Ask Rotoman: Canha Worms

Dear Rotoman:

I play in a roto 5×5 league which uses OBP instead of BA. Why is Mark Canha rated so low?

Andy

Dear Andy,

First thing, my prices and rankings are for batting average leagues. I’m a big fan of using OBP, it makes total sense to credit hitters with walks, especially when we penalize pitchers for them, but OBP hasn’t caught on yet. So my price, $11, reflects Canha’s weak batting average, not his very good on base percentage.

That said, a few facts argue against that $11 price.

  1. Canha earned $17 last year, and $11 the year before.
  2. He went for $15 and $14 in the CBS and LABR expert leagues this year, both BA leagues, and $16 in Tout Wars, which uses OBP.
  3. My own projection is rosier than any of those carried at FanGraphs, and when you price it it suggests Canha is a $16 player on par in BA leagues, a dollar or two more in OBP leagues.

Absent a transcript of what I was thinking when I priced him at $9 in March, and bumped him to $11 earlier this month in the update, here are the caveats:

  1. He shined last year as a full time player after the break, a career year really, but that’s a small sample after more spotty playing time because he’s generally been weak against lefties. He hit eight homers last year against lefties, good, with a .221 BA. Bad. If he loses at bats he loses value.
  2. He’s 31 years old and falls into that class of player who is older, less athletic, platoonable and more prone to lose his job to younger and more athletic players at any time. And if his gains the last two years are real, he’s a classic late bloomer, a type of hitter who generally falls apart quickly as he ages.

Will Canha lose his job this year? Probably not. Could he match last year’s numbers? Certainly, but is that guaranteed? Far from it, and there is some little risk of collapse.

So, I gave him an $11 price because he’s not the sort of player you want to bid up to his career best price, he’s the sort you want to sneak in after all the sexier choices are gone and the boring choice goes a little cheaply.

Still, $11 is probably a little too pessimistic. That’s the price you want to pay for him, but odds are good in BA leagues he’ll go for $13-15, as he did in the expert leagues that use BA, and $16 as he did in Tout. That’s okay. I’ve bumped his price to $13, because it might make sense for you to pay that at some point. In OBP maybe you want to go $14.

And, of course, if you’re a big fan and you want to take him to $16, that may well work out. So, feel free, but you won’t find me bidding against you if you do.

Thanks for the question!

Ask Rotoman: We Heart JD Bolick!

Dear Rotoman:

This may seem silly, but have you considered putting what was prepared for Fantasy Football Guide online for a nominal charge or free? One of the big annual NHL guides did that in a year where there was strike uncertainty. I need to know what J. D. Bolick thinks of rookies! I have been checking the cigar store for FFG compulsively — a real downer that you aren’t publishing.

Alan

Thanks for your note Alan. If we had started work on the Guide and had something to show we would certainly share it, but because we were in lockdown at the time we usually start work on the mag (the day after the NFL Draft), and the publisher was unsure whether he would pay for it, we didn’t start working.

And so, not unexpectedly, no work was done, and hence we have nothing to share.

I sent your note to JD and he was grateful for the support. And we all look forward to the chance that next year we’ll be back on our regular schedule. We’re sorry to miss this one.

Best,


Ask Rotoman News, June 25 Edition

The biggest news is that The Fantasy Football Guide 2020 is shelved. The publisher was getting too few advance orders from skittish retailers, and so we’re taking a pass for this season. We hope there’s a football season this fall and you can enjoy it without the Guide.

The goal is to be back for baseball come January, if possible.

In the meantime, we have baseball potentially starting up. Updated projections and prices for buyers of The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2020, reflecting the 60 game season and the unbalanced schedule, will be available on July 9th on the Updates and Corrections page here.

Feel free to ask Rotoman any questions about this strange and endangered season.

Despite pessimism about the chance the full 60 games get played, I’m looking forward to reconsidering baseball again.

Last time I bought this team in the Tout Wars NL auction back in March.

Photo by Keith Allison

Ask Rotoman: What happens to Domingo German this season?

Ask Rotoman: How will multiple game suspensions for an individual player that were supposed to start at the beginning of the season in March, be calculated when and if the season does start. Will there be a reduction of games due to the late start?

Good question. Here’s what MLB says:

All suspensions of 80-or-fewer games will be served in 2020 if games are played. Should the season be canceled, those suspensions would not carry over to 2021.

MLB.com

What MLB doesn’t say is whether those suspensions will be pro-rated for the games that will be (we hope) played this year. For instance, if the season is scheduled for 81 games, will German’s suspension be 80 games (the full monte) or 40 games (the prorated part).

The canceling of the suspensions if the season isn’t played at all suggests that the suspensions will be pro-rated, I think, in recognition that the punishment is meant to be proportional. This is also how service time will be treated for all players. Given players’ limited shelf life, giving them a full season penalty when a half seasons worth of games are played seems excessive.

But since this isn’t stated we can’t really know for sure until issues like the length and shape of the schedule are worked out, and both players and owners can assess how things are going to go. That won’t be until late May, at the very earliest, it looks like. We hope.

ASK ROTOMAN: A Keeper Question

I’m in a 12 team auction keeper league with 30-man roster. We are allowed to keep up to seven players. Each year a player is kept his salary goes up $5. We can keep a player for a max three yrs. This year’s salary is in parentheses. Out of the following players who would you keep. M Chapman(11), P Dejong(13), V Robles(18), E Jimenez(11), J Luzzardo(14), T Glanow(12), S Bieber(15), j lucchesi(11), N Senzel(12), J James(11), J Villar(16).

First off, if salaries go up $5 a year, I don’t see why you have a three year limit. The idea of an escalating salary is that eventually the player becomes too expensive. This might happen in a year or two, usually, and for some surprising players it might not happen for four or five years. But it happens.

Get rid of the time limit. Reward teams who get in early on the right guys.

As far as your keeps, I’m assuming you’re using a S260 budget. The thing is in a 12 team mixed league the stars should go for a lot of money, and middling talents should go for a lot less. So I don’t see your list as choices between prices as much as choices between players.

You have some big talents, not all of them yet fully expressed. So, you have to keep Shane Bieber, Nick Senzel, Jonathan Villar, Jesus Luzzardo, Tyler Glasnow, Eloy Jimenez and Victor Robles. And you’re done.

Really. Chapman and Dejong had great years, are very good players, but they and more like them will once again go for $11 or $13 because we’ve seen their best and that’s what they’re worth in a deep league. They may be better this year than Senzel or Jimenez, but they’ll go cheaper in your auction. That’s what keepers are made out of.

Trade Talk

Q: Should I trade Mitch Garver for Dansby Swanson in a straight trade? Seems a little light to me. I have two other startable catchers.

A: I like Swanson. They both earned the same last year. Garver was a career year. Swanson, probably not. Better could come. Have no idea if you could do better for Garver, who did hit a ton of homers in limited AB, but if you can’t Swanson is a good match I think.


Ask Rotoman: Keeping It Fair While Adding Keepers

Dear Rotoman:

As commissioner of our league we traditionally kept three players for three seasons with the three keepers counting as your first three picks just to keep it simple.

I was wondering if we gave owners the option to keep up to five players with those players going as your five first rounds. But I want to keep it fair for all owners, even ones that don’t have a too many true keepers.

My question is, would it necessarily hurt a weak team if he only kept one or two players and attempted to rebuild from the draft. My goal is not to put someone at disadvantage because these changes.

“Even Steven”

Dear Even:

Your issue isn’t expansion, I don’t think, but rather your decision to make your keepers the first three picks in your draft. This setup means that the keeper comparison, the rationale for keeping a guy rather than throwing him back and taking the best available player, is much higher than it probably should be.

Here’s why:

Assuming your league is 12 teams (but it doesn’t matter if it isn’t, the same rationale would apply to any size league), your three keeps are going to take 36 players off the draft board. Are these the top 36 players on your board? Almost certainly not.

Well, the first few years they might be close, but as freeze eligibilities expire for players they go back up on the board. If they are better than your third-best, or second-best, or even first-best freeze, you might as well not keep the keeper, or keepers.

This is sure to happen, and when it does your keeper system should break down quickly. The only way for it to not break down is if each owner is required to keep three players.

And, of course, expanding to five keepers, and giving owners the option to not keep five, will only make matters worse.

The right way to value keepers in a draft league is to keep them in the round they were taken originally. That way they have real value and don’t have to compete with the best available players on the draft board for value.

It isn’t as easy to track, but it isn’t that hard either, and should make your game much more fun.

Sincerely,

ASK ROTOMAN: More categories please.

Hi,

Our three-player keeper/yahoo standard roster /10 team league/ daily moves. wants to modernize our standard 5×5 categories for next season, but we can’t come to an agreement.

Either 6×6 adding OPS, QS and replacing S with S+H.

Or 7×7 adding OBP, SLG, QS, Holds separate.

We are expanding the rosters slightly next season as well, and we also don’t want to drop the win category all together.

We don’t know what potential issues we will have with these potential set ups, thanks for your help.

“Cats Meow”

Dear Cats:

I’m in favor of modernizing, for sure, but you were right to ask, because there are implications worth considering in all your potential moves.

The big one: Do more categories make for a better game? The obvious answer is with more categories you have more verisimilitude. More different players have value doing different things and that’s good, right?

Maybe not. Or rather, more categories means you run into a math problem. Back in ancient times we played 4×4 (no Runs or Strikeouts), but sometime around 2000 it became obvious that more and more people were playing 5×5 (with Runs and Strikeouts). In Tout Wars we switched over and those of us who do player pricing discovered something that makes total sense but wasn’t at all intuitive: More cats mean the most expensive players earn less.

The reason is math. Each category siphons off some value from the players at the top, and gives it to the players in the middle. Last year the game’s premiere strikeout pitcher, Max Scherzer, earned $40 in 5×5 (with strikeouts) and $41 in 4×4 (without strikeouts). Crazy, eh? Be prepared for that.

In other instances, you’re adding redundant categories. For instance, if you add OPS to a league that counts batting average, too, you’re counting batting average twice. And counting home runs twice, too, since they’re a big part of the SLG slice of OPS. I would recommend replacing BA with OBP, so that you count walks on the hitting side as well as the pitching side, and be done with it.

Similarly, adding QS as an extra category in addition to Wins, means starting pitchers games started are counted twice in counting stats (plus strikeouts! That’s three times) and they loom larger in ERA and WHIP as well. This will make good starting pitchers much more valuable, and much more pricey I would think.

Plus, adding Holds to the Saves category makes relievers much less valuable. The reason is supply and demand. Saves have value because there is only one fellow on a team getting a save in any given game. Holds can be spread between two or three pitchers, which expands the pool significantly. With more supply comes less demand, and lower prices. Is that what you want?

In The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2012, I think, Tim McLeod pitched the idea of using Saves + Half Holds as a category, to give recognition to middle relievers, but to continue to venerate those who are able to close games without getting hurt or becoming ineffective. I think this is much better way to go.

And while we’re at that, Wins + Half QS as a single cat recognizes that bad luck can hurt starters who are pitching effectively without destroying the notion that getting a win is something pitchers are trying to do and should be rewarded for.

Okay, so right now I’m on: OBP, Runs, HR, RBI, SB for hitters. ERA, WHIP, W+Half QS, Sv + Half Holds, and Strikeouts for pitchers. Hmm. 5×5.

I guess if you wanted to go to 6×6 I’d suggest adding SLG to the hitting side (count doubles as well as homers) and Innings Pitched to the pitching side, though I fear that doubling up on IP and Ks is going to push too much value to the pitchers again. Tristan Cockcroft has long suggested adding IP and changing Ks to K/9, making it a third pitching rate stat. That does restore some balance to the starter/reliever mix.

Might there be unintended consequences having half the pitching cats be rate stats? There might be, but Tristan swears by this and so it is surely worth a shot.

One other idea: Fielding stats. I know, they’re all flawed, but in fantasy baseball the goal isn’t a perfect reflection of a player’s contribution on a baseball field, but a given valuation based on the stats you choose to count.

Inside Edge has published fielding stats in recent years that track plays based on difficulty. So they have plays rated Impossible (no one can make them), Remote (a 1-10 percent chance), Unlikely (11-40 percent chance), Even (40-60), Likely (60-90), and Routine (91-100). My idea is to add Remote plays as a counting stat.

Last year, Nolan Arenado made 39 Remote plays, two more than Brandon Crawford, who made one more than Manny Machado. This would be a little like Home Runs, events that some players do regularly, but far from every day. Giving value to Brandon Crawford for his defense seems like a worthwhile idea.

The other category would be to count Routine as a rate stat, so every error or misplay on a play everyone should make would hurt your team in that one. Many outfielders and catchers top this list, having not made a mistake on a routine play last year, but there is Rougned Odor in 19th place, the highest ranked middle infielder by far. Let’s give him a hand.

The only problem is that this data is not available from Inside Edge in game, and FanGraphs is not even showing it for 2019. If no stats services have it, it doesn’t exist, so for now this is a pipe dream. But in the future, I’m all in.

Good luck with your decision. I hope you and your leaguemates have a fun discussion.

Sincerely,

Ask Rotoman: Two Fer Two Trade

Ask Rotoman: Hey hope all is well. Love the articles!!

I am in a 10 team NL-only 5×5 league. I was offered Starling Marte and Archie Bradley for Sonny Grey and Ben Zobrist. Should I jump on it?? Should I stay away from Marte?? Thanks!!

“Contusion Confusion”

Hey CC:

All is good here. Thanks for the question.

I’d say about 100 percent of your question turns on how hurt Marte is. We don’t have a definitive answer, but after running into Erik Gonzalez last week Marte has resumed some baseball activities. Does that mean he’s due back soon? No.

But it does mean that there is a timeline for him coming back. Since he’s a bit of a star that’s important, because the other guys in your deal are not stars. An Archie Bradley who isn’t closing is a fill in type. Not a bad pitcher, but someone you’re looking to replace if you have him active.

As for Sonny Grey, so far so good. Right now he’s pitching like the front line pitcher he was a few years ago. If he continues with that he could be worth Marte, who is a front line hitter (when he gets over the injury). Are you going to bet he continues with that?

As far as Zobrist goes, he’s the bat side equivalent of Archie Bradley. Useful in an NL only league, but less so in a 10 team edition.

In conclusion. Starling Marte in a hot month or two could produce more than the other three combined over the whole season. Or not, but I think that’s the bet you want to take.

“Unreservedly,”

Patton $ Cheat Sheets are here in time for your Fantasy Baseball Auction/Draft! That means now!

Is your fantasy baseball draft coming up? Are you not ready? Or would you like to see what lists Alex Patton and Rotoman (FSWA Hall of Famers) are using this year? No matter what you need, they are here to help.

We’ve extracted all the ranked position charts from the PattonandCo.com annual subscriber package (which we’ve been selling for 20 years and you can buy here) and made Fantasy Baseball Cheat Sheets based on Alex’s 4×4 and Rotoman’s 5×5 lists for AL, NL and Mixed leagues.

These lists are great for reviewing your own opinions, or as the basis for your auction/draft itself. These are the Cheat Sheets Alex and Rotoman will be taking to their own AL and NL only auctions this week and next.

Interested? You can read more and buy by clicking here.