Looking Back at 2013

I spend a lot of time analyzing baseball, but sometimes you need to take a step back and analyze yourself. With New Year’s Eve coming up fast, now is just one of those times.

Between January 1, 2013 and the end of the regular season, I offered a lot of advice in my articles here on RotoGraphs, and thought I’d take a look back at each measurable piece of advice and grade myself.

When I say “measurable,” it means I am staying away from things that are future facing (for example, I suggested you target Ryan Braun when his year was done, but until the 2014 season is in the books, it will be hard to judge that) and strategy-based (telling you how to evaluate your chances for a title in the middle of the season isn’t something I can say worked or didn’t – although I bet it did).

Instead, I focused on the 49 cases in which I said you should buy or sell a player, in which I projected the rest of the year for a player, or I otherwise suggested you take some specific step towards winning in 2013.

And all in all, I did pretty well. I rated 30 of the 49 pieces of advice as wins, with four ties and 15 losses. I am not going to go through all 49 now, but let’s take a look at a few.

Raul Ibanez got me twice. First, in April, I looked at batted ball distance and told you he was “done with a capital D”. Then, after a power binge put him among the league leaders, I told you he wouldn’t keep up the pace but would end the year in the mid-30’s in HRs. He ended up with 29. So what did I do wrong? First, I put way too much weight on a tiny sample (although I acknowledged I was doing that). Then I ignored what I knew to be true earlier and overstated the changes I had seen. Not good, in either direction. In April, I should have said that Ibanez wasn’t showing signs of a late-career resurgence. In July, I should have said I was wrong, but that he was still old and highly unlikely to play well for much longer.

My most embarrassing piece of advice though was to consider Paul Goldschmidt a second- or third-tier starter (around 9th) 1B in ottoneu leagues. In this case, my mistake was shared by many others (he was 5th in the consensus rankings that focus on 5×5 stats), but was exacerbated by my desire to point out the difference between traditional 5×5 leagues and most ottoneu leagues. Goldschmidt is the rare 1B who provides all of the traditional 1B power stats and adds double-digit steals. In 5×5 this makes him an extremely rare and valuable bird, but in 4×4 or ottoneu Points leagues, those steals either disappear or lose value. But that doesn’t make him any less of a stud.

One that I am particularly proud of is a trade decision I touted in June. I was considering a push to acquire Matt Harvey or two offers on the table – one to acquire Anthony Rizzo the other for Justin Verlander. I cautioned against Verlander, preferring the younger, cheaper options, and then explained that while Harvey was otherworldly and Rizzo was not, that I considered them relatively equal targets if only because of the uncertainty around the production and health of any young pitcher. I won’t go so far as to say that I predicted Harvey’s injury, but making the decision to acquire Rizzo was definitely the right one – that team won the championship and having Rizzo next year while Harvey doesn’t pitch will be a nice bonus.

Finally, I want to rattle off four specific statistical predictions, three of which went very wrong. I told you to target Edinson Volquez to keep your HR/9 down – he ended up at exactly 1.00. Not good. I told you to target Brandon Crawford as a decent MI option (which was a nice suggestion) but also told you double digit HR were out of the question and that “upside” was 5-6 – he ended up at 9. I told you to target Justin Maxwell as a lefty killer and yet he somehow (BABIP?) ended up much, much better against righties this year.

And, last but not least, I told you that Lackey’s return was legit (and it was) but that his K/9 would settle in close to 7.5, rather than the gaudy numbers he was sporting at the time. His final tally? 7.65 K/9.

In all four of these cases, I basically relied on a player’s career stats to predict what was to come, and in three out of four cases I was wrong, wrong, wrong. The lesson here is that this advice stuff is rough. And considering that, I think a just-over-60% success rate sounds pretty good.

Of course the end of the year is a time for not just reflection but also resolutions – and my resolution is that I will improve my advice rate next year. I don’t want to cut back on my willingness to put advice out there (in fact, I will aim to give more specific, measurable, actionable advice next year), but I want to do my best to keep giving you high quality recommendations.

Enjoy your New Year’s Eve and I’ll see you in 2014!

A long-time fantasy baseball veteran and one of the creators of ottoneu, Chad Young's writes for RotoGraphs and PitcherList, and can be heard on the ottobot podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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8 years ago

Good stuff. Will you share both your 2014 Bounce-Back Candidates, as well as those we should avoid on Auction Day?