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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
I’m in a 13-team NL-only 5×5 $260 keeper league. We can freeze up to 9 players. List is due Sunday.
I am definitely keeping: Pollock $16, Domingo Santana $2, S Casilla $4, Joe Ross $2, R Iglesias $1, Nola $1.
I need to choose 3 more from the following: Rendon $22, E Suarez $19, Span $13, Kang $7, Peraza $1, H Strickland $2. I’m honestly stumped. Who would you select, Rotoman? Thanks in advance for your time.
Yeah, this is living. Deep league keepers are challenging, and raise all sorts of questions keeper questions that involve only stars don’t. Who would you keep? Mantle or Mays? There is an answer, it’s worth discussing for about 30 seconds before saying, Mays! But really, you’re making me jealous either way.
In deep leagues, one has real decisions to make, and can use expert league prices to start to find answers. Here are your possibles, with their freeze prices compared to their Tout Wars prices:
Rendon: 22, 23 in TW, +1 Suarez: 19, 12 in TW, -7 Span: 13, 14 in TW, +1 Kang: 7, 15 in TW, +8 Peraza: 1, 7 in TW, +6 Strickland: 2, 4 in TW, +2
Step 1, the easy way, would be to declare that Kang, Peraza, and Strickland are the three biggest bargains and be done with it. And you could do that, and it could work out.
Kang, Peraza, and Strickland are also your cheapest choices, and we haven’t yet factored in inflation. I have no idea how much inflation you have, but let’s say it’s 20 percent (a guesstimate based on the prices of the guys you are keeping). Let’s increase the Tout Wars prices by 20 percent and run the chart again:
Rendon: 22, 28 inflated in TW, +6 Suarez: 19, 14 inflated in TW, -5 Span: 13, 17 inflated in TW, +4 Kang: 7, 18 inflated in TW, +11 Peraza: 1, 8 inflated in TW, +7 Strickland: 2,inflated 5 in TW, +3
Once you insert the inflated dollars to your expected draft prices, things get a good deal murkier.
Kang is your obvious keep, even though he’s expected to miss the first month of the season. Your price is good for him and he’s worth holding onto.
Peraza went for $7 to Todd Zola in Tout Wars. Todd was looking for upside buys on which to spend his money late in the auction, when he had the hammer. Peraza is fast and young. He could start the season in the minors, and may not be eligible to be drafted/kept, or he could start the season in center field, subbing for the hurt Billy Hamilton. Then what happens when Hamilton gets healthy?
Span is a solid player at a solid price.
Suarez is a solid player at a bad (for you) price.
Strickland isn’t the closer in San Francisco now, and may not be this year. I think he’s a good closer-in-waiting type to roster, appealing because you already have Casilla and because he could be asked to step up and he has the skills to do the job, but that means he should still be fairly cheap in your auction.
Rendon is healthy, coming off an injury-plagued and disappointing season. He’ll be 26 this year, still young and likely to be very productive. He’s had injury problems all his career, in the pros and college, so you can’t disregard that, but at $22 you get a fair price for him that looks better in an environment of inflated prices.
I would keep Rendon, Span and Kang, they offer pretty sure and solid production, and try to pick up Peraza and Strickland in the endgame. Their prices should not be as inflated as much as the bigger-priced players. And if you don’t get them you’ll find worthy alternatives in your draft pool.
Drafting tonight in a Keeper league, so I’m not sure if you can help me out in time. Get to carry over 4 keepers. Going to keep Donaldson, Correa, and Kershaw. Having a hard time deciding between Sale and Altuve. Suggestions?
“Sale? No Sale?”
Of course you’re having a hard time. Choosing between gold and more gold is no easy matter. There are a few things worth talking about.
The simple fact is that Altuve will be taken in the Top 10, in all likelihood, in a startup (no keepers) league. Altuve is going much earlier in drafts and auctions than Sale is, so keep Altuve.
No matter what pick you have in the first round, by the time the snake gets back to you in the second, in most drafts there is a good chance that Sale will still be there. So keep Altuve.
Except, unless, if, in case, in your league, all the other top pitchers will be kept. If everybody else in your league is keeping two pitchers, or three, it might make sense for you to keep two. So, maybe keep Sale, if that’s the case.
Another case for Sale could be made if you have an early pick in the draft, and might snag Altuve (or someone better) back, and there is a good chance Sale would be gone by the time the snake made its way back to you. Then, keep Sale.
The setup: 12 team 5×5 head to head auction. Cats: BA, R, HR, RBI, Net Steals, Quality Starts + Wins, ERA, K/9, WHIP, Net Saves.
There are 22 periods, so each team plays each other team twice. Most are one week, but four are two weeks, so that all 26 weeks are included. There are also three Roto scoring periods (first 13 weeks/last 13 weeks/all 26 weeks), after each of which the team that finishes first goes 12-0, next team is 11-1, and so on until the last place team is 0-12 (no team finishes 6-6, so there are 12 outcomes). Each half season has a minimum innings requirement of 475, while the full season is 950, just like the other Tout leagues. There is no weekly minimum IP.
The first thing I did to prepare was run straight prices using the 10 categories, as if it was a Roto league. What the numbers said was that three hitters towered above everyone else, both hitters and pitchers. You don’t need me to name them. And one pitcher, who also doesn’t need to be named, ranked far above all the others. What was surprising to me, at least a little, was how many hitters had higher prices than that pitcher.
I decided on a few strategic approaches:
This is a 12 team mixed league. I know that the top players, the players without peer, go for more than their projected value. I was going to price enforce on these sorts of players. I didn’t want to overspend to acquire them, but I wasn’t afraid of paying a good bit to buy them. And I would pay a premium for Clayton Kershaw, who I was sure would go some bit higher than the $33 the program had him at.
This is a head to head league, and it was important to load up on Steals and Saves.
I was not going to roster innings eater type starters who have average or worse K/9 ratios.
The roto component represents 36 of the 168 total points (21 percent), and can’t be ignored. Assuming other teams are trying to find six good categories, and ignoring five, I resolved to be as strong overall as possible across the board, and try to build flexible management into the reserve roster. I wasn’t afraid of Stars and Scrubs in this context, because there are everyday players available in the endgame, and replacements on waivers if someone gets hurt.
How did it go?
Starting pitching went for much more than my pricing model showed. I think this has to be a result of adjustments owners made to reach the IP limit that my model didn’t have programmed in. Kershaw came out early, and I bid him into the high $30s, but he busted into the $40s and I dropped out. I hadn’t yet figured out the impact of the IP limit, and feared that alternative aces, while not as good, might go a good deal cheaper. They went for less than Kershaw, but at a decided premium over my expected prices for starters, who really contribute only in QS+W and IP.
The rush to starting pitching had to take it’s money from somewhere, and that turned out to be mostly relief pitching, and steals. A few owners charged in on top closers, like Kenley Jansen and Wade Davis, but soon after the market collapsed, and we all picked up cheap closers.
The top hitters all went for their straight line prices or better, except for the two stars I bought. That is, they cost as much or more as the value of their projected stats. Since I know the top guys are worth more than their projected stats, I picked off players who were costing less than their projected earnings (which made them good bargains), which is how I ended up with Mike Trout and Paul Goldschmidt.
C: Yasmani Grandal $12. He has some power and gets on base a lot, which makes him a fine choice in an OBP league. He has battled forearm issues all spring, but has had about 440 plate appearances each of the last two years, so there is hope he’ll get over it.
C: Yan Gomes $4. I waited and waited, out of money for a long time, and then went on a streak picking up $4 players. Gomes was one of those. He’s the opposite of Grandal, and will have a poor to ghastly OBP. But he has 20+ homer potential if healthy, and he is healthy right now.
1B: Paul Goldschmidt $47. He was on my sheet at $54, so this feels like a bargain. The fact that Anthony Rizzo also went for $47 makes Goldy feel even cheaper.
3B: Manny Machado $37. In my pregame planning, I’d focused on guys I saw priced in the high $30s, like Machado and Kris Bryant, George Springer and Starling Marte. When Machado didn’t reach his price, I plucked him. There are some solid third basemen down the list, but also quite a few problematic ones. Getting the best, a mere child coming off a massive season, is a treat. Also, OBP hounds, like Machado and Goldschmidt, help offset a guy like Gomes.
CI: Chris Carter $2. His bad contact skills makes him problematic, but he will take walks and hit homers if he can figure out a way to get on the field again. Milwaukee is a team that should be ripe for opportunities, and $2 didn’t cost me elsewhere. If he flounders or loses his job, there will be someone else out there, maybe someone on my reserve.
2B: Dee Gordon $22. No, I don’t believe he’ll hit .333 again. No one does. But given his speed and contact skills he could hit .300. That doesn’t make him a big OBP contributor, but he shouldn’t hurt too badly. Of more concern are all the caught stealings. He’s not that efficient, but if he nets out at 40 or so I think I can live with that at this price.
SS: Brad Miller $3. With a Stars and Scrubs approach, you inevitably have some scrubs. The idea is get ones who have some potential to be really helpful, to ideally bloom on your watch. Miller isn’t a star about to bust out, but he should be a regular presence on the field who hits some homers and takes some walks, plus he will steal a few bases.
MI: Daniel Murphy $2. Another scrub, and one to monitor closely. He usually doesn’t have a lot of homer power or speed, doubles are his game, and he doesn’t walk as much as you would like. Probably fine as a fill in in the odd week, I hope he doesn’t end up spending too much time on my active roster, unless he plans on hitting a homer every day.
OF: Mike Trout $49. He was on my sheet at $51, and, as with Goldschmidt, I would have gladly taken him there or a few bucks higher. That’s the way to play it in shallow mixed leagues. I’m of two minds about whether I would like him to run more again. First mind says, sure! Load up on steals! Other mind says stop sliding headfirst! Stop running, hit more homers!
OF: Jay Bruce $4. This is where one pays for buying superstars. Bruce’s bad average and refusal to go the other way against the shift makes his okay walk rate a little dicey. I’m hoping that he figures things out, a way to compromise between his powerful younger self and his stubbornness of late, since there used to be a power hitter in there. In any case, rooting for a rebound, without a ton of confidence, and will be looking for a replacement. Now.
OF: Wil Myers $4. I had him targeted. He’s post hype at this point, and coming off tough wrist injuries. He could, to be honest, once again disappoint, but what if he gets healthy and reaches some part of his potential? We’re waiting, hoping, praying.
OF: Ender Inciarte $2. Waiting, waiting, gone. I didn’t think he’d come to me at $2, but no one raised, so here he is. The price justifies the buy, really. He’s a contact hitter with good wheels. He may not play against lefties, and that will be a good reason to check matchups closely each week, but at this price he should be a good contributor most weeks. At the same time, I’m hoping I end up not needing him.
OF: Jorge Soler $7. I had a couple of options at this price. Billy Hamilton went for $7 (steals were devalued generally), as did Billy Burns and Delino Deshields. I was looking for power, however, and those prices didn’t fall quite so much. There are some issues with Soler. He was fine last year, but not the explosive breakout the Cubs had hoped for. He’s now in a crowded situation and could platoon with Kyle Schwarber, not because he’s shown weakness either way, but because Schawarber may, and both need to play some. My feeling is that last year’s learning turns into this year’s realization, if the chances come his way. They may not.
UT: Nick Castellanos $2. He’s another young guy who has shown he can hit in the majors, but not yet at the level and with the power that was expected of him. Unlike Soler, he has a line on playing time. He’ll take a walk and I hope he hits more homers, but even if the power doesn’t erupt this yeara he should contribute solid production at a bargain basement price.
P: Jake Arrieta $28. I kept waiting for the price of one of the top line pitchers to drop, but none did. Arrieta was the last one out and he cost just as much as all the rest of them. I’m as happy to have him as any of them, he outearned Kershaw last year, but I would have preferred a little cheaper.
P: Jonathan Papelbon $6. I called him out at $6 and Paul Sporer said in a low voice, “$5.” The room cracked up and nobody had the nerve (or perhaps desire) to bump him. Crickets. Fine by me. He’s not a big strikeout guy anymore, but he’s got the job, it seems, and will earn saves as he has every year since forever. And he does strike guys out.
P: Taijuan Walker $3. He was a target for me because his numbers last year didn’t look that good, but he pitched much better after a rugged start to the season, is young and I would expect him to grow up to be the pitcher he was always expected to be. Maybe this year. He has a pretty good chance to break out, if he can keep the ball in the yard better.
P: David Robertson $11. I had him as the fifth best reliever, The ones ahead of him went for $20, $25, $17, and $8. Oops. Melancon was the $8 buy, and was perhaps punished for having a below-average K/9 and chatter that his job is not secure. Robertson’s job is secure and his ERA last year appears to be inflated by a less than normal strand rate. Now, that could be his fault, but since his velocity and control seem to be undiminished, I look for him to bounce back.
P: Trevor Rosenthal $8. Here’s my counterpart to Melancon, with many more strikeouts. He reined in some of his wildness, and the strikeout punch is still there. Looks like I have three closers.
P: Shelby Miller $2. Last year’s most unlucky breakout returns this year in a worse situation for a pitcher because of Chase Field, his new home. Chase is a bit of a help to lefty hitters and Miller has struggled slightly against lefties, but he has also been strong against righties throughout his career, and last year Chase played tough for righties. He probably won’t have quite as good an ERA this year, but he’s going to win more games. I’m sure of that.
P: Kevin Gausman $3. He has electric stuff at times, and hasn’t always known what to do with it, which has led to too many homers and too many runs. But he’s still learning his trade. More worrisome is shoulder tightness, which emerged on Sunday, after I bought him. He’s the former phenom most dissed this year, for not showing obvious improvement last year after a promising 2014. I see the electric stuff and say, I hope he figures out how to use it this year. There’s a pretty fair chance he will.
P. Brandon Finnegan $1. He showed flashes of dominance and vulnerability in his less than 50 innings in the majors last year, so he represents another flyer with upside potential. The biggest problem for him is his team, which isn’t very good and isn’t likely to get better this year. And his home ballpark is not a friendly one for pitchers, 12 percent more runs are scored there than the average NL park. There’s a good chance this pickup is a year early, but for $1 there’s a big payoff if the timing turns out to be right.
P. Hunter Strickland $1. I’ve been talking about him all winter as a breakout closer in San Francisco, if Santiago Casilla reverts to form (becomes an effective short man in the seventh and eighth innings) and the team prefers Sergio Romo in the eighth, where he has been brilliant most of his career (and very much so in the second half last year, after struggling early). Even if that doesn’t happen he should strike out lots of guys and serve as a replacement during certain weeks when other pitchers have tough matchups.
Reserve: Eddie Rosario. He’s not a huge guy, but the ball jumps off his bat and he’s fast. He makes decent contact, but doesn’t walk enough to help in OBP, which is why he lasted to the reserve round. Since his drug of abuse suspension a while back he’s make solid and consistent strides forward as a player. Here’s hoping that continues.
Reserve: Wilmer Flores. Power-hitting middle infielder who may start the year as the starter because Asdrubal Cabrera is hurt. But Cabrera will likely get healthy, and Flores isn’t a great defensive shortstop anyway. But perhaps more importantly he’s also the backup third baseman, behind the deteriorating David Wright. Not enough walks to use every week, probably, but potentially a lot more valuable with a change in role.
Reserve: Trea Turner. Speedy shortstop was expected to start the season with the Nats until they signed Daniel Murphy to play a position Murphy isn’t very good at, second base, and then hired the youth-phobic Dusty Baker to manage the team. Thus, Turner lasted to the third reserve round. High upside pick, but could end up in the minors for most of the year, too.
Reserve: Jared Eickhoff. He looked very solid in about 50 innings last summer for the Phillies, far better than he had at Triple-A Round Rock before his trade from the Rangers (for Cole Hamels). He wasn’t expected to be an ace, but he starts the season in the rotation coming off that excellent major league stint. He’s got a chance to contribute to my team, because the strikeouts are there.
Reserve: Jesse Hahn. Was pretty solid until he was shut down in August with forearm and shoulder tightness. He says he’s scrapping the slider and will go with more change ups, which could make him a better pitcher or could turn him into a batting practice pitcher. I’m not worried, he’s on reserve.
Reserve: Matt Adams. For now, he’s my power-hitting alternative to Chris Carter and Nick Castellanos. He has to fight his way through a crowd, but don’t expect him to gather any moss.
How is this team? I really have no idea. I haven’t played a 12-team mixed in 13 years, and mocks don’t count for this.
I like my power, like my youth, think I have speed but that’s all relative (meaning it may not be enough), have lots of potential power pitching and good relievers. I look at my opponents and I’m glad that they don’t have Trout, Goldschmidt and Machado, nor Gordon, but they all have some talented players.
My league 8 team AL only 5×5 pitching categories are QS, SV, Holds, K and ERA.
We have had holds for at least seven years. I always struggle with it. Since its a bit of an odd ball category not much is written about it. A hold is a terrible stat, but it brings value to middle relievers. I was wondering if you had any good advice on how to attack Holds?
Holds is a terrible stat, just about as terrible as Saves, though a little worse because a staff can have more holds in a game than Saves, or Wins, for that matter.
But in the fantasy game, holds can have a solid role, as a way to value productive relief pitchers, even if they don’t find their way into the closing job.
What’s curious about your league is that instead of combining Saves and Holds in a single category that values relief pitchers, you’ve split the two imperfect stats so that you have to man two less-than-perfect categories.
The cool thing about that is that you’ll need to roster a closer, and an eighth inning guy, at least, so i guess your question is, how do you identify the eighth inning guy.
Path No. 1: Read many comments from each team’s manager about how he is going to set up his bullpen. Of course you’re going to roster a closer or two, but then also keep an eye on the guys who are identified as setup guys. These are the guys likely to run up high holds totals.
Path No. 2: Identify guys with high strikeout totals and low walk totals. These guys may not be identified by their managers as closers in waiting or setup guys, but they’re likely–if they can keep it up–to be increasingly trusted in game situations, which means they’re likely to add Holds or Saves as the season goes along.
The quirkiness of your rules also means that you can mess around with your roster configuration. Clayton Kershaw plus a roster of high strikeout relievers could finish high in ERA, Holds, and Saves, and in the middle of the pack in Strikeouts, for middle of the pack money. But even if you put together a more traditional staff, high strikeout pitchers are going to help you in Ks and ERA, and maybe Holds and Saves, too.
Past performance and youth are the best predictors of high strikeout rates among relievers.