Mar 29, 2011

2011's Targeted Players (Or Those I Drafted Multiple Times)

The drafts for my four main leagues have all concluded now and it's time to reflect.  I'm in a variety of league types because variety is the spice of something-or-other. Some are keeper leagues while some are redraft leagues.  Some are roto leagues while some are point leagues.  Some have small rosters while others have big rosters.  And, so on and so on.  But, regardless, there are certain players that end up on multiple teams of mine for whatever reason.  If I like a guy, I'm not scared to own him in every league if I can.  I've recommended lots of strategies and players on this site but there were only 18 players that I ended up owning in multiple leagues (with 2 players being owned in all of my leagues). Taking out Ryan Braun, Adrian Gonzalez and Brian McCann because they were on some of my keeper teams, here are the 15 guys that I actually drafted in multiple leagues this year...

Hitters


Matt Kemp - In CBS leagues, Kemp is hidden deep within the outfielders on their rankings.  So, when other drafters are looking at the top players, Kemp usually isn't in that mix of guys they see.  This creates a nice situation where I was able to get Kemp pretty late in a couple of leagues.  I see him having a nice rebound year as a post-hype sleeper.

Adrian Beltre - There's a drop-off after the first four 3B in drafts then there's Adrian Beltre in a tier by himself before another big drop.  When I did miss out on the the big four, I grabbed Beltre so I wasn't stuck with the rest of the weaker 3B that were out there.  While I don't expect a repeat of last year from him, he's a safer bet for good numbers than the players drafted after him at the position.

Mike Stanton - I wish this was a player I had in all of my leagues as I do expect big things from him.  I wrote about my man-crush for him back in January here.

Ryan Raburn - This is a player I've had a two year obsession over.  Last year, he didn't get the starting job until the end of the year and the made the best of it.  Now, he's got full playing time right out of the gates and could have huge production as I already wrote about here.

Chone Figgins - I was a bit surprised to see that I drafted Chone in two leagues.  I got him fairly late in both as a MI who can get me 40 SB.  I expect a slight bump in his batting average and runs from last year but mainly I needed the SB's in these leagues and he hung around later than I expected so I nabbed him.

Carlos Pena - He's on my bench in both leagues and not someone I'm relying on fully.  He's going to get 30+ HR with an ugly batting average, which is fine considering how ridiculously low his ADP is.  At the point that he's going in leagues, he does offer some nice value.

Michael Morse - Ever since I wrote my little write-up about Morse, he's continued to go on a tear and is near the top of the leaderboard in most stats this spring.  I'm going to start him early on and hope the hot streak continues.  Cheap power is hard to find late in drafts and that's what Morse brings to the table.

Jorge Posada - Maybe it's the fact the people forget he's even still playing but he was being largely ignored in most of my leagues and I grabbed Posada as a catcher in the last rounds.  Playing DH most of the time this year may give him a better shot at hitting over 20 HR with a decent batting average.  But, either way, he can give you far better numbers than some of the other late-round catchers out there.

Pitchers


John Danks - Considering that I start targeting starting pitching a bit later in my drafts than most people, I end up with a lot of SP's from the same tier of players.  Danks is one of those mid-round guys that I'm comfortable taking.  He's reliable but not flashy which is something that people hold against him because they'd rather have a pitcher with a high ceiling.  But, when I'm starting to build my rotation in the mid-rounds, I need someone who doesn't have a ton of risk.

Wandy Rodriguez - Wandy has similarities to Danks in that he is reliable.  But, being in the NL, his numbers are slightly better with a nicer ERA and more K's.  He won't suddenly become a top tier pitcher but he's a safe bet to produce solid numbers across the board.

Gavin Floyd - Here's one of the two players that I own in all four leagues of mine.  He's been a decent starter over the past three years with an ERA hovering around 4.00 and a WHIP around 1.25 with 150 strikeouts or so each year.  If anything, he's consistent as well.  However, I think he can deliver a bit more than he's shown due to last year's inflated BABIP against him.  His FIP indicates that he should have had an ERA closer to 3.50 last year.  Despite his consistency and slight bit of bad luck last year, he seems to be someone that people avoid and he ends up falling into my lap in each league.

Ricky Nolasco - Nolasco is the other player that I own in all four of my leagues.  Maybe I'm foolish to keep coming back to him but he's got all of the tools to turn into a great pitcher and is being valued fairly low in all leagues because of two years of poor ERA.  His FIP and xFIP indicate that he should be a pitcher with a below 4.00 ERA if you take out some bad luck.  So, I'm banking on him being able to return to something closer to his 2008 form where he had a 3.52 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP with 186 strikeouts.

Jordan Zimmermann - While I have the consistent and reliable starters like Wandy and Danks, there's got to be someone with a high ceiling mixed in there too.  That's where Jordan comes in as a starter who has the potential to end up as one of the higher tier pitchers by year's end if he can put together all his talent without his arm falling off.

David Aardsma - Saves are a tricky commodity to come by and Aardsma dropped fast down everyone's draft board when he was said to be out for the start of the year.  So, he ended up falling into my lap in the later rounds as I'm comfortable drafting him as a backup RP who should only miss a few weeks.  As a 3rd or 4th RP, there's little risk with him.  Anything more than that and I'd feel uncomfortable.

Tim Stauffer - Now that he's been named the Opening Day starter with Latos out, Stauffer has caught the attention of fantasy owners.  Luckily, I grabbed him before that and was able to get him fairly late.  I had written about his very nice tERA from last season.  That combined with a nice spring make Stauffer a nice sleeper candidate for 2011 in my book.

Mar 25, 2011

2011 Fantasy Baseball Roto Draft Primer

There are so many different types of leagues out there that it's hard to give one set of advice for everyone.  In a league without a Corner Infield or Middle Infield position, you have a totally different mindset than those that need both positions.  In a league with five outfielders instead of three, your concept of player value and position scarcity is totally different.  So, be wary of following any one set of rules you may see from experts out there.  Know your league.  But, putting all of that aside, there are still some tips that are applicable to all league types in 2011.

The Early Rounds


Try your hardest to get one of the top four 3B

You have Wright, Longoria, Zimmerman and A-Rod and then you have a lot of question marks.  While you might be able to survive with Pedro Alvarez and you can get by with Casey McGehee, you would rather have the security that these top four offer you.  More than any other position this season, the drop-off after the top tier is extremely quick and severe at 3B.

If you the first four go off the board before you could nab them, I do think your best options are waiting until the middle rounds for Pablo Sandoval or Mark Reynolds as they offer the next best value at the position.

Draft the 1B position early and often

No other position generates quick as much as offense as first base.  Even the worst first baseman are still pretty decent fantasy players.  But, nothing replaces the production of the elite first basemen.  From Pujols to Fielder, you are getting unworldly production.  You get decent production from there on out but there isn't a huge difference between Paul Konerko in the 6th round and a later round pick.  If you have a DH spot or a CI spot and are able to start two 1B, there's a lot of value in drafting a 1B with both of your first picks before the production drops off after the second round.

Draft power hitters early and speedsters later

Carl Crawford's ability to contribute in five categories sounds really nice in the first round.  But, his 20 HR's at that point will end up hurting you in the end.  You can get a guy who can steal 50 bases in Round 14 but you can't get a guy who is a threat for 50 HR's.  Home runs peak early and are a rarity after the early rounds while stolen bases never really hit a peak or bottom.  And, if you're drafting a home run hitter, you're drafting for more than one category because homers are so strongly linked to both Runs and RBI's.  While, if you draft a stolen base expert earlier on, the only other category that correlates with it is Runs and it's not a very strong correlation.  If you miss the boat of power early, you can't make it up later.  On the flip side, speed is always available so don't overpay for it.

The Middle Rounds


Try to fill up your OF positions (or most of them) by Round 10

Outfield isn't an incredibly deep position this season so you'll want to start filling it up sooner than later.  After Round 10, it really starts to drop off a bit so you'll want to fill as many outfield holes as you can prior to that.  While other positions such as SS and 2B may seem important at the time, they can always be filled later on and you'll want to make sure you take care of OF quickly or pay the price later on.

Try to secure your pitching staff by Round 15

Starting pitcher continues to generate value going into the middle rounds but hits a peak in Round 15 then starts a fast nose dive in value.  You'll want to try to secure your starting pitching by that point so you're not stuck grasping at straws.  Closers maintain good value for a while but reliable closers start to disappear by Round 15 as well.  So, use these middle rounds to try to work on pitching especially as there's not much of it later on.

Grab a shortstop by Round 13 or so

Shortstop is another one of those positions that doesn't maintain value and takes a nose dive.  After Starlin Castro is off the board in Round 13, the already-slim pickings get even slimmer.  If you didn't grab a shortstop in the early rounds, make sure to get an Alexei Ramirez or Castro in this range so you don't have to take a Ryan Theriot later on.

The End Game


All bets are off so reach for whoever you want

Towards the end of the draft, nobody knows what they're doing.  Throw away your ADP sheet and rankings and reach for the players you want. Sure, Michael Morse might be on the waiver wire if you don't draft him but go ahead and reach for him anyway.  If you want a player, there's no pressure any longer to conform to average draft positions so go for it.  The later rounds are the rejects that nobody wanted in the early rounds anyway.

Reel in those speedsters

Even if you already drafted speed early, you never know if it will pan out.  So, this is a time when you can still find guys like Rajai Davis or Julio Borbon and possibly grab another 3 or 4 points in the stolen base category by season's end.  That's a lot more than you can get out of any other statistical category at this point.

Grab 1B, 2B and 3B for your bench

When looking at the players left here, a lot of them don't even come close to comparing to starter-level production.  Yet 1B, 2B and 3B all have players that are able to be drafted later that compare decently with the average starter at their position.  So, when filling bench spots, these are your best positions to load up on and then rely on the waiver wire for SS, SP or C.

Oh yeah, draft a catcher

Though leave the spot empty would be more valuable... it would be probably be illegal in your league.  So, go ahead and grab a catcher in the last round for your team.

Mar 24, 2011

Cheatsheets Updated & AL-Only Version Released

I've updated both the roto and points leagues fantasy baseball Excel cheatsheets.  The update adds in the latest ADP data since that hadn't been updated in about three weeks.  If you have an upcoming draft, you may want to make sure you have the latest version downloaded.

Also, I've put up an AL-only roto cheatsheet as well if that's your kind of thing.  An NL-only version will be soon to follow as well.  There are only two ADP choices and four rankings choices but that is because there is less out there to pull from for league specific formats such as those.  I had gotten a request for that type of cheatsheet so I wanted to make sure I get these out there before this weekend comes along as I know a lot of you will be doing some drafts at that time.

If you have any questions about these latest versions of the ol' sheets, let me know.

Mar 22, 2011

Middle Round ADP Site Differences | Know Your League

Fantasy value is all relative.  Draft position dictates value and we must react accordingly in our drafts.  For instance, I like Mike Stanton this year but I wouldn't like him if he was a 2nd round pick.  In the 12th round of a MockDraftCentral draft, he's very valuable there.  However, in ESPN and CBS leagues, he's being drafted in the 6th or 7th rounds which completely changes his value.  He's certainly not as valuable in that spot and you really have to think about whether he's worth the pick there or not.  This drives home the point that you need to know the ADP of your league's site as that will affect who you need to target.  Each site's rankings have a big influence on ADP so a CBS draft will likely go completely differently than an ESPN draft.  I touched upon some big differences in the early rounds and now here are some middle round players that you need to take special note of:
Player
Pos
Team
MDC
CBS
ESPN
% Diff
Shane Victorino
OF
PHI
153.12
58.85
78.3
260%
Michael Stanton
OF
FLA
146.32
79.64
70.7
207%
Brett Gardner
OF
NYY
196.46
95.88
114.7
205%
Ryan Dempster
SP
CHC
90.92
163.92
184.8
203%
Vladimir Guerrero
DH
BAL
81.11
158.12
155.7
195%
Chris Carpenter
SP
STL
95.34
61.51
49.4
193%
Michael Young
3B
TEX
79.86
129.75
73.2
177%
Trevor Cahill
SP
OAK
93.96
125.06
166
177%
Drew Stubbs
OF
CIN
164.45
93.88
111.4
175%
Carlos Santana
C
CLE
128.05
73.59
88.9
174%
Rickie Weeks
2B
MIL
40.18
67.09
68.8
171%
Torii Hunter
OF
ANA
95.81
163.77
116
171%
In almost all of these examples above, the odd man out seems to be MockDraftCentral which is a site that is referenced in a lot of sleeper posts across the internet.  So, you may have checked out something about Brett Gardner and think he's being drafted around the 200th pick but then you'd be shocked to see that he went at the 90th pick in your CBS draft.  Take the time to check out your league site's ADP results on their site or within my Excel cheatsheets here to get an idea of where your targeted players are getting drafted.  Remember that value is completely relative and that you may need to fall out of love with a player you are targeting because of how early he's being drafted.  Every league is different and you need to know your league before you enter your draft room each year.

Mar 21, 2011

Logan Morrison, 2011 Deep Sleeper Candidate


The following is a profile of Logan Morrison, one of my 2011 fantasy baseball deep sleeper candidates (affectionately called narcos).  For more information on the thought process behind the narcos, please visit the introductory post on this topic.

Average Draft Position: 271.75
Others drafted around that time: Joel Hanrahan, Omar Infante, Ryan Doumit
2011 Role: Starting OF
2010 Production: .283 AVG, 2 HR, 43 R, 18 RBI, 0 SB in 244 AB
My 2011 Prediction: .285 AVG, 15 HR, 90 R, 75 RBI, 5 SB (if he starts)

Upon being called up in 2010, Logan Morrison gave his team a lot to like with his bat.  He didn't knock out a ton of HR's but hit a ridiculous 29 extra base hits (with 20 doubles and 7 triples) over 244 AB.  Out of the 2nd spot in the lineup, those extra base hits turned into a ton of runs as well.  At the minor league level, he had shown a but more home run power so he could definitely knock out double-digit homers this year as he adjusts to the majors.  

In roto leagues, he may not be able to deliver quite as much positive value for your team since his most optimistic projections in each category will only be near the fantasy average in each except for Runs.  In points leagues that reward doubles, triples and walks, he gives you quite a bit more.  So, don't just pay attention to the average and HR's if you're in a points league, this guy delivers a high OBP with a propensity for hitting doubles and triples.  So he'll definitely be valuable there and especially if his power develops a bit more as expected.

I wouldn't go crazy for Morrison in a roto league this year though he can still end up delivering above average production for a fantasy player.  In a 5 OF league, he offers quite a bit more than a 3 OF league though.  In points leagues, I like him very much at his current draft position as he could deliver very nice value for your team with his ability to rack up extra base hits and get on base.

Mar 20, 2011

Using wOBA to Identify 2011 Fantasy Sleepers

There are countless baseball statistics out there beyond the standard ones we're all familiar with.  Weighted On Base Average (wOBA) is particularly useful for fantasy purposes when it comes to point-based leagues.  In points leagues, hitters are generally rewarded for extra base hits and the runs they create.  This differs from roto leagues which only truly are worried about one type of extra base hit (the home run).  wOBA puts a weight on 2B, 3B, HR, BB and singles based on their run value and computes a stat for each player that is read in a manner that closely resembles OBP (with .400 being very good and .340 being about average).  If we look at last year's wOBA leaders, it comes as no surprise that the leaders are also the best fantasy baseball hitters.  However, if we look at players with limited plate appearances but a very high wOBA, we can start to identify potentially undervalued sleeper candidates.

Name
PA
wOBA 
Jim Thome
340
0.437
Geovany Soto
387
0.385
Manny Ramirez
320
0.382
Magglio Ordonez
365
0.375
Mike Morse
293
0.374
Logan Morrison
287
0.369
Rafael Furcal
428
0.366
Matt Joyce
261
0.361
Mitch Moreland
173
0.357
Brooks Conrad
177
0.356
While the exact role of some of these players is yet to be determined for 2011, if they are given a full year of AB's, they could find themselves atop fantasy lists by year's end.  Some of these players have already been touched upon in my own deep sleeper posts, such as Mike Morse, Matt Joyce and Mitch Moreland.  Others are older players such as Manny Ramirez and Magglio Ordonez but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be considered for your team in 2011.  This exercise is useful in finding those undervalued guys that may be overlooked in your leagues, especially in deeper leagues.  Don't neglect the power of the wOBA statistic for your draft research.

Mar 19, 2011

Early Round ADP Site Differences | Know Your League

When I found myself in one of my first actual drafts of the fantasy season last weekend, I realized there was one thing that I did not account for: site variability.  I had grown so used to the standard MockDraftCentral average draft positions for players that I found myself surprised at how players were being drafted in this league hosted by CBS.  As I touched on in my attack on ADP, the rankings in each site's draft rooms will have a huge effect on how players get drafted.  As a result of this phenomenon, I will touch upon some of these odd ducks that vary greatly from site to site in the hopes that you don't make the some mistake that I did.  

For this installment, here are some players that are going within the first 50 picks or so that may not get drafted where you expect them to depending on your league's site:
Player
Pos
Team
MDC
CBS
ESPN
% Diff
Carl Crawford
OF
BOS
15.52
8.18
4.9
316%
Brandon Phillips
2B
CIN
34.07
69.12
59.9
203%
Troy Tulowitzki
SS
COL
4.75
4.51
9.1
202%
Cliff Lee
SP
PHI
38.26
30.57
19.3
198%
Miguel Cabrera
1B
DET
3.23
4.18
6.3
195%
Felix Hernandez
SP
SEA
29.69
22.26
15.4
192%
Roy Halladay
SP
PHI
14.3
12.51
7.6
188%
Brian McCann
C
ATL
29.3
47.31
53.7
183%
Josh Johnson
SP
FLA
71.34
39.91
64.9
179%
Carlos Gonzalez
OF
COL
6.42
5.64
10
177%
Evan Longoria
3B
TB
4.88
8.55
5.4
175%
If you're drafting in a league run through MockDraftCentral's software, Carl Crawford is drafted in the middle of the second round but in ESPN leagues he is a top 5 pick.  This is quite the stark contrast that you need to adjust for.  There are four starting pitchers within this range as ESPN tends to rank them higher than other sites, which causes their value to be bumped there.  Some of these large ADP differences greatly change the value of a player.  You may like Brandon Phillips in the 6th round of a CBS league but do you like him in the 3rd round of a MDC league?  Maybe not.  If one of these players are on your list of players to target, make sure to keep in mind this potential ADP difference and draft accordingly.

Mar 18, 2011

The 2011 Market for Roto Hitting Categories

If you're in a roto league, you not only have to decide which positions you need to target through each portion of the draft but you also have to decide which roto categories you want to target as well.  For hitters, I already touched upon the fact that stolen bases aren't unique to the early rounds while home runs are.  But, how do the stats for the hitting categories break down as a whole?

In the graph above, you can see how how many players produce various roto values for each stat.  You see a few blips above the 3.00 value mark for SB and you see most of the players in the league are bunched closer to the 0.00 mark for each stat.  Batting average is spread all over the map with guys who can singlehandedly carry the category for you as well as others who can singlehandedly cost you the category (I'm looking at you, Mark Reynolds).  The distribution of talent is nearly the same at HR and RBI which makes sense since they are so closely linked to each other.  For SB, a player with zero steals will only cost you about 1 roto point by himself since that's a fairly common occurrence.  It's a statistic that is strictly a matter of the haves and the have nots where some players can singlehandedly carry your team here. The Runs category is the opposite where you can't get many guys who can carry the category for you but you can surely find a lot of guys who can hurt you here (most of them being catchers).

While that tells you how the categories break down, it doesn't tell you much about where you should target these categories.  For that purpose, here's a breakdown of the trends by draft position:

SB (Purple) | RBI (Red) | R (Green) | HR (Orange) | AVG (Blue)

The chart above shows the trends from beginning to the end of the draft for each of the hitting statistics.  There are some blue dots towards the end of the draft that represent very high SB value, showing why you can target this statistic later on.  When comparing the trendlines you see above, SB is the odd ball that really never really peaks too high and actually trends upward towards the second half of the draft.  This is a category that you can target late.  

Meanwhile, both HR and RBI peak early then hit a plateau before they disappear by the end of the draft.  These are two categories that are mostly available at the beginning of the draft and that you can't make up for later on.  Batting average is a category that also peaks early though it never truly drops off the map.  It actually slightly trends upward in the later rounds.  You should try to get batting average early but there's hope for some production in this category later on if you miss out (Magglio Ordonez and Jose Tabata being two late round options).  With Runs being more tied to SB's, this is a stat that can also be found at brief moments later in the draft.  But on the whole, it's a category that is most closely tied with the HR producers that you can get earlier in the draft.

If I were plotting out how I would attack a draft in order to maximize each batting category, I would target HR hitters in the first five rounds as they'll also generate RBI's and R's.  This should start you off nicely in those three areas.  I'd also try to find .300 hitters in this range and especially in the first three rounds. There are a number of 4-category producers in that range such as Matt Holliday that will get you great batting average with great power.  As the draft continues on, I'd work on building up the power categories then start targeting some key SB producers at around Round 10 such as Brett Gardner and Rajai Davis.  With your power already set, you can find four or five great SB producers from Round 10 on that should make you very competitive in this category as well and you should have a very well balanced team.

Mar 17, 2011

2011 Fantasy Value by Positions

After having already looked at the positional outlook for the middle and corner infield positions, the question becomes how their relative scarcity compares to the entire player pool.  The data showed that both 1B and 3B are extremely top-heavy but with relatively little drop in talent level after those early rounds while 2B doesn't offer much at any point in the draft and SS only has two good options and not much else.  

To look at the entire player pool, I'll take a slightly different approach than looking at the regression trend of each position.  In this case, what I'd like to show you is the running total of WERTH at each position as the draft goes on.  Later in the draft, players with negative values pop up which should bring the position closer to zero. And, overall, this should show us the rise and fall of the various positions fairly well.

1B (Dark Green) | 2B (Dark Orange) | 3B (Light Green) | SS (Light Orange) | C (Dark Blue) | OF (Light Blue) | RP (Light Red) | SP (Dark Red)

C - Catcher is just a question of how bad you want to hurt yourself.  You can get decent value early on but at the expense of not getting a stud at another position.  After that, it's just a bunch of valueless players that you don't want to mess up your team too bad.  Either you get the best or you should wait until the last rounds.
1B - First base, as previously discussed, jumps up quickly in value and seems to hit a spike in Round 5.  After that, it just rides the same value until the later rounds.  From that point until the end, you don't get much difference in value between a 1B from beginning to end.  You either invest in this position early or you just wait and fill it late.
2B - This position doesn't offer much from beginning to end.  I wouldn't overpay for it at the beginning nor should you force yourself to draft right away a 2B if you miss out on a "stud" early.
3B - After peaking early on, the position offers very little after Ryan Zimmerman and Adrian Beltre get off the board.  Don't force yourself to draft someone in the middle rounds as the talent level doesn't really drop much as the draft goes on.
SS - There are two studs in the first round then a constant decline as the position value drops to a much lower total value than 2B when all is said and done.  Without those two studs (Hanley and Tulo), there would really be nothing at this position.  Fill this position late and don't worry too much about it if you don't get the top two.
OF - This is a position that continues to deliver value until about Round 10 where it peaks and just rides out a long slope towards the end of the draft.  Try to get some OF early because it becomes a fairly average position from the 10th round on without much change in value.
SP - Starting pitching takes a big roller coaster ride in value where it peaks at Round 10, doesn't drop off much for a while then starts to free fall in about Round 14.  You don't necessarily have to fill your SP early but you find yourself grasping at straws starting in the 15th round.
RP - While you need to get RP, it's a fairly odd position.  There's not a ton of difference between most of the closers but if you don't have RP's filled by Round 12, the value starts to fall and then plummets in Round 18 or so once the real closers are gone.

Taking all of this into consideration, there are some lessons to take out of this:

  • Rounds 1-4 are when you need to get your 1B and 3B position filled (keep OF and SP in mind as well)
  • Rounds 5-10 are when you need to start filling up your OF positions
  • Rounds 11-15 are when you need to fill out your pitching staff (both RP and SP) and when you need to find a SS before the position falls off
  • Rounds 15-20 are when you stop drafting pitchers and find a serviceable 2B to settle for as your starter and grab any more RP that you might want to get for insurance
  • Rounds 20-25 are when you'll find your starting catcher and grab some bench players for 1B/3B/OF
Using this type of strategy will maximize position value for your team which is the key to any draft.  You can still build a winning team by going with another strategy but this is a nice system to ensure you don't overpay for talent or miss out on potential fantasy value before it disappears.

Mar 16, 2011

Using True ERA for 2011 Fantasy Baseball

Previously, I've taken a look at comparing xFIP and FIP to a pitcher's actual ERA in 2010 in order to determine who may be overvalued or undervalued for this upcoming fantasy season.  FIP is a statistic that takes out many possible luck factors and analyzes three controlled pitcher outcomes for an at-bat (walks, home runs and strikeouts).  While FIP is beautiful in how simple it is, tERA (True ERA) adds in a few more factors to give a clearer picture of a pitcher's expected ERA.  In this case, it factors in the type of batted balls that a pitcher allows (fly balls, ground balls, etc) and factors them in to determining what an expected ERA should be for that pitcher's performance.   By comparing the tERA to the actual ERA, we can start to see some players that may be primed for better or worse seasons this time around.

For instance, we have a number of players who had an ERA over 4.00 last year but had a tERA below 4.00. These seven pitchers may have the potential to turn things around this season if they aren't plagued by bad luck again:

Name
ERA
tERA 
Felipe Paulino
5.11
3.28
Brandon Morrow
4.49
3.17
Justin Masterson
4.70
3.81
Zack Greinke
4.17
3.51
Doug Fister
4.11
3.65
Mark Buehrle
4.28
3.88
Gavin Floyd
4.08
3.78
It seems that Felipe Paulino has been reduced to bullpen duty while most of these others are at least on fantasy radars.  Brandon Morrow and Zack Greinke could have huge seasons while it's worth looking at Justin Masterson, Mark Buerhle and Gavin Floyd as undervalued players to take a chance on.

On the other hand, we have a large number of pitchers who had an actual ERA below 4.00 in 2010 but a tERA close to or above 4.00.  These are players that may be primed for a big regression:

Name
ERA
tERA 
Barry Enright
3.91
5.57
Clay Buchholz
2.33
3.92
Tommy Hunter
3.73
5.17
Jhoulys Chacin
3.28
4.42
Trevor Cahill
2.97
4.01
Ian Kennedy
3.80
4.70
Carlos Zambrano
3.33
4.21
Ervin Santana
3.92
4.79
J.A. Happ
3.40
4.19
Jon Garland
3.47
4.22
Bronson Arroyo
3.88
4.61
Livan Hernandez
3.66
4.37
Johnny Cueto
3.64
4.34
Kris Medlen
3.68
4.35
While some of these pitchers may not be fantasy relevant for this season, other names are prime targets on some draft boards.  Clay Buchholz, Trevor Cahill and Ian Kennedy all represent fairly high draft picks that may take a big step backwards this year.  Unless they fall drastically from their current average draft position, it's best to let someone else take these players.

As a way to see some names that have potential to be breakout stars for the upcoming season, here are six players who got under 20 starts last year while having a tERA below 4.00:

Name
IP
GS
tERA
Tim Stauffer
82.2
7
2.64
Brett Anderson
112.1
19
3.24
Hisanori Takahashi
122
12
3.45
Madison Bumgarner
111
18
3.59
Daniel Hudson
95.1
14
3.65
Travis Wood
102.2
17
3.87
These players didn't get a full season of run so other owners are likely going to be reluctant to take a chance on them.  Tim Stauffer seems to have a starting role for the Padres this season and could be a very nice surprise for fantasy owners who take a chance with him or pick him up off waivers.  Meanwhile, Hisanori Takahashi may be relegated to bullpen duty with the Angels but could be a decent starter if given the chance.  Travis Wood is hidden deep down the draft board but could be a nice surprise as well with an ERA under 4.00 this year.  His draft status is a bit muddy considering he hasn't beat out Mike Leake for the fifth starter spot with the Reds (which he should).

tERA represents yet another useful statistic that can help you in your fantasy leagues.  There are tons of them out there and they all tell a small part of a story for these players.  By piecing together all of the parts of the story, we get a better idea of what to expect for a given year.

Mar 14, 2011

Mike Morse, 2011 Deep Sleeper Candidate

The following is a profile of Mike Morse, one of my 2011 fantasy baseball deep sleeper candidates (affectionately called narcos).  For more information on the thought process behind the narcos, please visit the introductory post on this topic.

Average Draft Position: 387.84
Others drafted around that time: Jed Lowrie, Jeff Niemann, Danny Espinosa
2011 Role: Possible starting OF
2010 Production: .289 AVG, 15 HR, 36 R, 41 RBI, 0 SB in 266 AB
My 2011 Prediction: .270 AVG, 25 HR, 80 R, 90 RBI, 0 SB (if he starts)

Michael Morse wandered through various minor league systems and various positions for years now but he seems to finally be getting his shot in the Nationals' outfield at 29 years old this year.  Since 2009, he's played 255 games between AAA and the majors.  Over that span, he's hit for a .302 average with 37 HR, 111 R and 145 RBI.  So it goes without saying that he's shown the ability to hit quite well over a long period of time at the most competitive levels.  At 29, he's no spring chicken but that hasn't stopped other players from having very productive fantasy seasons late in their careers (Andres Torres, Angel Pagan and Jose Bautista were all older than that going into last season).

The only thing missing in the past for Morse has been a legitimate opportunity to produce.  Now, he may have his shot as the Nationals appear poised to give him the starting LF job in 2011 according to the latest news out of Spring Training.  He's at least 2nd in the NL or better in AVG, HR and RBI thus far through spring training, which is largely the reason for him locking up the job.  While it's hard to say whether a hot spring will translate into a big season, he's also shown in his other opportunities for the past few years that he can produce.  MLBDepthCharts has him hitting 6th for the Nats this season which could give him nice RBI opportunities with his power.  If you're in a deep league and are looking for an OF with great potential for 2011, Morse is certainly a solid option to stash away.

Mar 9, 2011

Market for 2011 Shortstops, Positional Outlook

We glanced at the top-heavy corner infield and started to dive into the middle infield positions when we analyzed the 2B position and it's overall lack of stud players.  Both shortstop and second base have been known as thin positions which caused draft positions the better players to be inflated.  In 2011, it seemed that the second base position didn't justify an early round pick.  For shortstop, the story is a bit different.


See how that line drops off like a huge hill that you could go sledding down?  Well, that shows you the difference between Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki and everyone else.  This is a position with two elite talents and then a whole lot of question marks and journeymen.  After the first round is over, there's very few chances to suck any value out of this position.  In the chart above, you can see how flat the line becomes after that early peak as the 20th round looks just like the 12th round.  The best value picks seem to be Alexei Ramirez or Stephen Drew in the 8th to 10th rounds.  After that, the only other fallback you have is Starlin Castro.

When comparing SS to 2B, there are better mid-round options at 2B.  So if you're filling a middle infield spot, that's the position that has more players to consider later on.  When tackling this position, you either get the two studs or you roll the dice.  While there's not many guys you can expect a lot out of, there's some guys that will hurt you worse than others and you'll want to try to minimize that loss as best you can.  You're not going to win your league with your SS if you don't get the top two but you could certainly end up losing the league if you don't have someone at least mediocre.

Shortstop Average Draft Position and Projected Value in 12-Team League
Name
ADP Round
Comb
Hanley Ramirez
1.2
7.08
Troy Tulowitzki
1.4
4.02
Jose Reyes
3.2
0.96
Jimmy Rollins
4.1
-1.38
Derek Jeter
4.7
1.06
Elvis Andrus
6.5
-1.07
Alexei Ramirez
8.9
0.30
Stephen Drew
10.7
-0.75
Rafael Furcal
12.1
-2.39
Alex Gonzalez
12.9
-4.38
Starlin Castro
13.4
-1.43
Asdrubal Cabrera
14.0
-2.51
Ian Desmond
15.8
-2.99
Marco Scutaro
18.7
-3.18
Miguel Tejada
19.8
-1.71
Ryan Theriot
21.0
-3.34
Jhonny Peralta
25.8
-2.51
Jason Bartlett
27.9
-2.62
Orlando Cabrera
28.1
-3.81
Alcides Escobar
28.8
-3.41
Erick Aybar
28.9
-2.90
Reid Brignac
29.2
-5.42
J.J. Hardy
30.1
-3.84
Cliff Pennington
30.3
-3.03
Yunel Escobar
30.4
-2.56
Yuniesky Betancourt
30.6
-4.54
Jed Lowrie
30.8
-5.60