Author Archive

The Daily Grind: Detwiler, Ray, Stubbs


  1. Stolen Bases, or a Lack Thereof
  2. Daily DFS – Detwiler, Wood, Trout, EY Jr.
  3. GB / FB Splits
  4. Tomorrow’s Targets – Greene, Ray, Stubbs, Aramista
  5. Factor Grid

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The Daily Grind: Sanchez, Gee, Fister


  1. Three Minor Leaguer Catchers
  2. Daily DFS – Sanchez, de la Rosa
  3. GB / FB Splits
  4. Tomorrow’s Targets – Gee, Fister, Forsythe, Iglesias
  5. Factor Grid

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Buchholz Up

After yesterday’s fine outing, Clay Buchholz may be a bit less of a buy-low candidate. Going into said start, Buchholz was sporting a foul 6.06 ERA with a 1.65 WHIP to match. FIP, xFIP, and SIERA told a different story, of course; they were 3.07, 2.73, and 2.84 respectively, on the strength of 19 strikeouts against just four walks in 16.1 innings of work. (He’s now got 29 Ks and 7 BBs in 22.1 IP with a 4.84 ERA).

But even with laudatory marks from famous ERA indicators, we’re still dealing with a small sample, and should be digging deeper to determine whether Buchholz is doing anything differently, or whether he’s actually improved over a pretty atrocious 2014.

Based on what I’m looking at, he’s definitely doing things differently.

First, let’s look at some numbers in a table that spans the full width of this text column. (Remember these stats are through his first three starts this year; they do not include yesterday’s game vs. Tampa Bay.)

Year K% BB% GB% O-Swing% O-Contact% SwStr% BABIP HR/FB LD% IFFB%
2014 17.9% 7.3% 46.6% 30.4% 69.8% 8.5% .315 9.8% 19.0% 9.8%
2015 24.7% 5.2% 54.7% 36.6% 64.3% 10.9% .404 13.3% 17.0% 0.0%
Career 18.2% 8.7% 48.9% 29.5% 66.5% 9.1% .288 10.0% 18.5% 8.2%

The first several columns show an improvement in results so far in 2015; the last several columns offer reason to be optimistic that his traditional stats will even out. First, Clay-B has been horribly unlucky on balls in play, as compared to both his career mark and league average, and he hasn’t given up a line drives at a rate—nor does he pitch in front of a bad enough defense—to warrant such a high BABIP. To boot, he hasn’t induced a single pop-up yet this year, whereas he’s generally done so at a league-average rate in the past. Granted, his new ground-ball-heavy approach might lead to fewer pop-ups, but not no pop-ups. A higher rate of converted outs is nigh for ol’ Clayie. (Guessing that nickname won’t stick.)

You’ll also notice that Buchholz is getting more swings on pitches outside of the zone, and batters are making less contact when they swing at those pitches. Hence, a bump in his swinging strike rate. This, in turn, is also what’s helping his K%. Getting hitters to chase pitches out of the strike zone is generally a good thing; it’s definitely a good thing when they’re not even making contact with those pitches.

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Why I’m Not Dropping Kendall Graveman … Yet

Kendall Graveman just had a very bad major league debut. If you were like me and bought into the sleeper hype—which with Graveman started as soon as the A’s acquired him from him Blue Jays in the trade that sent Josh Donaldson to the land of Molson and denim—you might be feeling a little sheepish right now. I went so far as to start him in a DFS, though as Chad Johnson pointed out, it was somewhat slim pickings yesterday.

Given the lack of any track record, this bad start was probably enough reason for many fantasy owners to jump the Graveman ship. While I can’t say that I blame such owners, I can say that I am refraining from dropping Graveman in the leagues in which I own him.

Why? A deeper look at his line for the day (.357 BABIP; 43.8% GB%; two homers on six fly balls?) made me want to take a closer look at the start, so I watched the condensed game on What I saw was enough to convince me to give Graveman a couple more chances.

Here’s what I saw:
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On Wondrous Variety

I can’t really remember the first fantasy baseball league I was in. One of the first ones I was in was hand-scored. I remember, after I had been playing for a few years, I was hosting a draft at my mom’s house and, in the eighth round, someone asked if Pedro Martinez was still available. Nothing more hilarious had ever been asked.

I can’t really remember at which point fantasy baseball developed into an obsession, either. I guess it was a slow growth, slow enough that I didn’t feel it until I woke up one morning earlier this spring and realized I was in ten leagues. (Is that a lot? You tell me. To me, it feels like a lot. Too many, but not too much.) I lay in bed and literally counted them on my fingers; getting to that last pinky, I kinda felt a little gross. And then I got up and started preparing for my next draft.

I don’t think I would be in so many leagues if they were didn’t comprise wondrous variety. I’m now in three ottoneu leagues that have the same scoring system (FanGraphs points), but other than that, each league is different—so, eight different formats.

Also, I don’t think I’d be in so many leagues—or in any leagues at all for that matter—if I didn’t feel like fantasy baseball enhanced my enjoyment of the game. The different scoring settings help me to evaluate players in new ways; the deeper leagues cause me to broaden my knowledge of the player pool; dynasty leagues lead me to learn about minor leaguers and teams’ future outlooks. Being in so many leagues assures that that I can have all my favorite players in at least one league; it increases my chances of winning at least one league (it could also cause me to lose focus and do a half-assed in all of them, I suppose); it keeps me sharp and organized. So, despite the time suck, it has its benefits.

I’m sure many of you know the glory that is ottoneu, so I won’t talk about those leagues here (though the league that started from scratch this year has progressed in a very interesting way so far). But I wanted to highlight the specs of some of more unique leagues that I am in.

I invite you all to share the same in the comments. What are your favorite leagues? What have you learned from them or done differently to exploit their idiosyncrasies?

League Name: sneeze
Platform: Yahoo
# of Teams: 20
Scoring Type: Points
Draft Type: Slow Draft (no snaking)
Keepers: Can keep any players 26 or younger for free; keep up to ten “old” players at the cost of a draft pick
Positions: 2xC, 3B, 2xSS, 2xMI, 2xCF, 2xOF, 3xUtil, 5xSP, 5xP

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Platoon Bats & Bouncebacks in the Brewers Infield

This post continues our Depth Chart Discussions. You can find the Depth Chart Discussion posts gathered here.

This might be the last time I rap at y’all wearing my depth chart hat. I put off discussing my home team, not because I feel that I’d be any more biased in my examination of them than I would be with other teams; rather, it’s because I wanted to avoid being depressed by what appears to be a closing window. But we’re talking fantasy value here, not playoff odds, so I’ll save my pouting for another post, or for another website altogether.

The 2014 Brewers infield produced a mixed bag for fantasy owners. Jonathan Lucroy continued to improve and was a top-three catcher; those that owned him likely had him at a bit of a value. Scooter Gennett proved to be a viable second base option, at least against right-handed pitchers. On the other hand, Jean Segura took a huge step back. Aramis Ramirez missed a lot of time and put up his worst season in years, even by rate stats. And then there was first base. To say that the Brewers failed to produce a first base option for fantasy players is putting it lightly. Without Mark Reynolds’s 22 homers on the books, it would look even worse, but Reynolds batted under .200 and finished with a .302 wOBA. To think that the team actually got significantly more production out of the first base position than they did in 2013 says more about how historically bad Brewers first basemen were in 2013 than anything about the 2014 squad. This past off-season they traded Marco Estrada to the Blue Jays for the rights to a year of Adam Lind. Lind should provide something of an upgrade, but we’ll get to that a bit later.

First, here’s an overview of what the Brewers infield is likely to be on opening day:

Pos. Starter Platoon/Backup Depth
C Jonathan Lucroy Martin Maldonado  
1B Adam Lind Jonathan Lucroy Luis Jimenez
2B Scooter Gennett Luis Sardinas  
3B Aramis Ramirez Luis Jimenez  
SS Jean Segura Luis Sardinas  

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Rockies Rotation: Rocky & de la Rosa

This post continues our Depth Chart Discussions. You can find the Depth Chart Discussion posts gathered here.

There aren’t many more spots left to cover in our Depth Chart Discussions. It’s not surprising that the Rockies rotation was one of the last areas claimed. Even in the very capable hands of RotoGraphs writers (yours truly excepted, of course), there’s not much to get excited about when thinking about pitchers pitching half their games at Coors Field. No one has really seemed to crack the Coors Code yet when it comes to pitchers. Since the team’s inaugural season in 1993, qualified Rockies starters have put up an ERA under 3.00 exactly once: Ubaldo Jimenez did it in 2010. There are three other three qualified pitcher seasons under 3.50.

Jeff Sullivan recently wrote about how Jorge de la Rosa has figured out how to pitch at Coors Field; in fact, he’s been better there than in other stadiums as a whole. De la Rosa is actually a deep sleeper for me going into 2015, so let’s just dive right in and talk about him since he’s the undisputed ace of the staff (for now).

Jorge de la Rosa IP W K ERA WHIP K% BB% FIP
2014 184.1 14 139 4.10 1.24 18.1% 8.7% 4.34
Steamer 191.0 11 148 4.47 1.40 17.7% 8.3% 4.26
ZiPS 121.2 9 90 4.44 1.39 16.7% 8.6% 4.51

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Mariners Infield: It’s Okay

This post continues our Depth Chart Discussions. You can find the Depth Chart Discussion posts gathered here.

The Mariners seem to be doing a variation on a theme here. The theme? One could argue that it’s “Recent Vintage Tampa Bay Rays.” Or, one could argue that it’s “Recent Vintage Seattle Mariners.” They have a lot of moving parts and some potential platoons. One might find it interesting, or one might find it a cause for concern. The difference between the 2015 Mariners and a team like the ~2012-2014 Rays is that the former have some very expensive veteran players—signed as free agents—slated for full-time roles. Again, cause for concern, or optimism?

The Mariners’ big move this offseason was signing Nelson Cruz to a four-year, $58MM deal.* Cruz could play some OF, but he’s likely to be the full-time DH for his stay in Seattle. Rickie Weeks was a late addition and could end up seeing a lot of time against left-handed pitchers, though that might mostly come in the form of a left field platoon with Dustin Ackley. Other than Cruz and Weeks, the names below are familiar, if not exactly household ones.

Pos. Starter Platoon/Backup Depth
C Mike Zunino Jesus Sucre John Baker
1B Logan Morrison Rickie Weeks Jesus Montero
2B Robinson Cano Rickie Weeks Willie Bloomquist
3B Kyle Seager Willie Bloomquist Rickie Weeks
SS Brad Miller Willie Bloomquist Chris Taylor
DH Nelson Cruz Rickie Weeks Jesus Montero

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Puig, Pederson, & Scarl Van Slawford: Dodgers Outfield

This post continues our Depth Chart Discussions. You can find the Depth Chart Discussion posts gathered here.

The Dodgers made a lot of moves this off-season. Exciting, savvy moves. One of the biggest shipped Matt Kemp and a bunch of cash down the Pacific coast to San Diego, reducing some of the outfield clog. Joc Pederson, most assume, will assume the starting centerfield role, while the one newcomer, Chris Heisey, will serve as a defensive specialist.

So, the Dodgers outfield is comprised of one of the most athletic and electric young players in the game today (PUIG), a top prospect seemingly handed a starting job in his age 23 season, and a potentially very interesting platoon in left field.

Pos. Starter Platoon/Backup Depth
LF Carl Crawford (v.RHP) Scott Van Slyke (v.LHP) Chris Heisey
CF Joc Pederson Chris Heisey Andre Ethier
RF Yasiel Puig Andre Ethier Chris Heisey

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Mets Rotation: Pretty Good?

This post continues our Depth Chart Discussions. In an effort to suss out every team, we’ve divided them into four parts (infield, outfield, rotation, and bullpen) and will continue to break them down for you over the next few weeks. You can find the Depth Chart Discussion posts gathered here.

As Paul Swydan recently examined, the Mets’ hopes for success in 2015 largely depend on what happens with their rotation. How quickly will ace Matt Harvey return to form? Will Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom build on their potential? When will Noah Syndergaard arrive in the big leagues, and how good will he be during his initial transition to the Majors?

Indeed, these are likely the same questions that fantasy owners are asking as they search the Mets roster for 2015 value. One thing Swydan points out in the above-linked article is that Steamer and ZiPS envision different tracks for Mets starters in 2015. Per said: “Steamer paints them as having one legit good pitcher, and a bunch of guys who can be good on any given day but at the end of the season won’t amount to much. … ZiPS, on the other hand, paints them as having two leading men in Harvey and deGrom and a strong number three in Zack Wheeler.”

Which of these projection systems should we trust more as fantasy owners? Or, what might these projections be missing?

The Front End

Matt Harvey IP W K ERA WHIP K% BB% FIP
2013 178.1 9 191 2.27 0.93 27.7% 4.5% 2.00
Steamer 144.0 9 154 3.13 1.13 26.1% 6.9% 3.10
ZiPS 153.0 140 3.12 1.16 22.0% 7.7% 3.24
Fans 169.0 12 178 2.98 1.06 2.78

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