Author Archive

Who’s Been (Un)lucky, Hitter Edition

Now let’s look—in our 100th Fangraphs article; yeah, we’re amazed, too—at hitters who were unlucky or lucky last season, and thus figure to do better or worse than people who are relying on last season’s stats think they will. Our method is simple, and is the inverse of the approach we took to pitchers last week. We look for players whose relevant stats are incongruent: their hard-hit percentage was high (or low) while their BABIP and Home Run/Flyball Percentage was low (or high). This incongruity of input and output signifies, we posit, that luck played an undue role in these guys’ 2018 season, and that Fortune, avulsive as always, will redirect the currents of their careers back to their natural course. Or something like that.

We’re sorry to say that the group of unfortunate guys is kind of meh. Whereas in 2017 (Marcell Ozuna) and 2018 (Mookie Betts) we were able to direct you to really good hitters who figured to do even better than the market predicted, we don’t have anyone like that this season. For example: the unluckiest hitter of 2018 was, hands down, 30-year-old backup catcher Roberto Perez. But what does that mean? That he will hit .207/.291/.397, as he did in 2017, rather than .168/.256/.263, as he did last year? That makes him a not-bad selection as your fourth catcher in a really deep league, but that’s about it. As you’ll see below, the action this year is with the lucky players. Still, there were a few interesting unlucky guys, and here they are: Read the rest of this entry »


Who’s Been (Un)lucky, Pitcher Edition

Time now to take our annual look at players on whom, as we measure it, fortune smiled or frowned last season. Our theory is that fortune, as is her habit, will turn that smile (or frown) upside down this season, and accordingly that forecasts for these guys based on last year’s stats will miss the mark.

What we do is simple, and readily undertaken by novices with just a few ingredients easily found around the house. We look for pitchers whose BABIPs and Home Run/Fly Ball Ratios weren’t aligned with their Hard-Hit Ball Percentages. We figure that a guy who didn’t get hit hard, but gave up a lot of hits and home runs, was unlucky, and that his luck will change this season. And also that a guy who did get hit hard, but…you get the picture. It’s not infallible—sorry about Luke Weaver, folks; we got burned too—but it works pretty well for something so straightforward. Last year, for example, it steered you toward Trevor Cahill and away from Dylan Bundy. Let’s see who it turns up this year. Read the rest of this entry »


Bour(n) Again, Part 3: Justin Time?

Bear with us for a couple of paragraphs, and we’ll get where you want us to go. It seems to us, then, that there are three levels of fandom when it comes to individual players. The first, often atavistic one, is by virtue of those players’ affiliation with a favorite team. Thus, for example: we grew up near New York City, and happened to attain baseball consciousness at exactly the time that the Yankees were the only game in town—Dodgers and Giants gone, Mets yet unborn. We are accordingly lifelong Yankee fans. We recognize the pathetic, Seinfeldian rooting-for-laundry dimension of this. But we were with them throughout the years in the wilderness with Horace Clarke and the decades with the repellent George Steinbrenner in charge, so we’re not getting off the bus now, when they are a good team run and populated mostly by people who appear to be mature, sane, intelligent, and self-effacing. Read the rest of this entry »


Bour(n) Again, Part 2: Deep League AL Reserve Rounders

Let’s get back without delay to our quick trip around the majors in search of some reserve rounders with realizable upside. NL was last week; now AL:

Toronto: Although he is 36, Kendrys Morales (NFBC Average Draft Position 442) can still hit, as he proved last season, in which he was one of only about two dozen hitters who qualified for the Quadrinity (as to which see here). We think he will keep his DH job and perform it creditably, though his value is limited because he won’t qualify anywhere else. Read the rest of this entry »


Birchwood Brothers 5.1: Bour(n) Again, Part 1

We are the Birchwood Brothers—authentic siblings, senior citizens, dispensers of healing advice and spiritual counsel to the fantasy-impaired—back for our fifth year before the mast. Like those guys who spend their vacations in Trappist monasteries, each season around this time we bid our loved ones, and adult responsibility in general, a gleeful farewell, and immerse ourselves in fantasy baseball, seeking to apprehend and carry out the divine will, as it is expressed through the designation of players who, unforeseen by all but a few of the elect, will help a fantasy team succeed.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Birchwood Brothers’ 10 Bold Predictions In Review

How was your season? Ours, on the whole, was pretty good, though marred by team-wide final-week syncopes that cost us first place in two leagues. This may surprise our readers, since we make a point of following our own advice and our 2018 Bold Predictions, unlike the 2017 edition, were uninspiring. One good thing about confining our BPs to $1 and reserve round picks is that we can’t get hurt too much if we’re wrong. Here’s the inquest: Read the rest of this entry »


Subprime Day: The Birchwood Brothers’ 10 Bold Second-Half Predictions

We’re back, and as always, we’re here to help. If, like us, you play almost exclusively in redraft leagues, it avails you naught to know that a recognizedly good player who’s underperforming will probably improve, perhaps a whole lot, in the second half. Someone else has him, and probably won’t trade him, even if your league permits trades. Thus, you don’t really want to know that we envision an MVP-caliber rest-of-season performance from Justin Turner, although we do. Our beat is instead the overlooked, the disbelieved, and the unforgiven—players who will be cheap, or even costless, to acquire, and might produce some value in the second half. So what follows is an annotated list of ten players, none of whom is owned in more than 30% of CBS leagues and most of whom are owned in fewer than 5%, who might assist you when, or maybe even before, your team springs a leak. Read the rest of this entry »


Desperation Waiver Wire: “Safe” Relievers vs. Hazardous Starters

Having attained our dotage, we’ve accumulated quite a collection of apothegms embodying the bitter wisdom we’ve acquired over the years. You reap exactly what you sow. Smart don’t count for much. If it’s misspelled on the menu, don’t order it. There’s no such thing as a quick trip to CVS.

To our collection we must now add: there are no safe relief pitchers. It of course happens—every ten minutes, it seems—that a starting pitcher you were counting on goes down, and you search among the baldies and retreads in the free agent pool for a starter to replace him. Contrarian as ever, we decided before the season that, as starters pitch fewer and fewer innings and get fewer and fewer wins, reliable non-closer relievers become viable alternatives to the Ian Kennedys and Derek Hollands of the world. Read the rest of this entry »


Adventures In The Trade Trade: Who’s Been (Un)lucky So Far, Starting Pitcher Edition

Having morosely completed our efforts to determine the over-under on A.J. Pollock’s rest-of-season plate appearances—100, and we’ll take the under—we attempt to identify starting pitchers whose fantasy-relevant stats belie their actual performance so far this season. We think that pitchers who aren’t being hit hard, but have high BABIPs and home-run-to-fly-ball ratios, have been unlucky rather than bad, and that their luck will change. Those are the guys you might want to trade for. And we think that the guys who are getting hit hard but have low BABIPs and HR/FB% have been lucky. Those are the guys you might want to unload while the unloading is good. Read the rest of this entry »


Adventures In The Trade Trade: Who’s Been (Un)lucky So Far, Hitter Edition

We’re not quite a quarter of the way through the season—enough for most owners to figure out what they’ve got and what they need, but too early to pack it in. And, as usual, that makes for some fairly interesting trade opportunities. Of course, it also makes for some preposterous trade offers. Our Trumpian desire for peace and comity among owners prevents us from telling you about the most egregious ones we’ve received so far, but that shouldn’t stop you from sharing about yours in the Comments section if you’re so inclined.

Nonetheless, the melancholy fact is that even the most reasonable, temperate, and unassuming of your adversaries are trying to get the better of you in a deal. True, they probably need what you’ve got. But sometimes, you and/or they don’t have what you and/or they appear to have. So, as a public service, we’re identifying guys who, as measured by BABIP, HR/FB%, and Hard-Hit Percentage, have been unlucky and can be expected to improve, or, in the case of one player, lucky and likely to decline. And since Cheap Players R Us, we’re tossing in a guy who might actually be available on your league’s waiver wire, though you won’t want him unless something bad has befallen or befalls your regular at the position. Read the rest of this entry »