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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 517 – The Uncertain Closer Market


The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is brought to you by Out of the Park Baseball 18, the best baseball strategy game ever made – available NOW on PC, Mac, and Linux platforms! Go to ootpdevelopments.com to order now and save 10% with the code SLEEPER18!

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Notable Transactions/Rumors/Articles/Game Play

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The Minor League Ball is Such a Drag

Several years ago Alan Nathan, Jeff Kensrud, Lloyd Smith, and Eric Lang brought an air cannon and a few boxes of brand new baseballs to Minute Maid Park. If you’re anything like me, you like where this is going. They set up their cannon to fire balls roughly 96mph on a 28° angle and used Trackman to measure their distance and spin rate. They tested four groups of balls, two groups composed of MLB balls, one MiLB, and one NCAA. One group of MLB balls, group A, were tested using reasonably low spin rates, about 1800. The other, group B, had variable spin rates, ranging from 2100 to 3300. The results of their study were published in an article titled  How Far Did That Fly Ball Travel (Redux)? on Baseball Prospectus, although it can also be found here. I encourage you to read the piece, but today I want to focus on the MLB-A and MiLB groups.

Measured Ball Distance and Spin
Ball Lot Distance (S. D.) Spin (S. D.)
MLB-A 390 (8) 1806 (58)
MiLB 362 (8) 1583 (49)
SOURCE: http://baseball.physics.illinois.edu/FlyBallDistance.pdf

The major league ball traveled 28 feet further than the minor league ball. Albeit with a higher spin rate. Presumably, the higher spin rate should translate to increased distance, but it is difficult to imagine that a difference of 200 rpm could bridge a gap of 28 feet. More on this in a moment. Read the rest of this entry »

Manager Influence on Stolen Bases

Earlier this month, I asked our readers for any aspects of the fantasy game which are missing. Okra stepped up and said:

“I feel like we still do a poor job of predicting stole bases. I think we could better utilize the new Sprint Speed data and speed scores to predict SBs. Taking it one step further would be to try and quantify each managers propensity for SB attempts.”

This statement is 100% true. We really don’t know which measurable factors fantasy owners should focus on when looking for stolen base breakouts. I’ve gone ahead and dived into the topic of just the manager influence with positive results.

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The One About The Terrible Tweet – Plus Easy Solutions

We had some good-natured fun on twitter yesterday taking shots at CBS Sports’ Chris Towers. He drew the bullseye on his back when he tweeted:

The obvious implication: weekly leagues are good. As somebody who writes columns named The Daily Grind, Streaming Wars, and Streaming Away, this left a sour, chalky taste in my mouth. I can actually feel the grit between my teeth, and I’m out of floss.

I generally view weekly formats as the refuge of Neanderthal football fans who need a fantasy fix during the warm weather months but can’t handle actual fantasy baseball. However, now is probably a good time to leave a friendly, politically correct preface to this post. Sporer warned me (actually, he warned twitter person Yancy Eaton) about high horses so I’ll leave mine at the stable.

Now I’m not sure which idiom to use, I got distracted by googling high horses. How about the one with the folks stroking… things … differently. Yeah, let’s use that one. It’s super cool that there are a billion ways to play fantasy baseball. Some of my favorite formats are unusual. No need to shame somebody if their preferences are different from you own. At least not too much.

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Additional Fun With Brls/TFB Rate

On Tuesday, I unveiled the latest version of my xHR/FB rate, and introduced a new metric that replaced the Brls/BBE equation component. Technically it’s new, but it’s not unfamiliar, as I simply swapped out the BBE denominator for true fly balls, which is just the fly ball total found here, minus pop-ups (IFFB). Yesterday, I dove deeper into the new Brls/TFB metric, sharing some data on my player population and then listing and discussing some names affected by the switch. Today I will continue on that Brls/TFB course with more fun stuff.

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Getting to Know Barrels Per True Fly Ball Rate (Brls/True FB)

Since it was first introduced about a year and a half ago and published on the Statcast Leaderboard, Barrels quickly became one of my favorite metrics. Combining exit velocity with launch angle made it the perfect statistic to reference when investigating a hitter’s power potential. Since we like ratios better than counting stats for projection purposes, Barrels per Batted Ball Event (Brls/BBE) was my metric of choice. But as informative as it remains, I discovered that it actually wasn’t the best ratio when it came to forecasting HR/FB rates.

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A Well-Rested Marco Estrada

For the first seven years of his MLB career, Marco Estrada was treated like a swingman. But after he earned some MVP votes in 2015 and made the All-Star team in 2016, Estrada entered last season as an entrenched member of the Blue Jays’ rotation and fantasy-relevant starter. Then it all fell apart. He finished last season 4th-worst of 58 qualified starters with a 4.98 ERA. Sabermetrically-minded analysts like Paul Sporer had entered the year with concerns that Estrada had outperformed his peripherals in the 2015-16 seasons, and his reversal from FIP overachiever to FIP underachiever looked like a confirmation.

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Brad Johnson Baseball Chat 1/16/2018

Here’s today’s chat transcript!

Brad Johnson: Hey folks, I received SO many questions already so I definitely won’t get to all of them. If you asked a bunch, I’m likely to only answer the one that most interests me. Let’s get started.

Overpaying: How much would you be willing to give up for Shohei Ohtani if you can win this year? 2 Top 10 prospects? 3 Top 20?

Brad Johnson: That’s so context dependent. In a 20 team dynasty, you can trade one top prospect (Acuna) for something like Paul Goldschmidt and Corey Kluber

Brad Johnson: In a 10 team format, prospects are super fungible.

Brad Johnson: That said, Ohtani is just an older top prospect. I wouldn’t pay more than one top 10 guy and some sweetener.

Biscuit: Seems like Berrios is a good bet to outperform his FG projections, no?

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Winter Moves Update: Pirates Re-Tooling, Curtis Goes North

We’re finally starting to see the market pick back up and as we reach mid-January, we should expect a steady stream of moves from here until camps starting opening up. Even with this bevy of moves, the big ones are still trades as opposed to big free agents finding new teams. The Pirates have firmly declared their future by dealing two stars and the Giants get another aging superstar.

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The Screw Cancer League Needs Your Help

Years ago, in response to his own battle with the disease, Dave Cameron founded the Screw Cancer League, an ottoneu FGpts league designed to raise money for cancer-related charities. Per Cameron, the league has successfully raised over $30,000 since its inception in 2012. Cameron (and a few others) have bowed out due to new responsibilities. It’s considered gauche (fireable) for a MLB employee to play fantasy baseball.

Today, I’d like to briefly ask for your help in two ways. With our fearless leader gone, it’s time to form Screw Cancer 2.0.

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