LINK: What Makes A Fan?

Screenshot 2014-04-22 23.12.43This NY Times story digs deep into Facebook Like data to discover what teams Facebookers are fans of, then maps that to the Facebooker’s ages when their teams won World Series.

When I was eight the Yankees lost the World Series to the Cardinals, then spent the next 15 years in CBS and Steinbrenner hell. It was hard not to like Horace Clark, but it was in those years when I was nine to 17 that my love affair with the Mets took hold.

Over at rockremnants.com I think we see constant evidence that the bands we fell in love with when we were 15-25 or so are the ones that stick with us forever. Baseball seems to ring a somewhat earlier chord.

 

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ASK ROTOMAN: The Rich Get Richer

Rotoman:

6×6, 8-team head-to-head categories league.  I just got Jose Reyes back from the DL, so who should I drop from the following:

Jose Altuve ($23)
Chase Utley ($17)
Dee Gordon ($7)
George Springer ($10)

Thanks.
“Reyes of Light”

Dear RoL:

Oh, the agony of the shallow league. I’m not going to address 6×6 and Head to Head issues, since you don’t specify categories and H2H mostly ups the randomness of winning and losing rather than adding any strategic nuance.

The numbers in the parentheses above are what those players were going for in preseason auctions. Jose Reyes, by the way, went for $25 or so. So, the obvious answer would be to drop Gordon., but I can understand your reluctance. He’s already stolen 10 bases and while he isn’t going to continue to hit .365, if he hits .270 on the year he’s going to steal a lot of bases.

Jose Altuve is off to a solid start, making him one of the best second basemen in the game, so it’s hard to drop him, and Chase Utley is off to a monster start and has more power than Altuve, Gordon and Reyes, so you have to hold onto him.

Which leaves Springer as the odd man out. He was the surprise promotion last week, and there is a lot of excitement about him because he has a nice power/speed combo. There are also serious questions about his contact rate, and he’s struck out five times in 15 plate appearances already—on track with his Triple-A numbers, which could prove a problem.

One of the agonies of playing in a shallow league is deciding between excellent or exciting players. If Springer goes on to hit 15 homers this year, you may look back and wish you’d kept him rather than Dee Gordon, but at this point Springer’s risk of failure is high enough I think you have to go with the speedy middle infielder.

Sincerely,
Rotoman

 

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ASK ROTOMAN: What is FAAB Worth?

Dear Rotoman:

I was thinking about redeeming the DLed Nate Jones in Tout Wars AL, which got me thinking about FAAB, Vickrey bidding and being in last place a few weeks after the season starts. I wrote about it here at USA Today.

Does it make sense to add Jones’ $14 now? Or should I wait to see if he can get healthy and reclaim the closer job in Chicago?

“Ron Shandler”

Dear Ron,

I had some thoughts about your recent column and thought they made a better topic here than at your various discussion boards. Though perhaps I’ll show up at those, too.

You raise a few interesting issues that I wanted to touch on.

I will admit that I thought the Tout Wars redemption process was going to be a disaster. It has instead been a great success. (I thought the same about FAAB trading as well, and was wrong about that, too.) In Tout Wars teams are allowed to cut any player on the DL and reclaim their draft day price as FAAB up until the All Star break—after which they can reclaim half their draft day price as FAAB.

The  usual dynamic for redemption is determining how long a player will be out, versus his utility when/if he returns, filtered by the value of the added FAAB. This means that guys who are out for a while, but who may not be out all season, can reside on a team’s unlimited DL reserve until it becomes clear that the extra FAAB is going to matter (as we approach the break, and the interleague trading deadline).

What makes Nate Jones interesting is that he could return to the bullpen eventually and not gain the closing job, which would pretty much waste his $14. That’s a good reason to cut him and reclaim his bid price, though at this point he’s not close to returning, and it is pretty unlikely that the $14 you add to your FAAB total will have any utility at all until much later in the season.

For those reasons, I suggest waiting until he’s either done for the year, close to returning as a non-closer, or you need the $14 to buy something better.

As for Vickrey, the bidding auction system that we use in Tout Wars, it awards the FAAB player to the highest bidder, but reduces their cost to $1 more than the second highest bidder. Cory Schwartz was quoted earlier this week about how he thinks Vickrey just randomizes the process, and he doesn’t like it, but his bidding last week in Tout Mixed Auction is a prime example of Vickrey’s importance and why you and I like it.

As we all know, there were some closers available in last week’s bidding. Cory decided he needed one of them. Zach Steinhorn agreed with Cory that the best available closer was Francisco Rodriguez. Zach bid an aggressive $33, but Cory trumped him by bidding $60, which was then reduced a la Vickrey to $34. One can look at this as Cory “saving” $26, but it is a fairer evaluation of Vickrey to say that Cory bid aggressively because he wanted K-Rod most. Such overbids are made knowing that someone else who did the same thing would raise the price of K-Rod a lot, but that was a price Cory was willing to pay. The stated intention of Vickrey auctions are to limit system rigging, since bidders are encouraged to bid the absolute most they’re willing to pay (knowing that if they value more than the market they won’t have to pay their full price). Cory bid what he was willing to pay, and since no one else would pay as much, he ended up with a discount, as it were. That’s a feature, not a bug.

Where Vickrey excels is when there are a number of bidders. Where Vickrey falters is on the players for whom there is a limited market. With only 12 or 15 teams in a league, many without holes at particular positions, there may only be one or two teams looking for a player at a particular position. There may only be one or two of those players at that position available. One of those teams may value one of those players a lot, but chances are, even if he bids aggressively, his bid will be reduced to $1 or a few dollars because there was no market for that player. That seems to me to distort the bidding process.

For a couple years we played in Tout Wars with a $10 floor on bidding. If you bid $10 or less, that was the price you would pay if you won, with no reductions. If you bid $10 or more and no one else bid more than $10, your winning bid would be reduced to $10. If two bids exceeded $10 the standard Vickrey rules applied. The idea was to increase the cost of roster churning at the low end, where the market is less than robust. Many objected to this, saying they thought that if we were going to play with Vickrey we should play pure Vickrey. After a rule change, that’s the way we play now, and while I still think it makes the low-level bidding somewhat arbitrary, it isn’t really a problem.

I recommend Vickrey bidding for the most contested players, but the use of a floor for the cheap bidding. That’s the best balance in my opinion.

Okay, back to FAAB and inseason values. One rule that might help us find the balance between Draft Day dollars and FAAB dollars would be to combine the two. Let’s say teams are given $360 on auction day, and are told that they can spend as much of that as they like, with the balance ending up as their available FAAB balance. How much would they actually spend on Draft Day?

Or, less radically, you’re restricted to the $260 for your regular team, but then can bid FAAB $ for the reserve rounds.

By increasing the porousness between Draft Dollars and FAAB budgets, we open up ways for teams to play different strategies at the draft table, in the reserve rounds and all season long during waivers and claims.

Earlier this year I looked at how many stats were available via FAAB and claims in the NL and Mixed Leagues. This is what our money goes to buy on draft day versus what we’re able to add as the season progresses. Would that number change if we spent more cash on draft day and had less available for inseason buys? It sure looks to me that paying more on draft day is the way to go.

Sincerely,
Rotoman

 

 

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ASK ROTOMAN: Time To Give Up On Salazar?

Rotoman:

Is it worth giving up Danny Salazar in a 5×5 keeper league where I need some power in order to get Matt Adams?  I already have Madison Bumgarner, Adam Wainwright, Robbie Erlin, Yordano Ventura, Tyson Ross, and Jeff Samardzjia for SP’s plus a couple others. What do you think?  The other offer was Bumgarner for Mark Trumbo, but I think thats too spendy.

“A Bridge Too Salazar?”

Dear Bridge,

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. You are pretty rich in pitching and need a power hitter. On draft day Salazar and Adams probably cost a similar amount, and it sounds like in hindsight if you could have taken Adams instead of Salazar you would have. So this deal is obviously to the good for you.

And I agree about Bumgarner and Trumbo. The former was a $24-25 player in NL leagues, while Trumbo was a $22-23 player. If that was your only way to add power you might do it, but it isn’t as square a deal as Salazar for Adams.

It might have a bigger impact, since Trumbo is a more significant hitter than Adams, and Bumgarner is a more significant pitcher than Salazar, but sometimes it’s better to play it safer and smaller, which is what Salazar for Adams does.

That’s because we know quite a bit about Adams. He’s a very solid power hitter against right-handed pitchers (and not so good against lefties). He may lose some at bats versus lefties at some point, especially given the Cardinals’ plethora of hitters in the bigs and the minors, but he’s been weak enough against lefties (.588 OPS in limited time the last three seasons) that you probably want to see him sit against them. He’s still a solid power hitter even when missing those at bats.

We don’t know quite a bit about Salazar. He took the AL by storm late last year, in 52 IP, and was quickly elevated to stud status  by many despite the lack of experience. I warned about that during the preseason, because regardless of a young pitcher’s obvious gifts (he throws very hard, missed lots of bats with good control, etc.), we simply don’t know how well and quickly he’s going to be able to adjust as hitters adjust to him and his workload increases. Salazar has not been good thus far this year. His velocity is down, he’s walking guys, and throwing homers. It’s early, just three starts, but things are not right right now.

So make the trade. Getting out from under the struggling Salazar is really just a slim advantage. Odds are Salazar is going to work things out, and once he’s in a groove he’ll throw plenty of strkeouts, but he’s not in that place now, and if you can fix your team by dealing a struggling cipher, you have to do it.

Enthusiastically,
Rotoman

 

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Link: Rotoman on BaseballHQ Radio

Patrick Davitt is a fantastic interviewer, which makes me feel just a little smart or witty or whatever I’m going for when he has me on. I’m on this week, talking about Tout, Doubt and JD Bolick’s Guide to Fantasy Prospects, which my ebook company, Booknoise, published recently.

In my picks and pans at the end of the program I demonstrated my perverse fixation on the Twins this season.

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ASK ROTOMAN: Do We Value Relief Too Much?

Hey Rotoman,

A few weeks into a league in its inaugural year and looking for some advice for next year. We seem to have skewed our format and put too much weight on relief pitching. Here are the specifics:

-H2H points league using pretty much all scoring categories offered in ESPN standard format. (including Total Bases which gives hitters a significant boost)

-Roster spots for all positions + 2 DH + 1 extra infielder & outfield. 5 starting pitcher spots + 3 relief pitcher spots.

-8 start limit.

I think our issue arises from the 3 RP spots. With 12 teams, there are not enough ‘starting closers’ to cover this position and our draft showed this with many people loading up on closers in round 5-8. I also think our 8 start-limit is too low and limits the value of quality starting pitching. My thought is if we increased the start limit to 10 or 12, it would even out the people hoarding closers vs the people with depth at starting pitcher. Or would dropping relievers from 3 spots to 2 be better?

Any thoughts are much appreciated, thank you!!

“Cat In The Bag”

Dear CITB:

It is my personal opinion that you can make any game you want, so I have little to say about league-specific rules. But since you are unhappy and asked, here’re a few thoughts:

Limiting the number of starts per week to a low number means that you’re effectively taking IP off the table. Starters on good teams gain value, as do those with high strikeout rates, since you’re turning the K category into a ratio, like K/9. If you have daily ups and downs, maybe there is a reason to limit starts, but it should be fairly high, so that teams can choose to run up the innings OR protect their ERA and Ratio as a way to gain points.

Another good reason to have a Starts limit is because of the S/R designation, which often makes a mockery of fantasy pitching staff balance. But since you’re complaining about the relievers having too much value, something else is going on in your league, and I’m not sure what it is. Limiting teams to three relievers, when there are only 32 closers, seems like a red herring. Too many teams right now have no closer, or multiple arms to feed save ops. Sure, the best relievers might go early, but isn’t figuring out when to jump there  a key part of the game?

And I’m not sure the guy who went early for Craig Kimbrel is feeling that good right now.

For me, any set of rules can take a few years to gel. Maybe teams thought something would happen this year, drafted accordingly, and they’re now learning that it didn’t, and so the team that marched to a different drum will win in the end. You have to decide if that’s a good or bad thing.

I’m personally in favor of as few rules as possible that describe how the game has to be played. Multiple strategic approaches makes for a more fun and challenging game. So maybe don’t cap starts or innings, but cap the number of decisions a team can have (162 wins + losses, for instance). When a team reaches that number it no longer accrues pitching stats.

Or broaden categories, so that relievers count for saves and holds, instead of just saves. I recommend half-holds + saves as a category, giving value to middle relievers while recognizing that the role of closer has a value unto itself.

The thing to recognize is that the shallower the mixed league, the less the fantasy league is likely to look like real baseball and the more it’s going to become something else. Whatever that is is just fine, if it pleases you and your leaguemates, but my advice if you’re looking for fix things is to make the rules expansive and encourage creative play rather than trying to stick everyone in some restrictive box.

Hope the end of this bit comes as a relief.
Rotoman

 

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ASK ROTOMAN: Should I trade Mike Trout?

Dear Rotoman:

ESPN 10 Team 5×5 roto league. Should I trade Mike Trout and Pedro Alvarez for Jacoby Ellsbury and Giancarlo Stanton?

“Fishing”

Dear Fishing:

Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27)No.

In a shallow league the greatest value goes to the most irreplaceable players. Mike Trout is the best outfielder out there, by a lot. He is the only irreplaceable outfielder, and as such is paid a premium (which is what you get when you’re the first draft pick). You don’t want to trade him. Ever. Unless the bounty you reap means you don’t have to ask anyone else whether it makes sense.

Plus, Pedro Alvarez is a third baseman. He’s not an irreplaceable third baseman, per se, but with Ryan Zimmerman and Adrian Beltre on the DL, Alvarez ranks as one of the top six or eight third basemen. He will hit a lot of homers. Since you don’t say how you would replace him it’s hard to judge totally, but in general Alvarez earns a little premium, too, for his position.

Which is not to run down Ellsbury and Stanton, both of whom have plenty of skills. They could conceivably earn more than Trout and Alvarez in any given year, though again, without a discussion of who plays 3B for you it’s hard to figure this. But neither Ellsbury nor Stanton is irreplaceable.

Don’t do it.
Rotoman

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ASK ROTOMAN: Excited to Add Tim Hudson

Dear Rotoman:

I have a chance to add Tim Hudson.  I need to drop a pitcher in order to do this.  Pitchers to drop: Francisco Liriano, Jeff Samardzjia or Zach Wheeler.

Do you think Hudson in better than any of the three listed.  Scoring roto categories are  W, L, ERA, WHIP, Ks and saves.  What do you think.  

“Tim Is On My Side”

Dear TimIOMS:

I like to start with benchmarks. Some expert leagues (CBS, LABR, TW) recently had auctions. How did these guys rate?

Liriano: $15, $10, $14 (my bid price is $8)
Samarzdjia: $11, $9, $13 ($7)
Wheeler: $10, $10, $10 ($6)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow about Hudson?

Hudson: $4, $8, $5 ($8)

The experts leagues don’t like this idea at all, and while I have Hudson a little higher, I’m sure I would prefer Liriano, at least, to Hudson, but your question is whether I’d prefer Hudson to any of them. And clearly in my preseason rankings, I valued Hudson by a little over Wheeler, who may have a bright future ahead of him but entered this season a bit underdeveloped as a ML starting pitcher.

Tim Hudson is an experienced veteran with a long track record of success, but he’s coming back from ankle surgery and he’s 38 years old. Guys recovering in their late 30s are far from sure things, and have to be considered somewhat delicate.

So, you have youth and vigor facing off against age and savvy, and you’re looking for the edge. By my reckoning it’s close. I would give a very slight advantage to Hudson in real baseball, and given the probability that the Giants are going to be the better team all season long, that bumps up to a healthy advantage in a league that puts a value on losses as well as wins.

Not only might the Mets not score so much for Wheeler to win, but that bullpen could lay some hurtful losses on him as well. Still, you’ll be giving up quite a few strikeouts, so make sure you can afford those.

And remember, too, that you’re giving up the sexy young rapids to add a lazy ol’ river. If things go wrong you and me both are going to look a little dum.

Edgily,
Rotoman

 

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ASK ROTOMAN: Is Melky Back On The Juice?

Hi Rotoman:

Four homers in four games, is he back? Is he using the Juice? Or the Clear?

I guess I’m asking if Melky is good, is Melky dirty?

“Supernova”

Dear SuperN:

I know a few things that I think are relevant.

The majority of the players who were suspended for violations in the Biogenesis affair (let’s keep it sexy), never tested positive. They were found out because of the records the clinic kept and the information the Miami New Times dug up. Testing wasn’t working.

Our most biggest PED users, deserved Future Hall of Famers, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, never failed a test (though they were subject to other protocols which suggest they cheated.).

Ryan Spilborghs column about this made it clear that most players don’t want the drugs, but given the money involved, it is not a simple decision to reject them. Especially since some of them promote healing, which is an especially important way to beat the clock.

So let’s recap:

Players will do their best to perform their best, which sometimes includes PEDs.

Many if not most PEDs tests are beatable, or manageable.

What do we have?

Something like a management program. Football could care less about their drug users. For them it is all PR.

Baseball’s PR likes to present the league as vigilant and clean.

But there are clearly a lot of athletes out there in all leagues doing what they need to do to play at the level they’re expected to perform. If they can get an edge from drugs that are illegal but can avoid detection, the bias (a competitive one) is to go for it.

The bottom line is you can’t tell if Melky is the Melkman again because he’s found his groove or because he found a new drug regime. I’m personally not sure whether it’s worthwhile to go too far with conjecture, but I am sure that the athletes we pay millions and scores of millions to will avail themselves of every advantage they can legally find (or they think they can get away with).

Take that to the bank.

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LINK: Zola at FantasyAlarm.com on Saves

Todd keep doing great work. I’ve heard Todd moan about this too often to be surprised by this, but his presentation is clear and keeps moving forward. It feels like he’s overstating the hurtfulness of the bad closers qualitatives, that the real non-save impact value of closers are the strikeouts the best bring, but he’s seen the numbers, which I look forward to at some point.

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