Oct 29, 2010

Matt Kemp : 2010 :: Carlos Gonzalez : 2011

Matt Kemp shot up fantasy draft charts after a big 2009 campaign to become a trendy first round fantasy pick last season.  He had a decent year overall but it wasn't the type of year that drafters hoped for.  Carlos Gonzalez had a big 2010 campaign and will likely rocket into first round territory next season.  Inevitably, comparisons will be drawn between Gonzalez and Kemp but I have to question whether they will be justified.

Prior to the 2010 drafts, Kemp had played a couple half seasons and two full seasons.  In the 2009 breakout season, he got everyone's attention with these numbers:

          .297 AVG, 26 HR, 34 SB, 97 R, 101 RBI

For comparison's sake, Gonzalez will have played a couple half seasons and one full season prior to next year's drafts.  In this past breakout year, he posted these numbers:

          .336 AVG, 34 HR, 26 SB, 111 R, 117 RBI

There are some slight similarities between the numbers but Gonzalez had a much more impressive fantasy season in his breakout year.

In 2009, Kemp had a high BABIP of .345 but he was a fast guy throughout his career and traditionally had a high BABIP so it wasn't out of the question for him to maintain that.  Instead, his BABIP fell closer to league average in 2010 (.295) bringing his average down with it to .249. Though his power improved slightly, he stole 15 less bases (partly from being on base 30 times less overall). His team also got worse around him which ruined RBI and R opportunities for him, causing those stats to dip too.

For Gonzalez, we shouldn't expect the .336 average to stick around in 2011. His BABIP was .384 which is way above his career and league norms (3rd highest in league). Next season, his BABIP could drop to his '09 level of .333 and his average would drop to around .284 again. Or, it could drop to Matt Kemp (and league average) levels of .295 which would be disastrous and cause him to likely hit below .250 next season. 

The power is real though and there's no reason to think he can't maintain his very high ISO that he's previously had. That means the 30+ HR's are here to stay. His 20+ SB's should stick around too as he's always been a good basestealer. If his average drops, the on-base opportunities might fall too which would lower his RBI and R totals but he still should be close to 100 in both next season. 

If we're going to think about worst case scenario, you might see Gonzalez produce a line like this in 2011:

          .245 AVG, 30 HR, 20 SB, 85 R, 90 RBI

That's extremely similar to what Kemp actually produced in 2010 (for the record, Kemp was still valuable and the 66th most valuable player in the league).  It would be a disappointment but I think a lot more would have to go wrong for Gonzalez than it did for Kemp.  What might be a more conservative estimate for 2011 would be:

          .285 AVG, 35 HR, 25 SB, 95 R, 105 RBI

Those would still be first round numbers and certainly nothing to complain about.  If you target Gonzalez with a first round pick in 2011, you may want to temper expectations away from another .330 average though and expect something closer to the stats above.

It will be interesting to see what the projections systems tabulate for CarGo in 2011 and to see where his average draft position will be.  The second half of the first round feels right but he may have done enough for people to reach and take him within the top 6 picks.

Oct 27, 2010

2011's 1st Round Fantasy Baseball Draft Picks

There are many factors that go into determining who deserves the label of a first round fantasy draft pick each season. Among the key factors that are on drafters' minds: previous year's season totals, consistency, name recognition and position scarcity. As I take out my crystal ball, let's take a peek at those areas to see who might be in 2011's first round.

According to my number crunching, the top fifteen most valuable rotisserie players in 2010 were: Carlos Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera, Roy Halladay, Carl Crawford, Josh Hamilton, Adam Wainwright, Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Paul Konerko, Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday, Jered Weaver and Hanley Ramirez. Though fantasy draft orders rely almost too heavily on just the previous year's season totals, I can guarantee that these guys will not be the exact top 15 players chosen next year.

If we look at the players who were drafted in the Top 20 last season, nine of them finished in the Top 25 at year's end. These are players that are strong bets to be in the first round next year because of name recognition and consistency, as mentioned earlier. Those players would be: Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday, Hanley Ramirez, David Wright, Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria.

Typically, because of how thin the talent level is, the best second-basemen and shortstops get a boost in draft value. That boost might be enough to catapult Robinson Cano into first round territory as well as keep Hanley Ramirez at the top of the first round, despite an off year.

With that being said, I imagine that the first round in a 12-team next year might be something awfully close to this:
  • Albert Pujols 
  • Hanley Ramirez 
  • Miguel Cabrera 
  • Joey Votto 
  • Carlos Gonzalez 
  • Ryan Braun 
  • Josh Hamilton 
  • Matt Holliday 
  • Evan Longoria 
  • Carl Crawford 
  • David Wright 
  • Troy Tulowitzki 
Every year, there is that pitcher that everyone wants to try to sneak into first round territory so Roy Halladay or Felix Hernandez might invade first round conversations too. Besides that, I could definitely see Robinson Cano sneaking in that conversation but I think there's enough first round talent to keep him at the top of the second round at this point. But, as far as my official prediction for the first round order will be, I'm sticking with what's above. I don't necessarily advocate for this to be the order that the draft should go but this is what past history makes me believe will happen.

Oct 25, 2010

The Year of the Pitcher - Fantasy Baseball Impact

In 2010, one thing that was much different than any previous year of baseball was the amount of good pitching throughout the league.  The league's cumulative ERA dropped from 4.32 to 4.08 in one year, the lowest in 18 years.  And, of course, there were many no-hitters pitched as well as no-hitters that went deep into games.

What has interested me is the fact that some pundits feel this has a significant impact on what is valuable in fantasy baseball.  For point-based leagues, it may mean that pitchers were more valuable than they were in the past.  A scoring system that you may have created in the boom of the steroid era may be a bit less balanced these days.  But, for rotisserie leagues, what exactly does it mean when the league ERA takes such a dramatic dip?

Now that pitchers are pitching better, should pitchers be drafted earlier or later or the same?  Well, the only way their value will truly change is if the gap has grown between the best fantasy pitchers and the mediocre fantasy pitchers.

Presented below is a graph that compares the final WERTH values of drafted pitchers from 2009 versus 2010, with the blue line being 2009 and orange being 2010.  What seems to be the case is that the middle-tier of pitchers were more valuable overall which lowered the top-tier slightly (despite more impressive numbers). So, if anything, it means that drafting a top-tier pitcher wasn't as necessary as in the past.  However, there's not a significant difference to really support any radical changes in drafting.  So, all in all, I think that there shouldn't be a change in the way we draft pitchers for next year.

Oct 21, 2010

Fantasy Baseball Projections - Correlation to Actual Results

Yesterday, we glanced at the 2010 baseball projections from a very generic view.  And today we'll dive a little deeper into the statistical comparison of the projections versus the actual results for the 2010 fantasy season.  Once again, I'm looking at a crop of about 170 players that fit a criteria of being in the top 400 drafted players while getting over 400 plate appearances.

In this analysis, I'm comparing the projections to actual results using my WERTH roto values.  For the sake of comparison, these WERTH values are not based on the total of each statistic and instead based on each statistic per plate appearance.  So, we're looking at predicted HR per PA, RBI per PA and such.  So, totals won't be thrown off a projection calling for 30 HR in 600 PA instead of a true outcome of 20 HR in 400 PA due to injury.  These WERTH values are calculated based on comparing the predicted stat for each player to the average and standard deviation of that stat amongst the expected field of starting fantasy players in a 12-team standard roto league.

For this analysis, I've compared the projected WERTH values in each category to the actual year-end values using the correlation coefficients from a Two Sample Paired-T test.  Here are the results:

  Total  R  RBI      HR  SB  AVG
   Marcel  0.522  0.564  0.689  0.772  0.886  0.336
   Chone  0.532  0.518  0.715  0.779  0.879  0.394
   Zips  0.484  0.483  0.647  0.773  0.878  0.368
   Fangraphs  0.512  0.414  0.578  0.785  0.879  0.391

Values closer to 1.00 would represent a more perfect correlation between prediction and reality while a value closer to 0.00 represents less of a correlation.

Looking at the categories, we can see the least difference between projections was in HR and SB while Runs, RBIs and Batting Average is where the projections swayed the most.  Batting Average seemed to have a much weaker correlation overall than the other statistics (between 0.336 to 0.394) while HR's and SB's were the strongest.

Marcel had a strong showing across the board, especially with their Runs and SB predictions.  The reason why their correlation amongst total WERTH value suffered was that they had the weakest correlation between their projected Batting Averages versus actual results.

Chone could be considered the overall winner with the strongest correlation in total WERTH value. That's largely because Chone's projections ranked first or second in each of the five categories and had the best correlation among RBIs and AVG.

ZiPS wasn't particularly weak in any specific area but they weren't strong in any area either.  They didn't rank first or second in any category which gave them the weakest overall correlation to actual results.

I somewhat expected Fangraphs Fan Projections to have the weakest overall correlation just given it's the least scientific method of projecting.  By far, they had the weakest correlation to Runs and RBIs but were strong enough in the other areas to take the bronze medal here.

Below is a graph to give a visual indicator of exactly how the findings broke down for those who love pretty graphics:

Oct 20, 2010

Fantasy Baseball Projections - Quartile Results

At this little fantasy baseball site, we rely heavily on using projections from other much smarter people in order to shape our draft opinions.  The four services that we used last year and included in our fantasy cheatsheets were: Chone, Marcel, ZiPS and Fangraphs Fan Projections.  Their methodology is each slightly different and provide a nice potpourri of possible results on the year.  Now that the season is over, I'm taking some time to see how those projections compared to the actual results on the baseball diamond.

There's many ways to skin this cat but the first way I'm looking at these projections is by taking a broad look at their predicted spread of each stat versus the reality.  So, we'll take a look at the five rotisserie hitting categories and show the projected quartiles in a boxplot and compare to the quartiles of how that stat truly did break down over the year. In order to exclude injured players who might throw off the comparison, we're only looking at hitters who were among the top 400 drafted players on average last year and had 400 or more plate appearances.  This leaves us with about 170 hitters for this quick analysis.

Runs and RBI's Projections

The chart above shows where the projections were for Runs and RBIs. The first thing that stands out is that Fangraphs Fan Projections were a bit high for both Runs and RBIs. Fangraphs' upper quartile for RBIs (108) and Runs (97) were significantly higher than the actual upper quartiles (91 and 90 respectively). While Fangraphs was overly optimistic, Marcel was on the other side of the spectrum as too conservative in their projections as their projections were fairly low in comparison to actual output. Meanwhile, Chone and ZiPS seemed to hit closest to the range of the actual results except for ZiPS being a bit too optimistic about how many RBIs the leaders would have (Ryan Howard with 145, Prince Fielder with 142, etc).

HRs and SBs Projections

This shows a comparison of the projections among HR's and SB's.  The projection systems were all a bit better in this area.  The area that stands out is that they all misjudged just how many SB's the leaders in that category would have (68) as only Fangraphs predicted anybody from this group to steal over 50 bags.  The homerun projections were all about right as far as how the spread would break down though Marcel was once again slightly conservative.

Batting Average Projections

Here we have the projections for batting average, the final standard roto category.  Interestingly, all of the systems were much more conservative than the true results.  As you can see, the spread of batting average was much wider than the projections were willing to wager with actual averages as high as .359 and as low as .198.  The lower quartile was much lower than any projection bargained for and the upper quartile was much higher than most would have predicted.  I'd say there were no winners in this category as they were all in same conservative range.

All in all, we can see that Marcel was a bit more conservative in the range of projections while the fans at Fangraphs are a bit more wild and more optimistic than what was reality.  Chone and ZiPS stayed a bit closer to the true range of projections but were still a bit off from what became reality.  Coming up, I'll also analyze how well they were able to predict the spread of the main fantasy pitching statistics.

Oct 18, 2010

Revisited: Search for 2010 Narco (Fantasy Deep Sleeper)

Way back in January of this year, I chronicled a method I use for tracking down fantasy deep sleepers for my leagues. These sleepers are sometimes so hidden from other drafters' views that we've had to invent a new word for them: narcos. The goal is to find guys who didn't get a ton of opportunity last year (under 350 AB's) but had nice fantasy production in that opportunity and are getting a bigger role this year. These are guys that can deliver prime value in drafts as they're often overlooked since drafters rely so heavily on season totals from the year before. You can refer to the original post on this for more information but here are the names that our formula spit out as potential fantasy baseball narco targets for us in the 2010 season:

  • Kyle Blanks
  • Julio Borbon
  • Jake Fox
  • Brett Gardner
  • Jonny Gomes
  • Carlos Gonzalez
  • Chris Iannetta
  • Garrett Jones
  • Angel Pagan
  • Ryan Raburn
  • David Ross
  • Randy Ruiz
  • Seth Smith
  • Andres Torres
  • Rickie Weeks

Some of these players didn't have a full year's worth of AB's due to lack of opportunity this year so they'd technically be disqualified from our criteria (Blanks, Fox, Iannetta, e.g.). But, regardless, in the graph above you see where all of these narco candidates fell at year's end. The biggest fantasy successes from this group would be Carlos Gonzalez, Rickie Weeks, Angel Pagan, Andres Torres, Brett Gardner, Jonny Gomes and Ryan Raburn (once he got to play). There were some failures mixed in but, really, this is a great list of players that most pundits are now saying had 'breakout' seasons. If you had followed this site last preseason, these players were on your target list prior to the season and their season wasn't as surprising to you as it was to others.

Granted, some of these players weren't even on any draft boards prior to last season (Torres, Pagan, Gomes) and those are the type of guys that really surprise people. It isn't necessarily recommended that you use a draft pick on guys that aren't being drafted but you should pay close attention to them and snatch them off the waiver wire the second they show any signs of life.

Regardless, with this year fully in the books, I can say that the narco system for selecting your fantasy baseball deep sleepers was successful again. We'll crunch the numbers for next year soon to see who you should be targetting in drafts or keeping an eye on in the 2011 season for possible waiver wire thievery.

Oct 16, 2010

Revisited: Fantasy Baseball Stars of 2010 (Batters)

Last March, I wrote up a summary of my favorite targets for the upcoming fantasy baseball drafts.  These were the players that were my type of guys and had opportunity to deliver big value.  This was different than my deep sleeper fantasy predictions as this was a mix of bargains in early and later rounds.

Well, I put those names out there on the internets and some made me look good and others made me look bad.  For the sake of being a responsible blogger, let's revisit these wacky fantasy baseball predictions.  We'll look at the pitchers that I predicted would be successful later but, first, let's dive into the batters that I was high on in the preseason.
  • Julio Borbon (Epic Fail): This is what I predicted for him: .290, 5 HR, 45 SB, 90 R, 40 RBI.  Instead, he gave us this ugly stat line: .276, 3 HR, 15 SB, 60 R, 42 RBI.  Without the loads of stolen bases, he was worthless.  My bad!
  • Chris Davis (Epic Fail): This is the last year I put any trust in him to live up his prospect status.  He was just very, very bad.
  • Elvis Andrus (Neither): He wasn't a big success nor a big failure.  He got over 30 stolen bases and nearly 90 runs at the shortstop position so that's nice.  But he didn't give you much else.
  • Nelson Cruz (Success): If only he could stay healthy for a full year!  Give him 162 games and he's a top 10 fantasy player.
  • Carlos Gonzalez (Success): Top producing fantasy player in the league while being drafted in the 10th round of your draft?  Um, yeah, that's some nice value.
  • Chris Iannetta (Epic Fail): Miguel Olivo beat him out for his job. That's not a good thing.
  • Garrett Jones (Neither): He was perfectly adequate.
  • Dustin Pedroia (Injured): He was having a decent year before injuries derailed him.  If you drafted him, you're not happy but it's hard to say if this is a success or failure without a full year of playing time.
  • Placido Polanco (Success):  It probably didn't win you a fantasy baseball title but Polanco produced well enough to start on most fantasy teams if still eligible at 2B despite being drafted in the 20th round on average.
  • Nick Swisher (Success):  Nick Johnson's injury opened up the gates for Swisher to go on a tear. Batting average used to be his Achilles' Heel but not anymore.  The average will likely fall next year as his BABIP was way too high to sustain.
  • Nick Johnson (Injured):  Got injured way early on so can't say much about him. He was a 291st pick on average so I'm sure you didn't lose sleep over his injury though.
  • David Ortiz (Success):  He'll never be a .300 hitter again and that .238 average in 2009 scared everyone away. But the end wasn't here yet for Big Papi as he put together a great power-hitting year again and he brought that average up to more respectable levels (after a horrible start to the season again).
  • B.J. Upton (Neither):  He may never reach the full potential that I dream of for him.  If he could just return to hitting anywhere close to .300 again, he'd be a huge value with those 40+ SB's and 15-20 HR's.  Not sure if that will ever happen though.  Besides that batting average, he had a decent fantasy season.
  • Carlos Beltran (Epic Fail):  Thought he was a nice buy low candidate with the injury to start the year but he never seemed to get on track.
In summary, I had 5 big successes, 4 epic failures, 3 who played up to par, 2 seasons ruined by injury and a partridge in a pair tree.  Overall, it's up to you to say whether I failed or succeeded but I think it was a decent showing overall.  Lessons were learned along the way and hopefully I'll improve more next year with even more fantasy baseball research here.

Oct 15, 2010

Looking Back: 250+ Average Draft Position (2010)

WERTH roto values, 250-400 ADP
In the final look at the the ending roto values from the 2010 fantasy baseball season, I'll take a look at players who were on the fantasy draft boards from last year but drafted at the 250th pick or later on average (note: this wouldn't include waiver wire surprises that weren't on most draft boards).  Looking at this crop of players, I'm going to highlight those that performed in the Top 150 players by the end of the year.  This was a group of 25 players that provided  huge value for minimal cost.
  • Hiroki Kuroda (265.50 ADP, 1.03 Total Roto Points, Ranked 111th): In the preseason, I recommended him by saying "for fantasy purposes, he excels in all categories except strikeouts." And, he actually improved his strikeout rate and had a valuable season across the board.
  • Buster Posey (277.80 ADP, -0.04 TR, Ranked 140th): He would have been drafted higher if he was starting in the majors right off the bat.  Great rookie year and he'll only get better.
  • Ricky Romero (290.94 ADP, 0.64 TR, Ranked 120th): Romero improved on a decent rookie season.  He provided nice strikeout totals and, though they're fluky, he got a bunch of Wins for your team.
  • Jason Heyward (300.14 ADP, 1.31 TR, Ranked 100th): See Buster Posey.
  • Marlon Byrd (307.80 ADP, 0.76 TR, Ranked 118th):  How dare people doubt Marlon Byrd! He had a decent year that provided a wee bit of value in all areas.
  • Kelly Johnson (309.41 ADP, 2.97 TR, Ranked 52nd): Back in that ol' preseason, I said "there's certainly nothing wrong with drafting him at 309.41 as the projection systems see him returning to 2008 form."  Well he did one better and doubled his HR totals from that year while matching all of the other totals from 2008 nearly exactly.
  • Drew Stubbs (311.37 ADP, 2.94 TR, Ranked 53rd):  I recommended him as a guy to target for SB's in the later rounds but I didn't expect him to get 20+ HR's to go with those steals.  A very nice surprise.
  • Bronson Arroyo (319.58 ADP, 1.33 TR, Ranked 98th): I predicted a regression from him in 2010 because of the difference between his low ERA and high FIP in 2009. But, somehow he defied the odds again! Once again, a big gap between those two numbers so I say regression in 2011 (for real this time).
  • Scott Podsednik (324.57 ADP, 1.32 TR, Ranked 99th): I predicted he'd be nice value in SB's that you could get later in the draft and that ended up being true as he got full-time playing time and racked up 35 SB's with a good batting average too.
  • Aubrey Huff (327.43 ADP, 3.53 TR, Ranked 40th):  He returned to former glory but will we get the 15 HR Huff next year or the 25-30 HR Huff?  We shall see.
  • Luke Scott (327.77 ADP, 1.11 TR, Ranked 107th):  Luke's been very consistent in providing about 25 HR's, 60-70 RBI's and R's with a weak batting average over the past couple years.  This year, the only difference was that he had a good batting average and that made all the difference between him being fantasy irrelevant and relevant.
  • Brett Myers (328.56 ADP, 2.30 TR, Ranked 67th):  He always had the talent and being away from Philly finally gave him to opportunity to resurrect his career.
  • Mat Latos (329.34 ADP, 3.71 TR, Ranked 36th):  In the preseason, I said "with a bit more seasoning now, we can hope he can return to something close to his minor league days where he amassed a 2.49 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 10.5 K/9 over 184 innings. Expecting those exact numbers in the majors would be foolish." Apparently it wasn't so foolish as he had a better WHIP and come pretty darn close to that ERA and K/9.  Wowza.
  • Delmon Young (330.59 ADP, 3.21 TR, Ranked 43rd): The power is finally starting to come to the surface for this former top prospect but the huge jump in RBI's (112!) is really what the difference between him being mediocre and being a viable fantasy outfielder.
  • Shaun Marcum (331.36 ADP, 1.63 TR, Ranked 89th): Tommy John surgery scared everyone away yet he came back firing on all cylinders.  This seems to be a theme for pitchers... Injuries from the previous season scare drafters away yet the pitcher returns to his old form much to everyone's surprise.
  • Jeremy Guthrie (332.94 ADP, -0.14 TR, Ranked 148th):  3.83 ERA was a nice surprise but his xFIP leads you to believe it was a fluke and he'll return to the mid 4.00's next season.
  • Colby Lewis (333.86 ADP, 1.67 TR, Ranked 87th): I'm somewhat shocked I didn't talk about him on this blog last year but I was high on him as a late round flier.  He seemed to resurrect himself in Japanese baseball and really transitioned well back in the majors.
  • C.J. Wilson (333.87 ADP, 1.73 TR, Ranked 84th): From mediocre closer to dominating starter? Sure, who didn't see that coming?
  • Brett Gardner (333.92 ADP, 2.62 TR, Ranked 60th):  Here's somebody I predicted as a deep sleeper candidate and I gave a predicted stat line of .280, 2 HR, 40 SB, 85 R, 35 RBI.  His actual stat line was .277, 5 HR, 47 SB, 97 R, 47 RBI.  Hey, not too far off!  Hope you all payed attention.
  • Gio Gonzalez (334.01 ADP, 1.55 TR, Ranked 91st): He was a slight bounceback candidate with the difference between his ERA and FIP but he blew all projections out of the water with a very strong campaign across the board.  There's still some questions about whether he's legit but he's still above average.
  • Scott Rolen (334.66 ADP, 0.63 TR, Ranked 121st): Rolen pulled a Paul Konerko and returned to 2006 form with 20 HR and nearly a .300 average. He's 35 so it's hard to say how it happened but it was a nice surprise for those who took a risk on him.
  • Carl Pavano (335.47 ADP, 1.20 TR, Ranked 102nd):  I'll quote my preseason self once again: "Pavano is going to sneak up on people this year." Well, he certainly did. I cited the difference between his ERA and FIP previously and that proved to be a good measuring stick to predict his comeback.
  • Anibal Sanchez (336.73 ADP, -0.04 TR, Ranked 141st):  Much like Scott Rolen, Sanchez called upon the 2006 version of himself so that he could pitch over 100 innings for the first time since '06.  He's always been a good pitcher but staying healthy have been a huge concern.  Will he make it two years in a row next year?
  • Austin Jackson (352.59 ADP, 1.71 TR, Ranked 85th):  The former Yankees prospect burst onto the scene as a fast baserunner who could be targeted for some SB's.  He provided similar numbers to Scotty Podsednik but with less SB's and more R's.  Could have more years of this ahead.
  • Ian Kennedy (361.90 ADP, 0.16 TR, Ranked 135th): I wasn't too excited about him when I wrote up a piece on him in the preseason but he outperformed expectations as he matured into a nice pitcher in Arizona.  Could get even better with more seasoning.
So, there you have the grand finale of the Looking Back series.  But, rest assured, this won't be the last glance at the 2010 drafts to see exactly what happened from preseason to regular season.  This section was a surface-level look and I'll be grabbing a metaphorical shovel and digging deeper in the near future.

Oct 13, 2010

Revisited: My Fantasy Baseball Blacklist of 2010

Let's pause and take a break from the Looking Back series which is glancing over the successes and failures of drafts from last year.  Instead, we're going to take a different look at last year's drafts.  In this series, I'm taking a look in the mirror and seeing where I was right or wrong from my own predictions.  This will be an ongoing look back to try to see how well I did last year and to admit my mistakes and gloat over my successes.

Though this ultimately wasn't published on the website last season, there were nine guys that I predicted would experience a downfall and not be worth the price they were being drafted at:
  • Mark Reynolds, 3B, ARI - We touched upon this in our first Looking Back post but Reynolds was being drafted in the second round on average.  In that round, you want somebody who you are confident can produce 2 to 5 extra roto points for your team and Reynolds ended up taking a step back and producing next to nothing extra for your team.  The horrible AVG is a lot more bearable when it's over 40 HR's with over 20 SB's but this time around it was only 32 HR's with 7 SB's while his BABIP took a huge drop to bring his batting average way down to .198.  Ugh.  Fall from grace, indeed.
  • Jose Reyes, SS, NYM - To be honest, I'm not 100% sure anymore why I predicted a downfall for him. The only notes I can find deal with him being an injury risk, which ended up being somewhat true as he did miss 30 games.  He was being drafted in the second round too and he did produce some value on the year but he produced under the range of most in the second round as 8 of the 11 other second rounders in that range produced higher than him.  But I wouldn't call him a complete failure on the year as I may have predicted.
  • Ichiro Suzuki, OF, SEA - What can I say other than that I was wrong?  His batting average dropped nearly 40 points and his HR's were at a career low but his SB's were nearly at a career high.  And, that big drop in average was still .315 over 680 AB's which is still great for your fantasy team.  Despite my reservations about him, he still produced great roto value for a 4th round pick and vastly outproduced the likes of Pablo Sandoval or Adam Lind who were drafted around him. 
  • Aaron Hill, 2B, TOR - His great 2009 season seemed fluky by all measures and that proved to be true.  Despite being in a surprisingly powerful Blue Jays offense, he had 40 less RBI's and 30 less R's (partly due to missing 25 games).  His batting average dropped to a Mark Reynolds level and he ended up providing negative value for your fantasy team despite being a 4th round pick (and he was drafted above Josh Hamilton on average, d'oh!).  The good news is that his BABIP was insane at 0.196 and he should bounce back a bit next year.  Going from overvalued to undervalued!
  • Kendry Morales, 1B, ANA - I said that he was being overvalued and would just produce average numbers despite being drafted at around 50 in most drafts.  I was wrong about him producing average numbers as he was producing quite well before his, um, accident which landed him on the DL.  So I'll say I was wrong about this one despite the injury making him producing under his draft position.
  • Rafael Furcal, SS, LA - I was wrong here. He revived his career in a way but didn't manage to stay healthy all year, which is common for Rafael.  But when healthy, he was certainly producing quite well and like the Furcal of oldentimes though I predicted him to fade into the twilight of his career.
  • Carlos Zambrano, SP, CHC - I was half-right and half-wrong here.  He was a terrible, horrible, no good very bad pitcher and got demoted to the minors and all that fun stuff.  So, hooray, I was right that he would not be worth drafting at 171 in drafts. But, then he came back and rebounded and became valuable down the stretch. But, at that point, many people who drafted him had probably dropped him.
  • Ervin Santana, SP, ANA - Considering he was drafted at 238, I'm not sure I was so against drafting him.  But, I was wrong either way as he produced nice value from that spot.  He wasn't overly valuable but for a pitcher drafted where he was, it was good.
  • J.A. Happ, SP, PHI - I thought Happ would regress to the mean here due to having a fluky year last year and he certainly did regress (though he rebounded a bit in Houston).
For the nine guys I listed here, I'd say I was half right and half wrong overall.  However, I will say that if you stayed away from drafting all of these guys, I think you'd be pretty content with your season. Meanwhile if you ended up drafting all of these guys, you might be somewhat disappointed with your season.  So, overall, I call my blacklist of guys a relative success (though I understand if you call it a relative failure).  We'll take more looks at my crazy predictions at the offseason rolls on.

Oct 11, 2010

Looking Back: 150 to 250 Average Draft Position (2010)

150 to 250 ADP, WERTH values
We've already looked at the disappointments and pleasant rotisserie surprises from those that were drafted in the top 150 of last year's fantasy baseball drafts.  After the first 150 picks, there's not much room for disappointment anymore since you're not investing highly in these players.  At this point in the draft you hope to get a guy who breaks through in that year.  So, in this post, I'll highlight guys that were drafted between 150 to 250 last year yet provided roto value that was in the top 100 players.

  • Ted Lilly (154.8 ADP, 1.61 Total Roto, Ranked 90th): There were injury concerns with him as he started the year on the DL but he still pitched nearly 200 innings and did what we would expect from a healthy Lilly.
  • Rafael Soriano (155.2 ADP, 2.05 TR, Ranked 75th): He was able to keep the closer job for a winning team all year long and there's lots of value in that. Free-agent next year, we'll see what happens.
  • Roy Oswalt (157.8 ADP, 4.46 TR, Ranked 16th): The switch to a winning team must have done something to him because he became a dominant fantasy force again.
  • Rajai Davis (165.6 ADP, 2.08 TR, Ranked 73rd): We knew he was a super fast baserunner but people were skeptical to invest him in. Lesson learned.
  • John Danks (166.6 ADP, 1.49 TR, Ranked 94th): He's a solid producer that flies under the radar.
  • Neftali Feliz (175.3 ADP, 1.54 TR, Ranked 92nd): Getting the closer job increased his value ten-fold.  See Rafael Soriano minus the free agent part.
  • David Price (177.2 ADP, 4.31 TR, Ranked 26th): I had to do a double-take when I saw that he was going 177th in drafts in the preseason and after guys like Edwin Jackson. He always had the talent and put it all together this year in a big way.
  • Adrian Beltre (187.7 ADP, 4.60 TR, Ranked 19th): I guess older players who leave Seattle for a better offense instantly becoming big-time fantasy producers out of the blue.
  • Vernon Wells (189.2 ADP, 2.46 TR, Ranked 63rd): This one caught me off guard. It's always hard to predict what a player will do at a turning point in his career... players like these either crash and burn or sometimes they flourish like Wells did.
  • Corey Hart (191.7 ADP, 3.93 TR, Ranked 32nd): Here's another guy who resurrected his career. He was nearly cut before the season and turned into a fantasy stud. These things are hard to predict.
  • David Ortiz (194.8 ADP, 2.72 TR, Ranked 58th): There were some signs that he was undervalued in the preseason but then he started slow and people got worried. Then, in typical Ortiz fashion, he caught fire and turned in a very nice year.
  • Rickie Weeks (196.5 ADP, 3.67 TR, Ranked 37th): It really feels like we've been waiting for a year like this from Weeks forever. He finally stayed healthy and tore it up offensively. Can he do it again though?
  • Clay Buchholz (203.7 ADP, 2.81 TR, Ranked 55th): See David Price.
  • Colby Rasmus (204.8 ADP, 1.68 TR, Ranked 86th): He was a prospect with a lot of talent but got undervalued in drafts.  He produced very nicely on the year and will be drafted quite high next year.
  • Paul Konerko (211.6 ADP, 5.53 TR, Ranked 11th): He somehow time-traveled and got the 2006 version of himself to show up and have a huge year. Pretty incredible.
  • Tim Hudson (213.6 ADP, 3.13 TR, Ranked 47th): Sure, he was coming off an injury but I was never quite sure why he was so undervalued in drafts. He always had talent and he returned to form this year.
  • Casey McGehee (217.4 ADP, 2.01 TR, Ranked 76th): See Colby Rasmus.
  • Martin Prado (221.9 ADP, 2.35 TR, Ranked 65th): Oddly enough, this year was pretty consistent with the rest of his career except that he played nearly the whole year and scored 100 runs. We foolishly undervalued him in preseason.
  • Jonathan Sanchez (228.7 ADP, 2.25 TR, Ranked 68th):  He was always wild and erratic which scared people away from drafting him but he had been quietly starting to put it all together leading up to this year when he matured into a very nice pitcher.
  • Juan Pierre (229.5 ADP, 3.92 TR, Ranked 33rd):  For some reason, it seems like he's 40 years old but he's certainly not and we should have realized that he'd rack up the SB's in a full-time starting role again.
  • Francisco Liriano (230.3 ADP, 1.46 TR, Ranked 95th): See Tim Hudson.
  • Nick Swisher (245.8 ADP, 2.99 TR, Ranked 50th): This was another guy who had signs that he'd have a nice year this year but he was grossly undervalued and then went crazy and ended up having a monster year.
In the final part of this series where we're taking a quick overview glance at this past season, we'll look at those diamonds in the rough that were drafted after the top 250 were off the board yet come out and produced very fantasy relevant seasons. Come on back soon.

Oct 8, 2010

Looking Back: 50 to 150 Average Draft Position (2010)

50-150 ADP 2010, WERTH values
Baseball playoffs are in full swing but that doesn't mean that I can't dive further into analyzing last year's fantasy drafts here.  We already glanced at players drafted in the top 50 and now we'll look at those drafted in the 50 to 150 range.  This is the range where you can arguably win or lose your fantasy baseball leagues.  Many players within this group produced below even being in the top 300 while others produced top 20 roto value.

At this point, we're just looking at the names and thinking back on them but later on we'll look and try to see the warning signs that we can use for future drafts.  Here are those that were drafted in that range that provided huge disappointments without any injury to blame:
  • Aaron Hill (51.8 ADP, -2.07 Total Roto, Ranked 241st) - There was considerable hype around Hill that got him to be drafted at 51st on average.  Unfortunately, we can now see in retrospect that it was unjustified.
  • Lance Berkman (60.05 ADP, -2.59 TR, Ranked 266th) - He was living on the ghosts of seasons' past but he proved to be fairly worthless even after going to formidable Yankees.
  • Javier Vazquez (63.56 ADP, -3.50 TR, Ranked 298th) - There was a lot of mixed thoughts on his return to the Yankees.  Lots of people warned to stay away and they were certainly right.
  • Manny Ramirez (66.27 ADP, -3.06 TR, Ranked 284th) - Similar to Lance Berkman.
  • Carlos Pena (76.53 ADP, -1.41 TR, Ranked 206th) - He's never been as valuable as he seems and now he's trending downward.
  • Gordon Beckham (89.47 ADP, -2.85 TR, Ranked 276th) - He was a youngster with a lot of promise but he's not there yet (and we might wonder if he'll ever fulfill that promise now).
  • Matt Wieters (91.47 ADP, -3.72 TR, Ranked 310th) - See Gordon Beckham.
  • Jason Bartlett (105.28 ADP, -2.27 TR, Ranked 250th) - It was weird at the time when people were putting faith in Bartlett at 105th average draft position (nearly 20 picks ahead of Carlos Gonzalez!) but it seems even weirder now that the season is over. He's below average at best.
  • Jorge Posada (120.23 ADP, -2.16 TR, Ranked 245th) - See Manny Ramirez and Lance Berkman.
  • Jose Lopez (122.42 ADP, -3.62 TR, Ranked 306th) - See Carlos Pena.
  • A.J. Burnett (126.82 ADP, -4.73 TR, Ranked 348th) - Lots of disappointing Yankees on here.  But, yeah, this was a particularly horrible season for a pitcher who has never been easy to trust in the first place.
  • James Shields (130.3 ADP, -2.69 TR, Ranked 271st) - This one caught me by surprise but luckily I missed out on him in most leagues.  Shields had every indication to be a reliable pitcher this year but really performed quite terrible.  We'll look more into this later on this offseason.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera (148.87 ADP, -4.03 TR, Ranked 328th) - You were probably reluctant to take him at 148 back in March and there was good reason to be reluctant. His name is Asdrubal after all.
On the flip side of the coin, here are those who shined from that range of players:
  • Josh Hamilton (54.92 ADP, 7.02 TR, Ranked 7th) - Why did people shy away from him again? Oh well, lesson learned.
  • Adam Wainwright (56.15 ADP, 7.00 TR, Ranked 8th) - Pitchers are always tricky but Wainwright was awesome this year.
  • Nelson Cruz (66.09 ADP, 5.66 Aggregated Roto, Ranked 11th Agg) - Tough to say this guy was a success story but when he was in the lineup he was incredible. Just gotta wonder if we can get a full year out of him in the future.
  • Shin-Soo Choo (69.03 ADP, 4.11 TR, Ranked 28th) - Easily ignored and under-appreciated but he's so valuable.
  • Dan Uggla (87.93 ADP, 4.56 TR, Ranked 21st) - This year was like most of his others as far as HR totals and the like but now he finally had a decent batting average. Consistent producer in most categories but that average will fall next year (his BABIP was a career high at .330).
  • Hunter Pence (88.42 ADP, 3.94 TR, Ranked 31st) - Eerily similar year to past few years as he had a third straight season with exactly 25 HR's and second straight season with exactly .282 average.  Yet, he remains undervalued.
  • Andrew McCutchen (90.03 ADP, 3.19 TR, Ranked 46th) - He had some hype before the season and lived up to it.
  • Michael Young (95.35 ADP, 2.78 TR, Ranked 57th) - Batting average regressed but his runs and RBI's took a nice upward swing in that lineup. Also still undervalued.
  • Ubaldo Jiminez (101.48 ADP, 4.58 TR, Ranked 20th) - Not undervalued anymore. Very similar to Grienke's rise to fantasy dominance; will be drafted early next year like Grienke (may fall to Earth too)
  • Alex Rios (109.57 ADP, 4.63 TR, Ranked 17th) - We've been waiting years for him to finally do this yet it came as a big surprise that he actually did it.
  • Carlos Gonzalez (123.2 ADP, 9.43 TR, Ranked 1st) - Simply unbelievable. I was lucky enough to have him in every league I was in except for one.
  • Jered Weaver (134.26 ADP, 4.99 TR, Ranked 14th) - Very solid performance that was somewhat overshadowed by other dominating pitchers. Will be interesting to see where he goes next year. 
  • Vladimir Guerrero (141 ADP, 4.40 TR, Ranked 25th) - You would have thought he'd pull a Berkman or Manny but he flourished in a new environment. Not sure what to make of it moving forward yet.
As I mentioned before, we'll look more into exactly what happened with these guys as the months go on.  Stay tuned.

Oct 6, 2010

Looking Back: Top 50 Fantasy Baseball Picks (2010)

Over here, the baseball offseason is often my favorite time of year as I get to dive in and research what just happened over the course of those 162 games.  So with that being said, I've got all sorts of fantasy baseball research to do as we prepare for next year.

Now that it's all wrapped up, I hope you had a successful baseball season.  Mine was moderately successful as I finished in the top three in all five of my leagues.  But, let's hope that with a bit more research we can all be even more successful next season.

To start off the evaluation fun, I've calculated up the final WERTH point values based on the season stats to see how they compare to the average draft position of each player from last year's preseason (the ADP that I'll be using is from Mock Draft Central).

Top 50 ADP 2010 w/ Final WERTH Value
We'll start by looking at the top 50 drafted players on average and see how they finished when all was said and done.  Injuries did hurt a number of those top 50 players (Grady Sizemore, Brian Roberts, Justin Morneau, etc).  But, in reality, many of those players did not have good seasons regardless.  Grady Sizemore was worth -6.78 roto points if you had him in your lineup all year but, if we base it on a full year of play at the rate he was going, he only improves to -3.50 roto points on the year.  So, any way you look at it, he was a major disappointment.  Let's look at some of the other names in the Top 50...

Arguably, half of the top 50 could theoretically be considered a disappointment in not living up to their draft position.  However, here are the biggest disappointments:
  • Mark Reynolds (20.26 ADP, -0.21 Total Roto, -0.39 Aggregated Roto): There's no magical injury to blame here.  He was over-hyped before the year began and we warned you to stay away.  That warning was justified as he returned very poor value for a second round pick and only provided a bit of power with disappointing lines elsewhere.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury (20.49 ADP, -6.92 TR, -1.15 AR): The injury certainly didn't help matters but don't let it fool you.  He wasn't playing well even when healthy outside of getting you some stolen bases. 
  • Jimmy Rollins (21.41 ADP, -2.69 TR, -0.65 AR):  See Jacoby Ellsbury.
  • Jason Bay (28.57 ADP, -2.84 TR, -1.19 AR): It was a long season for those who invested highly in Bay.  It was predicted that the move to Citi Field would hurt him and it certainly did.
  • Grady Sizemore (29.02 ADP, -6.78 TR, -3.50 AR): Already talked about above.
  • Zack Greinke (29.83 ADP, -0.16 TR): Not sure what happened here exactly but he pitched a whole year and didn't do a very good job across the board.  Can't trust him moving forward.
  • Pablo Sandoval (39.95 ADP, -1.40 TR, -2.88 AR):  It's funny how we look at these names now and chuckle that they were drafted in the Top 50 but Pablo certainly was and ended up delivering value that was outside of the Top 200 players.
  • Brian Roberts (42.69 ADP, -4.44 TR, -1.98 AR):  See Jacoby Ellsbury.
  • Adam Lind (45.40 ADP, -1.78 TR, -3.16 AR): He got a couple of HR's and a couple of RBI's but was just very mediocre and valueless overall.  See Pablo Sandoval.
Meanwhile, here's the guys who delivered the goods if we were lucky enough to own them:
  • Miguel Cabrera (10.19 ADP, 7.75 TR)
  • Carl Crawford (16.05 ADP, 7.46 TR)
  • Matt Holliday (20.98 ADP, 5.29 TR)
  • Roy Halladay (25.89 ADP, 7.69 TR)
  • CC Sabathia (28.74 ADP, 4.13 TR)
  • Joey Votto (29.77 ADP, 7.88 TR)
  • Felix Hernandez (32.34 ADP, 6.45 TR)
  • Jayson Werth (35.26 ADP, 4.55 TR)
  • Justin Verlander (45.68 ADP, 4.06 TR)
  • Robinson Cano (47.06 ADP, 5.85 TR)
The top 50 is a range where you want to get some value back.  And, for the most part, guys still returned some value above average in the top 50.  But, truly, the draft is won in the later rounds where you grab Carlos Gonzalez and others (you listened to me and got CarGo, right?!).  So in the upcoming posts, we'll look more into the trends for the later rounds and see what went wrong and what went right.