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)

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)

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)

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

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

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)

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)

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 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.
-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.
-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 & 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 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

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...


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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!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Fantasy Baseball Draft Analysis - Fantasy Gameday Keeper

I'm involved in a keeper league commissioned by Kelly over at Fantasy Gameday. It's a 6x6 league, with the extra categories being walks & holds; each of which threw some new strategy into the draft. A few other interesting tidbits:

-12 teams - roto
-27 man rosters
-We can keep up to 5 major league players
-We'll also hold a minor league draft to select 6 players, from which we can keep 3
-We cannot keep any players drafted in the top 3 rounds
-Keeper inflation is 3 rounds from the prior year's draft
-My team name is Splitting Headaches (I really didn't think you'd care, but why not)

This is going to be a very competitive league, as the draft proved. I will be providing a more in depth analysis on the draft in an upcoming post, but below is a quick summary of my top 6 picks (also in the comments section of this post at Fantasy Gameday).

My top 6 picks were:

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

1 (10) C Utley (2B) - (D Ortiz / R Howard)
-I was happy to end up with Utley with the 10th overall pick, even though he doesn't walk as much as some of the other top guys; it’s always comforting getting the middle infield addressed with studs early in the draft.

2 (15) C Crawford (OF) - (P Fielder / G Sizemore)
-Crawford is the first of the picks I might have done differently in a draft do-over. This is the first time I’ve ever drafted Crawford, after many seasons of wanting him & anticipating a “breakout” season (read - more HR). I really think this will be the year he shows more power & rbi’s, but he walks about 1/3 as often as the pick 16th pick, Sizemore, who went one pick later. Grady might not steal as often as Carl, but he’s shown proven power & his walks have increased substantially each of the past few seasons. Oh well, I hope Crawford becomes a top 10 player this year & gives me a shot.

3 (34) R Martin (C) - (B Roberts / T Tulowitzki)
-Even though this is a one catcher league, I couldn’t pass up Martin with my third round selection; I just didn’t think he’d be there the next time around & he was one of the top players on my board at that point. He walks plenty, he’ll hit HR, and get more steals than any catcher - I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he stays healthy & gets 15-20 steals. NOTE - I almost pulled the trigger on Tulowitzki, but I thought he'd be there when it came back around to me at pick 39; sucked for me.

4 (39) A Ramirez (3B) - (C Sabathia / A Dunn)
-I was fine with Ramirez at 39 overall; I think he’ll improve this season and he’s solid all around.

5 (58) C Pena (1B) - (C Guillen / J Lackey)
-I felt like I reached a little for Carlos Pena at 58th overall, although his high walk ratio makes him more valuable in this league than a normal 5×5. I didn’t have a huge power guy yet, and I felt like he’d give me 80%-90% of the performance of Prince Fielder or Ryan Howard at a significantly discounted price.

6 (63) J Smoltz (P) - (C Jones / I Kinsler)
-With my 6th round pick, I reached some for the grandpa of the pitching studs by taking John Smoltz; although living in Atlanta & following the Braves pretty closely, I know for a fact that he’s still an awesome pitcher and will give me wins, a low ERA & WHIP, and get K’s; I certainly could have done worse. And since I was able to get Kazmir (9th round - good value in my mind), Shields (11th round), and Wainwright (14th round) to round out my rotation, I think I’ll be very competitive in the pitching categories (I have consistency all around in Smoltz, K’s & upside in Kazmir, K’s & WHIP in Shields, and upside all around in Wainwright).

I had an interesting draft (that’s a kind way to say I wasn’t all that happy with the end results). Even though I knew that walks & holds were add’l categories, I somehow disregarded the walks addition until I was a few rounds in (which will probably come back to haunt me during the season).

Overall, I’m probably a mid-pack team with some upside with my current roster. With some wise waiver wire pickups, I might have a shot to be more competitive.

I'll be providing more in depth analysis in an upcoming post, along with keeping readers updated on what's going on throughout the season.

What are your thoughts?

Friday, March 14, 2008

News of the day - March 14th

Am I ever glad it's Friday...and here are a few bits of news to keep you held over till our next post:

-Tristan Cockcroft over at ESPN takes a look at the Tampa Bay Rays staff & gives his suggestions on who to draft & who to avoid.

Summary - Kazmir is an ace if he's healthy; Shields (James, don't call him Jamie) is good & in control; Garza has the potential to be a front line starter in the league & might break out this year, but he's still young so temper your expectations; Sonnanstine is a young control freak (when it comes to pitching, not necessarily in his personal life) who kicked butt in the minors & has great sleeper potential; and last but not least, David Price - the former #1 pick who recently got sent to minor league camp but is going to be a stud.

Even though I gave away all of the good stuff, you should still check out the article.

-Freddy Sanchez, who is coming back from offseason shoulder surgery, will try to take the field next week

Summary - If healthy, I think Sanchez is consistently undervalued going into this season based on his ADP (average draft position). Based on Kelly's recently updated ADP, he's going at pick 275, which is up from 304 last month. Sanchez is a guy who qualifies at second, who hit .344 / .304 in his past two seasons, driving in 85 & 81 runs in the process. Not bad for a late round 2B or MI; just keep track of the news out of Pirates camp to ensure he's healthy enough to contribute to your team.

And somebody tell him that he can get more velocity & accurarcy on his throws to 1st if he stands upright. No wonder he injured his shoulder...

-Cameron Maybin might end up being a pretty good major league player.

Summary - Cameron was slowed by a hamstring injury early in camp, but he's been in-sane since he's come back; he's blasted three home runs & has a steal for good measure in his past three games. Based on reports, the Marlins had seriously considered sending the 20 year old future star to the minors, but he's seriously pushing for the every day center field job down in Marlin-land.

Maybin is certainly worth a late round pick in your draft. His current ADP is around 295, but that's likey to go up if he keeps playing like this & ends up winning the CF job. The excellent site Nine Bo Jacksons (could that be a more interesting name than Brock for Broglio?) takes a look at the top current OF & the top OF prospects, including the following take on Maybin:

"The offensive centerpiece of the Cabrera/Willis trade, Maybin should spend the entire year in AAA to develop. He's flat out not MLB ready, but that didn't stop the Tigers and probably won't stop the Marlins, eager for another face of the franchise. He could be a 15/25 player right now, but if he gets time in AAA to develop his hitting skills, watch out for this guy in '09."

And don't forget to check out some of the great sites that are linked to the right; I'm constantly updating & making additions, so check back often!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spring Training news

Ahhh...Spring training...teams & players use this time very differently. Veterans might use this time to work on a new pitch; rookies or up-and-coming minor leaguers try to use this time to impress the big boys & team management working towards that big league job (such as Ryan Braun last spring); you have guys coming back from injury trying to get to 100% & prove they're ready for the season...the list goes on. Most importantly, this brings the start of a new baseball season, which is bound to be full of excitement & surprises, entertaining all of us fans well into fall.

Spring training news:

-David Price (the #1 pick last season, not the US Congressman from the 4th district in North Carolina) impressed in the Rays big league camp, although as expected, he was sent to the minors to start the year.

Fantasy spin - If your league holds a minor league draft or allows you to keep a group of prospects, you might want to target him in your drafts. He might even make an appearance in the Rays rotation before the end of this season, which would make a mighty impressive top 3 of Kazmir, Shields, and Price.

-Rocco Baldelli is going to start the season in the starting lineup! OK, just kidding about that...he's going to start this season where he has started each of the prior few seasons - on the DL. On the bright side, it's not his nagging hamstring that's causing him the DL stint this time around; it's actually a fatigue problem (not that it's any better). Hopefully it's not a career ending issue, but it sounds like he's been to numerous doctors & they haven't been able to cure / fix the issue.

Fantasy spin - Sadly, you'll want to avoid Baldelli again this year. Many (including Rocco) hoped that the injury bug was behind him, but 10 years from now, many people will probably be saying "what could have been" when talking about Baldelli's major league career.

-Dusty Baker really loves the veterans

Fantasy spin - Don't expect Jay Bruce, the top prospect in baseball, to start the season as the everyday CF for the Reds. If you can draft him & stash in on your bench for awhile, or if you have a minor league roster, grab him. Otherwise, I'd avoid all 4 OF who are fighting for a spot in the Reds lineup this spring - Norris Hopper, Ryan Freel, Corey Patterson, and the mentioned Bruce. I see Bruce as THE man in CF as early as mid-season, although it might take some slumps / injuries for it to occur. Patterson might be a sleeper for some steals if he wins the CF job in the spring (or if Baker just gives it to him); Freel will still steal 30 or so bases if he stays healthy - they'll find a way to get him 400-500 ab; I can honestly say that I have no idea who the heck this Hopper guy is, but apparently he got 300 AB last season & hit over .300 with 14 steals - so I guess you can think of him as Ryan Freel with less steals and less power but a better average; meaning I wouldn't be selecting him in any draft, unless you just think he has a cool name.

-Francisco Liriano might not be ready to contribute early on this season. His fastball has been in the 88 mph range this spring, and his control was off in his most recent start against the Red Sox.

Fantasy spin - Normally, I wouldn't read too much into spring training stats, but if you have the guts to draft Liriano, be careful when you select him. From looking at the most recently updated Average Draft Position from Kelly at Fantasy Gameday, Liriano is being taken at pick 130, down about 3 spots since last month. He's currently the 29th starting pitcher taken, which seams like a reasonable position given his prior success balanced with his risk this season. Unless we see some dominating performances in his next few starts, be careful that you don't reach for Francisco. If he's available in the 130 - 150 range, he's probably worth the risk, especially if it's a keeper league; I'm confident that he'll be dominant again, although it might not be this season.

-David over at Brock For Broglio (coolest name of a baseball blog - ever) has a nice resource page linking to many fantasy baseball previews / draft prep materials. He's been updating it as readers have supplied add'l items, which is very helpful.

Fantasy spin - It's a great blog & this is a great resource, so check it out...or else

-Brad Evans at Yahoo checks out the top base stealers in his Speed-O-Meter piece. He takes a look at 65 potential speedsters & their average draft positions.

Fantasy spin - If you know how to read, you should check it's good stuff. If you can't read, sorry to have insulted you (although the fact that you're reading this right now tells me that you really can read, so shut the heck up & read his article).

Check back soon, as I'll be reviewing my draft from the Fantasy Gameday keeper league.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The fantasy sports world continued while we were on vacation?

We're still alive here, I swear. I can't believe the fantasy sports world survived without regular updates on Roto Advice for the past month plus. It's actually made me quite sad, but I'll get over it; I thought this site was THE KEY for some of your success this season.

I want to give some exciting reason why we've been away, such as:

1) We've been scouting basketball players in Eastern Nova Scotia
2) We've joined a Nascar team & we've been prepping for the season
3) An evil ferret attacked me when I was jogging one day, and I lost use of my fingers for a few months so I couldn't type (I took a picture of the crazy guy)
4) I've had terrible diarrhea for six weeks, and haven't spent enough time out of the bathroom to write a complete post

OK, it's none of the above, but that's all in the past now...

The good news is the fantasy basketball season isn't done quite yet, although there have been some huge developments in recent weeks. Such as:

-Dwayne Wade (aka Mr. Glass) - Shut down for the year. This is especially funny (in a vindictive way) since a competitor in a league of mine just traded Baron Davis for him a few days ago (March 6th). On the bright side, after the injury, this manager was able to drop Wade and pick up Paul Millsap. I was going to make a joke out of that, but Millsap is actually a solid pickup; not Dwayne Wade-esk, but certainly better than picking up Chris Dudley or Jon Koncak.

-LeBron James has been playing ridiculous ball

-Monta Ellis has officially arrived

-Manu Ginobili is still one of the most underrated stars in the league who consistently produces

-Gerald Wallace crashed one too many times (so much for an injury-free year)

-Dwight Howard still can't shoot free throws, although he's better than Shaq (who, by the way, is "playing" in Phoenix now). On the bright side, this guy can really dunk!

-Pao Gasol has fit right in with the Kobe & friends in LA

In addition, fantasy baseball season is just around the corner! If I keep up my current track record of posting frequency, I'll be posting about 6 / week for about 2 months, then I'll vanish for awhile. What makes it so exciting is you'll never know I'm disappearing until it happens...J/K.

In all seriousness, in the upcoming weeks I'll be highlighting some keys to success as the NBA season winds down, in addition to reviewing some baseball drafts I've taken part in, including one with Kelly over at Fantasy Gameday.

Check back soon for some real updates, and thanks for not giving up on us. Thanks especially to Give Me The Rock for linking to me in a post about fantasy basketball bloggers that stop blogging!

Until next time...

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