Patton $ Software Is Out Now!

pattonlogoAs reliable as spring and the cry, “I’m in the best shape of my career,” comes the 2015 edition of Patton $ Software.

The software contains my 2015 baseball projections, my suggested bid prices (and Mike Fenger’s) for 5×5 and Alex Patton’s 4×4 bid prices, prospect lists and expert league draft results, as well as ways for you to enter your own bids, make up-to-the-minute draft lists for your fantasy drafts, edit and automatically adjust the projections and show what players earn with different statlines. In short, everything you might need to prepare to win your fantasy league this year.

There is a new procedure for buying this year. Go to pattonandco.com and register, if you’re not already registered. Click the menu item that says Subscribe and follow the instructions (essentially, click the blue button, enter your payment information, and authorize payment for $36). Continue reading

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TOUT WARS NL: How I See Things

This was my view across the draft table.

cockcroftacceptstheprize2It’s nice to see Tristan Cockcroft (with trophy) enjoying himself.

I had one plan going into this year’s auction. If I was to land either Aroldis Chapman or Craig Kimbrel, I would eschew an ace, buy one aspiring ace and then fill in with all the attractive young NL starters available near the end.

On the hitting side, I ticked all the OBP guys up a buck and the anti-OBP guys down a buck, rather than fully price in the OBP difference. The reason was my observation last year that buying OBP won me the category, but cost me a bit in countables. My goal was to be cognizant of OBP, but to buy homers and RBI foremost and scramble later.

The auction opened with four straight pitcher nominations, and then—with just a few exceptions—a heavy stream of the game’s best players. The pace was brisk and I bought the players who came in well under my bid prices. This landed me Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Braun in the early part of the game, as well as Craig Kimbrel.

Shortly thereafter, Troy Tulowitzki and Buster Posey joined Team Rotoman, and when the bidding stalled at $26 later on Anthony Rendon, I had to bid, and once again I was playing Stars and Scrubs style, as I did last year to disastrous second-half results.

The thing about last year’s first half was it showed the power of Stars and Scrubs. My guys were in second place late in June, even though I’d lost Joey Votto for a month. The second half, when six of my seven 20+ guys did DL time, was the flip side. Once I started sliding the only thing that stopped me was the end of the season.

The problem is that prices in this league at the top end are usually a touch soft. Not a lot soft, but a buck or two on each of the Top 50 hitters adds up to $75 or $100 that later gets redistributed to the attractive players later on. If you don’t spend early, you spend late.

The problem is that if you spend your money early on the chalk, and add all those big players, the teams with a little more scratch pick off the attractive endgame buys. On the pitching side, the guys I wanted for four were going for five, the guys I wanted for three went for four, and so on. Which is how one ends up with perhaps the least appealing pitching staff of all time.

And I’m not bummed out about that. But it surely didn’t go the way I hoped. Here’s a chart to see the problem:

Pitchers who cost $20 or more whose draft price differed by $2 or more from my expected price:

Pitcher Bid Cost
Bumgarner $27 $25
Cueto $24 $21
Greinke $23 $25
Chapman $23 $25
Zimmerman $23 $21
Hamels $21 $19
Wainwright $20 $18

There were 11 pitchers priced $20 or above. Five were more or less dead on. Five were off by two bucks, and one was off by $3. Nobody got a great deal here, but as a group the 11 cost $8 less than expected.

In the $15-$19 group:

Teheran $18 $16
Arrieta $17 $19
Lester $17 $19
Cole $17 $20
Shields $16 $18
Papelbon $15 $13
Melancon $15 $18

There were 12 pitchers in this group. Five were more or less dead on. Five were off by $2, Two were off by $3.  This group cost $8 more than expected. This is where I hoped to pick off Arrieta or Cole.

After two groups, the bid prices equal the sale prices.

From $10-$14, the two dollar (or more) differences:

Rosenthal $14 $16
Cashner $14 $11
Fiers $13 $10
Benoit $13 $17
Rondon $12 $15
G Gonzalez $11 $16
Cain $12 $9
Lynn $11 $16
Latos $11 $15
Ross $11 $14
Casilla $11 $7

There are 19 in this group. Eight were more or less dead on. Only one was within $2. Only five were within $3. As a group, bidding exceeded my bid prices by $12.

Alas, this was the group from which I hoped to walk away with Matt Cain and either Mike Fiers or Lance Lynn and, I hoped Shelby Miller. Lynn blew up, but I guess I blew it on Fiers. He had the biggest discount other than Cain in the group and I can only think my bankroll was so depleted at that point that I simply couldn’t buy him. But from this side of the ledger I absolutely had to. Too late.

I should point out that there is operator error here. In the next group, of $5-$9 pitchers, I had Homer Bailey at $7 even though he went for $11 in LABR. His $12 on Sunday was aggressive, but not crazy.

In that same group, I wanted Jenry Mejia ($9 $8), Kyle Lohse ($8 $7–I got beat to $7 and couldn’t real afford it, much less $8), Kyle Hendricks ($7 $6), Wily Peralta ($7 $9), Jimmy Nelson ($6 $6) and Carlos Martinez ($5 $8).

I know this recitation is dry as toast, but the point here is sweet as salty butter. This group doesn’t spend on the big pitchers, but only by a little, and uses their savings  to pay for the cheaper guys with upside. Not outrageously, but just enough for a small bankrolled guy (like me) to lose out on every one.

This was my decision, based on my evaluation that it would be better to have Martin Prado rather than one of those mid-level pitchers. That’s not a sure thing, but it is a fairly sure thing that I will have more opportunities to find pitching help during the season than hitting help.

So, I stuck to my values, wherever they might take me, and I’ll try to fix the team composition in season. That is always part of the process. The game is rarely won in the auction. What I have now is a nice group of hitters, one and a half comeback pitchers, a fair amount of saves and closer strikeouts, and a budding closer in waiting behind two injured relievers.

There is work to be done.

Here’s my team with Bid Price and Cost:

Buster Posey $27 $27
Yasmani Grandal $12 $13 (paid extra because he’s a 1B, too)

Sean Rodriguez $1 $1
C. Johnson $12 $7
Martin Prado $15 $15

Anthony Rendon $29 $27
Troy Tulowitzki $31 $29
Alberto Callaspo $4 $3

Andrew McCutchen $43 $39
Ryan Braun $34 $30
Gerardo Parra $5 $3
Melvin Upton $8 $4
Will Venable  $4 $3

Nate McLouth $3 $1

Matt Cain $12 $8
Jose Fernandez $10 $9
Tom Kohler $1 $2
Mike Minor $4 $2
Tsuyoshi Wada $3 $1
Evan Marshall $1 $2
Bobby Parnell $3 $5 (thought he was worth more to pair with Mejia)
Jenry Mejia $9 $8
Craig Kimbrel $22 $21

That’s a net positive of $33, if anyone’s counting. It may not be pretty, but there are pieces here to work with.

 

 

 

 

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Ask Rotoman: Zack Greinke or Mark Melancon?

Rotoman:

Only 4 pitching categories in my keeper league. Wins+Saves is one category…Greinke or Melancon?

“Volatile”

Dear V:

My 5×5 projections for both Greinke and Melancon are worth $17 this year, so I thought this would be an easy one to answer. Combine the value of the Wins and Saves for the pitchers, divide in half, and replace the values of Wins and Saves with that number and bingo. Or voila! Or eureka!

Instead, I’m not sure. I used the Razzball, FanGraphs and Patton $ Online value calculators on whatever projections they used (Grey Albright, Steamer, Rotoman) and found that though the numbers they spit out were different, all favored Greinke. In order: $10.4/$8.2, $7.6/$1.9, $10.1/$7.55.

Fangraphs clearly punishes relievers more for their lack of strikeouts, but I’m sure a closer look would show they’re rewarded more for their low ERA and Ratio. Razzball and Patton were close enough to declare a winner, but I was nagged by the question of population. You see, pricing systems are based on the performance of some group of players. In the regular 5×5 world this means one thing, but when you make guys who get saves more valuable, as you do when you combine saves and wins, the population changes. That changes the value of an earned run, it alters WHIP, it means a strikeout is worth something different.

Mark Melancon, off field

Mark Melancon, off field

So, I ran the numbers on last year’s stats using my own pricing calculator.

Last year, in 5×5, my pricer says Greinke earned $21 and Melancon earned $19, Combine Wins and Saves into one category for all ML pitchers, re-sort, and their prices change to $21 and $20.

Which means, if you agree with me that they’re each worth $17 this year, that Melancon gains a little edge in value over Greinke using your rules.  But prices didn’t change as much at the high end as I expected they would.

Of course, value is only part of the equation. Keeper questions start there, but always come back to what the guy is going to go for in your league. You want to keep the one you think is going to cost more. That’s a question only you can figure out.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

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Henry David Thoreau and the Baseball Fields

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On April 10, 1856, Henry David Thoreau, looking like Dustin Pedroia’s older brother, wrote in his diary about the baseball fields in Concord, Mass., being finally dry enough on which to play.

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Boston residents today are not so sure the snow will ever melt this year.

 

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Protected: Stats Update: Password is the last word in Buck Davidson’s Allen Craig profile, page 46, in the 2015 Fantasy Baseball Guide

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

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ASK ROTOMAN: Should I trade my No. 1 pick? For a lot.

Rotoman!

I have the third overall pick in a 12 team league. Twofold question, I have a trade offer of my First Rounder for a 2nd, 4th and Sonny Gray. Is this good? The guy offering the trade is in the 7th slot. Second, if I keep the pick, Kershaw or Stanton? Assuming Trout and McCutchen go No. 1 & No. 2.

“Two Shades of Gray”

Dear Two Shades:

I have a simple chart to show you why you don’t want to trade your third pick for a 17th, 41st and Sony Gray.

Screenshot 2015-03-09 22.37.39

Those are the prices, in descending order, for players in last year’s Tout Wars Mixed Auction. The things to notice here are the elegant curve of the line. On the left are the most expensive players, and on the right are the least expensive.

The 20 cheapest players cost $1. They’re that flat line to the far right. After that, the line moves pretty much straight up until you get to the 75th or so most expensive player, and then it starts getting steeper. By the time you get to the first 10 or so players, moving cheapest to most expensive, you’re clawing your way up a cliff.

This is the nature of the shallow mixed auction.

A shallow mixed draft is different. Each player taken in order is the best player available. So the price paid is one step down for each player taken. The line is a straight descending line, not unlike the auction values from about 75-336. But compare it to the auction line and you can see that the first 70 or 75 players are a draft’s bargains. And the earlier in the draft, the bigger the difference between the red line and the blue, which means the bigger the bargain.

 Screenshot 2015-03-09 23.41.53

I have to admit, Two Shades, from your description, I’m not sure what you’re ending up in this deal you’re talking about. But if I read it literally, you’re trading your first pick and ending up with two second picks and two fourth picks plus Sonny Gray. I hope that’s the deal, because then it is kind of close.

The marginal value of your five picks after the trade is $31, while you traded away $33 of marginal value. Plus you got Sonny Gray! To make up the diff!

But Sonny Gray’s ADP is 78 right now. That’s the magic point where the blue line crosses the red line. Ergo, Sonny Gray has no marginal value above his draft position. Getting him in trade doesn’t really help you at all.

So, not only are you trading more value to get less value, but you’re using up two more roster slots to do it. There is a recipe for such advice. Don’t do it.

Which takes us to part two of your question:

Kershaw or Stanton?

There is a good argument to be made for saying that Clayton Kershaw has the most value this year of any baseball player in the fantasy game. He’s coming off one of the best pitching seasons of all time, at a young age, during which he missed 15 percent of his starts because of injury. And now he’s healthy. Amazing.

So I think it makes sense to take Kershaw if he’s there.

But I also think you should hope that one of the guys ahead of you takes him and leaves you Trout or McCutchen or Goldschmidt.

If you take Kershaw early you’re going to have a heckuva time adding enough hitting to your mix. It can be done, but you’re going to be sacrificing your big hammer, that is the hitter people are willing to bid up. Whether that’s Trout, McCutchen, Goldschmidt or the other big name first round hitter who has special status because he plays middle infield, these are the guys who make up a big part of that value cliff on the auction chart.

Kershaw is in there, for sure, but somewhere there is another chart that shows that more pitchers will come out of the blue and earn $30 than hitters will. And not a few great pitchers fail at some point.

Which is why, with a Top 4 pick I’ll take a hitter. But Kershaw gets very viable after that.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

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Guest Post: The Baseball Prospectus Mixed Mock

I received the following in email earlier today. It is a computer generated analysis of the Mock I did for Baseball Prospectus earlier this week. I can’t contest the wisdom of the machine, which will someday replace the fantasy experts at CBSsports, at least. I apparently have a terrible team. But its writing is dismal.

I do hope they send out a story after the season, showing how these teams actually did, and how good or bad their analysis actually was.

Draft Recap

By CBSsports Interactive

Thanks to players like Jose Altuve, Brian Walton are the team to beat

Thanks to players like Jose Altuve, Brian Walton are the team to beat

The final victory is still up for grabs, but Brian Walton have taken a good first step, winding up with the top ranked draft. Coach Walton’s squad, led by Jose Altuve, are projected to wind up with 120 category points. That’s 55 more points than you are projected to come up with. You will have all year to prove us wrong, but for now, you are slated to finish in last place.

Bret Sayre are expected to be better than that overall, and much better on the outfielders front, where they have the best group in the league. Coach Sayre can trot out Andrew McCutchen, Michael Brantley, and George Springer into the starting lineup. Steve, meanwhile, are the worst in the league in that area, with Allen Craig, Melvin Upton, and Drew Stubbs gracing the starting lineup. Coach Moyer won’t be able to blame outside factors for that soft spot in the roster either, given that they had the 2nd easiest path through the draft.

Speaking of draft difficulty, you had it pretty rough, as you ended up with less value available to you than all but two other teams. You had to watch as good value picks like David Price, J.D. Martinez, and Dallas Keuchel were snatched right before it was your turn.

Turning to individual picks, we tapped Steve as having made the best pickup with Cliff Lee in the 169th slot. He was projected to be off the board a full 85 picks earlier. On the other hand, Fake Teams made the worst move of the draft. Coach Guilfoyle selected Starlin Castro with the 57th pick, which we pegged as a serious reach.

Your best pickup of the draft was Corey Kluber, who was expected to have been selected in the 25th slot, but who you got with pick #39. However, you mixed in some duds as well, the worst of whom was Daniel Murphy, taken 74 spots ahead of what his average draft position suggests.

Teams

Team

Projected Category Points

Brian Walton

120

Bret Sayre

95

Lawr Michaels

94

Lamentation of Their Women

84

Gardner

82

Team McLeod

79

Steve

77

Matthew Pouliot

75

Tim Heaney

75

Mike Gianella

74

Walter Kuberski

72

Ryan Bloomfield

71

Fake Teams

69

Asches to Asches, Cust to Cust

68

Rotoman’s Vertigos

65

Players Drafted

Player

Pick Number

Average Draft Position

Pick Value Rank

Jose Abreu

9

7

99

Ryan Braun

22

37

328

Corey Kluber

39

25

26

Hunter Pence

52

64

307

David Wright

69

114

340

Daniel Murphy

82

156

343

Marcell Ozuna

99

115

302

Salvador Perez

112

104

79

Leonys Martin

129

185

333

Huston Street

142

126

63

Michael Pineda

159

183

292

Drew Smyly

172

201

291

Erick Aybar

189

228

286

Danny Salazar

202

206

218

Matt Shoemaker

219

203

96

Martin Prado

232

240

212

Nick Castellanos

249

307

243

Jenrry Mejia

262

215

75

Taijuan Walker

279

293

188

R.A. Dickey

292

279

148

Angel Pagan

309

287

146

Jose Ramirez

322

289

137

Tyler Flowers

339

346

152

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ASK ROTOMAN: Doing the Newest FAABest Steps!

Dear Rotoman: 

As a league that’s been around for 30 years, we’ve played by the rules that Alex Patton established in his book, and have made sure we changed the ones he did in newer books. Since he hasn’t put out a book in several years, many in our league are wanting to know if some of our rules are outdated and need to be changed, dropped or modified.

We play NL, 5×5 (HR,R,SB,OBP,RBI and W,S,K,ERA,WHIP), $280 starting salary, $340 in season cap, 25 players with Farm Team. Three year contracts with extensions at $5 per year. We do $100 FAAB from after All-Star til last week of August. FAAB over $10 must be kept next year or dropped for $10 salary penalty.

Anyway, do you know if most teams still use these same basic rules or have any of them mostly changed. The one I want to modify is to make FAAB all year vs. six weeks. Currently, early in the season, lower ranked teams are “rewarded” by drafting guys that don’t play or will soon be sent down, to wait and see the two or three guys we all miss in the draft each year. The league winner last year screwed his draft and left with $60+ dollars, only to pick up Erving Santana, Hector Rondon and Aaron Harang the first three weeks of the season. Personally, I feel like every player needs to be FAAB eligible so that EVERY OWNER has a chance. Higher ranked teams cannot get these guys for DL selections because lower teams are holding their DL guys several weeks to see if someone good comes up.

Any input you can give us would be greatly appreciated as it relates to how most leagues deal with things these days.

“Old Ruled”

pattonbookDear OR:

What’s funny is that I’ve played with Alex Patton in the American Dream League, which was something of the model league in his books, for more than 20 years, and our rules are totally unlike yours. I’ll be brief: AL, 4×4 (BA), $260 budget, no salary cap, 24 man rosters with seven man reserve. One year contract with no escalator. $50 FAAB starting the third week, and then all season long.

Crazy no?

The fact of the matter is that your league is much more progressive, with your 5×5 and OBP, particularly, than the ADL is. Which doesn’t mean that rules can’t or shouldn’t be changed. There’s just no reason to try to conform to any one set of rules, because you can’t. There are people playing in so many styles I hesitate to list them, because I’m nodding off just thinking about them.

Which brings us to your crazy FAAB rule. Yes, I said crazy, because I think you guys have it all backward.

In the old days, before their was FAAB in Fantasyland, the waiver wire ruled supreme. Whoever got their claim in first, when a player “came over,” (as we still say though without the frenzied dialing), would acquire the player. But everyone soon realized that this gave such an advantage to the unemployed obsessive they wished they could be, that weekly waivers became more the norm.

The problem with weekly waivers is that priority goes to the bad teams, the teams lower in the standings, which means they acquire talent that all too often would get traded to one of the good teams, thus making all the other competing teams angry. Hence, FAAB.

FAAB is an equalizer. It gives each of us the chance to make the market on a particular player on a particular day. And if we blow our wad one day, the teams that still have FAAB left have the advantage. Which is why it is perfect tool for leagues to use all season long.

In fact, relegating it to a brief period means there is no warp and woof to the budgets. I would imagine players are traded over from the AL and everybody goes all in on them, and they’re awarded to the team lowest in the standings on the tie-breaker. That misses the point.

I mentioned that in the ADL we wait three weeks to start up our FAAB. This is a vestige of our time before FAAB. We held up waivers until there was some settling in the standings, a bubbling up of talent, a dropping down of not so much, so that good teams off to a bad start weren’t unjustly rewarded. Some argue that since we use FAAB now we could start waivers Week 1, and they’re right. But I resist that.

Having a week or two, or even three, before teams can beef up their rosters is a test for teams that take players in the auction who are injured. The idea is no more an impetus to force them to find a replacement than the Affordable Care Act was intended to compel the States to set up their own exchanges. Rather, the goal is to inflict on them a little pain if they don’t draft a replacement. Isn’t that fun?

As for some of the other crazy new rules the kids are coming up with, OR, don’t get me started. Have you heard of the Daily Games?

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

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ASK ROTOMAN: Dump Power?

Rotoman:

5X5 , NL only, 10 team auction league. Have rule where we can keep toppers and at draft can keep them if we bid one more dollar where bidding stops. Am thinking about punting HRs and RBIs.

Have Grenke, Wainwright, Bumgarner, A.Wood, Wacha, all as toppers. Have deGrom at $10, Melencon at $5, Cishek at $17, and hitters Span, Revere, Carpenter, D. Murphy, J. Upton, Polonco, E. Young all as toppers. Suggestions on punting HRs and RBIs and are toppers worth keeping?

“Topper”

Dear Top:

I have one point. Toppers are fun, but they are almost never bargains.

The process of topping in your league turns a 10-team auction into a nine-team auction. That should make little difference, if any, on the prices paid for players in your auction.

This is important because it means you should not plan your auction strategy around your Topper list. Feel to hold onto as many Toppers as you’re allowed. Sometimes the bidding will stop early and you’ll save a buck or two, but more often, at least in the leagues I play in, someone else will bid the extra dollar, knowing that it makes the Topping decision that much harder.

It is your keepers that should determine your how you approach your auction.

deGrom at $10 is a decent keep. Melancon at $5 is a very good one. Cishek at $17 is keepable, but he’s no bargain. Your strength going into auction is that you won’t need to buy any saves.

Your weakness is that you’re going to have to buy everything else. Which brings us to your second question: Should you dump power? Or, as we say, should you Sweeney?

Screenshot 2015-03-05 08.38.43The decision to dump one category, much less two, is predicated on the competitiveness of your league. In a league where all the teams are relatively equal, the expected total points of the winning team will be relatively modest. In that case, dumping may be a way gain an advantage. Win the eight categories other than HR and RBI, you end up with 82 points, which can win a competitive league.

Is that the situation in your league? There’s no way I can know that.

What I can say for sure is that the best time to Sweeney is when you have great closer keepers, and an otherwise weak hand. That’s you, though I would say your closer keepers are just okay, since Cishek is at market value. Still, that’s a fair place to start.

The Sweeney Plan was invented in a 4×4 league. It is very hard to dump HR and RBI and win the Runs category. Here’s why:

Screenshot 2015-03-05 08.14.30Carpenter, Span, Reyes and Yelich didn’t hit that many homers, but they didn’t score that many runs either, compared to the leaders. Nine of the top 11 positions in this list of major league runs leaders went to guys who get paid to hit homers.

Fantasy experts generally say, Never dump a category in the auction! Never!

I’m a little less doctrinaire than that. There are times it makes sense to face reality before you auction. But I’m not sure it ever makes sense to Sweeney in the auction in 5×5, at least if you are trying to win. There’s just too thin a margin for error for the Sweeney to make sense.

Since your team is wide open, since your keeper list is weak, it makes sense for you to look for a competitive edge. I would suggest deemphasizing batting average. Not dumping, exactly, but disregarding BA as a category when you’re evaluating players.

Try to accumulate as many at bats as you can, getting regulars at every hitting slot. In your league, look for top of the lineup types who aren’t stars, obviously.

You’ll still have a tough road ahead. I’m sure you have competitors with much better freeze lists going in. But if you are able to buy enough at bats and a couple of those guys have career years, especially with the batting average, well, ya never know.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

 

 

 

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LINK: New Improved Fantasy Baseball Team Name Generator

Screenshot 2015-02-26 16.55.30Last year we linked to the Fantasy Baseball Team Name Generator, which makes up fantasy baseball team names from MLB and player team names, and random memes in the zeitgeist, or something like that.

There is a new and updated version of the Generator up now, in case you’re in need of a name.

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