Ask Rotoman: Keepers Extreme Vetting

Dear Rotoman:

As for now my fantasy baseball keepers are

Josh Donaldson, Tor 3B K

Francisco Lindor, Cle SS K

Carlos Gonzalez, Col OF K

Jonathan Villar, Mil SS, 3B K

Joey Votto, Cin 1B K

But I also have A.J. Pollock, Eduardo Nunez, Jose Peraza, Jason Hammel, J.A. Happ and Jacob deGrom.

Just wondering if I’ve chosen the best 5 out of my keepers.

“Top Five”

Dear TF:

A quick glance tells me you have the right guys.

Donaldson is a first round pick. Votto a second rounder. Lindor a third round pick. Cargo and Villar are also third round values.

Which doesn’t mean you don’t have options. AJ Pollock is a third rounder probably, so if you decided to go for him over Cargo no one could blame you. I have Cargo ranked a little higher, mostly because Pollock is just coming back from a lost year, his second in the last three, which adds a bit of risk.

Jonathan Villar in Houston, before being traded to the Brewers
Jonathan Villar in Houston, before being traded to the Brewers

More interestingly, while Jonathan Villar is going in the third round, Jose Peraza is going in the ninth. Villar has his spectacular 2016 season under his belt, but Peraza looks to be similar type of player. Until the Brandon Phillips trade it was hard to see where he would get full time at bats, but all of sudden his way is cleared.

Steamer has Jonathan Villar projected to hit .255 with 15 homers and 54 steals. My projection is for .250 with 15 homers and 48 steals. So we’re in the same ballpark certainly.

Steamer has Peraza projected to hit .282 with six homers and 42 steals. My projection is for him to hit .300 with seven homers and 38 steals. So, again, similar, as I suppose we should be. We’re working off similar inputs.

Clearly, unless you value batting average a lot, and you shouldn’t, Villar is the better keep for you, but it is possible to see how in a BA league that Peraza could conceivably outperform Villar this year. That’s not a reason not to keep Villar, but in a league where both are available it is a reason not to reach too much for Villar. If someone else grabs him you can get a somewhat similar player about 50 picks later.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

First Base Fantasy Tiers of a Rotoman

Tiers help us group players who are close enough alike in value so we can better see where the talent lies during our fantasy baseball drafts. They’re also a way to talk about player values without relying on draft dollars amounts, which vary depending on a league’s rules.

I’m going through the positions these days, one by one, looking for places where my rankings and prices can be improved. And I share them in hopes they help you, and that if you see something that you think looks wrong you write it up on that player’s page at pattonandco.com.

Or in the comments here. Thanks.

TOP TIER (The best players in the game)

D-backs_first_baseman_Paul_Goldschmidt_takes_batting_practice_on_Gatorade_All-Star_Workout_Day._(28042717673)Paul Goldschmidt is here because he’s always the most valuable first baseman in fantasy leagues. And always will be forever more, or until he gets older and stops running so much and someone better comes along. That’s what happens. A thirty year old can stop running at any time, almost certainly will stop running sometime soon, especially when he’s hauling around 225 pounds or so and some fair height, as Goldschmidt does. Which is a reason to try to lowball, as it were, on him. He’s dropped out of the Top 4 in draft leagues for that reason, which is not a reason to avoid him. But the quality that gives him extra value, the steals, can’t be counted on this year (though it can still be hoped for).

SECOND TIER (Solid players who in any given year might be the best at their position)

It’s very hard to downgrade Miguel Cabrera to the second tier, but that’s the goon squad calling. He’s a marvelous hitter, arguably the best we’ve ever seen, but he’s at an age where the bat has to start a little sooner, or will in short order, and his hitting smarts can only take him so far to offset that.

Anthony Rizzo, Joey Votto, Jose Abreu, and Freddie Freeman are all professional hitters with great on base skills, decent power and (except for Votto) primetime on their side. Votto is older, for sure, but he also has the most stable skill on the planet: He knows when to swing, or not, more often than not. Which makes him an OBP god, and first tier in leagues that use OBP instead of BA. These guys will all be expensive, because they’re reliable as well as good, and they’re most likely worth it. Um, because they’re reliable.

THIRD TIER (Solid, but not quite as accomplished as the tier above)

Most of these guys are boring, fairly reliable but not immune to the occasional bad year. Once upon a time Eric Hosmer looked like he might have the kind of career Freddie Freeman is having, but Hosmer hasn’t quite reached that height. He’s young enough to still have a big career-year type of season in the next few years.

Hanley Ramirez is coming off a fine season, one that followed a disaster, and another that followed what looked like a down year but turned out to be his cue to descend from the superstar stratosphere. He’s got a good high ceiling, but we know how slippery his floor can be.

Wil Myers has one good season under his belt in his so far disappointing career. Though not if you owned him last year. There’s ample reason to suspect that he’s going to have a hard time repeating that, but if he doesn’t there is good reason to think he’ll slot into this group easily.

Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Davis, and Carlos Santana are all solid veteran hitters. Gonzalez is getting old, Davis has a whole lot of whiff (and power), and Santana makes more contact than Davis but has a lot less power. I’ve got Brandon Belt in this group, too, though he could easily be in the next one. Injuries have made him unreliable, even if his power is real.

FOURTH TIER (If they’re solid, they’re flawed, if they’re less flawed they’re flaky)

Tommy Joseph is flaky. He was called up, played 101 games last year, and hit for power. As a prospect he was a hit-first catcher whose career as a backstop was derailed by shady defense and too many concussions, which cost him playing and development time. I think he’s going to hit for power and be able to make enough contact to be solid, but there is a decent chance he’s got a hole somewhere in his swing that ML pitchers are going to figure out how to exploit, and that could be a problem. But for right now, he’s the Phillies full-time power-hitting first baseman.

Chris Carter, and Lucas Duda are big guys with lumbering games and some dark clouds in their recent pasts. Solid enough, but not to pay up for. These are guys to settle for if the best first basemen are too expensive. This is assuming that Carter will play regularly, either for the Yankees or someone else this year. As the reigning home run champ he’s be a lock, but see, he’s flawed.

Josh Bell is also somewhat big and lumbering, but he’s young and coming instead of desperately trying to tread water. He showed last summer that he belongs in the major leagues as a hitter, but he is plagued by lack of defensive value, to say the least, and lack of a home run stroke, to hit the nail on the head. He should play this year, he’s a top prospect, and he should produce a fine batting average, but right now he looks a little like James Loney without the good glove. Hard to see how that plays in the long run.

TIER FIVE (Limited expectations from platoonists, the contact challenged, the unknown)

In a 12-team mixed league, these guys don’t get rostered. In a 15-team mixed you hope to get your choice for a buck. But in an AL or NL only league, these guys can be gold, because they don’t cost much and they might earn a profit. In order of slight preference:

Justin Bour, Eric Thames, Mike Napoli, Joe Mauer, CJ Cron, and Mitch Moreland are professional hitters with successes in their past (though Thames’ were mostly in Korea), who will help in a deep league if they’re not paid too much. And have little chance of a big season, which should motivate you to stay cheap. Cron would be a Tier Four guy, if he wasn’t blocked by Luis Valbuena at first base and Albert Pujols at DH. Napoli had his huge season last year. Thames is intriguing because of the giant numbers he put up in Korea.

TIER SIX (The crummy and the unproven)

Matt Adams, John Jaso, Kennys Vargas, Marwin Gonzalez, Yonder Alonso, Adam Lind, Ryan Zimmerman, Sean Rodriguez, Steve Pearce, Logan Morrison, Mark Reynolds, James Loney, Justin Smoak. These guys are crummy. They occasionally have a good year, as Mark Reynolds did last year, but generally they struggle for playing time, they pop an occasional homer, and then struggle for playing time anew. Even when they’re decent, as Marwin Gonzalez has been the last two seasons, they are always in danger of being replaced, have to scrap for playing time, and may not get it. Sean Rodriguez is out for the season after labrum surgery.

AJ Reed, Greg Bird, Jefry Marte, Dae-ho Lee, Dan Vogelbach. These guys are unproven. Each has a story.

Reed was supposed to break out last year and win a regular job, but was instead superseded by Alex Bregman and struggled in the chance he got. The Astros now have Yulieski Gurriel and Marwin Gonzalez at first, as well as Tyler White. I’m still a believer, but at least some of that thinking is magical.

Bird missed all of last year after shoulder surgery, and struggled in the AFL, which is understandable given his rust. The Yankees have now signed Chris Carter, who would seem to slot in ahead of Bird at first this year, probably, and may mean Bird will start the year in Triple-A working to regain his game. He will be a major league regular, eventually, with some chance that he’ll be a contributor this year.

Marte did a good job last season hitting for power in limited at bats, but starts this year behind Yunel Escobar at third base. Even if Escobar were to go down, Luis Valbuena might move across to third from first, and block Marte again. He could conceivable see few at bats, or spend time in the minors, but still, I sense deep sleeper potential here on a bad team that has no reason not to try to develop their future.

Lee is old, and is looking for a job in his second major league season. The Korean import seemed to show excellent platoon power and contact abilities, on the short side, but the Mariners kept finding ways to bench him. He’s here so that we don’t forget him, in case he does sign with a team that really has a need for a good bat against lefties.

Vogelbach is the guy who pushed Lee to the curb in Seattle. He has the terrific ability to draw walks and the corresponding ability to strike out. Alas, he doesn’t have a big power stroke, though some believe that will develop. A good spring could drive his price up, a bad one could knock him from the board.

Names for reserve lists, or guys you might like to move ahead of some listed above are Mark Canha, Tyler Austin, Chris Parmelee. Or not.

You can read about Catchers here.

 

 

ASK ROTOMAN: Licensed to Ill Edition! Tillman or Miller for Final Keeper?

Dear Rotoman:

American League, 5 X 5, OBP

We can keep 10 and I have the following as keepers:

  • Bregman 7
  • Odor 9
  • Sano 7
  • Cain 15
  • L. Martin 10
  • A. Sanchez 10
  • Duffy 7
  • Gausman 7
  • Porcello 5
  • And either Tillman 4 or Brad Miller at 11

I like the idea of Tillman at the cheap price so I can go into the draft with 5 undervalued starting pitchers. On the other hand (I sound like Tevye), Miller gives me roster flexibility, especially if he is slated for starting at 2B. I went with Martin over Tillman and Miller because of the scarcity of stolen bases. Who would you keep—Miller or Tillman?

“Licensed to Ill”

Dear Ill:

First off, while it looked like Miller was going to play first base for the Rays, after they signed Logan Morrison he seems to have slid over to second. Since already qualified at SS, that isn’t a big deal, but it is a deal.

Second off, Tillman is literally ill, if you consider shoulder problems and illness as well as an injury. He had one of the enriched plasma injections in his shoulder in December, which is supposed to fix him up, but he is now reportedly three weeks behind schedule on his recovery. I’m not sure when in December he had the surgery, but let’s say he had it the first week. It is now 10 weeks later, at best, and he’s three weeks behind where he was supposed to be. We have six weeks of training camp ahead, and he’s living like it’s mid January, and recovering like it’s early March. And it ain’t. I would be concerned about that.

Finally, I have Martin as a $15 player in 5×5 BA, and Miller at $13, so in my book you have your pecking order right there. In OBP both are less valuable. I have Tillman at $10, pre injury concerns. That made him a slightly better keep based on price and ROI when he was healthy, but now he’s in doubt. Could he still be the better keeper?

license-to-ill-gatefold
Gatefold metaphor for Chris Tillman’s 2017 season? Could be.

Given what we know right now, I’m going to have to knock a few bucks off of Tillman’s price. The chances that he falls farther behind in his rehab program are significant, as are the chances that his situation will deteriorate completely. That’s a lot of risk of no return, or even worse, negative return for your $4.

So, better the Beastie in hand, than the Beastie who hobbles.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

Tracks of Rotoman’s Tiers at Catcher 2017

People say I’m the belle of spring training
Because I answer questions here
And I won’t say I’m ever complaining
Because I have readers, words, and good beer.

But take a good look at my face
Gary Sanchez might be out of place
If not it’s easy to displace
Devin Mezz-or-a-co.

The process of getting the Patton $ Online projections and prices out the door is iterative. I make different lists and try to locate rankings and projections relationships that don’t make as much sense as they should, and then I change them.

The more I wash-rinse-repeat, the more I fix things. I’ll be the first to admit that while my formulas capture a lot of “talent” in the stats, quirks in playing time, age, injury and development, as well as nutty performances, can screw things up a little, and sometimes a lot. Massaging the projections and prices manually leads to better overall results always.

This week I’m going to be going through the tiers position by position, and see what’s what. Feel free to follow along and comment if you see something awry, on the player pages at pattonandco.com. (Feel free to comment here, if you prefer, but I find the pattonandco.com player pages a better way to chat about players, with more people who know more things about them.)

busterposeyTOP TIER: Buster Posey

Some are bumping Jonathan Lucroy into Posey’s league, partly because Posey himself dropped down into the area where you might expect to find a healthy Lucroy this year. My take is Buster bounces back up a little after a down year, and LuCroy, who is older, coming off two down years, doesn’t bounce back up quite so far. Even in Texas. And even if Posey hangs tight where he was last year, Lucroy is no lock to catch up to him. Buster stands along, at least for one more year.

 

TIER TWO: Jonathan Lucroy, JT Realmuto, Willson Contreras, Sal Perez

These guys are good hitters, have some power, and Realmuto has some speed to make up for the power he doesn’t quite have as much of. I can see any of these guys having a year as good as Posey’s, if they get a little lucky. Each could be a disappointment, too. The challenging question here is why Sal Perez and Willson Contreras are in this tier and Evan Gattis and Yadier Molina are in the next one. For me, it’s all about youth and playing time. Perez and Contreras are in the prime of their youth, while Gattis and Molina are moving past it.

TIER THREE: Gary Sanchez, Yadier Molina, Evan Gattis, Stephen Vogt, Brian McCann, Welington Castillo, Yasmani Grandal

So, why is Sanchez down here, and Contreras in the level above? For me it’s about the hit tool. Contreras has it, for sure, which should make him a better bet to improve this year and a better bet not to struggle. Sanchez was incredible last year, and he should get a chance to play even if his batting average falls some because of his good batting eye (Contreras has a pretty good eye, t00), but as his average falls so will his value, even if he hits a lot of homers. That makes him extra valuable in OBP leagues. And if he doesn’t hit as many homers and struggles out of the box? That makes him a little riskier. Not that his struggles are a sure thing, but you have to be aware of them. The rest of these guys are veterans, each with a pretty good track record, but Yasmani Grandal resides here as a reminder of how Sanchez might struggle going forward.

TIER FOUR: Matt Wieters, Devin Mesoraco, Russell Martin, James McCann, Yan Gomes, Derek Norris, Wilson Ramos

One of these guys is really not like the others. That would be Wilson Ramos, who had a terrific 2016 and would be ranked in Group 2 or 3 except that he is rehabbing from ACL and meniscus surgeries late last year. He has said he’ll be ready in May, as a DH. If that’s true he might end up in Tier 3, but the initial prognosis had him back at mid-season, and catchers rehabbing knees have an extra long way to go. I’m bidding him as a half season of a $14 player, considering last year a career year given his past history and age. One other player with caution. Yan Gomes was hurt last year, and the year before. He looks like he should bounce back to being a decent power-hitting catcher with a challenged batting average, but the longer a player struggles with injury the more chances there are for other things to go wrong.

FINAL TIER: Some of these guys will do well, some will crash and burn, or fade away. And the problem is that opportunity isn’t going to be the difference maker. These guys earn their checks with their gloves, for the most part. If they hit, good for their teams, good for their families, great if they’re up for a new contract next year, but if they don’t they likely still have some playing time left. And that can be a double-edged fantasy sword. Still, they should be cheap, and there is some chance

Travis D’Arnaud had Tier Two potential once upon a time, and could land in Tier Three this year if all goes well. But all hasn’t gone well for him, he has a chronic and degenerative hip condition, and that makes him a tough guy to bet on to stay healthy.

Cameron Rupp is coming off a pretty good season, but he probably isn’t really quite that good and he’s blocking, right now, one of the best catching prospects in the game. Will he get a full season? Will he be able to hit .250 again? A lot of questions here, which should knock down his price.

Jett Bandy has a cool name and hits fly balls, which might make him a power hitter at some point. Right now he’s a somewhat wild and undisciplined hitter and better as an idea than an offensive weapon, which he’s going to need to be to continue to earn playing time.

Tucker Barnhart came up as a defense-first catcher, and hit enough when called on last year to remain a viable option if Mesoraco gets hurt again. Or should I say when Mesoraco gets hurt again. But he doesn’t have enough power to be a real force, and there is a good chance he won’t hit .250 again. Which makes playing time concerns disqualifying except late in the endgame.

Sandy Leon did something really silly last year, something that shows you just how misleading baseball statistics can be, at least in a small sample. And good for him. He’ll always be able to say he hit .300. But he’s not hitting .300 again. Doubtful he has another .250 season in him. He is a good defensive catcher and will get some at bats, which in a normal year (unlike last year) would not be a good thing for your fantasy team. The reason he is here is that he hit the ball a lot harder last year than in the past. That sort of thing persists for the best hitters, but fluctuates for the bad ones. There is some chance he could have gotten better last year, which makes him a fair endgame play.

Austin Hedges hasn’t hit in the majors yet, in short stints the last two years, and he comes with the reputation of a good field no hit catcher. Still, he put up breakout numbers in bandbox El Paso last year, good enough for an MLE of .268 and 15 homers in 350 at bats. Don’t bet the gardening budget on that this year, but he should be cheap and if he does do that he’ll be a fantasy plus.

Francisco Cervelli is what he is, to coin a phrase. Good defender, not a total zero with the stick. Totally uninteresting.

Miguel Montero had some good years in Arizona, but he’s not the best catcher on the Cubs and so is unlikely to get enough at bats to contribute much.

Nick Hundley is in a similar position in San Francisco, which will also not have the juicy effect that playing in Coors had.

Tom Murphy! An interesting young catcher who should get a shot at playing time, and may have the bat to contribute, especially playing in Colorado. There’s a good chance he’s going to strike out so much it will be hard for him to stay in the lineup, so take advantage of his low price and hope he figures out how to keep the power while working with a shorter swing.

Tony Wolters was a bit of a nifty pickup last year, because he hit a few homers and stole a few bases. The problem was that three of those steals came in two games in mid April, when he was probably not active for anyone, and after that he didn’t steal another until July. Not cool Tony. Playing time this year is going to depend on just how interesting Tom Murphy turns out to be. There should be enough AB for Wolters to have a couple more good games running, which makes him a viable second catcher, and if Murphy stumbles an uptick is, well, an uptick in PT.

Kurt Suzuki arrived in Minnesota as a no-hit catcher and leaves as a no-hit catcher, but in between had some decent seasons with the bat. Surprising! He might help the Braves this year, in real life, but likely playing mostly against lefties isn’t going to play enough to be more than a fantasy placeholder.

Tyler Flowers will face righties in Atlanta, and will continue to have the career that Tom Murphy seems on track for. Good power, but lots of swings and misses.

Jorge Alfaro is the top catching prospect in the game right now. Fortunately for Cameron Rupp, Alfaro has been contact challenged coming up, which might buy Rupp more time as a starter. Fortunately for Alfaro, Rupp hit enough last year that the Phillies can let Alfaro mature at his own pace. Once Alfaro starts to hit, however, he’ll get the call up and Rupp will sit down.

Jason Castro landed in Minnesota, and has a shot at lots of at bats unless John Ryan Murphy surprises. He’s been pretty feeble the past couple of years, but does have some slight success in his past.

Less Than Zero Tier: John Ryan Murphy, Tomas Telis, Chris Iannetta, Mike Zunino, Josh Phegley, Carlos Ruiz, Alex Avila, Tony Brown, Dioner Navarro, Geovanny Soto, Carlos Perez, Andrew Susac, Austin Barnes, Brayan Pena, Chris Herrman.

These guys are likely to be negative earners if you play them all year in leagues that value opportunity cost at -$4, as I do. If you don’t they’ll probably on average earn a buck each, and a few have a chance to do better than that if there are at bats for them. If you pay a buck for one of these guys and earn $5 you’ve got yourself a steal.

Mike Zunino deserves special mention. He has terrific power, but he also has an amazing swing-and-miss stroke and not great plate discipline. He’s earned a total of $12 the last three years, including a $5 and $9 year. But his bat is so weak when it isn’t blasting, and his organization knows it and is troubled by it, that he isn’t going to be on any sort of long leash. The minors is always a little breeze away for Zunino. Worth a dollar, could be a great addition to a team dumping BA, but could also see 60 at bats and a bus ticket to Korea. Good luck with that.

 

Subscriber Benefits at Pattonandco.com, Available Now!

pattonlogoSpring training is rapidly approaching, which means fantasy baseball prep time is going into high gear.

Alex Patton and I, Rotoman, offer a fun baseball discussion board at pattonandco.com. Every player has his own discussion thread, so you can ask questions and get answers from a strong coterie of fantasy experts, baseball fans and roto players, including Alex and me. The discussion boards are free and open to everyone, though you need to register to be able to post.

On top of that we offer a Subscriber package each spring, for rotisserie and fantasy players who want a little bit more.

What are the benefits?

Rotoman’s projections

Roto bid prices from me (5×5), Alex (4×4) and Mike Fenger (5×5), in an Excel spreadsheet, text files, and as part of the Patton $ Online Window program. These include probable lineups, highlight the top prospects, and are updated each Thursday until the Thursday after opening day, incorporating the latest news, better thinking, and useful comments.

The package is $36.

And the player discussion boards are free all season long, so please check us out even if you’re not interested in the Subscriber benefits.

Not to Brag or Anything

We have the most loyal customer base in the universe, no kidding.

Why? We hear from our customers every year about their good seasons and their bad, and always with their thanks for providing straightforward draft prep information tailored, through the discussion board, to every person’s particular needs.

Our data is bespoke, from rotisserie veterans, but also open enough to help you make your own adjustments and tailor things better to the way you see them happening. This is a powerful combination, and we’re proud of it.

About the Software

Patton $ Online was one of the first fantasy baseball software packages available anywhere. It helps you make lists, adjust for inflation, update and change projections, and keep an eye on the prices you’re willing to pay at your auction.

It is also super fast, written in machine language back in the day when computers weren’t so fast. That’s the good part.

But the fact is that it is an old program that uses old menuing and interfacing, so while it is popular among our loyal veterans who are familiar with it, it presents a learning curve for newbies. We encourage you to try out last year’s edition. This archive has the program, the excel and text files, so you can try it out. We hope you find it helpful, but don’t want to overpromise what we can deliver.

The good news is that the spreadsheet has all the same data, and can be used to craft the same sorts of lists and adjusted bids.

The bad news is that the program runs on Windows. To use it on a Mac you’ll need a copy of Windows running in Boot Camp, or Windows running on the virtual machines Parallels or Fusion. The program run great in Parallels and Fusion, and will run on WINE for a while, but will then it will crash when you try to change data. Which limits it’s use there.

I’m running it this year on a Lenovo Ideastick 300, which cost me $69.99 at Best Buy. It’s a Windows 10 computer about the size of the original Ipod Shuffle that plugs into the HDMI port of a TV or monitor. Paired with bluetooth keyboard and mouse, it’s a limited but capable and protable addition if you have any reason to use Windows.

If you’re interested, please feel free to download last year’s program and data for free. If it works for you, great, if not you got to experience the Patton $ data and decide if you want to be a subscriber as you prepare to win the 2017 fantasy baseball season!

Let us know if you have any questions, and we hope to see you at pattonandco.com.

 

 

 

ASK ROTOMAN: Impossible Keeper League Question

Dear Rotoman:

I am in a 12 team fantasy baseball league, rotisserie style, with 4 keepers. You can keep 1 player for a maximum of 5 seasons. I finished 5th in the league last year and have the 1st overall pick of the year. It so happens that Mike Trout was kept the last 5 years and will be available to be drafted this year. Is there any deal out there that would make you think about trading that pick? Perhaps the other person’s number 1 and 2? Something more than that?

“Fishing for Improvement”

Dear FFI:

Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27)There are many questions about your rules that are hard to deduce. For instance, how many of the typical first-round picks are available in this draft?

And, do the keepers clog the round they’re taken for the teams that keep them? Or are they merely gone?

So, you may have technical issues with my answer, but I think the answer is fairly obvious (though the execution may not be).

First point: In shallow leagues, as you have, the best most hardest to replace players are worth a premium. Having the first pick and taking Trout is valuable in any startup league. In a league where much of the first two rounds of talent are kept, as I imagine yours is, having Trout has extra valuable.

Second point: There isn’t much you can do about the kept players. Your job is to maximize your haul in the pool. So, Trout is clearly No. 1. Whom of the available players is going to be your second pick? I think that player is your baseline.

Third point: If you can swap Trout for two players better than your second pick, you may have the makings of a deal. But that isn’t a sure thing. Remember: In shallow leagues top talent has an outsized value. And you certainly wouldn’t trade Trout for two players worse than Trout and your No. 2.

Fourth point: In shallow leagues, position scarcity matters a bit more than some expect. So, trading number one for two positions before No. 24 may make sense if you can see a way to score a top SS and a great 2B or, given your league size, a top catcher.

But: It’s hard to tell without specific information about all this stuff. Which is your job. I think it’s possible for someone to buy Trout off you and make you a good deal, for them or for you, but you need to go both for quantity and for position advantage when analyzing your league. That’s where your real advantage is going to be found.

It’s a tough deal to make, but it can be made.

Ruggedly,
rotomansignature

Rotoman’s 2016 Projections: How’d He Do?

I used to evaluate my projections each year against what really happened. When I started doing this, 22 years ago, I was ambitious and driven to get better results, but after many years the limits of our predictive ability are obvious. The bottom line is that there is no way to predictively model the game’s stochastic nature. Random stuff causes a significant percentage of the events that happen on the baseball field, and trying to guess whether those random events are going to go one way or the other is absurd.

Or rather, trying to guess them accurately is absurd. We continue to make our guesses, and we (and I mean all baseball predictors) continue to get something like 75 percent accuracy (which is a 25 percent failure rate).

That significant variance also makes it hard to judge whether improvements are actually improvements or not. If I score around 75 percent each year, does it mean something systematically when that number dips to 73 percent, or bumps up to 77 percent, the next year? Or is that a reflection of randomness? At the very least it’s hard to tell.

But I didn’t stop measuring because it’s hard to tell. I stopped because the timing was bad. The season ends and I’m all in on the Guide, there isn’t much time to do the comparison, and not much urgency given how little there is to be learned.

When the Guide is done, it’s the holidays, and then a rush to complete the much more extensive projections in the Patton $ Software by the end of January. And once that’s done, there’s getting ready for the season. But this year, someone asked specifically for an evaluation, so I put together a spreadsheet. You can see it here.

The first thing I check is the overall accuracy of the Top 100 hitters and pitchers. That is, I look at the Top 100 hitters projected for the most at bats, and compare their category totals with what actually happened. This year:

AB: 94 percent
R: 99 percent
2B: 93 percent
3B: 90 percent
HR: 114 percent
RBI: 100 percent
BB: 101 percent
K: 96 percent
SB: 86 percent
CS: 85 percent
BA: 101 percent

Not perfect, and not necessarily imperfect in obvious ways.

One of the standard ways to measure the accuracy of projections is to use the Correlation Coefficient, which measures the extent to which two variables (in this case the 2016 projection and the 2016 actual result) have a linear relationship. To be a little more brass tacks about it, a correlation of 1 means that two sets of data create the same angle when graphed, even if they show up in different parts of the graph. 3, 4, 5 would have a correlation of 1 with 5, 6, 7.

A correlation of 0 means that the two data sets are completely unrelated to each other.

Most interestingly, a -1 correlation would mean that the second data set would be at a 90 degree angle to the first. Negatively correlated.

With that in mind, here are the correlations for my 2016 projections compared to what actually happened.

Screenshot 2017-02-03 23.44.55

The first thing to note, for my self esteem, is that when we look at the Top 500 projected hitters, I hit the 75 mark in AB, R, HR, RBI and, almost, SB. That’s the holy grail, I think. You want your set to reach .75 in correlation. That’s a pretty good correlation, if you know what I mean.

But, and big but, the numbers are much more problematic when measuring the Top 100 projected hitters. AB is a mess, but oddly HR, RBI and SB aren’t that bad. Remember that .75 is about as good as it gets, though that statement comes with provisos.

What I’m getting at here is that there are many ways to evaluate projections.

If you look at the whole data set, as we do here in the Top 500 projections, we get about the results we hope for. This is the limit of a baseball projection, or close to it.

Another way to evaluate projections is to sort by the actual number of at bats players actually had. This gives you a list of the most active players on the year, and how best we predicted that.

Screenshot 2017-02-04 00.10.22

A little better, it turns out, which means that we’re doing better predicting who actually plays and how they produce than we are predicting what the most predicted guys are going to produce. By a little.

Pitchers are going to have to wait for later, but I hope this gives a little bit of a taste about what projection reviewing means. Maybe we’ll take a look at some other systems, too, coming up.

Find out about Rotoman on Scott Engel’s Fantasy Hall of Fame Hour Radio Show.

35A couple of weeks ago Scott Engel invited me onto his show, which comes out each week. He talks to someone about their love of sports and fantasy sports. You can hear all the programs here.

I posted about it on Facebook and Twitter, but I neglected to post about it here. Scott is a good interviewer and he asked Rotoman a lot of questions. I had a fun time talking about my life for about 20 minutes. Friends said I did well and I thought I came across decently, so here’s link to the MP3.

And thanks to Scott for having me on.

ASK ROTOMAN: Keeper Question Involving Power

Rotoman!

I’m in a 10 team head to head keeper. My question is should I keep Cespedes in the ninth or Trumbo in the 20th.

Thank you so much,
Frank

Dear Frank:

I’m going to ignore the H2H aspect. Cespedes and Trumbo are both power hitters, similar enough in type if not style that the format shouldn’t affect their value much.

The way to figure out who the better keeper is in a draft league is to convert each draft spot to a dollar value. I don’t have that data for a 10-team league, but I do for a 15-teamer. Tout Wars Mixed Auction is a good source of auction information going back for years.

The major differences between the two different-sized leagues is that the smaller the league, the more valuable the best players at each position. Since neither Cespedes nor Trumbo is among the top players in the outfield, their values should degrade by a similar amount in the smaller format.

In the 15 teamer, a ninth round pick is worth $15-$16.

In that same league, a 20th round pick is worth $4-$5.

These prices are derived by taking the 2016 Tout Wars Mixed Auction and sorting the prices from highest to lowest. The 20th round includes picks 229 to 240. The ninth round has picks 97 to 108.

Last year, Cespedes cost $22 in the 15-team league, which makes him a +$7. Trumbo cost $10, which makes him a $5. Cespedes performed slightly below expectations last year, while Trumbo performed slightly above expectations, so the two are pretty comparable, which I suppose is why you’re asking.

Yoenis Cespedes takes batting practice on #WSMediaDay.
Yoenis Cespedes takes batting practice on #WSMediaDay.

My answer is that I would keep Cespedes, because in his down year he still earned more than Trumbo. He’s a surer bet than Trumbo, with far less chance of giving you nothing. By the ninth round he is exactly the sort of player you want, somewhat underpriced, but not too risky.

Later in the draft you can buy players like Trumbo, maybe even Trumbo perhaps, and even better by not keeping him you may be able to saddle another team, a team that loves having the home run champion, with a less valuable commodity a little too high a price.

Win-win, potentially.

 

Sincerely,

rotomansignature

ASK ROTOMAN: Expansion Blues

Greetings Rotoman.

We have a veteran 20 year sharks 5X5 ultra roto league in a quandary. We’ve lost four teams from our original 12, working frantically to replace them and return to 12 via a dispersal draft from the vacated rosters. If we ultimately return with only 11 or even 10 owners, would it necessitate throwing back all players frozen from the previous season (max 15 with carry over salaries and contracts) because there will be fewer teams and less $ avail to spend? I.e., will the salaries be skewed since they’re based on a 12 team league, not 11 or 10? We’re desperately trying to maintain status quo and not start over. Are there ways to augment or artificially level the playing field and legitimize the salaries of those frozen players? 

“Skewed Blues”

Dear SB:

That’s tough luck losing four teams, and good luck restocking your roster of owners.

To answer your question: A dispersal draft, distributing the best keeps from four teams to three teams, will skew in favor of the three new teams. While the original franchises will be keeping 15 x 8 = 120 players of a potential 120 best keeps, or 100 percent, the new franchises will be keeping 45 of 60, or 75 percent. The new teams would be able to be more selective and end up with better freeze lists. You don’t want that.

I think the fairest way to solve this problem is to let each owner who signs up adopt one of the existing franchises, so he’ll be keeping 100 percent of the best keepers. There’s no selection advantage to that, but there is the likelihood that some abandoned freeze lists will be better than others. There are two ways to handle that.

One would be to reward early movers by giving them their choice of franchise. It’s probably best to let your targets know that they’ll be in a draft of teams if they sign up by, say February 1. Then on February 1, have the new owners play paper-rock-scissors or flip coins to determine an order or selection, and then let them pick the teams by that established priority.

The other way to go is to randomize. Put the names of the abandoned teams in a hat, and as new owners sign up randomly give them one of the franchises. Each will get what he gets, for better or worse. But each will be getting 100 percent of the best freezes, which seems totally fair. This has the advantage of possibly keeping a better freeze list available, should early selecters be unlucky, and you can use it as an incentive for new owners to join up. Although, if these freeze lists were really good, what sort of owner would bail?

Hope this helps and good luck getting it together for the new year!

Sincerely,

rotomansignature