Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Los Angeles 51444 League" on ESPN

Went ahead and did another snake draft Champions League on ESPN. Same as "Winner's Circle" league setup, but without the auction format. Here's my draft:

Round 1 - #6 - Chase Utley
No surprises here. Just about every draft seems to go Pujols-Hanley-Arod-Braun-Utley. Utley seemed to drop a spot to me, as Fielder was taken in the #5 slot. Utley is good, but I actually am not a huge fan of taking him in the first round. I think Aaron Hill will put up similar numbers for an investment 4 rounds later. Still, he's in that Phillies lineups, which makes it a no-brainer here. Only others I would consider here are Kemp and Mauer. But fortunately...

Round 2 - #15 - Joe Mauer
I got Mauer pretty late. A lot of people have him as a first rounder, and FBJ likes Mauer as a possible #1 overall pick because the dropoff from him to the next catcher is so steep. I'm not convinced it's THAT steep (McCann and V-Mart are pretty good), and I'm not convinced of Mauer Power yet. However, as a second round pick, I think I have R and BA pretty safe.

Round 3 - #26 - Ryan Zimmerman
There's really no excuse for Zimmerman to be around past the 3rd Round. The fact that I got him in Round 6 in my CBS league is insane. Because 3B is more shallow this year, Zimmerman is an important pick for me. I needed some power at a weaker position since my first baseman is

Round 4 - #35 - Joey Votto
Now don't get me wrong, Votto hits for power. But he's not Prince Fielder. Hopefully he has his troubles behind him, and he can extend his 2009 season to a full year of at bats. If that's the case, he can put up numbers like an Albert Pujols Light with a little less on the HR front. Look for .310-30-100 with upside for more HR. Votto is a nice pick in Round 4, and I've got BA locked up nicely with my picks so far.

Round 5 - #46 - Derek Jeter
If Jeter repeats last year, I'm looking at a great top 5 here. All these guys have solid numbers in all the categories (SB more so for Jeter and Utley). There's word of Jeter moving to the OF this year, which gives some interesting versatility. I passed on Jimmy Rollins in Round 3 and Jose Reyes in Round 4, so I'm glad Jeter fell to me here. I really wasn't expecting it.

Round 6 - #55 - Andre Ethier
I guess it's time for some real outfielders. I'm counting on Ethier keeping the 30 HR power in 2010 by picking him here. I'm not so certain he's going to do that, but he's someone who will likely hit .290 with 100 RBI in a nice lineup. I have solid hitters across the board.

Round 7 - #66 - Josh Johnson
This is the first time I've gotten Johnson. I'm pretty high on him this season, and my usual Round 7 pick of Yovanni Gallardo got taken a bit earlier.

Round 8 - #75 - Tommy Hanson
I'm a believer in Hanson. He burst onto the scene last year to put up numbers worthy of a fantasy ace. While he probably won't have a sub-2 ERA for his first full season, he'll likely give me solid K's and a nice ERA and WHIP to go along with Johnson.

Round 9 - #86 - Clayton Kershaw
I went with big strikeout, big upside players here that flirted with league leading ERA's all season (if it weren't for Tim Lincecum crushing everyone in the category). Kershaw is still so young, and he could give Lincecum a run for his money this year on the Cy Young. For some reason, ESPN has Kershaw with phenominal rate stats and huge strikeout numbers, but only 8 wins. Yeah, he didn't get many wins last year, but how long is that going to last on a Division Winner when you have a sub-3 ERA? Luckily for me, because of the projected 8 wins, Kershaw was lower on the ESPN ranking board than he should be and I snatched him up.

Round 10 - #95 - Adam Jones
Back to hitting. Jones trailed off quickly last year, but the upside is his HRs were hit harder and longer than they were the year before. He still has room to grow with his speed, and could see an increase in BA with a little more BABIP luck. Remember how young he is, and the sky is the limit.

Round 11 - #106 - Jose Lopez
I've stated before that I think Jose Lopez is one of the most underrated players in fantasy. He's a middle infielder with enough power to put up HR and RBI numbers like Chase Utley. If you're not in an OBP league, make sure to get Lopez. He'll almost surely drop below what his value is, and I'm still trying to figure out why.

Round 12 - #115 - Hunter Pence
My outfield is pretty boring across the board (as you'll see in the coming rounds), but it's also very solid at every stop. Pence is still young and has the talent to grow a little bit this season. He is a solid player that hasn't quite lived up to his potential yet. Maybe 2010 is the year. If not, a possible .280-27-100-10 season is nice to get out of Round 12.

Round 13 - #126 - Brad Hawpe
People haven't seemed to notice that Hawpe's splits against lefties aren't so terrible anymore. He still sits against them sometimes, which means he might only see crappy LHPs, but the guy can hit. He'll post solid OBP, AVG, HR and RBI numbers for your team, as long as Seth Smith isn't sniping playing time. Given Hawpe's terrible fielding, it might be best for him to go to the American League or move to 1B to get him in the lineup full time. Either way, he gets enough at bats to justify starting in the outfield and the upside for a .300-30-100 season.

Round 14 - #135 - Chad Billingsly
Getting back to pitching, I couldn't pass up another 200 strikeout potential this late in the draft. Billingsly has the making of an ace, and if he can get his BB rate down, he'll show it. Even with the high walk rate, he was posting great ERA's before 2009, when he had a rough year. I guess you can call it that...most guys would kill for pushing 200 K's and a 4-flat ERA.

Round 15 - #146 - Adam LaRoche
I needed to lock up my CI spot, and LaRoche has enough power to justify picking here. He's been pretty consistent over the past two years, and he's still relatively young. Could he be looking for a breakout this season? I dunno. He's already had a year where he hit 32 HR, and that's probably his limit. But I'll take that this late, considering I didn't get significant power out of my 1B position early on.

Round 16 - #155 - Johnny Damon
Yeah, I know. I'm not sure what he was doing still on the board either. But, since I needed more OF, I got lucky and grabbed him up. ESPN even has him as the #83 overall or something like that, so I'm not sure what everyone was doing. I'm more than happy with this pick, and continue my solid-but-not-super-fantastically-outstanding players across the entire roster (well, besides Mauer and Utley, of course).

Round 17 - #166 - Juan Pierre
There were a lot of options around the same value on the board here, so I decided to go with a guy that won't kill my BA, will likely get 90+ runs, and will definitely steal me a crap ton of bases. Considering Jacoby Ellsbury went as the #14 overall pick here (ahead of Mauer and Kemp...YUCK!), Pierre is a nice pickup super late. I should be able to contend with steals with Pierre teamed up with Damon, Utley, Pence, Jones, and Jeter. I don't ever feel the need to win steals anyway, as it's usually a huge drain on your power.

Round 18 - #175 - Mike Gonzalez
Gonzalez had a nice year last year, and now has a job as a definite closer for the Orioles (assuming Jim Johnson is out of the running). As usual, I wait for saves. In this draft, it worked out better than my CBS team, since there weren't any autodrafting fools taking 7 closers before Round 10. There's plenty of relievers to go around here.

Round 19 - #186 - Brandon Lyon
I covered Lyon in my last post. Rate stats will drop a bit, but he'll get me some saves. Given the other guys on the board, I didn't miss out on much with taking saves here. He's nothing special, of course.

Round 20 - #195 - Rich Harden
Lots of upside with Harden, and we all know about the K's. Obviously, I'm a LIMA guy. However, I really think that pitchers are so close in talent these days, there's no reason not to do it. While Lincecum and Grienke are good, we no longer are in the days of 300 strikeout Randy Johnsons and Curt Schillings. There's a huge plateau of pitching in the Gallardo-Johnson-Billingsly level, and I suggest sticking to that in any league you play.

Round 21 - #206 - Jason Frasor
Frasor was probably one of the best all around relievers last season. He got Wins, Strikeouts and Saves, and had a fantastic ERA and WHIP. There's competition for the closer role in Toronto, but Frasor is the frontrunner. If anything, he can help out my rate stats and probably get a few saves if he's not the true closer for the team.

Round 22 - #215 - Octavio Dotel
Dotel has a job as a closer and he strikes guys out. That's all I care about when it comes to cheap saves. Who's going to take his job in Pittsburgh? Ian Snell? Why not grab up Dotel late in a draft and add a bit to your saves. His walks can hurt a little in WHIP, but he won't throw too many innings, so not much to worry about here.

Round 23 - #226 - Phil Hughes
Hughes is the man. Joba can bite me. Give Phil a rotation spot. Period.

Round 24 - #235 - Nick Swisher
In the Yankees lineup, Swisher will get Runs and RBI. In the new Yankee Stadium, Swisher will hit HR. Swisher won't hit for average. That's why he's way down here. But don't be fooled, he's a decent power option in a potent lineup. Why not take him here?

Round 25 - #246 - Matt Thornton
Went with Thornton again. See my other posts for why. Solid K's, nasty ERA and WHIP. An outside shot at a closer spot if Jenks effs up. Easy to drop when someone breaks out big on the waiver wire.


I was pretty happy with this team. I think I'm a little low on power, but I should be able to finish in the middle, while getting lots of R, RBI and crush on BA. SB's should be solid as well. Pitching is always flexible in season, and if my drafted options don't work out, there's a plethora of talent on the waiver wire. I'll rate this an B++, but I think it has the ability to reach A+ level with the base of young players here.

Winner's Circle ESPN League

I finished up my second team of the season in a Live Auction Draft over on ESPN. It's a public league, but it's 2009 Champions only (I won all 4 of my dismal public leagues last year on ESPN). The advantage of the Champions Public Leagues is that you know you're likely playing against guys that at the very least set their lineups. I think in my standard public leagues last year, we only had about 5 teams who showed up consistently throughout the season.

It's a standard 10 team league, with 5x5 Roto categories, $260 cap. If you haven't tried them yet, I'd definitely recommend doing a league using ESPN's Live Auction Draft format. It's done very well, and makes for something different if you're bored with the old snake drafts. The rosters are C-1B-2B-SS-3B-MI-CI-OF-OF-OF-OF-OF-UT-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-BN-BN-BN-DL. I'm actually not very happy with my team here, but am in the process of negotiating a trade. I bought Victor Martinez early on, and then ended up caught trying to bid up Joe Mauer. In the end, I have Mauer probably at around $35 in a league like this, so getting him at $23 is nice. Plus, I can just trade V-Mart for a high-quality player to a team that doesn't have a catcher. I'm working on that right now. Here it is, in order of acquisition.

C - Victor Martinez - $16
I was trying to set a precedent and get people to go nuts on Mauer. I like Mauer a lot, but I think he can get overpriced sometimes. V-Mart isn't a bad choice for $16, and I was happy with getting him here. I usually don't go for the better catchers, but I like to try and see how different strategies work in my public leagues.

OF - Carlos Beltran - $10
I took a bit of a risk here with Beltran's injury. But if he comes back healthy after the first month, I could get a nice bargain. Not sure if I like this pick yet, and I'll have to wait and hear the news on his status for the season.

C - Joe Mauer - $23
Yep. I'm the clown that bought both Mauer and V-Mart. Luckily, V-Mart has CI eligibility. However, I'm probably going to trade him for a nice upgrade at the SP spot. I just couldn't pass up Mauer at $23 when the likes of Albert Pujols were going for $47. Even if the plan here fails miserable for trading, Mauer is a great Utility guy...the only catcher who you can say that about.

SS - Hanley Ramirez - $41
The big guns were going for a bit over value for the most part (other than Mauer). Hanley isn't bad at $41, and with the SS and MI positions, it's nice to have a guy like Ramirez to solidify those slots. Pujols went to a Cardinals homer for $47, so I'm okay with this. Plus, it's Hanley Ramriez!

OF - Nelson Cruz - $17
I got Cruz in my first draft as well. The price was a little steeper here, but if Cruz plays all season, he's got tremendous power. Add the nice bit of steals to that, and you've got a Grady Sizemore like outfielder for Roto. I think he'll be well worth the $17.

2B/OF - Ben Zobrist - $17
I wrote about Zobrist in my previous draft. I like Zobrist as a solid option for my MI slot, but it's also nice to have his flexibility in a 5 OF league. Hopefully he'll put up the .280+ BA that ESPN is projecting him for, rather than the .261 that CBS is projecting. Either way, I'm loading up on Power-Speed combos quickly.

1B - Kendry Morales - $18
I'm sticking with the middle of the road salaries so far (besides Hanley). Morales had a huge year last year, finally living up (and surpassing) his expected potential. I don't see any reason he won't put up similar numbers this year, and for the price, a .295-30-100 first baseman is nice to have.

1B - Adrian Gonzalez - $24
Sticking with the first basemen, I took Adrian again. My hope is he is traded to a contender in a better ballpark at some point this year, giving him 50 HR potential. If not, he could still put up Prince Fielder type numbers, sans the ridiculous RBI totals (stupid anemic Padres).

3B - Ryan Zimmerman - $19
This team feels awfully familiar. Zimmerman was pretty much Longoria's equal last year, but without the man crushes (those went away in 2006 for some reason). While Longoria is younger, Zimms is reaching his prime and comes a lot cheaper than his Tampa counterpart. Don't hesitate to take Zimmerman among the Top 3 third basemen.

OF - Manny Ramirez - $12
I'm not sure what everyone is so scared of with Manny. Yeah, he only hit 19 HR last year, but he spent a third of the season lounging around his house. The guy is on a good team, in a good lineup, and is only one full season removed of a scorching 2nd half 2008. Count Manny in for another .290-30-100 season. For the price, it could be one of the better bargains in drafts this season.

OF - Cody Ross - $7
I started running out of money around this point thanks to my V-Mart/Mauer fiasco. Woops. Ross is still improving, and he'll likely see 25 HR and an average that won't totally kill you. He's going undrafted in some leagues I've seen, but has the ability to provide solid numbers across the board. Kind of boring though.

RP - Rafael Soriano - $7
I don't like paying for saves, but Soriano is nasty and I'll need help with my rate stats given my current $$ left. Soriano might not get as many save chances in TB as elsewhere, but he's still got wicked stuff. $7 is a reach though.

SP - Scott Kazmir - $7
Since I'm low on money, I'm going for upside with my pitching. Unfortunately, I missed out on Brandon Webb for the same price because I had to run to the bathroom. A healthy Kazmir could be good for 200 K's again. For $7, I'll take that chance at this point.

SP - Matt Garza - $9
I really like Garza and he seems to be getting better. Like I said in my last post, his curveball is scary looking, and he could be a candidate for 200 K's as he matures. Not a bad 1-2 punch if I have health and luck on my side.

SP - Ricky Nolasco - $10
I'm believing the hype about Nolasco being incredibly unlucky last season. I have him in 3 leagues now (including my FBAL league which I'll get to last). He's a lock for 200 K's if he pitches the whole season, and his WHIP is just dirty. Not a spectacular Top 3, but definitely serviceable.

SP - Matt Cain - $9
Cain has been pegged for some regression this season. Still, even with a little regression he could be a very nice pitcher. I'm sure there was SOME reason he was able to sustain such consistent excellence throughout last season. At least I have a staff now...one that I think the rest of the league will underrate significantly.

SP - Hiroki Kuroda - $4
Kuroda's a good bet to be solid in ERA and not kill my staff. While he's not in the same K-League as the previous 4, he's a steady pitcher in a nice pitcher's ballpark. I expect him to get me some wins and keep his ERA below 4. Nothing special.

SP - Jonathan Sanchez - $3
Hoping for some upside here. If not, I'm hoping he's in the rotation all season to keep me in the K race. There are such a slew of 200 K pitchers this season that I wouldn't recommend drafting any pitcher before the 6th Round (unless Halladay drops to you in the 4th...which I recently saw in a KFFL EXPERT LEAGUE!). This guy could be hell on my rate stats. Hence...

RP - Matt Thornton - $1
It's $1 bid time. Thornton was lights out last season, and there's no reason to believe he won't repeat that. With some luck, I could even get a few saves out of him. I'll need him and Soriano to be on their toes all year to keep my ERA and WHIP in check with Jonathan Sanchez on my team.

RP - Mike Adams - $1
Who the hell is Mike Adams!?! In limited time he had a non-existent WHIP and a sub-1 ERA last season in relief for the Padres. I drafted him in the same vein (vain, vane?) as Thornton and Soriano. Not much more to say, but check out his stats and DO NOT forget him on draft day.

RP - Takashi Saito - $1
More of the same. Saito isn't the guy he used to be, but he's no slouch either. I expect to have a lot of relievers in my lineup at any given point and play the matchups with my starters.

RP - JJ Putz - $1
I'm just waiting for Bobby Jenks to fail. I have Putz to keep a hold on Thornton's value assuming there's any chance of a closer position. Hopefully, Putz can come back strong from surgery. If not, he'll be dropped in a heartbeat.

RP - Brandon Lyon - $1
This is why you shouldn't pay for saves. There's always some guys like Lyon sitting around during the $1 bid part of the draft. He won't have the same ERA and WHIP as last season, but he's the closer, and Saves are a category.

SS - Macier Izturis - $1
Yuck. I needed a MI for my lineup and decided to just wait. I'll likely do some waiver wire shuffling early on to get things in shape. If not, Izturis at least won't do anything to destroy my categories.

OF/1B - Garrett Jones - $1
Jones burst on the scene last year with the Pirates, hitting what seemed like a HR every game. I don't expect him to keep up that ridiculous pace, but he could put up a line of .270-30-85. He's got a little speed, too, and could challenge 20 steals if the Pirates let him run loose.


So there it is. Not the most exciting team I've ever put together, but reasonably competitive. However, I think with the trade of Victor Martinez (hopefully for Jose Lopez and a SP), it should solidify a bit up the middle and in the staff. I'm going to call this my "See How Much Middle Relievers Can Positively Affect Your Pitching Categories" league. Let's hope the answer is "A Lot". I rate this team a B- with A- upside and in need of some luck and big moves.

UPDATE: I picked up Phil Hughes off the waiver wire for JJ Putz and Colby Lewis for Takashi Saito. If Lewis doesn't work out, I suspect someone of high bullpen (or other) caliber will be on the waiver wire, but I'm going with upside in Lewis. Hughes is just a stud.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Does a Proclamation of Increased Workout Load Matter?

I forgot to link this up, but I have a new article (joint with our editor) over at Fantasy Ball Junkie. I run an extremely crude model to see if players who were mentioned in the media as having lost weight, gained muscle, gained speed, got eye surgery would see better performance than expected (by a simple projection system) in the coming year. Turns out that it's all talk (which I would have expected), but it seems that there are differences between the groups of players who choose to and choose not to have new regimens in terms of the talent and age of the players. I would expect this as well, given that players who are in the media more for being better in general likely are also more likely to be mentioned by the media for a new offseason regimen.

Friday, February 19, 2010

First Fantasy Team of the Season

Warning: Self-Indulgent Post. I drafted my first fantasy team this season over on a CBS Public free league. It's a standard 5x5 Roto wtih just 10 teams. The rosters are:

C-C-1B-2B-SS-3B-MI-CI-OF-OF-OF-OF-OF-UT-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-BN-BN-BN-BN-BN-BN

Quite an expanded roster from what I've been used to (though, I play in a really deep keeper league). My draft went well in my opinion. I decided to post my teams here, so I can remember what the actual draft went like at the end of the season and see how much my team changed with trades and waivers. This is the first of a number of them leading up to my Auction Keeper League team: the one that actually matters. Other than that, I'm also participating in a brand new keeper league, one of Razzball's RCL leagues, and some other publics most likely. All of these should bring slightly different perspectives to the draft board, and I'll explain why for each draft. Anyway, here it goes. I had the 9th pick overall in a snake draft format (so, for the second round, it was of course the 2nd pick). I include Mock Draft Central ADPs next to each player:

Round 1 - # 9 - Prince Fielder (ADP of 8.27)
I took Fielder here for a few reason. I often end up low on power in my Roto drafts. I'm not sure why this happens, as I usually do relatively well in all the other categories, but I really dislike guys like Ryan Howard, etc. because of what they do to my batting average. For some reason I still have a little old school love for the BA. Fielder is a .300 type hitter and absolutely mashes HR. I got him right at his Mock Draft Central ADP. The reason I chose him over other available options that rank higher in ADP is that the 10th pick was an autodrafter, and it was going by the CBS rankings, which left my next pick below anyone the next team would have picked (taking Halladay and Tex).

Round 2 - #12 - Matt Kemp (ADP of 7.68)
The fact that I got both Fielder and Kemp made me jump with joy. These guys are both first rounders according to Mock Draft Central. Not only was I able to load up on power early on, but I also got some speed. This is a great start.

Round 3 - #29 - Jimmy Rollins (ADP of 21.91)
I'm actually very partial to Tulowitzki, but he was taken at the end of Round 2. There was a slight run on the top tier shortstops going into the 3rd round. I REALLY dislike Rollins, but I wasn't sure what else to do. While I'm high on Stephen Drew for this year (I think he'll be way undervalued after a disappointing 2009), with a MI spot I needed to take a middle infielder this early. Therefore, Jimmy Rollins. Speed doesn't seem to be a huge issue for my team with this pick and Matt Kemp earlier.

Round 4 - #32 - Adrian Gonzalez (ADP of 31.04)
Get Adrian out of San Diego and you could be looking at a .300-50-125 type of hitter. This guy can flat out hit, and I don't see much difference between him and Tex, other than the fact that I got him 3 rounds later. Talk about a huge power option late. There's a chance he gets traded mid-season, which would likely add about 4 or 5 HR to what he'd have otherwise. Imagine him in Fenway for half a season! I got him around his ADP, but he could be a monster return in Round 4.

Round 5 - #49 - Ben Zobrist (ADP of 57)
I did a small reach here for Zobrist, but I'm not sure the Mock Draft Central drafts include such a large roster. With Zobrist and Rollins, I have my middle infield looking pretty solid. I don't expect him to repeat last year, but there was a definite run on 2B in this round, and having him at a dual eligibility in a 5 OF league is nice. I'm happy with this pick.

Round 6 - #52 - Ryan Zimmerman (ADP of 33.99)
This is a huge value. Most of us know that 3B is a little more shallow than years past. Zimmerman is arguable a Top 3 at the position with Wright and Longoria. What most people don't realize is Zimmerman is still improving. He's also got the likes of Nyjer Morgan and Adam Dunn in the lineup with him that should provide some more RBI and R opportunities, and hasn't gone below the 47th pick in any MDC draft.. This guy went WAY under the radar, given he had a .293-33-106-110 line last year. I really would have liked Joey Votto (ADP of 30.13) in this position, but I already had 2 first basemen and needed to lock up the other corner. Votto was taken on the next pick. The fact that these two guys were available this late is ridiculous. I'm starting to feel the domination coming on.

Round 7 - #69 - Javier Vazquez (ADP of 62.68)
Ah finally! A pitcher. I usually don't go for pitchers until at least the 7th Round. This year, there are a huge number of middling 200K candidates just waiting for me to grab them. Vazquez had a career year last year, and I don't expect a repeat in the AL East. But he's always had great peripherals, and as a Yankee he's going to get some wins. Not a bad way to anchor a rotation, especially when you also have...

Round 8 - #72 - Yovanni Gallardo (ADP of 88.17)
Another reach you say? I don't think so. I am very high on Gallardo this season, and I think he's in line for a King Felix 2009 Light type of season. I don't see him keeping his walk rate above 4 and I think it was a consequence of being young and not being totally comfortable on his new knee. Plus, the guy just before me took Brian Roberts at #71 overall (ADP of 41.37), so the huge value went off the board. Gallardo will probably have 200 K's. This is the year for him to break out. Bold Prediction: Gallardo gets in the Cy Young talk with Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay.

Round 9 - #99 - Nelson Cruz (ADP of 67.53)
I love this pick here. With the guys I have in my lineup, I can take a guy who will hurt the batting average a little bit. Cruz hit 33 HR in less than a full season of AB, with plenty of stolen bases to boot. Getting him about 32 places past his ADP doesn't hurt in a 5 OF league either. Score this one a win for me...he hasn't dropped below Pick #86 at MDC.

Round 10 - #102 - Brandon Webb (ADP of 124.62)
Continuing with my pitching staff in the middle rounds, I took an ace. Not a possible ace, but one we know is capable of Cy Young seasons. While Webb missed all of last year, he's just a year removed from a 22 win season. So while there's risk in this pick, a Round 10 spot is well worth it. I could end up with 3 aces on my staff in Gallardo-Vazquez-Webb without using any pick above Round 7. I don't see how this pick here could go wrong. Plus, if his K's decrease, I can always replace them with....

Round 11 - #119 - Ricky Nolasco (ADP of 107.08)
I'm also high on Nolasco to rebound. Given his ridiculously low walk rate, and ability to strike the hell out of everyone in the second half last year, Nolasco is a great pick in Round 11. We all know about his terrible luck last season, and there is still the skill set to be an MLB ace here. Nolasco and Josh Johnson should be scary for the Marlins competitors. He has the strikeout potential of an ace, and his addition could give me 800 strikeouts with my first 4 pitchers. Nice.

Round 12 - #122 - Jose Lopez (ADP of 123.47)
Perenially underrated Jose Lopez is a nice steal here. He's a second basemen in a league where I could use some extra middle infield. If not, he's even serviceable at the utility position with 25 HR and 100 RBI potential on an improving Seattle team. Chone Figgins hitting in front of him won't hurt a bit. He must not get the love because of his awful walk rate, but he still hits and BB's only matter for Runs in this fantasy league. I got him right around his ADP, but the fact that he was available here kind of makes me regret taking Ben Zobrist so high--I could have had Adam Lind instead. Ugh. Either way, I think 2B is good to go for me.

Round 13 - #139 - Raul Ibanez (ADP of 95.44)
Ibanez's second half must have really put some owners off. Even if he goes back to his standard .290-25-100 season, this is a huge value. Yes, he's getting older, but despite his amazing first half last year, we didn't see him take much advantage of Citizen's Bandbox Park. Perhaps this year he'll get a little luckier there and keep up the power a bit. If not, there's not much lost here with a 13th round pick. He must have gotten lost in everyone's queues.

Round 14 - #142 - Kurt Suzuki (ADP of 131.47)
I guess it's time to take a catcher. While I don't recommend taking a catcher any earlier than the 8th or 9th round (unless it's Mauer), I think it's important to find ones that get full time at bats. Suzuki will be starting all year most likely, and having that consistency is important to me. Nothing special here, though I was upset that it made me miss out on Hunter Pence and Brad Hawpe.


Interlude: You might notice that I haven't gotten a closer yet. Well, closers are stupidheads. Usually I'd take at least one to supplement my ERA and WHIP at this point, but because of the autodraft for one team, there was an enormous run on closers. Every time one got close to value in the coming rounds, he was snatched up just before I was going to take him (for example, Chad Qualls and Joakim Soria). In fact, one autodraft owner ended up with 7 closers before even taking a SP (or more than 1 or 2 batters). A lesson in not showing up to your draft I guess.


Round 15 - #159 - Scott Baker (ADP of 155.2)
Despite not even having the MDC list open, I see.2med to get a lot of guys right around their average. This was an unfortunate accident on this pick. Baker is no exception to the ADP trend, and if he pitches like he did in 2008 and the second half of 2009, I've got a legitimate #2 starter behind my five 200K aces from earlier. Baker could be the ace of the Twins this year, a rotation filled with quality-but-not-absolutely-oustanding starters. That, of course, will depend on the (non)resurgence of Francisco Liriano.

Round 16 - #162 - Matt Garza (ADP of 125.45)
I actually meant to take Garza at Round 15 and then decide on Baker later. Unfortunately, I clicked the wrong button, and ended up having to take Garza 3 picks later. Why is this bad? Well, because I had a closer in mind for this pick after taking Garza in Round 15. But, since another closer was taken in between, I decided to stick with my pick from before. Garza is a big value at this slot, especially if he brings his walk rate down a little bit. Garza is one of my favorite pitchers to watch with his absolutely wicked deuce. He's a candidate for 180+ K's to go along with my other guys. Not sure how real his 189 were last year, but perhaps he could even improve given that he's still relatively young and coming into his prime.

Round 17 - #179 - Matt Capps (ADP of 215)
This was about the time things were getting hairy. Every time I was ready to pounce on a player, he'd be picked up right before me. I wouldn't pay much attention to the ADP with middling closers. It varies like crazy. Capps has been taken as early as 167 and as late as not even drafted on MDC. I decided to finally go with a closer at this point, though. Capps had an awful year in 2009 with some injury, but has always had solid Roto stats in the past. He won't get a huge number of save chances in Washington, but hopefully with 2 closers and a few more in waiting, I can put myself in the middling levels of saves. Remember, a single team has more than enough saves, which means the supply will be fairly low to everyone else as well to start the season. I may not be too far off the guys picking Papelbon and Rivera in the 6th Round once I pick up another guy.

Round 18 - #182 - Nick Swisher (ADP of 249.08)
Here, I decided to load up on the last option for some power available, even if it was a bit early. Swisher will get plenty of play time running around the OF, 1B and DH for the Yankees, so we should see a decent number of R and RBI from the guy. He can't hit for average, but gets on base enough to put up some other counting stats. My average has been pretty solid across the draft, so I have the room to take on a .250 hitter if he's going to get me 30 HR. Plus, he can be used at OF/1B/CI/UT. I get a decent amount of flexibility with Swisher and Zobrist on my team, even if they don't turn out to be huge assets.

Round 19 - #199 - A.J. Pierzynski (ADP of 249.75)
Sticking with my 'regular play time catchers' philosophy, I went with boring old AJ. He doesn't outperform anyone with his skills, but he's dependable and puts up enough counting stats to keep me up in the rankings with 2 catchers. Boring, but very useful. Now time to focus on other things and upside!

Round 20 - #202 - Juan Pierre (ADP of 223.36)
I wanted to improve on my speed a bit, and felt like I could take on a singles-or-nothing hitter like Pierre with the big bats I have in place. The idea of him with Ozzie Guillen and playing every day in Chicago has me salivating a bit for a boat load of steals. Nyjer Morgan and Michael Bourn were taken pretty early, and don't have the track record that Pierre does. He's a good bet for solid average and 50 steals with a full season. At the top of the White Sox lineup, he could approach 100 runs. Look for Pierre's ADP to improve in the coming weeks now that everyone knows he's got a gig in Chicago.

Round 21 - #219 - Octavio Dotel (ADP of 281.96)
Time for another closer. Yuck. Even if Dotel and Capps get a save in every win for their respective teams, I might only finish in the middle of the pack in saves. This is literally the last closer off the board, and I'll try to compensate a little later by picking up hard throwing setup guys in hopes of someone getting hurt. Otherwise, taking Capps and Dotel are a waste, unless they get me up to at least 7th or 8th in the saves standings. On second thought, I might just trade them away for middle relievers with better rate stats. Dotel, though, has the potential to put up big K numbers in limited time. If both my closers get 30 saves, I'll be in decent shape here.

Round 22 - #222 - Todd Helton (ADP of 213.44)
This is the first time in a while that I've had Todd Helton on my fantasy team. I think he's pretty undervalued being taken this late in the draft, and jump at the chance to add some gauranteed batting average help to my utility slot. No, Helton doens't have the .370-40-120 seasons like he used to, but he's perfectly capable of hitting .310 with a reasonable number of RBI's with a lot of young hitters in the lineup with him. I loved Helton back in his heyday, and hopefully he can bring some of that love back with this value pick.

Round 23 - #239 - Shaun Marcum (ADP of 330.10)
Like I said, time to go with upside. Marcum was on track to become a great pitcher in Toronto before being derailed by injury. I suspect he'll be looking at the #1 spot this year if he's healthy enough now that Roy Halladay has left the building. A little reach at this point when I think about it more, as he probably would have been available in the last round. But I've always liked Marcum, so maybe it'll work out.

Round 24 - #242 - Nolan Reimold (ADP of 207.49)
Wow! I guess I missed him, too, but this could be a big pick. Reimold has every right to start in a 5 OF league, and fully healthy this year, he could be a .280-27-90 type of hitter. I think I redeemed the Marcum pick here.

Round 25 - #259 - Phil Hughes (ADP of 324.59)
I guess everyone else missed the year Hughes had in 2009. With a full season of starts, Hughes has the ability to be a fantasy ace. I know I've used this a lot here, but it's the truth. 200K potential, and he's still so young. My opinion is he should get the #5 job for the Yanks, which makes him a possibility for 18 wins. Joba is overrated, go with Hughes!

Round 26 - #262 - Julio Borbon (ADP of 199.57)
I'll happily drink the Borbon Koolaid in Round 26. He's probably going to be starting, and if he's there all season, we're talking about 40+ steals on my bench. That's nice just in case Pierre goes down, or the Rangers decide Borbon is a better OF option than Nelson Cruz.

Round 27 - #279 - Neftali Feliz (ADP of 173.38)
I've been in love with Feliz since my college buddy told me about him when he was umpiring the plate in the Texas league. Said he couldn't even see his fastball during warmups it was so nasty. Feliz will strike people out. As a starter in Texas, I don't like him that much for my team. But as a reliever with Frank Francisco having strange arm things going on last year, I might have gotten myself some saves. Feliz is a future star, but this year I think he'll be better off in the Pen. If not, I've definitely got a hold on strikeouts in this league.

Round 28 - #282 - Matt Thornton (ADP of 303.22)
Here's where I'm taking some upside guys in relief roles. Jenks did not look good last year...plus he's a big fatty. JJ Putz, well, who knows. Thornton had a nice year and can strike batters out pretty frequently. I'll take a chance on him and, if nothing else, help out my rate stats when Nolasco gets unlucky.

Round 29 - #299 - David Price (ADP of 175.36)
I guess everyone forgot about David Price being proclaimed ultimate Tampa Bay Pitching God. I'll take him in the last round, and happily laugh at everyone when he realizes his potential. Price hasn't gotten past Pick #208 in any MDC draft, so I think this was a lucky pick on my part...he's still here because I, too, passed him up in the previous 28 rounds.


All in all, I think this is a definite championship, barring catastrophic injury. I'll go ahead and rate it an A+. I'll need some realized upside in the pitching categories, but I think I have it here. This team is scary in such a large roster league, and I'm looking forward to the upcoming season. Post your thoughts if you felt it necessary to actually read this self-indulgent article.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Link to a Polite Response to the Sickels Article on Sabermetric Disillusionment

I wanted to link to a post by Dan Turkenkopf over at Beyond the Boxscore. It's a reply to the John Sickels article published a few days ago. Sickels explained his disillusionment with baseball statistical analysis. This was simply an opinion piece by Sickels...simply a look into his mind and his preferences for enjoyment of baseball. Unfortunately, some found it appropriate to respond in a relatively rude and overly defensive manner, making useless value judgements about Sickels' preferences. How dare he!?! Turkenkopf does not do this, and his article (though called a "Rant") is very well thought out. I responded with the following:

"Dan,

Thanks for the great post here. While you claim it's a rant, I think it's one of the most well thought out posts on this subject (others have been fairly offputting or rude, despite Sickel's polite remarks simply about his opinion/preferences in baseball analysis). I love the lead in as well, and you seem to recognize where the problem could lie.

I find almost all analysis informative in some way. Some is boring (short little studies I've done myself are admittedly boring as hell), but just skimming those pieces and looking at the conclusion usually points me in some new direction. HOwever, I think you hit it on the nose when you discuss the creativity issue. Because Sabermetrics is often performance as a hobby, it is in many instances used to feed intellectual curiosity. This is great, because I have my own curiosities; however, in the scheme of the reason for sabermetrics and applying it to baseball, the 'WHY' seems to have been lost in many articles. Convince me that your research is the most important thing to come about in the last 100 years of baseball.

We have this really neat data, Pitch F/X. We can plot it and see what's going on. But I have yet to see a great reason WHY we do this communicated to readers (I can think of plenty of my own reasons, but focusing on this part of the analysis would be very beneficial). In most places, especially in a business where application is king, the WHY is the most important part. If it cannot lead to being useful in the workplace/ballfield, then people are going to ask what the point is. I think that effectively communicating this simple point would go a long way in disillusioning some from the area. It's difficult to spark new ideas without knowing why we would want to do them. Everyone has bad ideas, and many more have great ones. Knowing hte reason for the analysis may help to dissimenate one from the other.

If I'm reading new things about PCA on batting and pitching skills, I want to know why this is helpful (I actually really enjoy these multivariate techniques). I would really like to know how Pitch F/X can be applied and integrated into coaching and on field performance. I want to use UZR to position my players correctly. Once I do this, the technical stuff becomes much more interesting to me. Once I know the question (what), I want to konw how it applies (why), and if I'm convinced, I definitely want to know the ways in which it was calculated (how).

Again, thanks for the level headed and polite post. I truly enjoyed it."

I, too, get tired of my endless statistics classes and programming assignments. I tell my professors this. They don't get offended...they understand. Dan's understanding is articulated well, and I think others should take his response technique to heart.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Why I Hate CBS Sports

They actually posted this on their MLB Front Page!!!! The comments are even worse. Here is my favorite:

"Pujols = God...Everyone Else = Pheasants"

Pheasants? Really? Good analogy? Everyone else is a flightless bird. The worst part is that this 'fanpost' is actually better than most of their staff writers. Their 'projections' are laughable, and most are simple 3-year averages for HR, RBI, etc.

Granted, I guess I'm biased since last year they allowed Mike Freeman to take a comment I had about him chastising Alex Rodriguez--for working with an anti-steroids charity after his admission--and ACTUALLY CALL ME AN "Ass Kisser" in the text of the article. Freeman's thesis was that no one should give A-Rod a second chance like that and his word is worth zero...what some people may not know is Freeman epitomizes the 'second chance'. It's not worth posting here, just look it up on Google. God I wish we didn't use their fantasy platform for my league, I hate giving them $9 every year...