Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fantasy Baseball Blog News of the Day - May 9th

Who doesn't enjoy a good fantasy baseball challenge? Arod on the DL, Tulowitzki out until mid-season, Gallardo out for the year, etc...But if fate didn't throw curveballs like these our way, what would be the point of actually playing out the fantasy season? We could just take our pre-season stat projections, apply them to all players drafted, and pick a winner without even playing a single game.

But players really play, and players really get hurt. Enjoy these challenges, don't get frustrated (as it really is still early), and use your creativity when trying to find a way to keep your teams afloat.

And without further delay, here is today's fantasy baseball blog news of the day:

-Greener on the Other Side takes a look at some of the early season BABIP winners & losers

-Roto Authority has updated their post on all closers in the league

-Fantasy Gameday takes a look at the top K/100 pitchers

-Crooked Pitch gives their week 5 fantasy MVPs

-According to Razzball, you know your fantasy baseball team sucks when...

I'll have some more juicy baseball thoughts for you this weekend, so stay tuned.

Friday, May 2, 2008

MLB Blog Poll - Week 4 (NL Vote)

First off, sorry for the lack of updates recently; it's the busy time of year for my real job (budget season), so that's been monopolizing much of my time. I plan on making some updates this weekend, so stay tuned.

This week, we voted on the NL MVP, CY Young, and Rookie of the Year. Here is how we voted in the weekly MLB Blog Poll brought to you by Baseball Happenings.
NL MVP:
1) Chase Utley - He's already known as the one of the top second basemen in the league; this is the year that he's proving to that he's more than just an elite second baseman, he's one of the elite players in the entire game.
2) Chipper Jones - He's still hitting well over .400 after nearly 100 at bats...enough said.
3) Derrek Lee - Gold glove defense, and he's hitting nearly .360 with 7 HR & 20 + RBI's.

NL CY Young:
1) Jake Peavy - Continues to be one of the most consistently dominant starters in the game today.
2) Tim Lincecum - He's on pace to finish with a 26-0 record and 233 K's...which probably won't happen; no matter, he's been one of the best this season & has found ways to get wins with a limited offense behind him (it helps only have allowed 4 ER all season).
3) Ben Sheets - He drops a few spots this week after his recent missed starts, but he has been very impressive this season; let's hope he can get & stay healthy.

NL Rookie of the Year:
1) Jair Jurrjens - The league is hitting only .214 against him, and he's on pace for a 19 win season; not bad for a 22 year old.
2) Geovany Soto - Is actually giving fellow rookie Fukudome a run for his money right now for the title of best rookie in the Windy City.
3) Johnny Cueto - He's going to be a stud for a long time, but he's suffering some growing pains right now. He keeps putting up quality starts & showing great control, but he has allowed at least one HR in every start this season (for a total of 6 on the year).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

MLB Blog Poll - Week 3 (AL Vote)

Time for another weekly MLB Blog Poll. This week, we evaluated the MVP, CY Young, and Rookie of the Year candidates in the AL (if the season were to end today). You can find the entire results at Baseball Happenings or directly here.

Our voting for this week is below; one item to note, we're looking like geniuses for picking Ellsbury for Rookie of the Year - he's had an incredible past week (in 27 AB, he's hitting .370 with 11 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, and 6 SB!), and now appears fully entrenched in the CF job for Boston. Crisp will get some playing time now & again, but there is no denying Ellsbury talent & ability to be an every day player in the majors.
AL MVP:
1) Manny Ramirez - He's on pace for 162 RBI & appears focused on the task at hand...helping the Red Sox win another championship.
2) Josh Hamilton - He's the real deal
3) BJ Upton - Doing a bit of everything

AL CY Young:
1) Cliff Lee - Proving he can pitch great against more than just the Oakland's lineup. After two wins against the A's to start the year, he threw his second 2 hitter on Friday, this time against the Twins. The league is hitting only .111 against him.
2) Felix Hernandez - Impressive thus far
3) Ervin Santana - Has pitched well on the road so far (shocking), and continues to pitch great at home (expected).

AL Rookie of the Year:
1) Jacoby Ellsbury - This race is bound to heat up now that Longoria is up in the majors to stay, but Ellsbury has played well so far this year. He's showing a great eye at the plate (12 BB's to only 4 K's), and is running with success on the basepaths (6 SB).
2) Nick Blackburn - Been a solid addition to the Twins rotation
3) Evan Longoria - He's in the majors to stay, and has shown a solid eye at the plate so far.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Prospect Watch - Pitchers - Week 2

Today I bring you part two of our weekly Prospect Watch series, this time focusing on some of the top pitching prospects in the minors.

What's Interesting:
-Kershaw continues to pitch well, although he still doesn't have a win on the season
-Homer Bailey has been pitching extremely well, showing good control although not striking out as many as he has in the past; has he finally matured as a pitcher?
-David Price has yet to pitch in a game this season, although he is starting to throw bullpen sessions
-Max Scherzer - Wow. That's really all there is to say. His performance thus far in this young season compares well with some of the best minor league pitching numbers we've seen in recent years, including those from Tim Lincecum, Cole Hamels, and Francisco Liriano. Will he be in the majors soon? If so, will his success continue (like those mentioned)? Only time will tell, but stay tuned.

Yahoo's Sabermetrics Table - 2008 Season to Date

Yahoo has posted their 2008 season-to-date sabermetric stats, updating the 2007 season ending totals which you can view here. This includes many sabermetric stats for MLB hitters & pitchers thus far this season.

This tool includes stats such as contact %, HR rate, BB rate, K rate, and others for hitters (9 total cats) & BB/9, K/9, BABIP, FB %, GB%, and others for pitchers (17 total cats).

The direct links are below:

-Sabermetric Batters
-Sabermetric Pitchers
-Glossary

This is good stuff, and if you're a stat geek (like me), it will keep you busy for quite some time looking through the details to try to figure out if a player who has started the year hot or cold will keep it up at his current pace.

Enjoy!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Prospect Watch - Hitters - Week 2

This is the second edition of our Prospect Watch. This gives you an idea of how some of the top hitting prospects in the minors are doing so far this season.

What's Interesting:
-Longoria was already called up by the Rays & signed to a long term deal (amazing how much can change in a week!)
-Heyward already has 7 steals on the season & hasn't been caught yet
-Rasmus is off to a rough start
-Maybin has cooled off some from his fast start, and has an alarming 25 K's in only 54 official plate appearances

The pitching report will be posted soon.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

MLB Blog Poll - Week 2 (NL Vote)

Roto Advice is privileged to be taking part in a weekly blog poll, thought up by David at Baseball Happenings. Each week, 27 blog writers each select the MVP, CY Young, and Rookie of the year winners if the season were to end today. We alternate on what league we vote on each week, and this week it was the NL's turn.

You can find the actual voting results here, but below is what we submitted as our NL picks for the week. We'll continue to post our selections each week after the votes are tallied & published at Baseball Happenings.
NL MVP:
1) Hanley Ramirez - HanRam is already on a 10 game hitting streak, he's hitting over .400, he's 2nd in the NL in runs, he's shown power & speed, and he's doing all of this without his cleanup hitter from the past few years, Miguel Cabrera.
2) Albert Pujols - After all of the fear in spring training, he's proven to be just as good as ever. Not only is he hitting close to .400 with a few HR & steals, but he also has 12 BB's to only 4 K's on the year...and an awesome 1.200 + OPS.
3) Justin Upton - Even though I drafted him in some fantasy leagues this year, I can honestly say I didn't expect this type of performance this fast (although I won't complain). He's putting up star numbers, and just think, he hasn't even tried a stolen base yet (he attempted 7 & was successful on 4 of them in spring training). The best is yet to come.
NL CY Young:
1) Ben Sheets - Sheets is healthy, and as he's shown in the past, he can produce big time when healthy.
2) Cole Hamels - He continues to show that he's going to be a dominating force in this league for a long time.
3) Jake Peavy - I'm going to have to pick Peavy over Webb here, although they are very close at this point. Peavy has picked up right where he left off last season, proving that his performance in 2006 was just a mirage. The scariest part is he's still only 26!
NL Rookie of the Year:
1) Johnny Cueto - How can you argue with 18 K's & 0 walks in his first 13 + innings pitched? He's shown poise, confidence, and most importantly, nasty stuff.
2) Kosuke Fukudome - All he's doing is hitting.
3) Jair Jurrjens - Deciding between Kuroda & Jurrjens was tough, and even though Kuroda has put up slightly better numbers on the year thus far, I'm going to use my regional bias here & pick Jurrjens. I've watched Jurrjens pitch, and he's the real deal. He's not trying to strike every batter out, but he's got a great makeup & he'll be an excellent pitcher for the Braves. Interesting note - he is currently the 7th youngest player in the majors right now (at 22).
Please feel free to supply any comments or feedback on our selections. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Indians Borowski to DL - Who's next in line to close?

It's official - Joe Borowski was just placed on the 15 day DL with what the club is calling "a strained triceps" (grammatically, shouldn't that be a "strained tricep"? whatever). He's been mostly ineffective this year, so hopefully it was the injury that lead to this ineffectiveness (and not his general mediocrity).

But realistically, he's 36 & has been a so-so closer for a number of years now. Now might not be a bad time for the Indians to go to a new, full time closer. Below is ESPN's take:

"This will open the door for Rafael Betancourt's long-awaited ascension to ninth-inning duties. Betancourt is merely the leading candidate among a handful of potential bullpen aces, including Rafael Perez and Jensen Lewis. However, Betancourt certainly deserves the first opportunity. During a 2007 that was one of the best seasons ever for a setup man, his strikeout-to-walk ratio was almost nine, an inhuman figure that more than supported his 1.47 ERA and 0.76 WHIP."
Time will tell who gets the ball first, but our money is on Betancourt (who had the lowest ERA in the majors last year for any pitcher with 75 + IP). Ironically, in last night's game against the Red Sox, the ESPN announcers pointed out during the 7th inning (when Betancourt was getting out of a jam by striking out Big Papi & Manny) that Betancourt has the demeanor of a closer - specifically that he was very slow & decisive with his prep before his windup (which I guess can intimidate batters), and he has a quirky Mariano Rivera-type leg wiggle just before he comes set.

Fantasy Spin:
Betancourt should succeed while Borowski is out, and keep the job the remainder of the year (I'd say there is a 75% likelihood of this). This also increases the value of Rafael Perez & my dark horse candidate for saves, Masa Kobayashi, who saved something like a billion games while playing in Japan.

By the way, Greener on the Other side is betting on Kobayashi, but they do seem to have an unusual interest in the Japanese pitcher (check out their blog's URL:)). For the time being, trust me & go with Betancourt.

Go Tribe!

Fantasy Baseball Blog News of the Day - April 15th

Some useful news from the baseball blogosphere for April 15th (Tax Day - speaking of which, think of how nice it'd be if we didn't have to go through this process each year...just a thought):


-After another great game from Zack Greinke, and as Greener on the Other Side points, Greinke's Good; and while we're on the Greinke topic, Roto Authority has some great advice on keeping up with your lineups: Don't Be Dumb (pretty self explanatory, isn't it?)
-Seamless Baseball gives us their Stock Watch, looking at the current market value of some big name players, including Sabathia, Bedard, Kemp, and others
-Kelly at Fantasy Gameday has posted his weekly On the Wire for the week of April 13th
-Razzball talks about Buying David Ortiz (and others). One situation mentioned here that you should especially keep an eye on is the Indians closer situation - Borowski blew another one last night, and the Tribe has a handful of competent guys waiting in the wings, including Rafael Betancourt (UPDATE - Borowski is on the DL)
-Baseball Happenings has posted the results of their week MLB Blog Poll for Week 2 - This week we voted on the NL MVP, CY Young, and Rookie of the year. I'll discuss my selections for the week (along with my AL votes in week 1) in an upcoming post
-And last but not least, check out Project Prospect for great information on...you guessed it, minor league prospects. This has been a useful resource when preparing for my Fantasy Gameday Keeper minor league draft

Friday, April 11, 2008

Activity on the Waiver Wire - April 11th Edition

It's not always an easy decision to drop a player from your team, especially if he was someone you hand selected in the draft. But as a season goes on, there are any number of reasons you might make moves:

-One or more of your players just aren't performing as expected
-You have an obvious weakness, and you want to drop a bench player to fill a need on your roster
-A quality player is available on the waiver wire who is more valuable than one or more members of your roster
-You just want to shake things up
-A defensive measure or if you think the pickup will have trade value in your league (steals guys are a good example of this - you might not need speed, but picking up Carlos Gomez of the Twins would give you a valuable trade asset to offer to other managers who are lacking steals)

The biggest challenge, especially this early in the season, is knowing when to pull the trigger on guys who are off to fast starts. I'll look at a few of these guys below, and I'll analyze why the move either makes sense or was short sighted.

Players Added:
-Clay Buchholz (P)

Players Dropped:
-Ian Kennedy (P)

Anlayzing the Players Dropped:
This was more a move of picking up players that were better than those already on my roster than a move of desperation. Let's start by looking at the guys who were dropped, beginning with Jair Jurrjens. Jair actually has had a very solid start to the year in the Braves rotation. He's gone 5+ & 7 innings in his first two starts, and he has proven that he belongs in the major leagues, even at the ripe age of 22. I like the fact that Jurrjens is throwing the ball to the bat & relying on his defense to get outs; even though he has the stuff for a high K rate, I don't think we'll see it this year (think Verlander's K rate increase from his first season to his next - I wouldn't be shocked to see the same thing from Jurrjens next yet). Even given the pros, I think the three pitchers picked up have the potential to have better fantasy seasons this year (more on them later).

Ian Kennedy is in the Yankees rotation, and has shown excellent control in his career (he's not an overpowering pitcher like Joba, but he can regularly break 90 mph with his fastball). He's had a rough start to the season, and with Joba waiting in the wings, I'm unsure if Kennedy will hold on to his starting gig all season.

Jeremy Hermida is back from his stint on the DL to start the year. After an incredibly solid sophomore campaign last year, he's likely going to build on that to have a very 2008. He was simply a victim of the numbers, being dropped because this league only starts 3 OF (and 1 utility), and my team already includes:

-Nate McLouth
-Corey Hart
-Matt Kemp

Obviously, there is not enough room for all of them. I'm not saying that the above guys will all outproduce Hermida this season, but given Ellsbury & Gomez's steals potential, and Kemp's all around game, I was willing to part with Jeremy to gain some pitching depth. Now, if Hermida gets back to the speed on the basepaths that he showed as a minor league prospect & ends up going 20-20, this will look stupid; but it's only a 10 team league & with the existing OF depth, this move made sense.

Analyzing the Player Pickups:
Now, on to the additions. Clay Buchholz only has one start on the year, but he's going to be a special player in the league (which is obvious seeing how he dominating the minors & already has a no hitter on his major league resume). I value him greater than Kennedy, so this move was an opportunity to increase the talent on my roster while giving me more upside.

Jake Westbrook is another unspectacular pitcher in the Jurrjens mold (meaning he won't K 10 guys a game on regular basis), but I think he'll have a better all around season. He dominated in spring training, and he's been lights out his first two starts of the year. He added a nasty change up that has proven to be a very effective out pitch; don't be surprised if this leads to an increase in his K rate (which has always been below average). He will be an innings eater, and should easily get 13-16 wins this season, especially if he keeps pitching the way he has thus far this year. Grab him now if he's available; I predict that after one more solid start it will be too late.

And finally, Dana Eveland is being added to the rotation to fill in for an injured Rich Harden. Eveland was a very good minor league prospect who has excelled in his first two starts this season (although he stunk last year). I don't think his performance has been a fluke; he had an solid minor league track record, and he's shown poise & talent this season. David Chase over at Brock for Broglio gives a nice little summary comparing Eveland to the wonder-stud of the year so far, Johnny Cueto. As he states:
"For those who missed out on Johnny Cueto, Eveland is a fine alternative. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit, if Eveland ends up out producing Cueto this season."
Since David really knows his stuff, I wouldn't completely ignore the advice. Keep an eye on Eveland as the season progresses, but he's young & still has upside, so if he's available, I would look to grab him now (especially if you have any of the above "dropped" pitchers to waive).

You might also want to check out Tim Dierkes' take on Eveland (from the excellent Roto Authority); Tim proposes taking a little more cautious approach with Eveland, although he admits that by the time Dana proves himself to be the real deal (assuming he does), he'll be long gone from the wire.

In summary, my opinion is that Buchholz / Eveland / Westbrook are all > Jurrjens / Kennedy at this point. I would agree with picking up any of those pitchers in place of Jair & Ian (although they will both be very good pros as well). Of these, I'm most on the fence about the Eveland > Jurrjens projection, but I'm going to stick with it for now & deal with the consequences later; if it ends up blowing up in my face, then you can all post rude comments & call me names.

I'll have some more waiver wire analysis in the upcoming days, including a review of a move to pick up Edwin Jackson along with looking at some other drops & adds that I've seen that I wouldn't suggest making this early in the season (like dropping Matt Kemp).

Week 1 Poll Results - Top Producing OF

So, our first baseball poll of the season focused on 4 OF prospects. OK, I'll admit that you really can't call Fukudome a "prospect", but he is technically a rookie, and it's always difficult to predict how foreign players with a track record of success overseas will produce in the majors.

The Question:
What outfielder will have the most productive season?

The Results:
Adam Jones - Orioles - 4 votes or 13%
Cameron Maybin - Marlins - 1 vote or 3%
Justin Upton - Diamondbacks - 9 votes or 30%
Kosuke Fukodome - Cubs - 16 votes or 53%

Let's start with Maybin - obviously he's now in AA, although he's hitting the crap out of the ball. He is certainly the CF of the future for the Marlins (maybe as soon as this season), but he won't get enough time in the majors this season to outproduce the other guys on this list.

Adam Jones, the jewel of the Eric Bedard trade, is the current starting CF for the Orioles. His talent made the team say goodbye to the talented but inconsistent Corey Patterson (who is doing quite well for the Reds thus far). Jones still hasn't shown consistent power yet in the majors, but he hit 25 HR last season in AAA (in only 420 AB) at the tender age of 21, so be patient. He will likely put up double digit steals this season, to go along with about 10-15 HR. Watch out for a big season from him in 2-3 years.

Justin Upton of the Diamondbacks is off to a huge start in 2008; hitting near .400 with 3 HR already. He is currently the youngest player in the majors, more than one year younger than the second youngest, Phil Hughes. He is immensely talented, and some would argue that he has more potential & upside than his older brother (who is already a star), BJ Upton. Be aware that he'll have ups and downs this season, but the RF spot is all his, and he's a stud who has the potential to have an incredible career. I don't think a 25-25 season this year is out of the question, but I'm going to stay conservative & predict 21 HR & 25 Steals.

And now we come to Fukudome, the 30 year old rookie from Japan. He has started on fire for the Cubs this season, putting up a line of .371 Avg/1 HR/6 RBI/2 SB. He's hitting in the heart of the Cubs lineup, and he's showing a great eye at the plate along with some consistency early on. I still can't say he'll outproduce Upton this season, but Kosuke should have a solid year & he likely won't hurt you anywhere. Keep in mind (especially if you're in a keeper league) that Upton's upside is much higher, even if Fukudome ends up outproducing him this season.

Thanks again for your participation in our first poll of the year! The newest poll is now posted (to the right); What pitcher will end up having the most productive season?

-Dice K
-Ben Sheets
-Rich Harden
-Johnny Cueto

These guys all have their question marks, but I'm curious to get the popular vote on who the masses think will be the best; especially after Cueto's incredible start to the season (13.1 IP/3 ER/6 H/0 BB/18K). Could he have the type of impact this season that Francisco Liriano had two years ago? Only time will tell.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Prospect Watch - Pitchers - Week 1

I now present the second part of week one of our Prospect Watch; this time we'll focus on some of the best pitchers in the minors.

Please note - depending upon the size of your browser window, you might be able to scroll the stats down & to the right; let me know if you like us incorporating stats in this format. This probably works great for a regular PC browser but it doesn't look so great on a Blackberry or other portable Internet device...

Enjoy!

Prospect Watch - Hitters - Week 1

Our Prospect Watch will highlight how some of the top minor league talent is doing on the year. This first installment focus on some of the top minor league hitters.

Please comment on others you'd like to see monitored as the season progresses (along with any other statistical categories that you'd like to see tracked).

The first pitcher report will be posted within the next day, so stay tuned. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Prospect Watch - Introduction

One new regular weekly feature on Roto Advice will be our Prospect Watch. One of the difficult parts of finding the next Tim Lincecum or Johnny Cueto is keeping track of who's doing well in the minors; all the players at all of the levels can be overwhelming. What we'll be doing is starting with a list of some of the top prospects in baseball (not all of whom are close to the majors, such as Angel Villolona of the Giants) & provide their YTD stats at each level.

I understand that stats aren't the only sign of success, but stats can go a long way towards telling us whether players are continuing to succeed (like Andrew McCutchen's 2 HR thus far on the season) or making progress in areas of weakness (such as Brandon Wood's K rate, which is currently at 12 K's in 26 AB's, with only 1 BB - ouch; no progress there yet).

The list will probably morph into something different as the season progresses, but hopefully this will help some fantasy managers, especially those who have minor league roster spots or those in deep leagues. Other blogs already have some great variations of this feature available, such as Fantasy Gameday's prospect watch or one of Brock for Broglio's daily prospect reports, but this should also be a useful tool to help supplement those items, especially since it will focus on the player's YTD performance.

Some of the prospects who will be featured in our first installment this week include:

-Evan Longoria
-Jay Bruce
-Cameron Maybin
-Colby Rasmus
-Clayton Kershaw
-Andrew McCutchen
-David Price
-Travis Snider
-Matt Wieters
-Wade Davis
-Jake McGee
-Nick Adenhart
-Rick Porcello
-Mike Moustakes
-Matt LaPorta
-Josh Vitters
-Jason Heyward
-Matt Antonelli
-Angel Villolona
-Austin Jackson
...and many more!

Please supply feedback of others you'd like me to track, but keep in mind that this list has to provide the biggest bang for the buck - meaning it can't grow to 300 names by the end of the season. What I'll likely do as well is sort them in some logical manner, such as Baseball America's top 100, ESPN's top prospects, etc. This way, it just won't be a random list of names, but you'll be able to easily see the "top prospects" vs. some of the longer term lower level minor league prospects.

Before the end of the week, I'll also be:

-Providing some feedback on my first week performances in my two most competitive leagues, the Fantasy Gameday Keeper league & the Fantasy Baseball Expert League hosted by Greener on the Other Side
-Analyzing the minor league draft thus far in the Fantasy Gameday Keeper League (we're in round 3 of 6 & I'm the Splitting Headaches)
-Reviewing who I voted for & why in the first weekly installment of the Baseball Happenings MLB Blog Poll; this week, we voted on AL CY Young, MVP, and Rookie of the Year

Please feel free to supply any feedback or suggestions under comments for this post or email us at rotoadvice@yahoo.com. Until next time...

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Don't Panic Yet - A look at some early season struggles

Some fantasy owners have a bad habit of panicking & making drastic moves too early in the season - whether it be making a trade that's not in their favor or balanced, picking up so so players who start the season hot, or worst of all, dropping good contributors who start the season ice cold.

Today, I'm going to take a look at some of the top drafted players who are off to cold starts & let you know whether you should worry or wait it out. I'm going to give one of the three following suggestions - 1) No need to worry (meaning the player will still put up top #s, 2) Hold (meaning just that, don't drop the player yet, but keep an eye on their performance), and 3) Run! (meaning it's probably time start thinking about an out plan).

Matt Holliday
- .182 Avg/1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, SB
No need to worry
Holliday always puts up better numbers at home than on the road, and his first three games of the season were on the road against the Cardinals; last season, Holiday put up a .376 Avg at home & a .301 Avg on the road. Don't worry about Matt's slow start; he'll still finishing the year with top-10 #'s.

Alfonso Soriano - .077 Avg /1 HR/3 RBI/2 R/1 SB
No need to worry
Soriano started slow last season as well, hitting .205 in the first half of April. He ended up with only 1 RBI in 74 April AB's in 2007, so he's actually ahead of last year's numbers.

What's worth keeping an eye on is his recent time at 2B, which would really increase his value in fantasy baseball. Don't panic yet, but his value is likely to increase if he adds 2B eligibility.

David Ortiz - .091 Avg/4 R/1 HR/2 RBI
No need to worry
Big Papi was only hitting .217 at this point last season, so no worries. Expect another big season from Ortiz.

Robinson Cano - .105 Avg/0 HR/0 RBI/0 R/0 SB
No need to worry
Cano has proven to be an excellent major league hitter after his first few seasons in the big leagues. He's off to a rough start, but he's hitting high in a great lineup, so expect him to end up having a great season.

Russell Martin - .053 Avg/0 HR/2 RBI/1 SB
Hold
Martin has started this year quite cold, and was recently dropped from 2nd to 6th in the batting order. Don't panic and make any irrational moves with Martin, but keep any eye on his performance. Given where he was drafted in many leagues (round 3-6), his performance will have to be extremely good this season to justify his average draft position.

Jason Bay - .167 Avg/4 R/1 SB
Hold
This is supposed to be a bounce back season for Bay, although he's off to a slow start. Don't panic yet, but monitor the situation closely. This might be a good time to trade for Bay at a lower than market value; I have confidence he'll finish the year with very good numbers.

Andruw Jones - .167 Avg/1 RBI
Hold
Ouch, this probably isn't the start the Dodgers were hoping for when they signed Jones to a big free agent contract in the off season. Jones still has power, and he's likely to finish the year with his 30+ HR & 100+ RBI; just make sure you're expectations are in line with the reality that he likely won't hit .270 or above.

Matt Kemp - .133 Avg/1 R/1 RBI
Hold
This one is the biggest surprise to me. I have very lofty expectations for Kemp this season (20+ HR/SB), but this is a rough way to get things going, especially with Juan Pierre sitting on the bench waiting for playing time. I don't think this slow start will have a major impact on the potential impact Kemp will make this year, but it will allow the Dodgers to give Pierre some playing time in Kemp's place over the short term. I anticipate Kemp to finish the year with 500+ AB & excellent numbers, but let's just hope the slump doesn't continue for too long.

Gary Sheffield - .143 Avg/1 RBI
Run!
Sheffield could possibly have another great season like he did in 2007, but given his age & recent injury, I'd be very afraid. Considering he's turning 40 later this year, he's still an excellent player; but at some point, his age is going to make it tougher & tougher to bounce back from injuries...although Julio Franco has proven that it's possible to play until you're ??, so who knows.

Soon, I'll be taking a look at some of the fastest starters to the year & their long term value (hint - don't drop Swisher for Nady).

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Daily Fantasy Baseball Leaders - March 31st Edition

ESPN does a nice little summary of the daily leaders which you can find here.

Here's an overview of some of the top performers from games played on Monday, March 31st:

Hitting:
1) X Nady (OF - Pit) - 4-7/2 HR/4 RBI/4 R
I know everyone is probably running out to the waiver wire to pick up Mr. Nady, but remember, it was only one game.

2) J Thome (DH - CWS) - 2-5/2 HR/4 RBI/2 R

3) N McLouth (OF - Pit) - 3-5/1 HR/4 RBI/2 R/1 BB
This might be a breakout year for McLouth. After putting up 13 HR & 22 SB (with only 1 CS) in only 329 ab last season, he now has the CF job all to himself for 2008. He's a great power / speed sleeper, and he was voted as the Pirates breakout player this season in a pre-season poll in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. If he's available on your waiver wire, you might want to pick him up, especially if you have any open roster spots due to players on the DL or if you are in a non-keeper league & are holding the Jay Bruce types waiting for a call-up. Get McLouth now, before it's too late.

T4) F Gutierrez (OF - Cle) - 3-3/1 HR/3 RBI/2 R/1 BB
Another sleeper to keep an eye on this season. The RF job is all his, and he had an awesome spring. He might surprise some by putting up a 20+ HR/SB season, but he's very talented & he's part of a very good Indians lineup. If you have room on your roster, see if he's available.

T4) K Fukudome (OF - CHC) - 3-3/1 HR/3 RBI/1 R/1 BB
Not bad for a 30 year old rookie. Actually, it's one of the best first game performances in Cubs history.


Pitching:
1) B Sheets (SP - Mil) - 6.1 IP/2 H/2 BB/7K/o ER
Excellent first start for Sheets, especially considering he didn't have a great spring (again - spring stats don't matter...most of the time).

T2) C Zambrano (SP - CHC) - 6.2 IP/3 H/1 BB/5 K/0 ER
What I like most about this performance from Carlos was the single walk.

T2) J Peavy (SP - SD) - 7 IP/3 H/3 BB/4 K/0 ER

4) J Santana (SP - NYM) - 7 IP/3 H/2 BB/8K/2 ER
Excellent first start from Santana in a Mets uniform; the best is yet to come.

5) B Penny (SP - LAD) - 6.2 IP/4 H/2 BB/3 K/0 ER

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Fantasy Baseball Draft Analysis - Greener on the Other Side Expert League

I recently had the pleasure to take part in an Expert League draft sponsored by our friends at Greener on the Other Side. The league setup is the standard 12-team, 5×5 league. Rosters include C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, 5 OF, 2 Util, 9 P and 5 bench spots. Thanks to Adam at Newsday, the entire draft results are available here.

The expert league participants are:

Adam Ronis of Newsday
Jordan Frank of Roto Rob
Brad Stewart of MLB Front Office
Geoff Stein of Mock Draft Central
Mike Sessa and Chris Corcione of Pseudo Sports
Rudy Gamble of Razzball
Eric Stashin of Roto Professor
Sean Salsbery of Warning Track Power
Ken Mathe (that's me) of Roto Advice
Arnie The Regular Guy
Jay and Brett of Greener On Other Side

Here is how my draft went (which wasn’t at all like I expected):

1 (1) Álex Rodríguez

The first overall pick; I can pick anyone in the entire fantasy baseball world…and what do I do? Make the obvious selection. I’ve never had the #1 pick before, so this honestly caught me by surprise & caused me to develop an entirely “on the fly” draft strategy as we went along.

Arod is awesome, and even if he regresses by 20% or so from last year’s performance, he’s still the #1 player available.

2 (24) Russell Martin

Getting the #1 pick was great, but getting only 1 of the top 23 players was tough. Seeing player after player going off the board was painful, but I got one of the guys I wanted with these two picks in Martin. I think I picked him a little earlier than I normally would have, but he absolutely would not have been available the next time around at pick 48.

3 (25) Carlos Lee

I was wavering between Lee & Rios with this pick, and ultimately picked the guy who has been Mr. Consistency for the past few years. He’ll get me a .300 avg, 30 Hr, 100 RBI, and 10 SB. Not bad from my third round pick.

I was hoping to get any of the 5 guys who ended up getting drafted before my two picks, but they went off the board in the following order leading up to my 2nd round pick – Upton, Phillips, Teixeira, Soriano & Beltran. Oh well…at this point, I’m feeling pretty good with my draft.

4 (48) Hunter Pence

I really wanted to get Markakis, Hart, Hafner, Byrnes, or Hamels with this pick, but they were all off the board when it finally got back to me. I think Pence is going to be an excellent major leaguer, and should put up 25 HR & 10 SB this year, so it’s not a bad selection.

5 (49) Carlos Guillén

I picked Guillen hoping to put him at SS, although some of my later selections changed this strategy. I like Guillen’s place in the Tigers lineup & his SS / 1B eligibility. He should also give me a low double digit steal total – good value at this point.

6 (72) Jonathan Papelbon

I never pick a top closer in the draft, so I figured why not. I was really hoping to pick my ace SP in this round, but all of my favorite SP targets were already off the board; the best remaining were Lincecum, Dice K, Smoltz, and Harang, and I thought Papelbon gave me more value here.

7 (73) Matt Kemp

I was looking to get a OF with speed & upside at this selection; Kemp certainly fits the bill. I was hoping Victorino or Chris Young (OF) would fall to me at this pick, but they both went in the 6th round. If Kemp ends up splitting time this year, this will end up being a reach pick; but Kemp truly has .300, 25 HR, 25 SB potential, and he was too tantalizing to pass up. I also didn’t think he’d be around come pick 96.

8 (96) Ben Sheets

OK, I really needed some starting pitching at this point. Sheets always ends up disappointing, but I was willing to roll the dice at this point. If healthy, he has the ability to end up being a top 10 SP, but it’s a risk. We’ll see…

9 (97) James Shields

After taking risky Ben Sheets the pick before, I picked a much safer starter here. He might not get as many wins as some of the top SP, but he gets K’s, will have a low WHIP, and is still young. Amazingly, since I was so focused on SP here, I missed out on picking Alex Gordon, who was selected two picks later at pick 99 by MLB Front Office. Stupid tunnel vision…I think Gordon’s going to break out big time this season.

10 (120) Dan Uggla

I was still looking for a 2B, and this is the point I decided to go with a HR heavy strategy. I was wavering on Uggla, Kendrick, and Kelly Johnson, but I think Uggla will be very solid this season. I see his average improving some from last year, and he could hit 35 or more HR. Solid from the middle infield, and good value at pick 120.

11 (121) Jacoby Ellsbury

At this point, I still didn’t have a top steals guy, so I reached a little for Ellsbury. If he is the full time CF this season (a big IF), he could get 35-50 steals this year; and hit .300 in the process. Nice but risky…

12 (144) J.J. Hardy

This pick was just about value at the position. All of the 1B I was targeting were gone by this point, so I decided to go with Hardy at SS / MI & put Guillen at 1B. He’s not a superstar, but he should be good for a .275+ Avg & 20 HR.

13 (145) A.J. Burnett

Are you starting to see a trend with my staff…that’s right, I have a few huge question marks. Sheets & Burnett was both extremely talented, but they both have #1 stuff. Burnett was completely dominant last season when he was healthy, so I’m hoping for a repeat, and a full year of heath. If these guys either stink or get injured, I’ll be desperate for pitching.

14 (168) Justin Upton

Upton is going to be good. It’s that easy.

15 (169) Khalil Greene

Another value pick; he should put up 30 HR, and matched with Uggla, gives me the most powerful middle infield in the league. This is helpful, since I have a mediocre HR 1B in Guillen (although he show good spring power #s).

16 (192) Brian Wilson

I was looking for more saves at this pick; I think Wilson will be solid.

17 (193) Rick Ankiel

Good value at this pick; he should be an easy bet for 25+ HR in a full season.

18 (216) Matt Garza

Here is a starter will good upside. He has #1 starter stuff, but he’s still young.

19 (217) Joba Chamberlain

I was looking at Chamberlain for a few rounds leading up to this selection. Even if he pitches out of the bullpen all season, he will help me in ERA, WHIP & K’s. I saw this as an excellent value pick, especially if he moves into the rotation at some point this season.

20 (240) Nick Johnson

I took a chance here hoping Johnson would beat out Young for the Nationals 1B job, but it looks like the risk will pay off. He is an excellent hitter, who could very easily put up .300, 25 HR, 100 RBI, 100 Run season if healthy, which would be great output from my CI. One of my top sleeper picks.

21 (241) Jason Kubel

Kubel might share time with Craig Monroe, but he’s close to breaking out big time. Good value at pick 241.

22 (264) Justin Duchscherer

People have been ignoring Duchscherer in most drafts I’ve taken part in this year, but he could be a very solid selection. He began his career as a starter, he was successful as a reliever, and he’s still young.

23 (265) Jeremy Guthrie

I’m not overly thrilled with this pick, but I was looking for another SP, and he was one of the best left. Should be solid, and he’s the O’s #1.

24 (288) Akinori Iwamura

Basically, I drafted Akinori due to his upcoming 2B / 3B eligibility. I was looking for an adequate backup, and I could do worse at this point in the draft.

25 (289) Bronson Arroyo

Innings eating SP.

26 (312) Tom Gordon

Should get me a few saves while Lidge is on the DL.

27 (313) Richie Sexson

Nobody wants him, so why not. He could be good for 30+ HR if he finds his swing. If not, this is a very low risk. I expect a solid season if he stays healthy.

28 (336) Masa Kobayashi

I’m an Indians fan, and this guy is supposed to be good. Plus I like his name.

My roster to start the year is:

C Russell Martin (LAD - C)
1B Carlos Guillén (Det - 1B,SS)
2B Dan Uggla (Fla - 2B)
3B Álex Rodríguez (NYY - 3B)
SS J.J. Hardy (Mil - SS)
CI Nick Johnson (Was - 1B)
MI Khalil Greene (SD - SS)
OF Carlos Lee (Hou - OF)
OF Hunter Pence (Hou - OF)
OF Matt Kemp (LAD - OF)
OF Jacoby Ellsbury (Bos - OF)
OF Justin Upton (Ari - OF)
Util Rick Ankiel (StL - OF)
Util Jason Kubel (Min - OF)

P Jonathan Papelbon (Bos - P)
P Ben Sheets (Mil - P)
P James Shields (TB - P)
P Brian Wilson (SF - P)
P Joba Chamberlain (NYY - P)
P Justin Duchscherer (Oak - P)
P Jeremy Guthrie (Bal - P)
P Tom Gordon (Phi - P)
P Masa Kobayashi (Cle - P)

BN Akinori Iwamura (TB - 3B)
BN Richie Sexson (Sea - 1B)
BN A.J. Burnett (Tor - P)
BN Matt Garza (TB - P)
BN Bronson Arroyo (Cin - P)

I think my two biggest weaknesses are SB & my entire pitching staff; we'll soon find out how competitive my team will be against the other experts.

That’s all for now. I’ll be providing league updates at a minimum of bi-weekly during the season, so keep reading. Please feel free to leave your thoughts / feedback on my team & draft.

And in case you missed it, you can check out analysis from some of the other contenders here.

Until next time...

Top Spring Training Performers - Batting

With spring training quickly coming to an end, I thought it was about time to look back at the best performers of the spring. This post will focus on the hitters, and my next will take a look at pitching.

By the way, spring training stats don't matter... but they sure are fun to talk about.

Avg (min 50 AB):
.508 - Mike Morse (3B - Sea)
.452 - Robinson Cano (2B - NYY)
.435 - Josh Hamilton (OF - Tex)
.431 - Melvin Mora (3B - Bal)
.426 - Placido Polanco (2B - Det)
.422 - Ian Kinsler (2b - Tex)

Hits:
32 - Mike Morse (3B - Sea)
31 - Hunter Pence (OF - Hou)
30 - Rafael Furcal (SS - Lad)
29 - Placido Polanco (2B - Det)
28 - Robinson Cano (2b - NYY)

Runs:
19 - Chris Burke (2B - Ari)
18 - Joey Gathright (OF - KC)
18 - Kevin Mench (OF - Tex)
17 - Ian Kinsler (2B - Tex)
17 - Skip Schumaker (OF - Stl)

2B:
10 - Jorge Cantu (3B - Fla)
10 - Juan Cruz (OF - Hou)
9 - Mike Morse (3B - Sea)
9 - Miguel Tejada (SS - Hou)

3B:
5 - Rafael Furcal (SS - LAD)
4 - Fred Lewis (OF - SF)
3 - Brian Barton (OF - Stl)
3 - Curtis Granderson (OF - Det)
3 - Nick Swisher (1B - Cws)
4 others tied at 3

HR:
8 - Ivan Rodriguez (C - Det)
6 - Andre Ethier (OF - Lad)
6 - Carlos Guillen (1B - Det)
6 - Jim Thome (DH - Cws)
6 - Troy Tulowitzki (SS - Col)

RBI:
19 - Robinson Cano (2B - NYY)
19 - Juan Cruz (OF - Hou)
19 - Josh Hamilton (OF - Tex)
19 - Jim Thome (DH - Cws)

Total Bases:
55 - Rafael Furcal (SS - Lad)
55 - Hunter Pence (OF - Hou)
50 - Mike Morse (3B - Sea)
50 - Ivan Rodriguez (C - Det)
49 - Placido Polanco (2B - Det)

SB:
14 - Eugenio Velez (SS - SF)
12- Joey Gathright (OF - KC)
10 - Micheal Bourn (OF - Hou)
10 - Carlos Gomez (OF - Min)
10 - Scott Podsednik (OF - Col)

You can also check out 2008 NL Spring training leaders and AL Spring training leaders here. For comparison, you can also check out 2007 spring training and 2006 spring training stats.

Fantasy Baseball Blog News of the Day - March 29th

Here is some of the most useful fantasy baseball news today from the baseball blogosphere for your reading enjoyment:

-Roto Authority has updated their Fantasy Baseball Closers list; Tim includes not only who the closer is as of today, but also identifies the guys that are next in line

-Seamless Baseball identifies 5 players that can help in deep leagues (including one of my favorite sleepers for this season, Nick Johnson of the Nationals). Edwin from Seamless Baseball puts it this way when talking about Johnson:

"Most likely, our man Dmitri will no longer be the starting first baseman for the Washington Nationals. Instead, a phoenix rises from the ashes; Nick “The Stick” Johnson is reborn, in all of his gritty pudginess. Johnson started back-to-back games this week for the Nationals, and all signs point to him getting the nod at first base."
-Roto Professor gives his projected top 5 in this year's fantasy AL Cy Young race along with his projected top 5 in this year's fantasy AL MVP race

-Razzball gives their first suggested Drops, Adds and Holds of the season

-Greener on the Other Side highlights the top 25 players they want & don't want this season

-Faketeams.com gives another sleeper list, this one consisting of players who are exceeding their career slugging % by 200 or more points in spring training; this is a potential sign of a breakout season

-Brock for Broglio takes a look at the players who averaged the most & least pitches / plate appearance last season

That's all for now; look for my expert league analysis soon.

Trade advice - Pujols & Furcal for Rollins?

So, even though it's more fun to take reader questions & post feedback, I figured I'd start with a real world trade question of my own, supply some feedback, and ask for reader thoughts.

The first trade offer I'm going to look at is the following:

Trading away Jimmy Rollins
Receiving Albert Pujols & Rafael Furcal
This is a standard 10 team 5x5 roto league, which was autodrafted. I've already made some changes, but my current roster is below:
C - Jason Varitek
1B - Nick Swisher
2B - Dustin Pedroia
3B - Adrián Béltre
SS - Jimmy Rollins
OF - Carl Crawford
OF - Eric Byrnes
OF - Jason Bay
Util - Troy Tulowitzki
BN - Troy Glaus
BN - Aaron Hill
BN - Franklin Gutiérrez
BN - Conor Jackson

SP - Erik Bedard
SP - Jon Lester
RP - Takashi Saito
RP - Todd Jones
P - Tim Lincecum
P - Jeremy Bonderman
P - Edison Vólquez
BN - John Lackey
DL - Brad Lidge
Generally speaking, I'm not too pleased with my team, especially since it's only a 10 team league. I have already put out some feelers on what it would take to get Martinez, Mauer, Martin, or McCann to help improve at catcher, but the owners all seem to be expecting too much in return. I obviously have SS depth, and would be fine trading either Rollins or Tulowitzki for the right players in return.
Before this season & under normal circumstances, Puljos for Rollins straight up might have a trade in my favor. But given the fact that Albert will eventually need Tommy John surgery, I'm a little more hesitant.
Pros:
-Get an all world talent in Pujols
-Get a great source of steals & another top 10 SS in Furcal
-Give away a player at a position where I have depth (SS)
-Pujols has been unreal this spring, and appears ready for a huge season; unreal to the tune of a .407 Avg, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 1 SB, 11 BB, 2 K in only 59 AB. Wow.
Cons:
-Pujols' health
-I'm still sitting on SS depth, although that's not necessarily a bad thing
-If Pujols is healthy & produces (like he did in spring training), Swisher now has no place in my lineup
-I hate 2 for 1 deals where I'm on the 2 player side - usually this means you gave away the best player in the deal (although that may not be the case here)
So, what would you do? I'm leaning towards doing this deal, as it would still give me tradeable depth at SS while allowing me the ability to trade Swisher in the future if Pujols puts up good numbers & isn't too bothered by the elbow. I see Swisher having a really solid season, and I would then have the option to either move Furcal or Swisher, since they both can't reside in my Utility spot.

And quite simply, I think this makes my team stronger (although it is incredibly tough to give up the reigning NL MVP).

What do you all think? Please post your thoughts here; and I'm always up for answering reader questions - simply email me at rotoadvice@yahoo.com & I'll either devote a post to the question or respond via email.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Greener on the Other Side - Fantasy Baseball Expert League

I was recently invited to join an expert league, with some of the best baseball bloggers out there. While I'm finishing up my analysis on the draft, which took place on Monday, I thought it would be nice to give you all links to their feedback & analysis (please note, all of these sites are linked on the right under "Great Fantasy Sports Sites").

-Rudy's analysis (from Razzball)
-Jay & Brett's analysis (Greener on the Other Side - the league commishes)
-Eric's analysis (Roto Professor)
-Chris' analysis (Psuedo Sports)
-David's analysis (Baseball Happenings)
-Adam's analysis (Newsday)
-My analysis (Roto Advice)

I'll be updating this list as the other participants analyze their picks, and I'll have my thoughts posted by tomorrow.

I'm looking forward to being part of the league, and thanks to Greener on the Other Side for setting it up. I love this time of year!

Last Updated - 3/29/08 / 5:54PM

Monday, March 24, 2008

Fantasy Baseball Resources - Daily MLB Podcast

There are many ways to get your fantasy baseball fix, but one of my favorite is the MLB 411 daily podcast.
You can find it here:
MLB411 podcast XML feed - You can just enter this into your iTunes, Zune, or other MP3 podcast compatible software to subscribe to the show.
Mike Siano, Cory Schwartz, and Casey Stern at MLB radio bring fantasy baseball news to your computer or mp3 player daily during the season. The show includes discussions about players, questions from listeners, and guests, such as Will Carroll from Baseball Prospectus.
I highly recommend checking it out - it's informative, entertaining, and great for your daily commute (45 min - 1 hour daily); I really enjoy listening to it on my Zune.
If you're interested, you can also check out their MLB 411 fantasy blog.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Fantasy Baseball Blog News of the Day - March 22nd

Nuggets of baseball news from the blogosphere:

-Eric from Faketeams.com checks out six deep sleepers heading into the season

-Jordan over at Fantasy Gameday takes a look at some of the top OF sleepers (some of whom won't be sleepers for long)

-Ben at The Fantasy Sports Experience checks out NL East bullpens & closers and the top SS in these posts

-Jason over at Greener on the Other Side reviews his most recent expert league draft (P.S. - based on where he drafted Corey Hart, he must have a huge man crush on him...although Corey will kick a** this season)

-James from Seamless Baseball takes a look at some waiver wire strikeout pitchers that might be available in your league

-And last, but certainly not least, Tim at Roto Authority checks out each team's projected leadoff hitters & talks about what it takes to win steals in your league

That's all for today folks. Back to enjoying my long weekend & trying to get in a few games of March Madness - seriously, can you believe that two 12 seeds & two 13 seeds are moving on to the second round! WOW!!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Fantasy Baseball News of the Day - March 21st

Some news tidbits of the day for March 21st:

-George Sherrill has been named the Oriole's Closer. Some people viewed him as a throw in as part of the Bedard trade, but the O's are looking for him to play a key role in 2008. While on the topic of closers, check out these great links:

-Nine Bo Jackson's view of this season's closers
-Roto Authority's take on each team's closers (last updated on 3/17)
-Seamless Baseball top closers
-Barry Zito's fastball is now in the 83 mph range, and rumors are he has a tired arm
-Colby Rasmus was sent to the minors to start the year. This means Rick Ankiel is solidly the every day center fielder, and likely the cleanup hitter. Ankiel makes an excellent late round selection in your drafts, especially if your team is lacking HR.

-Albert Pujols now has 5 spring training HR; maybe he's really going to play the entire season & but up massive numbers, but I'm still nervous, especially if he's your first round pick. High risk, high reward, but in keeper leagues, please keep in mind that he'll need the surgery at some point down the line.

That's all for now. I'm on the road for Easter weekend, but I have one more post I'll try putting up sometime between Sat - Mon (at the latest). Next week, I'll be updating the site on my regular schedule (4-7 times / week).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fantasy Baseball Draft Analysis Cont'd: Rounds 7-14 - Fantasy Gameday Keeper

This is a continuation of my Fantasy Gameday Keeper League draft analysis post from last week. I know this is kind of a long post, so I'm hoping I won't lose your interest mid-post. If that happens, I'd suggest breaking it down into smaller bite-size morsels; mmmm...bite-size morsels of Roto Advice goodness.

My round 7-14 picks were as follows:

Round (overall pick) Player (player picked before / after)

7 (82) D Young (OF) - (N Swisher/ J Bay)
-This was the first of two picks I made completely disregarding the walks category (intentional or not, it still happened). Young's current ADP is 106, which is about the end of the 9th round for a 12 team league. Given that he walks very little, his value probably should have pushed down a little in a league like this (where walks count just as much as HR).

So maybe I reached a little for Young, but boy, does he have upside. He's still only 22, and he was universally viewed as the #1 prospect heading into last season. Considering he hit .288 with 13 HR, 93 RBI, and 10 SB in his rookie season, I can't help but think things will only get better from here. He played very consistently as well, hitting well against both left handers & right handers, along with hitting well before & after the all star break.

I view Young as a poor-man's version of Corey Hart or Hunter Pence, although he arguably has just as much, if not more, upside than them both & could outproduce each of them this year. He's young, strong, fast, and has a great major league career ahead of him in Minnesota. His lack of walks will hurt me a little, but I was willing to take a chance on him given his enormous upside.

Pecota - .294/17 HR/81 RBI/14 SB

8 (87) A Gordon (1B / 3B) - (B Jenks / F Hernandez)
-This was another high risk / high reward pick on my part. Some of the third basemen left on the board at this point were Gordon, Beltre, Lowell, Encarnacion, Longoria, and Kouzmanoff; so given my options, I think Gordon was the best choice, especially since this is a keeper league (I didn't seriously consider Longoria at this point in the draft).

Gordon had a very slow start to his rookie season last year, after the jump to the majors from AA ball. Although he struggled to find his groove, the Royals stuck with him & he rewarded them with 15 HR & 14 SB; unspectacular but solid. As the season wore on, he seemed to get more comfortable & more confident; this is evident by the 8 HR he hit in the final 186 AB over the last two months of the season. I'm expecting a minimum output of the Pecota projections below, although I see him as a major breakout candidate. Upside - .280 / 25 HR / 90 RBI / 25 SB; if he goes 20/20, I'll be pleased...especially since I know there is much more to come.

Pecota - .269/18 HR/75 RBI/16 SB

9 (106) S Kazmir (SP) - (B Wagner / A Beltre)
-At this point, I wanted to start building my rotation with another solid starter; little did I know that I would be able to grab a 1A starter in the 9th round in Kazmir. I think his spring injury might have scared off some managers, but with an ADP of 68, or late 6th round in a 12 team league, I saw this as an immense value pick at this point. Kazmir was simply lights out in the second half of last season, putting up a line of 94 IP/2.39 ERA/1.14 WHIP/124 K/31 BB/8 W. What makes it even better, is he's 24 years old, which makes him a great candidate to improve even further. Although I'm a little nervous about the injury risk, he's still young & along with Smoltz, should be able to give me a solid 1-2 punch in my rotation at a much lower cost than some of the other top pitchers.

Pecota - 195 IP/29 GS/197 K/3.24 ERA/1.23 WHIP/13 W

10 (111) H Kendrick (2B) - (Y Gallardo / P Burrell)
-Walks be damned! That should be by team name in this league.

I picked Kendrick right around his current ADP of 117, but again, his value will be slightly lower in this league since walks matter...and he NEVER walks. OK, to his defense, he did walk 9 times last season in 338 AB, but boy, can he ever HIT.

He's been described as a future batting champion ever since he entered the majors, and those projections might not be far off. He's never hit less than .317 in any of his 5 or so seasons in the minors, and he's hit .288 & .322 in his first two partial seasons in the big leagues. He's also been consistent in his lack of walks & with his ability to put the ball in play; he hasn't walked more than 24 times in any full season in professional ball.

I see his upside this season at around .325/15 HR/25 SB, which is a nice line in the middle infield & would make up for his lack of walks. Even if he hits in the .280-.300 range with 10/10 output, I'll be happy since I think his best is yet to come. Overall, I was happy to fill my MI position with Howie.

Pecota - .287/14 HR/73 RBI/10 SB

11 (130) J Shields (SP) - (M Corpas / R Soriano)
-I was quite happy to be able to grab a pitcher of Shields' quality in the 11th round. I view him as a proven commodity, and a low risk for any regression. Shields is a control fiend, and proved he can strike guys out at an above average rate as well. I think the Rays are a team on the rise, so his wins will likely increase as the team improves. He’s a good third addition to my rotation, and another solid value given his ADP of 116.

A general note - I was pleased to get solid pitching value in the mid rounds, since I focused on hitting & didn't pick one of the top 10 pitchers early in the draft.

Pecota - 190 IP/29 GS/148K/3.88 ERA/1.24 WHIP/12 W

12 (135) J Soria (RP) - (J Hamilton / R Hill)
-I thought it was about time to take my first closer, and Soria is a young stud with major upside. The negative? He plays for the Royals, so he probably won't get too many chances this season.

After the all star break last season, he pitched 32+ IP, with 5 BB, 33 K, 2.78 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, and only a .183 BAA - good stuff. I still expect 30+ saves out of Soria this year, and he'll certainly help my team in ERA, WHIP, and K's.

Pecota - 75 IP/36 SV/3.16 ERA/1.19 WHIP/81 K

13 (154) S Drew (SS) - (J Peralta / I Snell)
-I realized during this draft that SS is not the deepest position around this year. This pick was again based on upside, and the realization that Drew is a good big league hitter who was just too unlucky last season. With Peralta going off the board the pick before this, I was down to a handful of targets at SS - Drew, Greene & Escobar; since at least two other teams didn't have a starting SS at this point, I felt I needed to pull the trigger on who I viewed as the best SS left - Drew.

I think he'll surprise some people this season by having a good year; many people forget that he hit .316 in 200+ AB the previous year. He has a good eye for the ball, walking 60 times last season, and he also chipped in 12 HR & 9 SB (in 9 attempts). Even if he hits the conservative Pecota projections, I'll be satisfied. And he's young & still has major upside, so this pick was a no-brainer at this point in the draft.

Seeing how Kelly wasn't happy after the pick, chances are Drew wouldn't have been available when I drafted next time around.

Pecota - .270/18 HR/64 RBI/6 SB

14 (159) A Wainwright (SP) - (R Ibanez / R Betancourt)
-I couldn't pass up a starter that I see as a possible breakout candidate this season. In the second half of last season, he put up the following line - 15 GS/99 IP/2.71 ERA/1.25 WHIP/77K/7 W. I expect him to carry that performance over into this season, as it appears he's re-adjusted to being a starter. The Pecota line is quite conservative, but that would even be acceptable from my 4th starter, especially given Wainwright's youth. Overall, a solid pick to fill out my rotation.

Pecota - 175 IP/27 GS/4.09 ERA/1.37 WHIP/120 K/10 W

Amazingly, I'm only about half done with my analysis. I'll probably take a look at the rest of my drafted team next week, so stay tuned.

In other upcoming posts, I'll be highlighting some web based research tools that can be used to help you during the baseball season, along with re-visiting the world of fantasy basketball for a brief moment.

With fantasy basketball playoffs just around the corner (for H2H leagues), I'll be highlighting waiver wire or fringe players that can either make or break your season - players that are hot, and players who are not-so-hot.

Until next time...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Yahoo's Sabermetrics Table - 2007

The Yahoo fantasy sports team has posted a very cool stats page which includes many sabermetric stats for MLB hitters & pitchers from 2007.

This tool includes stats such as contact %, HR rate, BB rate, K rate, and others for hitters (9 total cats) & BB/9, K/9, BABIP, FB %, GB%, and others for pitchers (17 total cats).

The direct links are below:

-Sabermetric Batters
-Sabermetric Pitchers
-Glossary

This data is available other places on the web, but this consolidated view might be helpful to reference when you're completing your draft preparation or actually taking part in a draft. The only downside is it's not sortable by category, but this is still a very useful tool for stats geeks like me.

Using these saber stats as a guide, Matt Buser over at Yahoo takes a thorough look at about 30 players & gives his 2 cents on how they'll all do this season in his article Splittsville: Metrics System; I suggest checking it out...

Enjoy!

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring Training News: March 17th - Who's Hot & Who's Not

It's a new week, and spring training is more than halfway over. Even though I don't put too much value in spring training stats, they're still fun to look at, especially after a few weeks of games.

Hitters of Note:
-Grady Sizemore has hit 5 HR in only 23 at bats, and is having a sizzling spring; this is quite an improvement from his .115 avg & 2 HR last spring.

-While I'm on the Indians, two young OF - Franklin Gutierrez & Ben Francisco are having very solid springs. Gutierrez is hitting .409 with 2 HR & 8 RBI in only 22 AB, while Francisco, who is fighting to make the roster & be part of the rotation in the OF, is not harming his changes by hitting .382 with 2 HR, 8 RBI, and 1 SB (although he's been caught 3 times) in 34 AB. Gutierrez should be the every day RF for the Tribe this season (and be a very underrated fantasy performer, especially given his power / steals potential in this potent Indians lineup), with Fransisco making the roster & eventually taking over in left.

Being an Indians fan & a MLB Extra Innings subscriber, I watched quite a few games last season & honestly think Francisco will be an excellent major league player. He's got a good eye at the plate, and just appears to have a good feel for the game - keep an eye on him as the season progresses. He probably won't have much fantasy value this season, but you should keep him on your radars for 2009.

-Adam Jones, the future at CF for the Orioles, is hitting .379

-Yunel Escobar of the Braves has proven that he's more than capable of replacing Edgar Renteria at SS; he already has 12 RBI this spring. What's so great about Escobar from a fantasy perspective is that (at least in Yahoo leagues) he qualifies at 2B, SS, & 3B.

-Matt Kemp & Andre Ethier are playing like all stars. Kemp is hitting .310 with 2 HR, 12 RBI, and 3 SB in 42 AB. Ethier is .402 with 4 HR, 10 RBI, and 1 SB in 43 AB. It is starting to sound more & more like Ethier might be the starting LF this year, with the $44 million dollar man, Juan Pierre, being the odd man out.

-Howie Kendrick is hitting .317 & already has 4 steals in 15 games; watch for him to run more this year. More amazingly, he already has a walk! Look for him to put up 10-15 HR & 20+ steals.

-Corey Hart is hitting .250 with 2 HR, 10 RBI & 2 SB, although he has 0 walks & 15 K's thus far; hopefully that trend doesn't carry over into the season.

-Colby Rasmus, the CF of the future for the Cardinals, is hitting .300 with 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 SB, and most impressively, 12 walks and only 7 strikeouts. That's a great eye for a young player, especially during spring training, when many people just swing away at everything (like Rickie Weeks, who is hitting .125 with 1 HR, 2 RBI, 6 SB, and 3 walks to 20 strikeouts or Brandon Wood, who is hitting .114 with no walks & 15 strikeouts!).

And last buy not least...

-Pudge has 6 HR in 13 games!

Pitchers of Note:
-Barry Zito, the $126 million dollar man, has a 14.92 ERA in 4 spring starts, and has allowed 21 hits in 12 1/3 IP, walking 10 & striking out ZERO. Ouch...

-Manny Parra of the Brewers is doing everything in his power to win the 5th starter's job, with a 0.64 ERA, along with 15 K's in only 14 spring innings. Kelly at Fantasy Gameday first made me aware of this star-in-the-making, but he's still flying under many people's radar during drafts. I expect his value to increase rapidly if he wins a job in the rotation, so keep an eye on this competition.

Kelly put it this way:

"Manny Parra is really, really good. Baseball Prospectus has him rated as a five star prospect, and is doing everything in his power to earn a spot in the Brewers rotation. How about these for numbers: 0.64 ERA with 15 strikeouts over 14 innings. i have him in two leagues and used a 26th round and a 27th round pick on him. Parra is rated as well as Gallardo was last year at this time."

That's all for now. Check back soon for more draft analysis & updates from spring training.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

 
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