May 2009

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Roundtable: Least Important Stat Categories

This week's roundtable question:

What category(ies) do you think about least when drafting and managing your fantasy roster?

Click here to read our answers over at Razzball.

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Groundball Rate Leaders

The top 20 pitchers in groundball rate, courtesy of The Hardball Times:

  1. Derek Lowe - 58.3%.
  2. Gil Meche - 56.8%.  This is a career best by Meche and his xFIP suggests his ERA should be 3.88 instead of 4.60.  Nice buying opportunity.
  3. Joel Pineiro - 56.7%.  Also a career best, though he's struck out just 2.79 per nine.
  4. Roy Halladay - 55.7%.
  5. Josh Johnson - 55.2%.  Career best so far.  This is a Cy Young type season if he stays healthy.
  6. Mike Pelfrey - 55.1%.  Has a 0.65 K/BB, though.
  7. John Lannan - 54.5%.
  8. Fausto Carmona - 54.1%.
  9. Rick Porcello - 53.6%.  The K/BB is tolerable and the 18.9% HR per flyball should come down while the .252 BABIP goes up.  4.52 xFIP vs. a 3.86 ERA.  But man, the talent.
  10. Jeff Suppan - 53.1%.
  11. Justin Masterson - 52.8%.  Would like to see what he'd do with 30 starts.
  12. Sidney Ponson - 52.6%.
  13. Jason Marquis - 51.4%.
  14. Paul Maholm - 51.2%.
  15. Ubaldo Jimenez - 50.0%.  Too many walks but has an 8.0 K/9.

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Expected Wins

Baseball Prospectus has a stat called Expected Wins.  The definition:

Expected win record for the pitcher, based on how often pitchers with the same innings pitched and runs allowed earned a win or loss historically (this differs from how it was computed, which was a more complicated, theoretical calculation).

Let's look at the pitchers whose expected win totals deviate the most from their actual win totals.  The following pitchers have more wins than they deserve:

  • Roy Halladay is 8-1, should be 5-3.  (In this case I am skeptical of the expected wins stat; Doc has averaged 7.56 innings per start and may deserve all 8).
  • Kevin Slowey is 5-1, should be 3-2.
  • Scott Kazmir is 4-3, should be 2-2.
  • Brian Bass - 2-1, should be 0-0.
  • Ross Ohlendorf - is 5-3, should be 3-2.
  • Derek Lowe is 5-2, should be 3-3.
  • Shairon Martis is 5-0, should be 3-2.
  • Joel Pineiro - is 4-3, should be 2-3.
  • Bronson Arroyo - 5-3, should be 3-3.
  • Jason Marquis - is 5-3, should be 3-3.
  • Braden Looper is 4-2, should be 2-2.

OK so then who is getting the shaft?

  • Jorge De La Rosa is 0-3, should be 2-2.
  • Randy Wolf is 2-1, should be 4-2.
  • Roy Oswalt is 1-2, should be 3-3.
  • Dan Haren is 3-4, should be 5-1.
  • Cliff Lee is 2-5, should be 4-2.
  • Ian Snell is 1-5, should be 3-3.
  • Barry Zito is 1-3, should be 3-2.
  • Scott Olsen is 1-4, should be 3-3.
  • Josh Geer is 0-1, should be 2-2.

The five starters who have exactly as many wins as expected: Matt Cain (4), Bartolo Colon (2), Jordan Zimmermann (2), Gil Meche (2), and Andy Sonnanstine (2).  By the way, the 7-1 Zack Greinke should probably be 6-1 (technically, 5.8 and 0.5).

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Facing Weak Offenses

The Giants, Diamondbacks, and Padres have the weakest offenses in the National League (I prefer to go to the NL for my spot starts).  Let's see who might be available on your waiver wire this week.

  • Tuesday: Chris Young vs. Giants, Barry Zito vs. Padres.  The Padres and Giants face each other; I like Zito.
  • Wednesday: Chad Gaudin vs. Giants, Jonathan Sanchez vs. Padres.  Hard to get on board with either guy, given the walks allowed.
  • Thursday: Kevin Correia vs. Giants, Andrew Miller vs. Diamondbacks.  Correia has something to prove against his old team, and his control is historically better than he's shown this year.  However, he's facing Tim Lincecum.   Miller's numbers are too ugly to risk it.
  • Friday: Jason Vargas vs. Giants, Trevor Cahill vs. Diamondbacks.  I think Vargas might have a decent start in him for Friday.  Cahill is a wild card, capable of being excellent or awful. 
  • Saturday: Jarrod Washburn vs. Giants, Sean Gallagher vs. Diamondbacks.  Washburn is a fine choice if he's available.  I like Gallagher for Saturday, but he's matched up with Dan Haren.

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BABIP, Anyone?

Yes, it's that time again...let's see what BABIP can tell us this week.  Minimum 25 IP.  The following will see their WHIPs rise, all else being equal:

Matt Palmer 0.182 1.60 0.084 3.38 0.98
Brian Tallet 0.213 1.48 0.225 4.68 1.28
Matt Garza 0.215 2.21 0.149 3.56 1.04
Jered Weaver 0.215 3.50 0.151 2.45 0.94
Edinson Volquez 0.217 1.54 0.149 4.40 1.30
Chris Volstad 0.226 2.06 0.162 2.98 1.13
Kevin Millwood 0.231 2.45 0.160 2.92 1.05
Randy Wolf 0.234 2.59 0.164 2.77 1.07
Yovani Gallardo 0.237 2.94 0.153 3.09 1.05
Johnny Cueto 0.238 2.77 0.120 1.93 1.01
John Maine 0.241 1.21 0.104 4.24 1.34
Ted Lilly 0.241 4.22 0.215 3.27 1.05
Brian Bannister 0.242 1.42 0.064 1.80 1.17
Dave Bush 0.244 3.60 0.205 3.83 1.04
Scott Feldman 0.245 1.60 0.133 4.85 1.21
Mark Buehrle 0.246 2.50 0.133 3.00 1.09
Dan Haren 0.246 6.22 0.084 2.09 0.86
Jair Jurrjens 0.248 1.41 0.116 2.06 1.17

You might consider shopping those above with a K/BB ratio under 2.0.  Now for those who should see their WHIPs go down:

Jon Lester 0.396 3.77 0.196 6.31 1.57
Andy Sonnanstine 0.387 1.62 0.176 7.27 1.85
Josh Beckett 0.387 2.05 0.148 6.42 1.77
Ricky Nolasco 0.382 2.92 0.232 7.78 1.68
Todd Wellemeyer 0.377 1.71 0.169 5.80 1.74
Cole Hamels 0.373 4.43 0.233 5.04 1.45
Scott Olsen 0.371 1.63 0.252 7.00 1.86
Brad Bergesen 0.371 1.75 0.174 5.27 1.76
Kevin Slowey 0.370 6.75 0.209 4.91 1.54
Gavin Floyd 0.368 1.48 0.137 7.32 1.88
Carl Pavano 0.365 3.25 0.160 6.45 1.54
Joba Chamberlain 0.363 2.00 0.147 3.89 1.56
Tim Lincecum 0.361 4.46 0.096 3.25 1.20
Jason Hammel 0.356 2.00 0.196 4.62 1.70
Shane Loux 0.353 1.30 0.113 4.64 1.61
Justin Masterson 0.351 2.07 0.078 4.89 1.43

  • Still digging Lester.  Go after him.  Offer a crappy closer or something.  His fastball is actually up a tick from last year.
  • I don't know why Beckett's control has been lousy this year.  But he's interesting and still getting Ks.
  • I fully support going after Nolasco.  If I owned him, I'd be getting frustrated.
  • You know Slowey will eventually help your WHIP.  Never walks anyone.

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Popular Adds

I am going to stop using the ESPN league data for Popular Adds.  Those guys have already been added several weeks ago in reasonably competitive leagues.  Instead I will look at a couple of my own 5x5 12-team mixed leagues.

  • Jordan Zimmermann, SP.  OK, it was me who made this pickup.  Zimmermann's start against the Giants wasn't great, but he did strike out eight.  I like the kid's stuff and strikeout/walk rates.  He might work out as my last starter.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez, SP.  Three good ones in a row for Jimenez, with 15 Ks and only 3 BB in 21 IP.  Those starts were against the Giants and Astros, however.  Not coincidentally, those two teams are the worst in the NL in walks per game.  I still think Ubaldo's a WHIP-killer.
  • Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B/SS/OF.  Over the last seven days Hairston is hitting .458 with 2 HR, 7 RBI, 11 R, and 3 SB.  And the eligibility is huge.  This is a solid, versatile pickup.
  • Casey Blake, 1B/3B.  Blake is this year's fantasy league hooker, everyone gets a turn.  No one, myself included, can decide if he's worth hanging on to.  In the last seven days he's at .409-2-6-5-0, and he's got 7 HR and 22 RBI overall.  My impulsive side wants to cut Derrek Lee for him.  Man do I hate owning Derrek Lee.
  • Barry Zito, SP.  Zito has a 3.89 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 29 Ks, and 1 win in 7 starts.  He is getting more grounders this year, but I'm having a hard time seeing mixed league value in him.
  • Ty Wigginton, 3B/OF.  Wiggy finally started to hit in the last week.  His longer history shows he's probably best used only against lefties.
  • C.J. Wilson, RP.  Rangers closer Frank Francisco is dealing with biceps tendonitis.  He could come back Sunday but the DL is possible too. Despite his iffy peripherals Wilson must be owned.
  • Dave Bush, SP.  Three nice starts in a row for Bush.  Nice control this year but he does owe a lot to a .239 BABIP.  I'm skeptical.
  • Colby Rasmus, OF.  Rasmus is showing some pop over the last few weeks but it'd be nice if he'd attempt a few steals.  He should continue playing regularly with Ryan Ludwick hitting the DL.
  • Nick Johnson, 1B.  Still an OBP machine, which doesn't help much in your standard 5x5.  But a few years ago he did chip in in the typical roto categories, and is worth rostering for now.
  • Mat Gamel, 3B.  Gamel mashed in Triple A, but in a non-keeper mixed league you have to question his playing time.
  • Zach Duke, SP.  Nice control, but a .270 BABIP and a weak K rate will cause me to take a pass.
  • Matt Harrison, SP.  Hard to argue with his last four starts.  Liking the control but again I don't see the Ks for a mixed league pickup.
  • Brett Cecil, SP.  A couple of fine starts to begin his career.  I like the scouting reports but not the idea of owning an AL East rookie.  He did not show acceptable control in his ten career Triple A starts.
  • Justin Masterson, SP/RP.  The walk rate is high at 3.6, but he can't be blamed for the .351 BABIP.  He's not long for the rotation anyway.

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Mailbag: Francisco, Manny, Recommendations

Let's answer some mailbag questions today.

Tim, conceptually, would you rather have two average players, or an elite player and a replacement level player? - Tom

I'd rather have the elite player and the replacement level player, for sure.  In most leagues I have faith that I can dig up a few above average players off the waiver wire.  But I don't go in expecting to find elite players on the wire.  So I'm usually willing to swap two decent players for one first-round monster.

Would you trade Frank Francisco to get Garrett Atkins? - Dennis

My opinion is that in all but the most insane of leagues you can get closers off the waiver wire if you are vigilant.  So yes, I'd be willing to move Francisco.  He's dealing with biceps tendonitis for a few days so you should probably let that pass so you're not moving him at a low point.  I would shoot higher than Atkins though.  Maybe Adam Lind?

I was wondering what your take is on looking to acquire Manny since I have room on my bench to store him.  What should I offer as fair value for half a season of Manny, assuming his owner will bite? - Rafi

Check out the recent trades involving Manny at CBS Sports.  Manny alone has brought in Jayson Werth, Bobby Abreu, Johnny Cueto, David Ortiz, Andre Ethier, Mike Cameron, Carlos Lee, Nick Markakis, Aaron Hill, Lance Berkman, and Adam Dunn.  So maybe offer a player at the low-end of that spectrum as a starting point.

Tim, other than your fine website, what other fantasy baseball resources would you suggest (paid services or free) to help with in-season management of fantasy baseball teams? Are there any paid services (such as Rotoworld's Season Pass) that you would recommend to your readers? - Ali

I'm interested to hear reader recommendations on this question.  The one resource I cannot do without is RotoWorld's player news.  I look at that quite often.  I am a fan of the work at Baseball HQ (subscription) and ESPN, but I'll look at those irregularly.  So I don't think it's necessary to spend a bunch of money for fantasy info.

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Anatomy Of A First Place Team

I'm spending a lot of time trying to dig out of last place in the RotoAuthority fantasy league.  Hasn't worked so far; I have 40 points.  So I figured, why not take a look at the first place, Men With Wood, which has 87 points currently, to see what they're doing right.

My initial guess was that Men With Wood had an awesome draft.  But check out these results:

C - Ryan Doumit (8)
C - Bengie Molina (13)
1B - Casey Kotchman (21)
2B - Ian Kinsler (1)
SS - Rafael Furcal (6)
3B - Jorge Cantu (16)
MI - Ryan Theriot (17)
CI - Carlos Guillen (20)
OF - Vladimir Guerrero (3)
OF - Jason Bay (4)
OF - Jermaine Dye (7)
OF - Lastings Milledge (10)
OF - Jeff Francoeur (25)
DH - David Ortiz (5)

SP - Tim Lincecum (2)
SP - Brett Myers (11)
SP - Daisuke Matsuzaka (12)
SP - John Maine (18)
SP - Andy Sonnanstine (19)
SP - Dave Bush (22)
RP - Jonathan Broxton (9)
RP - Francisco Cordero (14)
RP - Mike Gonzalez (15)

Bn - Ryan Franklin (23)
Bn - Jason Kubel (24)
Bn - Jon Rauch (26)

Men With Wood must've dealt really well with adversity.  His best pickups:  Denard Span, Chris Duncan, Nick Swisher, Nyjer Morgan, Luke Scott, Todd Helton, Kyle Lohse, Zach Duke, and Michael Bourn.  Worst drop: Adam Lind.

He also pulled off a couple of trades:

  • April 24th: dealt Vlad for Justin Verlander.  Verlander has been lights out since acquired.
  • April 25th: dealt Theriot and Franklin for Derek Jeter.  Jeter hasn't done much since the deal.  Franlin contributed five saves to Men With Wood before being traded away.

Where has the team really excelled?  They've got 8 points for runs, 9.5 for RBI, 10 for SBs, 7.5 for wins, 12 for saves, 11 for Ks, 10 for ERA, and 8 for WHIP.  Weaker spots have been 5 points for HR and 6 for AVG.  The offense has been carried by Kinsler, Cantu, Bay, and Dye.  Lincecum, Verlander, Lohse, and Duke have led the rotation.

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Facing The Giants

The Giants easily have the worst offense in the NL at 3.63 runs per game.  Here's a look at their opponents this week, for spot-starting purposes:

  • Monday: Daniel Cabrera
  • Tuesday: Jordan Zimmermann
  • Wednesday: Shairon Martis
  • Thursday: John Maine
  • Friday: Livan HernandezTim Lincecum starts this game for the Giants, but it's Livan Hernandez so you probably wouldn't use him anyway.
  • Saturday: Johan Santana

Zimmermann is my pick of the week, though Maine is worth a look if he's out there (despite his 5.3 BB/9).  You might be able to hang with Zimmermann, as he draws the Pirates in his following start.

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Newfound Control

The following pitchers have shaved at least 1.0 BB/9 off last year's walk rate:

  1. Lance Cormier - 2.14
  2. Barry Zito - 2.04
  3. Erik Bedard - 1.79
  4. Josh Johnson - 1.70
  5. Edwin Jackson - 1.58
  6. Jason Marquis - 1.16
  7. Zack Greinke - 1.13
  8. Justin Verlander - 1.04
  9. Johnny Cueto - 1.02

Honorable mentions for improved control: Justin Masterson, Felix Hernandez, Jarrod Washburn, Kevin Slowey (from 1.35 to 0.52), Jered Weaver, Kevin Millwood, Doug Davis, Tim Lincecum, Ted Lilly

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