• Roto Riteup
    The most roto-relevant news of the previous day, recapped in a concise format for your morning coffee.
  • Bullpen Report
    Detailed daily updates and charts on every bullpen in the Major Leagues to help you manage your saves and holds.
  • Prospect Coverage
    Our prospect team mines the minors for top prospects and useful pieces alike.
  • MASH Report
    Award-winning in-depth injury report with analysis from Jeff Zimmerman.
  • The Sleeper and The Bust Podcast
    Eno Sarris, Paul Sporer, and Jason Collette lead the RotoGraphs staff in a regular fantasy podcast.
  • Daily Fantasy Strategy
    The RotoGraphs team discusses daily fantasy strategy and then makes picks for the day.
  • Ottoneu Strategy
    Strategy for the year-round FanGraphs Fantasy game.
  • Top 50 Fantasy Prospects
    Marc Hulet adjusts (and updates) his prospect list for fantasy purposes.
  • Field of Streams
    A contest to see who can make the better picks: streaming pitcher and hitter choices for every day of the season in a podcast hosted by Dylan Higgins and Matthew Dewoskin.
C  -  1B  -  2B  -  SS  -  3B  -  OF  -  SP  -  RP

Three Super Early Spring Training Value Changes

We sometimes assume things based on a very small piece of information. Over the stagnant winter months, that assumption can crystallize into a certainty. This guy will break out. That guy will play every day. Then, Spring Training rolls around. The whims of managers – and injuries, mostly injuries – quickly lay waste to months of fantasy baseball dogma. No religion experiences as much upheaval as baseball.

Already, a few potential sleepers are seeing their value change.

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Utilizing Changes in Pitch Mix

Changing a pitcher’s pitch mix seems to be the newest path to success. Having a pitcher utilize his two to four best pitches can help him focus his arsenal for peak results. Finding these pitchers can be a huge advantage and the great and wonderful Eno Sarris used the original work to find Carlos Carrasco. I’m going to step an owner through the procedure using a few examples from the news so they can find their own diamond in the rough.

The basic idea behind changing a pitcher’s pitch mix is to have them throw as many effective pitches as possible. The original studies focused on above-average pitches. This is a simple method and one I use when examining a pitcher. The pitcher’s pitch results can be found by going to their page at FanGraphs, clicking o the Splits tab, then the Pitch Type Splits tab (example).

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Robert Stephenson’s Slider, and the Paradigm Shift in Motion

Normally I don’t write about bad players. It’s more of a truism than anything: writers like to analyze the breakout or peak-performance potential of top prospects or, alternatively, red flags associated with the game’s premier talents. Rarely do we write about objectively bad players.

Through 120 Major League innings (and change), Robert Stephenson has been an objectively bad starting pitcher, having compiled a 5.10 ERA, an anemic 1.63 strikeout-to-walk ratio (K/BB), and 0.1 WAR. A former 1st-round pick and a consensus top-100 prospect for four consecutive years, Stephenson quickly fell from grace after a catastrophic small-sample debut in 2016. Entering his age-25 season, though, he still has plenty of time to turn things around.

That’s the beauty of baseball: an objectively bad player can become an objectively good one, sometimes overnight. 2017 was a banner year for post-hype prospects, all of whom seemed, at one point or another, destined for eternal mediocrity and former-prospect bustitude. I think Stephenson can become an objectively good pitcher, but it’ll take work.

Here’s a top-10 list, presented ordinally and without the statistic by which I’ve ordered it, of pitchers who accomplished something in 2017, from a list of hundreds of other data points:

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2018 Fantasy Impact: Rookie Outfielders

As the infancy stage of the 2018 season begins, rookie outfielders from across the league are reporting to camp with an eye to having a major impact on the 2018 season. Some of those hopes will come true, while others will stumble and face a frustrating campaign. Over the next week, we’ll take a look at the Top 10 rookie outfielders that this author feels have the best chance at impacting both their teams and the game in 2018.

*Shohei Ohtani was not considered a rookie given his professional experience in Japan

Ronald Acuna, CF, Braves: The path to playing time is always an important piece when discussing potential rookie impact. With Acuna, that is not an issue with the current crop of outfielders that the Braves 40-man roster possesses. Looking at the Braves depth chart at FanGraphs, only Ender Inciarte projects to be more than a one-win player, and the left-field picture is a giant suck hole. Now, the club may choose to delay Acuna’s arbitration eligibility by sending him down to the minors for a few weeks to begin the year (especially since they’re not going to challenge for a playoff spot) but it’s pretty clear that he fits prominently into the picture for the coming year. It’s possible, though, that he could struggle early like 2017 rookie shortstop Dansby Swanson. Despite his massive ceiling (20+ homers, 30+ steals), Acuna also showed some contact issues in 2017 and his impressive batting line was aided by a BABIP of .400. He might very well have the most long-term success of any of the 2018 rookie outfielders but I foresee solid but unspectacular numbers for the coming season in Atlanta.

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2018 LABR Mixed Draft Recap

The introductory section below is going to be similar to previous LABR recaps since little has changed and there’s no sense in rewording things.

The clearest sign of a new baseball season is the annual super early LABR Mixed draft. Last Tuesday, 15 of us fantasy nerds virtually gathered to speculate where the swath of still-free agents will sign and hope our early picks don’t suffer spring training injuries. Though I’m certainly not a fan of February drafts, at least it provides me the needed motivation to finish my first run of Pod Projections that drive my player values. Without the forecasts and valuation spreadsheet, I’d be drafting blind, and that’s no blueprint for a Yoo-hoo shower.

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Largest Changes in NFBC ADP

Since NFBC ADP (average draft position) data has been available here at FanGraphs, I’ve kept the weekly values. Here are some biggest ADP movers over the past three weeks who started or ended up in the top-250 picks.

A note to remember is that a move at the top is more important in the steep section of the talent curve instead of later with the talent levels off.

Justin Verlander +2 (37th to 40th)
Zack Greinke +2 (44th to 46th)
Robbie Ray +3 (44th to 47th)
Yu Darvish +2 (50th to 52nd)

The second-tier starting pitchers are dropping in ADP. This drop is not surprising as my podcast mate, Rob Silver has noticed this spending trend away from starters in previous seasons.

I don’t see either of these pitchers as dropping in value, just the overall hitter-pitcher mix.

Alex Bregman -2 (34th to 32nd)

Owners are liking Bregman more and more. I think he’ll eventually be going in the second round regularly as owner have a “fear of missing out” with him

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Early 2B Rankings with Commentary

Continuing to make my way around the diamond, I’ve got the second base rankings today. You can find my SP and 1B rankings by clicking on those links in case you missed them the first time around.  These Average Draft Positions come from NFBC data as of 2/1. Each colored bar represents the start of a new tier.

Let me know how you’re attacking 2B in the comments below. Ideally I’d like to get in that 2nd tier for my primary 2B, but I’m OK if I have to dip into the 3rd or 4th tiers should I miss out on a Dozier or Odor and then I wait on MI and leverage the later tiers for that (Panik, Walker, Miller, etc…).

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Pitcher Spotlight: Taking A Chance On Kyle Gibson’s Slider

There are times I write about pitchers that I truly believe in. The ones that seem destined to break through the filter of mediocrity and into the spotlight of the masses. Kyle Gibson is not one of these pitchers.

But he did do something in 2017 that I think you should know about. It could be a gamechanger, it could be nothing, but it was at least something, and let’s be honest, that’s a lot more than we expected when talking about career 4.70 ERA and 16.0% strikeout rate Kyle Gibson.

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2018 Ottoneu FGPts Rankings- 2B/SS

Wednesday we kicked off our ottoneu FanGraphs points player rankings with C/1B/3B, and today I’m back with 2B/SS. This year the rankings will include values from myself, Trey Baughn, and the default values from the FanGraphs Auction Calculator using the ottoneu FanGraphs points preset (Steamer projections). We are presenting our individual dollar values, plus the weighted average of all three rankings (2:2:1 weighting with the Auction Calc weighted less). In addition, the tables below include ottoneu eligibility (5 games started/10 games played in the prior year). Players are ranked only at their most valuable position, and the hierarchy we are using is C/SS/2B/3B/OF/1B (with 3B and OF being a coin toss in terms of replacement level, we chose to include 3B/OF eligibles at 3B).

Prior Rankings: C/1B/3B

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Three Prospect Patterns

In redraft and shallow keeper formats, I tend to avoid most prospects. The bust rate is brutal. However, deeper dynasty leagues force everybody to play in the prospect pool. After five years of ottoneu and other deep formats, I’ve started to notice some things.

When a person does something long enough, they start to see patterns. Sometimes these trends contain meaningful information. In other cases, they’re merely confusing or outright misleading. A lot of the things we think we know about fantasy baseball are tied to these false flag patterns.

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