Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2009 Spring Training: What have we learned about Chris Davis?


  • If you drafted BJ Upton in a league with DL slots, you are probably wondering when will the Rays finally put BJ Upton on the DL? Well, any day now. Any second, even.

  • Speaking of Disabled Lists, how do those work at the start of the season? This link will tell you.

  • So Matt Wieters is in the minors. But what does this mean? When will he be called up? First, let me just state for the record that these rules confuse the heck out of me. Second, because I don't understand them, I'll defer to this site with regards to "Super-Two" verbiage. Third, well, there is no third.

  • Chone Figgins is 3rd this spring with 8 SB. He also has 3 CS, 1 HR, is batting .407 and has a 7 Ks and 7 BBs. A pretty good spring.

  • Matt Kemp has 3 SB and 4 CS. Does this concern me? No it does not. I'd be more scared if I were an Alfonso Soriano owner (0 SB, 3 CS).

  • Chris Davis is the Spring Training leader with 23 Ks. He also has 9 BBs, is batting .310, and has 5 HR. I still think Chris Davis is worth his Average Draft Position (ADP). Also note that Jay Bruce has 20 Ks and only 4 BBs.

  • Elijah Dukes is not exactly tearing it up this spring: .250 AVG, 1 HR, 3 SB, 16 K, 7 BB. But I am not worried. I really do think he'll win the job and get 500 plus at bats this year and go, minimum, 20 HR / 20 SB.

  • Sheffield was cut, as Aaron Gleeman discusses here. Sure, Sheff was batting .178, but note that he did have 13 walks and 10 Ks when he was cut.

  • Ryan Howard leads ST with 9 HRs. Nelson Cruz has 6, as does soon-to-be-2B-eligible Mark Teahen. Alex Gordon has five.

  • Two hot players: Todd Helton (.515 AVG, 4 HR, in 33 at bats) and Milton Bradley (.524 AVG, 4 HR in 42 at bats).

  • You need speed to get triples, and Fred Lewis has three of them this spring. He also is batting .373 and has 3 SB (but 2 CS).

  • Your current Spring Training hits leader? Pablo Sandoval with 29. The rotund Sandoval also manged to steal a base.

  • Daniel Murphy of the Mets has been a sexy pickup of late, especially after it was announced that he'd hit second in the Mets lineup. He is tied for second this spring with 28 hits. He also has 1 HR, 2 SB, and a .364 AVG.

  • Ubaldo Jimenez has 14 Ks and 13 BBs. Not very encouraging for a guy who has control issues. Then again, the sample size is so small it isn't really all that meaningful. Take Matt Capps, a guy who hardly every walks anyone during the regular season, and somehow he has 9 walks and only 12 Ks this spring. Then again, Jimenez has also hit three batters this spring, which is arguably more wild than just issuing walks.

  • My main man Motte leads ST with 4 saves but more importantly he appears to have at least a portion of the closer role. Hey, LaRussa said it, not me.

  • No one has given up more runs than Zach Greinke this spring (25 runs in 23.1 innings). Don't fret. Cliff Lee is giving up a lot of runs (23 runs in 16.2 innings) but he is supposedly working on something to do with his fastball. Scott Baker has given up an eye-opening 9 home runs in 23.2 innings. I really don't think that any of these stats are all that meaningful.

    MLB season, please start soon.
  • Friday, March 27, 2009

    BJ Ryan will be understanding when he loses the closer role

    BJ Ryan has been terrible this spring: six appearances, five innings, six runs, six walks, five strikeouts. But these stats don't matter because it is only spring training, right? Well, maybe not in Ryan's case. His velocity is down around 84 MPH and isn't improving and his manager is starting to freak out and float the idea that Ryan gives up the closer role to the media. Here is what his manager said: "I think (Ryan is) the type of guy, if he feels like he can't help us, he'll just say maybe use someone else," Gaston said Thursday. "He might not say it, but he understands."

    He might not say it but he understands? Classic. Anyway, here are a few potential BJ Ryan replacements to keep an eye on until Ryan uses non-verbal communication methods to show that he is ready to graciously step aside:

    Jeremy Accardo (pictured) - You might remember him as the guy who saved 30 games for Toronto in 2007. Let me throw some of his 2007 numbers at you: 67 innings, 7.62 K/9, 3.21 BB/9, 2.38 K/BB, 1.11 WHIP. Accardo spent most of 2008 dealing with arm troubles and hanging out with Dr. James Andrews. Bill James projects a 1.23 WHIP for 2009. In other news, Toronto manager Cito Gaston tried Accardo out as a starter this spring, but that plan was abandoned when Accardo got lit up for seven runs in two innings. In 9.1 innings this spring, he's given up nine runs, but of course seven of them came in that one outing early in the spring. He has two walks, four strikeouts, and one save this spring. 3/31 UPDATE: Accardo was just sent to the minors.

    Jesse Carlson - Carlson's 2008 stats were very similar to Accardo's 2007 stats: 60 innings, 8.25 K/9, 3.15 BB/9, 2.62 K/BB, and a 1.03 WHIP. He also had two saves. Bill James projects Carlson's 2009 WHIP to rise (to 1.27), once Carlson's BABIP normalizes (it was .235 last year, and James projects .312 this year).

    Scott Downs - Last year, in 70.2 innings, Downs had 7.26 K/9, 3.44 BB/9, 2.11 K/BB, 1.15 WHIP, 5 saves. Bill James projects a 1.30 WHIP.

    These three guys might be clones: all have a decent K/9 (over 7), a slightly elevated BB/9 (over 3.0), and a mediocre K/BB. Of these three guys, my gut says Accardo is the best pitcher, but that could just be me remembering his glory days of 2007. He's coming off injury, and the performance of post-injury RPs is difficult to predict. The latest news seems to suggest that Downs would take over as closer in the event that BJ isn't up to snuff.

  • Jays GM JP Ricciardi is not concerned about BJ Ryan. But remember, this is the same JP Ricciardi that lied through his teeth about BJ two years ago.

  • 3/31 Update: Scott Downs might open the season as the Jays' closer.
  • Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    The Five Players I Drafted In Both Of My Fantasy Baseball Leagues

    I'm participating in two leagues this year: an 8-team keeper H2H points-based Sandbox league, and a 12-team keeper H2H roto-based Y! league. Despite the vastly different formats, I expected to draft some of the same players in both drafts. And I did double-draft a few players, just not the guys I expected. Here are the five players that I drafted in both leagues:

    Matt Wieters - I got Wieters at a reasonable price in the Sandbox league, especially considering all the hype (and it is a two-catcher league), but by the time the Y! draft came along, my Wieters man-crush was at its peak and I reached a bit. Now, a week later, I can laugh about it (sort of), but I must say I'm really hoping he starts the season with the big league team. It's pretty annoying to have that red "NA" next to his name, as it means I can't slide him into my DL slot. Oh, so why did I draft him? Part of it was getting carried away, sure, but I mostly drafted him because he's the first universally-loved prospect I've ever come across. He also walked more than he struck out last year, and so he'll probably be viable in any points league that penalizes strikeouts (like my Sandbox league). Combine all that with the keeper league format, and you can see why I starting getting excited. In the back of my head I'm thinking, wow, if this Wieters guy ends up being a cross between Mike Piazza and Joe Mauer, how can I go wrong? These expectations are probably completely unreasonable. I know this. But it's fun to own someone like Wieters. It's fun to be able to root for his success. Oh, and propaganda pieces like this certainly help keep the optimism machine buzzing. 3/29 UPDATE: It's official: Wieters sent to minors.

    John Smoltz - When all the good SPs are off the board, I find I have a hard time pulling the trigger on the crappy endgame SPs. My brain knows that Mark Buehrle will win 15 games, but my heart won't let me draft him. As a result of this stubbornness, I frequently end up drafting players who have been amazing in the past, but are pretty far down the ranks because of injury or circumstance. For example: I always end up drafting the Carlos Marmol-types over the Kevin Gregg-types. Gregg might play well this year, sure, but the finger I use to draft will only allow me to draft the players who have certifiable talent (sorry Gregg). That's why I stick with H2H, as it doesn't penalize you as much for taking pitchers who are going to miss half the year. So, enter John Smoltz...you know, the SP who hasn't had a WHIP over 1.19 since 1996. He won't be back until June, and so I'll have to slide him into my DL slot for a few months. While it isn't a great idea to stockpile injured players in leagues with small benches, I was able to convince myself that in a head-to-head league, winning in September is more important than winning in April. I'll take the 16th-round gamble that Smoltz will regain his dominant form in Boston.

    Brandon Morrow - Morrow walks too many guys (4.73 BB/9). This bothers me. He has been experiencing some arm "tightness" this spring. This worries me. But then I look at his incredible K/9 rate (10.44), and his WHIP (1.14), and I feel much better. Oh, and I'm fine with Seattle turning him into a closer. I love unhittable closers that have SP/RP eligibility.

    Roy Halladay - Maybe I was swayed by my own post in which I noted that Halladay will bring a 1083% return on investment if he manages to duplicate his 2008 stats. I know some of you out there think that Halladay will regress to his 2007 form (139 K, 1.24 WHIP), a form that was excellent but not quite as good as his 2008 form (206 K, 1.05 WHIP), but you can count me among the folks that think Halladay will come close to duplicating his stats from 2008. Either way, he's worth a fourth-round pick in mixed league 12-team drafts.

    Elijah Dukes - Dukes has been falling in drafts, I think, because he isn't guaranteed a starting gig and he plays for a team that has an incredibly crowded outfield. So, I unilaterally decided that Dukes would win the starting gig in spring training. I'll probably be proven right (please!), but in truth this decision has yet to be confirmed. Anyway, assuming that Dukes does get the starting gig, it is tempting to double his stats from the 286 at bats he has last season and get a gaudy 26 HR, 26 SB season. For what it's worth, Lastings Milledge thinks Dukes will go 30-30 this year. Imagine? And it is not like Dukes is some hacker--the dude can take a walk. Not bad for a 19th-round pick in the 12-team mixed league draft. Very McLouth-ish. (McLouthsian?)

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    My 2009 Fantasy Baseball Draft Cheatsheet

    I've already outlined an SP-heavy strategy here, and an RP-heavy strategy here. In our money league, however, The Sinkhole used neither of these strategies. Instead, we generated a cheatsheet of players that we wanted to target in each round and used it as a guide during the draft. Sometimes our targets were unreasonable—like there was no way Carlos Lee was going to fall to round five—but that just meant we didn't draft that player. And sometimes we completely ignored our cheatsheet and let our emotions get the better of us, which is the only possible explanation for why we drafted Wieters three rounds ahead of the round we were targeting him in.

    So here is the cheatsheet for our Yahoo 12 team mixed keeper league H2H roto (not points) draft that uses standard 5*5 categories (except Quality Starts instead of Wins), daily lineup changes, five bench spots, 7 pitchers (SP, SP, SP, RP, RP, P, P), one catcher, and four outfielders; we had the 8th pick. Perhaps it will help you make your draft cheatsheet. (Note: our cheatsheet underestimated the speed with which SPs would be drafted in rounds 9 through 15, so you might want to adjust accordingly.) Our actual picks are highlighted in bold (although we didn't always get the players in bold in the rounds we were targeting to get them in, and sometimes we picked players not found on our cheatsheet):

    1.Pick #8 Braun, MCabrera, Sizemore, Hamilton (pictured above)
    2.Pick #17 Utley, Rollins, BUpton,
    3.Pick #32 Kemp, ARod, Markakis, Holliday
    4.Pick #41 Halladay / Hamels, Alexei
    5.Pick #56 Markakis, Soriano, CarlosLee, Grandy, Rios
    6.Pick #65 Chris Davis, Tulo, McLouth, Bay, Hart, Pence
    7.Pick #80 Votto? Pence, JShields, Lackey, Cano,
    8.Pick #89 Votto
    9.Pick #104 Gallardo, Nolasco
    10.Pick #113 Nolasco, Soria, Marmol, Broxton, Joba, KWood
    11.Pick #128 Nolasco / Greinke, Wieters
    12.Pick #137 Price, Wieters, MBradley, VWells, Milledge
    13.Pick #152 Morrow / Scherzer, Baker
    14.Pick #161 Capps, Qualls, Bell
    15.Pick #176 Sandoval
    (Emerg 2B: JLopez)
    16.Pick #185 Hawpe, JUpton, NCruz, Tavares
    17.Pick #200 Slowey, Bedard, RandyJ, Francisco
    18.Pick #209 Smoltz, Taveras, AJones, Kershaw
    (Emergency SS OCabrera)
    19.Pick #224 Kuo, Carpenter
    (Emergency 3B: Gordon, Cantu, Beltre, Reynolds)
    20.Pick #233 Balfour, Putz, Andrus
    21.Pick #248 Maine, Dukes, Butler, Motte
    (Emerg C: Shoppach)
    22.Pick #257 Lind, IStewart
    (Emerg 3B: Lowell, Blalock, Kouz)
    Drafted players not on cheatsheet: Guthrie, Maholm, & Atkins.

    (If you are interested, the actual final outcome our draft can be found here and here.)

    Sunday, March 22, 2009

    The Complete List of Female In-Game Dunks (According To YouTube)


    Look. I do find it strange that male fans/sportswriters seem way more excited about the female dunk then female fans/sportswriters, or even the female players themselves. Male fans/sportswriters need to chillax.

    Also: why is it that anytime a video of a female dunking is posted on YouTube, some haters feel the need to post a comment 1. expressing that the dunk is closer to a layup, 2. discussing how they themselves can dunk with ease, 3. pontificating on the sexuality of the dunker, and 4. stating that they could easily beat the female dunker in a game of one-on-one basketball? Give me a break. Don't bring that garbage here.

    So, with that in mind, this post isn't intended to glorify the female dunk, or even suggest that women's basketball would be better with more dunking. It certainly isn't intended to rank or judge female dunks. It is no more than a catelogue of female dunks that can be found on YouTube. (I know, I know. I'm sure other in-game dunks have happened, but as I said in my NBA dunking post, one could argue that if a dunk isn't posted on YouTube, it never happened.) One-stop shopping for female YouTube dunks, if you will. Enjoy.

    In-Game WNBA Dunks

    (Note: in most cases you can click on a given name to see video of the qualifying dunk.)

    2002: Lisa Leslie - First in-game dunk in WNBA history (7/30/02).
    2005: Lisa Leslie - No video of this All-Star game dunk (7/9/05).
    2006: Michelle Snow - Also in the All-Star game (7/12/06).
    2008: Candace Parker - Second WNBA in-game dunk (6/22/08).
    2008: Candace Parker - Back-to-back games (6/24/08).



    In-Game Collegiate Dunks

    1984 - 05: Georgeann Wells - First woman to dunk in a game. Link includes nice follow-up story and recently-found video of dunk.
    1994: Charlotte Smith - First dunk in a decade. Dunk was televised, but I can't find clip of it online.
    2000 - 01: Michelle Snow - Against Illinois. Also dunked against South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
    2003: Sancho Lyttle - Against Gonzaga.
    2005 - 08: Candace Parker had, as far as I can tell, seven in-game collegiate dunks. Here are five of them:
    Candace Parker - First and second dunk in NCAA tourney
    Candace Parker - Against West Virginia
    Candace Parker - Against UCONN (@ 2:19)
    Candace Parker - Against Kentucky
    The rest of Parker's collegiate dunks can be found spliced into this video.
    2007: Sylvia Fowles - Against Louisiana-Lafayette. No video of that one, but there is video of her dunking at the 2009 Euro All-Star Game and again in a 2008 game overseas.

    Also note: Parker, in the 2004 FIBA Junior World Championship Qualifying Tournament Games, had three dunks in five games to lead the USA team to the Gold Medal.

    In-Game High School Dunks

    2001 - 04: As far as I can tell, Candace Parker had two high school dunks.
    2007-09: Brittney Griner is already the most prolific female in-game high school dunker ever. She's in-game dunked more than 50 times this season alone. Some of her recent in-game dunking exploits can be found here, where she dunked twice in a Feb 27th, 2009 playoff game. Here is a Griner in-game dunk from March 6th, 2009. Want even more info? Fine. This was posted two weeks ago: an interview with B. Griner.

    A Smattering of Out-Game Dunks

    Maya Moore - In warm-ups.
    Michelle Snow - With Parker in warm-ups.
    Candace Parker - Wins HS slam dunk contest.
    Tudy Reed - Dunked to get a guy.

    So, only eight different women have in-game dunked: Wells, Smith, Snow, Leslie, Lyttle, Parker, Fowles, and Griner. That's pretty select company. Think I missed someone? Then get the video footage of it up on YouTube. You can also let me know by leaving a note in the comment section.

    Optional reading

  • Controversy: ESPN The Mag writes about Candace Parker's alphabet cups.

  • 480 photos of Candace Parker.
  • Saturday, March 21, 2009

    The Complete List Of Current NBA Players That Don't (Can't) Dunk In Games

    Growing up, my favorite basketball player was Eric Murdock. I used to go to a lot of Providence College basketball games, and Murdock and Carlton Screen were the stars of the team back then. Murdock wasn't a dunker, and although I have a hazy memory of seeing him dunk in a game once, the only video clips of him scoring that I could find were of his signature layup off the glass (see picture).

    As I was watching the NCAA Tourney today, I was reminded of Murdock and his non-dunking ways, and I began to wonder how many current NBA players can't dunk. Well, judging from this article, about 20 current NBA players can't dunk. Good to know, but not specific enough for me; I needed to know exactly which twenty-ish current players are unable to dunk. I used the process of elimination and YouTube to get my answer.

    What follows is a list of all the guys who do not have an in-game dunk posted on YouTube. Not the most scientific way of separating the dunkers from the non-dunkers, but one could argue that if a dunk isn't on YouTube, it never happened.

    List A: These players are on the non-dunking list until a YouTube clip of an in-game dunk surfaces

    (Note: I also referenced the CBS Dunk-O-Meter.)

    6'5" Roko Ukic - Easily, but in warmups & in writing only.
    6'3" Steve Blake - Almost. In-game dunk @ 2:26.
    6'3" Steve Nash - This is the closest he's come.
    6'3" Beno Udrih - Lots of layups in this mix.
    6'3" Jamaal Tinsley - No dunk in top 5 plays.
    6'3" Jason Hart - Layup-ish.
    6'3" Damon Jones - Gets dunked on here.
    6'3" Sergio Rodriguez - Reverse layup.
    6'2" Luke Ridnour
    6'2" Rafer Alston - Rumored to have in-game dunked.
    6'2" Anthony Roberson
    6'2" Kevin Ollie
    6'2" Mike James - Blocked dunk attempts don't count.
    6'2" Marcus Banks
    6'2" Chris Quinn - Elevates on jumper.
    6'1" Mo Williams - Blocks shot near rim. Added 9/21/10 by Anon: Mo Williams dunking on Pierce.
    6'1" Travis Diener
    6'1" Eddie House
    6'1" Jacque Vaughn - Mix sans dunks.
    6'0" DJ Augustin - Layup.
    6'0" Sean Singletary - Almost.
    6'0" Jameer Nelson - Layup.
    6'0" Tyronn Lue
    6'0" Seb Telfair - This low-quality video, but no dunks in this mix.
    6'0" Kyle Lowry - This low-quality video, but no dunks in this mix.
    5'11" Speedy Claxton - All-alone fastbreak layups here.
    5'11" Chucky Atkins
    5'10" JJ Barea - Practices floaters in this clip.
    5'10" Brevin Knight - Floater.
    5'10" Mike Wilks - A good view of someone else's dunk.

    List B: These players are confirmed dunkers and have been crossed off the non-dunking list (click on name to play video of qualifying dunk)

    Jose Calderon
    Tony Parker
    Chris Paul
    Jason Kidd
    Kirk Hinrich
    JJ Reddick
    Ray Allen
    Zach Randolph
    Allen Iverson
    Sun Yue
    Oberto
    Luis Scola
    Deron Williams
    Derek Fisher
    Anthony Carter
    Mike Bibby
    Jason Williams
    Earl Watson
    Luther Head
    Chauncey Billups
    Louis Williams
    Leandro Barbosa
    Devin Harris
    Monta Ellis
    Rajon Rondo
    Shannon Brown
    Raymond Felton
    Lindsay Hunter
    Eric Snow - With Snow commentary.
    Randy Foye
    Goron Dragic
    Daniel Gibson
    Delonte West
    Jason Terry
    Aaron Brooks
    TJ Ford
    Jarrett Jack
    Ronnie Price
    Jordan Farmar
    Mario Chalmers
    Gilbert Arenas - I miss Gil.
    Kenyon Dooling
    Charlie Bell
    Will Bynum
    Fred Jones
    Mike Taylor
    Bobby Brown
    Anthony Johnson
    Willie Green
    Jerryd Bayless
    George Hill
    *Ramon Sessions
    *Matt Bonner
    *Royal Ivey
    *Juan Dixon - Hmm. Small & grainy pic.
    *Andre Miller
    **CJ Watson - He can...video? (Dunk-O-Meter says 1 in '09)
    **Chris Duhon - Yes, but in game? (Dunk-O-Meter says 1 in '09)
    **Mike Conley - Pops can, but... (Dunk-O-Meter says 2 in '09)

    *Photo proof only (no video found)
    **Dunk-O-Meter proof only (no video found)

    List C: It is possible these players are non-dunkers, but they are no longer in the NBA

    5'5" Earl Boykins (playing in Italy)
    6'0" Dan Dickau (waived)
    5'10" Damon Stoudamire (retired)

    My guess is that about ten of the guys on List A have actually dunked in a game, but for whatever reason that video isn't posted on YouTube. If true, this would still leave about twenty guys left on the non-dunker list, which is consistent with the SI article I referenced earlier in this post.

    Am I missing anyone? Do you have video proof that could move a player from List A to List B? Great. Post it in the comment section and I'll update the list. The idea is for this list to get more accurate over time.

    Friday, March 20, 2009

    What Will Your Waiver Wire Look Like After Your Draft?


    The Sinkhole recently participated in a Yahoo 12 team mixed keeper league H2H roto (not points) draft that uses standard 5*5 categories (except Quality Starts instead of Wins), daily lineup changes, five bench spots, one catcher, and four outfielders; we had the 8th pick. Our draft was...interesting. For example: according to the Yahoo Preseason Ranks, we don't have a single top-four player at any position, except outfield. Yikes. We, inexplicably, drafted two catchers in the first thirteen rounds, even though we usually take one catcher with our last pick in a one-catcher league. (And Ramon Hernandez, a decent catcher option, is now laughing at us from the waiver wire.) But the two catchers we got (Sandoval and Wieters) could be a smart pair to own in this Yahoo daily H2H keeper format, so maybe it works out. We also went for a lot of other sexy-yet-unproven players (Chris Davis, Morrow, Scherzer). And no real closers. But we did get some Sinkhole-friendly players, like Zach Grienke, Chris Davis, Pablo Sandoval (pictured above), Alexei Ramirez, Roy Halladay, Hong-Chih Kuo, and Jason Motte.

    But this post is about what a waiver wire might look like, not about studying our draft on a granular level. So, I thought it might be instructive to go through the waiver wire of our league and look at the Yahoo preseason ranks of all the guys who didn't get drafted. I also included, in bold, our picks. This should give you an idea of what your waiver wire might look like in a typical 12-team mixed (keeper) yahoo league.

    Oh, and after looking at the list below, tell me: which player would be the first guy you'd snag off the wire? We'll be able to put Smoltz in our DL slot soon, so we'll need to make a move.

    C
    9. Sandoval
    10. Wieters
    14. Ramon Hernandez
    15. Navarro
    17. Clement

    1B
    10. Chris Davis
    13. Garrett Atkins
    23. Sandoval
    24. Adam LaRoche
    30. Casey Kotchman
    30. Mike Jacobs
    30. Helton

    2B
    6. Alexei
    19. Orlando Hudson
    21. Freddy Sanchez
    22. Iwamura
    23. Aaron Miles
    24. Alexi Casilla
    26. Mark Ellis
    25. Fontenot
    27. Barmes
    28. Asdrubal

    SS
    5. Alexei
    15. Orlando Cabrera
    20. Reneria
    21. Cristian Guzman
    22. Elvis Andrus
    23. Jason Bartlett
    24. Yuniesky Betancourt
    25. Barmes
    30. Asdrubal

    3B
    8. Chris Davis
    11. Garrett Atkins
    17. Sandoval
    22. Lowell
    24. Kouzmanoff
    29. Wigginton
    30. Casey Blake
    30. Andy LaRoche

    OF
    3. Hamilton
    4. BJ Upton
    15. Matt Kemp
    22. Alexei
    24. Pence
    50. Dukes
    53 Fred Lewis
    62. Francoeur
    64 Luke Scott
    65 Jose Guillen
    65 Gary Sheffield
    65 Jeremy Hermida
    68 Travis Snider
    68 Chris Dickerson
    70 Jack Cust
    72. Jason Kubel
    73. Kendry Morales
    74. Ty Wigginton
    75. David DeJesus
    77. Ben Francisco
    80. Michael Bourn
    80. Brian Giles
    80. Juan Pierre
    80. Colby Rasmus
    80. Eric Byrnes
    80. Fukudome
    80. Schumaker

    RP
    14. Scherzer
    18. Marmol
    24. Morrow
    27. Corpas
    29. Motte
    29. Kevin Gregg
    35. Chris Perez
    36. Kuo
    37. Ray
    40. Scot Shields
    40. Rodney
    40. Nunez
    40. Batista
    40. Aardsma

    SP
    6. Halladay
    23. Greinke
    42. Scherzer
    52. Morrow
    54. Wandy Rod
    55. John Maine
    56. Mike Pelfrey
    62. Oliver Perez
    66. Jonathan Sanchez
    67. Maholm
    71. Kuo
    72. Sean Marshall
    73. Smoltz
    74. Andy Pettitte
    78. Ian Snell
    79. Guthrie
    80. Sonnanstine
    80. Galarraga
    80. Arroyo
    80. Neftali Feliz
    80. Aaron Cook
    80. Trevor Cahill
    80. Brad Penny
    80. Phil Hughes
    80. David Purcey
    80. Carlos Carrasco

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    Mike Lowell Optimism Despite Looming Pessimism

    After his excellent 2007 season, Mike Lowell was the 125th player drafted before the start of the 2008 baseball season. He was the 11th third baseman drafted.

    In 2009, he’s been the 24th third baseman drafted. His Average Draft Position (ADP) is 207.

    In a year when things get pretty thin at the 3B position after the first ten rounds or so, it’d be nice to have a late-round 3B who could perform as a top 12-to-15 third baseman. Is the 35-year-old Mike Lowell that guy?

    Well, he’s probably not going to duplicate his 2007 stats:
    79 R, 21 HR, 120 RBI, 3 SB, .324 AVG in 589 at bats

    For 2009, Bill James projects:
    59 R, 16 HR, 75 RBI, 2 SB, .277 AVG in 462 at bats

    But let’s say that Lowell manages to get in 589 at bats again. This is not completely improbable, as he averaged 551 at bats in the eight-season stretch that ran from 2000 to 2007. I know, I know, but for the sake of argument, let’s just pretend he can get in 589 at bats in 2009. How would this change Bill James’ 2009 projection? Like so:
    75 R, 20 HR, 96 RBI, 3 SB, .277 AVG

    That’s not too bad, is it? Granted, Bill James is the most optimistic man on the human planet, but still. I wonder, how would this manipulated projection compare with the top 15 3B from the 2008 season?
    Well, Troy Glaus was the 15th-best 3B (and 121st player overall) last year with these stats:
    69 R, 27 HR, 99 RBI, 0 SB, .270 AVG in 544 at bats.

    Not convinced? Kevin Kouzmanoff was the 18th-best 3B (and 198th overall) last year with these stats:
    71 R, 23 HR, 84 RBI, 0 SB, .260 AVG in 624 at bats.

    My point is this: Lowell was unable to live up to his high ADP in 2008, but he is a very good bet to outperform his ADP in 2009. And I’ll add this tidbit: he might be a better late-round 3B to add then 29 HR hitting, 11 SB stealing (possibly redundant) Mark Reynolds.

    Mark Reynolds has a contact rate of 62.3%, one of the worst rates in the league. This doesn’t mean that he’s going to suck, of course, but I think it is safe to say that his inability to make contact will give his owners intermittent headaches throughout the season. For example, Reynolds batted .293 in June of last year, and then batted .217 for the next two months. Yikes.

    Look, I’m still interested in Reynolds, mostly because of the 30 HR / 10 SB potential so late in the draft (although I'm less interested in him in H2H leagues), but if you want a safer, more consistent option to slide into your 3B slot (especially in H2H leagues), why not try Lowell? Lowell’s career contact rate is 88.8%. He’s recovering well from his October hip surgery (he went 2-for-2 with a HR against the Yanks in his first game back at 3B) and is on track to be ready for Opening Day.

    I encourage you to blame Lowell’s 2008 struggles on his hip. Assume the Red Sox will play Lowell at 3B nearly every day despite his fragility. Oh, so you bring up how Kevin Youkilis has been taking more grounders at third this spring just in case Lowell has a setback? Stop trying to scare me. It won't work. Pencil in 20 HR and nearly 100 RBI. And as for his projected .277 average? Bah. Pencil in .285+. I mean, why not be optimistic? Unlike last year, 2009 Mike Lowell optimism isn’t going to cost you very much.

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    Chris Bosh vs. Nate Robinson: What Happened Next?

    Check out this photograph:

    Now vote in this poll...what do you think happened immediately after this photograph was taken?



    Want to know what actually happened? Then watch this video by clicking here.

    And that's all for this installment of What Happened Next?

    Thursday, March 12, 2009

    Is Jason Motte Leading the STL Closer Battle?


  • Jason Motte has had an interesting path to the majors: he went from .191 hitting catcher to 96.6 MPH throwing pitcher.

  • He has reportedly moved in front of Chris Perez in the battle for the closer role.

  • A Cardinals blogger thinks Motte may get "quite a number" of saves this season.

  • Motte got a save (albeit meaningless) the other day.

  • He had an insane 14.85 K/9 in the PCL league last year. Plus, he looks insane when he's pitching. The insanely good / insane looking combo is not bad for a potential closer who isn't even getting drafted in most leagues.

  • A feeble attempt to provide additional context: Tony LaRussa, Motte's manager, seems to prefer experience in the closer role, and it should also be noted that Motte is only a few bad outings away from starting the season in Triple-A. But did you see that 14.85 K/9 number? Insane!

  • Audio on Motte from a January 18th, 2009 interview: "We were at a dinner last night for Tony's foundation and he [Tony LaRussa] introduced us [Motte & Chris Perez] and he's like these are the two guys who are probably going out for the closer role."

  • 3/13 UPDATE: "La Russa, who earlier had said veteran Ryan Franklin also was a candidate to close early in the season, reiterated that he thought both Perez and Motte could be closers. 'If one guy emerges, he becomes the closer. If he doesn't, then they all kind of share it,' said La Russa."

  • Perez got a save on Friday, March 13th but also gave up 2 runs. He's now given up 3 runs in 5 innings this spring. Rotoworld speculates in their news feed that Perez won't start the season as closer. Then again, this is just spring training so maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves here.

  • 3/17/09 Update: "Jason Motte touched 98 mph consistently and struck out the side in the eighth inning of Monday's ballgame, holding fast to a 6-6 tie."

  • 3/20 UPDATE: Chris Perez is shut down for the next several days. So now it's probably down to Motte and Franklin for the closer role. And Kinney. And anyone else LaRussa dreams up. Pitching coach Dave Duncan said this: "Anyone who's been following what's been going on would notice that among those receiving consideration (to close), Motte has been the most impressive. There's a ways to go in camp. But that's where it stands for me."

  • 3/31 Update: It's official! Rotoworld reports that Motte will get at least some of the saves. How many? Who else might get saves? That we don't quite know yet. What we do know is that Chris Perez has been sent to the minors, and so if Motte does end up having to share the role, it will probably be with Franklin and/or Kinney.

    4/6 Update: Well, Motte got St. Louis' first save opportunity, thus completing the improbable switch from hitter to pitcher, a move that is otherwise known as the reverse Ankiel. That said, the catcher-turned-closer did blow his first save in spectacular fashion. The silver lining? He was one strike away from escaping from a 1-run save. Hopefully he gets a few more chance before getting pulled. Okay, I'm done updating this post. If Motte does anything worthwhile in the future, it will be noted in a new post. This post is getting unwieldy.

    Conclusion: Motte might already be the favorite to close, he costs next to nothing to draft, and he has a brief track record of striking out boatloads of guys. Put that in your craw and ponder it.

    Conclusion #2: As Motte slowly begins to get hyped, it is important to keep in mind that his fastball is straight as an arrow and his secondary pitches have room for improvement. What I do I mean by this? Well, not to crash my own Motte, party, but it is possible that major league hitters eventually begin to catch up with Motte. That said, it is also possible that he continues to click along striking out everything in his path. If he does bomb, we can't complain because he was very cheap to draft. My thought? I think he'll be amazing for most of the season and then have a few rough patches after the All-Star break. Pure speculation, of course.
  • When will Chone play his 5th game at 2B?

    I’m in an eight-team Sandbox keeper points league, and in this format Desmond DeChone Figgins, AKA Chone “Shawn” Figgins, doesn’t qualify for 2B. He needed to play 15 games at 2B in 2008 in order to be eligible at 2B in 2009. He played nine games there in 2008. He’s also played at least nine games at 2B in every season of his career.

    As a 3B in an eight-team league, Chone, apparently, isn’t all that interesting. We’re currently in the 21st round of a slowlive draft, and Chone has yet to be drafted. If, however, Chone were to qualify as a 2B early in the 2009 season, he’d be considerably more valuable, as the 2B pool is pretty thin. In order to qualify for 2B in this format, he needs to make five appearances at 2B.

    So I began to wonder, when did Chone appear in his fifth game at 2B in 2008? Was it one of those things where he played 3B all year and then in late September he played a string of games at 2B? Or was his 2B playing evenly dispersed throughout the 2008 season?

    Well, he played his first 2008 game at 2B on April 27th, his second on April 28th, third on April 29th, fourth on April 30th, and fifth on May 1st. That’s pretty early in the season. But perhaps he got a little lucky last year, as Howie Kendrick and Maicer Izturis had injury issues in April of last year.

    So when did Chone play his fifth game at second base in 2007? Well, he played his first 2007 game at 2B on May 3rd, his second on May 10th, third on July 8th, fourth on July 15th, and fifth on July 19th. So he gained second base eligibility significantly later in the season in 2007. But it should be noted that he didn’t play his first 2007 game until April 30th, one full month into the season.

    So what have we learned? It took Chone 1 month to gain 2B eligibility in 2008, and 2.5 months to gain 2B eligibility in 2007. It should also be noted that on five of the ten dates listed above in which Chone played 2B, Brandon Wood was in the lineup.

    Speaking of Brandon Wood, in January, there had been talk of moving Chone to outfield if Brandon Wood impressed in spring training. What has Wood done so far in spring training? 10-for-24 with two HR and two SB. Impressive. But with Bobby Abreu on the team now, it seems less likely that Chone moves to the outfield to give Wood some playing time (unless Abreu becomes a semi-frequent DHer...or maybe Wood plays some DH. Sigh. A lot is still up in the air). To get Wood into the lineup from time to time (as well as 3B role player Robb Quinlan), the Angels might have to slide Chone over to 2B. Another option would be to have Wood play SS and replace the Maicer Izturis / Erick Aybar platoon going on there.

    You have to figure that at worst, Chone will have 2B eligibility 2.5 months into the season, which means Chone could be your second baseman for 60% of the season. And if Brandon Wood keeps hitting in spring training, it could happen much sooner than that. It is a little early to be making predictions, but I’d put the over/under at, say, May 25th, 2009.

  • Angels have "happy dilemma" in infield: "In eight Cactus League games, Wood is hitting .417 with two homers, two doubles, a triple and an .833 slugging percentage. He leads the club with eight RBIs -- but does not have a position with Chone Figgins at third and Maicer Izturis and Erick Aybar sharing shortstop."

  • For what it’s worth, Chone is 4-for-14 with three SB and one CS so far in spring training.
  • Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    Gordon Beckham Speaks!

    Photobucket

  • Still early. I know. But Beckham has been turning some heads this spring.

  • Oh, and if you were wondering what the heck this post was about, I was running a test to see if I could get a twitter feed to superimpose over an image. Also, Beckham has been hot (6-for-18, 2 HR, 1 SB). But perhaps we should take a step back and see what he does over the next 20-some spring games before we jump out of our pants.

  • Gordon Beckham has a blog! Check it out here. Here is a teaser from his blog: "Well just when I thought I had a lot of things figured out, I realized I had no clue...."

  • This just in: an interesting video of Gordon Beckham!
  • Note To Self RE: 2010 Fantasy Baseball Draft

    Draft Stephen Strasburg because he is 7'13" and can throw the ball 117 mph with either arm.



    If you don't see a video above, it is probably because you are using google reader, and for some reason the video doesn't appear there (even though YouTube is owned by Google). If this pertains to you, click the title link or the "read more" link and it will bring you to the TKSink blogspot page.

    (For fullscreen fun, hit the fullscreen button, which is to the right of the volume button.)

  • More Strasburg folklore from Y!

  • A SI article on Strasburg is about to drop, and here is an interview with the guy who wrote the article. UPDATE 5/9: Here is the SI article on Strasburg.

  • UPDATE 4/27: CTB notes that Strasburg is clicking along: 9-0 1.54 ERA.

  • UPDATE 5/9: Strasburg throws a 17K no hitter and Boras gets drool on his chin.
  • Monday, March 9, 2009

    2009 Spring Training: Wieters hitting .471

    Look. I know these games don't mean much. Still, it is fun to look through the spring training stats and pretend that they provide clues for what the future will bring. So let's agree to suspend our disbelief for a bit and enjoy this post for what it is.

  • Matt Wieters has 8 hits in 17 at bats, includng a home run (1 BB, 0 K).

  • Guess who leads the league in strikeouts? Chris Davis, with 11 in 22 at bats. He's batting .182 so far. On the plus side, he also has six walks. If you were thinking of drafting Davis for a points league that gives negative points for strikeouts, the early returns indicate that his strikeouts are going to be a problem.

  • Matt Murton has two (2!) stolen bases. Before you think he might suddenly morph into David Wright, you should know that he's also been caught two times. Still, the steals are interesting for a guy who has only attempted 11 steals in 900 career major league at bats (he was successful in 8 of his 11 attempts).

  • It always makes me feel better about a power/speed guy when I see both phases of his game are working in spring training. Which is why I feel good about Corey Hart, who has two home runs and three stolen bases so far, and Matt Kemp, who has three stolen bases and one home run.

  • Ryan Freel: 5 SB, 0 CS.

  • Adam Jones: 4 SB, 0 CS.

  • Pablo "Little Money" Sandoval has 9 hits in 22 at bats, including 2 HR (2 BB, 3 K). He also had a 14-pitch at bat that Carlos Villanueva called "ridiculous." He's had zero innings at catcher, and for those of you in leagues where Sandoval isn't yet catcher eligible, it is unclear if Sandoval will get the starts he needs this year (he needs five in Sandbox) in order to gain catcher eligibility.

  • Coco Crisp has 7 BB and 2 K so far this spring.
  • Friday, March 6, 2009

    H2H Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: Get Some S.A.C. (SB, AVG, and CL)

    H2H leagues, in theory, allow you to try unusual draft strategies. In practice, I find myself reluctant to be too crazy in a money league. My heart says yes, but my head says no. Perhaps both your heart and head like to take risks. If so, you might want to give this strategy a try.

    We already went over a pitching heavy strategy that I dubbed PHAC. This time around let's run a stolen base, batting average, and closer strategy up the flagpole and see how it flies. The goal is to win Saves, ERA, WHIP, SB, and AVG each week. To make the strategy more effective, it also helps to target guys who score a lot of runs. But first, a disclaimer.

    Disclaimer: Before we delve into this deeper, I need to stress how crazy you'd have to be to try extreme strategies like this at home. You are essentially putting all your eggs in one strategy basket, going for broke, and so if you get a bit unlucky, it is unlikely you will be able to win a majority of the categories on a weekly basis. Even if your strategy works, an unbalanced team can have unlucky weeks and lose 8-2 or 9-1, whereas a more balanced team might suffer the occasional 4-5 and 3-6 loss on unlucky weeks but would rarely suffer a more lopsided loss. To pull this stunt, it also helps if you are in a daily league, as you can better tweak your lineup to protect your ratios (batting average, ERA, and WHIP) throughout the week.

    Now. Let's say you have the 8th pick. You're in a regular 5x5, 12-team, H2H roto-style (not points) league, and the pitching slots are SP, SP, RP, RP, P, P, P. The weekly innings minimum is 12. The hitters are using the default Yahoo! settings (no corner or middle infielders).

    Your goal is to target speed, but only if that speed is accompanied with a high batting average. You also want to get as many topline closers as possible. And at the end of the draft, you need two solid relievers with SP/RP eligibility (note: click here for notes on every single RP/SP eligible pitcher in Y! for 2009). You will not draft a single SP. The team you assemble should win you five of the ten categories each week, including ERA, which is the tiebreaker category in Y! leagues. In order to hedge your risk a bit more, I'd target high-average steals guys who also score a lot of runs.

    Remember, your draft won't always look pretty, but with a little luck, it should get the job done. Your draft might look something like this:

    1.Pick #8 Matt Holliday (.321 AVG, 28 SB, 107 R)
    2.Pick #17 Dustin Pedroia (.326 AVG, 20 SB, 118 R) 653 at bats!!
    3.Pick #32 Jonathan Pabelbon (ADP = 41)
    4.Pick #41 Ichiro (.310 AVG, 43 SB, 103 R) 686 at bats!!
    5.Pick #56 Jacoby Ellsbury (.280 AVG, 50 SB, 98 R)
    6.Pick #65 Bobby Abreu (.296 AVG, 22 SB, 100 R)
    7.Pick #80 Joakim Soria (ADP = 90)
    8.Pick #89 Derrek Lee (.291, 8 SB, 93 R)
    9.Pick #104 Michael Young (.284 AVG, 10 SB, 102 R)
    10.Pick #113 Carlos Marmol (ADP = 111)
    11.Pick #128 Kerry Wood (ADP = 123)
    12.Pick #137 Matt Capps (ADP = 150)
    13.Pick #152 Andre Ethier (.305 AVG, 6 SB, 90 R)
    14.Pick #161 Chad Qualls (ADP = 175)
    15.Pick #176 Conor Jackson (.300 AVG, 10 SB, 87 R)
    16.Pick #185 Joey Devine (ADP = 191)
    17.Pick #200 Pablo Sandoval (.345 AVG, 0 SB, 24 R)
    18.Pick #209 Hong-Chih Kuo (SP/RP eligibility)
    19.Pick #224 Delmon Young (.290 AVG, 14 SB, 80 R)
    20.Pick #233 Kaz Matsui (.293 AVG, 20 SB, 58 R)
    21.Pick #248 Ryan Theriot (.307 AVG, 22 SB. 85 R)
    22.Pick #257 Carlos Villanueva (SP/RP eligibility)

    (Note: the players in the above team should be understood as placeholders of sorts, merely to give you a better idea of what this draft strategy might look like if it were to be carried out in the present fantasy baseball market. During your draft, you can always target other pitchers or hitters that you feel are more likely to be available in your league or more likely to perform at a high level during the 2009 season.)

    Other hitters you might target:

    Nick Markakis (.306 AVG, 10 SB, 106 R)
    Juan Pierre (.283 AVG, 40 SB, 44 R)
    Brian Roberts (.293, 36 SB, 107 R)
    Shane Victorino (.293 AVG, 36 SB, 102 R)
    Matt Kemp (.290 AVG, 35 SB, 93 R)
    Alex Rios (.291 AVG, 32 SB, 91 R)
    Johnny Damon (.303 AVG, 29 SB, 95 R)
    Randy Winn (.306 AVG, 25 SB, 84 R)
    Fred Lewis (.282 AVG, 21 SB, 81 R)
    Coco Crisp (.283 AVG, 20 SB, 55 R)
    Denard Span (.294 AVG, 18 SB, 70 R)
    Mark DeRosa (.285 AVG, 6 SB, 103 R)
    Chipper Jones (.364 AVG, 4 SB, 82 R)
    Iwamura (.274 AVG, 8 SB, 91 R)
    Skip Schumaker (.302, 8 SB, 87 R)
    Placido Polanco (.307 AVG, 7 SB, 90 R)
    Jose Lopez (.297 AVG, 6 SB, 80 R)
    Shin-Soo Choo (.309 AVG, 4 SB, 68 R)
    Ryan Ludwick (.299 AVG, 4 SB, 104 R)
    Kevin Youkilis (.312 AVG, 3 SB, 91 R)
    Joe Mauer (.328 AVG, 1 SB, 98 R)
    Milton Bradley (.321 AVG, 5 SB, 78 R)
    Mike Aviles (.291 AVG, 8 SB, 68 R)
    Kelly Johnson (.287 AVG, 11 SB, 86 R)
    David DeJesus (.307 AVG, 11 SB, 70 R)
    Howie Kendrick (.306 AVG, 11 SB, 43 R)
    Shin-Soo Choo (.309 AVG, 4 SB, 68 R)

    This strategy can work even better if you are in a holds league (Kuo and Villanueva will be getting Holds from the SP slot). It works less well when using Quality Starts instead of Wins (if you are using Wins, your relievers might get lucky and take the category a few times). You also keep in mind that targeting high-average players who get a ton of at bats (Ichiro and Pedroia, for example) is a great way to solidify your batting average.

    So at the end of this draft you have high-average hitters who score a lot of runs, and most of them can swipe a base. You'd have six closers, and two relief pitchers who also qualify for the SP slot. Your "wall" of relievers should produce a low WHIP and ERA each week. Being in a daily league will allow you to rotate players into your lineup, and so your team should accumulate 30 - 40 innings each week. One drawback of this strategy is that ratios can be a little unpredictable in small sample sizes, so you might get unlucky in any given week. Remember Derek Jeter went 0-32 to start the 2004 season? He ended up hitting .292 that year, but his hitless streak would have really hurt your team for a few weeks.

    Anyway. It's a fun strategy, one I've always wanted to use but I've never had the guts to do it. Maybe you do.

  • If it helps, here is the cheatsheet I used in my actual draft.
  • Thursday, March 5, 2009

    Outfield Primer: Either Ethier Rules Or I'm A Cantaloupe

    Most players that get passed over in a draft are passed over for a reason. There are millions of reasons to ignore a guy.

    Here are a few, off the top of my head: guys that have body parts held together with tissue paper and wood glue (Milton Bradley); guys with depth chart issues (Nick Swisher); guys who hit .209 on the year a few seasons ago (Pat Burrell); guys that might have had a .306 batting average last year but are 38 years old (Brian Giles); guys that have a ton of talent but are really young (Justin Upton); guys that strike out a lot, and so they don't work for your points league (Mark Reynolds); or even guys that have talent but have never had the full time job for a full season before (Shin-Soo Choo).

    For this post, I want to concentrate on a guy who is getting ignored for no discernible reason:

    Photobucket

    Here, let's do one of those Player A, Player B, Player C things. Here are the 2008 stats of three players who played like top 90 players in the 2008 Y! game (otherwise known as a 7th rounder in 12-team mixed league drafts):

    Player A: 525 at bats, 90 R, 20 HR, 77 RBI, 6 SB, .305 AVG
    Player B: 526 at bats, 69 R, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 7 SB, .297 AVG
    Player C: 611 at bats, 86 R, 21 HR, 99 RBI, 1 SB, .286 AVG

    Player A is being drafted in the 14th round in 2009
    Player B is being drafted in the 10th round in 2009
    Player C is being drafted in the 6th round in 2009

    Player A is Andre Ethier
    Player B is Joey Votto
    Player C is Garrett Atkins

    My point here is not to beat up on Atkins. I kinda like him. And anyway, he's been getting enough of the overrated talk from other people who like to write about fantasy sports. And my point isn't to say that Votto is being drafted too high. I like Votto and think that he's actually being drafted too low. My point is to show how little respect Andre Either is getting in drafts.

    Is there any reason to think Andre Ethier won't at least duplicate what he did last year? (Bill James thinks he will: 532 at bats, 89 R, 19 HR, 79 RBI, 5 SB, .303 AVG.) I understand why Ethier didn't get any love going into last season. For starters, the Pierre/Kemp/Jones/Either logjam in the Dodger outfield was a turnoff. In addition, I think Either was even more overlooked because of all the Matt Kemp hype.

    Perhaps his solid season in 2008 is being overlooked because of all the Manny Ramirez hoopla. I don't know. But there is a lot to like going into this season: he will probably get more at bats, and he will probably bat third, one spot in front of Manny Ramirez; he has no health concerns; he's been hitting home runs in spring training, for whatever that's worth; and he's not too young, not too old (26 years old).

    Look. Even depth chart nemesis Juan Pierre, who recently was given permission from the Dodgers to explore trade options, concedes that Ethier can play.

    Plus, to beat his 2009 ADP, Either just needs to hit somewhere in this range: 79 R, 19 HR, 64 RBI, 4 SB .280 AVG (JD Drew's stats from last year).

    While you're thinking this over, you can peruse the following list of outfielders ranked 101 - 252:

    Photobucket

    Dissenting Opinion:

  • Razzball writes that Ethier is not good for power or speed, and then calls him "Andre Neithier." Then again, he did draft Ethier to be part of his "best 2009 fantasy baseball draft."

    Want more draft strategy? Click here for 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, OF, C, SP, and RP position primers.
  • Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    Could Roy Halladay Give You A 1,083% Return On Your Draft Investment?

    Let's set the ground rules: These rankings were generated using the normal five pitching categories, save one big exception: I used Quality Starts instead of Wins. The idea behind this genius move was to eliminate some of the quasi-randomness of the Win category so that you can better focus on quality of pitching.

    Oh, and one more note: these ranks work for H2H or regular Roto-style play only (and not points). I'm currently in the middle of a H2H points-style Sandbox draft right now, and the player values in that league are completely different (mostly because of the +1 point for walks and -1 point for strikeouts; it also appears that high-end starting pitching is more valuable than hitting, as points are given for outs and complete games). Example: Matt Kemp, who is probably a top 40 player in the Y! roto-style games, finished out of the top 200 in the Sandbox-style points game last year (he strikes out a lot and doesn't walk much).

    Okay, I'll shoot a few bullet points at you first, and then show you the ranking list second so that you can see what I'm talking about. Why in reverse? Because that way you'll think I'm smart, and then after you see the list you'll think to yourself, "oh, he just used the list to make his points. He's not smart at all." But for those precious seven seconds after you've read the bullet points but before you've read the list, you will think that I'm smart.

    Comments on the top 150 SPs in the Y! game in 2008:

  • Lots of good deals to be had among the top 150 starting pitchers.

  • For example, if Halladay repeats his 2008 stats, he'll provide more return on your draft investment than any other player in the majors. Is that a green halo over his head? (Pictured above.)

  • If you believe Nolasco can come close to duplicating his stats from 2008, you should jump on him because he'll give you great value relative to his draft position.

  • Other guys people don't seem to trust (and, in some cases, with reason): Harden, Ervin Santana, Duchescherer, Dempster, Lowe, and Saunders.

  • Wainwright and Lester are going a little ahead of their 2008 value, so unless you think they will get a bit better in 2009, you probably don't want to draft them.

  • Kuo sneaks in with his dual RP/SP eligibility.

  • Baker and Danks are flying a little under the radar.

  • Surprisingly, Shields has been getting respect. People are drafting him as if he'll duplicate his 2008 stats.

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    Comments on the SPs ranked 151-252 in the Y! game in 2008:

  • Greinke had good months and bad months. More people seem to believe in the good months.

  • Slowey had only one start in April.

  • Lots of volatility here, as evidenced by all the undrafteds. I'd guess that half the guys on the 151-252 list aren't on it next year.

  • No pitchers that are being drafted on the list below are a particularly good deal...

  • ...except maybe Morrow and Joba, who should move up the rankings when they pitch more innings, get more quality starts, and increase their K totals.

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    Want more draft strategy? Click here for 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, OF, C, SP, and RP position primers.
  • Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    Picking on RPs, a Primer: Who The Heck Is Steven Shell?

    -Don't pay for saves. Don't pay for saves. Don't pay for saves. Don't pay for saves. Don't pay for saves. Don't pay for saves.

    -Uh, what are you doing?

    -I'm repeating the phrase "don't pay for saves" over and over again so that it becomes even more cliched and, a result, even more of a statement of truth.

    -Oh. But you will pay something for saves, right?

    -Probably.

    -So why not use a more accurate phrase, like "don't use high draft picks on closers." Or, "if you are going to draft saves, spend wisely." Or maybe, "it is usually possible to get a solid closer in the later rounds, so try to limit the amount of closers you take in the first ten rounds." Or something.

    -Don't try to trick me with your semantics! Those phrases are not as catchy and, as a result, are probably less of a statement of truth.

    [End scene]

    Okay. So don't break your bank on closers (unless your league settings make lots-o-closers a worthwhile strategy). I get it. As someone who has had Todd Jones repeatedly and single-handedly kill my team's chances of winning weekly H2H games, I don't quite believe in the concept, but at the very least I understand the idea. Maybe these people who hate closers are simply just picking the wrong closers. Tangentially, I must say I dislike having to rely on being super-quick on the waiver wire to round out my stable of closers. I'm one of the fastest guys in my league when it comes to waiver wire pickups. Certainly top three. But I swear, sometimes it feels like closers only get hurt during the two minute window each day I'm away from my computer. I don't know what the right answer is, but I tend to get a closer in the 9th-11th rounds, and then one or two more in the 15th-21st rounds.

    Anyway. Let's start by looking at the relievers that finished in the top 150 of the Y! game in 2008:

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    (Note: to avoid having the semi-randomness of the Win category skew the RP rankings, I opted to use Quality Starts instead of Wins. The other four categories are standard: SV, K, ERA, WHIP.)

    So it would appear that the repetition of the phrase "don't pay for saves" that you hear throughout the fantasy baseball universe is really working: average mock drafters are rarely paying for saves. Soria, who performed like a third rounder last year, is being drafted midway through the seventh round. His saves might be worth paying for. But Soria plays for the Royals. Who cares who Soria plays for? He played for the Royals last year and ended up being the 36th best player in the Y! game.

    Who else? Maybe Kerry Wood, who would give you sixth round value on your tenth round pick if he were to repeat his '08 stats. But Kerry Wood loves to hang out on the DL. True. But if you think he can stay healthy, he should give you a nice return on your investment.

    Then you have the "rising closer" class: Marmol, Qualls, and Devine only had 17 saves combined, and yet all three were ranked in the top 25 in 2008 even without high save totals. And so now that they probably will be getting more save opportunities in 2009, you have to feel good about their chances of outperforming their 2009 ADP.

    A few setup men might also be a nice return on investment. If Balfour, Kuo, Arredondo, Howell, or Thornton can repeat their 2008 numbers in 2009, they will be cheap to draft and will certainly help your fantasy team. Remember that these rankings use Wins instead of Quality Starts, so if you are in a league with Wins, the value of these setup men increases even more.

    The other other thing I'll say about the top 150 RPs is that seeing this list makes me want to avoid Bobby Jenks and B.J. Ryan, and I'm not all that keen on K-Rod, Papelbon, or Capps, either.

    Here are the rest of the RPs in the top 252:

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    This list has two more rising closers in Francisco and Bell. Please also note that Brian Wilson, poster boy for the "closers only help you in one category" believers, is currently being drafted 50 picks ahead of his 2008 value. (By the way, FB Junk works to dispell the closer-as-one-cat. myth in this post.) Unless you believe that Wilson will improve on his 2008 numbers in 2009, he might be someone to avoid.

    And one last thing: Who the shell is Steven Shell? Answer: "Shell, a former Angels prospect, has been quite a find since signing a minor league deal with Washington. He had a 1.96 ERA in 41 1/3 innings out of the pen in 2008, and the stuff is there for him to be a quality setup man going forward." However, he doesn't get much love from The Prognosticators: 4.98 ERA, 1.45 WHIP.

    Want more draft strategy? Click here for 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, OF, C, SP, and RP position primers.

    Monday, March 2, 2009

    Kelly Shoppach has a bad case of position scarcity.

    Position scarcity. When talking about catchers, the phrase position scarcity frequently gets tossed about. Sounds like some sort of medical condition, doesn't it?

    Person #1: You look a lot better. How are you feeling?

    Person #2: Thanks. I feel better. The medication I'm on has really helped to contain my position scarcity.

    Person #1: Is your position scarcity itchy?

    Person #2: Oh my god yes. Especially in the armpits of my knees.

    At this point, you are probably wondering, what the heck was that? And, can a knee have an armpit? And, if knees did have armpits, wouldn't they be called kneepits? Almost every catcher is a pretty bad deal. But you have to draft one. So the idea here is to limit the damage as much as possible. If each catcher were to repeat his 2008 stats in 2009, the catcher who would be the least damaging to fantasy teams is Kelly Shoppach:

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    So let's pretend that we are confident that Shoppach can at least match his numbers from last season if he gets the playing time. The logical next question is, how much will that Shoppach dude play this year?

    The answer? To be determined. Victor Martinez looks like he's back and healthy (he hit two home runs in a recent spring training game), and you have to believe the Indians will give Travis Hafner every chance to claim the DH role. So that leaves Shoppach fighting with Ryan Garko for playing time. The Indians' manager claims Shoppach will play "a little more than he did last year," and if that is the case Shoppach would be a great guy to have as your fantasy catcher. Last year, Shoppach had 62 at bats in the first two months of the season combined, and then 69, 66, 93, and 60 at bats in the following four months. The Prognosticators project Shoppach to average about 60 at bats per month this year (360 total) and hit between 17 and 19 home runs for the season.

    Conclusion: Hard to say what sort of playing time Shoppach will get but there is a decent chance he's worth his current 19th round draft pick.

    Other reading on the syllabus:

  • "A healthy Martinez at first base improves the team on both offense (fewer AB's for Garko, more for Shoppach) and defense (Shoppach is above average behind the dish)."

  • "Shoppach turned in the best season of his career in 2008 because Victor Martinez was injured. Martinez is healthy again, and there is much anticipation as to how Wedge is going split playing time between the two. Martinez, of course, plays first base as well. The two guys who seem least worried about the situation are Shoppach and Martinez."

  • "Indians manager Eric Wedge has made it clear that Shoppach will catch '08 Cy Young winner Cliff Lee and Martinez will handle No. 2 starter Fausto Carmona...'It's fair to say that Shop's going to get more playing time, but we also know that Victor's going to be playing every day somewhere,' Wedge said. 'Victor's still our catcher, but we feel like we've got another one in Kelly Shoppach, too. Part of it's going to be the other guys we have on the ballclub, Ryan Garko, how much Hafner DHs.' Wedge said the Tribe brass has told Martinez and Shoppach 'we're not sure how this is going to play out.'

  • "But if the Indians decide they are a better team with Shoppach behind the plate and Martinez at first, Martinez is all for it."

  • Asked Wednesday how he'll divvy up playing time between Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner, Kelly Shoppach and Ryan Garko, manager Eric Wedge said that "Victor and Hafner are going to play every day and Shoppach will play a little more than he did last year."

  • Razzball has Shoppach in the second tier of his catcher rankings.

  • March 25th Update: Shoppach is batting .263/.310/.605 in 38 at-bats this spring.

    Want more draft strategy? Click here for 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, OF, C, SP, and RP position primers.
  • Sunday, March 1, 2009

    Will Jhonny Peralta Remember to Drink His Standard-Issue Year-27 Magic Potion?

    If all of the top ten shortstops from 2008 were to put up the same exact stats in 2009, Jhonny Peralta would be the only one of the ten to outplay his 2009 Average Draft Position (ADP). (Although, as I discussed earlier, one could argue that Alexei Ramirez will “tie” his ADP.)

    Little Jhonny had a good year in 2008. But it wasn’t an out-and-out where-the-heck-did-that-come-from year. He stats were mostly in line with his ’05-’08 four-year average. See for yourself:

    Jhonny Peralta’s four-year (2005 – 2008) average:
    89 R, 20 HR, 77 RBI, 2 SB, .274 AVG.

    Jhonny Peralta’s 2008 campaign:
    104 R, 23 HR, 89 RBI, 3 SB, .276 AVG.

    The slight (or, more accurately, minorly sizeable) uptick in R and RBI can be attributed to the fact that the injuredness / poor play of Pronk and V-Mart meant that Peralta was frequently batting in the cleanup spot. I don’t know where he’ll hit in the 2009 order, but in his first spring training game he hit third. It should also be mentioned that if you decide it is okay to throw out the stats from Peralta’s stinker 2006 season, Peralta’s 2008 season looks even more legit. Just for kicks, let’s look at Peralta’s average stats from 2005 – 2008, throwing out his 2006 season:
    91 R, 23 HR, 80 RBI, 2 SB, .279 AVG.

    As the list below shows, Peralta is currently being drafted about 40 picks below his 2008 value:

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    So what sort of stats does he need to get in 2009 in order to be worth his 2009 ADP?

    Well, J.J. Hardy was the 126th ranked player in the Y! game last year with these stats:
    78 R, 24 HR, 74 RBI, 2 SB, .283 AVG.

    Conclusion: As long as Peralta plays somewhat close to his average stats from the last four years, he’ll be better than his 2009 ADP. And that’s saying something because as you can see from all the red in the above list, there are very few shortstops who are capable of outplaying their ADP. More optimistically, if Peralta remembers to drink his standard-issue year-27 magic potion and plays at the top of his ability, he will easily be the best deal among fantasy shortstops. Putting it another way, you can safely draft Peralta as if he were the ninth best SS (and it is unlikely that he isn't at least a top ten SS in 2009), and in doing so you have the chance to make yourself a sweet profit on your initial ADP investment if Peralta happens to once again be the third best SS.

    Oh, and as I’ve already mentioned here and here, I’m a sucker for multiple position eligibility, and it looks like Peralta might have some this season, as it is possible he plays some 3B in 2009.

    Other Peralta Readables:

  • A Quick Hit on Peralta over at Rotoprofessor.

  • Peralta's run totals disproportionately influences his value.

  • Indians Insider: Jhonny Peralta says he steered clear of controversial trainer Presinal

  • Bill James' 2009 projection for Peralta: 97 R, 23 HR, 84 RBI, 3 SB, .274

    Want more draft strategy? Click here for 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, OF, C, SP, and RP position primers.