March 2008

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Weeks' Stock Dropping

Rickie Weeks' hand is hurting, and he's had a terrible spring.  This is a breakout pick that's gotten a bit too trendy.  He's going in the tenth round, but I've seen people reach for him much earlier. 

Los Genius snagged him in the sixth round in the RotoAuthority League (not to question Los Genius' genius).  But picked that early, Weeks really needs to deliver.  I'd rather have Aaron Harang, Robinson Cano, Matt Kemp, or Javier Vazquez, who all went later than Weeks in our league.   I have Weeks hitting .261-16-49-90-22 in 445 ABs.  That's an AB level that Weeks has yet to approach in the bigs for various reasons.  He is a pretty risky pick right now.

Here's what's going to happen.  You grab my boy Kelly Johnson in the 14th instead of Weeks (unless that jerk Santa's Magic Janitor takes him in the tenth).  You get a five category leadoff hitter in KJ.  Weeks has a craptastic month or two in '08, and people start dropping him in droves.  Then you think about picking him up and letting him hang on your bench until he starts hitting.  Weeks might have that tantalizing 30/30 ability, but he can't hit for average or stay healthy.

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Mailbag, League Meeting Place

Two things:

  • Send your mailbag questions to!  Strategy questions or queries about certain players are good, emails asking for advice for your team are not.
  • Use this thread as a meeting place to form a league with other RotoAuthority readers if you'd like.  Be sure to leave your email address with your comment. 

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The Catcher Dropoff

Sometimes a position has a clear dropoff.  Catchers are bunched up that way this year, in my opinion.  I see the five elite, and then a mixed bag of other stuff.  I hate to leave a draft without one of these five.

1. Russell Martin - .286-16-74-82-15 in 504 ABs - $23.20.  ADP: 30.88.  Martin, Joe Mauer, and perhaps J.R. Towles are the only backstops you can look to for double-digit steals.  That is one reason I'd take Martin over V-Mart - Martin provides more balance to your lineup.  Plus, Martin is only 25.  Compare this projection to his '07 numbers - I'm not calling for a repeat, but imagine if you get it!  Gravy.

2.  Victor Martinez - .297-20-93-78-0 in 546 ABs - $22.21.  ADP: 29.28.  The market says V-Mart and Martin are almost identical and value, and I have them separated by only ninety-nine cents.  If V-Mart pops 22 HRs and drives in 95 instead, he wins. And just like Martin, I'm not calling for a repeat for Martinez but his '07 shows what he can do.

3.  Joe Mauer - .309-11-71-76-9 in 492 ABs - $21.12.  ADP: 59.13.  Instead of using a very early third-round pick for one of the above two, you could roll the dice a bit and wait til the fifth.  This projection is something of a middle ground of Mauer's last two seasons.  Like Martin, it's his age 25 season and there's room for growth.  The guy won the batting title in '06.         

4.  Brian McCann - .290-20-85-62-1 in 481 ABs - $18.17.  ADP: 55.89.  If Mauer is Martin Lite, then McCann is V-Mart Lite.   Just 24, McCann knocked in 92 runs in an "off year" in '07.  The low run total kind of stinks though.

5. Jorge Posada - .284-19-78-74-2 in 466 ABs - $17.22.  ADP: 91.23.  Wow, eighth round for Posada?  To me, the lack of respect is an overcorrection.  People think, "Posada, he can't hit .338 again!  And he's old!"  So what?  A repeat of his '06 would be worth $18.98.  There is no good reason for the ADP gap between Posada and Mauer/McCann.  This is not an aggressive projection for Posada.  It is very achievable and worthy of better than the eighth round. 

After Posada there's a clear dropoff.  Soto and Towles at $12, Johjima at $11, Molina at $9, Ruiz, Pierzynski, Pudge, and Ramon Hernandez around $7.  Johjima typically kicks this tier off in the 11th round.  I see nice value for Molina and Ruiz if I stoop to this tier.  And I have to say again - why the hell is the market putting Salty in this group?  No.

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Best Picks Of The RotoAuthority League Draft

The RotoAuthority draft is in the books; in this post you'll find the rosters as well as a poll to vote for the team you think is strongest.  So far based on 144 respondents, the prevailing opinion is that Dizzy Llamas and Miss Behavin' will be battling it out for the title.

Today I'll run through what I feel were the best picks of each round of the draft.

  • Round 1: Urine Troubles takes Johan Santana with the 5th pick.  A gusty move to be sure, but a typical Johan season would likely return more value than any other player.
  • Round 2: Ms. Behavin' takes David Ortiz with the 19th pick.  Ms. Behavin' had already snagged Miguel Cabrera in the first; that's two elite four-category hitters.
  • Round 3: Dizzy Llamas takes Russell Martin with the 25th pick.  Most will say the Llamas reached here.  But I truly believe Martin is one of the 15 most valuable position players in the game.  The Llamas knew that if they wanted the game's best fantasy catcher, they needed to take him here.
  • Round 4: Philly Phliers takes C.C. Sabathia with the 45th pick.  His ADP suggested he'd be gone by the time the Phliers picked again.  To me, Sabathia is the game's third best pitcher and could provide first-round value.
  • Round 5: Greek God Of Walks takes Hunter Pence with the 60th pick.  This is right on target with Pence's ADP.  Pence is up there with Hart and Markakis for five-category outfielders.
  • Round 6: Men With Wood takes Rafael Furcal with the 64th pick.  I was going six picks later, and I definitely would've taken Furcal.  Tulo and Guillen had left the board in the previous round. I switched to Plan B and grabbed Michael Young, after which there is a massive dropoff at shortstop.
  • Round 7: Men With Wood takes Torii Hunter with the 81st pick.  Given his 58.5 ADP, Hunter is just incredible value taken here.  Not too many big-time five-category OFs hanging around after him, and he's having a big spring.  Two gutsy moves I liked in this round: Kemp at #73 by Dizzy Llamas and Lincecum at #79 by Volvo Stationwagons.  I think the Llamas knew I'd take Kemp if they didn't.
  • Round 8: Greek God Of Walks takes Javier Vazquez with the 85th pick.  A case of ignoring ADP when it was necessary.  Vazquez (rightfully) went before Carlos Zambrano in this league. 
  • Round 9: Santa's Magic Janitors takes Ryan Zimmerman with the 98th pick.  This pick caused a ripple where Beltre and Encarnacion were snagged earlier than expected to finish off the top tier 3Bs.  Nice move by Santa's, who calculated he could miss out on all three if he didn't move on Zimmerman here.
  • We'll stop there for now and pick this up tomorrow.

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2008 RotoAuthority Fantasy League Rosters Set

We drafted for the 2008 RotoAuthority Fantasy League last night.  This was one of the tougher drafts I've experienced - a lot of teams were targeting the same guys I was.  This is going to be a great battle.

You can take a look at all the rosters here  (Excel needed).  You can also learn a little about each team owner here.

My question to you is simple: which teams looks the best to you today, on March 14th?  Take the poll here; view the results here.  And leave some comments on this post! This weekend I'll assess the best pick of each round.

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When Spring Training Stats Matter Part 2

I've been obsessed lately with this John Dewan nugget:

A hitter with a positive difference between his spring training slugging percentage and his lifetime slugging percentage of .200 or more correlates to a better than normal season.

To properly study this in regards to last year's Spring Training stats, I need some more info.  Specifically, what does "better than normal" mean?  Better SLG in the season compared to the guy's career SLG?  Better SLG this season than last?  Something else?  I shot Mr. Dewan an email in hopes of getting clarification.  I'd also like to know what sample size he considers appropriate.

That said, I still ate up a bunch of time running numbers with '07 Spring Training stats.  I found 34 non-rookies whose '07 spring SLG topped their career mark through '06 by .200 or more.  I defined an improvement as an '07 SLG better than the player's '06 SLG.  I used '07 vs. career if the player didn't play in the bigs or had a tiny sample for '06.  In red, I highlighted the 11 whose regular season improvement I truly feel may be linked to their Spring Training performance.  I used a 20+ AB spring sample.

NAME ST SLG Career Diff 06 SLG 07 SLG Improve?
Eduardo Perez 0.955 0.431 0.524 0.452 DNP No
Scott Hairston 0.935 0.430 0.505 0.533 0.452 Yes
Pete Laforest 0.730 0.241 0.489 DNP 0.389 Yes
Ronny Paulino 0.833 0.395 0.438 0.394 0.389 No
Aramis Ramirez 0.851 0.493 0.358 0.561 0.549 No
Jeff Salazar 0.750 0.415 0.335 0.415 0.394 No
Khalil Greene 0.763 0.434 0.329 0.427 0.468 Yes
Reed Johnson 0.750 0.423 0.327 0.477 0.320 No
Greg Dobbs 0.672 0.351 0.321 0.556 0.451 Yes
Derrek Lee 0.809 0.500 0.309 0.474 0.513 Yes
Chone Figgins 0.697 0.393 0.304 0.376 0.432 Yes
Ryan Spilborghs 0.735 0.433 0.302 0.431 0.485 Yes
Gerald Laird 0.703 0.401 0.302 0.473 0.349 No
Brandon Phillips 0.676 0.375 0.301 0.427 0.485 Yes
Ramon Castro 0.686 0.387 0.299 0.389 0.556 Yes
John Mabry 0.706 0.407 0.299 0.324 0.235 No
Carlos Quentin 0.821 0.530 0.291 0.530 0.349 No
Raul Ibanez 0.750 0.469 0.281 0.516 0.480 No
Sammy Sosa 0.816 0.537 0.279 0.376 0.468 Yes
Josh Phelps 0.737 0.473 0.264 DNP 0.503 Yes
Barry Bonds 0.867 0.608 0.259 0.545 0.565 Yes
Brad Hawpe 0.722 0.464 0.258 0.515 0.539 Yes
Johnny Estrada 0.661 0.407 0.254 0.444 0.403 No
Jose Guillen 0.691 0.445 0.246 0.398 0.460 Yes
Bobby Abreu 0.750 0.507 0.243 0.462 0.445 No
Brian Schneider 0.629 0.386 0.243 0.329 0.336 Yes
Adrian Beltre 0.683 0.457 0.226 0.465 0.482 Yes
Adrian Gonzalez 0.700 0.475 0.225 0.500 0.502 Yes
Brad Eldred 0.682 0.458 0.224 DNP 0.261 No
Jose Cruz 0.653 0.431 0.222 0.381 0.375 No
Chase Utley 0.727 0.509 0.218 0.527 0.566 Yes
Milton Bradley 0.643 0.429 0.214 0.447 0.545 Yes
Ian Kinsler 0.667 0.454 0.213 0.454 0.441 No
Ross Gload 0.643 0.437 0.206 0.462 0.441 No

  • 11 semi-breakouts among 34 - is that helpful?  Tough to say, but if you're on the fence on a guy and he tops his ST SLG by .200 then maybe you should give him the benefit of the doubt.
  • Plenty of the "no improvement" guys had extenuating circumstances - Reed Johnson had back surgery, Laird was catching full-time for the first time, Quentin was hurting.
  • Seems like this stuff matters less for veterans (Abreu, Ramirez, Ibanez), but then again young guys naturally improve regardless of spring training.  Hard to sort it out.
  • Several rookies had big springs.  Hunter Pence, Ryan Braun, Billy Butler, and Mark Reynolds were among last year's ST SLG leaders.  They all went on to have solid rookie campaigns.  There may be something to that (though Cameron Maybin slugged .905 in spring and nothing came of it).

Roundtable Action: Ryan Howard

For the first roundtable, we discussed Prince Fielder vs. Ryan Howard.  The respondents are divided.  I feel like a jerk for writing so little!  Next time I'll do better.

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When Spring Training Stats Matter

I always go back to this nugget from John Dewan from the 2006 Baseball Forecaster:

A hitter with a positive difference between his spring training slugging percentage and his lifetime slugging percentage of .200 or more correlates to a better than normal season.

Let's focus on players with at least 30 ABs for now.

  • White Sox outfielder Brian Anderson is at .714 this spring vs. a career mark of .353.  He's fighting for an extra outfielder role right now, but could be traded into a better situation.
  • Carlos Guillen is slugging .771 against a career mark of .450.  Perhaps he will become more of a traditional first baseman and nail 30 home runs?  This is his last year for shortstop eligibility.
  • Nick Swisher is slugging .824 vs. a .464 career mark.  Could he return to 35 HR or even reach 40 given his new park?
  • Washington's Cristian Guzman sits at .636 vs. a .378 career mark.  A return to his 10 HR days, plus 10 swipes?  NL-only sleeper?
  • Jorge Cantu's slugging .688 against a .450 career mark.  25 HR as Florida's third baseman?  Dallas McPherson is out of the running for now.
  • Billy Butler is at .677 after his rookie year SLG of .447.  Will he jump to the 25-30 HR range in his age 22 season while also hitting .300?
  • Rafael Furcal is slugging .633 vs. his .407 career mark.  Maybe that ankle is all better and he tops his career high of 15 HR in a contract year.  Great shortstop pick if you miss out on the Big Three.

Closers, ADP, Mailbag

A collection of links...

  • Don't forget the Fantasy Baseball Closers link on the sidebar, which I'm trying to keep updated with the depth charts.  I have to get into the habit of updating the post constantly so it becomes a resource for readers.
  • Fantasy Gameday has Version 2 of its free Average Draft Position and Scarcity report up.
  • My apologies for not mentioning this earlier...the RotoAuthority Silver League is all filled up.  I will do a thread this week just for RotoAuthority readers to create competitive fantasy leagues with each other.
  • New mailbag up at the Hardball Times.

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2008 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: Second 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.

  • Unless Brian Roberts slips to the fifth round, I often find myself taking Kelly Johnson as my second baseman this year.  Johnson is going 164th, tenth among 2Bs.  He's seventh in my rankings and a possible five-category guy.
  • Rickie Weeks is a popular breakout pick (again).  I have him at .261-16-49-90-22 in 445 ABs.  If you think he's likely to beat that, then perhaps his ninth round ADP doesn't look so bad.  It's not a risk I'm keen on taking though.  I have a similar opinion of Howie Kendrick, though I do own him in my keeper league for $4.
  • I've been quick to dismiss Aaron Hill, giving him a $0.63 value with a .283-12-65-73-3 projection.  Zachary of Sportszilla got me to think a little more about Hill, and I found myself agreeing that he's a nice sleeper.  Even if he just replicates his '07 he's right there with Johnson in value.  Mark Ellis is interesting to me as a poor man's Hill in a contract year.  Orlando Hudson is also playing for his next deal; could he muscle up for 20 HR?  All should be found in the 15th round or later.
  • Freddy Sanchez is intriguing given his nine second half home runs and tendency to hit .300.

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