Author Archive

Pick Six Value Picks: Catcher & Corner Infield

As important as matchups are to Pick Six (for more, see last week’s strategy post), the most important aspect of the game is to pick players that are good values at their positions.  Today, I’ll give a run down on some of the better (and poorer) values at the first two positions in Pick Six: Catcher and Corner Infield.  The numbers I’ll report are projected Points per Plate Apperance (Pts/PA), based on a weighted average of Oliver and PECOTA projections (a bit more weight to Oliver, because it’s more current).  YMMV depending on your preferred projection system, or your own adjustments to these systems.  Also, keep in mind that prices change weekly, and so this just represents a snapshot look at player value and may be obsolete by next week!


Elite Three  (they cost a fortune, but they’re worth it):

Carlos Santana, $34.25, 1.42 Pts/PA
Brian McCann, $32.25, 1.37 Pts/PA
Buster Posey, $35.50,  1.33 Pts/PA

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Strategy in Pick Six: Daily, Quick Fantasy Baseball

Pick Six debuted last week, and since then it’s been sweeping the nation–or, at least, filling up my twitter feed.  If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a simple, free game that has you pick six players for the coming day’s action.  The player who gets the most points that day wins!  While it’s not an incredibly deep game, you do operate on a budget, and so you can’t just pick the best players at each position.  Therefore, the question is, what should you do?  I’m not exactly at the top of the leader boards right now, but here are some tips:

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Reliever Rankings, Ignoring Saves and Holds

When playing typical fantasy baseball, the main thing that fantasy managers typically worry about regarding relievers is one thing: jobs.  If a reliever is a closer, he has value.  If not, they generally are considered to have very little value except in very deep leagues.

In FanGraphs Points leagues, however, a reliever’s job means a bit less, because saves (worth 5 points apiece) are worth only marginally more than a hold (4 points).  With that in mind, I think it’s interesting to take a look at reliever rankings without worrying about jobs.  In a sense, what we’re talking about are “true talent” projections for relievers, but still including things like park factors that do matter for fantasy comparisons.  If you have an estimate of a pitcher’s true talent, you may be able to find that cheap bargain pitcher who will outperform bad relievers with jobs.  And in all likelihood, the best pitchers would be expected to be among the first to take on the closer role once it becomes available.

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Strategy on Streaking Players: Don’t Trust the Streak

Earlier this week, on the main FanGraphs blog,  we re-ran Pizza Cutter’s classic study (yes, I think it’s a legitimate classic), 525,600 minutes: how do you measure a player in a year.  In it, he demonstrated just how large of a sample size you really need before you can start drawing conclusions about a batter’s skills.  The answer was a lot more than I think most folks realize: you can get an idea of a hitter’s swing % and contact rate pretty quickly, but stats like OBP, SLG, and especially AVG (much less BABIP!) take 500 PA or more to provide much useful information.  While I think many fantasy managers understand the need for patience, I also see a tremendous emphasis placed on small samples when I read fantasy baseball advice–especially when it comes to players on hot and cold streaks.

Is there something special about a hot or cold streak that makes it different from a typical small sample of performance?  It seems like there could be, right?  Even if you can’t trust a normal sample of 20 PA’s, if someone is absolutely tearing the cover off the ball–or is striking out in virtually every PA–might that not mean that he’s likely to hit particularly well (or poorly) for the next few games?  After all, we see (or, at least, think we see) guys go through amazing hot streaks all the time when watching baseball, and players describe what it’s like: the game slows down, the ball looks bigger, etc.

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Lessons in Patience, Courtesy of Lance Berkman

Now is the time that a lot of managers, myself included, are starting to feel the first twinges of panic about our rosters.  Just a sampling from my world: Kila Ka’aihue hasn’t hit since his big walkoff homer, and is starting to lose playing time to Wilson Betemit.  Sean Rodriguez is still benched every other day despite the Longoria injury.  MadBum is pitching like crap.  The list goes on…

Here’s another, turning the clock back to last Sunday night: in my 20-team H2H points league (lwts-based), Lance Berkman is my starting 1B (actually, I’m playing him at UT to save his knees.  Zing!  That’s bad fantasy humor, but I’m incredibly amused by it).  And Sunday, I was seriously thinking about benching him.  Through his first eight games, Lance Berkman hit just .214/.290/.286.  Meanwhile, Travis Hafner was sitting on my bench, and he was absolutely on fire, hitting .370/.433/.630 over the first week!   Why not just swap out for the coming week?

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What should you do with RP slots in points leagues?

I play in two points leagues, both of which use lwts-style scoring (although what follows applies to most other points systems).  They differ in format, however: one is a head to head points league with weekly lineups (my yahoo league), while the other is a more traditional points league with game and innings caps but daily transactions (my ottoneu league).

One of the biggest differences between the two systems is what the rule differences mean for reliever value.  In a head to head points league, it’s all about point accumulation.  And in my league’s scoring system, like in many points systems, a major key to generating the most points in a season is playing time, i.e. innings.  Because you can only set lineups once per week, this means that starters who have RP eligibility are tremendously valuable.  As an example, here are the top 11 pitchers who had RP eligibility in Yahoo last season, based on total FanGraphs Points:

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$2 Shortstops in Ottoneu Points Leagues

Let’s say you blew all of your money on Albert Pujols, Michael Pineda, and Eric Hosmer, and need a super-cheap shortstop in an ottoneu fangraphs points league.  Or, maybe you’re scrambling because Stephen Drew is dealing with his day-to-day, negative-MRI, weeks-old abdominal injury.  You have $2 to spend, and you need a shortstop with a job.  Here are shortstops who have been going for two bucks in ottoneu points leagues:

Name wOBA:ZiPS wOBA:Oliver TAv:PECOTA Average %Owned
Jason Bartlett 0.318 0.312 0.254 0.295 47%
Brent Morel 0.308 0.308 0.252 0.289 47%
Miguel Tejada 0.317 0.304 0.246 0.289 50%
Erick Aybar 0.304 0.301 0.236 0.280 37%
Alex Gonzalez 0.305 0.290 0.236 0.277 43%
Clint Barmes 0.295 0.293 0.240 0.276 3%
Orlando Cabrera 0.291 0.290 0.235 0.272 7%
Brendan Ryan 0.277 0.269 0.232 0.259 7%

Since it’s a FanGraphs Points league, we can get a good idea of value by simply ranking players based on your favorite offensive rate stat, be it wOBA here or at Hardball Times, or TAv at BPro.  I took a dumb average of the three projections just so we could get an overall ranking, but the average itself has no meaning in and of itself.

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Pitcher value in a FanGraphs points league

Continuing this series of comparing FanGraphs Points league scoring to traditional scoring, we’ll begin looking today at pitching.  To start, I decided to look at a traditional points scoring system compared to the ottoneu points scoring system.  There is no apparent “standard” fantasy points system, but I chose the points scoring used at CBSSportsline as my comparison, as it seems fairly typical of systems you see out “in the wild.”  Let’s start with a list of the top-10 pitchers by their system in the 2010 season:

CBSRnk Name CBSPts FGRnk
1 Roy Halladay 699 1
2 Felix Hernandez 651 2
3 Adam Wainwright 650 3
4 CC Sabathia 628 8
5 Ubaldo Jimenez 604 7
6 Jered Weaver 586 6
7 David Price 581 20
8 Justin Verlander 579 5
9 Chris Carpenter 563 13
10 Tim Hudson 561 31

For reference, I also included their rank according to total FanGraphs Points.  Overall, it doesn’t look that different, right?  The top three are identical, and most of the top-10 are ranked similarly in both systems.  There are two pitchers who had a ranking disparty of at least 10 spots, however: David Price and Tim Hudson.

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Position Scarcity in FanGraphs Points Leagues

Commenters in my last post asked how to determine position scarcity in FanGraphs Points leagues, and another reader, Kris, suggested using box plots.  I figured “hey, that’s a good idea for a post.”  So, here is a box plot based on Marcel projected 2011 performances for starters at each hitting position (using the numbers of players per position that Zach used here).

Box plot showing position scarcity.

Projected Points per PA across positions

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FanGraphs Points Leagues: What Hitters Will Be Underrated by Traditional Fantasy Rankings?

Last week, we looked at hitters who are likely to be overrated by traditional fantasy rankings when playing in ottoneu leagues using FanGraphs Points (built on linear weights).  Today, we’ll look at the other side of the coin: which players will have better value in lwts leagues than in traditional leagues?

Based on what we found last week about overrated players (steals, mostly), this is what I expected to find as the typical profile of someone who would be underrated by traditional fantasy rankings:
1) slow, with no steals
2) low batting average
3) high OBP
4) maybe someone who hits lots of doubles, but relatively few home runs.

Essentially, we’re talking traditional “moneyball” here, right?

To test that idea,went back to my simple ranking system, which is based on FG Points but adjusted for replacement level (specific to ottoneu’s rules) at each position.  Here are the top 10, along with ESPN player rater rank:

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