Author Archive

Another Draft Recap: Scoresheet BP-Kings

There is nothing quite like Scoresheet. Like with other sim games, you’re the manager as well as the GM, making lineup, substitution and baserunning decisions over a full season’s schedule of games, but like traditional fantasy, you’re making those decisions based on how you expect players to perform in the current season. The unique nature of the game makes for unique drafting, where defense, handedness and platoon splits are important factors to consider.

I just completed my draft in the BP Kings industry league, where we filled out our 35-player rosters after submitting a keeper list of no more than 10 players. My team missed the postseason in 2019, but went 88-74 with a league-best 3.60 ERA. The team also had the third-lowest average of runs scored per game (4.5) out of 24 teams, so it’s fitting that half of my 10 keepers were pitchers. That was after throwing back useful relievers like Taylor Rogers, Giovanny Gallegos, Yusmeiro Petit and José Leclerc into the draft pool. I wound up keeping my rotation of Charlie Morton, Luis Castillo, Mike Minor, Aníbal Sánchez and Adrian Houser intact, while carrying over Eugenio Suárez, Franmil Reyes, Alex Verdugo, Kolten Wong and Elvis Andrus as the core of my offense and defense.
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Al Melchior’s Tout Wars Mixed Auction Recap

When we make big mistakes in our fantasy auctions, “wait ’til next year” is a tough pill to swallow. My 2019 Tout Wars mixed auction (15-team OBP league) got off to a bad start from which I did not recover, but last Saturday, I finally got a chance to redeem myself. A year ago, the bidding on Mike Trout went up to $56, and I was prepared to go a dollar higher. Then I froze. In an effort to make up for my reticence, I went on to overbid on several risky players.

In the aftermath of that debacle, I vowed to be more aggressive in my bidding on top players, particularly the safer ones. Not only did I not want to get shut out like I did in last year’s auction, but it seemed like a good strategy since I trust myself to either find good players in the endgame or find suitable replacements in FAAB bidding.
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Breaking Down BABIP: What Impacts Ground Ball Batting Average for Hitters?

In rounding out my series on the most important factors influencing components of BABIP, I will be looking into what most affects a hitter’s batting average on ground balls. So far, the results of these analyses have been consistent. Launch angle has been the main driver of BABIP for pitchers, and it has been for hitters as well, at least when they are launching flyballs. The story is a different one, though, when hitters put the ball on the ground. Ground ball launch angle was not a significant factor in determining a hitter’s ground ball batting average, and neither was ground ball exit velocity.

Whether or not a hitter pulls grounders has much to say about whether that player will hit for average on grounders. There is a negative relationship between these variables that is significant at p < .0001 and with a Pearson’s r of .27. Even more important is how fast the hitter is. The Pearson’s r for the positive correlation between average sprint speed and ground ball batting average was .45.
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Breaking Down BABIP: What Impacts Flyball BABIP for Hitters?

In a pair of recent columns, I looked into what factors have impacted flyball BABIP (or FB BABIP) and ground ball batting average for pitchers, and those analyses were linked by a common finding. Whether pitchers are allowing balls that are in play in the air or on the ground, the launch angles of those batted balls go a long way towards explaining whether they become base hits. Now I am turning my attention to flyball BABIP for hitters, and the trend continues. While flyball pull rate, average flyball distance and average exit velocity, both on flyballs and line drives combined and on flyballs alone, did not have significant relationships with FB BABIP for hitters, average flyball launch angle (FB LA) turned out to be a statistically significant factor yet again (p < .0006, r = .19)
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Breaking Down BABIP: What Impacts Ground Ball Batting Average for Pitchers?

In the second installment in my series on the factors impacting components of BABIP, I move on from flyball BABIP for pitchers to ground ball batting average for pitchers. This analysis produced one result that really surprised me: whether or not a pitcher has a tendency to allowed pulled grounders does not have much of an impact on the ground ball batting average they allow. I didn’t anticipate this, because hitters put up a collective .180 batting average on pulled grounders in 2019, but a .306 average on all other grounders. For pitchers who allowed at least 225 grounders in seasons between 2015 and 2019 (n=286), the negative relationship between pull rate and ground ball batting average allowed (GB Avg) was significant at p < .05, but with just an .012 Pearson’s r.
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Breaking Down BABIP: What Impacts Flyball BABIP for Pitchers?

A little more than a year ago, Alex Chamberlain and I looked into what type of impact a slew of Statcast measures had on a pitcher’s overall BABIP rate. Hard-hit rate and exit velocity on ground balls (EV GB) had the strongest correlations, but it seemed unlikely that the latter would have much to say about which pitchers would be best at limiting hits on flyballs in play. In general, it seems that BABIP could be influenced by different factors depending on the type of batted ball.

So let’s test that out. This column is the first in a series of four where I will be looking at the impact of various measures on flyball BABIP and ground ball Avg, both for pitchers and hitters. I’m kicking this off with an analysis of flyball BABIP for pitchers.
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How Much Does Throwing Fewer Sinkers Really Help?

Every now and then, I need to refresh my memory on what the baseline stats are for various pitch types, and that brings me back to this piece on pitch type performance from fellow RotoGrapher Alex Chamberlain. I am not only reminded of how inferior sinkers generally are at inducing whiffs and preventing hits on balls in play, but of Alex’s advice to pitchers: “Seriously, don’t throw a sinker.”

But, of course, lots of big league pitchers do, and 33 of them threw at least 500 sinkers in 2019. Given that pitchers stand to give up fewer hits if they switched from their sinker to another offering — assuming their version of that alternative pitch was at least decent — it seems like pitchers who ditch or de-emphasize their sinker should get more attention for doing just that. It also would seem that more pitchers would make that change. In every year of the 2010s, there were no more than 10 pitchers in a given season who decreased their sinker usage by 10 percentage points or more (and also threw at least 100 innings both the current and previous seasons).
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Three Bargain Platoon Pairings for Scoresheet Drafts

For many Scoresheet owners, keepers have been submitted in their leagues and drafts are about to commence. If you find yourself with a vacancy at a position, and you’re not excited about the players who are available to fill that spot, you may be able to find a suitable arrangement by drafting a platoon.

There are not too many players who get a large enough platoon adjustment against right-handed pitchers to make them desirable as platoon options, and even fewer who are likely to be available for drafting in a keeper league. (All of Scoresheet’s 2020 platoon adjustments are available on their site.) However, the three players below are all good candidates to be used in the larger part of a platoon, and none is likely to have been protected other than in extremely deep leagues or leagues that have an unusually large number of protection slots. All three hitters, for example, are available to be drafted in the 24-team mixed Baseball Prospectus Kings league.

I’ll make the case for each player, pair them up with prospective platoon partners and compare them against a more popular option at their position.
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Should We Treat Brandon Workman as an Elite Closer?

The Red Sox cleared up one major source of uncertainty on Tuesday by naming Ron Roenicke as their interim manager, and then on Wednesday, the new skipper lifted another cloud of uncertainty. Roenicke told reporters that he expects to name Brandon Workman as the team’s closer. His predecessor, Alex Cora, did not settle on a closer in the first half of 2019, with six different relievers recording saves and four relievers notching multiple saves. He stuck with Workman in the second half, and from the All-Star break forward, he recorded 13 of his 16 saves with a 2.01 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 49 strikeouts and no home runs allowed over 31.1 innings.

In making his announcement, Roenicke explained his decision by saying, “I think with what he did last year, he deserves that shot to be the closer.” This may be the biggest understatement of the offseason. In 2019, Workman was not just the Red Sox’s most effective reliever. By one measure — wOBA allowed — he was arguably the most effective pitcher in the majors. Workman led all pitchers with at least 50 innings with a .208 wOBA, and the margin wasn’t slim. The next closest was Tyler Glasnow at .222, and Kirby Yates was the only other pitcher with a wOBA below .230.
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Domingo Santana Is Looking Like a Major Steal

With the first spring training workouts now just days away, it appears that Domingo Santana finally has a camp to report to. According to Paul Hoynes of, the Indians have reportedly come to an agreement with the free agent outfielder on a one-year deal. Should the parties finalize the deal, Cleveland should prove to be a good landing spot for Santana, as he would seem to have a good chance of winning an everyday role in one of the outfield corners.

So far, Santana has not caused much of a stir in early drafts. In NFBC leagues, he has a 350 ADP that puts him in 89th place among outfielders. That makes him marginal at best in 15-team mixed leagues, while Austin Riley, Austin Hays and Niko Goodrum have all managed to nestle themselves among the top 75 outfielders. Granted, Riley and Hays have upside potential, but while Santana is no longer in the pre-peak phase of his career (he turned 27 last August), he also has a high ceiling.
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