LINK: Building a Major League Bullpen

Former Fantasy Baseball Guide writer and former Brewers and Mariners front office hand Tony Blengino takes a look at the best bullpens in each league in each year since 2000, and what he discovers is something we only-league fantasy players have already figured out: Even though good relievers are important and can earn lots of fantasy value, non-closers are not a good place to invest draft dollars.

Analysis at Fangraphs well worth reading for what it tells us about player consistency, management intention, and how the two are not a straight line.


LINK: Strength of Schedule is a Little Thing.

soslightsAs the editor of a fantasy football magazine, I’m aware that schedule strength is a big thing in the make believe pigskin racket. But we don’t talk about it much in baseball because it is a little thing.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.

Jeff Sullivan, at FanGraphs, took a look at the relative strength of the divisions today. That’s a little interesting, especially the historical chart, but really, didn’t we all know that already?

Commenters also pointed out that division strength is meaningful but unevenly distributed. The best team in the division plays the four weaker teams, it doesn’t have to play itself. And the worst teams plays the four stronger teams, it doesn’t get to play itself.

So Jeff did some math stuff, I’m not sure what, and came up with a strength of schedule for each team. Assuming he got the math stuff right, we get a little more granular on the way strength of schedule affects baseball teams.

Some folks in the comments created and posted images that add info, like hitting/pitching splits to the graph.

This summary of team WAR in the site’s Depth Charts pages could be a good way to find systemic imbalances that might affect fantasy value and is worth checking out, too.

I’m pretty sure we’ve got most of these things priced in, but it can’t hurt to have more information.


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.


The Fangraphs Mock Draft: Live Blog

I’m posting here as it goes along, on Monday night, about my picks. I’m sitting in the 17th seat in an 18-team league, mostly because I didn’t realize that the hammer was available. Now, every seat is taken but first. Interesting.

UPDATE: You will find the whole draft results at Couch Managers. There is a discussion going on over at Fangraphs.

Music: Holy Modal Rounders 1+2
Beer: Six Points Sweet Action (with dinner)

Bring it on at 9pm. See you then.

8:51pm: With the 17th pick, I’m hoping for scraps. That someone really good will fall. This isn’t really a year for such a thing. After Trout and Cabrera, I would argue, everyone is a little suspect (or perhaps better said, interchangeable). For instance, I don’t know if I’d take Cano over Hanley Ramirez, and yet there is some small chance that Ramirez will fall to 17th, while no chance at all that Cano will. So, I wait.

9:01: Derek Van Riper took Mike Trout.

Jason Kipnis9:11: Hanley Ramirez didn’t fall, didn’t come close. I took Jason Kipnis, even though I had Adrian Beltre ranked higher, hypnotized by the colors of Couch Manager’s software.

9:12: Beltre was still there on the way back. Brilliant. Now I have to wait 34 picks. The guy on the turn took Ellsbury and Fielder, perfectly fine picks ahead of Beltre, but I’ll suggest that position aside (which is an advantage for Beltre), he’s been a better and more consistent offensive player than those two. But he’s getting older, and any of these guys can have a great year that beggars all the others.

9:31: Third round I took Elvis Andrus, whose youth outweighs his struggles last year. In the fourth after the turn I took Joe Mauer, filling out my skill positions. I would have taken Jason Heyward ahead of Mauer, but he was taken just before it got back to me. I didn’t really set out to take skill position guys, but in each case the available outfielders and first basemen seemed wanting. But now it’s time to change focus. I’m still waiting on pitchers unless someone prime falls to the next spot.

Music: Acid Tongue, Jenny Lewis

9:52: Fifth round goes to Josh Hamilton, my first outfielder. The timing is right, though my confidence of a rebound isn’t strong. But it is possible. Sixth round to Mike Napoli, rounding out my infield. Last year is repeatable, which would be just fine here.

10:06: Seventh round I had to turn to pitchers. The only offensive players who attracted were JJ Hardy and Leonys Martin. I took Mike Minor, hoping Martin would fall, but he was grabbed. I took Shelby Miller next, not Hardy, because it seemed like a time to take pitchers. Not sure there was a right or wrong choice, just my preference to build somewhat symmetrically, if I can.

10:20: Ninth round went for Addison Reed, a closer. This is unusual for me, but in keeping with my determination that it is good to have a closer. With the 10th pick I was going to take Will Venable, but he was snatched, so I took Brett Gardner instead. I’m now a little speed heavy. The alternative was Johnny Cueto, who might be great again but comes with some risk. Adding an outfielder felt like it made more sense.

Music: Off. The rest of the house is in bed.

10:36: 11th and 12th round went to my top two picks in queue, while I was chatting about Tout Wars and the new auction location, which will be open to the public. Details to come. Hello Justin Masterson and RA Dickey. I couldn’t be happier.

10:52: 13th round had Dayan Viciedo and Carlos Quentin atop the queue, and I gladly grabbed Viciedo, who will have a very big year someday soon. But I had second thoughts on Quentin and took George Springer instead. Some power, more speed than I need, but more health and excitement, too. The guy after me took Quentin with the next pick.

11:07: 15th Round I took Mike Moustakas, who is a hard worker and will succeed if he’s physically capable. He should get another solid chance to try. I consider him sold post-hype speculation. In Round 16 I took Gerardo Parra, who is probably better defined by his limitations so far than his excellent baseball skills. I hope for some sort of breakout.

11:13: Round 17 goes to Joe Kelly, who could be a potent starter but qualifies as a reliever in this league. Erasmo Ramirez, who should be healthy and has the skills to succeed if he can get the rest of it in place, is my 18th pick. In a regular mixed league these seem like reaches, but at this point in an 18 team league we’re all grasping a little.

11:26: In the 19th I took Rickie Weeks for middle infield. Maybe he’s done, but he was by far the most potentially potent MI available. In the 20th I took Archie Bradley, who isn’t a sure thing either, but has the skills to step into the rotation and succeed immediately.

11:39: It’s late and the pickin’s are very slim. My hitting is mostly reliable, so I added Byron Buxton, who will have to be replaced for the first half of the season (at least), but at this point there will be reserve guys who can fill in. At 22 I take Tanner Roark, who I’m surprised has lasted this long. The idea is the same: Big upside, if they play, and replaceable in the near term if they don’t.

11:49: At 23 I take Jeremy Hellickson, coming off an awful year after showing years of great potential and modest results. I still see success coming, but I’m glad it’s the reserves. In the 24th round I go for Michael Pineda, a great arm coming back from potentially career-ending surgery (and some shoulder woes last summer during rehab), which is exactly where he should go.

11:54: Final pick, last reserve pick, is Felix Doubront, who had a good run last summer, sandwiched by a terrible start and an awful ending. He’s still young with good stuff. Fingers crossed and I hope I don’t have to use him once Bradley makes the bigs.

More Hitter/Pitcher Split Talk at Fangraphs

Eno Sarris took a twittersation I had with Chris Liss, Steve Gardner, Jeff Erickson and Mike Gianella, following my appearance on the radio with Chris and Jeff earlier day, and turned it into more talk about these valuation issues.

You can read my fully expressed take at And I’ll be writing more about some ancillary issues in the coming days at that site.