Ah yes, the good ol’ cliche post, the backbone of holiday blogging. The internet wouldn’t be the same without them. Anyway, in 2011 I resolve too…
Dan Szymborski released his ZiPS projections for the Dodgers earlier this week, and they really like the Dodgers’ (somewhat) rebuilt rotation. Let’s take a look at the front four…
We know that Huston Street will close for the Rockies in 2011 assuming he’s healthy, but that’s not the safest of assumptions to make. The former AL Rookie of the Year missed just about the first three months of the 2010 season with a shoulder issue, then battled an oblique strain as Colorado was making a last gasp run at a postseason berth in late September. Should Street go down for an extended period of time next season, manager Jim Tracy will have his pick of several top notch setup men to use in the ninth inning. Let’s take a look at each, sorted by 2010 gmLI (average LI when the player enters the game).
Here’s a quick fantasy take on some of the smaller moves from the holiday weekend…
Rangers Sign Brandon Webb
Webb was one of fantasy’s top starters from 2006 through 2008, but he’s been derailed by severe shoulder problems that have limited him to just four innings over the last two years (all coming on Opening Day 2009). It’ll be very tempting to take a flier on Webb late in your draft, but the possibility of getting zero return is very high. Even if he does come back successfully, he’s moving into a tougher league and more hitter friendly ballpark and is now on the wrong side of 30. The name is a draw, but you’re best off letting someone else roll the dice. If you want to take a late round gamble, go with a kid. Jordan Zimmermann or someone like that.
Brewers Sign Takashi Saito
Milwaukee went to great lengths to improve its pitching rotation this winter, and now they’re starting to shore up the bullpen as well. Getting Trevor Hoffman out of late-game situations will help some, as will adding Saito. The 40-year-old righty has struck out no fewer than 10.91 batters per nine innings in four of his five big league seasons and his ERA has never exceeded 2.83. Health is definitely a concern (Saito ended the 2010 season on the shelf with a shoulder issue, and he’s had elbow issues in the recent past), but he passed his physical with the Brewers and right now there’s no reason to suspect he won’t be good to go come Opening Day. John Axford figures to get the save opportunities when the season starts, but if he falters for any reason, Saito’s next in line as long as he’s healthy. In a holds leagues, he’s a must get.
Padres Sign Brad Hawpe
It’s impossible to replace a hitter the caliber of Adrian Gonzalez, but San Diego is trying to do so by improving several positions at once. They’ve already made upgrades at second base, shortstop, and in centerfield this offseason, plus they’ll also have a full season of Ryan Ludwick. Hawpe figures to platoon at first base for the Padres, limiting both his exposure to left-handers and his fantasy value. A quad strain and rib issues hampered him this past year and Petco Park will surely take a bite out of his production, but I expect him to rebound from his down 2010 campaign and be a respectable fantasy bench piece. An AVG in the .250-.275 range with double digit homers is a safe bet, and there’s always the possibility of a midseason trade boosting his value.
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The San Diego Padres have a homefield advantage unlike any other. Petco Park is an extreme pitcher’s park, suppressing offense to just 80.6% of a neutral environment over the last three seasons according to ESPN’s park factors. Add in the great weather and beautiful city, and you’ve got a great destination for free agent starters looking to rebuild their value. This offseason’s reclamation product is local boy Aaron Harang, once on of fantasy’s top starters.
Red Sox GM Theo Epstein has done a bang up job strengthening his team this offseason, and I’m not just talking about the Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford pickups. He’s remade one of the game’s least effective bullpens in part by picking up righty killer Dan Wheeler and former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks as free agents. In winter that has seen three-year contracts handed out to relievers like candy, the Sox got Jenks and Wheeler for three contract years combined. What does this mean for saves in Boston?
Chasing wins in fantasy baseball sometimes seem futile, but if pursued in a logical way, they can be gained. Playing sub-par pitchers may increase win and strikeout totals, but they puts a drain on WHIP and ERA. By looking at the pitcher’s talent level and knowing the offense of the pitcher’s team, the chances of getting a win can be determined. The following are formulas to help estimate a pitchers win total.
First, all the qualified starters that didn’t switch teams from 2010 were matched with their team’s average runs scored per game. Then a linear regression was run comparing the player’s ERA, his run support and his actual winning percentage. The following equation was created:
Projected Winning % = 0.112(Run Support)-0.105(ERA)+0.446
with an R-squared = 0.827
With this equation, the expected number of wins can be estimated with just a couple more pieces of data. First, the number of starts that lead to a decision (win or loss) for games in 2010 was 70% with the bullpen getting the rest. Second, the number of GS will have to guesstimated using playing time projections and injury history. With this information, a projected number of wins can be calculated:
Projected Wins = 0.7 * Games Started * Projected Winning %
Going back over the 2010 numbers, the average difference between the number of games won and the predicted number of games won was 1.89 with a standard deviation was 2.24 wins.
For example, here is how Felix Hernandez’s win total would compare if he pitched for different teams during 2010. He was able to get 13 wins with a 2.47 ERA in 34 games with a team that average scoring 3.13 runs a game. With those numbers, he was projected to win 13.3 games. Now if he played for the Yankees and got their run support (5.23), his wins would have been around 18.9. If he had only got just 4.0 runs of support, he would have been closer to 15.6 wins.
Normally, trying to accumulate wins is a tough proposition. With a little knowledge of the pitcher and his team’s offense, the amount of wins the pitcher gets can be somewhat predicted.