Archive for Strategy

Buying Generic: Two Raking Rookies

A few weeks ago, I stole RotoGraphs contributor Joe Douglas’ idea (with his permission) as I pointed out that the “generic” Tommy Pham had provided surprisingly similar offensive production in his career to the “brand name” Michael Conforto. It was a fun exercise, and one that we’re going to do again today.

To set the stage, we’re going to talk about two rookies with outfield eligibility. One receives plenty of attention and hype; the other, not so much. Mr. Generic debuted in 2016 but is still considered a rookie this season, while Mr. Brand Name debuted in 2017. Here’s how they’ve fared so far this year:

Brand Name and Generic Rookie Comparison
Mr. Brand Name 210 10.0% 30.5% .367 .283 .261 .333 .628 .388 144 1.8
Mr. Generic 199 6.0% 27.6% .266 .378 .310 .352 .576 .386 141 1.2

The first thing that jumps out is the nearly 100-point difference in BABIP, and the fact that Mr. Generic’s BABIP is perhaps unsustainably high. More about that in a minute.

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Analyzing Five Unexpected xFIP Leaders

There are 10 qualified starting pitchers with an xFIP under 2.80 in the last 30 days.

Among them are predictable names like Chris Archer (2.52), Clayton Kershaw (2.53), Chris Sale (2.64), Johnny Cueto (2.74), and Zack Greinke (2.76).

The other five aren’t as well known, and therefore, they are more intriguing.

Being in the top 10 xFIP leaderboard for a month is not necessarily a huge accomplishment. However, xFIP has one of the highest correlations with future ERA of all pitching metrics, so it’s among the most relevant numbers to examine when searching for potential breakouts or analyzing the legitimacy of poor or plus performance.

Below is a table sorted by the top 10 qualified starting pitchers in xFIP over the last 30 days*, with the best statistic in each category highlighted in yellow, and the worst statistic in each category highlighted in red: Read the rest of this entry »

The Unwritten Rules

Welcome to a supersized edition of The Unwritten Rules! Throughout the season I have been and will continue to answer questions based on fantasy ethics and rules in this recurring piece. You may not always like the answers I give, but I hope that it is informative and makes you think about how you construct your leagues and play the games. Typically I do 4-5 questions per piece, but with the overwhelming amount questions I received, I felt I should knock out as many as I could. You can send me more questions via email,, my twitter account, or by posting in my facebook group. Read the rest of this entry »

Buying Generic: An Underrated Comp for a Budding Star

As a RotoGraphs reader, I’ve always enjoyed Joe Douglas’s “Buying Generic” series. In past articles, he has compellingly compared “generic” players like Ryon Healy, Logan Forsythe, and Justin Bour to “brand name” ones like Jake Lamb, Jason Kipnis, and Carlos Santana.

The fantasy relevance of the exercise is obvious: Buying generic allows owners to acquire players cheaply and with relative ease, instead of paying a premium (whether in a trade or in a draft or auction) for a brand-name player.

For today’s comparison, we’re going to analyze two players who have played in parts of the last three seasons, but neither has eclipsed 350 plate appearances in any one year. Both appear on their way to full-time jobs in 2017 and beyond.

Here’s how Mr. Generic and Mr. Brand Name have fared since 2015:

Mr. Generic vs. Mr. Brand Name (2015-2017)
Mr. Generic 438 11.0% 29.9% .262 .350 .486 .223 .346 .357 124
Mr. Brand Name 715 10.6% 23.9% .258 .343 .497 .239 .298 .355 125

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Pitchers to Pick Up

We decided to push the waiver wire pod this weekend for the holiday, but I wanted to write up a little something about pitchers to keep an eye on tonight.



Moore has been rounding into form a bit over his last four starts with a 3.28 ERA and 21 Ks in 24.7 IP, but he does have a 1.49 WHIP and I might be careful with that Washington start. Hellickson has a 1.7 K:BB and 1.6 HR/9 so I just can’t see starting him anywhere right now. I like Montgomery, but he’s been markedly worse on the road with a 16% K rate and 1.3 K:BB, compared to 27% and 3.4 at home. I’d probably start Tillman if I have him, but I’m not sure I’d seek him out on a waiver wire.

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The Unwritten Rules

Throughout the season I have been and will to continue answer questions based on fantasy ethics and rules in this recurring piece. You may not always like the answers I give, but I hope that it is informative and makes you think about how you construct your leagues and play the games. Typically I do 4-5 questions per piece. You can send me more questions via email,, my twitter account, or by posting in my facebook group.


Read the rest of this entry »

Five Under 50%: May 23, 2017

Back in early April, I wrote a Five Under 50% post in which I implored fantasy owners to invest in the likes of Nick Franklin and Dan Altavilla. I urged readers to steer clear of Marwin Gonzalez, and promised that Edwin Diaz’s job was as safe as they come.

Naturally, Franklin has a 38 wRC+, Altavilla has a 6.60 ERA, Gonzalez has a .419 wOBA, and Diaz is no longer the Mariners closer. Sorry about that.

Before you quit reading this post because, really, why should you trust me, just know that my predictions weren’t all terrible. I also forecasted success for Scott Schebler (.365 wOBA), Mark Reynolds (.419 wOBA), and Ryan Zimmerman (.469 wOBA), who have been among the best hitters in baseball this year.

Not every gamble will pay off. But when it does, it can transform a fantasy team. It’s been about a month and a half since my last Five Under 50% post, and with renewed confidence, I’m prepared to do it again now.

Below are five (actually seven; I cheated) players owned in less than 50% of Ottoneu leagues whom I think may be worth an add in most leagues. There’s no need to jealously yearn for these players later when you can win them now for pennies on the dollar.

1. Chris Taylor (2B/SS/3B; 39%) Read the rest of this entry »

Starting Pitcher Ranking Update

For a full primer on the process behind these rankings, check out episode 458 of The Sleeper & The Bust.

I decided to go a different route than the traditional 1 to whatever listing and went a step beyond the tiered rankings which allow for more nuance than just a numbered ranking, but still feel inadequate to tackle the many challenges of in-season pitcher management. I do still have tiers, but they are much different tiers and so they aren’t just talent-based groupings. They are more about usability in the fantasy game.

I have five different levels for active arms and then injury and minor league groupings for those we’re waiting on. We always talk “rest of season” when looking at deals and pickups, but I think we have to be more short term than that, especially with pitching. This doesn’t mean I’m wildly shifting rankings and my outlook on pitchers after every start, but rather I’m acknowledging that the landscape is going to shift so much throughout the six month season that trying to focus beyond a month or two is foolhardy.

The tiers are as follows:

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What To Do When Free Agent Talent Equals Roster Talent

Earlier this week, I recommended Zack Godley in all leagues. A little while later, I got the following tweet

It’s a tough call and one I face in my own home league where everyone is not 100% invested in their team. Just because a player should be owned, he may not be a fit on a team. Here’s how owners should operate when the situation arises.

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Tipping Pitches: Multi-Inning Relievers

The ravaging of the starting pitcher ranks has had many turning an eye to the reliever ranks for reinforcements, even in mixed leagues or leagues without Holds. We’ve seen Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller rise to prominence without being in a closer’s role. This year’s big standout middle reliever is Houston’s Chris Devenski. His 43 strikeouts are tied 33rd-most in the league.

He has more strikeouts than notable Corey Kluber, Marcus Stroman, and even Jered Weaver if you can believe that. Devenski is still available in 29% of Yahoo! leagues, 40% of CBS leagues, and 41% of ESPN leagues so you might still be able to snag him for your staff. He is no doubt rostered in the leagues where he’s most valuable, but there are other relievers out there putting up big numbers and logging multi-inning appearances with regularity. Here are some of my favorites beyond Devenski:

Adam Warren | Yankees

Warren’s been a swingman/long reliever for a few years now, but is doing some of his best work this year. His swinging strike rate is tied with his previous career-high at 11%, yielding a career-best 24% strikeout rate. His slider looks the best we’ve seen and he’s leaning on it more than ever at 36% usage.

Obviously, the .170 BABIP and 0.0 HR/9 will push toward his .278/0.89 career marks, but I wouldn’t rule out this year being his best season since the 2.97 ERA/1.11 WHIP of 2014. He’s gone more than an inning in 10 of his 12 appearances and could put up the first 100+ IP reliever season since 2006 (Scott Proctor, 102.3).

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