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…

ASK ROTOMAN: Help My 17-Team Deep League!

Dear Rotoman:

I’m in a 17 team deep league with unconventional custom categories. I don’t have time to do my own custom predictions and valuations — so i’ve been using Baseball Monster to give me a sense of value. Do you know of any other sites that you would recommend higher? Thanks so much!!

“Unconventional and Custom”

Dear UaC,

It seems that Baseball Monster hasn’t been updated since the end of last season, so I can’t test their custom pricing tool. But I wanted to take on your question because it raises some good questions about customized categories and shallow versus deep leagues.

For one, you score every category the same. At least to start.

If you were making a price for Hit By Pitch, you would rank the hitters from first to last in that category. You would subtract the number of times the last drafted guy is expected to be hit from all the draftable players, which gives you the marginally valuable HBP. You can then divide the number of Marginal HBP by the total Marginal HBP and then multiply that times the amount of money allocated to that category (if your league had four categories, that would be one quarter—25 percent—of the money). Easy.

When you do this after the season you get the true value a player contributed in that category for the year.

But when you do this based on projections for the coming year you run into a few problems.

For instance, not every category is equally reliant on a player’s skill. Strikeouts and walks for pitchers are pretty reliable, at least until the pitcher gets hurt or his skills change, but wins, for instance, are not so reliable.

Clayton KershawClayton Kershaw, the game’s best pitcher, has won 13, 21, 14, 16, and 21 games in the past five years, making all his starts each year except last year. His marginal value would have been 6, 14, 7, 9, and 14, which varies wildly at or above the median marginal value (six each of those years) of a fantasy pitcher taken in the auction. In the three years he didn’t win 21 games, his value above an average starter in wins would have been 0, 1 and 3 wins. No great shakes at all.

So, how do you value those wins? Same pitcher, wildly divergent results. I dare say you don’t value them as reliably as you value his strikeouts. Yet in the standings, each category generates the same amount of value. But in Wins those values are compressed around the middle.

Another way categories vary in value is strategic. In the classic roto game, stolen base and saves guys generally cost less than you would expect based on the value they generate in those categories. While some part of that may be risk management, not putting all one’s eggs in one basket, another reason to devalue a category is because it’s possible to gain points in it without spending any money on it.

The ability to avoid paying for steals and saves in the auction encourages some teams to dump out of the category, spending money that might be budgeted for steals or saves on HR, RBI and Ks. Once a few teams do this, the demand for the top guys in these cats is lowered, and prices fall a bit. The category is still worth the same as other cats, but strategic investment creates and opportunity to reallocate resources more efficiently. You hope.

These are just two ways to evaluate your custom categories, and adjust your thinking about how money will be allocated for different players in your league.

Another factor is the deepness of your league. You call a 17 team league deep, but at that level the available replacement player is a starter. Maybe not a very good one, but good enough to fill in and produce when you have an injury. This bountiful replacement pool means that there is no reason to pay $2 or $5 or even $8 for a player. You can do just fine with the proverbial $1 player at a position or three. And what should you do with the extra money you save?

Buy scarce talent at positions where the talent isn’t that deep. Meaning, buy the best catcher, the best shortstop, the best third baseman, oh, and a reliable closer. Buy steals. Your goal is to get the players who do things that other players at their position don’t, and don’t worry about overpaying for them.

Get the best, then fill in as best you can.

Because, while the Baseball Monster pricer (and really all pricing software) might be able to tell you how much a player was worth in the past, it stumbles dealing with the non-linear values of the top players in a league that has a lot of available replacement talent.

The bottom line here is that you can call a league deep or shallow, but there is an actual definition that describes the difference. In a deep league almost all the available players are active on teams. There is virtually no replacement pool.

A league that has a replacement pool of some robustness is a shallow league. Maybe not as shallow as others, but it is a league that has the qualities of the non-linear pricing described above.

 

I’m sure there’s a formula out there to help translate the values of true deep leagues to far less deep leagues like yours, one that stretches the curve appropriately, but the best way for a fantasy player to make the adjustment is to sit down with the price list and to personally reallocate the excess values of the replacement level players to the best players. Adjust them also to better reflect your assessment of talent and the vagaries of your league, too. It is these things that matter more than hard and fast dollar values in a shallow-er league (much as any competently constructed pricer, like the one behind the pay wall at Rotowire, or the one in the Patton $ software we will be selling very soon, can give you).

Is there a free player pricer that works? There may well be, but the ones I used to use are gone. If you find one you would like me to evaluate, let me know. I’m happy to check it out and pass along what I find.

Linearly,
Rotoman

 

RESOURCE: The Hardball Times Correlation of Every Batted Ball Tool

I sure hope I linked to the Hardball Times Correlation of Every Pitched Ball Tool last year. It is a web app that helps you compare two stats and see how they correlate, either in one year or compared to the next or preceding years.

It is an easy way to quickly test ideas, to see whether the data supports that one stat is a leading indicator of another.

Steve Staude has just released a hitting version of the tool.

Accompanying the two tools (and an accompanying spreadsheet with all the data) he explores some fundamental issues about batted ball data and strike zone data that point to all sorts of evidence to support or crush conjectures.

I happen to like this chart, which shows various rates on batted ball types.

Screenshot 2014-03-01 15.27.07

Steve points out that BABIP on Fly Balls compared to Ground Balls makes it look like Ground Balls are better, but reminds us that since Home Runs aren’t included in BABIP, it is misleading. All the other stats give a better idea of the relative value of Fly Balls and Ground Balls.

 

New Bonus (Pink) Cadillac Edition Out Today!

Includes CBS Sports and LABR expert league prices, as well as projections, bid prices and other updates.

Bruce Springsteen and Jerry Lee Lewis celebrate here:

More information at software.askrotoman.com.

If you’ve bought already, please download at the download page.

Cadillac Edition Update is Out Now!

If you’ve already bought you can go to the Download Page you bookmarked.

If you haven’t, visit software.askrotoman.com for more info.

And no matter, be sure to watch Willy DeVille’s version of Cadillac Walk. He’s relatively young here.

He’s much older in this version, and still devoted to getting it right.

KVETCH: All Star Stats is Horrible!

It is 9 am on Thursday morning. My coffee is gone and my preworkday ritual of checking my fantasy baseball teams has been disrupted because All Star Stats hasn’t updated yesterday’s stats. Instead I see this (click to expand):

This is the third day this week ASS (as we mockingly call them) has failed to do what every other stat service seems able to do; that is, update the standings before midmorning. Yesterday they didn’t update until after 11 am!

This is absurd because ASS is an expensive service. The book rate to run a league for the season is more than $500. We complained a few years ago and they cut the price by a couple hundred dollars, but we still pay a premium. (I should note that the screen capture is from the XFL, which is comped by ASS because we’re a longtime “industry” league. I can’t complain about that. It is the American Dream League that is being bled by the service thieves at All Star Stats.)

If this was the first time there were service problems, so be it, but I was just searching through my email and discovered that we were complaining about this exact same issue in 2007! There have been many days with the same problem every year! Many days. Yes, we are idiots.

What has kept us at ASS all these years is what kept us at USA Stats in the years before that company was bought by All Start stats. (Before that we were with the venerated and brilliant Heath Data Services, perhaps the game’s first stat service, which has not ever been matched, but was sold to USA Stats in the mid-90s.) That is inertia. A league full of older guys fears having to learn a new system. The discomfort zone is high, even when the company delivering the goods now is doing a terrible job of it, costing 350 percent more for fewer features and less reliability.

I can promise you, we will not be with ASS next year. Even the most frightened of our cohort is realizing that this level of indifference is degrading, insulting, cannot be tolerated by reasonable people. Not being able to get our stats for a few hours from time to time isn’t the biggest deal in the world, for sure, but why should we pay extra for this? I should note that the ASS support people write apologetically very well, what with all the practice they’ve had.

ASS is owned by NBC, which is owned by Comcast, neither of which has any organic connection to the fantasy baseball world. They are playing us for fools, and it is well past time we all move on.

The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2012 is now also available online!

Go to thefantasysportsguide.com for details.

It looks great, is adapted for computer monitor and iPad and other tablets, and can be read on smartphones in a pinch, though it isn’t designed for phones.

Here’s a screenshot. It looks just like the printed magazine, except it’s electrons! 

Patton $: March 1st Update is Out!

Some little fixes have been made to the program, but the big news is the inclusion of CBS Sports Expert League prices for the AL (thus far) in the Lg1 column, and full active 4×4 and 5×5 Patton$ formulas in the excel spreadsheet. When you change a projection the prices will change. It’s hours of good fun and a big help in making lists.

Available now!

Head over to software.askrotoman.com for all the detail and to order yours today.

Free Patton $ On Disk Evaluator! Available Now!

The Patton $ Evaluator is Windows software that lets you sort through last year’s stats, apply your 2011 fantasy team rosters, and analyze just what the hell happened, good or bad.

It’s free and we hope serves as in introduction to the Patton $ Projector, which will be released on February 5, with roto prices from Alex Patton, Mike Fenger and me, as well as my championship player projections.

To download and install the Windows program, right click here. Then click the option Save Linked File, or Save Target File. The file will download.

To install, rename the file setup.msi. (This is a security measure. Windows won’t allow you to download an executable file.)

Double-click to launch the installer, and follow the instructions.

Have fun!

A Nathan Mourns…

Everybody knows about Joe Nathan, the man with the most saves in baseball the last six years, who has a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament. The problem right now, for me, is that I’m preparing updated projections for the Patton Software and there is no way to know whether Nathan is out for two months or two years. You see, the odds of Nathan getting back onto a field after rehabbing from surgery are real long, so the first medical approach is to wait a couple/few weeks, try to strengthen the supporting muscles, and see if he can pitch through it.

Not many do, but if he can, then he might get a few months of the season in and have some value this year. If he can’t, he has no value this year at all, and no value next year either. So, what should I do with his projection? And what should I do with the interesting set of relievers in the Twins’ bullpen, any of whom might actually be able to do the job if given the chance?

Let’s call what I do “pussyfootin’,” because it’s a lot like the gait of Violet, the cat that just walked over my keyboard and curled up on the back of my desk and didn’t knock over a thing (and only introduced a few typos along the way). I’m careful, thoughtful, and when I’m clear I leap. And, like Woody Allen, I always usually (yeah, right) land on my feet.

In the new set of projections I cut Nathan’s projection in half, to 35 innings pitched, and I bump his ERA and WHIP up just a bit, then cut his bid price down to $10, which I don’t think I’d pay if I was drafting tonight, but I do think someone else would bid $11 if I did. $10 isn’t likely to be the bid price in two weeks, when we’re supposed to know more, but it does reflect the market now. I don’t think you want Nathan, but you don’t want someone else to get him too cheaply. There is too much we don’t know.

My first impulse after Nathan’s injury was to bump up Jon Rauch’s projection, giving him most of the saves, but while I still think he has to be the favorite to win the job, because he did some time in the past as a closer in Washington, he’s not a lock. I made him $9 at first, because he can earn that as a middle reliever even if he doesn’t get the job, but I’ve now knocked him down to $7 because, well, there are too many alternatives to assume that he will get the job, and too many questions about his work last year to be confident he’ll hold the job if it is given to him.

Matt Guerrier is usually cited as next in line after Rauch, but even though he was a closer in college and has been an excellent middle reliever–other than in 2008–he doesn’t profile as a closer. He doesn’t blow guys away, in other words. I’ve bumped him up to $4 (he earned $15 in 2009) and allocated him some of the saves sliced from Nathan’s line. I think that’s safe, even though he doesn’t have closer upside.

The guy everybody likes for the job, talentwise, is Pat Neshek, who missed most of the last two years following a 2008 breakdown that led to TJ surgery. He’s healthy now, but still working his way back. He’s got an interesting sidearmed delivery that is deceptive and brings lots of movement. Historically, he hasn’t had much of a platoon split. The issue is whether he is really back. Chances are the Twins aren’t going to throw him into the fire immediately, so I give him a few of the saves and a bid of a couple dollars in the new version. You have to be aware of him, but he’s still a long shot at this point.

The other closer-quality pitcher on the Twins’ staff is Jose Mijares, who is the only lefty in the Twins’ pen right now. Even if that situation persists he could get some saves, but he won’t get a lot of saves. I added a couple of saves to his projection, but kept him as a $1 bid. He won’t go for more until the Twins add a lefty to their pen.

Saves are a tricky business. Any pitcher going good can get saves, but we can see with our own eyes that not everyone is able to keep going good when the pressure rises. There are some who say that Mijares is a choker, but his Leverage Index (see baseball-reference.com) shows that he performed best in the toughest situations last year. Until we’ve seen a big enough sample, it’s impossible to really judge a pitcher’s readiness for the role, but easy to understand why guys in high leverage jobs lose their jobs before they can prove that they are victims of the random thing.

Projecting player performance is a tricky business. The talent evaluation part is fairly straight forward, but projecting playing time is usually the difference between a good and bad projection. While pussyfootin’, I try to split the difference, to balance the expression of talent with the possibility of opportunity. Those of us drafting next week are going to have to make catlike choices when it comes to selecting the Twins’ closer. My adjusted bid prices are an attempt to equalize the odds of success vs. price for each player.

Ps. There was speculation today that the Twins might move Francisco Liriano to the pen, maybe even the closer spot, given their situation. This isn’t an obvious move, but if Liriano is struggling as a starter it seems like a natural next step. That, of course, screws all the values above, all of which will be updated next time no matter what happens.