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

Corrections for The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2017

fbg2017-cover-largeFirst off, if you want to read the Mock Draft Commentaries, go here.

If you would like the FBG projections and prices update, it is here. The password is the last name of the first player profiled on page 90 of the 2017 Fantasy Baseball Guide. It is case sensitive.

This is the place where I’ll post corrections and updates to the 2017 Guide. There is a link in the top nav bar, so you can always find it.

Page 6:  Talking about team names, as we do sometimes, Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito were traded from Boston and Washington respectively last winter. While the team changes for both, to the White Sox, made it into their capsules, the wrong team names linger on this page of rookies.

Page 6: Very embarrassing. The photo credit is wrong. The picture of Yoan Moncada is by friend and new contributor Buck Davidson. I’m sooo sorry Buck, and will get a fixed PDF for you to use as a clip.

A Reader Writes:

The Fantasy Baseball Guide is a great pub and is most useful.  I have one question and one suggestion:

Q. It appears to me that Matt Moore’s “Big Price” of $14 is not consistent with his projected stats of 4.44 ERA and 1.35 Whip.   I believe his Win and K totals of 11 W and 127 K are very average.  I understand he has upside potential, but it appears too me that the $14 projection is not supported by your projections. Please explain.

S. It seems to me it would take little effort on your part to include the player’s team either in the “Player’s by Position” section or the Full Profiles.  I play in a hybrid NL + 2AL teams (Houston and Texas) and many of us have limited knowledge of other AL players.  I understand there will be changes between the start of the season and your publication date, but that’s not near the problem of having no idea of the player’s team (and whether or not he is on one of our teams).  Please consider including the team for each player.

Thank you for your consideration.

Dear Reader. The projection in the Guide was the mechanical projection that derived from Moore’s history, and as you note looked rather pessimistic for a player I’m fairly keen on and three other writers made PICKS of this year. I work on the projections all winter and at some point I upgraded Moore to a 3.72 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. It just so happens this projection, also in 150 innings pitched, is worth about $12 and I’ve dropped his bid price to $13. Note that in CBS and LABR, Moore went for $13 and $11, so I was definitely in the ballpark on Moore’s bid price if not his projection in the Guide.

The Guide projections and price update is due tomorrow, probably in the evening, here on the corrections page. It will have hugely reworked projections and bid prices for those who bought the Guide. You may still find it on the shelves at Barnes and Noble and other magazine retailers, and you can also buy the online version at thefantasysportsguide.com. Use the promo code Rotoman17 and get $1 off.

As to the issue of team names, they are available in the stat lines for all the players with major league experience last year. And I do add team names to the end of the prospect capsules because readers very much want them, but it really is a problem to be more definitive. The magazine heads off to the printer just days after the Winter Meetings conclude, and at that point there are still hundreds of free agents out there. Plus, trades will be made. So, the choices are to either list the team name that the player ended last year with, which in hundreds of cases will be wrong, or their team name at press time, which means hundreds will be listed as a Free Agent.

It’s always seemed to me that the team name in the stats is just as reliable as either of the above methods, and doesn’t pretend to an authority that we don’t have in mid December. I’m open to suggestions, surely, so please feel free to send them along.

A reader named Jeffrey reports: I figure that if Tyler Anderson and Jon Gray are worth $2 apiece, then Tyler Chatwood should be worth a bid of $1. If I see anything else of note, I will send another email.

Read more…

Rotoman Is Part of the 2016 FSWA Hall of Fame Class!

screenshot-2016-12-16-12-37-30About a month ago I’d heard from Ron Shandler that I was nominated for inclusion in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. But being nominated was a first step to induction, which might take some years, if it ever happened.

Except that it happened today. I join my friend Lenny Melnick, and Ian Allen, whose Fantasy Football Index I have long admired, in the 2016 FSWA Hall of Fame class!

I also join a Hall full of friends and colleagues whose work has uniformly impressed me over the years, inspired me to work harder and better, and in whose company I am honored to be included.

Thanks to the HoF committee of the FSWA and in particular to director Andy Behrens and board member Ron Shandler, who I know worked on this. I’m very appreciative.

 

Rotoman is the Twins GM!

For the second year in a row Brian Joura of Mets360.com asked me to participate in his GM Simulation.

Here’s the deal: 30 baseball writers are given the rosters of the major league teams and are asked to simulate the offseason. For the second year in a row I had the Twins.

joe_mauer_by_keith_allisonLast year, I dumped Joe Mauer, saved some money and improved the team.

This year, I made more like the real Twins and made Mauer the (downcast) face of the organization. All that money spent on a mild-mannered first baseman who is no Superman made improving the team difficult, but maybe having Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano and Brian Dozier and lots of other young talent will be enough.

I put down some notes about my plans and how I executed them here, at Brian’s site.

You’ll find the comments of other owners on the project page.

I encourage your comments about my moves and everyone else’s. I’m not an expert on the Twins farm system, but it seemed to me there might be enough talent in Gonsalves and Stewart to shore up the rotation if the hitters came through, but that’s far from a sure thing. What is for sure is that there wasn’t the money to buy a better starter than what we already had.

 

 

How It Went: Tout Wars Head 2 Head

Tout Wars decided to start a Head 2 Head game and I set about to create a challenging 12-team mixed game that would not rely on extreme distorting tactics (overloading on relievers or starters) to win. The result was:

The Rules:

5×5, $260, standard Tout Wars rosters (14 hitters, 9 pitchers).

Categories: R, HR, RBI, NET SB, OBP, W+QS, ERA, NET SV, K/9, WHIP

Each team would face each other team twice in 18 one-week contests and four two-week contests. Each contest would generate six games of Wins and Losses. The team that won the most Hitting categories would get two wins, the other two losses. Ties split the two. Same went for Pitching categories, and Overall. So in any contest you might go anywhere from 6-0 to 0-6, with each step in between possible, too. These contests would generate 132 wins and losses for each team.

But there would also be a roto contest going on. Teams would be ranked by 5×5 roto standings for the first half of the season (opening day to July 3 this year),  the second half of the season, and the season as a whole. Each of the three parts would generate 11 wins or losses, so the first place team would go 11-0, the second place team 10-1, and so on. This would generate 33 more wins and losses, so each team would have 165 decisions, three more than a major league team.

There were minimum innings requirements for each half of the season and the season as a whole (450 each half, 900 for the whole).

Fairly late in the game I decided to play this game this year, rather than in Tout NL, because I had never played in a Head to Head league and thought I should take some of my my own medicine.

You can read my preseason comments about my team here.

rotomanisthebestLong story short? I finished third, behind Jeff Zimmerman and Brent Hershey. But the highlight of my year was winning a side bet with Howard Bender, which resulted in this picture being splashed via social media all over the internet.

Here’s a link to the final standings. You’ll find the week-by-week results here.

The first thing that happened was that my main steals guy, Dee Gordon, was suspended and missed the first 80 games of the season. Still, I finished second in steals for the first half because Mike Trout was running and Wil Myers was running and I picked up Jose Ramirez after it looked like Brad Miller wasn’t going to play regularly and he was running. As was Paul Goldschmidt. So, steals weren’t a problem.

Hitting wasn’t a problem, all season, except for the week I lost 6-0 to Andrea LaMont, whose team was built around a strong pitching staff that didn’t perform. Along the way I picked up Aledmys Diaz and Jean Segura, in addition to Ramirez, and all produced in the cumulative and qualitative cats, and Trout, Goldschmidt, Manny Machado all stayed healthy and did their typically excellent jobs. Then reservist Trea Turner emerged and Dee Gordon returned and the offense got even stronger in the second half, even with Diaz missing a lot of time to injury, though by then I could have used Brad Miller back, for his power.

Net Saves became a problem. Jonathan Papelbon, Trevor Rosenthal and David Robertson did not endure. So I hovered in the middle of the pack, winning some weekly contests and losing others.

The biggest problem was that I had one ace. His name was Jake Arrieta and he was a monster in the first half. So was Taijuan Walker. Rich Hill and Trevor Bauer helped in the first half, but Kevin Gausman was inconsistent and hurtful, and Jared Eickhoff turned a fast start into a mess. Still, the bottom line was that my anchor kept the ship afloat, and I finished middle-up in all the pitching categories except W+QS.

The biggest problem came when my anchor went overboard in the second half, and my ship,  er, pitching staff sank. Arrieta became inconsistent and in many weeks was a liability. Overall he had a 4.48 ERA in the second half and struck out barely more than seven batters per nine. Taijuan Walker was terrible when he was healthy enough to take the mound, and Rich Hill didn’t take the mound enough to compensate.

Saves continued to be a problem, too. I picked up Tony Watson and Brandon Maurer to replace the fallen Papelbon and Rosenthal, which worked for a while, but then they went down, too. I again finished in the middle of saves, but near or at the bottom of ERA and WHIP and in the middle in K/9.

The result was that I often lost the pitching categories in the H2H part of the game, which led to a lot of 4-2 and 3-3 weeks. Not good enough to catch Jeff Zimmerman and Brent Hershey, who soldiered on. I did wreck Hershey’s chances with a 6-0 victory over him in the penultimate H2H contest, but that’s no satisfaction.

Could I have done something different? In hindsight I should have traded either Dee Gordon or Trea Turner or Travis Jankowski or Wil Myers or Paul Goldschmidt for good starting pitching. I mean, how could I not? What I can is that I tried to shortly after Gordon returned, but got no interest then at all, and I have to admit that after a while I felt defeated. I didn’t see a way to catch the leaders, even though I wasn’t that far back. The problem had to do with K/9 as a category.

Looking for a starting pitcher, I needed one with a high K rate. But so, obviously enough, did everyone else. That’s because most starters with high K rates are productive pitchers in ERA and Ratio, too, and probably Wins and Quality Starts, as well. That makes them hugely valuable and pretty much irreplaceable. Especially given the innings minimum, because not only are you then losing a high K rate pitcher when you trade him, but you’re adding someone who hurts you in that category. You can’t sit on a lead, you’re likely to be actively undermining it. Not cool.

I’m not sure if this is a flaw, exactly, but it was a part of this year’s game. Alternatives are all problematic, which is how we ended up with the current rules. Doing away with the minimum innings requirement means starters have no value in the H2H part of the game. Changing to a cumulative stat, like K or K-BB robs relievers of most of their value. But I wonder if that is a bad thing? It may be in a 12-team league, but not in a larger deeper league. I’m not sure.

We’ll be having a discussion about that over the winter. What seems evident is that teams that spent less on pitching finished in the top three positions (Howard Bender spent less, too, but had the misfortune of ending up with Sonny Gray and Gerrit Cole as his aces).

We’ll also evaluate whether going to Net Saves and Steals was a good thing, or if it just complicated things unnecessarily. What Net Saves did was undermine the value of non-closing relievers, because they tend to blow more saves than they get actual chances to earn them.

And finally, we’ll look at the hybrid H2H/Roto structure. It made a difference. Brent Hershey’s team won the roto standings all three parts of the season, while Jeff Zimmerman’s team finished second and I finished third. Zimmerman adapted after finishing tied for first in H2H the first half and won the H2H handily in the second half. Similarly, Jake Ciely’s team edged mine in H2H both halves, but I was able to overtake him because of the roto games. Since the advantage seems to have gone both ways, to the H2H play in the Zimmerman case, and to the Roto play in my case, maybe there is something to this.

The biggest problem was incorporating the roto standings into the website. If we can come up with a better way we’ll probably get rid of the roto part. Or not. It’s all up for review.

What I know is that this was a fun and challenging game to play and follow along with (though I’m not sure whether Doug Anderson and Andrea LaMont feel the same way).