The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational

Justin Mason, of Fantasy Friends With Benefits, did a good big thing. He got Fantrax to host a bunch of 15 team leagues full of fantasy experts, plus put up a grand in prize money.

The rules are pretty normal, except there is that looming consolidated standings.

I landed in League 9, which included some folks I knew, like Adam Ronis and Tim Heaney, some I’d heard of, especially Doug Thorburn and Rob Silver, and a bunch of other foes who proved to be formidable, too.

This was a tough draft. There was no finessing picks. You had to take who you wanted, because they were not going to be there next turn.

Picking from the 13th spot afforded opportunity, I landed Blackmon and Bryant as my first two picks, but meant it was a long time to get back to my third pick, when all the stud pitchers were gone. Six of them in a row preceding my pick of Edwin Encarnacion. Okay, mostly gone. I could have made it seven by taking Yu Darvish.

This is also a league with one catcher. I like two catchers. Most catchers share time, two catcher rosters recognize this, and force decisions about how to allocate budget to backstops. One catcher diminishes the importance of almost all catchers. The 15th catcher isn’t a stud, but he’s not a waste. And if he turns out to be a waste, for whatever reason, the short roster means there will be options. Two catchers means you have to commit, and you have to work hard to recover if something goes wrong. I think that’s a tougher play.

In this league I have a pretty strong offense. That’s because I didn’t take a pitcher until the sixth round. And I then proceeded to make a mostly risk pitching staff. Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb had yet to sign. Eduardo Rodriguez is hurt. Brad Peacock is a swing man in a deep staff. Kyle Hendricks wasn’t all he was supposed to be last year.

We can argue pitching all day. What I surely didn’t do was buy saves. This was a function of trying to buy high-skills pitchers who were still available. Guys like Hendricks, Jameson Taillon, and even Zack Wheeler. Did I want Fernando Rodney or Shane Green instead? No.

But not having two closers is a problem in a broad contest with many many scores of teams. As I said to Justin in an email the other day, I might easily win this league and not do well at all in the overall. To fix that I’m going to have to find some saves.

Fortunately, that’s possible. My Team (Five reserve picks are pitchers):

Pos Player Team
C Posey, Buster SF
1B Encarnacion, Edwin CLE
2B Merrifield, Whit KC
3B Bryant, Kris CHC
SS Gregorius, Didi NYY
CI Bird, Greg NYY
MI Anderson, Tim CHW
OF Blackmon, Charlie COL
OF Fowler, Dustin OAK
OF Hicks, Aaron NYY
OF Pillar, Kevin TOR
OF Souza Jr., Steven ARI
UT Cruz, Nelson SEA
UT Duffy, Matt TB
Totals
Pitching
Pos Player Team
P Arrieta, Jake PHI
P Givens, Mychal BAL
P Hendricks, Kyle CHC
P Hildenberger, Trevor MIN
P Kahnle, Tommy NYY
P Madson, Ryan WAS
P Peacock, Brad HOU
P Taillon, Jameson PIT
P Wheeler, Zack NYM
P Cobb, Alex (N/A)
P Lyons, Tyler STL
P O’Day, Darren BAL
P Rodriguez, Eduardo BOS
P Stroman, Marcus TOR

 

 

 

What is Your Walk Up Song?

I got an email a couple of weeks ago from Tom McFeeley, a fantasy sports writer, asking other fantasy baseball writers to tell him what their walk up song was. You know, the music that plays as the batter makes his way from on deck circle to the batter’s box. It’s a 10 second sting that define you sonically.

For instance, last year Francisco Lindor used Digital Underground’s The Humpty Dance as his walk up song.

Unfortunately, I was traveling when the email came in and I didn’t act right away and I missed out. I’m not one of the 64 songs in the brackets Tom is running. You can read about it here, and vote your heart. Someone deserves to win.

Apart from lacking some really important historical context (My projections were the first fantasy content on ESPN, and I, along with Greg Ambrosius and Alex Patton and editors David Schoenfield and Rob Neyer, put up the first fantasy coverage) it’s a fun read, and listen, and made me sorry I hadn’t gotten in on it.

When Tom asked I didn’t have a walk up song, but my first thought was the Modern Lovers Roadrunner would be pretty good.

The first 10 seconds would be killer, but maybe the countdown and singing would get tiresome, in which case the break from about 30 seconds to 40 seconds would be great.

Why? For me, growing up, listening to baseball after bedtime on the radio, sometimes from as far away as Detroit, is what Jonathan Richman’s tribute to late night radio and rock ‘n’ roll evokes for me.

Patton $ Software Is Out Now!

pattonlogoAs reliable as spring and the cry, “I’m in the best shape of my career,” comes the 2015 edition of Patton $ Software.

The software contains my 2015 baseball projections, my suggested bid prices (and Mike Fenger’s) for 5×5 and Alex Patton’s 4×4 bid prices, prospect lists and expert league draft results, as well as ways for you to enter your own bids, make up-to-the-minute draft lists for your fantasy drafts, edit and automatically adjust the projections and show what players earn with different statlines. In short, everything you might need to prepare to win your fantasy league this year.

There is a new procedure for buying this year. Go to pattonandco.com and register, if you’re not already registered. Click the menu item that says Subscribe and follow the instructions (essentially, click the blue button, enter your payment information, and authorize payment for $36).

Read more…

David Gonos Likes The Fantasy Baseball Guide!

FBG2015-coverI just found this review of the Fantasy Baseball Guide on David Gonos’s website.

David is a friend and colleague, and also  a good guy. He’s also a straight shooter and a knowledgeable fantasy writer, which is why his praise here means so much to me.

He also does a good in-depth job of describing the Guide’s contents. The magazine has been out for almost six weeks now, which means it is selling out in some outlets (Barnes and Noble, Walmart, and other drug, book and grocery stores), but use David’s promo code (gonos15) and save a buck at thefantasysportsguide.com on the digital version.

ASK ROTOMAN: How is a stat service like a nice Chianti and fava beans

All Hail Rotoman!

Is there a ‘3rd party’ available for a weekly FAAB process?

Currently, our FAAB rules require us to turn our weekly roster changes and FAABs into the commissioner on Sunday Nights by 9pm.  The league-friendly commissioner, has made that 9pm kind of a ‘soft deadline’ and has on occasion accepted FAABs and roster changes past that 9pm deadline with a friendly reminder to get it in on time.  In addition, new job responsibilities have delayed the FAAB results and roster changes until Tuesday, sometimes Wednesday mornings.

My thought here is… IF there is a 3rd party process available, any and all deadline and integrity concerns can be completely eliminated.

There is NOT an integrity issue with the commish.  Just looking at alternative methods for assuring that the FAAB process is timely and legit.

Sincerely,
Hannibal Lester

Dear Hannibal,

Almost all stat services have automated FAAB processes. These require that teams enter their claims and picks and moves into the box, via a form of some sort, and at the appointed hour, as the bells strike, the software does it’s utterly rational magic and awards are made.

In the past I’ve used the systems at Yahoo, ESPN and CBSsports and found they all worked well enough. It has been a while, however, so chances are decent they have improved, though I don’t know for sure.

I can enthusiastically endorse the BidMeister at onRoto.com, which is quite flexible and fault tolerant, though it does force you to submit your bids structured as replacement blocks. That is, all your claims to replace your first basemen go in at once, then your claims for a starting pitcher, then the outfielder.

I was at first wary of this, but once you take this into account you can gain most of the control you want by ordering the blocks and using your FAAB.

And this is how a stat service is like a liver, which goes so well with the favas and a nice Chianti. It filters out the labor and toxins of a fantasy league, increases communication and information, making the thing work better, and does so quietly, at least in the best of times.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

Beat Rotoman in a Daily Game, this Friday!

Screenshot 2014-09-22 20.16.00It’s free! And if you beat me you can win a $10 entry to a future game.

I don’t know much about that, but what I do know is that I’ve never played a daily game before. So I’m inexperienced.

I know, too, that while the illustration shows a football player, I’m playing baseball.

I also know this game is the work of a guy named Brandon Ward, who runs a Daily Game site called Advanced Sportstistics. You can register and join FreeRoll3 from this page.

Brandon’s gimmick is advanced stats. Hitters accrue points for Runs Created, among other things, while pitchers gain points for FIP (and, non analytically, wins).

I’m not sure about the categories, there seems to be a problem with redundancy, but the game is free, so I’m going to give it a try. And I’m going to beat you.

Good luck!

LINK: The Rise of the Daily Game

The New York TImes has an informative story today about the rise of the daily fantasy baseball game, which has been embraced by MLBAM and managed to avoid being classified as a game of chance.

The writer quotes a guy who says he works 35 hours a week playing the game and made $50,000 last year, which seems very possible. It also mentions a recent surge of casual players who are increasing the pools. It might be time to start playing.

 

In The News: Lord Zola Proclaims 2-20-14

Todd Zola and I were members of the alt.rec.fantasy.baseball usenet group back when George Clinton was president. We knew what was coming.

And now, today, umpteen years later, we both published charts linking draft order to auction prices, which seems to be the new orange. Make of it what you will.

I think Todd’s story does a fine job pointing out that using ADP for your mixed draft analysis is not enough. And I’m happy to embrace Todd’s perfectly independently concluded idea that draft value is akin to auction value.

FWIW Todd and I are talking about sharing data and working on some new ideas, too.

Historical Fantasy Prices

Chris Liss has a history of trying to calculate historical fantasy prices. He recounts that history in a post at Rotowire that is well worth reading.

His post reminded me of my first post as a short-lived Baseball Prospectus writer back in 1999. I wrote a long impassioned screed hating on ESPN, my former employer, for totally misunderstanding the fantasy game and the informational needs of us players. BP Bowdlerized it, probably for my own good, but frustratingly. They left the results of my data driven look into baseball history intact.

What I did was calculate roto values, in league context, for every year in baseball from 1903. The results are interesting because of the way they demonstrate Stephen Jay Gould’s point about the way that a limited sample increases the relative achievement of the elite. The point, I think, is that in a small league with limited talent, the best players dominate in ways that can’t happen when the game is more universal and talent is more widely distributed.

(The results are far more useful in post WWII era, when the player population has stabilized, gradually. Those year-to-year numbers became the basis of the Magic Grid I started using back then to find comparable seasons in order to assess likeliness of performance (earnings) for different types of players based on their histories.)

What would it be like to play roto in 1915? My values win, hands down. That’s what they calculate. But Chris measures something else that has its own value.

Wise Guy Baseball is Here!

Gene McCaffrey is a fine baseball and fantasy baseball mind, as well as a deft turner of phrases, and a killer rock’n’roll guitarist/songwriter. Plus he’s funny.

He writes about the fantasy game (or rather, games, including salary cap and NFBC format games for big money) in Wise Guy Baseball, his book. He also contributes to the Fantasy Baseball Guide via his Picks and Pans.

WGB is a book of many pleasures involving sabermetrics and good advice. I like to wade in, pick up fact-based bits about players’ skills and tendencies, and learn something. But what puts the fat on the fire is the sly humor: Of Nyjer Morgan (obviously before he left for Japan): The emergence of Carlos Gomez means less playing time. Gone are the days when we could bank on Nyjer leading the NL in caught stealings.”

Ordering info at wiseguybaseball.com. Go now!