Archive for January, 2013

Chad Young ottoneu deadline chat — 1/31/13

I will be by from 10-11pm ET tonight to chat before the ottoneu deadline. The queue will open well before, so get your questions in!

MASH Report (1/31/12)

Recent injury data

 •  Several reports are out about the health of Cole Hamels. First, he denies he was shut down this off season for shoulder soreness. The same article goes on and confirms he experienced some soreness while pitching this past September. No signs (low Zone% or loss in velocity) point to a major injury. Keep early tabs on him, but there is no reason not to draft/bid on him

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Sleeper SP: Marco Estrada

Of starting pitchers who threw at least 100 innings last year, the top three strikeout-to-walk ratios belonged to Cliff Lee, Colby Lewis, and … Marco Estrada. His 5.32 K/BB as a starter helped propel him to an overall 3.64 ERA, which marked the best season of his career and put him on fantasy radar for the first time.

The 29-year-old doesn’t possess a power repertoire that naturally leads to lofty strikeout rates, but Estrada proved to be a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners who plucked him off the waiver wire last season. He ended the 2012 season with the tenth-highest strikeout rate (9.26 K/9) among starting pitchers who threw at least 100 innings.

But perhaps fantasy owners shouldn’t have been surprised that Estrada could rack up the strikeouts once he was given a full-time role in the starting rotation. After all, he has a career 9.02 K/9 strikeout rate and a career 10.2% swinging-strike rate. His career has only been 262.1 innings over bits and pieces of the past five years, but at the very worst, this is becoming a legitimate trend worth watching.

Marco Estrada offered more than just strikeouts last season, though, which is what makes him such an intriguing sleeper for the 2013 season. The right-hander also severely limited free passes, which helped him maintain a low WHIP (1.14). He was one of the few pitchers available in later rounds — or the waiver wire — who offered an above-average strikeout rate without sacrificing WHIP or ERA last year.

His 3.64 ERA also appears sustainable. His 3.35 FIP and 3.19 SIERA suggest he actually pitched better than his 2012 ERA otherwise indicates. Estrada occasionally struggles with giving up home runs — and that issue can be exacerbated by mostly pitching in Miller Park — but his home run rate was only slightly above the league average last season. He is essentially a lock to serve as the Brewers’ number-two starter and should be the beneficiary of a potent Brewers offense. That could lead to a double-digit win total for Estrada, which would be yet another advantage for fantasy owners in standard roto leagues.

Some have expressed concern regarding his slight velocity drop from 2011 to 2012. He dropped almost a mile per hour on his average fastball from 91.0 mph to 90.2 mph, but it’s important to remember that his 2011 velocity numbers mostly came out of the bullpen. That obviously lends itself to higher velocities. Most likely, Estrada’s velocity dip is most likely a result of transitioning to the starting rotation, not an indication of a potential injury.

Despite Estrada’s career year in 2012, he doesn’t project to cost and arm and a leg on draft day. In the most recent auction draft discussed on this site, Estrada went for $4. In the most recent snake draft, he wasn’t drafted until round 18. For a starting pitcher who can potentially provide value in strikeouts, WHIP, ERA, and wins, that’s a steal.

Brandon Moss: 2012 Breakout Player To Avoid

The Athletics surprised everyone by winning 94 games — ZiPS said they were more likely to lose 94 games — last season, their best record since the days of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito. When a team exceeds expectations by that much, it’s usually because they received some very big (and very surprising) contributions from unexpected sources. Their rookie-laden rotation was dynamite, Sean Doolittle went from first baseman to elite setup man in barely a year, and journeyman Brandon Moss whacked 21 homers with a 162 wRC+ in 296 plate appearances.

Moss, 29, put together a .286/.371/.582 (142 wRC+) with 15 homers in 224 plate appearances for Triple-A Sacramento before being called up to the big league team in early-June. He hit seven homers in his first 13 games — he had just 12 hits in those 13 games — and 11 homers in his first 27 games with the Athletics. Moss cooled off just a bit in August (129 wRC+) before going on a late-season tear (202 wRC+ in September and October) to help push Oakland past the Rangers on the final day of the season. The end result was a .291/.358/.596 batting line in those 296 trips to the plate.

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Why Allen Craig?

Every year we develop fantasy crushes. We are all susceptible to them and no one can fault you for latching onto a player whom you think is going to have a breakout season. Usually it’s some highly-touted rookie ready to burst onto the scene who becomes everyone’s darling and sometimes it’s a third or fourth-year player whom you’ve watched as he learned the MLB ropes and things are, in your opinion, about to click. And then there’s Allen Craig. Read the rest of this entry »

The Quest to Predict HR/FB Rate, Part 4

**For those of you who have listened to the Fantasy Baseball Roundtable radio show in the past, I wanted to share that we are officially back on the air! And if you have never listened, well here’s your chance to hear my manly voice talking about nerdy stats. Listen live every Wednesday night at 9-10 PM EST.

The quest continues! On Monday, Chad Young and I set out on a journey to try utilizing the fly ball and home run distances and angles found on Baseball Heat Maps in an attempt to answer several questions regarding a hitter’s HR/FB rate. As expected, we found a strong correlation between it and batted ball distance. But, distance alone wasn’t telling us the whole story. Chad decided to incorporate batted ball angle and the previous season HR/FB rate and that certainly improved our equation. Then yesterday I took that another step further and found that including the HR/FB rate from two seasons ago was even better. But, I wasn’t satisfied. A hitter’s HR/FB rate in 2012 should not be affected by how he performed in the metric in previous years. We pinpointed what we thought may be one of the major hindrances and that was the way the angle data was presented as an average.

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Deep Sleeper SP: Charlie Furbush

One of the things I’ll be watching this Spring is how the Seattle Mariners are using Charlie Furbush and what kind of results Blake Beavan and Hector Noesi are getting. If you listen to the organizational talking heads, it really seems to suggest that the rotation going into the season will be Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Erasmo Ramirez, Beavan, and Noesi. As a Mariner fan, that should depress the hell out of you, but as far as fantasy baseball is concerned, Charlie Furbush is probably way more talented than the two at the back end of the rotation.

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Kicking Mocks: My Auction

As long and grueling a process as it may have been, deep down, I still love a good old fashioned auction-style draft (yes, I read the comments on Mike P’s draft recap, so hopefully now, that inane debate doesn’t spill over to here). I love snake-style drafts too, don’t get me wrong. There’s usually a little more chatter and pick praise/criticism because people’s focus isn’t split by steady budget calculations. But in a snake-style draft, you automatically know that there are certain players you won’t get based on your draft position and while you may be making your own picks, your competition’s selections have a much greater impact on the choices you make in each round. In an auction-style draft, within reason, you can have anyone you want so long as you have the money to spend. Technically, everyone is up for grabs. You might have to make a sacrifice or two (or three or four even) to get someone, but it remains your choice whether or not to bid or spend. If you really want a guy, you make sure he is nominated at a time when you have the money to afford him, and probably a few bucks extra in case someone else covets him as much.

That being said, it’s time to talk about this particular mock auction along with my strategy and thought process… Read the rest of this entry »

Is Michael Bourn About to Decline?

Michael Bourn is the best free-agent left on the market. The main reason Bourn is still out there has to do with the market. After the other big-name outfielders signed, there were no teams left on the market who could offer Bourn a mega-deal. The only team he’s been linked to recently is the Mets, who are only interested in adding him if MLB decides to exempt the Mets from giving up the 11 pick. But even if the Mets signed Bourn, they would want him to lower his demands. The team doesn’t want to invest a five-year deal in a player so dependent on his legs, figuring, once the speed goes, Bourn will no longer be useful. The general notion suggests that players like Bourn fall off a cliff as their speed declines. But is Bourn the exception to that line of thinking?

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The Quest to Predict HR/FB Rate, Part 3

On Monday, I set the groundwork for a quest to try to predict a hitter’s HR/FB ratio utilizing the new data first made available last year that tells us the average distance of a hitter’s batted balls. Our goal was to answer several questions:

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