March 2008

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What It Takes To Win - Monthly Offense

A review of our What It Takes To Win benchmarks for a 12 team mixed league with 23-man rosters:

  • .288 AVG
  • 313 HR
  • 1141 RBIs
  • 1185 runs
  • 172 steals

In a roto league, you can dig yourself into a deep hole if you are weak in a category and wait too long to correct it.  With that in mind, I decided to throw out monthly benchmarks that you can shoot for with your offense.  This will help you gauge your strengths and weaknesses beyond just looking at the league standings.  I am going to keep it simple and just divide by sixth months.

So at the end of April, your ideal team should have these stats or better:

  • .288 AVG
  • 53 HR
  • 190 RBI
  • 198 runs
  • 29 steals

But if you really want to overdo it and micromanage, here is what a solid day would look like (dividing by 31):

  • .288 AVG
  • 2 HR
  • 6 RBIs
  • 7 runs
  • 1 steal

Seems pretty easy to do, until you have a couple zero RBI days or your team hits .089 on the day.

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2008 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: Mike Jacobs

I am digging the idea of Marlins first baseman Mike Jacobs as a solid sleeper this year.  I have the 27 year-old hitting .268-21-73-63-2 in 486 ABs, just a $0.30 value. 

  • It's not hard to see Jacobs in the $6-8 range this year.  If he got 550 ABs, couldn't he do .270-25-90-75-3?  He finished '07 with nine homers in the season's final two months.
  • A couple of points from Ron Shandler's book: Jacobs hit more flyballs and improved against lefties last year.  .530 OPS against lefties in '06; .819 in '07.
  • Jacobs should bat third for the Marlins.  The lineup still has solid hitters in Hanley Ramirez, Jeremy Hermida, Josh Willingham, and Dan Uggla.  Even Jorge Cantu could be respectable. 
  • Jacobs was undrafted in many leagues, so what do you have to lose?

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Roundtable: Markakis, Hart, Pence

This week's roundtable question:

Baseball currently has three tremendous young outfielders in Nick Markakis, Corey Hart & Hunter Pence.  Which of thse three would you prefer to have on your team for 2007?  If it was a keeper league, would that change your opinion?

Answers from me and several others can be found at Roto Professor.

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Dewan's Spring Breakouts

We've done many posts on this topic.  Today, the man himself, John Dewan, lists players whose spring SLG exceeds their career mark by .200 or more (hat tip to Rob Neyer).  We'll have to look back on this list after the season.

2008 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: Third Basemen

Sleepers, undervalued, profitable players, call 'em what you will.  In general, some guys who may not be getting enough respect in your mixed league.

  • We recently talked about Alex Gordon, who could certainly have fifth-round value this year.
  • Edwin Encarnacion looks like a slight bargain as a 15th round pick.  .290-25-90-85-10 wouldn't be out of the question.
  • Kevin Kouzmanoff in the 21st round is solid.  He could match EE's upside projection, minus the steals.  The Padres kind of need him to.
  • Josh Fields isn't necessarily chopped liver because he's starting the season in Triple A.  It's a long season, a lot can happen.  He could still get 500 ABs and hit 25 homers with 10 swipes.  Same goes for Evan Longoria, minus the swipes.  But when you see everyone going nuts over Longoria remember that guys like Fields, Mark Reynolds, and Kouz can probably match him this year.
  • Hank Blalock has plenty of upside in the 20th round. 
  • Some feel Ty Wigginton could pop 30 homers (I don't).
  • I like Chase Headley as a deep sleeper.

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What It Takes To Win: ERA

Time for another installment of  What It Takes To Win.    In this series, I examine my keeper league and determine the necessary thresholds to finish strong in each category.  I feel that my league is fairly standard: 23-man rosters, 12 teams, normal 5x5 categories.  I've got three years of data to work with, and my goal is to finish at least third in each category.  10 points times 10 categories equals 100 points, enough to win the league.  Last time I looked at steals.

In looking at three years of data for my league, I've determined that a 3.73 ERA should earn you at least third place in the category.

  • Among those with 160 innings pitched, 27 starters were at 3.73 or below in '07.  18 such starters pulled it off in '06.  I've predicted 18 to do it in '08. 
  • Jake Peavy was the only player under 3.00 in '07; Johan Santana and Roy Oswalt managed it in '06.
  • Best late-round bets for low ERAs: Tim Lincecum, Francisco Liriano, and A.J. Burnett.
  • Since your closers are almost always under 3.73, you can push it a little higher than that for a starter or two.  If you widen the net to 3.90 and below you find 15 additional starters (including low-K bargains Derek Lowe and Greg Maddux).

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Closer Depth Charts Updated

I updated the Fantasy Baseball Closers sidebar post; check it out.  It's an up-to-date closer depth chart for your reference.

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Hanley's Stock Falls Slightly

This may not matter this year.  But new Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez wants to see Hanley Ramirez exchange steals for homers in the long term.

Regarding whether Ramirez would steal 50 again, Gonzalez said, "We'll see."  I have Ramirez swiping 44, but given Gonzalez's philosophy it wouldn't be a shock to see him swipe less than 40.

This probably doesn't change your draft strategy, but if you were on the fence over Reyes vs. Hanley vs. Wright maybe it helps you decide.

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Is This The Year For Alex Gordon?

I've ranked Alex Gordon 13th among third basemen, with a .267-18-71-71-16 projection in 522 ABs.  It'd be worth $6.  Gordon's being drafted in the 12th round, 11th among 3Bs.  I don't have a big problem with this (though Kevin Kouzmanoff in the 20th could approximate his value).

This post by Rany Jazayerli explains why Gordon could have something of a breakout this year.  He makes a strong case for Gordon turning doubles into homers as a sophomore.  Suppose Gordon hits .280-25-85-85-16 - that'd put him right up there with Garrett Atkins and Aramis Ramirez!  Ahead of Chipper Jones, Ryan Zimmerman, and Adrian Beltre.  Hopefully Gordon gets off to a decent start and keeps the #3 spot in the order.

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Spot-Starting Against The Giants

It seems a major fantasy strategy this year in mixed leagues will be starting mediocre pitchers against the Giants.  Their offense looks to be flat-out terrible this year.  Last year's whipping boys, the Nationals, look improved.

The first opportunity may be Dave Bush on April 4th, the Brewers' home opener.  You could go with Carlos Villanueva the day after that.

In the AL, the Twins may be a good team to pick on this year.  Their lineup has many holes in it.

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