Monday, April 09, 2012
Omar Infante has three more homers than GianCarlo Stanton. Are you seriously worried that ol' Mike will not blast his 30 homers?
Jason Heyward may not have a great average just yet but he has a hit in two out of three starts and a .333 OBP despite a .200 batting average.
Did Mariano Rivera suddenly forget how to pitch? Lots of closers start slowly because they do not get enough innings in Spring Training. Despite the disaster start to his season, CC Sabathia was thisclose to getting a win anyway.
Alright, so the Oakland Athletics have panicked a little, designating Brandon Allen after less than a week. But how much could you possibly have invested in Allen? Not much I hope. Daric Barton is hardly a massive upgrade in any case.
Sometimes it is not just poor performance but the overwhelming desire to make moves. Maybe you miss out on a hot start or a chance to grab a youngster on the cheap. But with patience you may find that you get the chance to reserve an Allen and pickup a Kirk Nieuwenhuis and own both, rather than lose a slow-starting James Loney for the privilege of rostering Nieuwenhuis for a couple of weeks before he is sent down again.
Remember a week ago when it seemed like Frank Francisco was going to be out of a job before the season even started? Yeah, those three saves have caused a ton of memory loss.
The San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, and Boston Red Sox will be playoff contenders until the end of the season. No need to give up on their players at this point. Okay, maybe the Red Sox won't be contenders. If you have made a bet on one of the Boston closer possibilities, do not give up on that candidate just yet. The situation is far from clear. i am including Daniel Bard in that conversation.
It looks like the Giants are going to give Brandon Belt a real opportunity this season. Do not over react to his day out of the lineup. The Giants are just getting everyone into the lineup.
Aroldis Chapman is still smokin' hot despite his lack of a real role on the pitching staff. He will force his way into an important role soon enough.
Rafael Furcal is hitting .526 after a horrible spring. It just perfectly illustrates why you cannot allow small sample sizes to rule your thinking. Oh wait, unless you think Furcal is going to hit .500 and steal 146 bases.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
I stole this idea from the Yahoo! Sports Columnists who posted their lists on Friday. This is not a top ten to draft list. This is a list of the guys I want to own in almost every draft this year. Guys I will draft far ahead of their ADP, that will I spend the extra dollar to own for the 2012 season.
Brandon McCarthy - I love Brandon McCarthy. He was always expected to be a very good MLB starter. He just kept getting hurt and when he was healthy he failed to deliver. Then he read Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game and decided he needed to get more groundballs and more strikeouts. It is a great story, but more importantly he succeeded. Oklahoma City pitching coach, Terry Clark, helped him make a mechanical change.
Watching video of McCarthy's extreme overhand motion, Clark realized that the pitcher's arm was pronating at the moment of delivery, and the pressure was twisting his scapula. "It was really ugly," says Clark. "He's lucky his scapula was the only thing that broke." Clark had McCarthy drop down to a more natural three-quarter arm angle, like Halladay's. McCarthy's whole motion became a study in minimalism. Less right arm, more back leg. No more falling off the mound toward first base.Do what it take to grab this guy while you still can. He has greatly improved skills, mechanics that should help him stay healthier in addition to helping him get more outs. There seem to be very few believers out there. Maybe because you thought the Athletics had traded their best starter away. They didn't.
B.J. Upton - I loved him as a prospect and he disappointed and I avoided him for a few years. However, it looks like he has begun to put things together. He finished the 2011 season impressively, with what seemed to be a better approach. This comes as he approaches Free Agency for the first time. A contract year, improved skills and a better approach come together for a career year.
Alex Gordon - Despite his obvious improvement at the end of the 2010 season and his breakout 2011 season, Gordon is still being drafted later than he should. Maybe it has something to do with being one of the older young guys on the Kansas City Royals. It could be that his initial disappointments have turned potential owners off. Either way, I think he will hit for a great batting average, 25-30 homers and 20 steals.
Logan Morrison - The knee injury this spring is annoying but not dissuading me from drafting him. I see a player who has the skills to hit .300 and the power to blast 30 homers out of any park. Morrison ran into some bad luck with the broken hand in 2009 (which sapped his power in 2010) and the unfair demotion last season. He only needs to get a full season of at-bats to reach 30 homers, with some skill improvement it could be more. He hits like Joey Votto and you can get him 10 rounds later in a lot of drafts.
Curtis Granderson - Everyone is assuming that Granderson won't repeat his amazing 2011 season. Maybe he won't. I see an already great player in his prime who took some advice from a great batting coach that allowed him to tap into his full potential. I think a 30/30 season is a cinch. In my eyes he is more likely to go 50/50 than Matt Kemp.
Rex Brothers - I am absolutely certain you have heard about Kenley Jansen. You have at least read (if not been convinced) that Jansen will at some point snatch the closer job of the Los Angeles Dodgers away from Javy Guerra, who has done nothing to lose his job at this point.
Rex Brothers has every ounce of ability that Jansen has and is as likely (if not more so) to take the Colorado Rockies closer job from Rafael Betancourt. Betancourt has been a great reliever for a long time. He has been given the opportunity to close in the past and has always blown it. Maybe that's just coincidence or maybe it is a lack of guile or something.
Alexi Casilla - Maybe you have forgotten the lofty expectations once placed on Casilla's shoulders. Between disappointing seasons and injuries, it is easy to understand why you may not even have him on your cheat sheet. He dominated in the Dominican Winter League, batting .336 (runner-up for the batting title) and as of Sunday he was batting .357 in the Grapefruit League. He says he is in a better mental state than last season and his confidence is soaring. If he can stay healthy I expect great things.
He isn't afraid to take a walk and is an excellent contact hitter. He has more discipline at the plate than you may realize. He rarely swings at pitches out the strike zone and again, makes excellent contact. That and his speed is a recipe for a better batting average and with some BABIP luck I think he could hit over .300 this season. In a neutral park he could probably hit ten homers, but we'll be happy with whatever he provides as long as he comes through with the 30 steals. Draft him as your MI and reap the benefits.
Jed Lowrie - This is a tough player to evaluate because of the injuries and the variety of skills he has shown and then not shown at different times. He has looked like an above average defensive player, he has also looked like a below average defensive player. He has shown the ability to hit for power and to hit for average. He is a very intelligent player, he just finished his degree in political science from Stanford University. Unfortunately, injuries have sucked up a lot of the time he should have been developing into one of the better fantasy shortstops in the game.
The good news is that Lowrie is still just 26-years old and just entering his prime years. He is finally healthy coming into the 2012 season. He has swung a hot bat this swing - batting .348/.464/.609 as of yesterday. He fouled a ball off his foot and will miss just one game that he was not likely to travel for anyway. I think he'll hit for a strong batting average, get on base a ton and slug 20-plus homers. That is an awesome return on a late-round shortstop.
Luke Hochevar - The pedigree is first rate. He was expected to be an ace. A real ace, not just the number one starter by default. He has shown us flashes in the past and then failed to deliver the following season. Check out these numbers from after the All Star Break - 79.1 IP, 3.52 ERA, .222 BAA, 68 strikeouts, 24 walks and 6-3 record in 12 starts. That may not be an ace but it is a massive improvement. You can draft him extremely late so the risk is minimal.
Jason Heyward - Last but not even close to least is The New Kid, Jason Heyward. The 2011 season was obviously a disaster for the young Atlanta Brave. Few realize that Heyward first hurt his shoulder in April, he played through it but re-aggravated it and even though his numbers sunk he kept trying to play through it. Probably because he did not like how he had been labeled injury-prone after the 2010 season. The shoulder injury warped his swing and he got into bad habits and finally with everything out of whack he was sat on the bench to watch someone else do his job.
This off-season he changed his diet, improved and increased his workouts and came into camp a lean mean machine. He worked hard with the team coaches and Chipper Jones to get his swing back and they think they have it. He struggled the first two weeks of the Spring season (as did most of the Braves) but has hit a couple of massive blasts since the team started winning spring games. He can hit for average and power and steal bases. He is in a solid lineup and he is a crucial cog. I love him a lot, at least more than you.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Maybe, they all seem great to me. But I'm having fun watching the game this year. Really enjoying baseball. The Boston Red Sox are fighting their way back to a .500 winning percentage, a feat never accomplished by a team starting 0-6. But we all knew they were better than this. Their starters got off to a rough start but have been lights out lately. Dice-K Matsuzaka has been great in his last couple of starts, truly great, great like the hype said he would be five years ago. The starter that hasn't really come on as expected is Clay Buchholz. But we knew he was not quite what he seemed to be last season. Too much of that bad start is being credited to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and too much credit for the resurgence has gone to Jason Varitek. If you can afford to hold on to Salty, I would do it. Kevin Youkilis is hitting but not at the levels we know he can reach. Carl Crawford is slumping but has shown signs of emerging lately, he's way too good to give up on.
The Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians are shocking a lot of baseball fans with their hard-fought wins and losses. The Tribe's Jack Hannahan (an unlikely starter at third base by most reckonings) hit two homers last night against those Royals and their staff's number one starter Luke Hochevar. Hochevar has been a mixed bag this season. He has a decent whip but his era is a bit high at this point. Stick with him if you have nothing to lose or you can stash him against certain teams. But he is the kind of pitcher that will frustrate you over the course of the season. I have my eye on every player these two teams call up, because their best players have yet to arrive.
A ton of great players haven't really hit their rhythm yet. Albert Pujols has shown signs of breaking through his funk lately only to suffer a mild hamstring pull. Josh Hamilton is injured (again) and after a great start Nelson Cruz is slowing down a bit more than we like to see. Mark Teixeira also tried to break his slow start trend but hasn't really delivered the batting average. But it could be worse...
The Most Disappointing Ten (by fWAR) Thus Far
1. Raul Ibanez OF Phillies - He's losing at-bats to John Mayberry Jr.
2. Carl Crawford OF Red Sox - He'll be fine.
3. Aubrey Huff 1B/OF Giants - Is he back to that every odd year thing?
4. Juan Pierre OF White Sox - So much for speed never slumping...
5. Alex Rios OF White Sox - Now you know why the ChiSox are struggling to score runs...
6. James Loney 1B Dodgers - The man Jerry Sands will eventually force to be traded.
7. Chris Johnson 3B Astros - I'm shocked.
8. Miguel Tejada SS Giants - No, he doesn't have much left but he's still better than this.
9. Nick Markakis OF Orioles - He'll probably never be what we hoped, but trade for him now.
10. Brett Gardner OF Yankees - Supposedly his swing is messed up. I'm a little worried.
and so we're not dwelling on the negative...
The Best of the Best Thus Far... (another Top Ten by fWAR)
1. Jose Bautista 3B Blue Jays - Now do you believe?
2. Joey Votto 1B Reds - MVP, MVP, MVP!
3. Troy Tulowitski SS Rockies - I thought those picking him 2nd overall would be disappointed, opps...
4. Matt Holliday OF Cardinals - "I don't need no damn rehab games or time off!"
5. Howie Kendrick 2B Angels - Finally!
6. Ryan Braun OF Brewers - Already rewarded with a new contract. Groundball hitter...HAH!
7. Curtis Granderson OF Yankees - Ok, coach you fixed Grandy but you screwed up Jeter and Gardner!
8. Colby Rasmus OF Cardinals - This might be the season he puts it all together.
9. Matt Kemp OF Dodgers - I never doubted you, buddy!
10. Andre Ethier OF Dodgers - Outfielders are ready, just need an owner.
In case you care, I've not been well lately. Nothing tragic, but I've been exhausted. Too much so to do much more than work my crazy stressful day job and deal with my four hours of commuting back and forth. I hope you've enjoyed reading Pauly and Lucky's work, I'm praying they'll stick around. But this site isn't going anywhere but up and to better places in the future.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
1. Mark Teixeira -- If you have played fantasy baseball at all in the past few years, you know what Teix is capable of doing after the all-star break (which is coming up on July 12). In 2009, he hit .313 after the break and raised both his on-base and slugging percentages significantly. In 2008, the first- and second-half differences were even more dramatic -- he went from batting .271 to .366; slugged nearly 200 points higher (.656 vs. 484) and raised his OBP from .373 to .464. Now is the time to make a play for Teix -- and you are hoping his owner can't take another day of his .230 average so far this season.
2. Derrek Lee -- Lee had an enormous second half last season; and while he is only batting .233 right now (not nearly as good as the .280 first half he posted last season), he posted a .336 average with a .656 slug and .436 OBP after the break in 2009. His current BABIP (Batting average on balls in play) is just .275 -- well below his career mark of .321. So, has Lee just been a bit unlucky this season, or has his career turned the downhill corner? My guess is the former. Buy.
3. Mark Reynolds -- Reynolds has improved in the second half in two of the last three seasons, and his career second-half batting average is 10 points higher than first-half. He is another player whose BABIP this season is way below his career mark (currently he is at .271, and his career number is .333). Give his second-half improvement in past years, I would expect his luck to change.
4. Jorge Cantu -- After a red-hot start to the season, Cantu has been plugging along at a snail's pace in the RBI and batting average department. He is batting .210 in June with just 9 RBIs -- just for comparison's sake, he had a .311 average and 23 RBI in April. And yeah, his slugging has fallen dramatically in that span, from .567 at the end of April to the .432 it stands at today. The good news is that Cantu improved slightly in the second half in 2009, and I think a shake-up a the helm in Florida is going to spur him on for the second half this year. This one is more of a gut-feeling pick than the others that are based more in numbers; however, Cantu's BABIP is 21 points below his career average -- so there's that.
5. Adam Lind -- It is much more difficult to predict players that haven't been around all that long. His career splits indicate that he is a much better second-half player, but most of that was determined by the enormous season he posted last year. So what is Lind, who has a .205 BA, just 9 HR and 34 RBI doing wrong? Well first of all, he just may have been pressing -- really hard -- in the first half, trying to reproduce the magic of last season. Toronto has tried to ease the pressure by moving Lind down in the lineup (this week), and he responded by hitting his first homer since May. Cito Gaston says Lind and fellow struggling teammate Aaron Hill (who was moved to sixth in the order) will stay down there until they get hot. His BABIP is .244 so far as opposed to the .323 he had last season -- there must be some middle ground to be had here. It might be risky, but it is probably a cheap enough chance to take.
Honorable Mention: Matt Wieters -- I can't use the numbers to back me up, since he is only in his second season, but his second half last year was awesome. He is only hitting .203 in June, so his slump is for real -- let's see if his second half last year was too.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
2010 Baseball Forecaster
- BaseballHQ.com has become the standard to which all fantasy sites must compare themselves. They revolutionized fantasy analysis before sabermetrics became so popular. The Forecaster is the annual guide that includes projections for major leaguers and minor leaguers, strategy ideas, advanced pitcher evaluations, and thought-provoking articles that will leave you pondering new ways to think about baseball players and the ways they perform. This is a must have for every serious owner.
Baseball America 2010 Prospect Handbook
- Many owners in leagues without farm systems think that they can do without books like this. Perhaps they can, but not if they truly want to be the best at what they do. BA's Prospect Handbook is (as it says in the subtitle) the comprehensive guide to baseball's rising stars from the definitive source on prospects. No one does it better. There are plenty of prospect websites and publications that do good work but in my opinion they work best as compliments to this handbook. It includes organization reports on every major league team, and scouting reports on the top 30 prospects in every organization. In serious fantasy leagues you need to know not only who today's players are but who tomorrow's stars will be. I use it almost everyday of the season. I would be lost without it.
Baseball Prospectus 2010
- When you are really playing Advanced Fantasy Baseball, it is essential that you have a deep understanding of all the major league teams and how and why they do the things they do. Nothing you can buy will increase your understanding as this gigantic book will. I have the Prospectus, the Forcaster, and the Prospect Handbook next to me as I research players, write my articles, and answer e-mails. The Prospectus has long reports on every team as well as scouting reports on all the major leaguers and most of the minor leaguers worth mentioning. It is the size of a phonebook but you'll read it in a week or so. Every page is filled with knowledge and a sense of humor that makes this one of my favorites reads of the year.
The RotoJunkie.com Message Board - This site is where some of the best fantasy players on the planet go to hang out and share their thoughts. Many experts visit these pages and offer their opinions on what's going on in baseball and the fantasy sports industry. Further, members (it is entirely free by the way) can post their rosters and receive keeper advice, trade advice, and opinions on players 24 hours a day. You can find me there posting as Bigjonempire.
FanGraphs.com - When I want to understand a player's performance this is where I go. You will find all the basic stats, advanced stats, batted ball stats, defensive stats, plate discipline stats, pitch type stats, and good looking graphs for almost everything. But that is just part of it. You also find the same stats for teams and sortable lists and stats for every minor league as well as the major leagues. On top of all this valuable information are two blogs that have become regular reads for me - the Fangraphs Blog, and the RotoGraphs Blog. I do not always agree with their analysis but the thought process is always interesting and worth reading. This is a great community for those into advanced statistics or trying to learn more about them. I am on this site daily.
Fantasy Pros 911 - If you are anything like me, you could not possibly read enough fantasy articles. Fantasy Pros 911 covers every fantasy sport year round. They have a large roster of professional writers including Lenny Melnick one of the original (and still the greatest) fantasy experts. Lenny's podcasts are a must listen, every morning. I recently realized just how much I was missing by being just a casual listener. learn from my mistake and make Fantasy Pros 911 one of your regular stops.
ProjectProspect.com - This site is the perfect compliment to your prospect guide and it is entirely free. This site has a group of writers who are not only obsessed with prospects but also into fantasy baseball. They publish prospect rankings year round. They have an invaluable youtube.com channel where you can see video of the prospects you are researching. They get access to the players and interview them for bits of news on the injuries and mechanical adjustments that just does not often find its way into the mainstream media. Check out this site and their great forum everyday and you will find it incredibly easy to keep up with the happenings in minor league baseball.
Baseball Team Blogs - It is nearly impossible for a person with a job and a family (that they care about being with) to follow the nitty gritty of every team in the kind of detail that we would like. So why not let the people who are most obsessed with their favorite teams do most of the work for you? Obviously not every team blog is created equal. Some blogs have clearly risen above the others and you can find links to many of them in the sidebar of this blog's main page. Some of my favorite blogs are The Newberg Report (Rangers), USS Mariner, Drunk Jays Fans, Let's Go Tribe, and Only Baseball Matters (Giants). Look for the blogs that post regularly and that seem to understand the organization as a whole, rather than obsessing over a particular player or two. If I could only have one resource on this list I'd pick the blogs. Every site in my sidebar is worth checking out.
MLB Depth Charts - It can be impossible to keep up with team rosters, especially during Spring Training (when it happens to be most important). This is why I like having someone do it for me. The guys at MLB Depth Charts have a knack for keeping the rosters for every Major League team in order.
Rotoworld.com's Player News - I am not a fan of their analysis (especially in the news blurbs) but the actual news blurbs themselves are invaluable. There is no better site for tracking the injuries, the transactions, and the events both major and minor that have an impact on our fantasy seasons. Checking in everyday is well worth it.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Owner's Edge is a premiere site that charges a membership few in order to access their articles. But Paul was good enough to post his lists on the RotoJunkie Forums for people to see and comment upon. Here is the outfielder list, check out RotoJunkie and OwnersEdge for the others.
1. Matt Kemp
2. Ryan Braun
3. Carl Crawford
4. Jacoby Ellsbury
5. Grady Sizemore
6. Matt Holliday
7. Ichiro Suzuki
8. Carlos Beltran
9. Bobby Abreu
10. Justin Upton
11. Jason Bay
12. Adam Dunn
Monday, May 25, 2009
- Know as much about the other owner and his team as possible. You should be checking in with the other teams in your league at least once a week anyway but especially when you are being offered a trade or seeking a trade. You want to measure what the trade would do for your trading partner as well as what it would do for your roster. In which categories will they gain or lose ground? Are they trading from strength? Are they looking desperate?
- Try using the telephone. These days everyone may have an e-mail address but that does not mean that they check it as frequently as you might. Find out how the owner you are dealing with likes to discuss things. Instant messenger and e-mail are great but they lack the personal feeling that a telephone conversation has. It is much easier to decline a trade sent by e-mail. But many people find it very hard to say no to someone who has presented their case in a well-reasoned yet concise phone presentation. Trust me, I used to be that telemarketer that convinced you to support the Special Olympics or the politician of the month for much too long. Remember to prepare your sales pitch ahead of time. You want to want to sound as confident s possible that this is a good deal for both teams. Finish with phrases that provoke a yes or no answer, such as "sounds good, doesn't it", "wouldn't you like to have (the player in question) on your team?" and you'll be that much closer to a deal.
- Improve another team to help your own. You may look at your league's standings and discover that you have more points between you and a championship than you can gain on your own. Rather than resign yourself to finishing second or worse look at trades you might make to bring your rival back to the pack. If your rival can be caught in saves by another league member that won't catch you in the standings, consider trading a closer to that owner and costing your rival a point in saves.
- Do a thorough check on the health and performance of the players involved in a deal. You do not want to be caught trading for David Ortiz not knowing that his production is way off the norm. Or trading for closer Kevin Gregg without realizing how poorly he has pitched. You might think you received a great deal on Rafael Furcal until you realize that his back problems have resurfaced and he's losing playing time to Juan Castro of all people. These are all extreme examples but you get the idea.
- Get a second opinion. Sometimes we're so attached to certain players or so covetous of others that we can't judge a deal properly. Or maybe you're having a hard time pulling the trigger for whatever reason. This is where your friends come in handy. If all your friends/advisors are in the same league you can always call on me. IM:bigjonempire, e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org, send me a twitter message @bigjonwilliams, or even call me on Skype -- bigjonempire ( I can't promise to monitor this route much but you can occasionally catch me this way). If time is of the essence send me an e-mail with your phone number and I'll call you right back.
- If you get an offer you don't like, don't freak out, just make a counter offer. I read about poor reactions to trade offers all the time. Reacting with anger or any excess emotion over a bad offer is really just a waste of time. It also creates bad will with an owner who may have just honestly misjudged the value of a player. If you present a counter offer you create a dialogue which could lead to a trade that is much better than the one you refused. But don't try to out bad offer him, suggest a fair trade that would actually help your team and his. You may end up making your league stronger by doing this.
- You'll usually get more by making several small trades then you will in one big one. This is especially true when you're in rebuilding mode. You can squeeze an extra minor leaguer or a draft pick or some FAAB dollars out of each owner you deal with and come out way ahead of what one owner could ever (even if he wanted to) give you on his own.
- The Superstars are expensive, often the everyday player without the hype comes much cheaper and can be just as effective. Joe Nathan and Mariano Rivera will cost you a fortune in most leagues but Ryan Franklin and Brad Ziegler come much cheaper. Far too often when owners decide they need an offense upgrade they look to make a trade for Miguel Cabrera or David Wright and they end up making just a small upgrade at best. But if they went after guys like Russell Branyan or Mike Lowell they would have to part with much less for a still significant upgrade.
- Concern yourself with the end result more than the price. You may think giving up a certain keeper for a collection of players you would never keep is madness. However, if that collection of players would guarantee you a championship it would be a very small price to pay.
- Trust your gut feelings. If your gut told you that Phil Hughes was gonna be great this season you should have held on to him for more than two starts (okay, I'm talking to myself here). Especially when you're selling him low. Seriously, if you have a bad feeling about a deal DO NOT MAKE IT! You will feel like crap when you discover you were right.
Is the LIMA Plan really a viable strategy?
Another Side of Kerouac: The Dharma Bum as Sports Nut
Friday, April 10, 2009
There is a group of players in every league that always comes undervalued. In a lot of my leagues it is the unsexy ones. The over 30, never a superstar but always productive crowd. These players are always relatively easy to acquire and in fact they are probably offered to you often in trade for your most sexy players ( the guys you would need a ton before you parted with). The irony is that these are often players that were once considered very sexy.
- Randy Winn
- Mike Cameron
- Jose Guillen
- David DeJesus
- Kevin Kouzmanoff
- Jermaine Dye
- Mark Buehrle
- Jim Thome
- Kevin Gregg
- Casey Blake
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
- Emilio Bonifacio hits an inside-the-park homerun and steals three bases.
- Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia had two hits and three RBI, including a homerun.
- Aside from the ten hits allowed (including a homerun) Cliff Lee looks to be in mid-season form.
- Felipe Lopez and Tony Clark both became the first players ever to hit Opening Day homeruns from both sides of the plate.
- Daniel Murphy hit a homerun, while the Mets bullpen backed up Johan Santana.
- The best player in baseball went 2-for-3 with a grand slam and five RBI. (That's Hanley Ramirez NOT Alex Rodriguez, who has probably been less than the best for a few years now).
- Damn, if Seth Smith doesn't look like the new Matt Holliday with a homerun and a stolen base.
- I am positive that the Ryan Franklin owners were happy to see Jason Motte blow his first save opportunity.
- Matt Kemp gave us another sign that his power is immense and 30 homeruns are coming this season, by hitting a shot out of the deepest part of Petco Park.
- The Toronto Blue Jays fans got a nice look at the future when Adam Lind and Travis Snider both hit Opening Day homers.
Honorable Mention: Ken Griffey Jr. homered; Nick Johnson is still healthy; Carlos Zambrano looks healthy; Jeremy Hermida continued his hot hitting; The Baltimore Orioles may not be the pushovers the other members of the AL East are hoping.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I usually avoid the top ten lists that you see on most fantasy sites. This is primarily because I find there is very little value in a list of players without scouting reports or evaluations of some kind that let the reader know why "Player A" is listed ahead of "Player B". This is why I have zero problem with suggesting you read this very interesting comparison between the Top 100 Outfielder lists of The Sporting News and Fanball.com fantasy baseball magazines and the list of my friend Paul Sporer of Baseball By Paul.
A small sample:
Now just for the hell of it, my top 15 outfielders. I won't allow you to hold me to it in drafts because it changes frequently but this is what it looks like right now.
The Milledge difference seems to be a stark difference of opinion. My love for Milledge in 2009 could start reaching Jason Collette-Nelson Cruz levels by the spring. Meanwhile, fanball is less than impressed with the budding outfielder. The accompanying capsule for Milledge said they were put off by his streakiness which isn’t a totally unfair critique. It’s easier for me to overlook the month-to-month swings since I play roto leagues almost exclusively. If he avoids the slow start he had in 2008 and doesn’t miss an entire as he did last July, I can’t see how he doesn’t show growth in 2009.
The Tattooed Titan, Josh Hamilton, fell pretty deep in their top 20. I remember thinking I might have been overrating him at six and it seems that the fanball guys would seem to say I did in fact. However, if they look at my rating of sixth among outfielders and think I was generous compared to their 18 slotting, I wonder what they thought of Yahoo!’s Brandon Funston rating him ninth OVERALL on his initial Big Board of 2009.
1. Grady Sizemore - You can't go too wrong starting with 40/40
2. Ryan Braun - Everyone's favorite slugger steals a few bases too
3. BJ Upton - A 30/30 season would not shock me, in fact I expect one
4. Matt Kemp - This is the guy I want in every draft this season
5. Josh Hamilton - Others may doubt him, but I have faith he'll deserve this ranking
6. Matt Holliday - The change of teams won't be a problem
6. Carl Crawford - One injury-marred season after a long string of great ones
8. Carlos Beltran - Always better than expected
9. Carlos Lee - A stud slugger, in a great ballpark
10. Jason Bay - Fenway and the Red Sox lineup are big positives
11. Nick Markakis - Only a dozen stolen bases keep him from the top five
12. Curtis Granderson - He could very well be number one in 2010
13. Shane Victorino - He could have a 20/40 season this year
14. Ichiro Suzuki - Another boring .330, 50 stolen base season
15. Manny Ramirez - The decline is coming but he isn't done yet
Sunday, January 04, 2009
Every season owners in keeper leagues spend weeks if not much longer agonizing over which players on their rosters should be kept. Should they keep just the huge bargains or is a $45 Alex Rodriguez or $31 CC Sabathia too good to pass up? How do you decide? Every league is going to be different. In some leagues a $31 Sabathia is a huge bargain, in others it is the height of stupidity. Today I give you ten criterion to consider as you struggle through these decisions.
- Was it a fluke? A fluke could be a great season or a lousy one. Look at the player's progression over the last few seasons. Does the last season fit in that progression? I like to look at BB percentage, K percentage, GB/LD/FB percentages, HR/FB and BABIP for hitters. For pitchers K/9, BB/9, GB/LD/FB percentage, BABIP, and FIP. These are the factors in a players performances that are usually consistent from season to season. If they are a young player making steady gains then a great season can be expected. If their rates have been steady and were basically the same during a disastrous (or wondrous) season there is reason to believe the performance could have been a fluke.
- Would the player help you more from the Draft Pool? A $28 Josh Hamilton may not seem like much of a bargain on the surface. But if your league has significant inflation and Hamilton is certain to cost $40-45 or even more if you let him go, then be becomes a serious candidate to be kept, traded, or placed back in the pool. If you don't like his price compared to his expected performance then a trade should be attempted. Remember, just because you don't like a guy doesn't mean that others will not. Try to get his inflated value in a trade. Placing the player back in the pool can also be a good option if you believe he will be overbid. If one of your oppoenents will spend 15-20 dollars more than you believe a player will be worth that gives you an advantage over that owner (assuming that you're right).
- Is the player acually good or just cheap? Your five dollar outfielder may typically earn five dollars but that doesn't mean he's worth keeping. One of the most valuable commodities you have are your roster spots. You should be attempting to fill each and every spot with as much value as possible. To commit to a player with an extremely limited ceiling robs you of the chance to find a significant bargain at the end of your draft. Every season in every league there are players who come out of nowhere to become fantasy studs. If you keep every Willie Bloomquist you have at value you rob yourself of the chance to roster late round bargains like the 2008 versions of outfielder Carlos Quentin, starter Cliff Lee, or catcher Kelly Shoppach.
- Could you throw the player back and get him for the same price? In most leagues there is a limit to how long you can keep a player. If a player would basicly go for the same price that you have on him now, why not re-draft him and keep him longer. You might get him cheaper if he's called out at the right moment. By the same token he could end up going for more if you've read the market incorrectly. But if the player is someone you like long term it could be worth it for a longer term of service.
- Who else is available? You could own a perfectly fine shortstop but if there are several vastly superior options and you clog your only available shortstop slot you'll be cutting yourself off from any potential bargains. It is a good idea to keep your roster flexible so if for some unexplainable reason the bidding on Troy Tulowitzki stops at $7 you can pounce all over it.
- What does your budget look like in relation to the players you need? If you are spending 60 percent of your budget do you alsoH have at least 60 percent of the production you need to win the league? Can you get the remaining 40 percent that you need with what you have left? One of the things I always do before declaring my keepers is to calculate how much of the value I need is provided by my keepers. I'm usually not satisfied with 40 percent of my budget for 40 percent of my needs. So I tend to throw back players that are not bargains, even if they are at value. The exception being players at the top of the position rankings - I'lll keep an at value Joe Mauer, Chase Utley, David Wright and so forth but not an at value Derek Jeter, Trevor Hoffman or Bobby Abreu. The point is to pack as much value on your keeper list as possible balanced with keeping as many of your resources available for the auction as possible.
- Are the types of players you need available? In keeper leagues the player pool can take strange turns. There could be just one available closer and only one or two top tier outfielders. If that is the case you might need to keep a mediocre closer or alter your strategy to avoid closers altogether at the auction. Maybe the pool is woefully short on power. You may need to keep a slightly overpriced A-Rod to ensure you reach the stats you need. It is vital that you compare the needs of your team to the players available in the auction. If there are too few options you may have to make some changes to your keeper list or to your auction strategy.
- Who are your opponents keeping? You need to know who is in the player pool in order to make the best decisions on your keeper list. To do this you have to guess who your rivals are keeeping. In one of my leagues I've known owners to just call and ask. Usually I don't mind sharing this information to an extent. I tell the players I'm considering keeping and let them narrow it down themselves -- of course assuming that they'll do the same for me. This will help you figure out not just who is in the player pool but also what they might cost. This is extremely valuable knowledge.
- How much is the inflation in your league? Calculating a rough estimate of the inflation in your league before keepers are declared can give you edge on the rest of the league. It will help you figure out what the players in the pool will cost while you still have the ability to alter your keeper list.
- Can you win with this as your core? Your keeper list needs to provide you with a base of stats you can build on. This isn't the time to take chances. You look for upside in the auction. You need your keeper list to be as full of sure things as possible. However, just because Joe Blow expert with the magazine article doesn't like a guy doesn't mean that he isn't a sure thing, if you believe that he is. But you need to be honest about the size of the risk you are taking. If the player in question only costs a buck and you aren't keeping him ahead of anyone better then that should be fine. But if the player in question cost $22 and he has yet to experience major league success and nothing but a hunch suggests that he can this season, you need to look at things again.