Waiver Wire retrospective: The best-laid plans

With the season rounding out this weekend, I felt it appropriate to take a quick retrospective look at the bold (and oft foolhardy) predictions I made in 2010. This week we will look at my 10 best/most accurate fantasy suggestions. Next week, we will look at my 10 worst.

1. Alex Rios‘ true talent line
Despite a first and second half that were as different as day (.305/.361/.518, 22.7 PA/HR, 14.8 PA/SB, 6.2 PA/R, 7.0 PA/RBI) and night (.258/.301/.383, 46.0 PA/HR, 25.1 PA/SB, 8.1 PA/R, 7.1 PA/RBI), Alex Rios’ overall season line of .284/.334/.457 with 21 HR, 34 SB, 89 R and 88 RBI over 617 PA almost exactly mirrors my preseason projection of .286/.331/.443 with 20 HR, 30 SB and 85 R/RBI. Though Rios is overpaid for his real life services, his 141 ADP on Yahoo entering the season made him an undervalued asset who provided the precise kind of fantasy gold I expected overall in 2010. I hope you were able to sell high on Rios in July. I wasn’t.

2. Max Scherzerwill be a top shelf pitcher
The Dirty Scherz was one of my top sleeper picks for 2010. Yahoo ranked him as the No. 261 player overall, which should have been illegal. (I had him ranked as a top 15-20 starter.) Despite expecting a decline in strikeouts from the NL to AL move, I expected Scherzer to end the season with a 3.78 ERA with a still strong 8.62 K/9.

Though he struggled through the first five weeks of the season (and needed to spend sometime in Triple-A), I begged owners to hold on and buy low to shares of his stock. Since his return to the majors, the Dirty Scherz has been nothing short of electric. His season ERA of 3.40 is solid, but it does not do justice to his second half dominance: 97 innings of 2.23 ERA, 93:32 K/BB (2.91), 1.09 WHIP baseball.

Some have lauded Justin Verlander‘s September performance (39 IP, 13 RA/9 ER, 41:4 K/BB (10.25), 2.39 xFIP on the heels of an atypical 52 percent GB rate), but Max Scherzer (38 IP, 11 RA/ER, 39:8 K/BB, 3.2 xFIP with a 40.8 percent ground balls has been just as filthy and posted batted ball peripherals in line with his career norms. Next year may be the last year you can get the him at some discount and I’d recommend exploiting that opportunity. Scherzer has some of the best stuff in baseball and he still has upside… call him a must-keep keeper. I’ll just tell you I told ya so.

3. Jake Peavy‘s poor ERA for the White Sox
One of my bigger and bolder (and surely the most criticized) preseason projections was my utterly bearish line for Jake Peavy: a 4.22 ERA with a sub-8.5 K/9. Though Peavy was perhaps starting to find his AL groove when he went down with injury, his season ended with a 4.63 ERA with a K/9 of 7.82, winning me a pair of bets. Heading into 2011, even if Peavy proves healthy, I stand behind my plus-4.00 ERA prediction for Peavy.

4. Jayson Werth‘s true talent line
Early in the season, I argued with a friend over what Jayson Werth was worth in fantasy. That is, what was he capable of? I initially projected a .284 BA with 27 HR, 74 RBI and eight steals. I later updated that projection slightly to reflect a 25 HR/10 SB plateau. Jayson Werth has more or less assented to my prediction, posting a .292 AVG with 25 HR, 12 SB and 79 RBI thus far.

Though he remains, as I noted, an elite outfield option and a top free agent this offseason, I felt I had my thumb pretty well on his pulse this year. Heck, I was dead on with his first half numbers. (His first half was .282 AVG, 13 HR, 5 SB over 81 games). Granted, I was simultaneous way off with Ichiro (who was the other part of the Jayson Werth discussion). Can’t win them all, I suppose.

5. My ridiculously high expectations for Ryan Madson
In one of the first weeks of the baseball season, I traded Ryan Madson (then closing for the then-and-always injured and oft ineffective Brad Lidge) for Kendry Morales. Despite the fact that I had Prince Fielder and Joey Votto occupying my 1B and UTIL positions (no CI in this league) and needed Morales only as a reserve player for off days, my league was in uproar. A non-closer for “that 2009 stud” Morales? People were ready to burn me at the stake for allowing the trade (I am the commissioner of this league). Things calmed down after a few weeks: Morales went down with a freak injury that cut his season short, and Madson went on to do great things.

Madson has a 2.28 ERA, a 63:13 K/BB ratio (4.85) over 51.1 IP and a 1.05 WHIP to go along with six wins and five saves. His ERA (1.66) and WHIP (0.92) on my opponent’s team are even better (six wins, two saves, 43 IP). Considering the amount of punch Madson provided fantasy owners this season over a mere 51.1 innings with a legitimate chance at stealing the closer role (via injury or ineffectiveness or both) from Lidge, I would say that I was, more or less, right about Madson. Say what you will, he’s a damn good reliever (much more valuable and more reliable than, say, Tyler Clippard).

If that prediction does not count, then I substitute herein my unwavering love for Ricky Nolasco/Wandy Rodriguez/Cole Hamels. I told you so on all three of those guys, despite poor first halves.

6. Colby Lewis is very good at pitching
Heading into the 2010 season, I was big on Colby Lewis. Thanks in part to Patrick Newman of Fangraphs bringing my attention to him sometime in January, I took a close look at Lewis’ numbers in Japan and concluded there was strong value to be found. I boldly forecast 13 W, 170 IP, 3.72 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and a 1.32 WHIP. Though Lewis has arguably succumbed to fatigue in the past few weeks (though his most recent outing was brilliant), his current season line stands at a 3.72 ERA, an 8.82 K/9 and 12 wins. I really only underestimated Lewis WHIP and innings potential. Otherwise, he came as advertised.

7. Geovany Soto is (still) very good at hitting
I have long been a big fan of Geo Soto. I bought his jersey (No. 18!) in 2007 and have not looked back since. I found plenty of reason for explanation for his 2009 sophomore struggles (power zapping injury” and poor batted ball luck) and reasons to be optimistic in 2010. Heck, I even ranted about him in an AL Waiver Wire column.

In the offseason, I boldly predicted a .270 AVG, a .370+ OBP and 20-plus homers (with upside to spare) for Soto. In fact, I went so far as to bet that he would out-homer both Victor Martinez and Joe Mauer to likely end up as the home run leader among catchers. My strong prediction of rebound proved correct and if not for Lou Piniella‘s unfounded love for Koyie Hill, Soto would probably have been the major league leader in catcher home runs.

Soto’s season ended early with a September injury, but he posted the highest walk rate (16 percent) of any major league player with 300-plus PA this year. This, combined with a ridiculous .280/.393/.497 (.385 wOBA) line resulted in +3.5 WAR over less than 400 PA. Only three catchers (Brian McCann +5.9, Joe Mauer +5.2, Victor Martinez +3.9) posted higher WARs than Soto and each received between 140 and 200 more plate appearances. The Cubs need to lock my boy up long term now, before it’s too late (and “costly”).

8. Brennan Boesch is NOT good at hitting
From day one on my job with THT, I did not believe in Brennan Boesch. Not even two months later, while he was still raking, did Boesch have me fooled. I did not peg him as anything more than a .272/.305/.425 hitter (see week 7). As apparent by his full season .261/.327/.426 line, Boesch did not disagree. Dontcha just love that feeling when everything is right in the world?

Retroactive Review: Ace
Looking back at some of Justin Verlander's most interesting moments.

9 Gio Gonzalez is a post-hype sleeper talent with fantasy value
A lot of people scoffed at me when I tried to sell Gio Gonzalez as a legitimate pitcher and fantasy asset. A post-hype sleeper, with tons of strikeout upside, poor control and plenty of groundball induction, I saw Gio as a sub-4 ERA strikeout-capable pitcher with WHIP in the 1.30 range and wins upside. In my inaugural THT post, I predicted a 3.90 season ERA with a 8.65 K/9 and 4.40 BB/9 (1.96 K/BB).

His numbers have been better than expected (3.35 ERA, 14 wins) and though his strikeout rate (and swinging strike percentage) is lower than expected, his control has been unexpectedly better as well. His actual K/BB on the season (1.86) is quite close to what I predicted it would be (1.96). Gonzalez, along with Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Dallas Braden, is living proof that Billy Beane‘s still got that team-building talent. 2011 looks bright for Oakland fans.

10. Carl Pavano will rebound and have a useful fantasy season
Maybe it is the Luigi (from Mario Brothers) mustache, but Carl Pavano has been quite solid for the Twins this season. His ERA on the season (3.83) is good, though that number is slightly inflated by a poor September (6.18 ERA). In Week 9 of my AL Waiver Wire companion, I predicted Pavano’s talents worth a 3.80 ERA, a 6.00 K/9 and a 1.23 WHIP. His line so far is remarkably similar (3.83 ERA, 1.19 WHIP), but I seem to have oversold his whiff ability (4.79 K/9). In the offseason, I lauded Pavano as a solid SP4/5 option for fantasy. Those 17 wins are just gravy.

Honorable Mentions:
Jim Thome and the White Sox 2010 DHing situation (as further established, controversially, in a THT Live post).
Jim Edmonds probably still has some gas left in the tank.
Kris Medlen has great stuff and needs a starting spot in the Braves’ 2010 rotation.
Kelly Johnson is better than the Braves gave him credit for (and the Cubs should have signed him).
Jose Bautista can keep up his power surge (see Bautista watch).
-Predicting Luke Scott‘s hot streaks (Booyah).
-My often skeptical, but endearing love of Brandon Morrow (see it fluctuate by week: week 7, week 10, week 15, week 19). He and I, like Jonathan Sanchez and I, have a love-hate relationship that goes way back.


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Jeffrey Gross is an attorney who periodically moonlights as a (fantasy) baseball analyst. He also responsibly enjoys tasty adult beverages. You can read about those adventures at his blog and/or follow him on Twitter @saBEERmetrics.
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Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross

C) I never said drop him. I said “I Dropped him” but I never suggested dropping him. In the final lines of the article I say the season is young enough for him to right the ship and that you should BENCH him for Jaime Garcia. I never used the words drop

Sexy Rexy
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Sexy Rexy
Here’s a post you wrote about Max Scherzer on May 4th when Scherzer was doing awful and right before he got demoted to the minors http://gameofinches.blogspot.com/2010/05/what-is-wrong-with-mad-max-aka-dirty.html Yes, you, like me, liked Scherzer in the preseason. In fact, in one league we’re in, you drafted him. Because you, like me, liked in from the getgo. But when Scherzer had an awful April and beginning of May and right before he got demoted, you wrote the aforementioned article.  And I quote from the article: “Am I still behind my man? Not at the moment.” “I’ve cut him loose in all leagues which… Read more »
Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross

A) I think I drafted him in our Auction league
B) I picked him up before the season in all leagues. I think I got him within a week of the draft.

Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross

You imply entirely too much. I specifically say BENCH him and I never told anyone to drop him. That’s like saying I told you to murder your wife by saying “I killed my wife” and “dont kill your wife”

Seriously, your implication is way off base.

Paul
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Paul
…but your tone in the article heavily suggested ‘drop’ to be fair and you have to drop someone to pickup Jaime Garcia don’t you?  And it would more likely be like for like, and you did drop him yourself (though i don’t know your league set-up – no bench would of course make a difference) So you may not have said ‘drop’ him outright, but it was very much implied And really do you deserve much credit for being high on a guy everyone was high on pre-season, advising ‘benching’ (but dropping him yourself) when he is getting hammered, and… Read more »
Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross
You mischaracterize the post. It was Mad Max’s mechanics are off. I have dropped him in all my leagues, here is what is wrong with his mechanics, I’d ride him out. I specifically say he will probably right the ship. I specifically call for benching, not dropping. In the league I dropped him, you only get 6 pitching spots. No where did I say DROP MAD MAX. I simply pointed out what is wrong with his mechanics. When I say I was wrong, I did not mean I was wrong that Max was a great pitcher, just that my prediction… Read more »
Paul
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Paul
Seriously? “AT LEAST bench him” tells you to kick this guy to the bench and the ‘at least’ implies the possibility that you may want to do something less lenient what you didn’t say was bench but don’t drop (and how could you based on your actions?) The wife muder analogy is an epic fail – we would be talking about having (and murdering) the same wife as we own the same player – so that doesn’t work in real life does it? A better one would be a law firm where we could both use the services at the… Read more »
STEVEN KERSTEIN
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STEVEN KERSTEIN
Can you opine on this as a general topic.  In our league 2 people were clearly going down to the wire for 1st place Another owner who was out of the money by tons makes a transaction to get a player on the waiver wire.  It should be added that this owner had not made a transaction, adjusted his lineup, and had plain given up. What should a commisioner do?  The guy obviously has his rights to transact. At the same time he gains no benefit to himself and has the possibility of determining the result of the whole league.… Read more »
Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross
At a point of clarification, I am in this league. As I said before, there was no rule violated, nothing unethical done. He had the right to manage his team as he wanted to keep any player from gaining pts as he so desired, absent a collateral agreement with a player to do that. No such agreement is shown. I was equally affected by his benching of a player on the final day—had he started Aubrey Huff I would have won 3rd in this league. Still, it was his decision not to start Huff, etc. Again, no illegal agreement, no… Read more »
Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross
Paul, let me address is a few parts (pointing out to that “SexyRexy” is one of my blogmates) 1) Ryan Madson was ranked the #171 overall player in yahoo due to his W/SV contributions. While Meek/Thorton/Gregerson were at least as good, only Meek, no history of success, of those was on the wire. Madson was better than the rest. Further, Madson was in a key position to take over the closer job. Arguably, so was thorton, but again, thorton was drafted and unavailable. Further, Madson was closing at the time. Brad Lidge was no sure thing entering the season and… Read more »
Derek Ambrosino
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Derek Ambrosino
FWIW, I agree with Jeff on the transaction issue. It’s kind of unfortunate, but it’s not illegal, and it’s an abuse of power to overrule legally executed moves even if they do deviate from a pattern and clearly benefit certain parties more than others. Abstaining from these overrulings is the only true way to prevent the slippery slope argument from gaining muster. What I will say the commish in that league is obligated to do in a situation like this is to perform a bit of an investigation – surface level at least. Ask the transacting party and the parties… Read more »
Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross
Agree with you 100% Derek. The player in question only knew four people in the league and the person who stood to benefit from this move did not know the player (he was a random person who joined the league to fill it out). The player also denied any collusion. Given these two facts, I abstained from action. In my view, the role of the Commissioner is laizze-faire and to design rules of play for following—not to intervene unless necessary. Ie, the soft innings cap issue. I did not, admitted, properly address it this year it cost someone third place.… Read more »
Paul
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Paul
Jeffrey, it’s really a bit of shame, you made some v. good & helpful predictions (Rios/Peavy/Gio/Lewis), but your attempts to claim undeserved glory for some others undermine your good picks. Maybe at law school they might call it undermining your killer winning argument by excess polishing of your other turd-like arguments Anyway You didn’t say Max’s mechanics were off.. “His general mechanics seems to be about the same this season..” You said he was broken, pointed that areas for concern, said his mechanics seem to be the same so who knows what is wrong… English language question – would saying… Read more »
Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross

I was merely advocating you drop someone else.
Further, with respect to Madson, something that is essential to note is that we have 1 1B and 1 UTIL spot. I had Prince Fielder and Joey Votto. I was not going to and in fact did not start Morales over either.

Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross
Also, further, with respect to Scherzer, this is not merely a one-year “I like him thing.” Scherzer’s been one of “my boys”, with Alex Gordon and Jay Bruce, from the get go. These are prospects I had big love for before their debut and, in the words of my friend Dmitry, “would not shut up about.” It’s no secret that I have a man crush on Scherzer and Sexy Rexy knows that. If I gave off the aura of “GET RIDDA HIM”, then I apologize to Max Scherzer and his family. I was merely trying to express that the Mad… Read more »
Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross

plus, as an additional 2 notes,

1) I’m not trying to say I am correct about everything here. Tomorrow, you’ll all get to see some of my biggest fails of 2010, including one that is going to result in me eating a sheet of paper with my bet on it (literally eating my own words)

2) Normally I would not argue with a fan so vehemently, but Sexy Rexy is no traditional fan. He’s my blogmate …

Paul
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Paul
Hi Jeffrey – thanks for replying, sounds like you will make a great lawyer as you are determined to win all your arguments Look this is not to hassle/troll you, but although i love all the free net baseball content, a learn a lot from it, one thing that riles is the ‘look how clever i was’ stuff when it not warranted (albeit I know you are balancing this by doing the opposite with your next post) The Madson thing to me smacks of trying to post justify your trade – now your circumstances in your league I don’t know,… Read more »
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