March 2010

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Trying The NFBC

Sunday, March 28th, I'll be trying my hand in Fanball's National Fantasy Baseball Championship.  The Double Play competition I'm entering has 1,020 teams spread across 85 12-team mixed leagues.  After the season, I'll do a post giving my impressions of my first time trying the NFBC.


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Closer Rankings

I don't put much stock into fantasy baseball closer rankings.  An extra five saves for a guy can cause a big swing in his value; it's just very unpredictable.  For a lot of guys on this list I simply put them down for 30 saves because they currently have closing jobs.  Draft round is in parentheses.

  1. Jonathan Papelbon (6) - $21.50
  2. Jonathan Broxton (6) - $21.39
  3. Mariano Rivera (6) - $18.31
  4. Joakim Soria (9) - $16.81
  5. Heath Bell (9) - $15.80
  6. Francisco Rodriguez (8) - $13.81
  7. Huston Street (12) - $13.62
  8. Brian Wilson (12) - $13.25
  9. Chad Qualls (17) - $13.03
  10. Andrew Bailey (11) - $12.22
  11. Rafael Soriano (13) - $12.02
  12. Carlos Marmol (12) - $10.93
  13. Billy Wagner (13) - $10.06
  14. Francisco Cordero (10) - $9.55
  15. Jose Valverde (11) - $9.14
  16. Trevor Hoffman (14) - $8.32
  17. Frank Francisco (17) - $7.90
  18. Brandon Lyon (28) - $7.33
  19. Octavio Dotel (23) - $7.28
  20. Mike Gonzalez (17) - $7.04
  21. David Aardsma (14) - $6.94
  22. Bobby Jenks (13) - $6.52
  23. Matt Capps (19) -$6.48
  24. Kerry Wood (19) - $6.27
  25. Jon Rauch (27) - $6.07
  26. Brian Fuentes (10) - $5.33
  27. Ryan Franklin (13) - $4.12
  28. Brad Lidge (18) - $4.04
  29. Leo Nunez (21) - $2.58
  30. Jason Frasor (27) - -$0.45
  31. Ryan Madson (27) - -$0.61
  32. J.P. Howell (24) - -$0.64
  33. Kevin Gregg (28) - -$1.23
  34. Scott Downs (27) - -$7.68
  35. Fernando Rodney (19) - -$10.15
  • There's a pretty good chance Bell is traded, not necessarily into a closing job, so he's going too early.
  • K-Rod's going too early.  He doesn't magically create extra save opps for his team just by being K-Rod.
  • Street, Soriano, and Wagner could have big years but are being valued properly given injury concerns (with Wagner, it's just his age).  Marmol's awful control will cause me to stay away. 
  • Qualls, Dotel, Capps, and Wood are bargains, though Wood and Dotel carry trade risk.
  • I've given Lyon the nod over Matt Lindstrom for now, though Lyon is coming back from minor shoulder surgery.  Keep an eye on this one.  Also monitor the Twins and Blue Jays, where my favorites are Rauch and Gregg.  Right now I've got Frasor and Gregg with 15 saves each because it's too early to call.  Maybe you like Matt Guerrier for the Twins.
  • In general, if you like to avoid the top names, you don't need to think about closers until the 14th or 15th round - even if you need three.  Consider skills, current injuries, injury history, salaries, quality of backups, and trade risk.  Half your league's saves will come from the waiver wire anyway, so be sure to follow @CloserNews on Twitter.


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Comparing Yahoo, ESPN, and Mock Draft Central Rankings

Jeffrey Gross of the blog A Game Of Inches has compiled a spreadsheet comparing rankings from Yahoo, ESPN, and Mock Draft Central.  Your provider is probably undervaluing certain players.  It pays to know that MDC ranks Francisco Liriano at #223 but Yahoo has him at #965.  This may change, but it means you don't have to worry about a league-mate choosing Liriano simply because his name was next on the supplied draft board.  Check out Jeffrey's blog here, and download his spreadsheet here.


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Recommended Projections

I will no longer be releasing projections here at RotoAuthority.  The best projection systems are already available for free: CHONE and ZiPS.  You can download spreadsheets in both cases and then tweak the numbers as you see fit.  I've found that I'm more likely to tinker with playing time projections than rates; for example, you will probably want to increase Yovani Gallardo's 153.6 ZiPS innings projection.

As for turning projections into dollar values appropriate for your league, I strongly recommend Art McGee's book How To Value Players For Rotisserie Baseball.  It'll cost you $23 at Baseball HQ, but learning the methods used will lead to the best dollar values for your league annually.  One other element you will need for do-it-yourself rankings is the 2009 Games Played By Position, found at Fantasy Sports Central.


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Closer Report: Minnesota Twins

MARCH 9: The news that Nathan may need Tommy John surgery knocks him off draft boards for now.  Guerrier, Rauch, and Mijares remain my favorites to replace him (in that order), with Pat Neshek and Jesse Crain two other names we can't rule out.  If manager Ron Gardenhire tips his hand or the Twins add a proven closer, we'll be sure to update the situation on our Twitter account CloserNews.

MARCH 3: Twins closer Joe Nathan is still among the very best in the business.  He's going in the seventh round, and the 40 saves, 2.50 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 75 Ks are worth it.

Nathan is 35, and he had offseason surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow.  He doesn't seem to be off-track because of it, but it's important to know your backup options.

Matt Guerrier is one possibility, though he struck out only 5.5 per nine in '09.  Jose Mijares hasn't been around as long, but he does throw a bit harder and whiffed a more appropriate 8.0 per nine.  However, he's left-handed.  The Twins also have Jon Rauch, who came on strong in his 15.6 innings for them and has closing experience.  Guerrier wins out in terms of Baseball Prospectus' leverage stat, though the other two were close.  If I had to pick one, it'd be Guerrier.


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Reader Leagues

It's about that time of year that people start making their fantasy baseball draft plans.  Use this post to set up RotoAuthority reader leagues.


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Starting Pitcher Rankings

Today let's dive into my starting pitcher rankings for 12-team mixed leagues.  Average draft round is in parentheses.

  1. Tim Lincecum (2) - $41.40
  2. Roy Halladay (3) - $34.66
  3. Dan Haren (4) - $33.74
  4. C.C. Sabathia (3) - $30.31
  5. Zack Greinke (3) - $30.17
  6. Felix Hernandez (3) - $28.56
  7. Justin Verlander (4) - $27.52
  8. Johan Santana (4) - $27.35
  9. Adam Wainwright (5) - $25.91
  10. Javier Vazquez (6) - $25.76
  11. Josh Beckett (7) - $24.38
  12. Tommy Hanson (7) - $24.37
  13. Cole Hamels (9) - $23.32
  14. Jon Lester (5) - $21.72
  15. Chris Carpenter (7) - $20.78
  16. Cliff Lee (5) - $20.28
  17. Ricky Nolasco (9) - $20.20
  18. Yovani Gallardo (8) - $19.46
  19. Jake Peavy (9) - $19.38
  20. Josh Johnson (6) - $19.01
  21. Clayton Kershaw (8) - $18.85
  22. Matt Cain (8) - $18.36
  23. Chad Billingsley (11) - $18.00
  24. James Shields (11) - $17.81
  25. Phil Hughes (27) - $16.53
  26. Ubaldo Jimenez (9) - $16.26
  27. Wandy Rodriguez (10) - $16.09
  28. Jair Jurrjens (12) - $15.08
  29. Ted Lilly (15) - $14.93
  30. Scott Baker (13) - $14.88
  31. Brett Anderson (13) - $14.40
  32. Matt Garza (11) - $13.78
  33. Ryan Dempster (15) - $13.43
  34. John Lackey (11) - $13.38
  35. Jered Weaver (12) - $12.68
  36. Roy Oswalt (14) - $12.56
  37. Rich Harden (19) - $12.04
  38. A.J. Burnett (11) - $11.64 
  39. Max Scherzer (13) - $10.81
  40. Aaron Harang (22) - $10.38
  41. Brandon Webb (12) - $10.19
  42. Kevin Slowey (19) - $10.03
  43. Colby Lewis (N/A) - $9.69
  44. Stephen Strasburg (26) - $9.56
  45. Jonathan Sanchez (20) - $8.87
  46. Clay Buchholz (17) - $8.83
  47. Joe Blanton (25) - $8.75
  48. Carlos Zambrano (15) - $8.52
  49. Randy Wolf (18) - $8.43
  50. Scott Kazmir (15) - $8.07
  51. Johnny Cueto (19) - $7.08
  52. Neftali Feliz (15) - $7.08
  53. Jorge de la Rosa (17) - $6.93
  54. Francisco Liriano (20) - $6.53
  55. John Danks (14) - $6.45
  56. David Price (15) - $5.77
  57. J.A. Happ (22) - $5.30
  58. Gavin Floyd (16) - $5.10
  59. Ervin Santana (20) - $4.94
  60. Tim Hudson (18) - $4.76
  61. Daisuke Matsuzaka (17) - $4.73
  62. Mat Latos (28) - $4.35
  63. Erik Bedard (20) - $4.29
  64. Bronson Arroyo (28) - $3.71
  65. Ben Sheets (19) - $3.32
  66. Kevin Correia (23) - $3.18
  67. Mark Buehrle (20) - $3.07
  68. Jeff Niemann (19) - $3.00
  69. Hiroki Kuroda (22) - $2.85
  70. Wade Davis (27) - $2.81
  71. Brett Myers (28) - $2.81
  72. Andy Pettitte (18) - $2.58
  73. Edwin Jackson (15) - $2.50
  74. Derek Lowe (27) - $2.09
  75. Kenshin Kawakami (36) - $1.83
  76. Randy Wells (28) - $1.75
  77. Ryan Rowland-Smith (N/A) - $1.56
  78. Justin Masterson (N/A) - $1.55
  79. Joel Pineiro (24) - $1.00
  80. Clayton Richard (28) - $0.62
  81. Jason Hammel (28) - $0.21

The top tier pitchers seem to be valued appropriately, with the possible exception of Hamels.  Maybe you don't want to wait until the 10th round to take a pitcher, but you could wait until the 7th or 8th and create a very strong staff.  Brad Penny, Brian Matusz, and Marc Rzepczynski just missed my cut for positive mixed league value, but that doesn't mean they're junk.  At a certain point it's wise to ignore projections and rankings and fill out your staff with pitchers you like, guys with good stuff.  Maybe that means Buchholz, Feliz, and Liriano - there are probably a dozen pitchers on this list with the ability to destroy their projections.


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Ranking American League Offenses

11:49pm: My apologies for screwing up the Angels' projection - it should be 5.071 runs per game, eighth in the league.  The figures below are now correct.

10:38am: Over at MLB Trade Rumors, I've been analyzing each team's offseason.  Part of the process includes plugging the team's projected batting order into Baseball Musings's lineup analysis tool using CHONE projections.  I've just finished the American League teams.

The runs per game figures cranked out by these tools reflect only each team's Opening Day lineup, so perfect health is assumed.  Obviously that's not realistic, so the actual runs per game figures will be lower in 2010.  But if we operate under the assumption that it's all relative, we can rank the AL offenses based on these projections.

  1. Yankees - 5.826 runs per game
  2. Red Sox - 5.371
  3. Rays - 5.273
  4. Twins - 5.250
  5. Orioles - 5.242
  6. Rangers - 5.181
  7. Indians - 5.178
  8. Angels - 5.071 
  9. White Sox - 4.826
  10. Tigers - 4.719
  11. Blue Jays - 4.656
  12. Mariners - 4.559
  13. Royals - 4.536
  14. Athletics - 4.532

A few thoughts:

  • The biggest change goes to the Angels, who are projected to drop six spots.  The Blue Jays and A's are also in for big dropoffs.  The Angels lost Chone Figgins' .395 OBP from the lineup, but CHONE also thinks most of their regulars will experience regression.  If you were planning to draft Angels starters with the expectation that they'll get extra run support, you might want to reconsider.  Joe Saunders won't get an MLB-best 6.5 runs scored per game again.
  • The Orioles and Rays, on the other hand, are looking improved.  Maybe that means a small boost for Baltimore's Brian Matusz.  On the Rays' side, the entire rotation is draft-worthy (James Shields, Matt Garza, Jeff Niemann, David Price, and Wade Davis).


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Closer Report: Los Angeles Angels

Brian Fuentes remains the Angels' closer, and the tenth round is pretty early for a guy who didn't pitch particularly well in 2009 and has decent backups in place.

The Halos committed big money to Fernando Rodney, but he's slated to be a setup man.  Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times explains:

Rodney is expected to share setup duties with Scot Shields and Kevin Jepsen and close on a fill-in basis when Brian Fuentes is down.

Fuentes was relieved by Jepsen multiple times last season, with Mike Scioscia opting for a semi-job share arrangement in mid-September.  Jepsen dealt with shoulder tendinitis that month, so he's been taking it easy this spring.  Shields is coming off knee surgery.

Given Rodney's fastball, closing experience, and contract, he's the one you want.  And though the Angels probably won't admit it, they could try to prevent Fuentes from reaching the 55 games finished he needs for his 2011 option to vest at $9MM.  Unfortunately Rodney is currently going in the 18th round, a sign that those drafting don't realize he's not the closer.  At that point in the draft you can still get established closers like Chad Qualls, Matt Capps, and Kerry Wood.

For all of our 2010 closer reports, click here. And be sure to follow our @CloserNews twitter page for instant updates on changes in closing situations.


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Undervalued Hitters For 2010

Consider this my sleeper hitters post.  I use the terms "sleeper" and "undervalued" interchangeably, while others feel that sleepers need to be well under the radar.  At any rate, I feel that these hitters will provide a profit for you in 2010 given their draft position.  I've included the player's average draft round in parentheses.

  • Brian McCann (4) - $24.25.  I don't see why Victor Martinez should be drafted two rounds earlier than McCann.
  • Nelson Cruz (6) - $19.60.  A potential four-category stud, still undervalued following his breakout season.
  • Joey Votto (3) - $19.23.  I believe Votto's production will be close to the typical first-round first base guys, aside from Albert Pujols.
  • Grady Sizemore (3) - $18.83.  Fantasy leaguers are shortsighted...Sizemore is still a four-category monster.
  • Matt Wieters (8) - $17.75.  He can potentially match McCann this year.
  • Carlos Lee (6) - $15.89.  Maybe he's boring, but I'll gladly take .300-30-110 at this point in the draft.
  • Mike Napoli (14) - $15.41.  I still don't think Napoli's ability to go .261-23-61-62-5 in 375 ABs is properly valued.  Similar story with Geovany Soto, who should be better.
  • Andrew McCutchen (8) - $14.45.  There's good potential for 15 HR, 30 SB, and 100 R here.
  • Juan Pierre (19) - $13.31.  Same old Pierre, this time with 625+ ABs.  Could mean .290, 100 R, 50 SB.  Rajai Davis, while a good value, goes five rounds earlier and has less of a track record.  Julio Borbon is another sleeper speedster.
  • Jay Bruce (11) - $11.90.  I'm looking for .269-32-91-85-8 out of Bruce, but the ceiling is higher.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera (13) - $10.71.  Could be an all-around 2B or SS, with a line like .290-10-78-97-17 in 600 ABs.
  • Chris Coghlan (19) - $10.42.  You'd think a ROY would buy more respect.  Coghlan could provide sneaky value at .294-12-74-96-18.
  • Vladimir Guerrero (12) - $10.22.  With only 525 ABs, too.  Vlad could give you .300-25-90 if you don't mind tying up the DH spot.
  • Everth Cabrera (20) - $8.77.  Has a shot at 100 R, 40 SB.  I also consider Alcides Escobar undervalued. 
  • Gordon Beckham (8) - $8.71.  Could be an all-around contributor, and will even gain 2B eligibility.
  • Chris Davis (14) - $8.60.  Back aboard the Davis train?  Eight rounds later than '09, it's worth gambling that he'll reach 30 HR and 90 RBI.  Garrett Jones could provide similar production and qualifies at OF too.
  • Adam LaRoche (17) - $8.50.  Chase Field inflates left-handed home runs by 15%.
  • Erick Aybar (17) - $6.63.  Don't forget Aybar when you're looking for a shortstop; he could hit .290, swipe 20 bags, and score over 100 as the Angels' leadoff man.
  • Corey Hart (16) - $5.89.  Who's to say Hart won't return to his 20/20 glory days?  You're not risking much.
  • Kelly Johnson (26) - $5.84.  Perenially undervalued, Johnson moves to Chase and should exceed 10 HR/10 SB.
  • Franklin Gutierrez (22) - $5.79.  Though lauded for his defense, Guti could exceed 15/15.
  • Cody Ross (26) - $5.62.  One of the cheaper 20 HR, 90 RBI guys you'll find.
  • Others I like: Martin Prado, Travis Snider, Kyle Blanks, Conor Jackson, Billy Butler, Carlos Gonzalez, Miguel Montero, and Cameron Maybin.  Who are your undervalued/sleeper hitters for 2010?


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