was ugly, but the rest made up for it. 1.28 WHIP is not great, but solid. 14 wins in 2/3 of a season of starts? Money. 147 K in 157 IP, especially the elite K/9 he put up in june (8.57)-july (10+)-august(10+)? That was gravy if you bought low on him. In fact, I sold Nolasco/Gio/Posey mid-June to acquire Tim Lincecum/Neftali Feliz and Nolasco posted 75 IP, 4.08 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 9 W, 87 K. (really bad final outing before his season ended due to what I think was a knee injury he was attempting to play thru). Nolasco’s a stud in my eyes and though I was wrong that he’d have comparable value to Jon Lester at season end, his Wins total, K/9 and WHIP were all much more than merely useful.

    3) I will address Mad Max again further later, but for now I am going to be late for AM Classes! Ciao

  11. Derek Ambrosino said...

    FWIW, I agree with Jeff on the transaction issue. It’s kind of unfortunate, but it’s not illegal, and it’s an abuse of power to overrule legally executed moves even if they do deviate from a pattern and clearly benefit certain parties more than others. Abstaining from these overrulings is the only true way to prevent the slippery slope argument from gaining muster. What I will say the commish in that league is obligated to do in a situation like this is to perform a bit of an investigation – surface level at least. Ask the transacting party and the parties who stand to benefit whether there is any collusion going on, and look for further signs. But, remember, it is not illegal for one owner to act for the sole purpose of spiting another owner, so long as he does so of his own accord.

  12. Jeffrey Gross said...

    Agree with you 100% Derek. The player in question only knew four people in the league and the person who stood to benefit from this move did not know the player (he was a random person who joined the league to fill it out). The player also denied any collusion. Given these two facts, I abstained from action.

    In my view, the role of the Commissioner is laizze-faire and to design rules of play for following—not to intervene unless necessary. Ie, the soft innings cap issue. I did not, admitted, properly address it this year it cost someone third place. It would not be my job to undo the innings given the rules that were in play before the season started, but it WOULD be my job, in the future, to create daily/weekly transaction limits to address the soft cap.

    That’s at least my view of the commissioner’s role

  13. Paul said...

    Jeffrey, it’s really a bit of shame, you made some v. good & helpful predictions (Rios/Peavy/Gio/Lewis), but your attempts to claim undeserved glory for some others undermine your good picks.

    Maybe at law school they might call it undermining your killer winning argument by excess polishing of your other turd-like arguments

    You didn’t say Max’s mechanics were off..

    “His general mechanics seems to be about the same this season..”

    You said he was broken, pointed that areas for concern, said his mechanics seem to be the same so who knows what is wrong…

    English language question – would saying “I would at least bench him” not imply (suggest without being explicityly stated) to your readers to bench him or do something more drastic (like drop him)?

    Especially as straight after you say that there is a good alternative on the wire..

    Yes you didn’t explicity state to drop him, but it was about as heavily implied as it could get

    As for claiming credit for Madson?
    Non-closing RP who were approx. Madson’s value:-

    Not to mention the good RP who became closers

    All of which probably wouldn’t have cost a Morales pre-season

    And by making such a trade, you pretty much had to keep Madson all year, so lose the opportunity value of a roster space to pick up the RP who actually ended up closing…

    And what exactly did Nolasco do that’s worth crowing about in a best predictions article?

  14. Jeffrey Gross said...

    I was merely advocating you drop someone else.
    Further, with respect to Madson, something that is essential to note is that we have 1 1B and 1 UTIL spot. I had Prince Fielder and Joey Votto. I was not going to and in fact did not start Morales over either.

  15. Jeffrey Gross said...

    Also, further,

    with respect to Scherzer, this is not merely a one-year “I like him thing.” Scherzer’s been one of “my boys”, with Alex Gordon and Jay Bruce, from the get go. These are prospects I had big love for before their debut and, in the words of my friend Dmitry, “would not shut up about.” It’s no secret that I have a man crush on Scherzer and Sexy Rexy knows that. If I gave off the aura of “GET RIDDA HIM”, then I apologize to Max Scherzer and his family. I was merely trying to express that the Mad Max was not pitching right at the moment and that until those few problems were fixed, he was someone not to start and I was merely suggesting Jaime as the band-aid replacement. In my league, only dropped scherzer because this was my team in a 10-team public league I joined (and yes, I won it):
    UTIL-Gordon Beckham
    BN-Andruw Jones
    BN-Marlon Byrd

    SP-Josh Johnson
    SP-Dan Haren
    SP-Felix Hernandez
    SP-Mad Max
    SP-Tommy Hanson
    SP-Colby Lewis
    SP-Phil Hughes
    RP-Billy Wagner
    RP-Chris Perez
    BN-Matt Thorton

    In this situation, you can’t drop anyone else, really. I was not going to drop any of my hitters at the time (note that Jones and Byrd were red hot and I was not giving up on Bacon yet) and the only other pitcher to drop was Perez. That is why I dropped Mad Max. There was really no one else I could get rid of and I did not want Jaime Garcia on the Waiver. I figured I’d be able to get Mad Max back when he had 2 good starts in a row (I was right, as I later got him back by dropping Jaime at the end of May).

    I honestly had no intention to tell others to drop the Max. As should be apparent by your inevitable “how the hell was that your team” reaction, I had extenuating circumstances. I doubt others not in an 8-team league had a pitching staff like mine and simply put, it was an economic decision. I still loved me some Mad Max, it was just he was broken at the time and I could not recommend STARTING him that I was trying to highlight.

    If I came off otherwise, from the bottom of my heart, sorry Max Scherzer

  16. Jeffrey Gross said...

    plus, as an additional 2 notes,

    1) I’m not trying to say I am correct about everything here. Tomorrow, you’ll all get to see some of my biggest fails of 2010, including one that is going to result in me eating a sheet of paper with my bet on it (literally eating my own words)

    2) Normally I would not argue with a fan so vehemently, but Sexy Rexy is no traditional fan. He’s my blogmate …

  17. Paul said...

    Hi Jeffrey – thanks for replying, sounds like you will make a great lawyer as you are determined to win all your arguments smile

    Look this is not to hassle/troll you, but although i love all the free net baseball content, a learn a lot from it, one thing that riles is the ‘look how clever i was’ stuff when it not warranted (albeit I know you are balancing this by doing the opposite with your next post)

    The Madson thing to me smacks of trying to post justify your trade – now your circumstances in your league I don’t know, sounds like closer + next in line at least are gone, but it doesn’t really make Morales any less valuable

    Was Madson a v. good RP this year?  Yes of course, but he was no God, by yahoo 5×5 ranks, he rated lower over the season than:-


    and that’s without adding in the guys who were possible closers in waiting like Bard/Gregerson/Thornton/Perez who all rated better even if they didn’t close

    You know where yahoo #171 ranks for 1B?
    Somewhere after D. Lee as #165 (80/19/80/.260)

    so the point is why on earth are you expecting credit for having such high expectations for Madson that you would trade Morales for him (who was making you look bad to the tune of 29/11/39/.290 in 1/3 of a season prior to a freak injury, not elite, but a full season pace around what Swisher/Huff ended up producing)

    With Nolasco, maybe timing is everything to get his nice streak, unfortunately my leagues count his blowups as well, and i can’t see a pattern. 

    In the year of the pitcher – I don’t think a 1.28 WHIP counts as solid – i think it would’ve been a negative this year.  The era was crap, even during the nice streak, and well aren’t we all a bit too clever to take much credit for Wins for pitchers these days?  They rely a lot on factors out of his control

    As for Max, perhpas done to death now – but in your comment reply to Rexy, you say “I said bench him for Jaime Garcia” – can you pls explain how I simultaneously bench someone but use someone available from the wire – i have to drop someone don’t i?  And would not a good candidate candidate for the chop be Max who has just had a post written about how he ‘is broken’.

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