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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 755 – Looking for the Next Big Arm

11/19/19

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NOTES ON TOP 50s

  • Brandon Woodruff: excellent fastball, trusted as a workhorse before injury, 3.35 career FIP
  • Max Fried: added slider, improved velo and control, GB lean
  • Zac Gallen: 4-pitch mix, big swing-and-miss, career-long HR suppression
  • Frankie Montas: premium velo, paired 2015-17 K% w/2018 BB%, new splitter, HR suppression
  • Jesus Luzardo: elite prospect w/great K upside, strong 3-pitch mixed, could face IP limitation

THE NEXT BIG PITCHER

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Joining the Fly Ball Revolution — May 2019, A Review

In early May, I identified and discussed 17 hitters who had boosted their fly ball rates by at least ten percentage points (30% to 40%, for example) through May 5th. With the fly ball revolution in full swing, these were potentially the newest members. For high HR/FB rate guys, more fly balls is probably a good thing as it will increase homers and runs scored, and probably runs batted in, which should be enough to offset a decline in batting average. Did these hitters maintain their early increased FB% marks or did they experience regression back to 2018 levels over the rest of the way?

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A Closer Look: Houston Astros

This Astros article will not talk about sign stealing. You’re welcome.

Continuing the series I started last week, let’s take a closer look at the World Series runner up!

OTHER TEAMS:

3 QUESTIONS

Can Justin Verlander continue to hold up at age-37?

While Verlander has gone as one of the top starters throughout the early 2020 drafts, there is always a tinge of trepidation because of his age. But should we be worried? It’s hard to say yes. I understand that anyone age-35 or older carries a bit more injury risk, but outside of his age there is nothing in Verlander’s profile that should cause panic. Not even the homers. I mean his 1.5 HR/9 mark was high, but he allowed so few base runners that it didn’t really matter. His ERA went up 0.06 from 2018.

Arguably the biggest effect of the 2019 ball was the number of opposite field home runs that carried out and no one was affect more than Verlander. His 9 oppo tacos tied him for the league lead with Shane Bieber, Noah Syndergaard, Yusei Kikuchi, and his teammate Wade Miley. Even with those homers, his .360 wOBA to the opposite field was still easily the lowest of that group (Bieber was second at .379). The rest of his profile was elite. Don’t sweat the age, draft the reigning Cy Young winner.

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2019 Projection Systems Comparison – A Game Theory Approach

Introduction

Last year, I introduced a game theory approach for comparing baseball projection systems. Today, I have once again applied the same methodology in order to evaluate which set of baseball projections excelled in 2019.

Most others who venture in such a comparative exercise make use of some type of statistical analysis. They calculate least square errors, perform a chi-squared test, or perhaps do hypothesis testing. I won’t be engaging in any of these capable methods.

Instead, I will look to determine the profitability potential of each projection system by simulating what would have happened in a fantasy auction draft. Instead, I’ll play a game.

What do I mean by this?

First, think about what happens in a fantasy baseball draft auction.

Suppose that Rudy Gamble of Razzball (or anyone who exclusively uses the Razzball projections) walks into a rotisserie auction league prior to the 2019 baseball season. Let’s say that Rudy decides to participate in an NFBC auction league. Mr. Gamble would take his projections and run them through a valuation method to obtain auction prices. He would generate a list that looked something like this …

Razzball Projected Values: Chris Sale 49, Mike Trout 45, Jacob deGrom 44, Max Scherzer 44. Mookie Betts 42, J.D. Martinez 37, Giancarlo Stanton 36, Justin Verlander 35, … , Brandon Lowe 1, Josh Reddick 1, Mark Melancon 1, etc.

In addition to the raw projected values generated by the Razzball system, Rudy would then establish a price point that he is willing to pay for each player. There might be a premium that he will pay for the top ones, and a discount that he expects to save on lower cost players. He may be willing to bid up to $46 on Jacob deGrom (valued at $44), but would only pay $1 for a $4 Jason Kipnis, etc. Read the rest of this entry »


The World of the Weird and Extreme — Through May 4, 2019 Pitchers, A Review

In Early May, I dove into the world of small sample size theater to discuss some of the statistical oddities that had occurred so far on the pitching side of the ledger. Let’s review how these pitchers performed the rest of the way in the metrics highlighted.

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How Early Should Will Smith Be Drafted in 2020?

The Braves continued the upgrading of their bullpen, which they began at this year’s trade deadline, by signing Will Smith on Thursday. In inking the lefty to a three-year, $40 million deal with a fourth-year team option, they added a reliever who struck out 96 batters over 65.1 innings and recorded 34 saves for the Giants in 2019. Smith’s ex-teammate (and now new teammate), Mark Melancon, was effective as the Braves’ closer down the stretch this season, but I was probably not alone in assuming that Smith would go into spring training as the team’s new closer.
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2020 Too-Late #2EarlyMock Draft Review

The past three years, our Justin Mason has organized too-early mock (#2EarlyMock) drafts ahead of the next fantasy baseball season. The 15-team snake drafts have taken place each September, which means I’m recounting this about two months too late. However, with some early offseason developments and the release of Steamer’s 2020 projections, the wait at least offers the benefits of both hindsight and foresight.

There’s no such thing as average draft position (ADP) data in September, so we rolled into these drafts blind to everything but our own recency biases. The dynamic is compelling, if frequently odd, and can be difficult, frustrating, but ultimately enthralling to endure. Ideally, my commentary here will not painfully boring and might provide insight into my “process” on a microcosmic level.

My draft was not without fault, but I do feel good about it. I’d like to think that means something, as someone highly critical of his drafts and rarely feels truly “good” about a roster I’ve compiled. I don’t play in many deep leagues, so 15-team drafts routinely jack me up. Somehow, I feel like not having ADP information actually benefited me; I feel like I scripted my draft more cogently than usual. But also, it’s fairly clear where I made suboptimal decisions. Overall, I don’t think it turned out half-bad, especially for a 15-teamer.

The results of my draft follow, and the minimum (“Min”) and maximum (“Max”) pick information comes from Smada’s ADP information compiled from all six #2EarlyMock drafts.

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Mining the News (11/15/19)

I’ve been slow at combing trough and reporting on any actionable fantasy news. I had to draw a line today since I had dozens of additional articles to go through. Here is some useful information with more to come Monday.

• The Reds are mudding up their playing time situation by trading for Travis Jankowski and picking up Freddy Galvis’s 2020 option.

Aaron Hicks eventually had Tommy John surgery and will miss a few months to start next season.

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks underwent successful Tommy John surgery Wednesday, the team announced.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters there is an eight-to-10-month timeframe for Hicks’ recovery.

This makes him pretty much unknowable except in leagues with unlimited DL slots.
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2019 Ottoneu Arbitration Results – Top 25 Players

Brad recently posted his Ottoneu Arbitration Omnibus which will tell you everything you need to know about one of the highlights of the Ottoneu off season.  In summary, arbitration in Ottoneu refers to the competitive process all leagues go through to bring individual player salaries back into balance.  In other words, it’s the economic counter weight to full scale dynasty that makes Ottoneu so unique compared to other fantasy platforms.

Most leagues choose the arbitration “allocation” process, which allows each owner in the league to assign a small salary increase to the players they believe are most valuable to their opponents’ rosters.  This rule specifically states:

In the interest of maintaining competitive balance, there are two distinct arbitration options.

a. The allocation system gives a $25 budget to each team in the league.

b. The team must allocate this budget towards players on other teams.

c. Each team must allocate at least one dollar to every other team, and no team can allocate more than $3 to any other team.

d. At the end of the allocation period, all players have their salary increased by the amount allocated towards them.

e. Allocations take place after the initial offseason salary increase, so any allocations will be in addition to the $1 or $2 increase each player gets at the end of the season.

f. If a team does not allocate at least one dollar to every other team, none of their allocations will count and it will be as if they did not participate at all.

g. If a team does not allocate all $25, none of their allocations will count and it will be as if they did not participate at all.

Which players receive the most allocation dollars in arbitration? In general, it’s the best players from the previous season, and usually the players that have jumped in significant value from a previously low market price (salary).

With 2019 arbitration complete, here’s a quick look at the top 25 players to receive arbitration increases across several Ottoneu formats:

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A Top 5 Player at Every Position…

…going 15th or later at their position (30th for OF, 40th for SP, and 20th for RP).

It felt like that’d all be too long for a headline. Anyway, this is a very straightforward concept that I thought of while on my way to getting breakfast tacos! I’m using the Too Early Mocks as my guide here so let’s go position-by-position and find some potential Top 5s!

STARTING PITCHER: Frankie Montas (48th)

I’ve already expressed some love for Montas this offseason so why not go to the next level here? His trajectory has really impressed me. He started as a flamethrower who could miss bats but do little else. Then in 2018 he stopped walking guys, but his Ks tanked… which of course seemed related. This year he put it all together with a 26% K rate, 6% BB rate, and he maintained his excellent HR suppression (0.75 HR/9). His season was cut short by a PED suspension, but he finished on the mound with an excellent six-inning outing on September 25th. Sign me up!

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