Troy Tulowitzki Leaves Coors

Troy Tulowitzki managed to stay healthy enough to accumulate the most plate appearances he has since 2011. Surely that would have resulted in an excellent fantasy season, and perhaps some profit for those owners who were willing to take on such an injury risk. But that’s not what happened. Though he still finished third among shortstops in fantasy value, he earned just below $10 and posted the second worst wOBA of his career. If that wasn’t bad enough, he was then traded out of the cozy confines of Coors Field, making forecasting his near-term future difficult.

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Preparing For The Winter – Ottoneu Edition

Arbitration season is over in all ottoneu leagues. It’s time to make some trades in preparation for the 2016 campaign. You’ll have until the end of January to finalize your swaps. As for today, let’s talk about two topics – arbitration results and preparation for the rest of the offseason.

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Quick Looks: Eickhoff, Lopez, and Ross

I will continue to implement player grading on the scouting scales of 20-80. I will use Dan Farnsworth’s scale he discussed in this article.

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Projections vs. the Fans: Who Won? Hitter Edition

Back in February, I compared preseason projections between reputed projection system Steamer to those submitted by FanGraphs readers, dubbed “FANS.” The concept was simple: identify National League outfielders whose Steamer and FANS projections varied wildly and predict a “winning” projection. (In the same vein, Community poster Bobby Mueller compiled some nice summary statistics.)

Alas, I needlessly task myself with determining who fared better: the Depth Charts — which are Steamer and other reputable projection system ZiPS, with playing time allocated by FanGraphs staff — versus the fans.

Because the present author, whose analytic capacity is debatable but authorship of this piece is absolute, retains sole proprietorship of quasi-analysis that has a moderate to high probability of spiraling out of control, he has chosen three statistics with which to compare qualified major league hitters: weighted on-base average (wOBA), an offensive rate statistic (not that it offends anyone, per se, but, well, you know); Fielding (Fld), a defensive statistic, probably; and wins above replacement (WAR), an overall performance metric.

Yours truly has elected to discuss only the most egregious differences in projections and declare winners between them accordingly. Granted three nominees within three categories, an outcome in which a winner is not declared is highly improbable. Alas, a true, rightful and, above all, 100-percent authoritative champion may very well be crowned in due time. So, who will it be: the wisdom of the masses, or the wisdom of two computers?

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Xander Bogaerts: The Next Big Thing

It was a weird breakout season for Xander Bogaerts. He was the undisputed top shortstop in baseball by about $9 and yet it doesn’t really feel like it. He won’t be the top shortstop off the board in 2016 and his home runs + stolen bases didn’t even equal 20. The big season was spurred by an 80-point spike in batting average, 84 runs, and 81 RBI.

Obviously the batting average plays into the rise of the other two, but a lot of it was batting second, third, fourth, or fifth for 103 of his 156 games on a team that scored 4.62 runs per game – fourth-most in baseball. In other words, there was some team-dependent good fortune baked into this season as opposed to a season like Manny Machado’s which showed major skill growth. No other shortstop scored more than 77 runs and only Brandon Crawford topped the RBI total with 84.

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Carlos Correa: Future Roto Star

You have to scroll all the way down to the 24th ranked shortstop, Eugenio Suarez, to find a hitter who recorded fewer at-bats than Carlos Correa did this season. And yet, Correa still managed to finish second in dollar value among all shortstops. He did it in just 387 at-bats and 432 plate appearances.

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The Latest DFS Fallout

I had hoped to be done with this topic for the offseason. The mistakes of the two main daily fantasy (DFS) operators – FanDuel and DraftKings – have become increasingly apparent. After slowly ramping up advertising in 2013 and 2014, we’ve been hit with a flood of TV and radio spots pushing daily fantasy as a get rich quick scheme.

Now we’ve entered a new chapter of the daily fantasy drama. Last week, New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman declared daily fantasy to be gambling. He asked FanDuel and DraftKings to cease and desist all operations in New York. They’re now the seventh state to ban the games. And once again, DFS has drawn negative press in comedy news – this time from John Oliver.

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Fantasy Implications for Several Offseason Trades

We have been a concentrating on our positional reviews here at RotoGraphs and have missed covering the fantasy ramifications of some offseason trades. It is time to catch up on the major players in each trade.

Arizona Diamondbacks traded RHP Jeremy Hellickson to Philadelphia Phillies for RHP Sam McWilliams

Jeremy Hellickson: The 29-year-old righty got a second lease on life with this trade. The Phillies will just start him every few days and live with the results. They really don’t have any other options.

I don’t see the move as a positive for Hellickson’s production. He is going from a one home run park to another so his heavy flyball nature will still generate home runs. The Phillies aren’t going to win a ton of games so he won’t get a bunch of wins. I see him as a matchup pitcher in NL-only or 20-team or deeper leagues.

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Prospect Positional Reviews: Left-Handed Starters

Just prior to last year’s holiday season I wrote a piece for FanGraphs+ that ranked the Top 50 Fantasy Prospects for 2015 by position. Because it’s in the middle of the offseason, it’s often an exercise in futility to properly project playing time for rookies — especially considering the large number of free agent signings and trades that have yet to take place. It’s quite fun, nonetheless, and still serves as a good starting point for understanding who might be turn into a unexpectedly valuable fantasy player for the coming year.

And with every preview, must come a review. With the regular season now behind us, I present to you a review of the projected Top 50 Fantasy Prospects for 2015. I’ve already written about the catchers, first basemen, second basemen, third basemen, shortstops, outfielders and right-handed starters. Today is the review of the left-handed starters.

Actual Wins Above Replacement (WAR) Results
2.1 — Robbie Ray, D-Backs
2.1 — Carlos Rodon, White Sox
1.7 — Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox
1.6 — Andrew Heaney, Angels

Marc’s Top 6
Andrew Heaney, Angels
Marco Gonzales, Cardinals
Julio Urias, Dodgers
Henry Owens, Red Sox
Carlos Rodon, White Sox
Daniel Norris, Blue Jays

Honorable Mentions
Brandon Finnegan, Royals
Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox
Manny Banuelos, Braves
Justin Nicolino, Marlins
Robbie Ray, Tigers

The 2015 season saw some impressive southpaw prospects solidify themselves into true big league performers. Ray and Rodon were the Top 2 arms despite taking very different paths to The Show. A 12th round selection back in 2010, the former need five years of seasoning before making 23 starts at the big league level in ’15. He didn’t show wipeout stuff but he held his own in a difficult home park and definitely has the makings of an innings-eating No. 4 starter.

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2015 Visualized: Shortstop

2015 Visualized: Third Base
2015 Visualized: Second Base
2015 Visualized: First Base
2015 Visualized: Catcher

* * *

For the next few weeks, the RotoGraphs staff will devote an entire week to each defensive position, including spotlights on particular players as well as trends throughout the 2015 season. This week, we’re highlighting shortstops.

I don’t claim to be a Tableau (or data visualization) whiz by any means, but I thought it would be cool to visually represent the shortstop landscape in 2015 — with some analysis sprinkled in.

Steamer and ZiPS represent premier player projection systems; FanGraphs’ Depth Charts combines the two, and the writing staff allocate playing time accordingly. The playing time part is less important relative to the combined projections, as aggregated projections tend to perform better than standalones.

I compared projected wOBA (weighted on-base average) from the preseason to actual wOBA (1) by team and (2) by player within team. Unlike WAR, wOBA is a rate metric, so it does not need to be scaled according to playing time.

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