Archive for February, 2014

Relievers Who Have SP-Eligibility in Yahoo

Obvious fact: Yahoo is a common fantasy platform. Less obvious fact: there is some scope to exploit certain features of Yahoo. One of those is with relievers who have SP/RP eligibility. Relievers generally outperform starters in strikeout rate, ERA, and WHIP. As such, it helps those stats to use relievers as often as possible. Anytime you can use a reliever in a starter slot is potentially advantageous.

Some leagues don’t discriminate between type of pitcher, so the SP/RP status doesn’t matter. Other leagues don’t have enough bench depth to effectively use relievers in a starter slot. Generally speaking SP/RP pitchers are most useful to owners who participate in the daily grind and make over 100 moves a season by cycling the last spot on their roster. Some leagues have rules that disallow this as a viable strategy. That said, you don’t necessarily need to grind in order to leverage this strategy. Below is the not-quite-definitive list based on current eligibility; I left out some scrubs and guys who will almost certainly start. Other pitchers will gain SP/RP eligibility throughout the season, and it’s useful to periodically keep track of such things.

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Exit Sandman: No Mo, No Problem? Well, Maybe Not Quite

The Yankees bullpen will have a drastically different look in 2014, if for no other reason than that the back end will be propped up by someone other than Mariano Rivera for the first time since 1997. Think about that for a second: Rivera is the bridge from John Wetteland to David Robertson.

Rivera isn’t the only one gone from a bullpen which ranked 20th in ERA, 26th in FIP, but 6th in K/9. Also gone from last year are Joba Chamberlain — addition by subtraction, in the eyes of most Yankees fans — and Boone Logan — just plain subtraction — as well as even David Huff, whose 34.2 innings as a swingman aren’t completely insignificant.

The Yankees didn’t pour any money into the bullpen in the offseason, instead focusing on adding Masahiro Tanaka and retaining Hiroki Kuroda in to an otherwise ordinary rotation. This means that the club will likely have to find somewhere between 150-200 innings out of guys who were non-factors for the Bombers in 2013. That is, previous lower-tier guys as well as minor league fill-ins.

The Closer

David Robertson (9.9 K/9, 2.97 ERA, 35 saves via 2014 Steamer Projections)

After six straight years of 10.0-plus K/9, for some reason Steamer thinks Robertson will take a slight step back as he inherits the closer’s role. It certainly won’t be easy to replace immortality, but in reality Robertson has been nails from the get-go, with a career K/9 of 11.7, an ERA of 2.76, and FIPs that are more or less exactly in line with it. Robertson missed a few less bats last year — still a solid 10.5 per 9 — but found some extra grounders en route to an outstanding 2.04 ERA. To me, Steamer is a bit down on a guy who I think has a shot to be an elite closer right out of the gate. This Yankees team may not be amazing, but I think they’ll be good enough for me to take the over on Steamer’s 35 saves projection. Robertson is legit. Read the rest of this entry »

RotoGraphs Consensus Ranks: Relief Pitchers

I think we’re the last ones to finish up. We’re so slow, Eno apparently already dropped the full spreadsheet. But, really, don’t you just want a thread where you can bag on how the Rockies claim that LaTroy Hawkins may open the season ahead of Rex Brothers on the depth chart?

Reliever rankings come courtesy of the guys (Alan, Ben, and Colin) who’ll once again be on Bullpen Report duty. You aren’t going to quibble with the top six or so (although you might want to shuffle up the order). Where things get really interesting is wading into the quagmire of guys past RP20 or so. As always, relievers look to be a volatile breed. Do you look for guys with weaker peripherals but have the tentative “closer” tag or do you draft for peripherals and assume your guy will float to the top as the season grinds along? And who knows who Houston is going to tab as their next closer? Are you going to be the one rolling the dice on Josh Fields, Chad Qualls, or (insert reliever X here)? (Aside: it’s not me.)

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Talking About Early NL Outfield Tiers

“It’s easy to sum it up when you’re just talking about tiers. We’re sitting in here, and I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talking about tiers. I mean, listen, we’re talking about tiers. Not a game, not a game, not a game, we talking about tiers. Not a game. Not, not … not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game, but we’re talking about tiers, man. I mean, how silly is that? … And we talking about tiers. I know I supposed to be there. I know I’m supposed to lead by example … I know that … And I’m not … I’m not shoving it aside, you know, like it don’t mean anything. I know it’s important, I do. I honestly do … But we’re talking about tiers, man. What are we talking about? Tiers? We’re talking about tiers, man. [laughter from the media crowd] We’re talking about tiers. We’re talking about tiers. We ain’t talking about the game. [more laughter] We’re talking about tiers, man. When you come to the arena, and you see me play, you see me play don’t you? You’ve seen me give everything I’ve got, right? But we’re talking about tiers right now. We talking about ti- [interrupted].” – Allen Iverson, noted rotisserie enthusiast.

Ahem, yeah. It’s that time again — the time to take great, big, giant lists of baseball players at different positions and pare them down to smaller, more manageable groupings. Yes, we’re talking about tiers! National League outfield tiers, to be specific. (Not the game, to be clear, in case there was confusion there, but tiers.)

These are derived largely from projection systems, including Steamer, ZiPS, Fans, Marcel and the author’s whimbrain. They serve mostly as a conversation starter, so let’s treat them as such and chime in either below or on twitter: @jackweiland.

As is custom around these parts, we’ll name tiers in this episode after something fun: some of the most rantful sports rants that ever ranted. Ready? Let’s go!

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Fantasy Storylines To Watch: Carlos Martinez

Each spring, a handful of storylines grab fantasy owners’ attention due to the vast difference in potential value on draft day. The stories could revolve around a spring position battle or the potential of a top prospect to steal a roster spot with a big spring camp. Sometimes its a rehabbing player who isn’t certain to be ready for opening day.

Perhaps an under-reported fantasy storyline is unfolding in St. Louis, and it doesn’t involve top prospect Oscar Taveras. The Cardinals suffered a blow to their starting rotation when left-hander Jaime Garcia experienced a setback with his surgically-repaired shoulder. He’s currently seeking a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, according to ESPN.

The story isn’t really that Garcia re-injured his shoulder. Given his unfortunate injury history, the news was not shocking. It’s the repercussions of the injury that are interesting for fantasy owners. Right-handers Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez now find themselves locked in a battle for the fifth starter role. And for the latter, the fireballing Carlos Martinez, such a transition to the starting rotation could significantly increase his fantasy value for the 2014 season.

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The Sneaky Fantasy Value Of Abraham Almonte

Abraham Almonte has overcome a veritable minefield of obstacles on his way to the majors, the most obvious of which being his height. Originally signed by the Yankees as a 17-year-old, the diminutive Dominican stands just 5’9″. Upon acquiring him, the Yankees tried Almonte as a second baseman in rookie ball before quickly shifting him to the outfield.

For the next seven years, he worked his way slowly through the organization, finally reaching Double-A in 2012. By that point, Almonte was generally viewed as a quick, switch-hitting outfielder who lacked the power to play in a corner spot at the major-league level and had never hit .300 in the minors. He was still more than just organizational depth, but not enough of a prospect to land on any top prospect lists.

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Plenty Of New Faces In Detroit Bullpen

You may remember last year’s Detroit bullpen as being something of a mess, especially once Bruce Rondon proved that he was not going to be able to grab the closer’s job right out of camp as the Tigers as hoped. They tried to bring back Jose Valverde, with disastrous results, Phil Coke got a brief shot, and they picked up Jose Veras for depth, but the majority of saves ended up going to Joaquin Benoit, who proved effective in the role after being bumped up from his setup man spot.

Now, Benoit is off to San Diego. Veras is with the Cubs. Valverde is trying to make the Mets. Drew Smyly is in the rotation, replacing Doug Fister. Darin Downs is in Houston. Of the five most-used Tiger relievers in 2013, three are no longer in the Detroit bullpen, replaced by several new names. It’s a bullpen in transition. Let’s get to it. Read the rest of this entry »

FanGraphs Consensus Rankings Draft Spreadsheet

Hope this is just in time for your draft!

Our ranks, plus Steamer projected hitter numbers and ZiPs projected pitcher values, all in one downloadable place.

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Finding the Victory in Victorino

Or is that the victori? Either way, it’s definitely there, and you don’t even have to squint too hard to see it.

When the OF rankings were posted yesterday, I was aghast to see Shane Victorino ranked a lowly 52. Ok, maybe aghast is a strong word. But he was definitely behind a handful of guys I think he should be ahead of. And in the spirit of open discourse and wanting to justify my own love for the Red Sox outfielder, I set out to validate my disagreement.

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Stolen Topic: Three Players I Won’t Draft

Bender wrote about three players he would not draft yesterday, and I thought I’d pitch in with three of my own. These kinds of posts convey a lot of information about where the writer thinks the marketplace really diverges from reality, so they can be among the most useful when preparing for a draft. I’m not saying that you should take what we say as gospel, but if your own expectations are substantially different than ours, it might be worth taking a second look.

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