Sunday, January 30, 2011

OOTP12 and a chance to win an I-pod Touch

When I first discovered Out Of the Park it ruined an entire week of plans. You know why? Because it is an awesome game. If you like baseball and playing GM, and as a fantasy owner, I know you do. This game gives you some of what you can't get from more basic versions of fantasy baseball.

You get entire organizations to control. Not just 25-man rosters but an entire minor league system. You have scouts who report back to you. You hire the manager and his staff. You sign free agents, you control the draft. Other GM's (automated if you play alone, your friends if you form a league) will e-mail you with trade offers and comments. Seriously, I spent nearly every free minute of a week after getting this game messing with the many options of this game. You will too.

I'm getting nothing for sharing this news, I just like the game a lot.

Here is more from the creators:

Pre-Order from January 25th through January 31st:

Only $29.99 - save $10!
Get OOTP 12 two days before public release
The opportunity to win an iPod Touch + iOOTP *

Lineup Improvements in OOTP 12

PC Gamer called OOTP 11 "a no-doubt, walk-off home run no-brainer to become a part of your game collection," and OOTP 12 is no different. Our All-Star lineup of features gets better every year, and we've again improved many of them during this off-season. We're not done yet, so stay tuned to future newsletters.

2011 Major League Rosters

Here's a treat: the best roster set we've ever produced, from the big leagues' top stars to the guys making their debuts in rookie leagues. All players are individually rated with updated statistics and realistic contract data. Last year's top draft picks are included too. Could Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, with the veteran leadership of newly-acquired All-Star Jayson Werth, help propel the Washington Nationals to the top of the National League East in coming seasons?

Revamped Financial System

The Philadelphia Phillies shook the baseball world this winter when they signed top-flight free agent pitcher Cliff Lee, despite expectations that he would opt for the highest bidder. Now you can do the same with OOTP's improved player contract negotiations, which are more realistic and fun. You can even try to talk your owner into expanding the available budget, letting you squeeze in another All-Star contract. Don't forget to stay on top of the latest free agent signings and other news in the new off-season center, and keep your finger on the pulse of your team's finances with an improved view.

Contract possibilities are now more realistic, including vesting options, buyouts, minor league split contracts, signing bonuses and more performance bonus options. You can even now include remaining contract payments as an option in trades with AI-controlled GMs.

Online Leagues

We're proud to support Official OOTP Online Leagues with a full-featured interface inside OOTP 12. With just one click, you can join a team, and creating a league is just as easy. Commissioners can make their leagues public and advertise open teams, with the ability to accept or deny requests from would-be GMs.

Official OOTP Online Leagues offer several key advantages:

  • League files are patches rather than full-size files, saving plenty of up- and download time.
  • Reports can be saved in MySQL databases, increasing their upload speed.
  • Forget about FTP: team data exports and imports work through the database. That results in improved compatibility and security for the league web site server.
  • An export tracker.
  • The promise of more great features to come, including online drafts and trades.

Greater Immersion and Realism

Historical leagues benefit from improved AI and real life transactions and as-played lineups as optional features. Thanks to OOTP's sophisticated game engine, you'll be able to enjoy the most realistic historical simulation results possible. How would the 1927 Yankees fare against their 1961 counterparts?

In addition, storylines have been expanded, and there are new ways to interact with your players. News presentations have also been revamped, making you feel like you're part of the hectic 24-hour "better stay on top of this" news cycle that dominates today's sports reporting.

In-Game and Core Engine Changes

Like a manager constantly seeking ways to get the most out of his lineup, we're always tinkering under OOTP's hood. Here's what you can look forward to this year:

  • Recoded parts of the in-game AI, making it the most challenging ever in an OOTP game.
  • Improved in-game sound, adding better quality sound files and more variation.
  • Improved player evaluation AI, resulting in more realistic AI roster moves.
  • Recoded parts of the trading AI.
  • Recoded parts of the scouting engine.
  • Improved injury and recovery system.
  • Added WAR (Wins Above Replacement) as a statistic.
  • Added a playoff roster for more realistic team transactions.
  • Greatly enhanced the world database structure, resulting in more realistic fictional league and player creation.
  • Added a simulation module, allowing you to match up two teams from the same league for a set number of games and see the simulation results. This is great for research purposes or just for toying around. For example, how would the 1927 Yankees fare against the 2004 Red Sox?

But that's not all - the feature list is not final yet and will include even more great additions before the game is released. Stay tuned.

The home team has taken their positions in the field and the first batter is approaching home plate. What will happen next? Find out in OOTP 12. Pre-order your copy today!

The OOTP Developments Team

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pitcher Rankings - Three Year FIP

I thought it would be interesting to see the best pitchers over the last three years according to FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). Not too many surprises.

Tim Lincecum 49 22 664.2 10.25 3.09 0.53 0.299 0.77 0.47 2.83 2.69
Cliff Lee 48 25 667.1 7.23 1.28 0.61 0.302 0.75 0.43 2.98 2.85
Roy Halladay 58 31 735.2 7.74 1.27 0.78 0.293 0.79 0.52 2.67 3.03
Zack Greinke 39 32 651.2 8.37 2.24 0.69 0.306 0.73 0.43 3.25 3.05
Adam Wainwright 50 22 595.1 7.8 2.36 0.67 0.283 0.79 0.50 2.68 3.16
CC Sabathia 57 25 720.2 8.06 2.5 0.71 0.285 0.75 0.47 3.07 3.27
Justin Verlander 48 35 665.1 8.81 2.99 0.7 0.3 0.70 0.39 3.84 3.27
Felix Hernandez 41 28 689 8.15 2.89 0.64 0.283 0.77 0.53 2.69 3.28
Jon Lester 50 23 621.2 8.72 3.08 0.69 0.3 0.76 0.49 3.29 3.31
Mike Mussina 20 9 200.1 6.74 1.39 0.76 0.321 0.73 0.49 3.37 3.32
Dan Haren 42 30 680.1 8.53 1.75 1.02 0.295 0.75 0.42 3.47 3.33
Tommy Hanson 21 15 330.1 7.87 2.78 0.65 0.282 0.75 0.41 3.16 3.38
Ubaldo Jimenez 46 32 638.1 8.23 3.95 0.48 0.283 0.74 0.52 3.43 3.42
Chad Billingsley 40 32 588.2 8.42 3.59 0.6 0.302 0.73 0.48 3.58 3.42
Hiroki Kuroda 28 30 497 6.56 2.06 0.72 0.28 0.68 0.51 3.6 3.46
Colby Lewis 12 13 201 8.78 2.91 0.94 0.275 0.72 0.38 3.72 3.55
Wandy Rodriguez 34 31 538 8.4 2.93 0.85 0.304 0.74 0.45 3.36 3.55
Johan Santana 40 25 600 7.44 2.46 0.89 0.275 0.80 0.37 2.85 3.59
Roy Oswalt 38 29 601.2 7.42 2.15 0.91 0.279 0.75 0.47 3.44 3.6
Jered Weaver 40 30 612 8.22 2.56 1.01 0.283 0.74 0.33 3.65 3.64
Ricky Nolasco 42 26 555 8.56 1.93 1.22 0.299 0.69 0.39 4.31 3.66
Cole Hamels 36 32 629.2 8.22 2.24 1.11 0.288 0.77 0.42 3.46 3.7
Derek Lowe 45 33 599.1 5.92 2.54 0.72 0.305 0.71 0.58 3.95 3.72
Josh Beckett 35 22 514.1 8.52 2.34 1.1 0.311 0.70 0.45 4.39 3.72
Ryan Dempster 43 27 622 8.2 3.28 0.88 0.292 0.74 0.48 3.49 3.76
Jair Jurrjens 34 26 519.2 6.53 3.24 0.68 0.287 0.74 0.46 3.45 3.76
Matt Cain 35 33 658.2 7.3 3.07 0.86 0.27 0.77 0.36 3.27 3.81
Joel Pineiro 32 26 515 4.86 1.68 0.84 0.295 0.69 0.55 4.07 3.86
Javier Vazquez 37 36 585 8.6 2.62 1.18 0.291 0.72 0.39 4.17 3.86
Carlos Zambrano 34 19 487.2 7.36 4.04 0.65 0.288 0.74 0.45 3.71 3.88
Andy Pettitte 39 25 527.2 6.94 2.93 0.89 0.309 0.71 0.47 4.09 3.9
John Danks 40 31 608.1 6.95 2.96 0.9 0.278 0.75 0.44 3.61 3.91
Scott Baker 38 22 542.2 7.48 2.21 1.18 0.293 0.74 0.34 4.11 3.95
Ricky Romero 27 18 388 7.31 3.73 0.77 0.309 0.73 0.55 3.99 3.95
Jonathan Sanchez 30 33 514.2 9.43 4.53 0.94 0.281 0.73 0.41 4.04 4.01

Monday, January 24, 2011

Can Ubaldo Jimenez Repeat?

Ubaldo Jimenez was a Fantasy Baseball Stud in 2010. But more than a few analysts have questioned his ability to repeat his performance in 2011. What do you think?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2011 Sleeper: Jeff Francis SP Kansas City Royals

At first glance, it doesn't appear that Jeff Francis has ever been a desired fantasy starter. Before you look at his stats you know that he's spent his entire major league career pitching at Coor Field. Coors Field, the longtime bane of fantasy owners everywhere when it comes to pitching, has made many decent pitchers look abominable. Francis is included in that class but he can't blame it all on the thin air.

Francis, at least in the majors, has posted mediocre strikeout and walk rates. Not terrible rates, but nothing to make an ambitious fantasy owner take notice. His HR9 has been all over the place from awesome to abysmal. However he does induce a decent number of groundballs. With skills like these it is pretty easy to understand why with so many teams looking for starters (teams with cash to spend like the Yankees, Mets, Rangers and Cubs) Francis landed on the Kansas City Royals.

But as most of us understand these days, a pitcher's skills are not the entire story. There are park factors, team defense, and luck that factor into things.

Park Factors

Even in the era of the humidor, Coors Field is not exactly a friendly place for pitchers. According to's Park Factors, Coors Field had the following influence in 2010:

K: 87 / 90
GB:102 / 103
BB:103 / 89
OF: 91 / 93
1B:103 / 104
LD:129 / 128
2B:104 / 120
IF: 95 / 90
3B:121 / 188
HBP: 72 / 99
HR:116 / 117
wOBA:108 / 112

If you were wondering why the Rockies have had such bad luck signing free agent pitchers, here is your first clue. Unless a guy is desperate to line with pockets with greenbacks, free agent pitchers will go elsewhere. Here are the numbers for the new place - Kauffman Stadium:

K: 88 / 92
GB:106 / 101
BB:104 / 91
OF:100 / 108
1B:104 / 102
LD:105 / 106
2B:117 / 106
IF: 85 / 93
3B:122 / 126
HBP:115 / 82
HR: 73 / 85
wOBA:104 / 100

What you really want to look at is that homerun factor. At Coors Field 116/117 and in KC, 73/85. The rest is a lot closer than you might think, but a 30 percent swing in homerun rate could do wonders for any pitcher. A plus for Jeff Francis and his potential fantasy value.

Team Defense

Both the Royals and Rockies were bad defensive teams last year. In fact, the Rockies and Royals rate as the worst and second worst defensive team by UZR/150 the last three seasons. The Rockies at -5.8 and the Royals at -5.7 were basically just as bad. Fortunately, the Royals have reason to believe they have significantly improved their overall defense. Jeff Francoeur, Lorenzo Cain, and Alcides Escobar should all be significant improvements defensively. Very unscientifically, I'm going to say that the Royals should be a good defensive team in 2011. Another plus for Francis and his fantasy value.


I hate the very idea of luck. Probably because I have a severe lack of it, at least the good kind. It is also almost impossible to measure in any accurate way. francis has a career BABIP of .314 but he's been over that mark four out of six seasons (he missed the 2009 season due to injury). That sounds like bad luck, the horrid defense factors into that as well. His LOB percentage is all over the place but it has mostly been below 70 percent, which looks like bad luck. Inconsistent bullpens and lousy managers don't help, but it was at 64.5 percent in 2010 which looks like real bad luck. With so much bad luck in Jeff's history we can only hope the change of scenery brings brings better luck to Francis and his fantasy owners.

Jeff Francis is not a great pitcher but he is a decent one. Before his injury he proved to be fairly durable. He pitched at near a league average level (that may be a bit generous) in one of the worst pitching environments the world has ever known. In an improved pitching environment he should has a pretty good chance at a career best season. One that fantasy owners in AL-only leagues should like seeing on their stat sheets, and mixed leaguers may want to gamble on in the late rounds or dollar days.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2011 Sleeper: Brad Emaus 2B (or utility) New York Mets

The New York Mets and many of their fans have been bitching about Luis Castillo and his unsuitability to be their starting second baseman almost since he arrived in New York. It's probably a little unreasonable in intensity... Fortunately, for those New Yorkers and the Mets, the pain is almost over. The new Mets management has options to replace Castillo and it appears that they will. Castillo is in the final season of a four year deal and is scheduled to earn $6 million. He could very well collect it playing for another team. Sandy Alderson appears to be the type of General Manager that will acknowledge a mistake and cut a player rather than continually try to prove he was right.

Reese Havens is the future at the position if all goes well but for now it appears to be a competition between four players: Daniel Murphy, Brad Emaus, Justin Turner and the incumbent Luis Castillo.

Daniel Murphy

Last year the Mets the Mets saw Daniel Murphy as an infield option but injury took him out early in the season and he was not a factor in 2010. But Murphy is now healthy and expected to compete for the job of starting second baseman. To prepare for the 2011 season Murphy signed up for the Dominican Winter League. He batted .320/.395/.515 with four homers and five steals (only caught once) in 103 at-bats. A small sample to be sure, but an encouraging one.

Murphy is a natural third baseman but the Mets believe he can handle second base defensively, or at least that he'll be better in the infield than the outfield. From a scouting report in the Boston Globe:
"He’s a good enough athlete where he can pull it off,’’ said the scout, "but it will take time just to learn all the nuances of the position. I can see their thinking. He can hit. A sound player. This would be a nice conversion for them at a position they need help at."
Murphy has the patience to draw walks. He is also a good contact hitter but swings at a few too many pitches out of the strike zone, which limits his batting average potential. He has decent power for a middle infielder and the speed and ability to steal 15-20 bases in full-time at-bats. Murphy is probably the favorite to win the position based on his talent and major league experience. He's likely to be on the major league roster even if he fails to win the starting job. Murphy seems idealy suited for an injury prone Mets team. He can play several positions and will not embarrass himself with the bat. Those skills are best utilized from the bench.

Justin Turner

The Mets picked up Justin Turner on waivers from the Baltimore Orioles where he was a fan favorite but was apparently unappreciated by the team's management. In his brief Major league appearances Turner has failed to hit effectively. Turner can play all over the infield including short stop and the Mets called him up when Jose Reyes needed a mid-summer break. But despite his major league woes, turner had a very strong season in Triple-A for the Mets, batting .333/.390/.516 with 11 homers and five steals (caught three times) in 312 at-bats. He followed his strong Triple-A stint with a solid performance in the Dominican Winter League where he slashed .318/.382/.438 with a homer in 80 at-bats.

Turner has always shown the ability to hit for a strong batting average. This is based mostly on his strong contact skills, and some ability to draw walks. He has a little pop, nothing to write home about, and doesn't steal bases. His value is in hitting for average and defensive versatility. He is also a very strong hitter against left-handed pitchers. Although he is seemingly popular wherever he goes, Turner may be the unlikeliest candidate for the job based on a lack of power and speed but he has his supporters.

Luis Castillo

Luis Castillo was a decent player with the Florida Marlins who brought him up and with the Minnesota Twins during his short stint with them. He has never shown any power. His fanalytic value has always been tied to his batting average and stolen bases. His speed on the bases has gradually evaporated and the batting average comes and goes. For the Mets, Castillo has been bad and worse, two out of three seasons. He still draws a decent number of walks but his average has been so bad that his on-base percentages have been mediocre. The decline in speed has also killed his defense, which has been terrible for the Mets. Even if Castillo had a great Spring Training he would have a hard time winning the faith of the Mets management.

Brad Emaus

The Mets used their first Rule V draft pick on natural second baseman Brad Emaus, so he must stay on the major league roster for the entire season or be offered back to the Toronto Blue Jays. It is difficult to say how determined the Mets are to have Emaus on the 25-man roster. One the one hand, they did draft him and pay the Blue Jays cash to take him off their hands. On the other hand, the Mets (even in their current state) have the money to blow just to take a look at a player.

My hunch says that the Mets are serious about Emaus. Sandy Alderson, is serious about team building and making maximum use of all his resources. His assistant Paul Depodesta is a stats guy and has to love a player like Emaus for reasons that will soon become apparent to you. Another assistant J.P. Ricciardi ran the Blue Jays when Emaus was drafted and likely knows him better than most. I think Emaus will stick around. The question is in what role.

Here's what Emaus had to say about being picked to Baseball America:
“My agent (ACES’ Mike Zimmerman) told me this week that there was a 50-50 chance I’d be taken in the Rule 5, and right now I’m just very ecstatic, excited to be given another chance by the Mets,” Emaus said via phone from the Dominican. Asked to give Mets fans a scouting report, Emaus said, “I’m just a blue-collar guy, a solid guy who has to know the game, has to have some (baseball IQ) because I don’t have great tools. I’m not flashy but I bring my best every day and go out trying to find an edge.”
Emaus spent the 2010 season playing at two levels for the Toronto Blue Jays. In Double-A, he slashed .272/.402/.434 with five homers and five steals in 170 at-bats. After being promoted to Triple-A, he hit .298/.395/.495 with ten homers and eight stolen bases. A nice season that he followed up in the Dominican Winter League (noticing a theme?) where he slashed .268/.345/.449 with one homer and two steals in 127 at-bats.

Emaus has a fantastic eye and a ton of patience at the plate. He has solid power, which is mostly double at this point but there is still room for that to turn to homer power. Right now he probably would hit 10-15 homers in a full season of at-bats with an upside of 20. He has decent not great speed but is a skilled baserunner who will steal 10-15 bases per season. He should hit for a strong batting average based on his eye and very good contact skills. His upside looks a lot like Daniel Murphy's but he also throws in a solid glove at second base. He is sure-handed but with just average range according to scouting reports.


Murphy is clearly the favorite to win the job but Emaus is a dark horse with a ton of support in upper management. Murphy has the most major league experience and his versatility makes him a decent bench option. Emaus has a better glove at second base and gets on base at a tremendous rate, he would make a very good number two hitter behind Jose Reyes and in front of the powerful middle of the Mets lineup.

Luis Castillo is so reviled that it is almost impossible for him to make the team. It is probably more likely that he is cut than he becomes the starter. Justin Turner has some flash but lacks the backing to win the job short of an outstanding spring. There is a case to be made for platooning Turner with Murphy but that is kinda hard to predict.

More Mets News

Johan Santana visited Mets medical staff in New York this week and has been cleared to begin a rehab program "which will have him throwing before the start of Spring Training," according to a team spokesman. Santana, 31, had been sidelined since undergoing September surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. His original rehab schedule called for him to begin playing catch in January, leading the spokesman to say, "It's about where we're supposed to be."

Though there is no concrete timetable for his return, the Mets do not expect him back until around mid-season.
Check It Out!

Our friend Jason Collette has moved on to Baseball Prospectus ( is leaving us soon) and the link leads to his first piece on a few underrated pitchers that fantasy owners should consider. Check it out!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

2011 Sleeper: Robinson Chirinos (and the Garza Trade)

Around here the wait for Spring Training to start can be excruciating. We scour looking for news to hold us over. But it is January and we end up reading about Rex Ryan and his quest to unseat Bill Belichick as the greatest coach in the land and looking at Superbowl predictions. Fortunately for the fantasy baseball junkie, there is NFL football and the never ending search for yet another sleeper.

There has already been plenty of talk about the Tampa Bay Rays making the Matt Garza trade. In case you've been under a rock the deal was Matt Garza, Fernando Perez, and minor league pitcher Zachary Rosscup to the Cubs for pitcher Chris Archer, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, outfielders Brandon Guyer and Sam Fuld, and catcher Robinson Chirinos.

I don't have much to add about Garza himself. I like him in the National League, where he should get a slight boost to his overall numbers. The change in ball parks is not ideal but moving from the AL East to the NL Central should more than make up for it. But you knew all that or at least you've read it on three million different fantasy sites.

Far more interesting to me (for fantasy purposes) are the players coming back to the Tampa Bay Rays and the roles we can project for them, especially catcher Robinson Chirinos. After laboring for years to advance as far as Double-A, Chirinos broke out in 2009 by hitting .294/.396/.519 then built on that in 2010 by hitting .326/.416/.583 with 18 homers. At catcher, anything close to those numbers in the majors would make Chirinos a fantasy stud and an MLB star.

I think we've been mislead about how important Chirinos was to this deal. The Rangers were also hard after Garza. According to Peter Gammons the Rangers tried to acquire Chirinos for the Rays to include him in a Garza deal.
The Rangers were the other team in it to the end. They thought they could get Chirinos from the Cubs, then package him with left-handed pitcher Derek Holland, reliever Frank Francisco and outfielder Engel Beltre, plus pay some of Francisco's contract. Friedman sees everything in the long term, and he thought that in 2012 and '13 -- when Jeremy Hellickson, David Price and Archer could be an extremely formidable front three -- the Rays would have a better chance to keep their window open.
The Rangers players plus Chirinos would have been a much better package in the short term as far as keeping their place atop the AL-East. That the Rangers wanted to acquire Chirinos for them indicates how important he was to the deal from the Rays perspective.

Fantasy owners should keep a close eye on Chirinos during Spring Training. I believe he has an excellent chance of making the team as a utility player if not as a back-up catcher. He has a reputation as a great glove in the infield and at catcher. The Rays definitely see something in Chirinos and a productive player (even a part-time one) who qualifies at catcher is fantasy gold. That's much more significant to fantasy owners than another rookie pitcher on a team loaded with quality arms.

The rest of the deal...

Chris Archer has been discussed a ton as the consensus best prospect in the deal. He was in the top three Cubs prospects by almost every source and for many was number one. He has great stuff and his ceiling is as a front line starter. However, until he improves his control his chances of emerging as more than a quality innings eater are minimal. Though he was at the top of the charts in the Cubs deep system, he is just one of several very good pitching prospects for the Rays. He needs improved control to separate himself from the pack, to his credit his control has improved two straight seasons. He is essentially ready to fill that innings eating role now and could make his major league debut this season.

Outfielder Sam Fuld is an ideal fourth outfielder. He is a solid defender at all three outfield positions and at the plate shows patience and the ability to draw walks. He doesn't have much power but can steal bases. He is much like a more durable and experienced Fernando Perez. Stat guys should love Fuld since he is a stat guy at heart as well. He is a Stanford graduate who majored in statistics and interned at Stats, Inc. Our kind of guy.

Hak-Ju Lee is a few years away but is a very interesting prospect. Keith Law of ESPN likes him more than most and had him ranked first in the Cubs system. He is a very good defensive shortstop with above average speed on the bases. He doesn't have much power and though some believe he will develop some, power is not likely to be a major fantasy asset of Lee's.

Brandon Guyer is an average defensive center fielder with nice speed. He had a very good 2010 season hitting .344/.398/.588 in Double-A with 13 homers, 76 runs, 58 rbi, and 30 stolen bases in 410 plate appearances. He looks like a nice starting option if one of the outfield primaries needs extended time off due to injury.

Other Articles on Robinson Chirinos and the Garza Trade that you may enjoy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Farm System Rankings with Dollar Values

The above graphic was created by Doug Gray of and is used with permission. I present it here because it is always nice to know where the talent will be coming from.

Monday, January 10, 2011

FIP Video from DRays Bay

2011 Sleeper: Chris Capuano SP New York Mets

Last week the New York Mets acquired Chris Capuano, the former Brewers pitcher. Capuano missed the 2008 season and most of the 2009 season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. In 66 innings with the Milwaukee Brewers last season he seemed to have regained most of his command and effectiveness. He posted a 7.36 K9, 2.86 BB9, 1.23 HR9, and .298 BABIP, all fairly close to his career levels.

Those numbers put Capuano in the solid but not great category. He's someone who in fantasy we hope to slot as our fourth or fifth starter and pray for an ERA around 4.25. He usually delivers. Miller Park, where Capuano has spent most of his career, is a good park for homerun hitters and especially for left-handed power hitters. Which explains some of Capuano's problems with the long ball. However, as a fly ball pitcher, Capuano is always going to see a fair number of balls leave the park.

Capuano's new home greatly reduces homers. A swing from a factor of 118/103 (LHB/RHB) in Miller park to 90/94 in Citi Field Park, quite a large reduction. Limiting Capuano's largest weakness as a pitcher to such a large degree greatly increases the odds of Capuano having a nice 2011 season. If he can return to his former durability and maintain his former effectiveness, Capuano is a great target in NL-only leagues, and a nice late-round pick in mixed leagues.

Park factors from

Player Stats from

The Truth About Jose Bautista's 2010 Season

There is already a lot of debate on message boards about Jose Bautista's place in fantasy drafts going into the 2011 season. So far, drafters seem to be betting on a repeat of 2010's homer barrage. As a third round pick Bautista needs to return a value around $20 to $25 in standard AL-only leagues. He was valued around $32 in 2010.

To properly judge Bautista's ability to repeat his performance I think we need to know what he did differently. Stats tell us part of the story but without a root cause it becomes very easy to predict a large regression, to something closer to his career levels. Not that his career levels are bad. The 2010 season was one of Bautista's few opportunities to be an everyday starter. Using his career fly ball and HR/FB rates and projecting 500 at-bats Bautista comes out at 32 homers. That's probably a good baseline expectation for 2011 but some of us would like to see better.

Bautista owes much of his success to Blue Jays hitting coach Dwayne Murphy who showed Bautista during the 2009 season that he was late on nearly every pitch. This made him easier to strike out as well as reducing his production rates. Murphy and Bautista worked on fixing his swing throughout the 2009 season and when he received regular at-bats in September of 2009 he hit ten homers from September 6th to the end of the season. Then he played winter ball to cement the changes into his muscle memory. He even changed his off season workouts from a power lifting routine to a regimen based on polymetrics and cardio with the aid of his Dominican trainer, Kelvin Terrero.

Frankie Piliere, a former scout for the Texas Rangers and presently writing for breaks down the changes far better than I could:
The first part of Bautista's new setup is rather simple. Compared to past years, he is slightly closer to the plate with his back foot. He's not a player that uses the whole field exceptionally well, but he also trusts his hands and knows that he can spin on the best inner-half fastball. So, what he appears to have done is edged his way up on the plate and cut off parts of the zone that pitchers once were able to exploit. It's a subtle one- or two-inch difference, but that small movement up on the plate has allowed him to build on a strength.

Then there is the slight change in his lower half. A little more straight up and down in 2009, Bautista is now in a bit more of a crouch and sitting more on his back leg. His bat angle in his setup is worth pointing out as well. At an angle closer to 45 degrees last season, it's close to flattened out now. Overall, it appears he has made an effort to get his top hand more involved and get his hands moving through the zone quicker in general. To do that, he has put his hands in a higher position and is creating much more leverage. Rather than low and close to his body, we now see him with his hands not just higher but also further away from his body. So, before he even begins his swing, he is in a stronger, loaded position with his hands back.

Take a good look at the way Albert Pujols reads and reacts mechanically to a pitch inside and you'll see some extreme similarities. Pujols does not use a leg kick, but once Bautista's foot is down, the similarities show up in a big way.
"I was getting ready way too late and the ball was beating me to the strike zone," Bautista said. "When I wasn't playing every day, making the adjustments was really tough because I wasn't seeing the results."
The changes outlined above make the statistical changes easier to understand. With that understanding comes the ability to believe Bautista can repeat them or at least come close enough that we can bid on the side of the over of our earlier baseline for homers.

The uptick in contact rate is the easiest to believe. With Bautista getting better looks and improving his timing, it is only natural that he would make better contact. Manager Cito Gaston's call for more balls hit in the air leads to an improved fly ball rate. Better timing and improved contact leads organically to the improved HR/FB which together with more flyballs leads to 54 homeruns.

I'm calling myself a believer in Jose Bautista. I think there will be some regression but not enough to call Bautista a fluke or a potential bust. I think 35-40homers is a good bet and a repeat of 2010 is not out of the question.
Information for this article was gathered from many sources including these great articles:

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Working Out Some Design Problems

UPDATE: All Set, hopefully that's a little cleaner, a little less clunky, and faster loading.

Working out some design problems, I'm slow and ponderous but I should be done later tonight, so please excuse the very temporary changes.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Dangers of Skimming in Unfamiliar Territory

I hope you had a great Holiday Season. Time to get back to work. Only six weeks until spring training!

There are different classes of fantasy sports enthusiasts. That isn't meant to belittle anyone but nevertheless I believe it to be true. One of the more common classes I like to call skimmers. The fans in this class recognize that new fantasy strategies and projecting techniques emerge everyday thanks to the great work of the sabermetrics-minded crowds at sites like fangraphs and the hardball times. They buy the latest edition of Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster and Baseball Prospectus 2011 and believe they are developing an edge. But they aren't because they are at heart, skimmers.

Now, for most of the internet skimming is okay. In fact, for most of the junk on the internet skimming is recommended. Once you know that Britney Spears isn't wearing panties the rest of the story lacks importance. Am I wrong? But when we skim the articles at the saber sites we come away swinging unqualified statements like "extremely high or low BABIP numbers are always an indication of luck" or "ERA is a meaningless stat." I'm sure some of you can name a dozen more.

This kind of thinking will cause you to miss out on potentially useful players. In some leagues you might have avoided Jon Garland coming into the 2010 season based on a lousy 4.8 K9 and a 4.68 xFIP. But strikeouts accumulate and pitching in Petco was almost certain to improve his ERA. Those that took a chance lucked into not just a 3.47 ERA but also slightly better strikeouts stats as Garland posted 6.12 K9 last season. Garland may not be a great pitcher but in the right ballpark he can post a decent ERA. In most leagues ERA is the category that counts, not FIP or tERA.

Players do not have to be great or even good by modern evaluation standards to be very useful, even great fantasy players. In the last few weeks I've read a hundred different writers trash shortstop Alcides Escobar. They point out his lack of power and the fact that he doesn't walk much as his weaknesses but they fail to speak to his strengths. Escobar is an excellent contact hitter and a superior base stealer. Facts are his walk rate is improving and hitting near the top of the Royals lineup will probably be much more comfortable for him.

I spoke to a friend about Escobar last night. I said the Brewers made a mistake last season (I may have said it more colorfully) not allowing Escobar to run at will when he reached base. My friend quipped about his lack of on-base skills. I told him that the worst thing you can do to young players is to make them change their offensive style when they aren't ready. Especially the ones with an Escobar-like profile, they start trying to hit doubles, triples and homers because they know that they have a permanent Red Light.

So be certain you're getting the whole story and not skimming past the part that might reveal hidden fantasy baseball gold.