September 2008

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A Look At Ricky Nolasco

Ricky Nolasco had some moments in his '06 rookie season (he was moved to the rotation in May).  For instance, Nolasco posted a 2.62 ERA in June of that year and managed to win 11 games on the season.  His 6.4 K/9 was OK, as was his 2.6 BB/9.  On the flip side, he was homer and hit-prone.  His 12.7% HR per flyball rate and .319 BABIP were partly to blame.

The Marlins talked about moving Nolasco into the closer role for '07, but injuries to Anibal Sanchez and Josh Johnson caused the Marlins to scratch that.  Nolasco was anointed the team's swingman heading into the season.  Then his elbow started barking, and he spent the rest of the season rehabbing it.  During his brief big league stint his fastball was down 1.5 mph from '06.

Nolasco's velocity returned in the Arizona Fall League, and he again began the year in a swingman role.  A week into the season he was moved to the rotation.  He scrapped his changeup for a splitter and a cut fastball, but three of his first five starts were lousy.  By May 9th, Nolasco had it figured out.  From that point forward:

3.07 ERA
1.06 WHIP

8.5 K/9
1.6 BB/9
1.06 HR/9
7.81 H/9

His 5.4 K/BB ratio is beautiful.  Nolasco is still HR-prone as a flyball pitcher, but not so much that it's a problem.  He's putting the ball exactly where he wants to.  His BABIP swung the other way, to .287 on the season.  The Marlins are at .302 as a team, so he can't sustain the low H/9.  Still, Nolasco's in the midst of a breakout season.  He was amazing in August, whiffing 51 in 43 innings while posting a 0.84 WHIP.  Nolasco racked up three double-digit strikeout games that month.

If you're wondering whether Nolasco is for real, he is.  Can he continue to stay healthy and post a sub-4.00 ERA in '09?  I believe so, but since he's a Marlin he won't be a major draft risk.  Think 10th round or later.  This year, Nolasco showed why monitoring the waiver wire is so important.  He posted an excellent June and backed it up with his peripherals.  That was the time to pick him up.

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Number Of Pitches Thrown

Let's take a quick-and-dirty look at a simple stat, number of pitches thrown.  Your 2007 leaders:

  1. Carlos Zambrano (3689).
  2. Dan Haren (3635).
  3. Jake Peavy (3610).
  4. Scott Kazmir (3609).
  5. Aaron Harang (3590).
  6. C.C. Sabathia (3581).
  7. Gil Meche (3578).
  8. Daniel Cabrera (3563).
  9. Dontrelle Willis (3491).
  10. Jeff Francis (3485).

Interesting list - the majority of these pitchers have missed time due to injury in 2008.  Your '08 leaders:

  1. A.J. Burnett (3286).
  2. C.C. Sabathia (3267).
  3. Matt Cain (3215).
  4. Justin Verlander (3214).
  5. Gil Meche (3150).
  6. Tim Lincecum (3137).
  7. Johan Santana (3135).
  8. Roy Halladay (3130).
  9. Ervin Santana (3129).
  10. Cole Hamels (3095).

Sabathia and Meche have really tallied up the pitches, and C.C. has many more coming.  Sabathia's suitors both in real life and fantasy baseball should exercise caution.  He will be going in the second or third round and definitely carries risk.  It wouldn't be surprising to see a few more of these guys go down next year.

Full Story |  Comments (3) | Categories: Injuries

Roundtable: Trades

This week's roundtable is hosted by Adam Ronis of Newsday.  His question:

What is the best way to handle trades? Should all trades be approved? A league vote? If you're running a league, what's the ideal way to approve trades without too much controversy?

Click here to read our answers.

Full Story |  Comments (1) | Categories: Roundtable

How To Win

I would like to get back to basics for this post.  Time to discuss my strategy for winning a fantasy baseball mixed league of normal size and conditions (H2H or roto).  All of my title-winning fantasy teams were built this way.  Feel free to add your methods in the comments.

  • Use conservative projections.  Ideally,  you should average preseason projections together from five different sources.  This drastically reduces the risk of overrating or underrating a player.  It also reminds you that last year isn't everything and players like Jermaine Dye and Jason Bay can bounce back.
  • Don't consider starting pitching until the eighth round of the draft.  The following starters went within the first seven rounds in March of '07: Erik Bedard, Josh Beckett, Justin Verlander, Aaron Harang, and John Smoltz.  Sure, I cherry-picked the bad ones.  But early-round picks on starters have been and will always be very dangerous, capable of ruining your season.
  • Pursue power/speed threats whenever possible.  Corey Hart, Bobby Abreu, Matt Kemp, Ian Kinsler, Nate McLouth...these players give you a balanced attack.  You don't want to be drafting Willy Taveras for speed, Placido Polanco for average, and Adam Dunn for power.
  • Don't pay for closers.  Most experts harp on this point, but you still see J.J. Putz drafted in the fifth round ahead of Kinsler.  It's not that this never works; closers routinely provide tons of value.  It just increases your risk unnecessarily.  Wait until after the tenth round to draft a closer.
  • Heed position scarcity.  In particular, respect position scarcity for shortstops and catchers.  Note where the dropoff occurs for these positions and don't miss out on all of the top guys.  Sure, you could pluck a Geovany Soto or a Ryan Theriot.  But again, you increase your chances of busting.
  • Be a waiver wire maniac.  Some will tell you to leave your team untouched until May, because early stats can be deceiving.  This is bad advice.  Leave your stars alone, but aggressively pick up decent-looking players.  Every roster has a few spots to allow for turnover.  If you're not aggressive, you miss out on Cliff Lee and Ryan Dempster.  Pick up now, ask questions later.  Waiver wire aggression is also how you accumulate closers.
  • Trade pitching for hitting.  You'll find pitching easier to find on the waiver wire, so trade pitchers for star hitters whenever possible.
  • That's all I can think of for now; maybe I'll add more later.  None of these strategies are radical.

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Impact September Call-Ups

I know this is lazy, but I'll refer you to Jeff Passan's piece at Yahoo.  He's got the essential September call-ups you may want to consider for your fantasy league.

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BABIP, Anyone?

It's pretty tough to maintain a BABIP below .280 year in, year out.  21 pitchers managed the feat in '07, but only five of them repeated in '08 (Shaun Marcum, Carlos Zambrano, Johan Santana, Jeremy Guthrie, and Oliver Perez).  Here's your BABIP kings for 2008:

Justin Duchscherer 0.238 2.88 0.112 2.54 0.99
Tim Wakefield 0.240 1.85 0.157 3.76 1.19
Dave Bush 0.246 2.69 0.191 4.12 1.12
Shaun Marcum 0.247 2.53 0.178 3.60 1.17
Gavin Floyd 0.248 1.86 0.174 3.61 1.24
Armando Galarraga 0.248 2.12 0.162 3.17 1.19
Cole Hamels 0.252 3.91 0.155 3.13 1.03
Rich Harden 0.254 3.41 0.111 1.99 1.05
Jeremy Guthrie 0.260 2.09 0.144 3.57 1.22
Daisuke Matsuzaka 0.261 1.55 0.113 2.82 1.33
Scott Olsen 0.266 1.61 0.197 4.35 1.33
Adam Wainwright 0.266 3.24 0.155 3.04 1.10
Oliver Perez 0.268 1.74 0.158 3.90 1.35
Tim Hudson 0.268 2.13 0.126 3.17 1.16
Joe Saunders 0.269 1.68 0.139 3.67 1.25
Greg Smith 0.270 1.32 0.158 4.23 1.37
John Lackey 0.271 3.41 0.159 3.10 1.13
Ryan Dempster 0.272 2.32 0.107 2.95 1.19
Todd Wellemeyer 0.272 2.18 0.159 3.76 1.25
John Lannan 0.274 1.57 0.134 3.92 1.34
Erik Bedard 0.275 1.95 0.145 3.67 1.32
Johan Santana 0.276 3.31 0.142 2.71 1.15
John Maine 0.276 1.82 0.138 4.18 1.35
Hiroki Kuroda 0.276 2.65 0.106 3.87 1.19
Matt Garza 0.277 2.20 0.120 3.53 1.23
Collin Balester 0.278 1.68 0.172 4.75 1.37
Carlos Zambrano 0.278 1.87 0.127 3.53 1.30
Scott Kazmir 0.279 2.55 0.171 3.13 1.23
Ricky Nolasco 0.279 4.08 0.174 3.65 1.13
Kevin Slowey 0.279 5.89 0.178 3.70 1.08

Risky pitchers for 2009: Floyd, Galarraga, Olsen, Saunders, Smith, and Lannan.  These six are candidates to have significantly worse seasons.

On the flip side, the following pitchers all allowed more than a hit per inning due to high BABIPs:

Ian Snell 0.369 1.41 0.175 5.77 1.84
Clay Buchholz 0.360 1.76 0.164 6.75 1.76
Andrew Miller 0.359 1.66 0.131 5.58 1.64
Kevin Millwood 0.356 2.46 0.150 4.84 1.59
Livan Hernandez 0.354 1.86 0.164 5.48 1.63
Nate Robertson 0.349 1.76 0.214 6.36 1.69
Carlos Silva 0.345 2.03 0.183 6.53 1.60
Jo-Jo Reyes 0.343 1.55 0.165 5.49 1.63
Josh Johnson 0.341 2.80 0.096 3.25 1.34
Sidney Ponson 0.341 0.93 0.185 6.22 1.74
Clayton Kershaw 0.341 1.73 0.144 4.56 1.61
Jorge De La Rosa 0.339 2.14 0.152 5.23 1.49

Keep an eye on Millwood and Johnson.  Their reasonable ISOs show they truly just had more singles drop in than normal. Kershaw, Miller, Buchholz, Reyes, and de la Rosa will be intriguing if they can improve their control.

Full Story |  Comments (3) | Categories: BABIP, Anyone?

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