Archive for the 'Fantasy Baseball' Category

Saves, stolen bases, and wins: a fantasy baseball primer

Baseball fans everywhere rejoiced on Monday as the big trucks left Boston for Florida, signaling the onset of Spring Training. While pitchers and catchers do not need to report for another 36 hours, one aspect of the baseball season is already among us.

That’s right. It’s fantasy baseball time again. For those of you who are like me and insist of participating in as many fantasy leagues as possible, this is the team of year when we start to pour over PECOTA projections, when we start to keep our eyes tuned to the news on Rotoworld, and when we look out for injury rumors coming out of Spring Training. (Anyone want to take your chances on Carl Pavano? Anyone?)

To prepare for fantasy baseball, I would like to present some of my tips for your draft. I don’t want to rank the players yet. It’s still too early to determine the back end of most cheat sheets (although Andrew at Firebrand did an excellent job with that today). We haven’t seen who is injured, who has aged, and who is going to fill in certain positions for many times.

Instead, I want to give you a few insights into your draft. These are general tips for organizing your draft. Before we get going, I should offer you one caveat. I have never won any of my fantasy leagues. In those I care about, I have done fairly well. I have one second place finish with one group of friends, and in my uber-competitive league, I’ve finished third three straight seasons. (Thanks to Yahoo’s new handy-dandy Fantasy Sports Profiles for that trip down memory lane.) So if you are putting serious money on your league, don’t take my advice. Really.

1. Forget about saves early on – One of the biggest draft day mistakes I see year after year comes when an over-eager manager picks a closer as the 8th pick of the draft. Last year, if I recall correctly, Eric Gagne was taken in the first round in one of my league’s drafts. Suffice it to say, that pick didn’t pan out.

Saves are one of the most over-rated fantasy stats. Think about a closer’s contribution to your team. This is a pitcher who will throw somewhere between 60 and 80 innings. Sure, the very best closers may strike out a lot of guys in those innings, but their ERA contributions and strike out contributions will be negligible compared to starters throwing 220 innings. In essence, closers will help you in one category and one category only: saves. And when you look at the saves leaderboards from 2005, funny things happen.

It’s easy to pick up mediocre closers later on than it is to find top-notch starters and position players in later drafts. Use your early picks to maximize stats across the board. Fine-tune your deficiencies in later rounds.

2. Pay attention to your league’s categories – Only 13 players stole 30 or more bases this past season, and it’s easy for one player to run away with stolen bases as a category. The stolen base has become a point of contention among fantasy owners. Some leagues have opted to eschew the stolen base while others maintain that the stolen base is an integral part of baseball and fantasy baseball. This debate has raged in my league for the better part of two seasons now.

Before you draft, pay careful attention to your league’s categories. On its surface, this is a fairly obvious remainder. But it is amazing how many people forget about this and grab Carl Crawford in the 11th pick when stolen bases are not a counting stat. Guys like Carl Crawford and Chone Figgins lose much of their fantasy value when stolen bases are discarded. Others like Jose Reyes and Juan Pierre – low OBP hitters with little power – may not even be picked up until the very end of the draft if stolen bases aren’t counted.

While I don’t necessarily advocate dropping the stat, make sure when you draft that it will be counting in your league.

3. Leaving wins in the past – While Cy Young voters still value the win, many fantasy baseball players have come to recognize that wins do not adequately evaluate a pitcher’s performance. In many cases, a team’s victory is as much a result of offense as it is pitching. Take Roger Clemens in 2005.

Last season, Clemens threw 211 innings, giving up just 151 hits while striking out 185 and pitching to an ERA of 1.87. Yet he won just 13 games because of a sub-par offense. The Astros were shut up, shut down, and generally unable to muster enough offense to plate runs when Clemens pitched.

As a result, the Rocket’s value in win-dependent leagues suffered. While he was arguably one of the best fantasy pitchers of the season last year in every other stat, he wouldn’t help your team’s win cause.

Roger is not alone in this regard. Good pitchers on mediocre teams – Johan Santana, Ben Sheets – won’t get the wins you need to lead the category. That’s why I’ve advocated eliminating wins as a fantasy stat. While this goes against traditional fantasy grounds, a league without wins more accurately reflects individual performances and gives value back to pitchers who excel in pitching without an All Star offense behind them.

4. Beware the allure of Red Sox and Yankees – My final point today takes us to the I-95 rivalry. It is always tempting to grab as many Yankees and Red Sox as possible early on. Those teams are bound to be among the offensive leaders in baseball. But buyer beware! Some fantasy strongholds on these two days may be turning from stud to dud.

In particular, I’m thinking about Jorge Posada and Jason Varitek. While two of the offensive leaders behind the plate for a long time, the two are no spring chickens, and this year, they should fall further on your depth charts. Posada turns 35 in August, and he is coming off of his worst offensive season. His OBP saw a .050-point drop. Varitek too suffered a late-season slide, and at age 34, he is well past the peak for backstops.

Instead of this two stalwarts, take a look at the kids. Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez, and the Marlins’ Josh Willingham will probably be the stand-outs at catcher this season. While Posada and Varitek will still back a punch now and then, their days as stand-out fantasy players are in the past.

So go forth and create your draft sheets. And as you do so, I hope you’ll keep some of my thoughts for fantasy drafts in mind. As snow melts across the northeast, it’s a great time of year for baseball fans.

Advertisements

RSS River Ave. Blues

  • Thanksgiving Weekend Open Thread November 23, 2017
    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I’ve got some family obligations the next few days, so unless the Yankees make some news — I don’t expect that to happen, but you never know — posting is going to pretty light around here through the weekend. I’ve got one link to pass along and it’s kinda old, but I […] The post Thanksgiving Weekend Open Thread appeared first on […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Gleyber Torres will compete for a roster spot next spring, and that’s a good thing even if he won’t win one November 22, 2017
    You know what’s pretty awesome? The Yankees have a great young core at the big league level in Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Luis Severino. That’s the unanimous 2017 AL Rookie of the Year and 2017 AL MVP runner-up, the third place finisher in the 2017 AL Cy Young voting, and the 2016 AL Rookie […] The post Gleyber Torres will compete for a roster spot next […]
    Mike Axisa
  • RAB Live Chat November 22, 2017
    The post RAB Live Chat appeared first on River Avenue Blues.
    Mike Axisa
  • The Collapse of Tyler Clippard [2017 Season Review] November 22, 2017
    When you blog about baseball as much as I do, you need to keep a list of topics and notes handy. I can’t tell you how many great ideas I’ve come up with in the middle of the night only to forget them in the morning. I used to keep everything jotted down in a […] The post The Collapse of Tyler Clippard [2017 Season Review] appeared first on River Avenue Blues […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Mailbag: Braves Prospects, Rule 5 Draft, Kinsler, Appel, Judge November 22, 2017
    No, it’s not Friday, but it is Thanksgiving week and I have family obligations the next few days. It was either post the mailbag today or not at all this week, so today it is. We’ve got eleven questions this week. RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com is the mailbag email address. Many asked: Will the […] The post Mailbag: Braves Prospects, Rule 5 Draft, Kinsler, […]
    Mike Axisa
  • MLB, NPB, MLBPA agree to new posting system, paving the way for Ohtani to come over this offseason November 22, 2017
    Shohei Ohtani will indeed get a chance to play in Major League Baseball next season. MLB, NPB, and the MLBPA agreed to a new posting system prior to tonight’s deadline, according to multiple reports. Ohtani will be grandfathered in under the old posting agreement this offseason, meaning the Nippon Ham Fighters will receive a $20M […] The post MLB, NPB, MLBPA […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Tuesday Night Open Thread November 22, 2017
    Earlier today Hall of Famer Joe Morgan sent a letter to the Hall of Fame voting body imploring them not to vote players connected to performance-enhancing drugs into the Hall of Fame. Two problems with that. One, there are already players who used PEDs in the Hall of Fame. Players used to pop amphetamines (“greenies”) […] The post Tuesday Night Open Thread a […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Aaron Judge undergoes left shoulder surgery, will be ready for Spring Training November 21, 2017
    Turns out Aaron Judge wrapping his left shoulder with a big ice pack after each game in the second half was more than routine maintenance. Judge had arthroscopic surgery on the shoulder yesterday, the Yankees announced. The procedure “involved a loose-body removal and cartilage clean-up,” and his recovery will be completed in time for Spring […] The post Aar […]
    Mike Axisa
  • The Other Excellent Rookie [2017 Season Review] November 21, 2017
    The Yankees headed into Spring Training with the fifth starter role entirely up in the air (that’s true of the fourth spot, as well, but now is not the time to discuss how awesome it was that Luis Severino went from “competing for a spot” to “finalist for the Cy Young Award”). Brian Cashman specifically […] The post The Other Excellent Rookie [2017 Season Re […]
    Domenic Lanza
  • Thoughts following the Rule 5 Draft protection deadline November 21, 2017
    It has been three weeks since the Astros won the World Series and we’re still waiting for something exciting to happen this offseason. Yesterday was the deadline for teams to add players to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, and that’s the most exciting thing that has happened so far […] The post Thoughts following the Rule 5 Draft prot […]
    Mike Axisa

Blog Stats

  • 62,603 hits