The 2020 Roto-Regs Draft is Over.

Back in the bad old days of the internet, when AskRotoman had a bulletin board visited by hundreds, before spam and malicious interlopers wrecked it, the regulars at the bulletin board formed a funny league. Funny because the format was different than other leagues.

For one, 20 teams. But only nine hitters (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF, OF, OF, UT) and seven pitchers. A good man named Steve ran the league for a number of years. My memory is that the first year I finished second, and I’ve done worse every year since.

Actually, after the bulletin board was no more (I pulled the plug, sadly) the Regs league went on hiatus, but our friend Tim McLeod has revived it and I had my second new era draft last night.

You can see the results here. I’m not sure how transferable they are. Pitchers flew off the board because each round is so long you never know if the best ones will get back to you. Maybe that’s how we play now, or maybe it reflects these peculiar rules. In either case, it was a fun time.

Historical Picks and Pans: A correction

In this year’s Fantasy Baseball Guide 2020 (out now!), we received some bonus Picks and Pans from longtime contributor Kevin Cook and his son Cal. The Cooks imagined the Hall of Fame cases for Shoeless Joe Jackson, Pete Rose and Barry Bonds, written as Picks and Pans. I liked the idea so much I included them in the Guide’s editor’s letter. And I hoped that readers would come up with their own, which we would publish here.

That hasn’t happened, but I did hear from a reader named Steven McPherson, who knows a thing or two about the Eight Men Out. He wrote:

In regards the arguments made for Joe Jackson belonging in the Hall of Fame in the Letter from the Editor in The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2020.  It states “he handled 30 chances without an error and threw out five baserunners.”

You are mistaken.  He was credited with 16 put outs and one assist.  The assist occurred in the sixth game when Jackson threw out Cincinnati second sack Morrie Rath at the plate in the fourth inning.  The play-by-play in the Spaulding’s Official Base Ball Guide reads:

“Rath tried to score on Daubert’s short fly to Jackson.  He was doubled at the plate as he slid into Schalk and knocked the little catcher over.”

In fact, a photo in the same publication suggests that Jackson made a poor throw up the first-base line, forcing Schalk to retrieve the poor throw and then dive back towards home plate into Rath’s flying spikes to make the tag.  Great effort by the catcher who was not involved in the fixing of the Series.

BTW, the number of putouts by Jackson are meaningless anyway since, for example, in one inning he could misplay or misjudge five flyballs and still make three putouts.

I think Jackson probably did give his best effort in most of his plate appearances because he was, after all, playing for next year’s salary; however, it should not be overlooked that he did not run the bases particularly well: he was thrown out at least once trying to steal, doubled off at least twice after failing to tag up, and fell down at lest twice trying to advance on the bases.

Additionally, his public and legal versions of events changed radically so much so that in 1923 the Judge in his civil trial charged him with perjury.

In his 1920 Grand Jury testimony, he stated he had been promised $20,000 and received only $5,000 for his part in the fix.

FYI, you might enjoy the link below.  There are also references to more updated research on this subject at this link.

Steve

PS- I agree with the takes on Barry Bonds and Pete Rose.

I know there are competing views about Shoeless Joe, so I forwarded Kevin Steve’s letter. He wrote back:

He’s right about the assists–that’ll teach me to accept a stat on Wikipedia. But putouts aren’t the same as chances handled. There were hits he fielded cleanly that he could have booted. I should certainly have been more careful about throwing out five baserunners, an awfully high number; I still think Joe still belongs in the Hall.

So there, an acceptance of a correction and a refutation. The debate will doubtless continue. Maybe it’s time for me to develop an opinion.

ASK ROTOMAN: A Keeper Question

I’m in a 12 team auction keeper league with 30-man roster. We are allowed to keep up to seven players. Each year a player is kept his salary goes up $5. We can keep a player for a max three yrs. This year’s salary is in parentheses. Out of the following players who would you keep. M Chapman(11), P Dejong(13), V Robles(18), E Jimenez(11), J Luzzardo(14), T Glanow(12), S Bieber(15), j lucchesi(11), N Senzel(12), J James(11), J Villar(16).

First off, if salaries go up $5 a year, I don’t see why you have a three year limit. The idea of an escalating salary is that eventually the player becomes too expensive. This might happen in a year or two, usually, and for some surprising players it might not happen for four or five years. But it happens.

Get rid of the time limit. Reward teams who get in early on the right guys.

As far as your keeps, I’m assuming you’re using a S260 budget. The thing is in a 12 team mixed league the stars should go for a lot of money, and middling talents should go for a lot less. So I don’t see your list as choices between prices as much as choices between players.

You have some big talents, not all of them yet fully expressed. So, you have to keep Shane Bieber, Nick Senzel, Jonathan Villar, Jesus Luzzardo, Tyler Glasnow, Eloy Jimenez and Victor Robles. And you’re done.

Really. Chapman and Dejong had great years, are very good players, but they and more like them will once again go for $11 or $13 because we’ve seen their best and that’s what they’re worth in a deep league. They may be better this year than Senzel or Jimenez, but they’ll go cheaper in your auction. That’s what keepers are made out of.

Trade Talk

Q: Should I trade Mitch Garver for Dansby Swanson in a straight trade? Seems a little light to me. I have two other startable catchers.

A: I like Swanson. They both earned the same last year. Garver was a career year. Swanson, probably not. Better could come. Have no idea if you could do better for Garver, who did hit a ton of homers in limited AB, but if you can’t Swanson is a good match I think.


OUT NOW! The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2020

People are finding it in Barnes and Noble stores in New York City and Cincinnati, so it’s out there. 160 pages of fantasy baseball info, enough I hope to last you through all of a 2020 season that will answer a lot of questions we have about home runs and strike outs.

More than 30 fantasy experts, people whose online columns you read, podcasts you listen to, radio shows you follow, Twitter feeds you devour, folks you mostly know, have written hundreds of Picks and Pans. They are funny, perceptive, opinionated, and sometimes right!

We (mostly Rob Blackstien, HC Green, Jeff Zimmerman and Rotoman) profile more than 1400 players, so that when you want to know something about a callup or a trade, there’s a good chance we’ll have an answer.

The Guide also features a Top 30 Rookies column, with extra sleeper prospect picks, and JD Bolick’s Unheralded column, which each season has pointed out non-prospects who have gone on to have major league impact that year.

Plus, a great group of fantasy experts gathers in November for our mock draft, and helps us by writing comments on why they made their picks. It’s a fun time for us, and a trove of fantasy baseball opinion by some of the game’s best writers.

Plus there’s more! We hope you enjoy.

The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2020 is coming soon!

The files are off to the printer, and it should start showing up on newsstands in a couple weeks.

The Fantasy Football Guide 2019 Is Here!

The official release date was July 21st, but the first copy in the wild appeared on July 14th. Let us know where you’ve seen it and we’ll get out the word!

Ask Rotoman: Keeping It Fair While Adding Keepers

Dear Rotoman:

As commissioner of our league we traditionally kept three players for three seasons with the three keepers counting as your first three picks just to keep it simple.

I was wondering if we gave owners the option to keep up to five players with those players going as your five first rounds. But I want to keep it fair for all owners, even ones that don’t have a too many true keepers.

My question is, would it necessarily hurt a weak team if he only kept one or two players and attempted to rebuild from the draft. My goal is not to put someone at disadvantage because these changes.

“Even Steven”

Dear Even:

Your issue isn’t expansion, I don’t think, but rather your decision to make your keepers the first three picks in your draft. This setup means that the keeper comparison, the rationale for keeping a guy rather than throwing him back and taking the best available player, is much higher than it probably should be.

Here’s why:

Assuming your league is 12 teams (but it doesn’t matter if it isn’t, the same rationale would apply to any size league), your three keeps are going to take 36 players off the draft board. Are these the top 36 players on your board? Almost certainly not.

Well, the first few years they might be close, but as freeze eligibilities expire for players they go back up on the board. If they are better than your third-best, or second-best, or even first-best freeze, you might as well not keep the keeper, or keepers.

This is sure to happen, and when it does your keeper system should break down quickly. The only way for it to not break down is if each owner is required to keep three players.

And, of course, expanding to five keepers, and giving owners the option to not keep five, will only make matters worse.

The right way to value keepers in a draft league is to keep them in the round they were taken originally. That way they have real value and don’t have to compete with the best available players on the draft board for value.

It isn’t as easy to track, but it isn’t that hard either, and should make your game much more fun.

Sincerely,

ASK ROTOMAN: More categories please.

Hi,

Our three-player keeper/yahoo standard roster /10 team league/ daily moves. wants to modernize our standard 5×5 categories for next season, but we can’t come to an agreement.

Either 6×6 adding OPS, QS and replacing S with S+H.

Or 7×7 adding OBP, SLG, QS, Holds separate.

We are expanding the rosters slightly next season as well, and we also don’t want to drop the win category all together.

We don’t know what potential issues we will have with these potential set ups, thanks for your help.

“Cats Meow”

Dear Cats:

I’m in favor of modernizing, for sure, but you were right to ask, because there are implications worth considering in all your potential moves.

The big one: Do more categories make for a better game? The obvious answer is with more categories you have more verisimilitude. More different players have value doing different things and that’s good, right?

Maybe not. Or rather, more categories means you run into a math problem. Back in ancient times we played 4×4 (no Runs or Strikeouts), but sometime around 2000 it became obvious that more and more people were playing 5×5 (with Runs and Strikeouts). In Tout Wars we switched over and those of us who do player pricing discovered something that makes total sense but wasn’t at all intuitive: More cats mean the most expensive players earn less.

The reason is math. Each category siphons off some value from the players at the top, and gives it to the players in the middle. Last year the game’s premiere strikeout pitcher, Max Scherzer, earned $40 in 5×5 (with strikeouts) and $41 in 4×4 (without strikeouts). Crazy, eh? Be prepared for that.

In other instances, you’re adding redundant categories. For instance, if you add OPS to a league that counts batting average, too, you’re counting batting average twice. And counting home runs twice, too, since they’re a big part of the SLG slice of OPS. I would recommend replacing BA with OBP, so that you count walks on the hitting side as well as the pitching side, and be done with it.

Similarly, adding QS as an extra category in addition to Wins, means starting pitchers games started are counted twice in counting stats (plus strikeouts! That’s three times) and they loom larger in ERA and WHIP as well. This will make good starting pitchers much more valuable, and much more pricey I would think.

Plus, adding Holds to the Saves category makes relievers much less valuable. The reason is supply and demand. Saves have value because there is only one fellow on a team getting a save in any given game. Holds can be spread between two or three pitchers, which expands the pool significantly. With more supply comes less demand, and lower prices. Is that what you want?

In The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2012, I think, Tim McLeod pitched the idea of using Saves + Half Holds as a category, to give recognition to middle relievers, but to continue to venerate those who are able to close games without getting hurt or becoming ineffective. I think this is much better way to go.

And while we’re at that, Wins + Half QS as a single cat recognizes that bad luck can hurt starters who are pitching effectively without destroying the notion that getting a win is something pitchers are trying to do and should be rewarded for.

Okay, so right now I’m on: OBP, Runs, HR, RBI, SB for hitters. ERA, WHIP, W+Half QS, Sv + Half Holds, and Strikeouts for pitchers. Hmm. 5×5.

I guess if you wanted to go to 6×6 I’d suggest adding SLG to the hitting side (count doubles as well as homers) and Innings Pitched to the pitching side, though I fear that doubling up on IP and Ks is going to push too much value to the pitchers again. Tristan Cockcroft has long suggested adding IP and changing Ks to K/9, making it a third pitching rate stat. That does restore some balance to the starter/reliever mix.

Might there be unintended consequences having half the pitching cats be rate stats? There might be, but Tristan swears by this and so it is surely worth a shot.

One other idea: Fielding stats. I know, they’re all flawed, but in fantasy baseball the goal isn’t a perfect reflection of a player’s contribution on a baseball field, but a given valuation based on the stats you choose to count.

Inside Edge has published fielding stats in recent years that track plays based on difficulty. So they have plays rated Impossible (no one can make them), Remote (a 1-10 percent chance), Unlikely (11-40 percent chance), Even (40-60), Likely (60-90), and Routine (91-100). My idea is to add Remote plays as a counting stat.

Last year, Nolan Arenado made 39 Remote plays, two more than Brandon Crawford, who made one more than Manny Machado. This would be a little like Home Runs, events that some players do regularly, but far from every day. Giving value to Brandon Crawford for his defense seems like a worthwhile idea.

The other category would be to count Routine as a rate stat, so every error or misplay on a play everyone should make would hurt your team in that one. Many outfielders and catchers top this list, having not made a mistake on a routine play last year, but there is Rougned Odor in 19th place, the highest ranked middle infielder by far. Let’s give him a hand.

The only problem is that this data is not available from Inside Edge in game, and FanGraphs is not even showing it for 2019. If no stats services have it, it doesn’t exist, so for now this is a pipe dream. But in the future, I’m all in.

Good luck with your decision. I hope you and your leaguemates have a fun discussion.

Sincerely,

Ask Rotoman: Two Fer Two Trade

Ask Rotoman: Hey hope all is well. Love the articles!!

I am in a 10 team NL-only 5×5 league. I was offered Starling Marte and Archie Bradley for Sonny Grey and Ben Zobrist. Should I jump on it?? Should I stay away from Marte?? Thanks!!

“Contusion Confusion”

Hey CC:

All is good here. Thanks for the question.

I’d say about 100 percent of your question turns on how hurt Marte is. We don’t have a definitive answer, but after running into Erik Gonzalez last week Marte has resumed some baseball activities. Does that mean he’s due back soon? No.

But it does mean that there is a timeline for him coming back. Since he’s a bit of a star that’s important, because the other guys in your deal are not stars. An Archie Bradley who isn’t closing is a fill in type. Not a bad pitcher, but someone you’re looking to replace if you have him active.

As for Sonny Grey, so far so good. Right now he’s pitching like the front line pitcher he was a few years ago. If he continues with that he could be worth Marte, who is a front line hitter (when he gets over the injury). Are you going to bet he continues with that?

As far as Zobrist goes, he’s the bat side equivalent of Archie Bradley. Useful in an NL only league, but less so in a 10 team edition.

In conclusion. Starling Marte in a hot month or two could produce more than the other three combined over the whole season. Or not, but I think that’s the bet you want to take.

“Unreservedly,”