Author Archive

Predicting the Quality Start

As you well know, fantasy formats have long been eschewing (and ridiculing) the use of the win as a category. It tends to still hold on rather stubbornly in standard Rotisserie 5×5 formats which are also widely panned (yet this author still clings to one of those teams annually). There are a number of logical swaps for the win, and one of them has historically been the “quality start,” which is what this post is all about.

The quality start has also been criticized as being rather useless inasmuch as describing whether a pitcher performed well nor not, and yet if you don’t want to get into weighted metrics in your fantasy league, it’s still preferable to the sometimes arbitrary assignment of wins (and perhaps more on point — the arbitrary lack of assigning a win).

Just so we’re operating with the same definition, in most fantasy circles the quality start still uses the John Lowe Philly Inquirer characterization as being a starting pitcher going six innings without giving up more than three earned runs. We can punch holes in that over beers another day, but that’s our baseline for a quality start going forward.

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Snake Draft 401

We’re calling this lesson a 401 because it’s not going to be a “101” as in, “this is a snake draft and you should do your homework to prepare, fill in the bubble, and turn in your sheets,” but it’s also not a graduate level seminar where we can all sit around in the Socratic method and pontificate each individual inquiry. So a 401 it is.

Some quick ground rules before we dive in.

The target audience is primarily those of you that are in simple points or standard 4×4 or 5×5 rotisserie style fantasy baseball which use the love-it-or-hate-it snake draft to select players. The most common leagues are found on CBS, Yahoo!, and ESPN. And just for any of you 101’ers out there, a snake draft is where you have a draft slot, 1-12 and then it “snakes” back so that the person with the first pick also gets the 24th and the last person gets the 12th, but also the 13th. Rinse, lather, repeat. There are a variety of opinions about what the best draft slot might be but we’re not going to worry about that right now.

I’m going to use my own personal approach from the 2012 draft, and as such, I’ll be referring to players where they were most commonly valued back in March of 2012, not for your 2013 draft. This is designed to serve as a model, not to tell you who to draft this season. There will be a thousand of those articles for you to pour over in the coming weeks. This is also very heavy on the draft preparation side, and not in the “be prepared” vein but in trying to give you some tools to set up in advance that will help you keep a straight head on draft day.

Off we go.

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Mining for Under (and Over) Performers: Strikeouts

A while back, I had a little pet project to try and simplify the process of sniffing out the over- and under-performers relative to strikeout rates. More specifically, recognizing the sometimes wild fluctuations between strikeout rates year to year, I wanted a better idea if a particular pitcher earned their increase (or decrease) in the category. Was there a process — similar to the one we use on ERA with batting average on balls in play and strand rates — that we could go through for strikeout rates?

Obviously, a high swinging strike rate suggests an inherent ability to strike batters out. Makes sense –- you don’t miss many bats, you’re not likely to wind up registering many strikeouts. So using the swinging strike rate to potentially identify the pretenders from the contenders has merit as the season wears on. But I wanted to tighten that up a bit — add variables that would perhaps control for another part of a pitcher’s skill set to help us identify who should reasonably be expected to strike out more, or fewer, batters. And of course, this is with fantasy baseball in mind –- so the idea was that we can all outsmart the next guy relative to the strikeout column.

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