March 2009

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Catcher Draft Trends

Assuming a 12-team league, let's take a look at the typical draft trends for catchers using Mock Draft Central data.

The catcher train typically gets rolling with Russell Martin in the 4th round.  Brian McCann goes a few picks later, and then Joe Mauer a few after that (Mauer often in the 5th).  Those are the elite three, and I have them all within pennies of each other in dollar value. 

The next tier includes Geovany Soto and Victor Martinez.  These guys go around the 6-7th rounds.  In my opinion Soto is worth $4.69 more, so don't treat them as interchangeable.

The next tier doesn't get moving until the 11th round with Ryan Doumit.  I see Doumit with a value comparable to V-Mart, so it's worth waiting if it's between the two.  Matt Wieters goes a few picks after Doumit, an entirely reasonable place for him.  Then you'll see Chris Iannetta in the 12th and Mike Napoli in the 13th.  You know I'm a big Napoli fan.

In the 15th round, Bengie Molina kicks off the next group.  There's a lull until Jorge Posada goes in the 18th (intriguing) and Jeff Clement goes in the 19th.  Drafters are digging Clement but I think there are better choices.  Four guys go in succession starting in the 20th: Dioner Navarro, A.J. Pierzynski, Ramon Hernandez, and Kurt Suzuki.  I'll take Pierzynski and Hernandez, of that group.

In the 23rd round, Gerald Laird kicks off a string of late picks.  He's followed by Brandon Inge (nice value), Kelly Shoppach, Kenji Johjima, Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Varitek, and Yadier Molina.  So now we've seen the top 24 catchers as valued by the market.  Seems like drafters go for names they know at the endgame.

Undrafted backstops worth considering over many of those veterans: Chris Snyder, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and J.R. Towles.


Full Story |  Comments (22) | Categories: Catchers

Integrity Of The League

Kevin writes in with a question:

I had a thought about what "Integrity of the League" means to different people.  I have been told that this doesn't exist and you win at all costs (screw everyone else) and I have been told that this means a great deal, especially in pay leagues. So my question is...what does "Integrity of the League" mean to you?

Integrity can mean a lot of things, even when applied to fantasy leagues.  Are we talking about a moral code?  Honesty?  A lack of hypocrisy?

This is similar to a post I wrote in September, The Fantasy Baseball Code Of Honor.  To have integrity, here are the requirements for the league:

  • The commissioner does not abuse his power in any way.  The commissioner is probably the only person who can cheat without pairing with another person in the league.
  • No collusion.  The second a team decides to help another team, integrity is lost.  And it doesn't always have to be the last place team helping a contender.  Maybe a team is running away with first place and colludes to help a friend get second place.
  • The half-baked idea of league members voting on trades never made sense and encourages self-serving votes.
  • Gray area: in a perfect world, the league wouldn't have an owner who gets pillaged by smarter owners.  If your league does have a dumb guy, is it wrong to swing a lopsided deal with him?  I lean toward no, but it does make me uneasy.  I feel similarly about a person quitting on a league - I hate that, but it's more an issue of competitiveness than integrity.
  • What about lying?  Say word hasn't spread much that your pitcher is out with Tommy John, so you quickly swing a deal to get rid of him.  That seems to cross the line beyond gamesmanship.  But other lies are part of the game - being coy about whether you like a player, for example.
  • Streaming?  It's never bothered me.  If the league rules allow any annoying strategy, the league was set up poorly.  I can't think of any reason that any type of roster move would lack integrity.  Picking up a guy and then dropping him immediately just to put him in waiver limbo?  Haven't tried it, but I'm OK with it.
  • Talking smack is OK to a point...most of us can tell when the line has been crossed.  It's up to the commissioner to diffuse those situations.
  • Going back to Kevin's question...I don't think it should be "win at all costs" - there are things you shouldn't do to win a fantasy league.  For example, slipping a laxative into his drink at the live auction.  But, every team should be focused on winning the league and hopefully having fun, operating within boundaries that are pretty much common sense.


Full Story |  Comments (9) | Categories: Mailbag

Alex Rodriguez May Miss Quarter Of Season

12:54pm: I am starting to think that the risk involved makes A-Rod a pretty bad late first/early second round pick.  ESPN's Stephania Bell suggests his recovery time could be longer than ten weeks depending on the details of the injury.  You have to have certainty with your first-round pick.

10:48am: Got a fantasy draft today?  You might want to hold off on that A-Rod pick - Rodriguez's brother told ESPN's Enrique Rojas he'll miss about 10 weeks due to hip surgery.  That'd put his return date around May 15th, so he'd miss a quarter of the season.

Now if we simply multiply A-Rod's projected stats by 3/4, his value goes from $32.04 (fifth overall) to $16.43 (41st among position players).  So if you got the $16.43 and nothing else you'd probably want to draft him around the 4th round.  And even then you'd be taking a risk that he does make it back by May 15th.

However, you would have A-Rod in the DL slot and would conceivably be able to get replacement level production from another third baseman.  For this example we'll use Mike Lowell (ironic, kind of).   Let's combine 139 ABs of Lowell with 417 of A-Rod.

This A-Rod/Lowell hybrid would be projected to hit .287-33-108-104-14 in 556 ABs.  Don't worry about Lowell and his own health issues specifically - use Melvin Mora or some other replacement-level 3B if you want.

Anyway, this hybrid player is worth $25.19, valued at 10th among position players and worthy of late first round consideration.

Problems with this approach: there is a negative value to clogging up a DL spot for a quarter of the year, and we don't know exactly when A-Rod will return or if he'll be 100% when he does.  But in my mind, a late first round/early second round pick of A-Rod is justified if he is indeed to return in mid-May.



18 Undrafted Players To Watch

Everyone's looking for the next Cliff Lee and Carlos Quentin, two players who came up huge in 2008 but weren't drafted in mixed leagues.  Here's my list of 18 undrafted players to watch, with the specific criteria being that they are being drafted later than 276th on Mock Draft Central.

  • Grant Balfour - Easily more skilled than Troy Percival and Jason Isringhausen, it's not far-fetched that Balfour could get more than ten saves in 2009.  Dan Wheeler is also in the mix, but Balfour should whiff more than 80 with solid ratios.
  • Phil Hughes - He's an injury away from the Yankee rotation, and early reports are positive (of course, they usually are in Spring Training).
  • Chris Perez - The Cardinals' primary closing candidate has the skills to run with the job.
  • Kenshin Kawakami - An ERA below 4.00 and a WHIP below 1.30 is quite possible given his control.  It's just a matter of how many innings he can handle.
  • Ryan Spilborghs - Even with 475 ABs he could be a $6 outfielder, showing decent power, speed, AVG, and runs while matching Xavier Nady and Pat Burrell in fantasy value.
  • Chris Snyder - 400 ABs makes him a $6 player, even with a .247 AVG.  Could certainly outproduce Kurt Suzuki and Dioner Navarro. And, Snyder has the security of a new contract extension.
  • Fausto Carmona - Who's to say he can't get back to the 2.6 BB/9 days of 2007?
  • Felipe Lopez - Looks like a $7 player to me, with double digit power and speed.
  • Travis Snider - Projections for him aren't massive, but the scouting reports suggest he could do a lot more.
  • Tommy Hanson - Would be worth nearly $10 with 200 innings, so if he's starting regularly at any point he's easily worth rostering.
  • Andy Sonnanstine - The 87 mph fastball doesn't do much for fantasy leaguers, but the double digit wins and sub-1.30 WHIP should.  He walked just 1.72 per nine last year.
  • Joel Zumaya - Wants to take the closer job from Brandon Lyon.
  • Colby Rasmus - Batting average might not be there, but he should be a power/speed guy from the get-go.
  • Clay Buchholz - Like Hughes, he has the talent to force his way into the picture as a sort of post-hype sleeper.
  • Mike Fontenot - Could blast 15 HR as a 2B.
  • Ian Snell - Whiffed 177 batters in '07.
  • J.R. Towles - Astros catcher hit well at Triple A, and runs a bit.  Right now he has a great opportunity to earn the starting job.
  • David Purcey - Could whiff 170 with 200 innings, and is penciled in for a rotation spot in Toronto.

Who are your undrafted players to watch for mixed leagues in 2009?


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Roto Rebel

I used to work with Jonathan Gangi at RotoWorld, and he's always a good read.  He has a new site called Roto Rebel.  Check out this post - five things he hates about fantasy baseball.  Trying to think of what I might add to the list...league members voting on trades comes to mind.  But he's right...nothing kills a league faster than a crazy commissioner.


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2009 Fantasy Baseball Projections

Click here to download our 2009 fantasy baseball projections, with dollar values for a 12 team 5x5 mixed league.  The dollar values reflect 23-man active rosters: C, C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, MI, CI, OF, OF, OF, OF, OF, DH, and 9 pitchers.  The categories used are AVG, HR, RBI, R, SB, ERA, WHIP, W, SV, and K. 

It's easy to filter by position within this spreadsheet.  If you want to see all the 1Bs with 20 games played, click the dropdown next to 1B, go to Custom..., and change it to greater than or equal to 20.  Boom, your first base rankings.  If you want to see all the MIs, hit the MI dropdown and go to y.

I suggest using these or any other projections as a guide, tweaking the numbers to fit your own beliefs.  I tinker with these often, and feedback on individual players is welcome.

I used Art McGee's SGP system for the dollar values.  Go buy his book.


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DH Rankings

Many of you, er, one or two of you, have asked for my DH rankings.  This should complete the position players.  I will aim to put a full rankings/projections spreadsheet online within one week.

I have three DH-only players projected to have positive value in 5x5 12-team mixed leagues.  Draft round is in parentheses.

  1. David Ortiz - $20.08 (5)
  2. Jim Thome - $7.27 (14)
  3. Travis Hafner - $1.16 (23)

If you're curious, Gary Sheffield would slot in at #3 if he reached 500 ABs.  Ortiz drops pretty far in certain leagues; if you can get him in the 7th or 8th round you have to consider it.  And Hafner is certainly worth a flier that late in the draft.



Lower BABIP At Home

Cool stuff from Dave Cameron at FanGraphs.  He learned that over millions of plate appearances, "home team BABIP allowed is .295, while road team BABIP allowed is .302."  Cameron goes on to note:

There’s a distinct advantage in being the home team in turning balls in play into outs. If a pitcher gets an inordinate amount of home starts, we shouldn’t be surprised if he beats his career BABIP.

In 2008, 15 pitchers had 18 or more home starts.  This isn't exactly scientific, but I quickly identified three pitchers who made at least 60% of their starts at home: Joe Blanton, Ryan Dempster, and C.C. Sabathia.  At least for this tiny sample, the player's overall BABIP was better than his team's.

Pitcher Home Total % home BABIP Team BABIP
Joe Blanton 21 33 63.6% 0.291 0.301
Ryan Dempster 20 33 60.6% 0.283 0.295
CC Sabathia 21 35 60.0% 0.301 0.308

A few others who had more than 55% of their starts at home: Jon Garland, Todd Wellemeyer, and Mike Pelfrey.  There may be others who spent a large portion of their starts at home - I haven't done the full research.


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How About Chris Carpenter?

I'm liking the idea of taking a late-round flier on Chris Carpenter this year.  Carp's going at 302.35 (26th round).  We all know what he's capable of, but he hardly pitched in 2007 or 2008.

Carpenter's first outing of the year was strong, and he's bounced back from injury before.  This pick is pure upside despite the tricky nerve condition.




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