October 2008

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Do You Draft Players You Hate?

I was watching Brett Myers pitch recently, and explained to my wife that I am not a fan given his off-the-field transgressions.  I then realized that Myers played a role in one of my fantasy championships this year.  Snagged him off the waiver wire and he went on a nice run. How do I reconcile this?

It is a typical element of my trash talk - rip on another guy for drafting one of the jerks of the game while quietly adding Elijah Dukes to my roster.  I'm also quick to draft White Sox players despite being a Cubs fan.

Do you avoid players because you dislike them?  I usually disregard all personal feelings and treat each player as a set of stats.  But in time, I come to root for my players and that's hard to do when you hate a guy.


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BABIP, Anyone?: Year End

Let's do a year-end version of the immensely popular series, BABIP, Anyone?!  The following players had abnormally low BABIPs, meaning their WHIPs will likely rise in 2009 if their skills remain the same.  Minimum: 100 innings.

NAME BABIP K/BB ISO ERA WHIP
Justin Duchscherer 0.238 2.88 0.112 2.54 0.99
Armando Galarraga 0.239 2.07 0.184 3.73 1.19
Dave Bush 0.239 2.27 0.191 4.18 1.14
Tim Wakefield 0.242 1.95 0.159 4.13 1.18
Shaun Marcum 0.248 2.46 0.166 3.39 1.16
Chris Young 0.259 1.94 0.163 3.96 1.29
Gavin Floyd 0.261 2.07 0.188 3.84 1.26
Jeremy Guthrie 0.261 2.07 0.149 3.63 1.23
Scott Olsen 0.262 1.64 0.184 4.20 1.31
Daisuke Matsuzaka 0.262 1.64 0.113 2.90 1.32
Greg Smith 0.263 1.28 0.160 4.16 1.35
Cole Hamels 0.263 3.70 0.157 3.09 1.08
Tim Hudson 0.268 2.13 0.126 3.17 1.16
Joe Saunders 0.269 1.94 0.131 3.41 1.21

Some pretty ERAs and WHIPs in this group, but the players with K/BBs under 2.5 here are on shaky footing for next year.  They shouldn't necessarily be avoided, but be mindful of their BABIP-based success.

The next group is where we might find some bargains.

NAME BABIP K/BB ISO ERA WHIP
Ian Snell 0.360 1.52 0.171 5.42 1.76
Kevin Millwood 0.359 2.60 0.150 5.07 1.59
Andrew Miller 0.354 1.59 0.135 5.87 1.64
Livan Hernandez 0.354 1.86 0.164 5.48 1.63
Carlos Silva 0.348 2.16 0.174 6.46 1.60
Nate Robertson 0.343 1.74 0.203 6.35 1.66
Andy Pettitte 0.341 2.87 0.132 4.54 1.41
Garrett Olson 0.341 1.34 0.166 6.65 1.73
Kevin Correia 0.337 1.43 0.171 6.05 1.70
Manny Parra 0.335 1.96 0.135 4.39 1.54
Doug Davis 0.332 1.75 0.137 4.32 1.53
Jo-Jo Reyes 0.332 1.50 0.200 5.81 1.65
Pedro Martinez 0.331 1.98 0.194 5.61 1.57
Jorge De La Rosa 0.330 2.06 0.149 4.92 1.46
Adam Eaton 0.330 1.30 0.177 5.80 1.64

An ISO in the .150 range means the pitcher gave up an abnormal amount of singles, rather than extra-base hits.  So I like Millwood, Pettitte, and maybe de la Rosa and Parra as sleepers.  Those last two still need to improve their control.  If Snell rediscovers his control and gets some defense behind him, he could bounce back to his very solid '07 level.  He probably won't be drafted in mixed leagues.

They didn't make the chart, but Joba Chamberlain, Boof Bonser, Mike Mussina, Clayton Kershaw, Bronson Arroyo, Dustin McGowan, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, Javier Vazquez, and A.J. Burnett all had BABIPs in the .320s.  Those could come down significantly and give a nice boost.  Get Bonser to the NL with a good pitching coach and he could be a fine undrafted sleeper for '09.


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Ryan Dempster Examined

Ryan Dempster, typically undrafted in mixed leagues, had a massive season in 2008.  He was ninth in baseball with a 2.96 ERA, and added a 1.21 WHIP, 17 wins, and 187 strikeouts.  Dempster had been mostly a reliever since 2003.  Let's take a closer look at his season.

2.96 ERA
1.21 WHIP
17 wins
15.7 expected wins
206.6 innings
6.26 innings per start
8.14 K/9
3.31 BB/9
7.58 H/9
.283 BABIP vs. .295 team BABIP
0.61 HR/9
7.6% HR per flyball rate
48.1% groundball rate

Trying to take a stab at manually projecting Dempster for next year, let's go with these rates: 7.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 8.3 H/9, 0.85 HR/9.  Basically I am just trying to be conservative, especially with his hit and home run rates. 

If I plug in those numbers I get something in the neighborhood of a 3.80 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.  Kind of in the range of Gil Meche this year. You'd like to see your mixed league team as a whole post an ERA around 3.70, a WHIP around 1.25.  So guys like Dempster or Meche are mostly helping you in wins and strikeouts, though ERA can vary wildly.


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RotoAuthority League Review

Today I'll review my team in the '08 RotoAuthority League.  I snagged first place with 97 points in this roto league.

Description

Standard 5x5 12-team roto league.  Normal-sized rosters, 1500 IP limit.  $100 buy-in.  I assembled this league by picking readers of this website.  I wanted a competitive money league where the bottom four would be kicked out each year (but it is not a keeper league).  I think we were successful in that goal.  Here's a look at the 12 people who ran teams in '08.  The average team made about 85 player moves; I made 96.

Results

First place with 97.0 points.  Category points results for my team: 12 in runs, 9 in HR, 12 in RBI, 8 in SB, 11.5 in AVG, 8.5 in wins, 12 in saves, 10 in Ks, 7 in ERA, 7 in WHIP.

Drafted Players Retained All Year

Of the 26 players drafted, I finished the season with 12 of them (round drafted in parentheses): Ryan Doumit (21), Lance Berkman (3), David Wright (1), Carlos Lee (2), Michael Young (6), Conor Jackson (18), Corey Hart (4), Bobby Abreu (5), Jermaine Dye (10), Dan Haren (7), Ted Lilly (13), and Kerry Wood (19).

Key Pickups

Mark DeRosa, Fred Lewis, Brian Giles, Alexei Ramirez, David Murphy, Denard Span, Jody Gerut, Elijah Dukes, Cliff Lee, Ryan Franklin, Salomon Torres, Gil Meche, Randy Johnson, Grant Balfour, Joel Hanrahan, Jensen Lewis, and Ricky Nolasco.  Like any unlimited transaction league, I constantly trolled the wire for closers.  Over 70% of my saves came off the wire.  I plugged up a weak middle infield, as I began the year with Freddy Sanchez and Mark Ellis.  Still can't figure out why Nolasco was dropped.  He contributed 57 strong innings to my makeshift rotation.

Dumb Drops

All kinds of hasty drops were made: Randy Winn, Derek Lowe, Hiroki Kuroda, Francisco Liriano, Scott Olsen, Todd Wellemeyer, Paul Maholm, Jon Lester, and Jesse Litsch.  I actually drafted Liriano, Lowe, and Kuroda.  So if I'd left my rotation alone it would've been solid as drafted.

Trades

  • May 28th: Traded Jose Valverde for Felix Hernandez.  After the trade Valverde posted a 2.93 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 51 Ks, and 29 saves in 46 innings.  Felix posted a 3.37 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 113 Ks, and 7 wins in 125.6 innings.  I think we were both satisfied with the results.  I was able to recover the saves elsewhere.
  • May 13th: Traded Cliff Lee for Rafael Furcal.  Ouch!  Lee posted a 3.13 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 126 Ks, and 16 wins in 169.6 innings after the trade.  Furcal was on the DL at the time of the deal and never played a game for my team.  So, I gave away the Cy Young winner for nothing.  Lesson: acquiring disabled players is risky.

Summary

I made numerous mistakes but still managed to win.  I need to calm down on dropping starting pitchers I liked on draft day.  And I should rely on free agency rather than trades.  I'm looking forward to an even more competitive league in 2009!  I believe we'll have three spots open for readers, but we'll fill those in March.


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Undervalued Royals

When I go digging for sleepers/undervalued players, I often look to the Royals.  They're just a low-profile club and have been for years.  Some players to consider for 2009:

  • Alex Gordon, 3B.  Gordon had a slight gain in slugging and a large gain in walk rate.  Sadly, he attempted fewer steals per times on first base.  He's progressed slower than we'd hoped, but maybe next year he puts up the .280-30-100-90-15 line.
  • Billy Butler, 1B.  He slugged .476 after the break, flashing 20 HR potential.  He needs to improve against righties though.
  • Mike Aviles, 2B/SS.  Eligible at two crucial positions, and didn't slump much as the season went on.  No one thinks he's a .325 hitter but he still looks like a solid late option.
  • Ryan Shealy/Kila Ka'aihue, 1B.  Nothing amazing, but if one of these guys locks down a full-time job he could pop 20 HR.
  • Zack Greinke, SP.  Even with the breakout he might last til the 9th or 10th round.  He looked great in terms of strikeout and walk rates.  Solid pick who will probably last longer than he should.  180 Ks is hard to come by, and maybe the .312 BABIP comes down and brings his WHIP with it.
  • Gil Meche, SP.  Same analysis as Greinke, only slightly less so.  I wouldn't mind having both of these guys in my '09 fantasy rotation, yet they won't require early picks.
  • Joakim Soria, RP.  It would not surprise me to see Soria undervalued in a technical sense - a nasty 40-save closer can generate a lot of fantasy value.  Soria in the 6th or 7th round is probably a win for your team, though it's still recommended to wait back and get next year's Soria many rounds later or off the waiver wire.
  • Kyle Davies, SP.  I am intrigued by Davies' September - 2.27 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 3.43 K/BB.  He did get to face the Mariners and A's that month, however.  Probably too risky for most mixed leagues.   


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Second Baseman Ranking Comparison

My second baseman rankings back in March, including round drafted on average:

Name $ VAL Round
Chase Utley 22.37 1
Brian Roberts 18.84 3
B.J. Upton 16.35 2
Brandon Phillips 14.99 2
Robinson Cano 12.58 6
Ian Kinsler 9.23 6
Kelly Johnson 8.91 14
Dan Uggla 6.41 8
Placido Polanco 5.67 15
Howie Kendrick 5.42 10
Rickie Weeks 5.40 11
Dustin Pedroia 4.32 14
Freddy Sanchez 3.27 17
Orlando Hudson 3.05 14
Luis Castillo 2.36 19
Jeff Kent 2.34 17
Ty Wigginton 2.27 18
Kaz Matsui 2.24 16
Yunel Escobar 1.74 17
Asdrubal Cabrera 1.23 17
Ryan Theriot 1.09 19
Aaron Hill 0.51 18
Mark Ellis 0.38 19

As you might expect, I often ended up with Roberts and Johnson based on these rankings.  Here are the actual 2008 ratings, based on ESPN's player rater (which uses AVG, HR, RBI, R, and SB):

Name Round
Dustin Pedroia 14
Chase Utley 1
Ian Kinsler 6
Brian Roberts 3
B.J. Upton 2
Mark DeRosa 21
Jose Lopez 24
Brandon Phillips 2
Dan Uggla 8
Alexei Ramirez N/A
Ryan Theriot 19
Placido Polanco 15
Kelly Johnson 14
Mike Aviles N/A
Ty Wigginton 18
Kaz Matsui 16
Clint Barmes N/A
Yunel Escobar 17
Robinson Cano 6
Akinori Iwamura 18
Rickie Weeks 11
Orlando Hudson 14
Ray Durham 30
Marco Scutaro 54

Busts: Phillips, Cano, Weeks,Kendrick.  Phillips didn't provide second round value, though we here at RotoAuthority didn't expect him to.  Cano was just an out and out flop.  As a sixth-round pick, owners were probably reluctant to give up on him.

Surprises: Pedroia, DeRosa, Lopez, Ramirez, Theriot, Aviles.  If you had a problem at second base, there were plenty of opportunities to upgrade via free agency.  Ramirez and Aviles will get ROY votes for sure.  Pedroia might win the MVP.  And you have to love DeRo's flexibility, as he's eligible at 3B and OF as well.  All these surprises just underscore the importance of free agency in your typical 12-team mixed league.

Possibly sleepers for '09: Wigginton, Alexei, and Lopez.


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