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.

 

 

 

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.

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!

ASK ROTOMAN: Hold On I’m Comin’!

My league 8 team AL only 5×5 pitching categories are QS, SV, Holds, K and ERA.

We have had holds for at least seven years. I always struggle with it. Since its a bit of an odd ball category not much is written about it. A hold is a terrible stat, but it brings value to middle relievers. I was wondering if you had any good advice on how to attack Holds?

“Hold Out”

Holds is a terrible stat, just about as terrible as Saves, though a little worse because a staff can have more holds in a game than Saves, or Wins, for that matter.

But in the fantasy game, holds can have a solid role, as a way to value productive relief pitchers, even if they don’t find their way into the closing job.

What’s curious about your league is that instead of combining Saves and Holds in a single category that values relief pitchers, you’ve split the two imperfect stats so that you have to man two less-than-perfect categories.

The cool thing about that is that you’ll need to roster a closer, and an eighth inning guy, at least, so i guess your question is, how do you identify the eighth inning guy.

Path No. 1: Read many comments from each team’s manager about how he is going to set up his bullpen. Of course you’re going to roster a closer or two, but then also keep an eye on the guys who are identified as setup guys. These are the guys likely to run up high holds totals.

Path No. 2: Identify guys with high strikeout totals and low walk totals. These guys may not be identified by their managers as closers in waiting or setup guys, but they’re likely–if they can keep it up–to be increasingly trusted in game situations, which means they’re likely to add Holds or Saves as the season goes along.

The quirkiness of your rules also means that you can mess around with your roster configuration. Clayton Kershaw plus a roster of high strikeout relievers could finish high in ERA, Holds, and Saves, and in the middle of the pack in Strikeouts, for middle of the pack money. But even if you put together a more traditional staff, high strikeout pitchers are going to help you in Ks and ERA, and maybe Holds and Saves, too.

Past performance and youth are the best predictors of high strikeout rates among relievers.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

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: Boring or Flashy?

Dear Rotoman:

Do you think it would be wise to cut Tyler Clippard and pick up Miguel Castro of Toronto?

It is a 10-team mixed league roto league. I look forward to your reply,

“Bedazzled”

Dear B:

Tyler Clippard is the closer on the Oakland Athletics, but has not yet had a save opportunity in this young season. It’s expected that Clippard will return to his usual role as a setup guy once Sean Doolittle comes off the DL, which is expected to be in late May.

castro3Miguel Castro is a hard-throwing youngster who has surprisingly ended up as the Blue Jays closer just a week into the season. He’s a lively performer who already ranks fourth on the list of 20 and younger pitchers with the most saves since MLB went to Divisional play in 1968.

And that’s the rub. We’re in mostly uncharted territory here. Terry Forster had 26 saves in 1972 as a 20 year old, Victor Cruz had nine in 1978, and Don Gullett had six in 1970, all before the era of fantasy baseball. Is a 20 year old with just 15 starts in Single-A last year able to hold onto the closing job all season long?

And what are the chances that Doolittle doesn’t make it back in five weeks, or he cedes the closer job even if he does make it back?

There are no hard and fast answers to any of these questions. What I think we know is that Castro probably has a slightly higher save ceiling than Clippard, but Clippard might be a little more reliable. That is, Castro is the greater unknown here, and thus comes with greater risk, but also has a better chance to get a lot of saves this year.

For me, this seems to be a bit of a sideways move for you. Probably worth doing if Castro is cheap, certainly worth doing if you don’t have to throw Clippard back, but in all likelihood, not a reason to bet the farm.

Edge to Castro.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

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

.

Protected: Stats Update: Password is the last word in Buck Davidson’s Allen Craig profile, page 46, in the 2015 Fantasy Baseball Guide

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

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…