2014 Batter Profiles: I – L

Chris Iannetta

Debut: 2006 |  BirthDate: 4/8/1983 | Team: Angels | Position: C
Yr PA H HR SB RBI R AVG OBP SLG wOBA Off Def WAR
’12 253 53 9 1 26 27 .240 .332 .398 .323 -0.2 3.4 1.2
’13 399 73 11 0 39 40 .225 .358 .372 .330 2.7 3.4 2.1
’14 288 53 8 2 30 34 .220 .339 .374 .320 0.8 4.1 1.6

Profile: The upcoming playing time battle between Chris Iannetta and Hank Conger has no clear favorite, but defense, youth, and offensive potential seem to favor Conger. Iannetta will likely play a little less than half of the time, but can still provide respectable home run production in his starts. While his great eye creates good on-base percentages, his batting average is going to be a liability, fantasy-wise. That shouldn’t change — his strikeout rate is bad and is only going to get worse as he ages. With a bit of an uppercut swing, no speed, and few balls in play, there’s always the risk of a disastrous average on balls in play, too. If the Angels are bad in 2014, the 31-year-old is probably not going to be considered a part of the franchise’s long-term plan, either. Look for him to finish around 40th in standard fantasy catcher rankings (or low 30s if OBP is used instead of AVG) with more downside than upside. (Steve Staude)

Quick Opinion: Hank Conger will likely usurp playing time from Iannetta this season, diminishing the latter’s fantasy value to the point where it won’t make sense to draft him in most leagues.

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2014 Batter Profiles: M – O

Manny Machado

Debut: 2012 |  BirthDate: 7/6/1992 | Team: Orioles | Position: 3B
Yr PA H HR SB RBI R AVG OBP SLG wOBA Off Def WAR
’12 202 50 7 2 26 24 .262 .294 .445 .317 -0.2 6.1 1.3
’13 710 189 14 6 71 88 .283 .314 .432 .325 0.5 33.6 6.2
’14 471 116 12 7 52 59 .268 .313 .426 .323 -0.1 11.6 2.9

Profile: There’s a better than zero chance that Manny Machado stole either your heart, your breath, or both at some point in 2013. The sophomore exploded in his first full season, posting a six-win year thanks in large part to his otherworldly defense. However, for fantasy purposes he was less impressive, slashing .283/.314/.432 with 14 home runs and six stolen bases. That was still good enough for 10th among third basemen, and his 51 doubles and decent batted ball distances are encouraging for his power potential. The big question looming over Machado is when his season will start – he ruptured his left medial patellar femoral ligament in September and had surgery in mid-October. The current expectation is that he’ll be ready for the mid-April, if not the start of the season. It seems far more likely the recovery will impact his defense than his offense, placing him as a low-end starter at the hot corner in standard formats. (Blake Murphy)

Quick Opinion: Manny Machado was one of the most popular players of 2013, but the sophomore’s excellence was primarily in the field. Recovery from knee surgery isn’t particularly concerning, but don’t overpay for the potential, as his fantasy value hasn’t caught up to his reputation quite yet.

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2014 Batter Profiles: P – R

Jordan Pacheco

Debut: 2011 |  BirthDate: 1/30/1986 | Team: Rockies | Position: C/1B
Yr PA H HR SB RBI R AVG OBP SLG wOBA Off Def WAR
’12 505 147 5 7 54 51 .309 .341 .421 .330 -5.9 -13.9 -0.4
’13 262 59 1 0 22 23 .239 .276 .312 .262 -15.2 -5.4 -1.4
’14 170 43 2 2 17 18 .274 .320 .386 .311 -3.8 -4.7 -0.4

Profile: When Pacheco made his major league debut in 2005, he hit an empty .286 in limited playing time. The next season, when he was 26, he hit for a similarly empty .309 average. He struck out a little more, but he was essentially a contact hitter. When he made hard contact, the ball tended to find a hole. When he didn’t, he had no chance, thanks to his hack-tastic approach at the plate. Still, even with the .309 average, he was worth -0.4 WAR. With no patience and very little power, there wasn’t a whole lot there to like, or even to project upon for the future. And that was before the bottom fell out. Which it did in 2013. Of the 316 players to rack up at least 250 plate appearances last season, only eight had a worse WAR than did Pacheco. Only four of the 316 had a worse wRC+ — Jeff Francoeur, Jeff Mathis, Brendan Ryan and Elliot Johnson. And that was in his age-27 season. Pacheco is simply one of the worst players in baseball. Of the 2,470 position players to garner at least 800 PAs since 1947, only 92 have a lower career WAR than Pacheco’s -2.1 mark. You’d think this would be enough to get him designated for assignment, but the Rockies are holding onto the thin thread that Pacheco can capably catch in the majors (he can’t), so we may get to see him sink even closer to the bottom. Just don’t let him do so on your fantast team.

Quick Opinion: Jordan Pacheco has been one of the worst players in baseball the past few years, but that hasn’t stopped the Rockies from playing him. You don’t have to make that mistake.

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2014 Batter Profiles: S – T

Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Debut: 2007 |  BirthDate: 5/2/1985 | Team: Marlins | Position: C
Yr PA H HR SB RBI R AVG OBP SLG wOBA Off Def WAR
’12 448 90 25 0 59 55 .222 .288 .454 .319 -2.2 5.5 1.9
’13 470 116 14 4 65 68 .273 .338 .466 .349 10.1 7.3 3.6
’14 425 86 14 3 47 42 .226 .297 .399 .305 -4.4 5.1 1.5

Profile: Just when fans in Boston (and snarky Rotographs writers) were figuring how to spell his name, Jarrod Saltalamacchia bolted the world champion Red Sox for the perennial powerhouse known as the Miami Marlins. While he gets the key benefits of $21 million and the chance to watch the world’s greatest home run sculpture in action, he’s probably on the road to regression (not one of AC/DC’s more well-known hits) in 2014. Aside from the less favorable park factors, he is unlikely to reproduce a .372 BABIP, so expect his batting average to look more like his career .246 mark. He has positive three year running trends in BB% (up) and K% (down), so he should remain a fantasy-average catcher, just be aware that you’ll have to endure some frustrating up-and-down stretches, thanks to both the strikeout-friendly Salty and the rest of the lineup that surrounds him. (Colin Zarzycki)

Quick Opinion: Jarrod Saltalamacchia posted career best offensive marks in 2013, although a lot of his rates were buoyed by an impressive (but unsustainable) .372 BABIP. Now in Miami, he figures to get dinged a bit for league, park, and surrounding lineup, so he’s not an ideal value play in drafts.

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2014 Batter Profiles: U – Z

Dan Uggla

Debut: 2006 |  BirthDate: 3/11/1980 | Team: Braves | Position: 2B
Yr PA H HR SB RBI R AVG OBP SLG wOBA Off Def WAR
’12 630 115 19 4 78 86 .220 .348 .384 .325 5.5 6.5 3.4
’13 537 80 22 2 55 60 .179 .309 .362 .303 -7.7 -4.0 0.5
’14 473 85 17 2 53 51 .212 .320 .386 .314 -1.0 -0.8 1.3

Profile: Uggla was dreadful last season and he may need to rebound quickly in 2014 if he wants to retain a starting job. With Braves prospect Tommy La Stella waiting in the wings, Uggla is working with a short leash. That should keep his cost to fantasy owners low, making him a high risk, high reward candidate. Uggla’s ugly .179/.309/.362 batting line was held down by a low .225 batting average on balls in play and career worst 31.8% strikeout rate. The low BABIP is partially supported by a career worst 13.2% line drive rate, which was also the worst among all qualified hitters by a whopping 2.9%. It’s unclear if there’s an explanation for that low rate. His strikeout rate is also supported by peripherals — a 1.5 percent increase in his whiff rate. Despite the doom and gloom, Uggla managed to come up only nine percent short of the league’s average weighted offense last season. That’s right about average for a major league second baseman. If he featured better defense and base running last season, he would have still been a respectable player. Going forward, there is still much uncertainty in Uggla’s profile. (Brad Johnson)

Quick Opinion: Uggla is coming off the worst year of his career and is now entering his age-34 season. He’s not a bad guy to take a flier on, especially if you’re stuck with a mid-tier second baseman like Neil Walker, but he’s probably more likely to stay the same or get worse than he is to substantially improve.

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2014 Pitcher Profiles: A – B

David Aardsma

Debut: 2004 |  BirthDate: 12/27/1981 | Position: RP
Yr W L SV IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP FIP R9W WAR
’12 0 0 0 1 9.0 9.0 9.0 9.00 2.00 17.09 -0.0 -0.1
’13 2 2 0 39 8.2 4.3 1.6 4.31 1.46 5.27 -0.3 -0.7
’14 1 0 0 10 7.4 4.5 1.1 4.40 1.47 4.66 -0.0 -0.1

Profile: Following a successful 2009 and 2010, David Aardsma missed most of 2011 and 2012 due to injuries, derailing an unexpected story of somewhat late-found success. Now 32 and a free agent, someone will surely roll the dice that Aardsma can be better than his 4.31 ERA and 5.27 FIP from 2013 with the Mets. Considering those two years off, the biggest concern is a drop in strikeout rate, which simply has to stay high for Aardsma to avoid punishment for his heavy walk rate. He was throwing almost three miles an hour slower than he had before his two Tommy John surgeries, and there just isn’t enough evidence on players having two of those surgeries to reliably suggest his velocity could rebound. Wherever he signs, it’s unlikely Aardsma finds his way to a closer’s chair. (Blake Murphy)

Quick Opinion: David Aardsma emerged as a decent closer in 2009 and 2010 but two Tommy John surgeries later, his velocity is gone and his effectiveness waned. He’ll find a home, but likely as a middle-inning guy.

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2014 Pitcher Profiles: C – E

Trevor Cahill

Debut: 2009 |  BirthDate: 3/1/1988 | Team: Diamondbacks | Position: SP
Yr W L SV IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP FIP R9W WAR
’12 13 12 0 200 7.0 3.3 0.7 3.78 1.29 3.85 3.0 2.9
’13 8 10 0 146 6.3 4.0 0.8 3.99 1.42 4.26 1.7 0.9
’14 12 11 0 182 6.6 3.6 0.6 4.11 1.40 3.79 1.5 2.1

Profile: Cahill improved in a lot of ways in 2012, but was unable to improve further or even maintain those gains in 2013. In 2012, he posted the highest strikeout rate of his career by getting more swings on pitches outside of the zone and, relatedly, more swings and misses. And he also went from having an elite ground ball rate to having the best ground ball rate in the league (61.2%) by three percentage points. A big reason for the improvements in 2012 was the addition of a cutter to his pitch mix. That pitch generated ground balls and got swings and misses at rates better than most of his other pitches. When you consider that Cahill used the cutter even more in 2013, his regression is a bit surprising. But the cutter simply wasn’t as effective. His swing and miss and ground-ball rates declined noticeably on his cutter last year. There’s always a chance the cutter regains its effectiveness or that Cahill makes another adjustment, but absent the absurd luck on balls in play he got in 2010, his upside is nothing more than something like a 3.80 ERA with a 1.30 WHIP, 12-13 wins and an average strikeout rate. That’s the best case scenario. That projection looks a lot like the line Dillon Gee from last year, and he was a borderline top 60 fantasy starters. So best case scenario, Cahill is one of the last guys on your staff. But more likely he’s just a spot starter. (Brett Talley)

Quick Opinion: All the progress made by Cahill in 2012 disappeared in 2013. The cutter that fueled his 2012 improvements was less effective, and his skills regressed. But even if his cutter regains effectiveness or he makes some other adjustment, Cahill’s upside is limited to that of a borderline top 60 fantasy starter.

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2014 Pitcher Profiles: F – J

Jeurys Familia

Debut: 2012 |  BirthDate: 10/10/1989 | Team: Mets | Position: RP
Yr W L SV IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP FIP R9W WAR
’12 0 0 0 12 7.3 6.6 0.0 5.84 1.54 3.66 0.1 0.0
’13 0 0 1 10 6.8 7.6 1.7 4.22 1.97 6.52 -0.0 -0.3
’14 4 3 3 65 8.8 4.2 0.8 3.65 1.35 3.76 -0.0 -0.2

Profile: Familia recorded minimal innings in 2013, on account of a mid-season procedure to remove bone chips and maybe other sorts of things from his elbow. Returning, though, to make appearances in both the Arizona Fall and also Dominican Winter Leagues, he sat in the mid- to high-90s, notably crossing the 100-mph threshold at times in the Caribbean. Reports generally also praised the movement on his fastball. That pitch, in combination with a serviceable slider, provide some reason to believe that the large right-hander has promise as a major-league reliever. That will likely be his role with the Mets in 2014 — if not at the very beginning of the season, then at least soon afterwards. (Carson Cistulli)

Quick Opinion: Based on the quality of his fastball alone, is likely to find way into Mets bullpen in 2014. Quality of slider and overall command will dictate extent of success.

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2014 Pitcher Profiles: K – O

Nate Karns

Debut: 2013 |  BirthDate: 11/25/1987 | Team: Rays | Position: SP
Yr W L SV IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP FIP R9W WAR
’13 0 1 0 12 8.2 4.5 3.8 7.50 1.92 8.38 -0.4 -0.4
’14 2 2 0 38 8.1 4.4 1.0 4.32 1.40 4.27 0.2 0.3

Profile: Nate Karns has continued to rise in the Nationals organization over the last couple years. He’s a bulldog type who attacks the strike zone with a power sinker. He came up and missed bats in his major league debut but also showed his flaws. Command — especially of his secondaries — and finding an offspeed offering that works for him will determine how far Karns can go. He tore the labrum in his pitching shoulder in 2009, so durability will always be a concern, too. With the addition of Doug Fister, the Nats rotation ranks among the strongest in baseball and it’s not clear what opportunities for starters will be available, if any. So it’s easy to see the Nats using Karns out of the pen in the short term, but he could also stay in Triple-A as rotation depth. In that case, he likely spends a few years as an up and down back end starter before settling in to the bullpen. (Al Skorupa)

Quick Opinion: Karns has the potential to be a useful starter as a back end ground-ball pitcher who misses some bats. Given the addition of Doug Fister to an already strong rotation, and the emergence of Taylor Jordan, it’s going to take injuries for Karns to get that chance. Long term, Karns likely fits best in the seventh or eighth inning.

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2014 Pitcher Profiles: P – T

Jonathan Papelbon

Debut: 2005 |  BirthDate: 11/23/1980 | Team: Phillies | Position: RP
Yr W L SV IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP FIP R9W WAR
’12 5 6 38 70 11.8 2.3 1.0 2.44 1.06 2.89 1.8 1.4
’13 5 1 29 61 8.3 1.6 0.9 2.92 1.14 3.05 0.9 1.0
’14 4 2 33 65 8.9 2.4 1.0 3.08 1.16 3.44 0.7 0.4

Profile: For a guy that had an ERA under three, a good WHIP and 29 saves last season, Papelbon sure had a lot of things go really wrong. His strikeout rate fell precipitously — his rate of 8.3 strikeouts per nine was more than a strikeout worse than his previous worst, and more than three strikeouts worse than his 2012 number. In percentages, his strikeout rate fell ten percent! His swinging strike rate dropped from 12.2% to 10.6%. That was among the worst 30 drops in baseball. A lot of that had to do with his flagging velocity. He used to be 95+ with the Red Sox, that dropped under 94 in his first year with the Phillies, and then all the way to 92 last season. That last drop was tenth in lost velocity among with pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched in both 2012 and 2013. Adding to the concern was that though Papelbon threw his slider the most he’d ever thrown it, the pitch slowed down to curveball-type velocity — and still features slider break. With the splitfinger and the fastball and elite control, Papelbon could be fine, though, there are role models in Boston that he can follow. What would be more worrisome about these numbers is if they are hiding an injury. You can’t treat him like an elite guy anymore, but if your saber-savvy league is too far down on him, remember that Papelbon still has more velocity than Koji Uehara, who throws today’s favorite splitter. (Eno Sarris)

Quick Opinion: With dropping velocity and swinging strikes, post-peak 33-year-old Jonathan Papelbon won’t be the same dominant reliever he once was. We knew that. What we don’t know is if the numbers are hiding an injury, or if his team will decide to ship him out because of them. Don’t treat Papelbon like an elite closer any more.

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2014 Pitcher Profiles: U – Z

Koji Uehara

Debut: 2009 |  BirthDate: 4/3/1975 | Team: Red Sox | Position: RP
Yr W L SV IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP FIP R9W WAR
’12 0 0 1 36 10.8 0.8 1.0 1.75 0.64 2.40 1.2 0.8
’13 4 1 21 74 12.2 1.1 0.6 1.09 0.57 1.61 3.8 3.3
’14 5 2 30 65 10.6 2.0 0.9 2.18 1.01 2.76 1.7 1.4

Profile: In what may have been one of the steals of last offseason, the Red Sox quietly signed setup man Koji Uehara to a $4.25 million contract. Pushed into the closer role through the injury ineffectiveness of Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, and Junichi Tazawa, Uehara lit the relief world on fire, posting an insane 1.09 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, and 101 whiffs in just over 74 innings. While some guys post those numbers thanks to some “lucky” peripherals, Uehara wasn’t one of them. His 3% walk rate continued to be among the league’s best and he even bumped his strikeout rate a bit (38% versus a 34% average in 2011-2012). His 1.36 SIERA bested all qualified major league relievers. Not too shabby. Some may pause at his below-average 88-90 mph fastball, but he posted 16-18% swinging strike rates in relief and a huge part of that was 25+% swSTR% on his splitter. He may not light up the gun, but apparently his opponents agree he’s tough to beat. Uehara’s age might be the only reason he sits a half tier behind Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, but if you are one of those people that like to lock up relievers earlier, Uehara is as good of a choice as any to be elite again this season. (Colin Zarzycki)

Quick Opinion: Uehara is another year older but showed no signs of slowing down in 2014. Even at 39, it’s not unreasonable to put him among the top six closers.

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2014 Prospect Profiles

Sean Manaea

Profile: Sean Manaea had positioned himself to be a top-five pick and perhaps even go first overall entering last spring. Sadly, his college season didn’t go as planned. Manaea had some performance issues and dealt with various injuries this year. He fell all the way in the draft to the second round, where the Royals happily stopped his freefall. Manaea ended up needing surgery for a tear in his hip labrum, but the prognosis for recovery is good. When healthy, Manaea works in the low 90′s and touches higher with a sneaky fastball from a deceptive delivery. His slider flashes well when he stays on top of the pitch but he often gets around the side of it from his low three-quarters delivery and the pitch flattens out into a slurve. His best offering is a diving split change that mystifies batters. Manaea is a big, strong kid with great makeup, strong stuff and the ability to miss bats. He has the potential to develop into a number two starter and his floor is probably a mid-rotation type with his present stuff. He would also fit quite well in the pen and could feature as a late inning option if injuries persist and his command falters. (Al Skorupa)

Quick Opinion: Regarded as one of the top talents in the draft entering the Spring, Manaea fell due to inconsistent performance and injuries. When healthy, Manaea has the stuff to be a mid to front of the rotation starter. If he shows up healthy in 2014 he’ll quickly return to top prospect status.

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Top Fantasy Prospects for 2014

The 2013 season saw a number of rookies play key roles for their respective clubs and, in the process, significantly impact fantasy baseball. Arms like Jose Fernandez (Marlins), Julio Teheran (Braves), Hyun-Jin Ryu (Dodgers) and Trevor Rosenthal (Cardinals) made names for themselves while providing important innings for their respective clubs and fantasy managers alike. Hitters such as Yasiel Puig (Dodgers), Nolan Arenado (Rockies), Jedd Gyorko (Padres) and Wil Myers (Rays) set the foundations for future successes and look like future fantasy studs.

With each new fantasy season comes a new group of impressive — yet volatile — prospects. Barring injuries, star athletes’ performances are somewhat predictable. Rookie performances, though, are often much hard to pin down but, if you guess right, they can have a huge impact on a fantasy team’s season.

This article will endeavor to (somewhat accurately) recommend the key rookie players to target at each position based on both expected playing time and overall statistical impact for the coming season. It’s important to note this article ranks players based solely on projected 2014 impact, not future impact or overall ceiling…

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The Fringe Five: Baseball’s Most Compelling Fringe Prospects

The Fringe Five is a weekly regular-season exercise, introduced last April by the present author, wherein that same ridiculous author utilizes regressed stats, scouting reports, and also his own heart to identify and/or continue monitoring the most compelling fringe prospects in all of baseball.

Central to the exercise, of course, is a definition of the word fringe, a term which possesses different connotations for different sorts of readers. For the purposes of the column last year, a fringe prospect (and therefore one eligible for inclusion in the Five) was any rookie-eligible player at High-A or above both (a) absent from all of three notable preseason top-100 prospect lists and also (b) not currently playing in the majors. A more thorough discussion of eligibility, and the criteria for determining it, can be found here.

The basic idea, though: to recognize those prospects who are perhaps receiving less notoriety than their talents might otherwise warrant.

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Auction Values for All Four ottoneu Formats

Auction season is nearly upon us, which means many of you are scouring the web to find your draft projections, auction values, sleepers, and more. And, scour as you might, you are not finding anything that even closely resembles ottoneu auction values.

But we here at RotoGraphs are nothing if not obliging and so, for the second year, I am going to present you with auction values for all ottoneu formats.

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Positional Scarcity Isn’t A One-Time Study

If you’re reading FanGraphs+, you could probably explain the idea of positional scarcity with relative confidence. But simply knowing that it exists is not really enough, because positional scarcity is a fluid, evolving idea. In the mid-2000s, the league was flush with power-hitting third basemen, but now the position is scarcer than outfielders and first basemen. It’s not enough to have read about scarcity and committed it to memory, because position scarcity changes all the time.

Now, if you are unclear on what positional scarcity is, allow us to explain (don’t just search it, less you end up on the player page for early-30s Red Sox legend Russ Scarritt, who was once worth more than two wins below replacement level just with his bat).

Back in 2011, our own Mike Podhorzer described position scarcity as follows:

In the simplest terms, position scarcity exists when there are not enough positively valued players at a position to fill up every active roster. In a standard 12-team league with 14 hitters, a total of 168 hitters will be drafted as starters and each must be valued and purchased at $1, at the very least. If you projected every hitter and valued their raw stats based on a $260 salary cap per team, there is virtually no chance that 24 catchers will make your top 168. There is also a possibility that there won’t be the required minimum of 36 middle infielders.

In short, some positions are deeper than others, and because positive fantasy value at some positions is less available (“scarcer”), the price for said value increases. If there’s only one shortstop who will help your team, your willingness to pay for him is a lot greater than an outfielder with the same stat line.

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Playing Platoons for Perked Up Production

Fantasy owners all have their little quirks. Every league has the guy who drafts closers way too early, or the owner (or owners) who just cannot stay away from their hometown team.

But me, I am the guy who builds a roster full of players with heavy platoon splits. I am the guy who will go the extra dollar for Matt Joyce, sign Brandon Moss and target Justin Morneau. I know full well that these players often ride the pine or put up ugly stats when left in the game for the wrong matchup. But I don’t care.

And not caring has served me well. The reality is, in certain circumstances, these players are vastly undervalued in fantasy. And this happens for a number of reasons.

First, there is just the general buzz around them. “Yeah, his stats are okay, but you know he can’t hit lefties at all.” Suddenly a lot of owners take a $10 player and discount him because he struggles in 30% of his PA. Forget the fact that the stats used to value the player already take his ugly split into account.

Second, the player’s numbers get deflated. Matt Joyce fell two home runs and three stolen bases shy of a 20-10 season in 2013 and without a doubt hitting those milestones would have impacted his standings. The fact that you could have used him in the 109 games he started and gotten 17 of the HR and all seven of his SB, and still had 53 games – a full third of a season – with another player to make up the difference, that fact somehow gets ignored.

The goal of any fantasy auction/trade/roster building exercise, though, should be to accrue the most production at the lowest cost, and platoon players can help you do that. Here is a perfect example:

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Using a Hitter’s Batted Ball Splits to Build a Hybrid Platoon

The diligent and hard-working fantasy owner has always had the opportunity to utilize fringe platoon players to their advantage. Players such as Matt Joyce, Nelson Cruz and Alex Rios can offer a special advantage to teams with deep leagues, deep benches and sustained focus. Paired with a mashing platoon mate, these guys can turn a position of interest into a position of strength.

But the righty-lefty split isn’t the only platoon split out there. Just as there is a distribution of LOOGY- and ROOGY-killers, there is also a selection of hitters who excel against ground-ball and fly ball pitchers. Fantasy owners should be more aware of not only the advantages of a potential ground ball-fly ball platoon, but also the players who can help them to that end.

This, we should note, is Platooning: Advanced Edition.

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Applying Hitter Volatility Research to Fantasy

Over the years, Bill Petti has done some fascinating research on hitter volatility. He recently updated that work at the new Hardball Times. I strongly recommend taking a look. You can follow Petti on Twitter @BillPetti. Hopefully he’ll now forgive me for shamelessly stealing his work for fantasy purposes.

Before we dive into Petti’s work and how it applies to fantasy baseball, let’s define volatility. In finance, volatility refers to variation in price over a period of time. A stock that sees frequent fluctuation of price is considered to be more volatile than a stock with very little price fluctuation. In fantasy baseball, we can replace price with category production or points. Player A is more volatile than Player B if his day-to-day performance is more varied.

Petti’s research is in day-to-day volatility, which differs from streakiness. As fantasy owners, we know that Jay Bruce is one streaky mofo guy. He’ll put up 20 excellent games followed by 30 atrocious games and he’s been doing it since the day he entered the majors. By Petti’s measure, Bruce is only four percent more volatile than league average over the last three years. That’s (probably) because he’s not measuring these long term fluctuations.

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Predicting Home Runs Per Fly Ball, The Next Step

A year ago, I discovered how highly correlated a hitter’s average home run and fly ball distance is to his HR/FB rate. Chad Young and I then embarked on a quest to use an assortment of data, including this batted ball distance, to construct an expected HR/FB, or xHR/FB rate, metric. Unfortunately, we failed to find an equation much better than the one that used just distance, of which the R-squared was just 0.54. While this was an excellent start, it simply wasn’t good enough to use in place of plain old HR/FB rate.

Thanks to Jeff Zimmerman, whose Baseball Heat Maps site inspired this quest to be undertaken to begin with, I have been provided with a wealth of additional data. The hope was that it included another piece or set of pieces to the HR/FB rate puzzle.

I began with a player population set that included 4,985 hitter seasons from 2008-2013, which also included pitchers during their times to the plate. In order to prevent the results from being skewed due to the randomness occurring in the smaller samples, I removed all player seasons with fewer than 20 total home runs and fly balls. This left me with a pool of 2,645 ready for analysis.

Let us begin with a correlation table:

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