How did every hitter and pitcher stand at the end of each month this season? The ups and downs in numbers…
Get the whole spreadsheet here.
How did every hitter and pitcher stand at the end of each month this season? The ups and downs in numbers…
Get the whole spreadsheet here.
A few years after I joined the American Dream League I had a decent season and finished in fourth place. I’d battled pitcher injuries and failures all year long, and had the sense that–in this 4×4 league–I was losing ground in wins. I had struggled valiantly to hang in there.
A few days after the season was over I received (in the mail! that’s how long ago this was) the final report from Heath Data, which confirmed the numbers those of us who were in the hunt got when we updated the stats each day manually during the final week. I wasn’t happy about the result, but I was glad to be in the money. But then I looked at the report that Heath called the hypothetical standings, based on our teams’ rosters coming out of the draft, as if we’d made no moves all season long. The hypotheticals are a good way to look at the team you were dealt, as it were. If you suffered a lot of injuries or PEDs suspensions that year your team would suffer in the hypotheticals.
But the draft day hypotheticals are also a good way to see how you played during the year. If you suffered a lot of injuries but turned your poor hypothetical showing into a strong real showing, you did good. Or vice versa, which is what happened to me in that long ago year. In fact, when I looked more closely, I discovered that if I ranked my draft day stats in the actual end of year standings against the actual non-hypothetical stats of the other ADL teams, I’d bought enough stats in the draft to have won the league. Another way to put it: if a safe fell on my head as I left the draft at O’Reilly’s that year, I would have finished first even with the other teams picking up injury replacements and making trades all season long.
Instead I had finished fourth. I found this to be profoundly depressing.
I bring this up now because something similar is happening in the American Dream League this year. onRoto.com, our current stats service, sensibly offers up hypothetical standings all season long. Push a button and you get the draft day standings up to that date. I was aware all season long that I was hypothetically doing much better than I was in the real game, but I chalked that up to a disastrous series of moves I made back in May. That was when I traded Elvis Andrus and Junichi Tazawa for Justin Verlander. I knew I had a big surplus in steals and I thought adding the best pitcher in baseball would help my team. I was able to leverage Tazawa’s presumed role of closer to swing the deal, and was glad to see my hunch pay off and Tazawa didn’t hold the job. Unfortunately, Verlander didn’t do the job–perhaps distracted by girls–but that wasn’t my mistake. I made the right move but it didn’t work out. My actual mistake came from the blind side.
At that point in the season, mid May, my pitcher Felix Doubront was looking dismal. His velocity was down, his control stunk, his ERA was something above 6.00 with a giant WHIP. I had liked him a lot coming into the season, but I despaired that he was damaged and killing my pitching stats. Also, a few weeks before, I’d picked up Cleveland’s Corey Kluber, who had looked like a strong strikeout pitcher with good skills for a few games, but then he got pounded in a game and his ERA ballooned up above six, too. Which pitcher would he be going forward? I figured with Verlander and Shields I didn’t need the risk.
Another factor was our rule that teams that don’t get seven saves during the season get zero points in the saves category. This isn’t a huge deal, but points are points and having just traded Tazawa, who I assumed would get a few, I was scouring the waiver wire and found two potential sources in Oliver Perez in Seattle, where Tom Wilhelmsen was struggling, and fireballer Josh Leuke in Tampa Bay, where Fernando Rodney had suddenly gone all, um, historical-Rodney-like with his control. I decided to go after these putative closers, deciding to release Doubront and Kluber–who each had two-starts against tough teams coming up that week–if I got them (another rule we have limits you to three Special Reserves a season of players who aren’t on the DL or in the minors). I got them.
Both Doubront and Kluber pitched surprisingly well in their four games that week, but to my satisfaction didn’t win any of them. The next week I made a substantial bid on Kluber but was beat out. I didn’t bid on Doubront because I was still convinced he was damaged, but he soon showed he wasn’t. He immediately, punishingly, became the pitcher I had frozen to start the year, thinking, hoping, I had a major breakout candidate. Kluber pitched very well until he got hurt, and certainly would have helped my staff a lot if I’d Special Reserved him, and until a rough patch in September, Doubront was excellent. Perez and Leuke turned out to be nothing, which is why I thought pitching was the problem with my team. But when I looked more closely at the hypotheticals today, they show something different:
My team has 14 fewer homers and 18 fewer steals now than I bought on draft day. I do have 18 more wins, but my ERA and WHIP are both higher than the team I bought back then, even after trading for Verlander. That’s in part because when Verlander was on my team he had a 3.91 ERA, just barely better than my team’s, and a hurtful 13.24 Ratio. (I subsequently traded him for Chris Sale, who will be a decent freeze next spring.) But the real damage to my team came to my offense, which was the result of a series of trades with which I intended to add homers and batting average.
Following Andrus and Tazawa for Verlander and Marwin Gonzalez I did the following:
I traded Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Zunino for Alex Rios, Ryan Lavarnway and John Jaso. Rios had 10 homers and 10 steals at that point, Ellsbury 1 homer and 24 steals, and didn’t hit for much power last year. I needed homers badly, I thought, even though I expected the weakling speed-corner Hosmer to hit a few and the feckless DH Butler to get going at some pointuy-=. Nothing happened for a week, and then Rios started running like crazy and hit no homers for the 89 at bats I had him for. Ellsbury went crazy and hit .350 over the next month, with a few homers, and has now hit seven homers for the Peppers. I needed catcher at bats, too, and while Lavarnway was a long shot Jaso was getting them. Zunino was not hitting in Triple-A, so who knew when he’d get the call, and even if he did, he might not hit .200.
Five weeks later I traded Rios, Tommy Milone and Jimmy Paredes for Ian Kinsler, Erasmo Ramirez and Leury Garcia. Kinsler would surely hit some homers, I thought, and with him and Zobrist and Asdrubal Cabrera my infield was pretty strong. There was a lot of griping in the league about the Milone for Ramirez component, the team that got Milone badly needed pitching and had for some reason had been talking up Ramirez up like a huckster, but I thought there was a pretty good chance Ramirez would be the better of the two the rest of the way. I wanted him in the deal and I was right, though Milone set a low bar landing in the minors for most of the second half.
A few weeks later I traded the newly FAAB-acquired speedster Jonathan Villar for Derek Jeter, who was just back off the DL. That didn’t work out, since the Captain proved unable to play, but I’m still second in steals at this point, so it wasn’t too costly.
The problem is that if I’d stuck with my draft day team I would have seven points in HR, instead I have two, and I would have 12 points in BA, instead I have eight. My draft day team inserted into the current real world standings against the actual stats of the other ADL teams would have 60 points, a solid fourth place, instead of 52 and a mad six-team scramble for places four through nine.
That team includes Al Albuquerque, Jake Arrieta and Brett Anderson, active all year, as well as Tommy Milone and Fernando Martinez a big hole on offense. Just adding Cory Kluber to the mix for Arrieta (AL stats only) and sticking with it would move the team up a few points and into solid contention with the BBs, Veecks and Jerrys for the championship. Yeesh.
The real mystery is how did I add 225 AB on the year and lose 14 homers (and seven RBI) and .007 of BA when what I was trying to do was add homers and BA? The answer is timing.
In 470 or so AB for my team, Jacoby Ellsbury, Elvis Andrus and Ryan Flaherty hit one homer. In 900 at bats not for my team, that trio has hit 19 homers. Plus Alex Rios, who hit zero homers in the 90 AB while I had him, hit 11 in the 246 AB before I acquired him, and six in the 250 at bats since I traded him. There was a power outage at Bad K Park this year, to be sure, and to catch up I churned the waiver and FAAB wires, trying to add homers, and didn’t succeed while damaging my BA.
The result is that rather than fighting with three other teams for the money spots, I’m in a wrangle with six teams for fourth place. I’m not sure what the lesson of this is. I played aggressively and got burned by bad timing. Verlander’s ERA when I traded for him was 3.17. For me he was 3.91. Since I traded him he’s been 3.74, but his WHIP during since I traded him was by far his best of the year (1.15). Whether or not it was my fault, clearly my activity was damaging.
Maybe next year I’ll practice stillness, and see how that works out.
The Fantasy Football Guide 2013 is out now. I’ve seen it in many stores and you can buy the online or pdf versions at thefantasysportsguide.com.
This year’s Guide is full of sharp opinions, considered analysis and clear charts and stats all designed to help you prepare for your fantasy drafts this year. We even resisted the temptation to put Aaron Hernandez on the cover, so rest assured we did a lot of things right. Every year, please believe me, we put additional resources into getting things right, and we’re getting better each year I think, though there can still be the occasional headscratcher.
One big thing I screwed up this year has nothing to do with football, but is so elementally wrong I feel compelled to cop to the error here and I hope clear the air.
Each year my old buddy Jon Glascoe writes a piece for the back page of the Guide. His tone is usually comic, his subjects usually bit dark (but funny), and his writing glib and conversational and a bit philosophical. I’m always pleased to have his voice in the Guide, as I was this year.
But alas, in editing his piece called The New Male Manifesto Edition I judged that his last line paraphrase of Dylan Thomas’s hugely famous poem Do not go gentle into that good night would be improved by direct quotation.
So I changed Jon’s “Rage against the dying of the light,” to “Do not go gentle into that dark night/Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Good idea, but the actual quote is:
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
What has been done cannot be undone, but I just want to be clear that this was my error, introduced into Jon’s copy. And I’m all apologies.
Ps. If you would like to read the whole poem you can do so at Poets.org. Thomas is great to read out loud, but there is also a recording of the poet reading the poem, which isn’t in keeping with current styles but is powerful nonetheless.
Pps. I didn’t think this particular poem had much to say about football, but then there is this stanza:
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Perhaps Aaron Rodgers should be worried.
Q: I need starting pitching (Sale, Cobb, Roberto Hernandez, Wade Davis, and Esmil Rogers) and have a pretty balanced team offensively. I was offered Hisashi Iwakuma for either Alexei Ramirez or Shane Victorino. I’m inclined to do Ramirez even though I don’t have a ton of speed. The only thing holding me back is Iwakuma’s last bunch of starts in which he’s been giving up a lot of home runs. Would you do this in an AL 5×5 league?
A:: Iwakuma is on pace for a $30+ year, while both Ramirez and Victorino are clocking less than $20. On pure value I think you should make the deal. There is always the chance that a pitcher is going to run out of gas, and Iwakuma has now pitched more innings this year than he did last year. He’s not a stone lock to dominate the rest of the way.
But the fact of the matter is that the homers Iwakuma has allowed this month were to Adrian Beltre (2) in Texas, Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Mark Trumbo. Those are three tough offensive teams and some tough hitters. I think you can cut him some slack on that one.
And a guy who has pitched as well as Iwakuma has the last 400 days or so (maybe the best pitcher in baseball over that span) can’t usually be had for Alexei Ramirez or Shane Victorino. So, I think you have to do it if you need pitching and can afford to give up the steals (maybe even dump the category). There’s no guarantee, but there’s not enough evidence against him to ignore how effective he’s been (and even if he falls off a fair amount he’ll be worth more than those guys).
If you trade Ramirez, Victoryno should be yours.
The challenge on draft day is to buy a guy at his price, what everyone expects him to earn, and then get all the production that comes with a breakout season. In other words, much more than you paid for. This year, the biggest breakouts on offense have been Jean Segura, Chris Davis, Josh Donaldson, Nate McLouth, Everth Cabrera, Daniel Nava, Manny Machado, Domonic Brown, Matt Carpenter and James Loney (with honorable mention to Yasiel Puig and Carlos Gomez). What should you expect from them going ahead?
Jean Segura. He cost $15 in Tout Wars and earned his owner $41 in the first half. After a hot start hitting with power his SLG has declined each month, but his July BA is .314 after a .277 June. It was expected his wheels would earn him his pay, and they have, but it was the power surge that bumped him to the top of this list. He’s got 24 steals with only four CS. Given our expectations going into the season versus his red hot first two months, it seems reasonable to expect about a .300 BA with four homers and another 15 steals. That’s a very good shortstop.
Chris Davis. Cost $20 in Tout Wars, and earned $45 in the first half. After a couple of promising seasons in Texas, Davis failed for long enough that just about everyone became skeptical about him, but now after proving himself as capable last year, he’s pushing into new territory for just about everyone this year. He was on pace for 62 homers at the midway point, and has hit six more since. The big issues here are gravity and opportunity. Can he remain aloft for much longer? And will he get fewer chances to hit, as teams work around him? He’s hitting more fly balls than ever, and hitting homers on 36 percent of his fly balls. That’s not sustainable in the long run. Still, even if his homer per rate falls to last year’s rate he’s got something like 20 homers coming the rest of the way. (Note: He tore a callous during the HR Derby, an event which has a history of messing up power hitters. The injury isn’t supposed to be a big deal, but anything that affects a hitter’s hands shouldn’t be ignored.)
Josh Donaldson. Went for $10 in Tout Wars, was earning $22 at midseason. Expectations were low because he really didn’t produce last year and with the addition of Jed Lowrie playing opportunities appeared to be limited in Oakland. Instead, Donaldson has confidently established himself as a power hitter, with an increased walk rate and a decrease in strikeouts. His BABIP and HR/FB are higher than ever before, and it seems likely he’ll end up hitting .280 rather than .310, but it also appears he’s made the adjustment to big league pitching. Now it’s up to the pitchers to block him back. Unless they succeed, look for 12 homers and a .275 BA the rest of the way.
Nate McLouth. Only $3 in Tout Wars, at the midway point he was earning $25. For those who noticed his strong September in 2012 and picked him up for a song this spring, April was very sweet. Since then, he’s been a bargain for the price, but not one of the best offensive players in the game. That’s the player you should expect the rest of the way. His past history has a $30 and $20 season in it, but those were a long time ago. Expect him to hit less than .260 with four homers and 14 steals.
Everth Cabrera. He went for $17 in Tout Wars, and was earning $33 on July 1 despite spending time on the DL. Last year he had a low BA with a high BABIP, which seemed to be a warning, but this year he has the same BABIP and a good BA. His basestealing skills are for real and are rare. He still led the league in steals after missing three weeks with a hammy strain. He’s stolen three bases in the week since he returned, so all seems to be okay on that count. Expect 25 to 30 steals and a BA somewhere between .250 and .300.
Daniel Nava. Was taken in the reserve round in Tout Wars, by Larry Schechter, and at midseason was earning $20. When he was pressed into action in 2012 he impressed at first, but then inevitably slumped some and his season ended in injury. Nava, who is 30 years old, was forgotten after the Red Sox signed Victorino and Jonny Gomes. We would do well to remember that when teams sign someone like Gomes, a power platoon player, they also create an opportunity for someone else. Nava got his chance and ran with it this year, with additional chances because of Victorino’s injuries. Nava has been much the same player this year as last, a mature hitter without special skills, who will hit with a little power (figure six homers) and post a .765 OPS (and .265 BA).
Manny Machado. He cost $14 in Tout Wars last March, and was earning $32 after the first half of the season. Promoted aggressively last year, he’s bloomed this year as a hitter. He’s a free swinger who makes plenty of contact, which thus far has led to a high BABIP and nice BA. The danger here is not that he isn’t capable of making contact and running for a good BA, at least for a while, but it’s a hard thing to pull off for an extended period because pitchers are always looking for a way to exploit your aggressiveness. He should hit another 6-8 homers, with a batting average that could range from .250 to .300 or so, though I would plan on the lower end of the range and hope to be pleasantly surprised.
Domonic Brown. He went for $14 in Tout Wars, and had earned $31 at the halfway point this season. He was a can’t-miss prospect, the scouts said a few years ago, but to those of us who saw him hit (and didn’t see the projectability), he looked like a looming bust. And that’s the way he continued to look the last two years, with dismal stints in Philadelphia punctuating not-great stints in Triple-A. But when I saw him in spring training early in March he struck me as a different hitter, with a shorter stroke and a willingness to go the other way. Others saw the same thing, and though his role was entirely clear he went for a decent price for a guy who had lost his prospect luster. A slow start got everyone doubting, but when he exploded he blew up and by the end of May he was earning $28. He’s improved that in June, and though July has been quieter one senses we’re simply waiting for the next hot streak. If has just one more, look for 14 or so homers the rest of the way, but he’s a prime candidate for a huge September when rosters expand in September.
Matt Carpenter. Tout Wars went to $14 for him, and in the first half he’s earned $25. Questions about playing time kept his price down a little, and had some of us thinking his Tout price was an overbid. Wrong. Carpenter was rightly given the job at second base (when David Freese is able to play) and he’s pretty much performed as he did last year, only with middle infield eligibility. He’s got a higher batting average and a smidge more power, but that should be expected with more experience, shouldn’t it? Figure the BA will come down to .290-.300 the rest of the way and otherwise expect more of the same.
James Loney. Tout Wars price: $8, with midseason earnings of $25. Please indulge my personal grouse here: The last two years I bought Loney for what seemed like discount prices given his history of earnings, and he failed me. This year I let him go for cheap to the Tampa homer, and Loney’s back to being the dude he always was (and the Tampa homer is in first place by a lot). I hate that. Actually, Loney has been more than he’s been in the past, showing more power in Tampa than he had in LA all those years. He’s actually hitting fewer fly balls and more line drives this year, but his percentage of balls leaving the yard is up to a healthy 11 percent. My guess is that this reflects a better more aggressive approach, and as long as he stays focused and motivated earnings in the $20-25 range are sustainable. That means another six or seven homers, but probably with an average closer to .290-.295.
Two Short Notes:
Yasiel Puig‘s hot start is an illusion. It’s fantastic fun, but obviously he’s not going to hit .391 while striking out 24 percent of the time. It’s really hard to tell where he’s going to land, however, and how hard he’s going to fall. Based on the strikeouts and ground balls, I’d expect him to hit .270 the rest of the way, with 10-12 homers, but that’s really just a WAG. If the pitchers figure out the swing sooner he could be in the minors just like that.
Carlos Gomez has added power the last two years, is still fast, and is way over his head right now in BA. Line drive percentage suggests he should perhaps be hitting for a slightly higher average, but he’s currently got a BABIP .040 points above his career number. The power and speed are real, but his batting average should come down closer to .260 the rest of the way.
Chris Davis’s three month scan: $43, $45, $45. Could he be for real?
Matt Harvey’s scan: $38, $42, $46. Where does it end?
See all the prices here.
Patrick Davitt kindly asked me for a return appearance, which isn’t why I think he’s a very smart guy and an excellent interviewer.
Picking Delmon Young as a guy to buy, and having him follow through with six RBI tonight makes me want to wear my swami hat full time. The more interesting part of the show focused on administering leagues, dealing with zombie teams and starting a rock and roll website called Rock ‘n’ Roll Remnants.
Enjoy! I hope.
The last six weeks was spent immersed in football, which is why this is way late. But still a little useful I hope.
Who is earning what in 5×5 roto? To find out please check out the first monthly earnings report of 2013.
These prices add up to draft day prices for the top 168 hitters and top 108 pitchers in each league. Compare expectations to earnings for an idea about which player’s are driving the winning teams in your league, and the failing teams, too.
Should I drop BJ Upton and take Erick Aybar? Upton has not hit anything.
The last three years BJ Upton has earned $20, $24 and $24. Erick Aybar has earned $13, $13 and $18.
Going into this season I expected Upton would be worth paying $27 for, while I priced Aybar at $18.
Upton is a little younger than Aybar, but both are in their late 20s, pretty much prime time for established players, which both of them are.
So far Upton has earned -$1, while Aybar has earned $1 after missing 15 days on the DL with a sore heel.
Since we’re just a month into the season, recent performance is really not a trusted indicator of performance the rest of the season, unless we can find a reason for Upton’s problems that suggest something new. So, what has changed since last year?
Well, he’s playing on a new team in a different league, so maybe there are some familiarity issues, with ballparks and pitchers, but one of the reasons for bumping his price was that he was moving from a pitcher’s park to a neutral run environment for his home games. That should offset, at least partly.
He’s been seeing the usual mix of pitches but hasn’t been getting ahead in the count quite as much as he did last year, but the difference isn’t great and he hasn’t hit when he’s been ahead. When he does hit the ball he’s hitting more ground balls and fewer flies and line drives, but these differences aren’t huge.
Upton has always been a hitter who works the count, walks a fair amount but strikes out a lot, leading to a low batting average. If that doesn’t bother you, however, he has good speed and home run power (which is no doubt why you rostered him). The alarming thing is that he’s striking out more this year than he ever has before (31 percent versus 25 percent of plate appearances).
The bottom line here, however, is that despite his struggles Upton is on pace to hit 18 homers and steal 18 bases, and he’s not going to hit .143 the rest of the way. If he’s struggling because he’s facing a fresh set of pitchers and/or because he’s carrying the burden of a big new contract, as the season goes along he’s going to get more familiar with the league and the parks and the hurlers, and the contract will become a lot less new. So figure he’ll bounce back, at least partly, and hit about .220 with 15-20 homers and 15-20 steals, and hope for more and better (which is what he’s done historically).
Erick Aybar will hit for a better average, figure about .290 or so, and steal a comparable number of bases, but he’s likely to hit fewer homers. Figure him for 5-10, more are unlikely.
At this point, who do you like? If batting average matters you probably should have bought Aybar on draft day, but obviously context changes as the season goes on (especially when you’re carrying someone who is hitting .140). Aybar will deliver a decent to good batting average, but not the counting numbers overall that Upton is likely to. But Upton does carry the threat of total failure this year. It does happen, especially with low contact-type hitters (see Adam Dunn’s 2011), so if you want to play it safe Aybar might be the better choice for you.
I would stick with Upton because of the potential upside, the one that I saw on draft day. But if BA matters to you Aybar could prove more valuable even if Upton bounces back. That’s the decision you’ll have to make based on your lineup.
Ps. I found this preseason poll at fantasypros.com.