When to Breakout the Wallet with FAAB Bids?

While it might be better to focus on FAAB usage right before the season starts, I wanted to have an idea on how to focus my draft resources. Also, FAAB management was one of my major faults after I picked over my 2019 teams. It was an issue and I need to address it. Now is the time. I took the 50 players with the highest average FAAB bids in the 2019 NFBC Main Event ($1000 in FAAB) and found which players were the best and worse deals and did the best deals have similar actionable traits.

Note: One unintended side effect was that the minimum average value was $51, so all players with a bid of over $50.

To rank the player’s usefulness, I pair them up against each other and let my Twitter followers which of the two players were a better deal last year. While not ideal or the only method I could have used (I could create from value to EOS), it was the quickest and the rankings pass the idiot check (me, myself, and I).

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2019 Deserved Barrel% – Full List

A couple of weeks ago, I devised a deserved barrel rate (where barrel rate is calculated as a percentage of batted ball events, or Barrel/BBE) based exclusively on a hitter’s average exit velocity (EV) and average launch angle (LA). To employ such a simple model, I made a broad but accurate assumption: the average hitter’s average EV (or LA) has a distribution of EVs (or LAs) centered around it, and this distribution does not differ dramatically from other hitters’ distributions.

In layman’s terms, the typical hitter’s average launch angle is his — he owns it, and it reflects his swing plane and mechanics — but he is no better than any other typical hitter in repeating his average launch angle. He, like everyone else, will likely vary from the mean by a certain margin of error. I make the same assumption of exit velocity as well. The two variables bear almost zero correlation to each other. In light of this assumption, the best thing a hitter can do is maximize his exit velocity and hopes it coincides with an optimal launch angle.

(Some folks have suggested I include the percentage of balls hit 95+ mph to refine deserved barrels. The notion intrigues me. However, to illustrate a point: if you have two hitters with identical average EVs, would you expect their distribution of EVs to be dramatically different? Probably not. The inclusion of hard-hit rate accepts as fact that one hitter might be better at hitting 95+ mph more frequently — which would also suggest he hits more softly more frequently as well, and with certainty. This doesn’t stand out to me as a repeatable, let alone necessarily desirable, trait.)

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The World of the Weird and Extreme — Through April, a Review

The best part of small sample stats are the enjoyment we get from finding the weird and the extreme. This year at the beginning of May, I discussed a variety of players riding on one side of the bell curve. Let’s revisit these players and stats and find out how they performed the rest of the way.

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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 754 – Steamer Pitching Projections

11/13/19

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NOTABLE TRANSACTIONS/INJURIES/RUMORS

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Potential HR/FB Rate Decliners – 4/30/19 — A Review

Yesterday, I reviewed the 11 hitters I identified back in late April who my xHR/FB rate suggested had deserved dramatically better actual xHR/FB rates. Today, we flip to the overperformers, those who my equation suggested deserved significantly lower HR/FB rates over that first month. While the equation isn’t meant to be used for predictive purposes, a forecast would likely account for that apparent overperformance and project a lower HR/FB rate the rest of the way. Let’s see what ended up transpiring.

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Which Hitters Changed their O-Swing% the Most in 2019?

A hitter doesn’t have to be selective in order to produce, but it certainly helps. Alex Bregman, Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, George Springer, Marcus Semien and Anthony Rendon were all among the top 10 percent of qualified hitters in terms of O-Swing% this season. In other words, they were among the choosiest hitters, swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone at exceedingly low rates.

Eddie Rosario, Tim Anderson, Javier Báez, Jeff McNeil, Nicholas Castellanos, Eduardo Escobar and Rafael Devers were in the bottom 10 percent for O-Swing%, proving that you can still be valuable in fantasy (and in real, actual baseball) without having even decent plate discipline. Some members of this group are simply good bad-ball hitters. Rosario, McNeil, Escobar and Devers were well above average at making contact with out-of-zone pitches. McNeil also made relatively high-quality contact on those offerings, posting an xwOBA (.314) that was 16 points above the average on out-of-zone pitches for hitters who saw at least 1,000 pitches this season.
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A Closer Look: Seattle Mariners

I started this new series yesterday and you can bookmark this page to follow along going forward. I’ll put that link in every intro for sure, but I could also list every team that has been covered so far in every intro if you’d like. Please let me know in the comments.

Today we head out to the Pacific Northwest to discuss the Mariners. They are a bit stuck right now with a roster that isn’t really set up to tear down nor is it good enough to truly compete. Their farm system is on the rise, but their best prospects are years away. Of course, GM Jerry Dipoto loves to trade and could flip this entire roster by Christmas. We’ll see how it goes.

3 QUESTIONS

Is Dee Gordon done as a 50-SB threat?

A bruised wrist and strained quad limited Gordon to just 117 games and resulted in his third sub-.700s OPS and underwhelming SB output season in the last four. We can excuse his 30 in 2016 as he played just 79 games and then he led baseball with 60 in 2017 but then just 30 and 22 the last two seasons. Those two seasons don’t even pace that well (31 per 600 PA) when you consider barren numbers that come with the steals (.271 AVG, 4 HR, 41 RBI, and 58 R per 600 PA).

Gordon’s 6.6 speed score was easily a career-worst and his StatCast sprint speed has dipped each of the last three years. He also has a .305 OBP or worse in three of the last four years, including a combined .295 the last two years. Teammate Mallex Smith swiped an MLB-best 46 bases with a .300 OBP so it’s possible to rack up a giant total with a terrible OBP, but Smith is also five years younger and faster. As Gordon enters his age-32 season, it’s hard to project him for more than 30 SB and part of me wonders how much Seattle wants two OBP drains who only offer speed in the lineup on a daily basis.

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Ottoneu Top 20 Third Basemen for 2020

Using a format similar to the one Paul Sporer recently posted for 2020 Roto player rankings, below is the 2020 ranking of the Top 20 Third Basemen for Ottoneu fantasy baseball.  Ottoneu leagues are auction style, but with no salaries listed (league dependent), think of these lists as simplified “snake draft” rankings (“which player would I take before the next”), or a value ranking of players above replacement level for 2020. Players with multi-position eligibility may receive a slight bump in value (2020 positions listed).  You can reference average Ottoneu player salaries here, but keep in mind these salaries fluctuate throughout the winter as rosters shape up towards the January 31st keeper deadline for all leagues.

Previous 2020 Ottoneu rankings:

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Potential HR/FB Rate Surgers – 4/29/19 — A Review

At the end of April, I calculated hitter xHR/FB rate using my equation to determine who had most underperformed at the time. I identified and discussed 11 of those hitters. Let’s see how many of these hitters actually did improve their HR/FB rates over the rest of the season and how close they came to their xHR/FB marks. Remember that xHR/FB isn’t meant to be predictive, but descriptive. The difference being that xHR/FB rate helps us determine what should have happened, rather than what will happen in the future. It attempts to strip out luck, like the majority of our expected/deserved metrics.

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A Closer Look: Pittsburgh Pirates

Welcome to a new offseason series where I’ll be taking a closer look at all 30 teams via six different categories, all of which should be self-explanatory in terms of what they’ll cover: 3 Questions, Riser, Faller, A Move to Make (Signing or Trade), Playing Time Battle, and Prospect Contributors for 2020 (1 hitter/1 pitcher). I took all 30 teams and randomized the order since I couldn’t decide on an order myself. The Pirates are leading off!

3 QUESTIONS

What does Josh Bell do for an encore?

Only a groin injury could slow Bell’s massive power breakout. He put together a .946 OPS through five months before limping to the finish line with just 11 games and an .803 OPS. While his 2019 was a massive surge from 2018, it wasn’t the first time he showed capable power (.211 ISO in ’17) and he’s always had a strong plate approach (career 19% K, 12% BB) so I don’t see a major falloff even if the ball changes. I see 27-32 HR, a .275 AVG, and 90+ R/RBI.

Can Gregory Polanco finally stay healthy and breakthrough?

Polanco’s 2018 might already be his breakout (23 HR, 12 SB, 123 wRC+ in 535 PA), but even that season was shortened to 130 games, so his proponents are still holding out hope for a season like that or better in 150 games. Six IL stints over the last three seasons and a major shoulder issue this past season make it hard to see a particularly bright future here. He’ll be priced to buy in 2020, but a 20/10 ceiling feels right.

Is Chris Archer done as a viable fantasy starter?

Things came to a head for Archer last year as his walk and home run rates spiked resulting in a hideous 5.19 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 119.7 innings. The second half of his season wasn’t quite as bad with a 4.42 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 31% K offers some hope, especially the strikeouts, but if 4.42/1.29 is what we’re looking forward to, then yeah he kinda is done as a viable option in 10- and 12-team leagues. 15-teamers might find some streaming value. I will be eager to see what a new pitching coach in Pittsburgh can do for Archer and a with price at pick-250 or later, he might be a decent late round gamble.

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