Link: Baseball’s Real Revolution Reframed

screenshot-2016-09-23-11-46-12Josh Levin uses the sagas of the Fire Joe Morgan blog and Rob Neyer to chat about how baseball’s statistical revolution stopped being about stats versus scouts, and comes up with something nice to say about Tim McCarver!

Well worth reading for it’s gentle sense of history, and optimistic view forward. In Slate.

http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/the_next_20/2016/09/fire_joe_morgan_and_the_moneyball_revolution.html

Korean Baseball Organization First Pitches

Rhythmic gymnast Shin Soo-ji throwing out the first pitch in July 2013 started a fad.
Rhythmic gymnast Shin Soo-ji throwing out the first pitch in July 2013 started a fad.

This is not an event in Korea put together by BaseballHQ. It seems that in Korea throwing out the first pitch to a ballgame has become an entertainment and marketing opportunity.

Over at Slate, they asked a connoisseur of Korean baseball to provide some video of the most entertaining first pitches. You’ll have to click through the links to watch most of them at YouTube, but it’s worth it.

Read the story, find the links here.

Ask Rotoman: Dump Trade Blues!

Rotoman!

Is this trade something that should go through?

Four-keeper-league. Player that is in contention trades B. Snell ($4) next year for J. Votto and Y. Tomas. The team getting Snell has at least six better keeper options for next year and can only keep four.

Am I right to be pissed about this? I don’t like vetoing trades but this is kind of out there right?

“Snelly Deal”

Dear Snelly,

One of the prime reality distortion fields (RDF) covers a league leader who sees an opponent get key pieces for something he sees as marginal. So here’s my question:

Is Snell really his seventh best keeper on the team that traded away Votto and Tomas?

The follow up question:

Does the team that traded away Votto and Tomas think Snell is his seventh best keeper?

I have no way of knowing the answer to either of these questions, but the only way for you to pull back the RDF is to honestly evaluate them.

If your answers are Yes to the first question and No to the second, you then have to ask:

Is there some sort of collusion going on?

If not, then you have to ask:

Is this guy an idiot?

If the answer to either of those questions is Yes, it might make sense to challenge the trade. In the case of collusion, it is imperative. But in my experience almost all trades that are looked at as fatally imbalanced look that way because the evaluator isn’t looking at the goals of the involved teams accurately.

I would talk to the team that dealt away Votto and Tomas, and find out what he’s thinking. You shouldn’t have to agree with him to decide whether his side of the story is at all valid. Chances are it is, even if you don’t like it.

Sincerely,

rotomansignature

PS. I would surely like to have Snell next year at $4 in an AL league, and would be happy to have him at that price in a Mixed league.

Corrections for Fantasy Football Guide 2016

On page 2, in the credits for the Position Pages, Marc Meltzer’s name is spelled incorrectly. Sorry Marc.

On page 73-75: STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

The lists of teams with the easiest schedules are wrong. Here is the correct info (and sorry for missing this):

RUNNERS AGAINST DEFENSES

Easiest Schedules:
Chicago, Tennessee, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore

Easiest Playoffs:
Oakland, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Detroit, and Buffalo

Hardest Schedules:
New England, Indianapolis, Miami, San Francisco, and New Orleans

Hardest Playoffs:
New England, Seattle, Cincinnati, Green Bay, and Miami

PASSERS/RECEIVERS AGAINST DEFENSES

Easiest Schedules:
Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, Cleveland, and Cincinnati

Easiest Playoffs:
Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Oakland, San Diego, and New York Giants

Hardest Schedules:
New England, Philadelphia, New York Jets, Buffalo, and Indianapolis

Hardest Playoffs:
Seattle, Denver, Indianapolis, Tennessee, and New England

DEFENSES AGAINST OFFENSES

Easiest Schedules:
Indinapolis, Jacksonville, Tennessee, San Diego, and Green Bay

Easiest Playoffs:
Buffalo, Jacksonville, San Diego, Indianapolis, and San Francisco

Hardest Schedules:
Washington, Cleveland, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia

Hardest Playoffs:
Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Arizona, Baltimore, and Oakland

It’s Out! The Fantasy Football Guide 2016!

Here it is, the 17th annual Fantasy Football Guide.

ffg16-at barnes and nobleIt’s in stores now. That picture is from a Barnes and Noble in Brooklyn NY, where it appeared for the first time yesterday.

We’re usually found in Barnes and Noble and Wal Mart (though not in Wal Mart Canada), and each year I find it for sale in different grocery and drug stores.

I found the Fantasy Baseball Guide 2016 in my local CVS last March, but when I went back a few days later they had moved the magazines to the back corner of the store. Yesterday, I went in and the magazine display was smaller and had no sports magazines at all. I know where not to go.

This year’s Guide has a great roster of writers:

Andy Goldstein edited the position pages, which he wrote along with JD Bolick, David Gonos, HC Green, Marc Meltzer, and Matt Wilson.

Herija C. Green edited the team pages, and wrote some of them, along with Matt Wilson, Rob Blackstien, Buck Davidson, Jack Delaney, Daniel Dobish, Keith Hernandez, Jason Hoffman, and Nick Minnix.

JD Bolick’s NFL Draft review runs 10 dense pages, with a ton of video references if you’re interested in see what he’s describing.

Doug Anderson and Dave Gawron prepared Strength of Schedule info for Daily and Full Season games respectively.

Bob Lung contributed a piece about why consistent play can help you put together a better team.

John LaPresto surveys the wounded and the walking, and lets us know how things are looking for the injured.

Marc Meltzer prepared our player projections.

And Lawr Michael and Geoff Stein put together the Mock Draft, which features both friends and new faces this year.

I hope you enjoy it. Let me know if you find any errors or what you think by writing to askrotoman at gmail.com. There’s a link to a corrections page at the top of this page.

And if you can’t find a physical copy, there will soon be online and pdf versions available at thefantasysportsguide.com. Use the coupon code ROTOMAN and save $1 off your online purchase.

ASK ROTOMAN: Whither Matt Harvey?

Obviously there is something wrong with Matt Harvey, so is it too soon to drop him? As of right now Josh Tomlin, Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright are available.

My Pitchers are Bumgardner, Syndergaard, Harvey, Stroman, Vince Velasquez, Smyly and Wacha.

“Hardly Harvey So Far”

DSC_0163_Matt_HarveyYour question came in as I was reading Eno Sarris’s excellent take on Harvey at FanGraphs on Friday.

Eno takes a look at Harvey’s velocity, movement and command in the past, compares them to his recent struggles, and concludes, um, that if he pitches a little better he might get much better results. If that sounds like weak analysis, it isn’t at all. It’s nuanced and precise about a process that is nuanced but with a broad range of variable outcomes, not all of which actually have any precise cause.

That, I know, doesn’t help much. You have a floundering pitcher (with a rich and productive history) who is hurting your team. So you need to know whether you should make a move now. How likely is Harvey to bounce back, and when?

Here are a few things I know.

The Mets were concerned enough to consider sending Harvey to the minors, push back his next start, or take everything out of his locker and burn it. Really!

John Smoltz reported last week that he’d studied the issue of young pitchers who appear in World Series, and discovered that many suffer a fall off the next season. Now, there are some issues with that. Harvey isn’t that young, for one, and one would assume young pitchers are generally pitching in the World Series because they had a better than average year. As we know, pitchers who have had a better than average (for them) year will usually have a not as good year the next year. This is what is meant by the expression regression to the mean. So, I’m not sure about Smoltz’s study, but I am sure that Harvey was on an innings limit last year for a reason, that for a different reason he blew through it, and as Eno points out, his velocity is down this year (at least some of the time, though Eno also points out that you might expect that to happen to a pitcher who is entering his 27th year).

Pitchers spend their careers making adjustments as their physical abilities change. It’s tempting for us to look and see consistency as a virtue, but in most cases pitchers succeed with consistent performance, not necessarily consistent tools. Presumably, Harvey is working hard now to adapt to these small changes (he has a similar issue with his slider, Eno notes), and has the skills and mindset to do so.

Given that, it seems to me there’s a pretty fair chance he’s going to be better than he’s been thus far. And while his ERA has been a disaster thus far, some of that appears to be a product of an elevated BABIP and diminished LOB rate. If his actual ERA were the same as his FIP (3.62) or xFIP (3.84) you probably would be more patient with him. His failures, in that case, wouldn’t seem quite so dire.

Not so long ago I looked at how well regarded pitchers performed after a slow start. The upshot was that they generally performed better, and some actually perform as well as was expected of them in the preseason, after they get past the rough patch. So there is hope.

The upshot from all this? I kind of wish I owned Matt Harvey.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

Washington Post Poll Supports Dan Snyder’s View!

redskins+logo+peta
PETA suggested way to retain team name without slur.

A couple of years ago I made the decision to drop the Washington NFL team’s name from The Fantasy Football Guide.

The rationale was simple. The name derived from a term common to scalp hunters during the Indian wars of the 19th Century. It was considered offensive by many Native Americans. The team’s own history of use of the name began with a racist and his racist intentions. Or, as Tara Houska, quoted in the New York Times article today about the WaPo poll, said:

“Ms. Houska, who lives in Washington, said she was bracing for all the people who would be waving the poll in her face — “the poll, the poll, the poll” — and saying she had no right to be offended by the name of the local football team.

That the matter is even up for debate baffles her.

“It’s a straight-up slur,” she said. “It’s a dictionary-defined racial slur. It should be a no-brainer — but somehow, it’s not.”

After the first magazine issue without the team name came out I received a number of angry letters from people saying that if they’d read the Editor’s Letter about the issue before buying the magazine they would have put it back on the rack. Some were mad because I was attacking their team, their Nation, and they would not stand for that. Others were mad because they saw in my stance the influence of the mad culture of political correctness, in which it is suddenly and (to apparently many) improper to seek to avoid needlessly insulting people and hatefully reminding them that they have it worse than you.

I’m sure we lost some sales since then to these folks, but sales overall are up andI get more letters each year from folks who like the magazine than the year before, so I can live with the consequences of pushing this small principle.

But learning today about this poll disturbs me a bit. Could it be true that 90 percent of the polled Native Americans don’t have a problem with the Washington team’s name? And the poll reports that 80 percent would not be offended if called redskin by a non Native American. There are questions about the poll. The sample was small and there are questions about the demographics. I would be more suspicious of these results if they didn’t echo a 2004 Annenberg poll on the issue that has always been looked at as on the margins, since so much Native American institutional strength was allied against the Washington NFL team name.

The Times article goes into the process of once offensive expressions becoming something else, relates stories from different cultures, but returns ultimately to Ms. Houska, and ends with her quote, which I included above. It’s well worth reading.

Now, production is underway on the Fantasy Football Guide 2016 and I’ve got some thinking to do. Ten percent of 5.4M Native Americans is 540,000 people. That’s not a small number to offend with something as trivial as a team name. I’m inclined to continue the boycott, even if it isn’t politically correct in these times.

ASK ROTOMAN: A pitcher smuggled out of Cuba

Dear Rotoman:

I’m not sure if this falls into the scope of the questions you answer, but I was talking with a friend last night about baseball history and he brought up a pitcher who had been smuggled out of cuba by his manager after he was attacked with some kind of weapon. I remember reading about that somewhere, but can’t remember the player’s name and can’t find it anywhere! Do you have any idea?

“History Buff”

Van Lingle Mungo was a rough and rowdy pitcher, mostly for the Brooklyn Dodgers, from 1931 to 1945.

The quote that is always used to address his temper is from Casey Stengal: “”Mungo and I get along fine. I just tell him I won’t stand for no nonsense, and then I duck”

At the Baseball Almanac I found this telling of the story of Mungo on a date in Havana:

The following story about Van Mungo appeared in The Herring Design Quarterlies, “Once, when the Dodgers were training in Cuba, his friends really saved him. Seems Van Lingle Mungo became enamored with a nightclub dancer by the name of Gonzalez, and she liked him pretty well, too. Her husband caught them in the clutches, and Mungo punched him in the eye. Señor Gonzalez returned with a butcher knife. That’s when a Dodgers executive by the name of Babe Hamberger hid Mungo in a laundry cart. He got his pitcher out of a major jam and down to the wharf where a seaplane was waiting. Mungo hid while his bags were loaded. Then Hamberger yelled, and Mungo sprinted for the plane, leaping aboard with the police hot on his heels.”

Bill James, in the Historical Baseball Abstract, lists Mungo as a drinking man in 1930s baseball, and that’s all.

But Mungo has been immortalized, of a sort, by David Frishberg, who wrote a song called “Van Lingle Mungo.” It’s a jazzy piece, well worth a listen, and while you do head over to Baseball Almanac and read about Frishberg’s one meeting with Mungo.

Rotoman Speaks, with Joel Henard and Mike Hilbig!

On blogtalkradio this week, having fun.

Ask Rotoman: Rank the Cardinals Outfield

Rotoman:

I’m in a head to head points league. Should I hold on to Randal Grichuk or would one of the other Cardinals OF be a better option.

“Jack of Hearts”

Matt Holliday is the best St. Louis outfielder, but he comes with the dreadnought of age and some injury history.

I think Grichuk is a smidge more valuable than Piscotty, but what really matters is whether you value BA or HR more. Grichuk has more power but will hurt your batting average, while Piscotty isn’t going to hit as many out but should have a better batting average.

You can tell best what your team needs. But if you can get Matt Holliday, go for it.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature