Author Archive

Preparing for a New League Type

It’s been a wild week in the Bell household! My wife and I welcomed our third child into the world last Friday… A healthy baby boy to go along with our two lovely daughters. On top of that my oldest daughter played in her first tee-ball game. My heartstrings were pulled a lot last weekend.

With all of that going on, I also received an invitation to play in a test league for a new fantasy baseball format. You may recall that Ron Shandler created and ran a monthly game format during the 2015 season. The game was intended to be a middle ground between the ultra-fast, yet time consuming, DFS format and the sluggish grind of the six-month long rotisserie game. That original incarnation of the game was closed down but league hosting site Fantrax.com is attempting to bring back a slightly different version. They set up two test leagues composed of various industry analysts (and me, somehow!) in order to garner feedback and suggestions on how to make the monthly format work.

What follows is an outline of the rules, the participants, and the strategy I used in selected my roster. After I share my process, I’d love your feedback and thoughts on what you would have done differently. Read the rest of this entry »


How Your Biggest Strength Could Be Hurting You

What is your strength when it comes to fantasy baseball?

Is it trading? Draft preparation and execution? In-season management? Identifying likely hitter busts? Or spotting that diamond in the rough pitcher? A lot of us seem to believe we’re adept at identifying those pitchers. Does that describe you? I’ll come back to this later.

You likely have a strength. And you should know what it is. You want to be able to exploit this strength as an advantage.

Assuming you are aware of your “edge”, let’s take a closer look at how it’s very possible you’re use of that strength might actually be putting you at a disadvantage. Read the rest of this entry »


A Simple Tool for Managing Multiple Fantasy Rosters

Raise your hand if any of these statements are true.

  1. You have a hard time remembering all the players on your various fantasy teams.
  2. You remember the players, but you have a hard time remembering exactly which team the players are on.
  3. You get alerts that one of your players is out of the lineup and you need a quick way to find all the teams that player is on to swap him out.
  4. You have more than four fantasy teams (… but maybe not this many).
  5. You like to look at more than the base stats provided to you about each player on your league hosting site (R, HR, RBI, W, and SV are nice but you want K%, OPS, FIP, etc.)
  6. You would like an easier way to research your own players on various sites like Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, and Baseball Savant (the official MLB version!).

I have a poor understanding of the “fantasy baseball demographics” of our readership, but hopefully the majority of Fangraphs readers can relate to at least one of the issues above. Many believe that duct tape fixes all problems. I believe they’re wrong and that spreadsheets are the superior panacea.

I’ve been working on a prototype spreadsheet that will help keep track of all the players on your fantasy teams, provide easy access to all of your league sites, free agent listings, and standings pages, help you easily determine what teams a specific player is on, and will also let you easily research players on Fangraphs, see pitch velocities and usage mixes at Brooks Baseball, and see exit velocity data at Baseball Savant. Read the rest of this entry »


Fantasy Baseball Tips from the Worst Team in the NBA???

Bear with me for a bit as I venture down an unusual path for Rotographs.

I’m not much of an NBA fan. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve pretty much devoted my fandom to Major League Baseball, the NFL, and college football & basketball. I’ve watched about 10 minutes of my hometown Pistons this year. A couple weeks ago I caught a late night Warriors game so I could have the Steph Curry experience (nope, didn’t even tune in for #73).

Despite the NBA not being on my radar, about a week and a half ago I kept seeing mentions about the “Hinkie retirement letter” in my Twitter feed. A lot of them. As soon as I determined that “Hinkie” was Sam Hinkie, General Manager for the Philadelphia 76ers, I said to myself, “Don’t care, moving on now.”

Then the next night, as I was walking around the house getting my Fitbit steps in (#dadlife), I saw this tweet from Jonathan Bales:

If you’re not much of a DFS player, you may not know Bales. He’s the author of the DFS series “Fantasy Football for Smart People” and “Fantasy Baseball for Smart People” and has become quite well known for all of his work in the DFS arena.

You don’t have to be a DFS player to enjoy Bales’ work (this is not a DFS article). I don’t have much time to play DFS regularly, but I love his work and thought process. So I had to go down the rabbit hole to see what he was talking about…

And it was this darn “Hinkie retirement letter” again. The greatest thing he’s ever read? Now I have to check it out. Read the rest of this entry »


Am I the Only One That Feels This Way?

Do you suffer from early season regret? Or is it just me?

I’m a value-based drafter. I don’t go into the draft with a plan. I have my values and I sit back, watch the draft unfold, and let the opportunities come to me. I’m also an accountant. I love Excel.

In other words, I’m boring.

The old guys. The boring guys. The “cool” players from two years ago or maybe even ten years ago… That’s the type of player that usually ends up on my teams. Certainly not the fun new toys. I’m told it’s the smart way to play the game. I’m stock-piling value. Increasing my chances of winning.

And I hate it.

I’m also pushing 35. So maybe I’m experiencing early onset mid-life crisis. But I’m second guessing my way of doing business. You might have seen a little bit of the second guessing here. And then I went through a 10 team AL-only draft and it really sent me into a tail spin. Take a look at what’s causing me to question my purpose in life:

Boring vs. Sexy
My Boring Team Price Paid My Value That Guy’s Sexy Team Price Paid My Value
Masahiro Tanaka $17.00 $18.11 Marcus Stroman $23.00 $14.82
Michael Pineda $10.00 $14.09 Luis Severino $14.00 $7.71
Ian Kennedy $7.00 $9.38 Carlos Rodon $10.00 $8.03
Erasmo Ramirez $2.00 $1.13 Jose Berrios $5.00 $0.00
Tyler Skaggs $2.00 $0.00 Blake Snell $3.00 $0.00
Jimmy Rollins $1.00 $1.00 A.J. Reed $3.00 $0.00
Nori Aoki $1.00 $11.45 Jackie Bradley Jr. $3.00 $8.12
Adam Lind $2.00 $6.20 C.J. Cron $3.00 $5.82
Josh Hamilton $1.00 $0.00 Jurickson Profar $1.00 $0.00
Total $43.00 $61.36 Total $65.00 $44.50

Read the rest of this entry »


Thinking Through the $38 Yankees Bullpen

Author’s Note: The article you see below was completed before Andrew Miller was injured by a comebacker on Wednesday. I believe the thought process and information below is still relevant and useful, even in light of this injury.

I love this time of year. Sure it’s fun to be doing my own draft prep. But a much underrated part of draft season is all the talk by others in the industry about their own processes. If you’re trying to learn about other strategies and improve at this game, the expert draft season is a treasure trove of goodies. A lot of the strategy and thought provoking discussions will dry up as we get further away from March.

I gobble up the draft recap articles and podcasts that come out of the LABR and Tout drafts because I’m such a junkie for the strategies and decision making processes others use.

And there were some interesting ones this year. Ron Shandler took his new BABS approach to Tout Wars. Steve Moyer attempted the Labadini plan. And there’s now a Tout Wars head-to-head draft with some interesting rules that will lead to interesting strategies (as Jeff Zimmerman wrote about on Rotographs (free!), Rotographs again (free!), and Rotowire ($$)).

YANKEE_BULLPENBut the one outcome I want to discuss wasn’t so much an overall strategy as it was a specific plan or series of decisions. Chris Liss, of Rotowire, drafted Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Dellin Betances for a combined $38 in the AL Tout Wars draft (click here to see the entire results of all the Tout leagues).

Was this a good move? Or not? Read the rest of this entry »


A Diatribe and Confessions Regarding Player Valuations

I must be getting old. Or maybe I’m just learning. But I have a confession to make. I’m starting to change my line of thinking as it relates to fantasy baseball player valuations and team construction.

I’ve been obsessed with the process of finding projections, calculating dollar values, and relying almost exclusively on those inputs to guide my draft process. To make matters worse, after already having those thoughts entrenched in my brain, I then read Larry Schechter’s book, Winning Fantasy Baseball.

My process and beliefs sounded a heck of a lot like the ones Larry uses. And he’s arguably the greatest rotisserie player of all time. “All these chumps not calculating player dollar values out to the penny are doing it wrong“, I thought.

Well, I’m starting to soften on that stance. And here’s why… Read the rest of this entry »


Tanner Bell’s 10 Bold Predictions for 2016

I present to you my ten bold predictions for this upcoming season. I’ve placed these items in order of increasing boldness to give you some sense of how likely I think these things are to occur, in hopes that they’re more actionable. The items toward the top of the list are more likely to happen but perhaps not as bold… But I get pretty far out there by the end.

10. Gerardo Parra finishes the year as a top 25 OF. I feel as though this is cheating. Not bold enough. After all, he finished as the 3oth best OF last year (by my calculations). And yet, he’s being drafted as the 53rd OF this season. The issue here may be the projected platoon role he’s in. But is Ryan Raburn really going to take a lot of playing time from him? And with the possibility of Carlos Gonzalez being traded, there are other paths to a full-time role.

In the days of declining batting averages and diminishing stolen bases, a simple 12 HR, 12 SB, and .290 season (his Steamer projection) really adds up in value. Not to mention the move to Colorado offers hope for even more offense. It seems like Parra is being drafted as the former utility outfielder he was with Arizona. He wasn’t sexy. Nobody wanted him. Hopefully putting him in the top 25 crosses the bold threshold.

9. Jose Altuve finishes the year as a top five hitter. Is that bold? I’m not sure. He finished last year as the 13th highest earning hitter and is being drafted as the tenth hitter heading into 2016. Projecting him to outproduce all of Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton, Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, and Carlos Correa to reach the top five does feel bold-ish. One of my favorite facts about Altuve is that he’s still just 25 years old. I suspect that many believe him to be older than he is because he’s been around for nearly four and a half MLB seasons. Why can’t he have a little more growth in him? Read the rest of this entry »


How to Add Player Page Links to Your Draft Spreadsheet

A couple weeks back I wrote my first Excel-focused piece here at Rotographs. I was testing the water to see how it would go over and the results were pretty unanimous… More Excel please!

So I’m back today with a very practical tip to help you during the draft or while you’re conducting player research. In the instructions that follow I will show you how to add clickable player page hyperlinks to your draft spreadsheet.

Running out of time on the draft clock? Want to look up Dexter Fowler’s walk rate? Or Chris Davis’ home run per fly ball rate for 2015? You’ll quickly be able to get to any player’s Fangraphs profile page after adding this to your spreadsheet.

ClickableLink Read the rest of this entry »


How Does Batting Order Affect Stolen Bases?

A couple weeks back I provided some (hopefully) useful tables demonstrating how R and RBI are affected by the team’s overall run scoring projection and where the hitter is positioned in the batting order.

At the time I assumed that a similar analysis for stolen bases would be unnecessary. I knew that runs and RBI are largely affected by team context and batting order, but had a feeling that stolen bases were simply a function of player skill. Maybe with a small hint of lineup effect.

Thankfully, our very own Birchwood Brothers questioned that assumption and asked if I had come across any similar research for stolen bases. So here I am to present those findings. Does a player’s position in the batting order affect stolen base frequency? Read the rest of this entry »