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: 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

Updated Projections for Fantasy Baseball Guide 2016 Buyers, out now!

fbg2016-cover 600wSlip over to the Corrections and Updates page for the 2016 Fantasy Baseball Guide for an Excel spreadsheet  with updated projections and Big Prices.

The update is for FBG buyers only. The password is the lower case version of the last name of the only $14 player on page 66 of this year’s Guide.  You can look it up!

The Cadillac Edition of Patton $ Draft Prep Software and Data Is Out Now!

1976_Cadillac_Eldorado_convertible_1_--_10-23-2009The software is out now, full of projections, bid prices, expert league results, and prospect lists, in Windows software, Excel and Text Files.

It runs great on a Mac with Windows and Boot Camp, Parallels, or Fusion. If you want help preparing for your league, learn more about Patton $ Software and data by clicking here.

And joining Pattonandco.com, a lively discussion board about fantasy and real baseball, is free!

ASK ROTOMAN: The Conversion Experience

Hi Rotoman,

I was wondering whether there Is a way I can convert the values of this years Fantasy Baseball Guide to fit my 12-team league with $274 to spend?

Thanks.

In fact I do. It’s from 2014 and available on the internet right here, along with good ideas about how to think about prices in shallow leagues.

Sincerely,

rotomansignature

ADL: What Happened?

Screenshot 2015-10-06 14.50.03I bought the team you see on the left on April 5, 2015, to play in the American Dream League.

It is a keeper league, and I kept Kyle Seager, Kole Calhoun, Luke Gregerson and Kyle Gibson. I also kept Josmil Pinto as my first reserve pick, but he got hurt early in the season in the minors and was never called up.

Still, the other four did pretty well. Well enough to be, arguably, the best kept group in the league. That wasn’t clearly the case on auction day.

Alas, I made three costly errors in hitting on auction day: Victor Martinez (old and hurt and paid like he might repeat his extraordinary 2014 season), Adam LaRoche (got off to a hot start, but also old, and looked it as the season dragged on), and Danny Santana (young and spry but with massive holes in his swing and glove, thus spent most of the year in the minors).

These were all foreseeable outcomes, though none of the prices were crazy considering the players’ 2015 earnings. In any case, I preach it always but in this case I didn’t follow my own advice: Old guys, guys with notable flaws in their games, guys with potential health issues, have to be discounted. Otherwise, you don’t want them.

If you read my comments about Tout Wars, all I have to say here about pitching is, Ugh. I did it again. Kind of. The ADL is a 4×4 keeper league and it is known going in that the top pitchers will be kept or bid up. I priced the top guys aggressively, I thought, but they all went for premium prices. Shut out, unwilling to escalate too much, I got clever and decided to put my money on Alex Cobb, a top starter who was supposed to be back in six weeks. He didn’t come back, and was expensive bust No. 4.

Even so, in mid May I was in second place overall, and my staff was second in ERA and second in WHIP. My hitting was in terrible shape, because of slow starts by everyone. I tried to fix things on the waiver wire, but on April 20, our first week, I didn’t bid on Marco Estrada (who went for $4) and Shawn Tolleson (who went for $0). In the following weeks there wasn’t much pitching available, until Lance McCullers was called up.

I bid, but three teams bid more than $15 out of our $50 budgets. The winning team paid $19. I thought it was too expensive, until I saw McCullers pitch.

As, one by one, my high flying starters combusted, my team sank in the standings. Still, the team that finished last in the draft day standings was in fifth place as late as the penultimate week of the season.

Part of it was the ascension of Eddie Rosario and the resurrection of Shin-Shoo Choo (an old suspect guy who actually went at a discount). Some of it was adding Ben Revere at the trade deadline. I also had Kris Medlen come back in the second half, and picked up Josh Tomlin on waivers. They helped.

Another part was managing to top the league in Wins despite finishing next to last in ERA and fourth from last in WHIP. I had 26 wins from pitchers who had an ERA of more than 5.00 while they labored for my Bad K.

There are two lessons learned here.

1) Take flawed old players at a big discount or not at all. They may not fail, but the cost when they do should be less.

2) If going cheap in pitching, you have to have an ace. If you don’t have an ace you need a broader range of pitching support, which is going to cost more.

Looking at 2016, I have seven keepers max. How about?

Shin-Soo Choo 17
Chris Davis 23
Eddie Rosario 10
Jason Kipnis 20

Danny Salazar 10
Kelvin Herrera 2
Kris Medlen 3

On the Bubble

Salvador Perez 19
Caleb Joseph 1

Last but not least, Walter Shapiro’s Nattering Nabobs kicked ass all season long. They moved into first place the third week of the season, and were never bested after, winning with a 35-year league record 87 points. Here’s the finals (yes, the Palukas passed me on the next to last day, dropping me into the second division):

Screenshot 2015-10-06 23.19.01

 

 

Rotoman’s 5×5 Roto Earnings Through May 4th!

Which pitcher earned the most in the season’s first four weeks? Dallas Keuchel earned $40.

Screenshot 2015-05-06 16.45.28Which pitcher who wasn’t bought was earning the most after four weeks? Nick Martinez earned $24.

Our best hitter the first four weeks? Nelson Cruz earned $51.

And Tim Beckham is the undrafted hitter who is earning the most, with $12.

Each month we publish the 5×5 roto prices, along with a listing of what these player’s cost on auction day, so you can judge how players are performing versus expectations. This month we let the stats run into May a bit because of the late start to the season.

These are 5×5 stats based on a 24-team mixed league, so AL or NL peculiarities are ignored. This makes the prices a little less exact, because league context does affect them, but the differences are small and complicate issues significantly.

You can find the spreadsheet here on Google Docs.

ASK ROTOMAN: Should I WeaR A Dickey?

Dear Rotoman:

I am in a 12 man league in yahoo.  I saw on the waiver wire that R.A Dickey is out there and I was wondering if I should pick him up as my back end starter over Henderson Alvarez or Jason Hammel or even  Ken Giles?

“Fashion Hound”

Dear Hound:

I love RA Dickey much more than I love dickies.

radickeywgripRA Dickey was born without a UCL, for one. For another, he recharged a stalled out career as a pitcher to become, for one season anyway, one of the best pitchers in the game. He also managed to write his autobiography before that career season, and spent much of his time on top of the world doing things like climbing big mountains to raise money for charity.

He also starred in a fun baseball movie called Knuckleball!

dickeycompare1Dickies, on the other hand, were something I wore for some reason when I was a kid, maybe because we were so poor we couldn’t afford an entire turtleneck. What a dweeb!

But that’s the easy question. The question you ask is a little tougher.

Do you want RA Dickey over Henderson Alvarez and Jason Hammel?

I project Dickey to earn $14 this year. He earned $11 last year and $10 the year before. Fantasy experts are paying him about $9 this year.

I project Henderson Alvarez to earn $4 this year, though last year he earned $16. Fantasy experts are paying him about $6 this year.

I project Jason Hammel to earn $7 this year, though last year he earned $14. Fantasy experts are paying him about $5 this year.

So yes, I think you want Dickey, even though he’s old. He’s also a knuckleballer, which reduces the stress on his arm. That said, part of his success was that he was a hard-throwing knuckleballer, and he’s not throwing as hard now as he was during his glorious season. But he’s still effective and probably a better bet than Alvarez and Hammel?

But what about Ken Giles?

He’s not a starter, but he is the closer in waiting behind the Phillies’ most marketable player, Jonathan Papelbon. As a hard-throwing setup guy he can earn $10, but if the Phils are able to move Papelbon he becomes so much more valuable.

I think I would take Dickey for Hammels and hold onto Giles.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

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