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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Bolick’s Guide to Fantasy Baseball Prospects, Out on iBooks!

bolickbaseball2014 coverIt took a while, but Bolick’s Guide to Fantasy Baseball Prospects is now available on iBooks, for the iPhone and iPad.

Read more about the book at www.booknoise.net/Bolick or go directly to the iBook Store.

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ASK ROTOMAN: Wacha Flocka Cashner?

Hi Rotoman -

Can you explain how prices sometimes do not coordinate with projections? For example below are your projections for Cashner and Wacha:

Cashner: 10 W, 3.53 ERA, 149 K, 1.24 WHIP
Wacha: 9 W, 3.45 ERA, 173 K, 1.16 WHIP

Yet you have Cashner at $16 and Wacha at $8.

Could the difference be perceived risk?

“Wacha Flaka Cashner”

Dear WFC:
In the Fantasy Guide, the projections are a starting point. They’re based on past performance rates regressed toward the mean, with some manual adjustments, scaled to a rough estimate of playing time (which is also regressed). The Projections are my attempt to describe a player using numbers. I hope that they give a sense how hittable a guy is, what sort of control he has, does he hit for average, can he run, that sort of thing.

The Big Prices in the Guide are my attempt to fix a guy’s value against the market. The prices are meant to be advice on who to buy and who to not buy. Essentially, I try to set the price on guys I expect to do well a buck or two higher than their “market” price. And guys I have concerns about, I set a buck or two lower.

It is important to note that the Prices add up to the budget for a 12-team AL or NL league with $260 budget per team. The reason to budget this way is because it helps you track the spending during the auction. If guys are going for more than the bid prices, you know that there are going to be bargains later. If guys are going for less? A bubble is born.

Now, let’s fast forward to March 15. That’s the day I posted the updated projections and prices here, for purchasers of the Guide. The adjusted projections were:

Cashner: 184 IP, 3.54 ERA, 10 W, 149 K, 1.14 WHIP
Wacha: 172 IP, 3.77 ERA, 11 W, 163 K, 1.24 WHIP

Now here’s the interesting part. The price for Cashner in 5×5 is $16. The price for Wacha is $15. But if you translate the above to dollar values, Cashner’s line is worth about $17, while Wacha’s is worth $8.

What happened?

Two things. As we hurtled toward the baseball season I learned that the market for Wacha is red hot. People consistently have him valued higher than Shelby Miller, which I think is a little wacky. It turns out that he tends to be going in the $16-$18 range in startup auctions. If I kept him at my pessimistic $8 price, it would look like a massive overpay when he went for twice that on draft day. But it isn’t really. The low end of the market for Wacha is $16, and I don’t want him at that.

Cashner, on the other hand, is a guy I want at $16. I mean, I’d rather have him at $14, and that’s been his average price this preseason, ranging from $13 to $15, but if I have to go $16 I’m okay with that.

The other thing I did was tinker with the projections to better reflect my perceptions about these two.

Wacha was a fastball/changeup guy last year. That’s it. An excellent fastball, a tough change, and early success, but it’s really hard to sustain a high level of success over multiple times through the lineup with just two pitches. No matter how good they are. My pessimism derives from the limited arsenal and the good chance that as major league scouts and hitters get repeated looks at him, there is going to be some payback.

The reason why most everyone thinks I’m wrong is because Wacha has added a curveball, which he threw a fair amount in his first start this year, and a cutter, which he didn’t throw much. It’s early, the pitches are new, and so there’s a lot we know. If he adds them effectively, he will become every bit the ace he looked like late last year. My bet is there is going to be some adjusting and he’s going to have some rough starts. So I think he’ll allow more hits and runs. We’ll see.

Cashner, on the other hand, is older, more experienced, has a more traditional fastball/slider/change repertoire already in place. I like him being at least as good as he was last year, when he earned $17.

The final word is that this process is one that consists of information, generated by the players that play, the press that follows them and tells the world what happened, and the numbers that describe what they did. This information is distilled by analysts as it comes in and added to both the projection, something of a description of average talent levels, and the market, which filters it all through the lens of risk and reward, which leads to bid values.

The whole process stops, for a few seconds at least, the moment the auctioneer says Sold! And then it starts all over again.

 

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Introducing: Bolick’s Guide to Fantasy Baseball Prospects

bolickbaseball2014 coverJD Bolick has been writing rookie and draft analysis for the Baseball and Footaball Guides since shortly after the beginning.

He came to me this year and wanted to do a Rookie Guide for Fantasy Baseball Prospects that we might sell as an eBook and other formats.

We didn’t get this together until too late in March, and then it turned out that Apple and Amazon add their own delays, so we’re just appearing today.

You can find the eBook for Kindle here. You can Look Inside the book there and get a taste of it. There are also sample profiles at www.booknoise.com/Bolick

There will be an Apple version soon, I hope. They seem to take longer to approve. And I’m going to post a pdf version here, in case you don’t want to go through the big stores.

If you didn’t buy because of the price or any other reason, please let us know at askrotoman (at) gmail.com. If there is anything you would like to see added, send that to that email address, too.

I think we have a great first draft, hitting the stands too late. But you should be able to tell most of what you need to know by the preview Inside the Book at Amazon. We want to get your $3 next time.

Thanks.
Peter

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Brain Walton On Doubt Wars! Sign Up Soon!

We’re running a contest over at toutwars.com. You shadow draft an AL, NL and/or Mixed Doubt Wars team based on the prices paid in last weekend’s Tout Wars auctions plus $1.

Brian Walton of Mastersball explains it all in his story here.

Come play with us!

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Let Me Count The Ways.

Screenshot 2014-03-24 10.38.34 In my prep for Tout Wars this year, the biggest question was what sort of impact the switch to On Base Percentage from Batting Average was going to have.

After all, we have years of creating player values based on BA and some players change value quite a lot–up and down–with the change. Mike Gianella said he didn’t think prices would change much, while my research showed that players who walked a lot saw a big increase in value. Why wouldn’t prices go up? Especially since a player’s walk rate is relatively predictable compared to batting average.

I decided to price the top OBP guys a step lower than my calculated price for them using OBP, deciding to buy whoever I was able to buy under my listed price. The idea being that I would buy bargains, and if guys like Joey Votto and Andrew McCutchen didn’t get the full bump up in price they logically should have, then they represented real bargains.

That is what happened.

THE STARS

Early in the draft, I just kept buying. Votto came out first. I had him on my sheet at $39, but he was the player with the biggest OBP value because of his incredible eye. I bid $38 and won him. We were off. ($paid/$budget)

Joey Votto, $38/$39. The premier OBP player. I couldn’t let him go to someone else for $37. I couldn’t. And maybe he’ll have a few more runners in scoring position, if the $22 Billy Hamilton proves a bargain.

Andrew McCutchen, $38/$40. The premier OBP outfielder. Remember, I considered these bid prices to be fairly conservative.

Hanley Ramirez, $30/$36. Big OBP boost, yet he went for his 5x5BA price. The big thing is he’s one of 10 good shortstops.

Troy Tulowitzki, $30/$36. I was ecstatic about adding the top two shortstops, both with no bump up of price for their good OBP skills. Each brings a certain amount of injury risk and a certain amount of ability to produce big numbers in limited playing time.

Madison Bumgarner, $25/$26. The pitching prices were pretty fair. My plan was to buy one ace or maybe two near aces. I did not want to get caught up buying midlevel guys. Buy a closer, and then round out the rotation and the reserve list with <$5 guys. I chose Bumgarner, though when Jordan Zimmermann went for $18 I regretted not taking him and Matt Cain, who went for $20. Those were the two best bargains by my lights. But that would have driven up my pitching budget a little. My goal was to spend as little on pitching as I could get away with, and use the extra dough for hitting.

Ryan Zimmerman, $24/$30. I was kicking myself for letting David Wright go at $29 (I had him at $33), but I decided I couldn’t buy them all. Still, that was an excellent price. But I also knew that after Wright and Zimmerman the NL third basemen are a motley group. Who is Chase Headley? How long can Aramis Ramirez last? Is Pablo Sandoval going to show up? Can Pedro Alvarez make enough contact? There are a few guys eligible at both second and third, like Martin Prado and Matt Carpenter, who are less dicey if not much more talented. And that’s it. The bidding on Zimmerman made it easy. He went for his BA price, but he’s a OBP contributor.

Martin Prado, $22/$23. At this point I didn’t need Martin Prado necessarily, but I did need a second baseman, and I liked that Prado qualified at both second and third. But I didn’t really think I was getting him. Usually the bidding moves quickly until it slows, and then it inches forward a few more dollars. In this case, there was a flurry and didn’t expect my bid to stand, but suddenly the room went quiet.

Yasmani Grandal, $10/$11. We really don’t know what Grandal can be, because of the injuries and drug suspensions, but we do know he’ll take a base on balls. Catcher is a position that drops off so suddenly that I prefer to not scrape the bottom of the barrel (though that works sometimes). I had identified Grandal as a guy with a strong OBP, which should be a plus even if he doesn’t play as much as I hope he does.

Ryan Doumit, $7/$9. He should play regularly, has some power, and was relatively inexpensive. Only a star in comparison to my scrubs.

Rafael Soriano, $13/$13. I never used to buy closers because I thought they were overpriced, which works out great if you’re able to pick off one of the closers that emerge early in the year. But if you miss out on that, not buying a closer means that if any other category becomes an issue, you’re suddenly tanking two, which is not a very comfortable position to be in. So last year I bought a closer, but Kyuji Fujikawa fell apart shortly after gaining the role. I’m hoping Soriano fares better. He’s certainly better established, though he struggled at times last year.

SCRUB HITTERS

Nate McLouth, $5/$11. His batting average hurts you in the BA game, but in OBP his value increases. He set a career high in steals last year, but is devalued because he’s getting older. I’m hoping for 450 at bats, with some homers. I’ve seen projections for 250 AB, but why sign him for two years if that’s the expectation? At this price, he fit my team.

Gregor Blanco, $2/$8. He doesn’t have much power, but he runs and he takes walks, so whatever his batting average he contributes. Like McLouth, he’s not a regular but should fill in regularly and put up 400 at bats or so.

Brian Bogusevic, $1/$1. He bats lefty, and could get a fair amount of play until Marcel Ozuna is called up. He has a little power and speed, and I certainly hope I can improve on him soon.

Derek Dietrich, $1/$4. Earlier last week I mocked him. He doesn’t have the contact skills to hit for a high average, but he does have some power and, more importantly, he seems to be ahead of Donovan Solano on the Marlins’ depth chart backing up Rafael Furcal. What I wasn’t aware of was that he took a ball in the face last week and suffered a fracture, which will have him wearing a plastic face guard for some time.

Kris Bryant, $1/R1. I’m not convinced he’s going to hit, at least not at first, but he was the blue chip third base prospect available in dollar days. There will be some guys available on waivers to replace him. The biggest issue is that I also took a minor league pitcher as Swingman, and with four reserve slots it will be a challenge to manage this productively.

SCRUB PITCHERS

Wily Peralta, $4/$5. Hard-throwing sinkerballer hasn’t put it together yet, which is why he was available for $4. At this part of the auction I was looking for arms that might get a fair number of innings with some potential to break out or surprise a little. If Peralta realizes a bit of his potential he’ll be a big plus for my team.

Tanner Roark, $3/$7. This was a tough situation. I really wanted Jenry Mejia, but I had no way to gauge the temperature of the room. I had Roark ranked similarly, which was high enough to expect half a year of solid pitching with questions about his role to start the season. He’s had a good spring, and I’m hoping to hit with all my lottery tickets.

Vic Black, $2/$2. A good young arm is the likely Closer in Waiting to Bobby Parnell. This was off plan, but seemed like a good bet despite his bad spring.

Jake Arrieta, $1/$4. My AL-only friends will tell you how long I’ve been waiting on Arrieta. He pitched pretty well once he landed in Chicago and the National League last year, but was cheap because there isn’t a clear rotation slot for him.

Edwin Jackson, $1/$2. His FIP has been below 4.00 forever, while the ERA bounced around. Not an elite strikeout guy, but good enough to earn some profits.

Freddy Garcia, $1/$1. There really isn’t much justification for this pick here, except that he pitched well in short spurts last year, especially in the NL, and has a shot at the rotation in Atlanta to start the season. But realistically he’s a placeholder, especially since he was released while I was writing this.

Paul Maholm, $1/$1. Another back of the rotation veteran starter, though he has the first third of an inning pitched for my team in relief, down under, and has delivered a 0.00 ERA. Obviously, I hope one of these three veterans comes through.

Andrew Heaney, $1/Res. High upside arm, will start the year in the minors. It’s going to be hard to hang onto him and Kris Bryant on reserve, as I try to improve me team, but after a good spring, he’s a fair shot at a callup in June. He’s got great stuff and could succeed immediately.

RESERVES

Arodys Vizcaino. Another great arm, he’s coming back from TJ two years ago and is almost ready.

Will Smith. I love his arm and he showed last year that he can pitch, at least out of the pen. Not sure about the role going forward, but he’ll throw lots of strikeouts and has the potential to push himself forward.

A.J. Cole. He was brilliant in Double-A last year, and it’s hard to see a clear line to the majors right now, but he’s a big mature-for-his-age talent.

Tyler Colvin. I circled Pedro Strop on my sheet, but when it was my turn I called Colvin. He’s really a bad player, but both times I’ve had him he’s been a big money maker. A bad player having a bad spring is not an inspiration, but rarely is a fourth round reserve an inspiration.

DO I LIKE MY TEAM?

It’s hard not to like all those stars, and while it wasn’t my plan to buy them all, I did go in aware that this might happen.

And I’m not unhappy with the outfielders. They are a serviceable lot considering the strength of my middle infield.

The challenge will be to convert the “undervalued” OBP into counting stats and at bats, plus improving the pitching staff. If one or two of these guys doesn’t end up pitching well, I’m going to have to find some value out there by trade or FAAB.

In other words, I have a valuable and solid foundation, but there is a lot of work to do to get the structure built.

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ASK ROTOMAN: Quentin or Morse?

Hi Rotoman:

I’m looking through ADP and I can anticipate a problem deciding between Carlos Quentin and Mike Morse. How should I go?

“Buyers Remorse”

Dear BR:

Go elsewhere!

These two guys are not hitters you want to be making an investment in. Morse is the classic late bloomer. He didn’t really make the majors until 2010, as a 28 year old, albeit because of injuries and a couple of drug infractions. He had a big season in 2011 and hasn’t come close to duplicating that. He was hurt most of last year, had surgery and is expected to be better, but given his history the only way he should land on your team is if he’s the last sort-of regular outfielder left.

Carlos Quentin reached the majors in a more traditional manner, and had a fairly successful run in Chicago as a power hitter while in his mid-20s. He’s struggled in San Diego to stay healthy, and limited playing time and a tough park for homers has limited his value.

I would take Quentin, who is the better hitter, over Morse every time, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean he’s going to outearn him. Really, in a perfect world I’d avoid them both and find cheerier players to put on my team.

Happily,
Rotoman

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ASK ROTOMAN: Lake At The Top?

Dear Rotoman,

in the current TXT files, you have Junior Lake hitting .318.  Typo or irrational exuberance?  If typo, what do you really predict (I’m curious, he’s pretty high variance).

“Junior Birdman”

Screenshot 2014-03-17 22.56.11Dear Jr.

Not really a typo, but one of those instances where a player with limited major league playing time has a high BABIP and a high strikeout rate, and manages to go through the projection tweaking without me noticing his outsized batting average.

If I had noticed I would have dropped Junior Lake’s BA projection this year to .275, which is more in line with his past production and contact rate. Maybe it’s a bit high, actually, but he’s always had a good BABIP coming up through minors. It’s hard to take that completely away from him without good reason.

The other numbers I have for him in the Patton $ Software and Data, are right on, but the .318 is the absolute high end of the possibilities for him this year. That’s if he strikes out less, gets on base a lot on batted balls, hits a homer every 40 at bats or so. That’s possible.

Equally possible is that major league pitchers are going to see that he’s not patient, and they’re going to extend the zone on him. He’s going to strike out more, and pop out more, and his average is going to drop to .235. That’s possible, too.

Which is the variance you’re talking about, Junior B. and I’m glad you brought it up. My projection for Lake has him earning $13 in 420 AB, hitting 10 homers and stealing eight bases (but getting caught nearly as much). That’s batting .275. But I’m willing to pay $7, a bit more than half, because even though there is a fair chance he’ll do better, there is an equally fair chance he’ll do worse. And I want to get caught holding a smaller bag if that happens.

I’ve seen Lake play and it looks like he has the physical skills to excel, the question is in his head and desire. You don’t want to bet on the come hoping those things develop now, but a modest bet will have decent upside if the others in your league let him go.

Cautiously,
Rotoman

 

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