MLB Draft Data: Part One

The popularity of amateur drafts in sports has been rising for at least the last decade or so. Just take the NFL draft that used to be a Saturday and Sunday event that now begins primetime Thursday, where people have draft parties and events based around the NFL draft. Think about that for a moment. No sport is being played and no athletes are competing live. People are spending countless hours preparing for an event where players are just being selected. During this time, everybody is a college football and draft expert and lead on to knowing more than the so-called “experts.”

The MLB amateur draft is not quite at that level yet, but the fact that it is now televised is interesting in terms of how quickly the popularity of the MLB draft is, or at least how popular major league baseball wants to make it. I’m fascinated how much stock people take in the draft considering most people have never really watched these players in high school or college, so the general public really has no clue who these guys are, unlike college football where a lot of these players were watched by a large audience every Saturday, whether it was active or passive watching.

This brought up some curiosity on my part. Thanks to Jeff Zimmerman, he did a tremendous job of providing me all the data I needed to start exploring my curiosity into the MLB draft using a great data visualization tool, Tableau Public. I didn’t have an exact idea about what I wanted to learn. I just wanted to explore the MLB draft from the beginnings to now. I had no preconceived notions, I just wanted to see if there were any trends I could find/or not find based on the data. So I plugged the data in and began looking around. I found some things that make sense, some things that don’t, some trends that are obvious, and some that really don’t exist.

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White Sox Playing Time Battles: Pitchers

One of the position groups with sneaky potential this season is the rotation of the White Sox. Not only is the unit anchored by a pair of stalwart lefties in Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, but the mid- to back-end of the rotation is filled with potential high-ceiling options — even if they do have some question marks.

As a team the White Sox ranked firmly in the middle of the pack in starter ERA last year at 4.12. That mark was seventh among 15 AL teams, though the six ahead of the Sox were in a different class, one could argue. The next ERA up the list was the Angels at 3.98, while the Twins and Mariners each trailed the Sox by five points or less. Essentially, in terms of raw production they were far closer to the bottom one-third than the top.

But in terms of secondary stats, the White Sox were pretty dang good. They ranked fourth in FIP (3.82), fifth in xFIP (3.87) and threw more innings than any other team. As a result, they accrued an AL-best total of 17.4 WAR — more than a full win better than runner up Houston (16.0). The Pale Hose rotation was among the best at striking opposing hitters out (8.3 K/9, third), didn’t walk anyone and for the most part kept the ball in the ballpark.

Most of the key cogs from a season ago are back, with one notable omission: Jeff Samardzija, who jumped ship for the NL with the Giants. Replacing Samardzija’s nearly 5.00 ERA could seem easy on the surface, but he threw a team-high 214 innings. That’s less easy to replace.

As of this writing, the depth chart would seem to look like this in the rotation:

Carlos Rodon
John Danks Read the rest of this entry »

2016 Ottoneu FGpts Rankings – 2B/SS

Below is the Second Base and Shortstop installments of our 2016 Ottoneu FGpt rankings.

Previous Rankings: Catcher/First Base/Third Base

In the context of Ottoneu, perhaps rankings are a misnomer, because you really want to know the dollar value each player is worth. We’ve included this information for our benefit. In all, these rankings should help to give you a spread of four dollar values for each player, as well as a comparison to average prices (post-arbitration, pre-cut deadline) within the Ottoneu FGpts universe. Each player’s Ottoneu eligibility (5GS, 10 appearances) is included as well, though players are ranked at their most valuable position. If you have questions on a specific ranking, or a question for a specific ranker, feel free to let us know in the comments.

Consider this your very early, subject to change, Ottoneu pricing cheat sheet.
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Rangers Playing Time Battles: Pitchers

We’ve started our annual Depth Chart Discussions, re-branded as Playing Time Battles for 2016. You can catch up on every team we’ve covered in the Playing Time Battles Summary post or following along using the Depth Chart Discussions tag.

A group of geese is a gaggle. A group of monkeys is a troop. When injuries travel together, they’re called a stack.  Or, if you’re a Rangers fan, you might prefer the phrase “an apocalypse of injuries.” Maybe a murder of injuries. But no, only crows travel in murders.

For two years, the Rangers rotation has suffered through bubonic ligament plague. The biggest name to be lost was Yu Darvish. Also hitting the shelf were Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Matt Harrison, and a host of others. Can they stay healthy this year?

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Why You Should Aim for Third Place

Finish third in each rotisserie category and you’ll win the league. We’ve all heard or read that at some point. Where does it originate from? Is it founded in fact?

I’ve spent a lot of time acquiring and analyzing standings data of late (AL-only, NL-only, mixed).  And looking at that information got me to thinking that I could easily determine if finishing third across-the-board is really what it’s cracked up to be.

Turns out that it is. Finishing third in all ten categories would have won 67 of the 76 AL-only leagues and 47 of the 51 NL-only leagues I looked at.

But in looking at things a little closer, I found an even better reason you should set your sights on finishing third. One that had never crossed my mind. Read the rest of this entry »

2016 Impact Rookies: Second Basemen

We recently began a series looking at the potential top rookie producers at each position around the baseball diamond. This series should be valuable for anyone participating in a fantasy league that allows keepers. It could also help anyone playing in more traditional formats who may need to fill holes throughout the season or may be in need of a little spark.

First Basemen

Second Basemen

Top Targets:

Jose Peraza, Reds: The Reds traded long-time third baseman Todd Frazier to the White Sox back in December in a three-team deal that actually saw the Dodgers receive the better overall rookie haul. Cincinnati received a couple of underwhelming prospects and Peraza — who is reportedly the jewel of the deal from the Reds’ perspective. The rookie second baseman was supposed to fill the gap created by a Brandon Phillips trade but the veteran has so far nixed any attempts from the club to trade him. That creates a bit of a problem for Peraza, who may have to settle for another year in Triple-A or some time as a big league utility player. Once he receives regular playing time, the former Braves prospect has a chance to impact fantasy leagues with his game-changing speed. He stole just 36 bases last year but had 60 or more the two years prior.

Keep an Eye On:

Alen Hanson, Pirates: Pittsburgh’s veteran infield is all but set for 2016 and the club also has jack-of-all-trades Sean Rodriguez coming off of the bench, which means Hanson will once again spend time in Triple-A — barring a significant injury. An offensive-minded second baseman, the 23-year-old rookie does a little bit of everything at the plate — with mostly gap power — and can even steal 20+ bases with regular playing time. His prospect standing in Pittsburgh might be getting a little stale so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the move to another organization at some point in 2016. And that might give him a better opportunity to visit The Show.

Micah Johnson, Dodgers: Another speedster, Johnson landed in Los Angeles from Chicago (AL) during the Todd Frazier/Jose Peraza deal. He doesn’t have the ceiling that Peraza possesses but he arguably has a higher floor and is probably ready for The Show — at least in a part-time capacity. Johnson, 25, could provide some valuable fantasy steals but it remains to be seen how much playing time he’ll get in 2016 while playing for the veteran-heavy Dodgers — especially after the re-signing of Howie Kendrick.

Tony Kemp, Astros: It’s hard to project significant playing time for a rookie who shares the same position as spark plug Jose Altuve, who also happens to be the heart and sole of the Astros. Kemp, though, started to expand his defensive repertoire in the minors last season and now has experience at second base, left field and center field. Unfortunately for the promising prospect, the club is also quite stacked, depth-wise, in the outfield. He’ll find some playing at some point, though, thanks to his ability to steal bases, get on base and hit for average.

Darnell Sweeney, Phillies: A full-frontal youth movement should be on full display in Philly in 2016, which could bode well for Sweeney — a former Dodgers prospect. He’ll have to battle the likes of Cesar Hernandez and Andres Blanco for playing time but a hot spring could get him a starting gig. Sweeney, 25, has contact issues but he has some pop and could steal 20-30 bases with regular playing time. His speed also helps him compensate for the lack of contact and creates healthy BABIPs (He’s never hit lower than .271).

Ryan Brett, Rays: Logan Forsythe was the epitome of a league-average hitter throughout the first four years of his big league career but he enjoyed a 4.1 WAR, breakout season in 2015. That has made him the odds on favorite to start at second base for the Rays in 2016. However, one good year does not guarantee a successful future so Brett could be in line for significant playing time if Forsythe falters. The young spark plug isn’t flashy but he could steal some bases and hit for a respectable average.

Dilson Herrera, Mets: Like Jose Peraza, Herrera could be ready to have value at the big league value but he’ll open 2015 blocked by a more veteran player. The organization acquired former Pirate Neil Walker during the offseason and he’ll definitely be given every opportunity to play regularly for the Mets. That will leave Herrera back in Triple-A for a second showing despite producing an .893 OPS there last season. He has the ability to hit for average, steal a couple bases and hit a few home runs over the fence.

MASH Report (2/11/15)

• While looking through the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement, I came across some information on reporting injuries. First, here is the form to be submitted to MLB to request a DL stint.

Additionally, there is quite a bit of information on reporting the various injuries starting on page 152 (page 165 of the .pdf). The major injury types are divided up into 12 classes: head, neck, shoulder, arm/elbow, wrist/hand/fingers, chest/back/spine, pelvis/hips, upper leg/thigh, lower leg/knee, ankle/foot/toes, internal organs, and ailments.

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Player Values Across ottoneu Formats

Is a $65 Mike Trout a keeper in ottoneu? What about a $59 Mike Trout? What if I told you that I kept a $65 Trout but decided not to inquire on a $59 Trout as a trade target. And that it had nothing to do with available cap space or team makeup?

It was all about scoring format. ottoneu comes in four flavors (two points systems, 4×4 and 5×5) and each has it’s own unique traits. But the reason to pass on that $59 Trout might surprise you.

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Be Patient When Taking Over A Roster

So you’ve joined a new, established keeper league. Or maybe it’s a dynasty, ottoneu, or some other deep format. The team that was abandoned has a couple good guys on it. Or maybe it doesn’t. Clearly, it’s not ready to contend. You have some rebuilding to do.

I bet I know the very first thing you’re going to do – shop your best veterans. In fact, if my experience is any guide, you’re going to really rush into the trade market. Both feet in, taking the best offer on the first day without getting to know your leaguemates, shopping offers, or researching past trades. You’ll swing deals with the zest of A.J. Preller, except instead an ill-fated attempt to contend, you’ll probably acquire a bunch of prospects who are one to five years from any fantasy contributions. And we all know how heartbreaking prospects can be (oh, hello there Fernando Martinez).

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Astros’ Playing Time Battles: Pitchers

The rebirth of the Houston Astros as an elite team likely starts with their position players like Carlos Correa and George Springer, but their pitching staff is pretty excellent in its own right. Led by the 2015 AL Cy Young winner, the Astros have both exceptional top-end talent and depth in both their rotation and bullpen.

If you’re looking for more playing time discussions, check out our summary page.

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