LABR Mixed League Update

We are now a full month into the season, so it’s finally time to give you all an update on the LABR mixed league you have all been eagerly awaiting. For those who did not commit my team to memory, refresh it by checking out my draft results again. Once you have stopped laughing after perusing my roster, you will realize how brave I am to ever talk about this team again.

To say the least, it has not been a fun year so far in this league. Between injuries, slow starters and demotions, the one positive I can look forward to is that it cannot get any worse!

We are all well aware of Albert Pujols‘ historically poor start (for him), but he finally did join the home run club after launching his first yesterday. Welcome Albert, now it’s time to make up for lost ground and hit another 40.

Paul Goldschmidt has started off slowly, allowing Lyle Overbay to steal way too many at-bats than he should legally be allowed to. All of his underlying skills look fine, except for his lack of power. Hopefully that comes and when he starts hitting again, Lyle Overbay will likely remain on the bench where he belongs.

So much for Dustin Ackley‘s spring power and 10 pounds of muscle gained over the off-season. The good news is that his contact rate has improved and he is simply suffering through a low BABIP. It would be nice to get a little more than 10/10, but it is obviously looking less and less likely at this point.

Ummm, Ryan Raburn, did you use up your entire allotment of hits during the spring? You aren’t really going to lose your job to Ramon Santiago or Danny Worth, right? RIGHT?

Carl Crawford, are you serious?!?! Keep in mind that we drafted at the end of February. At that time, he was only supposed to miss the first week or two of the season at most and still had an outside shot of being ready for opening day. Then the elbow issue popped up and boom, his return is pushed back to early May, now a setback has him hoping to be back before the all-star break.

Lorenzo Cain did nothing in his few early season at-bats and then got injured. Oh, and then just suffered a setback. Cool.

The Twins gave up on the notion of defense and demoted Ben Revere, and are now trying a carousel of crap in right field. Too funny.

If you thought my pitching was a problem after the draft, what now with my supposed ace Michael Pineda out for the year?! And I drafted him in all four of my leagues too. Awesome.

Am I supposed to be happy or annoyed that Chris Sale is now the White Sox closer? I honestly don’t know how to react given the current composition of my pitching staff. But man, he was making me look good for being so optimistic about his transition to the rotation. Oh well. At least Daniel Bard looks like he will be sticking, but that may or may not be a good thing given his poor control so far and 4.43 SIERA.

Johan Santana sure has been a pleasant surprise. Curious to see how many innings he holds up for. Is this the perfect opportunity to try to sell him high? Very possibly, though in a league full of experts, I would have to believe they are all just as skeptical.

Oh, and I lost Andrew Bailey for half of the year.

On my reserve list, Brian Fuentes, who I thought was the favorite for the Athletics closer job lost it to Grant Balfour, the Astros surprisingly moved Brett Myers back into the pen causing Wilton Lopez to again be worthless, Jerry Sands was sent down because Juan Rivera is such a good player, Jimmy Paredes was also demoted, and Aaron Crow didn’t even make the rotation even though he was supposed to. So of my six man reserve roster, only one remains, and he was injured all year himself and just returned (Felipe Paulino)!

Now here comes the fun part where I list my FAAB additions:
Jarrod Dyson currently starts in my outfield while Cain is on the mend. I highlighted him in a recent deep league waiver wire and I think he should continue to provide positive value with his steals and runs scored.
Juan Pierre also made his way onto my team in the outfield, as if I needed two no power, all speed outfielders. I had Juan Rivera starting for a couple of weeks, then he got injured, and he stinks anyway.
Travis Hafner currently occupies my DH slot.
-I’ve made a bunch of pitching moves as one would expect. I won both Santiago Casilla and Francisco Cordero, so those two, along with Sale and Frank Francisco means I currently have four closers. Cordero will lose his job back to Sergio Santos when he returns, but even three closers is probably unnecessary in a 15-team league. I will probably look to make a trade at some point.
-I picked up Jeff Samardzija at the beginning of the season and am absolutely loving him. His stuff is fantastic and as long as his drastically improved control holds up, he will have no problem posting a sub-4.00 ERA and earning value in most leagues.
Francisco Liriano was dropped, and given the depth of the league, I figured that his upside warranted an add. I now own him in all my leagues as well, where he sits firmly on my bench.
-I added Brian Matusz during spring training and he has been riding my bench ever since the first week or two. His spring magic unfortunately has not yet carried over either.

So there you have it. My team has been an utter disaster so far, but I am still rather optimistic that better health and slow starters beginning to hit will get my team out of the basement. Yup, I’m in last place!

Okay, lay it on me. Tell me why I had this coming since my draft sucked, I shouldn’t have drafted Albert Pujols first overall to begin with, and that I need to stop acting like a whiny little bitch. Or, you can offer me some nice words of encouragement!

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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

26 Responses to “LABR Mixed League Update”

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  1. Whole New Outlook says:

    And I thought my team was bad. lol. Thanks for cheering us up. Good luck.

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  2. Paco says:

    I hope you arent being paid by fangraphs! I will get my analysis elsewhere.

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  3. Pacos says:

    I hope you arent being paid by fangraphs! I will get my analysis elsewhere.

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  4. Bob says:

    I think there’s reason for optimism with Matusz, given his pedigree. His results are a bit uneven so far but haven’t been uniformly bad.

    Speaking of Orioles’ starters, any thoughts on Wei Yi Chin? His results have been good so far, but have seen no analysis on him…might be worth some research to see if he can help you in your league, anyway.

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    • He’s actually still a free agent in the league. I’m not optimistic though. 4.34 SIERA, extreme fly ball tendency, below average F-Strike% and SwStk%. Actually, Brian Matusz’ peripheral upside isn’t that much different, and I certainly don’t want two of his skill set on my team!

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  5. theeiffeltower says:

    Why did you draft Pujols over Cabrera? Had the Fielder signing not happened yet?

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    • theeiffeltower says:

      just looking at your initial post… for argument’s sake, let’s say there are two good 3B and like twenty good 1B. Would 3B eligibility still carry no added value because there’s a CI slot? I don’t really think so. Obviously the difference is a little less pronounced than that, but it’s not like 3B eligibility doesn’t add a good chunk of value when there’s a CI slot. If there’s an MI slot, does that make shortstops just as valuable as second basemen? What if there were a C/1B slot in addition to C and 1B? Would that somehow eliminate the difference between catchers and first basemen?

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      • Yes, if there was truly such a drastic difference between the two positions, then you could use separate replacement values. But there isn’t and never has been, so I didn’t think the position eligibility alone was enough to make up for the projected different in performance.

        I believe one year, I experimented with a different replacement level for every single position. Not only did it make it more difficult to value players, but the replacement levels were extremely similar, so it ended up not even mattering.

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      • theeiffeltower says:

        I dunno, it actually looks like there is a pretty significant difference between 1B and 3B. Not the most precise way to go about it, I guess, but the 10th-best 1B has about 20 points of ROS ZIPS wOBA on the 10th-best 3B right now. And 1B was miles ahead of 3B last year (admittedly a particularly poor year for 3B, but still–definitely gives the lie to your claim that “there never has been” a big difference between 1B and 3B). Do the top 3B happen to hit in much better lineups than the top 1B? Is there enough 3B depth in the 10-20 range to make up for the huge gulf between the top 10 3B and the top 10 1B? It doesn’t really look that way, but I’m willing to be convinced otherwise.

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      • dzigga says:

        In a replacement value methodology there is no meaningful difference between 1B/3B if you have a UTIL or CI slot. In fact, replacement value causes most positions to become worth about the same (except for very thin ones like SS and C). That’s because you are NOT comparing the 10th best guy at one position to the 10th best at another; you are comparing the last player picked at each position. And because of UTIL and CI positions, more 1B’s get picked than 3B’s, and more 3B’s get picked than 2B’s, and so on until all the values converge. The deeper the league the greater the convergence.

        It’s actually a flawed methodology for fantasy (makes sense in real baseball, but not fantasy). See Razzball’s “point shares” methodology discussion for good criticism of it.

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      • theeiffeltower says:

        Sorry dzigga, what exactly is a flawed methodology for fantasy? Basing values on the last guy picked?

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  6. jcxy says:

    Just curious, who is winning the LABR league? Based on the MDC results of the first 5 rounds, I’d guess Fred Zinkie?

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  7. El Guapo says:

    Well, there were no grumblings about 3B, which, I’m guessing, means that you picked up E5, who you were super-high on coming in to the season. Congrats!

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    • Are you thinking of someone else? I can’t recall ever talking about E5 all off-season! And I have David Wright, so I didn’t mention him.

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      • El Guapo says:

        …3B Rankings, RotoGraphs Consensus: You have E5 at 14th, 5 spots above anyone else.

        Congrats on Wright, then!

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  8. Atari says:

    You make me very concerned about Johan Santana.

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    • Well, heading into the season, most assumed Johan would only pitch like 120 innings. The Fans projected 147. So you have to wonder if he is going to last all season. He’s also going to give up more homers, so the ERA should eventually jump above 3.00, though that’s still very good.

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  9. jcxy says:

    1. Tom Colicchio once remarked that dishes go awry in conception or in execution. Where do you think your team went wrong? (Or do you reject my premise and argue that one month does not a season make and it’s way too early to give up on win/place/show?)

    2. To me, there is one startling outcome of your first month–where you fall in HR. While the Crawford/Pineda injuries are clearly killers neither would have helped in HR. Moreover, even if you had picked Miggy over Pujols, you’re still a bottom 5 team in power. I guess my question is…how likely would you have guessed this outcome was and how surprised are you by your place in HR?

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    • Yeah, this early in the season, standings still don’t mean much. Generally, when teams can gain 5-10 points in just 1 day, you know it’s still early. But obviously it’s better to be doing well than not!

      I expected to be middle of the pack in power, but the top in steals. So assume that happened, I would have moved some speed for homers at some point. But I lost a ton of steals with the Crawford injury and Revere’s demotion, so that lead never materialized. It’s also a good example of why drafting for value rather than balance is the way to go, because you seriously have no idea what’s going to happen during the season.

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  10. kdm628496 says:

    is johan santa the guy who brings little venezuelan kids presents on christmas?

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  11. rotofan says:

    (1) It was a mistake to pick Pujols over Cabrera with the first pick. In the first round, and especially the top of the round, you never win a league with your pick but you can lose it. Cabrera has been the steadiest slugger of the past five years and carried the least risk, especially in February when you drafted, before he took a ball to the eye. Pujols slipped a bit last year, was at an age where some decline is more likely, had the pressure of a massive contract and was switching to a new park and a new league.

    (2) Goldschmidt’s underlying numbers are fine except for his power? How about his contact rate, which is well below average and contributes to his low average. He has a 70% contact rate last year so it’s hardly a surprise and his whiff rate if high for even someone with the moderate power he might aspire too.

    (3) Ackley and Rayburn: Beware Spring power surges.

    (4) Crawford’s injuries are unfortunate but he was a high-risk play to begin with given his struggles last year when healthy.

    (5) Bailey and Pineda both had history of arms troubles.

    (6) Fuentes and Revere were not likely candidates for the roles you thought they would get, even in late-February.

    (7) Cain’s injury was truly a bad break.

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    • (1) Of course with hindsight it’s easy to say Pujols over Cabrera was a mistake. Even a down year for him last season was still better than Miggy though.

      (2) As in, he’s doing exactly as projected in every peripheral except power. Strikeout rate wasn’t expected to be good and that’s what I projected.

      (3) This draft was at the end of February, before the spring started. I did not draft Ackley or Raburn because of their spring power surges.

      (4) And that high risk is why I drafted him later than he has ever gone.

      (5) Bailey’s injury wasn’t an arm problem. Pineda was completely healthy and it was a shock to everyone that he suddenly had a major shoulder issue.

      (6) Revere was the favorite to be the every day right fielder. He even got 450 ABs last year with the Twins, so no reason to expect he’d start the year in the minors. Most assumed that given his closer experience, Fuentes was the favorite.

      (8) Gee, thanks.

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      • theeiffeltower says:

        I think most of your decisions are justifiable and I can see why you made them, but I dunno, it does seem like you drafted too many injury-prone players with high picks. To have Pineda, Bailey and Crawford all miss a lot of time is rough and not really something you could have anticipated, but drafting more guys without significant injury histories/lingering issues, particularly in rounds 1-10, may have been a better way to go. I get that you were looking to roll the dice on some guys to outperform their draft position but the downside to getting nothing out of your fourth and eighth rounders is pretty massive.

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      • theeiffeltower says:

        Sorry, could have phrased that last bit a little better: anytime a guy comes with some elevated risk that you’ll get nothing out of him, it should be a massive disincentive to taking him with a 4th or even 8th rounder.

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      • rotofan says:

        (1a) On what basis did Pujols have a better season last year than did Cabrera? Cabrera topped Pujols in 3 of 5 categories used in your league, including 45 points in batting average. And in areas of importance that your leagues doesn’t count, Cabrera had an OPS of 1.034 compared to Pujols’ .907; Cabrera had an OBP of .448 compared to Pujols at .366. In what universe was Pujols better?

        (1b) You ignored risks with Pujols that didn’t exist to anywhere the same agree with Cabrera: Age, a sharp decline in 2011, the pressures of a big contract and the uncertainties of switching leagues and ball clubs. None of that has anything to do with hindsight. There’s a basic lesson here that you ignored at draft-time and ignored even when I pointed it out plainly: You don’t win drafts in the first round — you only lose them. You need to minimize risk, especially at the top of the first round. You will either learn from your mistake or risk repeating it.

        (2) On Goldschmidt you wrote above: “All of his underlying skills look fine, except for his lack of power.” No mention of what you projected. Still not sure why you’d draft him in a 15-team league: His poor contact skills means a low batting average and his low OBP means few runs. He doesn’t steal bases. Last year he was on a pace for 25 HR and 80 RBI’s, which for a 1B is below average. Scouts have never liked his bat that much and your colleague Marc Hulet cautioned about him before the start of the season. Minor league sluggers who whiff 30% fail much more often than they succeed.

        (3) You mentioned Ackley’s and Raburn’s power surge as if that lent credence to the notion they’d continue it in the season. If that’s not what you meant you should have made your point clearly.

        (4) Considering Crawford when from being one of the elite fantasy players to being a dog last year, of course you picked him at a later round than he was available before. You also took him BEFORE anyone else in your league thought he was worth. In any case, he carried a risk, you gambled and you lost. Nothing wrong in the strategy — we all take risks in lower rounds.

        (5a) Pineda’s injury history is familiar to anyone who followed him in the minors. In 2009 a sore elbow limited him to 47 innings. Last year he threw 170 innings as a rookie, 40 more than he had ever thrown. He also showed up to Spring Training in February 20 pounds heavier. Three red flags you ignored.

        (5b) Bailey was likely injured this year in a freak accident. But even if he had been unscathed, the chances he’d be health for a full season were remote. He had TJ surgery in college and missed substantial time to arm problems in 2010 and 2011. How he was injured was unexpected. That he was injured was not.

        (6a) Fuentes didn’t lose the battle to close in the Spring — neither he nor Balfour pitched especially well before Balfour was named closer but Balfour actually performed a bit worse. Balfour was the CLEAR favourite before Spring Training because Fuentes had pitched poorly for Oakland in 2011, with an xFIP of 4.5 and a k-bb rate of about 2-1. A beat writer for the A’s tweeted as much after Balfour was named closer (!/susanslusser/status/182151358990913536) but it was obvious that was the case beforehand. On top of that, it was also clear neither would have a strong hold on the role with some youngsters in the pipeline and Beane loving to trade off closers. Taking Balfour was a risk. Taking Fuentes was even riskier.

        (6b) You write of Revere’s AB’s in 2011 as if that were a positive factor in hime staring this year. His OPS last year was .619. He had the 5th lowest SLG% among those with 400+ ABs and three of the guys worse than him were middle infielders. His OBP was the 40th lowest. While he was a slight favourite to win the job, it was clear his hold on that position was perilous.

        (7) I meant to write more than about Cain but had to go. That was a bad break — he got off to a slow start, which anyone could do, and then was inured before he could show his talent level (and I think he was a solid choice for where you got him).

        (8) in terms of being struck by the wholly unexpected, I don’t see a lot of it on your roster. I’ve had far worse. In 2010 I lost Kendrys Morales to a home plate celebration, Asdrubal Cabrerra to Peralta falling on his arm on a ball up the middle, Mike Cameron to kidney stones, all guys without any history of injury. Last year both Morales and Aardsma were expected back but didn’t show and I was hit by a rash of new injuries – I lost nearly as much significant time as the rest of my 12-owner league combined.

        (9) Time to suck it up and do the best with what you have. My league is A.L.-only with 17-man reserves in addition to 23-man rosters, so when I was struck by injury the past two years, I wheeled and dealer, and ends up 2nd both times, missing out on first in 2011 with the next to last batter of the season when I was edged out in WHIP. Now that talent pool of owners in my regular league isn’t nearly as deep as the one you are playing in — I used to write for Hardball Times. But in my league virtually every starting player, most reserves and the top 150 or so prospects are already on rosters. In a 15-owner mixed league there’s lots of talent not yet claimed. You have time to rebound and finish near the top.

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