Archive for December, 2014

I See A Little Arrieta of a Man

At 6′ 4″, 225 pounds calling Jake Arrieta a little man isn’t exactly accurate, but Queen didn’t really have a lyric that fit his description. Even still, Arrieta’s impact 2014 created fantasy ripples that was anything but little. Despite making just 25 starts spanning 156.2 innings, the right-hander proceeded to breakout with a 2.53 ERA backed up by a 2.73 xFIP and 2.83 SIERA. Factor in the 9.53 K/9 (27.2% strikeout rate) and you have yourself a fantasy ace.
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The Murky World Of Collusion

Collusion is a topic I’ve wandered into a few times in the past. I tend to test the fringes of the fantasy equivalent of treason. Just yesterday, I wrote about selling my fellow owners on a strategy. If everything went according to plan, I’d get to dump some of my back-roster assets, and I’d get a shot at some elite talent after the draft. If I just change how the idea is presented, it can come across as an attempt to solicit collusion.

This topic is important because many leagues have anti-collusion rules. However, a widely held sentiment is that collusion is impossible to prove. The corollary: owners think collusion is occurring right under their noses, they just can’t prove it. Read the rest of this entry »

Henderson Alvarez, Strikeouts and You

Miami Marlins pitcher Henderson Alvarez is an enigma. Despite a fastball that regularly hits the mid-90s, he doesn’t strike anybody out. While strikeouts aren’t the key to being a good pitcher, they sure help a lot. That’s why it was so surprising when Alvarez posted a 2.65 ERA over 187 innings last season. Alvarez did that with the seventh-lowest strikeout rate among all starting pitchers. Strikeouts aren’t everything, of course. There’s much more that goes into being a good pitcher, and Alvarez displays those skills often. He doesn’t give up walks, and generally keeps the ball on the ground. Those skills usually make up a very successful pitcher, but they rarely lead to a player posting the 11th best ERA in a season.

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Revisiting My $9 Pitching Staff

Before the season began, I decided to have a little fun by constructing a fictional $9 pitching staff using the winning bids from the 15 team Tout Wars mixed auction league. I didn’t bother to consider any relievers as speculating on starting pitching breakouts in significantly more exciting. So without further ado, let’s take a look at how my selections panned out, with Zach Sanders’ dollar values indicated. It’s not perfect since his values are based on 12 team leagues, but good enough.

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Ottoneu Scrub Dumping

Last week, I wrote about ottoneu trinkets and gobbledygooks. Specifically, I wondered what you, the reader, do with them? I also hinted that I had a plan, it’s not a great plan, but “great” isn’t really on the table when we’re talking about a $3 Alex Rodriguez. We’ll talk about said plan today. First, the comments.

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Back in Chicago, Jason Hammel Looks for a Return to Form

It was insert cliche here a tale of two seasons for Jason Hammel in 2014: in one, he was the surprise Chicago success story, a guy racking up strikeouts at a high clip while maintaining a sub-3 ERA. In the other, he was the acquired gun who fizzled in Oakland, getting blown apart with a 2-6 record and bloated FIP, a prime culprit in the team’s second-half choke job.

All told, Hammel finished 38th among starting pitchers in Zach Sanders’ end of the season rankings, though surely those fantasy owners who hoped that a move to the (at the time) high-flying A’s and their big ballpark would help Hammel continue his good vibes still harbor some bitterness.

A $20 million contract in hand, Hammel is now on his way back to Chicago, where he’ll look to recapture the success of his first three months of 2014. As far as fantasy owners are concerned, however, he’ll also be looking to prove that his 2015 value is closer to that of his Cubbie tenure than his brief stay in Oakland.
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Revisiting My 2014 Spring K% Starting Pitcher Breakout Candidates

Back in late March of 2012, Matt Swartz helped me conclude that pitcher strikeout and walk rates in spring training actually do matter. We are so used to hearing that spring stats mean nothing, so it was exciting to learn that there was some meaning after all, if you knew where to look. So with that in mind, I identified four starting pitcher breakout candidates based on strikeout rate surges during the spring. Let’s review their performances.

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MASH Report (12/29/14)

Jason Kipnis may not be ready for the season’s start because of finger surgery.

“We are optimistic he’s going to be able to do a lot in Spring Training,” said Quinlan, adding the recovery time is variable. “To give you some idea, we are pretty optimistic he’s going to be able to do fielding and throwing and doing all aspects of baseball activity with the exception of hitting by the start of Spring Training, when he reports to Spring Training.

“As you know, the forces involved in gripping the bat and hitting are a little bit more extensive, so that will be the last thing he starts. We are optimistic he’ll also be on some form of hit-ting progression at the start of Spring Training.”

I don’t know if his value could be any lower after his struggles during the 2014 season and now this injury. It will be interesting to see where he ends up getting valued. I could see it all over the place and will step in if his value drops enough.

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Should Gerrit Cole Be Striking Out More Batters?

Based on stuff, there are very few starting pitchers that can hang with Gerrit Cole. 96 mph heat, plus three other pitches that rate well by peripherals — it’s very fun to watch. But look at the numbers at the end of the year, and the overall results are less whelming. With a team that has very defined (and so far, successful) ideas about pitching, is it possible The Pirates’ Way has sunk Cole’s fantasy value?

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Exploring My Personal Biases With Adam Jones

One of the things I absolutely love about writing for RotoGraphs is the high value interactions in the comments. I’ve found that by posting certain types of content, I can iron out the wrinkles for my own use, provide teachable moments for everybody involved, and learn about my own shortcomings as a writer/analyst. I probably learn as much from you as you learn from me.

It’s with this in mind that I re-revisit my ranking of Adam Jones, which first appeared on Christmas day.

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