March 2008

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Fantasy Mailbag At Hardball Times

This week's fantasy mailbag is up at Hardball Times.

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A Look At Chris Snyder

Longtime reader finite24 has been talking up Chris Snyder quite a bit recently, and the Arizona catcher deserves a closer look.

I have the 27 year-old hitting .252-14-54-44-0 in 375 ABs, a $3.64 value.  That's about what he did in '07 except for a few less ABs.  Let's dig a bit deeper though.

  • Snyder hit .262-10-37-25-0 in the season's final three months (221 ABs).  It makes you wonder if .262-20-74-50-0 is possible; that'd be worth $10.
  • There are signs Bob Melvin might move Snyder up from the eight-hole in the lineup.
  • Snyder is clearly ahead of Miguel Montero on the depth chart this year.  Plus, Montero is a bit behind this year because of a broken finger.
  • Snyder's hitting .342/.419/.842 with five homers this spring in 38 ABs.  That's .455 above his career SLG of .387, which indicates he will have a better than normal season.
  • It's hard not to like Snyder; he's flying under the radar and is a fine endgame catcher.

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Roundtable: Catcher Strategy

I recently contributed to a fantasy baseball roundtable on the subject of catcher strategy.  This was the question:

Is it important to get a top 5 catcher, or do you prefer waiting until rounds 15+? After Victor Martinez and Russell Martin, what catchers should go next and when? What catchers should be targeted late?

I was surprised to see that most of the other contributors did not agree with me on this topic.  What do you think?

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Leadoff Hitters

Today let's take a look at each team's projected leadoff hitter.

Updated 3-25-08 at 8:40am

American League

Baltimore Orioles - Brian Roberts (if not traded), Adam Jones.  I talked to the Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec about this one.  He was of the opinion that the Orioles' new second baseman or shortstop (say Felipe Lopez or Ronny Cedeno) might get the gig if Roberts is dealt.  Otherwise he thought Dave Trembley could try Jones for lack of a better option.

Boston Red Sox - Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Julio Lugo.  So as not to push pressure on Ellsbury, he'll start at the bottom.

Chicago White Sox - Jerry Owens, Nick Swisher.  Another unsettled situation.  Owens would need to win the left field job for this to make sense. 

Cleveland Indians - Grady Sizemore.  Ah, an easy one.

Detroit Tigers - Curtis Granderson (if healthy), Edgar Renteria, Ivan Rodriguez.  Another straightforward one, at least when Grandy comes back in late April.

Kansas City Royals - David DeJesus.  Not much competition here.

Minnesota Twins - Carlos Gomez.  I really don't know how this one plays out, with all of last year's leadoff hitters out of the picture.

New York Yankees - Johnny Damon.  This one's set.

Los Angeles Angels - Chone Figgins, Gary Matthews Jr.  This situation is not set in stone, but the #2 slot is now free with Orlando Cabrera gone.

Oakland Athletics - Travis Buck.  Completely a guess; Shannon Stewart is gone now.

Seattle Mariners - Ichiro Suzuki.  No questions here.

Tampa Bay Rays - Akinori Iwamura.  He had the gig last year, and could surprise with 100 runs.

Texas Rangers - Ian Kinsler.  Other options exist, but the Rangers' tentative plan seems to try Kinsler exclusively at leadoff.

Toronto Blue Jays - David Eckstein, Shannon StewartReed Johnson's out of the picture, Eckstein's in.

National League

Arizona Diamondbacks - Chris Young, Eric Byrnes.  Haven't heard anything Young losing the gig, despite the subpar OBP last year.

Atlanta Braves - Kelly Johnson.  KJ could have a huge year.

Chicago Cubs - Ryan Theriot, Kosuke Fukudome.  Theriot has the job, unless Lou moves Alfonso Soriano back or the Cubs acquire Roberts.  But you never know with Lou, who recently proposed the (smart) idea of "Fooky" batting first.

Cincinnati Reds - Corey Patterson, Scott Hatteberg.  Dusty tried this before with C-Patt and it didn't work.  Maybe I'm wrong on this guess. 

Colorado Rockies - Willy Taveras - All Willy's if he's healthy.  Otherwise, maybe Scotty Po.

Florida Marlins - Hanley Ramirez.  Status quo for Fredi Gonzalez.

Houston Astros - Michael Bourn.  100 runs and 50 steals, not out of the question.

Los Angeles Dodgers - Rafael Furcal, Juan Pierre.  Big year for Furcal.

Milwaukee Brewers - Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart.  It's Weeks' job if he's healthy and hitting.

New York Mets - Jose Reyes.  Simple one.

Philadelphia Phillies - Jimmy Rollins.  Another simple one.

Pittsburgh Pirates - Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan.  McLouth could be a cheap source of HR/SB/runs.

San Diego Padres - Brian Giles.  Won't be sharing it with his brother this year.

San Francisco Giants - Dave Roberts, Randy Winn, Rajai Davis.  Depends who's playing on that day.

St. Louis Cardinals - Skip Schumaker.  Could work out if he's able to draw a walk.

Washington Nationals - Felipe Lopez, Cristian Guzman.  Not sure if Lopez will stay with the team or how often he'll start.

This post needs some work - please leave links in the comments if you can help me add info.

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What It Takes To Win: Steals

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 runs.

In looking at three years of data for my league, I've determined that 172 steals should earn you at least third place in the category.

  • That's 12.3 steals per position player.  I've got 69 players swiping this many or more.  In real life, 73 stole 12 or more bags in '07 and 56 did it in '06.  If your two catchers and your 1B swipe 9 bags total, you really need about 15 steals per player.  In other words, assemble a speedy outfield.
  • Only four players are projected to meet all benchmarks (basically hit at least .288-22-81-84-12).  Those are David Wright, Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, and Hunter Pence.  At most you'll have two of 'em.
  • I'm projecting eight 20/20 players in '08:  Hanley Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins, Chris Young, David Wright, Grady Sizemore, Corey Hart, Alfonso Soriano, and Brandon Phillips.  Relaxed to 17/17 you'll find B.J. Upton, Eric Byrnes, Matt Kemp, Ian Kinsler, Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, and Curtis Granderson.  These are the types of players I typically strive for, because it's easier to win with a balanced team.

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More Good Vibes On Furcal

As someone who has drafted Rafael Furcal early (sixth round) and often, I'm pleased to read articles like this.  So many things going for him: contract year, return to health, spring SLG more than .200 over his career mark. 

Furcal is my fifth-ranked shortstop, behind Reyes, Ramirez, Rollins, and Jeter.  But two things on that.  First, Jeter goes too early so I'd rather have Furcal.  Second, I fully expect Furcal to beat my .280-11-54-99-28 in 589 ABs projection.  Lots of people are taking Troy Tulowitzki before Furcal, and I think it's a mistake.

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What It Takes To Win: Runs

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 RBIs.

In looking at three years of data for my league, I've determined that 1185 runs should earn you at least third place in the RBI category.

  • That's 84.6 runs per position player.  I've projected 63 players to score at least this many (but no catchers will pull it off).  74 players managed it in real life in '07; 78 in '06.
  • Using previous thresholds for AVG, HR, and RBI, only 15 players reach the benchmarks in all four categories.  The latest drafted is Chipper Jones in the sixth round, and then Garrett Atkins in the fifth.
  • In another post, I'll attempt a rundown of each team's leadoff hitter.  Always a good place to look for runs.

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Who's Winning The RotoAuthority League?

Silver League participate Matt Reedy made an awesome spreadsheet projecting out the 12 RotoAuthority League teams using PECOTA as well as my own projections.  So who the hell's gonna win this thing?

  • 190 survey respondents looked at the rosters and decided it'd be a battle between Dizzy Llamas (A-Rod, Webb, Papelbon) and Ms. Behavin' (Papi, M-Cab, Verlander). 
  • PECOTA sees Santa's Magic Janitor (Reyes, Teixeira, Kazmir) running away with it, and Men With Wood (Holliday, Howard, Zambrano) getting second place.
  • My own projections shockingly see me (Wright, Carlos Lee, Haren) winning, with Santa's in second.

Using the RotoAuthority projections, here are some possible team deficiences.  Volvo Stationwagons is projected to struggle in runs, RBIs, saves, ERA, and WHIP.  Greek God Of Walks is light in HR and RBI.  Urine Troubles needs speed.  Aubrey Huff's team has AVG issues.  Santa's team is light on wins and Ks.  We'll have to look back after the season to see if these computer projections prove true.

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Odds and Ends

I've cobbled some links together for you this morning.

  • East Windup Chronicle takes a look at Internet fantasy baseball leagues - 16 years ago.
  • Science Fiction Baseball takes on our RotoAuthority projections with their WAVE projections.  In previous years, my projections looked more like these WAVE ones.  I think that was a mistake on my part.  Even if I hit on some sleepers, I also caused people (and myself) to overdraft and somewhat rely on the Mark Teahens, Scott Bakers, and Mark Ellises.  I now believe that projections should show what the player is most likely to do rather than what they could do.  Could Fukudome drive in 112 runs?  Sure.  Should you count on him doing it?  No.  I'd rather draft off the conservative projections while applying mental notes about which players I like to beat projections.  (Usually those mental notes end up as blog posts here).
  • Matt Reedy (The Rusty Kuntz in the Silver League) has used PECOTA to project the standings of both the Silver League and the RotoAuthority League.  Each spreadsheet also contains draft results by round as well as by team.  Check out the Silver League here and the RotoAuthority League here.    PECOTA likes Santa's Magic Janitor and Men With Wood to compete for the RotoAuthority title.

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2008 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: Shane Victorino

Recently a friend suggested to me that Shane Victorino looked like a pretty good sleeper.  I agreed - I've got him at .280-15-63-91-29 in 550 ABs.  Maybe not a five-category guy, but a well-rounded addition to the middle of your outfield in the eighth round.

Then I looked more closely at Victorino's 2007.  Not only did he have to battle with Jayson Werth somewhat for playing time, but a calf strain limited him to only 47 ABs in the season's final two months.  This year, it's Geoff Jenkins who will have to deal with Werth.  Victorino has center field all to himself with the departure of Aaron Rowand.

I got to wondering how Victorino might perform if he was healthy for all of '08 and performed at his '07 pace.  I'll just wipe away the final two months and look at the first four.  The result:

614 ABs
174 hits
.284 average
17 HR
63 RBI
108 Runs
48 steals
$27.09 value
10th most valuable position player; 3rd-ranked OF

Whoa!  Obviously we can't pencil Victorino in for these numbers.  But the potential for a monster fantasy season is there, and I'd advise grabbing Victorino in the seventh or eighth round of a 12 team 5x5 mixed league.  Can you think of anyone else drafted outside of the first 90 picks who could have first or second-round value this year? 

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