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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 760 – Winter Meetings Explosion


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Rick Porcello and Tanner Roark Find New Innings Buffets

Rick Porcello and Tanner Roark are both leaving the Winter Meetings with new teams, as Porcello agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal with the Mets and Roark will provide much-needed innings for the Blue Jays on a two-year, $24 million deal. Neither pitcher has had an ERA below 4.00 in any of the last three seasons, but both pitchers have been remarkably durable and largely reliable as innings eaters.

Porcello, of course, has a 2016 American League Cy Young Award on his résumé. While he has not pitched close to that level since, ample run support and regular turns in the Red Sox’s rotation have helped him to win 31 games over the last two seasons. In 2018, he went 17-7 with a 4.28 ERA, and that was good enough for Porcello to rank 41st among starting pitchers in 5×5 Roto value. With the Mets, he will hold down the fourth or fifth spot in the rotation, depending on whether they trade one of their other starters in the wake of adding both Porcello and Michael Wacha during the Winter Meetings.
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Anthony Rendon: Everyone Up But Him

Some team was going to end up with Anthony Rendon and after missing out on the Gerrit Cole sweepstakes, the Angels ponied up and signed Rendon. It’s a simple signing and here how the various players see their fantasy values change.

Anthony Rendon (down)

From 2016 to 2018, Rendon was about the same hitter with between 20 and 24 home runs, .270 to .308 AVG, and never breaking a 190 Runs+RBI. He just destroyed those numbers last season with 34 homers, a .319 AVG, and 243 Runs+RBIs. With nothing changing in his hitting profile (plate discipline and batted ball stats), the career season can be based on a little luck but mainly the happy fun ball which is back for another season.

The change in scenery factors seem to point to his value going down a bit. The park factors between Washington DC and Orange County are about the same. The division opponents are a mix of competitive and non-competitive teams. The biggest difference will be the lineup quality. Even with a DH, the Angels averaged 4.75 runs per game last season and the Nationals were at 5.4 runs per game. Even though the best player in baseball will be in the Angels lineup, it’s a huge downgrade for Rendon. While the juiced ball will keep his home runs up, the Runs+RBI total should be around 200 to 210 instead of 240.

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Jurickson Profar Slides Down California Coast

It took many, many years, but Jurickson Profar finally enjoyed a breakout year in his first full season in 2018. While he regressed this past season, that was entirely due to a plummeting BABIP, which we would expect to rebound somewhat, just because no Major League hitter really has a true talent BABIP that low. But there’s now another wrinkle in his quest to return his BABIP to a normal level. Back on December 2, he was traded to the Padres, which would result in him playing for his third team in three years. Will the park switch affect his chances of a BABIP rebound, or perhaps boost those chances? How about the rest of his performance? Let’s check the 2018 park factors.

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Michael Wacha Starts Anew With the Mets

The Mets signed Michael Wacha to a one-year, $3 million deal with $7 million worth of incentives on Wednesday afternoon, and he ostensibly fills the rotation vacancy left by Zack Wheeler, albeit as their fifth starter. Wacha has exceeded 170 innings only once in his seven-year career, and his 2019 season was discouraging, featuring a 4.76 ERA and a couple of demotions to the Cardinals’ bullpen. On the plus side, he recorded a 3.20 ERA in an injury-shortened 2018 season, and at 28 years old, he could still have several good seasons ahead of him.

Wacha’s fantasy appeal has never been about strikeouts, but he has authored four seasons with a sub-3.50 ERA. In each of those years, he has had low HR/9 ratios and BABIPs, both of which were frequently aided by soft contact rates. Pitching at Busch Stadium helped as well. Over his first six seasons, Wacha had a 3.54 ERA and an 0.7 HR/9 at home,, but a 4.02 ERA and a 1.0 HR/9 on the road. This past season, he was better at home yet again, but neither set of splits was very good. Wacha was abysmal on the road with a 5.30 ERA, and he gave up more than two home runs for every nine innings. At home, his ERA was superficially respectable at 4.07, but he needed to strand 81.7 percent of his baserunners to keep it that low, as hitters collectively put up a .278/.338/.481 slash line against him.
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Yankees Land Cole; Mazara to the White Sox

Gerrit Cole signed by NYY (9 years/$324 million dollars)

I’ll be honest, I was really hoping Cole would sign with the Angels but that’s only because I really want Mike Trout in the playoffs and that would’ve really helped. Brian Cashman has landed his white whale and the Evil Empire has returned with this incredible deal. This is unfathomable money and congratulations to Cole for securing the bag. Here’s the thing, he’s coming off a truly masterful season in 2019 meaning he can’t really go anywhere but down from this insane peak.

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Welcome to Miami, Jonathan Villar

Last week, Jonathan Villar was traded to the Marlins, which will be his third team in three years. For a guy who has posted six WAR in the last two seasons, that’s pretty surprising. He’s been quite the exciting power/speed contributor over the past four years, with double digit homers and steals galore. Will the park switch affect his offensive output? Let’s check the park factors to find out.

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Gregorius to PHI, Cozart and Gausman to SF

Didi Gregorius signed by PHI (1 year/$14 million dollars)

Just like last offseason, the Phillies aren’t playing around. They’ve already addressed their pitching issues with a big five-year deal for Zack Wheeler and now they’ve got the last piece for their offense in place with the signing of Didi Gregorius. After César Hernández was non-tendered, we started to see rumors ramp up that they were interested in Gregorius. The one-year, $14 million dollar deal will install Gregorius at shortstop while moving Jean Segura to spot that Hernández’s departure opened up at 2B.

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Risk, Uncertainty, and Fantasy Baseball

Gred Gigerenzer (yes that’s his real name) has been a leading advocate on how to correctly measure and articulate risk. I’d highly recommend his book Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions, but today, I’m going to focus on some passages from another book of his, Calculated Risk, which focuses on risks in the medical profession. Some of the passages seem to resonate with me about the fantasy expert community, especially this question: what should be the intent and expectations of touts?

One point Gigerenzer hopes to get across is the difference between Risk and Uncertainty. For him, Risk is measurable such as pitcher X as a 40% chance of going on the IL based on his age and past injury history. Uncertainty involves values that can’t be (or aren’t) measured like player Y is going through a divorce so his production is down.
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Brad Johnson Baseball Chat: 12/10/2019

Today’s chat is complete. Check out the transcript below.

Brad Johnson: Let’s kick this thing into gear!

Nick: Just out of curiosity, what time of day does Fangraphs get the most traffic?  And is it indeed (as I suspect) a time during which most people (like me) should be working instead?

Brad Johnson: The writers haven’t had access to traffic data for a good half decade. And the last thing was turned off because the numbers were just crazy wrong.

Brad Johnson: So… I don’t know. I suspect the answer to your question is yes.

Trent: What is the best fantasy landing spot for Rendon?

Brad Johnson: Well, Colorado

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