2015’s starter roulette round up

Continuing on to squeeze as much use..full?less? information from the Baseball Reference’s Play Index I wanted to answer this question. If you did have some choices from the free agent pool for the start you need to pick up, because you planned poorly for the bad luck that was inevitable, which match-up should you choose?

Great question! 2015 offered a nice spread of teams. If the pitcher you looked at picking up was facing off versus the Toronto Blue Jays, don’t!

17.16, All 162 starts taken against the Blue Jays line up last year averaged out to be poopy day. There is so many negative starts here. They include some names too. Poor Chris Tillman was basically a tee for the Blue Jays going negative four times. Rick Porcello, Garrett Richards, Michael Pineda, JA Happy, Taijuan Walker among a couple dozen others all had really bad days versus this lineup.

There were eleven teams though that gave opposing pitchers easy days. If you were looking for a pitcher who was facing off the Phillies or Padres? That was likely a better outcome. 28.8 and 28.2 respectively, were the average point totals for starts against those line ups.

White Sox, Brewers, Twins and Marlins all averaged 27 points per start against, and the Angels, Braves, Rays, Pirates and Cardinals round out the better than average start against group.

The most surprising team on this list for me was the Mariners coming in at 22.12 points per start against. Looking at their list a bit delivers some serious outliers. Jeremy Guthrie’s -51 makes an appearance here. Ross Detwiler, Collin McHugh, Eddie Butler, Jesse Chavez and Chris Tillman all went for more than negative 20 against the Mariners last year.

Last year you wanted to avoid the Jays of course, but also the Red Sox, Rangers, Yankees, Rockies (mostly in Coors), Mariners, Dodgers, Nationals (unless Harper was out), and Indians.

Looking ahead to next year, some of those lineups project to be better or worse, but there might be some data worth considering early on if you need a week two or three emergency start.

Avoid Joey Bautista and friends.

Average Points Per Start Vs Each Team

TOR 17.16
BOS 20.72
TEX 21.29
NYY 21.37
COL 21.97
SEA 22.12
LAD 22.25
WSN 22.51
CLE 22.88
HOU 23.39
BAL 23.52
SFG 23.60
DET 23.80
OAK 23.85
CHC 23.87
NYM 23.89
ARI 23.96
CIN 24.66
KCR 24.67
STL 25.39
PIT 25.69
TBR 25.73
ATL 26.55
LAA 26.56
CHW 27.05
MIL 27.25
MIN 27.39
MIA 27.49
SDP 28.20
PHI 28.80

Start me up, please get a no-no

The regular season is so close. The taste of baseball that counts is palatable. In the time between, because we are not there yet, let us look at starts from 2015 once again.

Using Baseball Reference’s Play Index¬†I was able to grab all 4,858 starts from 2015. This includes each game line from each starting pitcher who started each individual game. ¬†Before we dig deep into this data lets answer the easy questions as it relates to our scoring…

Average Start in 2015: 24.25 points
Median Start in 2015: 25.50 points
Mode Start in 2015: 35.50 points

660 starts, or 13.58% of the starts last year, ended up being negative points for the day. Ouch. Of those awful starts, the worst five¬†were led by everyone’s favorite Jeremy Guthrie (pictured above, what the hell is wrong with his elbow):

May 25 – Jeremy Guthrie -75 points vs Yankees
May 30 – Shane Greene -66 points vs Angels
July 7 – Chad Bettis -54.5 points vs Angels
August 23 – Matt Wisler -53 points vs Cubs
August 15 – Felix Hernandez -52 points vs Red Sox

One of those is not like the others. Ouch. Felix actually had two starts that were absolutely soul crushing. But, on the other side of the table. Max Scherzer was king.

October 3 – Max Scherzer 101.5 points vs Mets
June 14 – Max Scherzer 94 points vs Brewers
May 13 – Corey Kluber 90.5 points vs Cardinals
September 25 – Carlos Carrasco 89 points vs Royals
August 30 – Jake Arrieta 88.5 points vs Dodgers

Wow! I think it should come as little surprise that two of the top five, and several of the best starts overall, came in September. Those September call-ups can make a difference compared to the rest of the season.

However, September call-ups do go both ways. As we can see below, the average points per start goes way down in September.

Average PPS by Month

April 24.25
May 24.97
June 25.47
July 25.04
August 23.25
September 22.29

Shorter outings, extra pitchers sitting in the bullpen, rookies getting a shot, injuries taking a toll, pitch counts… Everything could be counting into that low September number. It was most surprising to me that August was trending downwards¬†so dramatically. It really catches up to September quickly.

Diving a bit deeper into those monthly numbers. You see a similar trend in innings pitched per start.

April 5.73 IP
May 5.94 IP
June 5.96 IP
July 5.90 IP
August 5.80 IP
September 5.55 IP

Well, that is interesting. Starts in April are shorter than August by some small fraction, but April starts are good for a point more per start over starts in August. Obviously pitcher quality plays a huge role. Pitching is not a healthy thing to do and by August if the pitcher was going to break down, he is already broken by now. You can see it there.

In this kind of fantasy baseball league, starts are a very important commodity. I feel like the whole point of this post is to drive home how valuable those 6th, 7th and 8th starters on your roster are. Week 1, for most teams, you may not even use them at all. Barring some kind of amazing luck, you can see here that come August and early September when playoff races are finishing and the playoffs are starting, pitching gets thinner quickly.

You might just start to find comfort in having those extra guys sitting around and doing nothing in April, because you can see that the future is dark and full of terror.

You Won’t Believe Who’s #6 On This Cool Spring Breeze List of Hot Sizzling Pitchers

A few days ago we focused on hitters that have been known to get off to a hot start, and today we will focus on pitchers that we have come to rely on in April, in each of the past three MLB seasons.

topAprilpitchers

Just like with the bats, there is an arm (or two) in this list that really doesn’t belong.

Let’s start with Anibal Sanchez – prior to the start of the 2013 season, the Tigers handed him $80 mil. ¬†Looking at this list of pitchers, seems like that was a great signing. ¬†However, the first number of his ERA has increased in each of his three full seasons with Detroit, up to 4.99 last year.

That being said, we are only worried about April here.  In 2013 he won three of his five starts and finished with an ERA of 1.34, 1.04 WHIP and a 41:9 K:BB ratio across 33.2 iP.  That accounted for 47% of his April points scored over the last three years.

Only Madison Bumgarner (48% ’13) and Johnny Cueto (48% ’14) had one year (month) be such a factor in them making this list.

The other pitcher that “doesn’t belong” on this list is Jeff Samardzija.

Bias aside, he is a good example of why counting wins in fantasy baseball doesn’t really make sense. ¬†In April of 2014, Samardzija went 0-3 despite owning a 1.98 ERA across six starts (41 ip). ¬†Actually, he is just 2-9 in early baseball.

Sonny Gray, Justin Verlander, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Aaron Harang each have two, 200 point Aprils in the last three years, but each had one year that prevented them for eclipsing 500 points.

2013
Remember when Yu Darvish was around striking out 13.7 batters per nine innings in April of 2013?

2014

Hey look, Adam Wainwright was the best pitcher in April for back to back years!

After just one pitcher reach 50 K in April of 2013, the MLB was falling in love with  Jose Fernandez, before Tommy John took him away, and saw Max Scherzer and Johnny Cueto have career years.

Stephen Strasburg also punched out 50 batters in April, but only lasted 34 innings – averaging less than six inning per start.

How did Nathan Eovaldi sneak in there?  The only other month he had an ERA below 4.00 was August, and still finished with an ERA over 5.00 after the All-Star Break.

2015

No pitchers struck out 50 batters last year in April, and only Clayton Kershaw and James Shields even struck out 40 batters Рand neither made this list.  Kershaw had an ERA nearing 4.00.  Both pitchers only lasted 31 innings over five starts.

Remember that start to the season Aaron Harang had last year?  He finished April with a WHIP under 1.00, and over 3.5 K/BB.

Dallas Keuchel, Sonny Gray, Chris Archer and Gerrit Cole all gave fantasy baseball a great year and are going to have live up to HIGH expectations in 2016.

Swinging a Hot Stick in April

There is nothing better than drafting a player who gets off to a hot start, like Justin Upton hitting 12 home runs in April of 2013. ¬†However, the MLB season is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s important to remember that sometimes you need to know when sell a player at peak value. ¬†But that is different discussion for another day. ¬†Let’s focus in on the¬†players that have dominated the first month of the season over the last three years.

You Won’t Believe Who is #6 On This Cool Spring Breeze List of Hot Sizzling Pitchers

Since 2013, we have seen a decline in players scoring 150 points in April – from 53 down to just 23 last year.

quickstart

Anthony Rizzo is the only other player to score 150 points in each of the last three Aprils, but has not totaled 500 points.  Jose Altuve and Chris Davis have score more points than Rizzo, but each had a season where they failed to score 150 points.

There is one name on that list that jumps out in a group of future Hall of Famers – Jed Lowrie.

He got off to a hot start in 2013, with 14 XBH in the month of April. Lowrie had another quick start in 2014, with eight doubles and two home runs, drawing 20 walks, In 2015, Jed hit .300 with four doubles and four home runs.  His 12 walks led to a .432 OBP.  Unfortunately, his season lasted just 69 games due to injury and the Astros promoted this kid named Carlos Correa.

Over the past three seasons, Lowrie has a triple slash of .313/.425/.508 with 23 doubles and nine home runs.

Now a member of the Athletics, Lowrie is slated to bat second and play 2B according to RosterResource.com.

2014

Troy Tulowitzki had the greatest April in recent memory in 2014, totaling 262.3 fantasy points.  With seven home runs that month, Tulo hit .381 with nine doubles and a triple (.762 SLG) while drawing 21 walks, leading to a .495 OBP.

2013

In 2013, Justin Upton and Chris Davis each scored over 250 points.  Upton hit 12 home runs that month, despite striking out 30 times.  He only hit 14 more HRs that year, eight in August.  Davis totaled 17 XBH in April of 2013,  He followed up nine home runs in April with 10 in May and 12 in June en route to 37 home runs before the MLB All-Star Game.

Last season saw the fewest number of player score 150 points in April.

2015

 

Bryce vs Max part duex

Yesterday Bryce Harper was traded for Max Scherzer. Andrew and I both gave our two cents about the trade. While neither of us particularly loved the trade for various reasons. I believe we both came to the conclusion that they both felt the need to make the trade to move their post-draft depth and switch it into post-draft weaknesses.

For this post I want to ignore that context. Let’s look at Bryce Harper versus Max Scherzer. Last year in 2015, Bryce scored 1,407.4 fantasy points and Max scored 1,372.5 fantasy points.¬†Just a bit over a point a week difference. You know as well as I know, that not all weeks are treated equal.

So I built these two graphs comparing the 22-fantasy week season, comparing how each player did in those seven days stretches. Sometimes Max gets two starts in a week, sometimes he does not. Clearly sometimes Bryce plays 7 days in a week, or less. It happens. But, from your top players on your team its safe to assume, when they are available you are going to go with them, so we can compare these two players who play different positions with some reasonable expectations.

bryce

Max

This is similar to the charts I had a few weeks back, where I looked at Clayton Kershaw’s value because of his starts. These are a bit different as I stated. In 2015 each player recorded values in all 22 fantasy weeks. As you can see they’re quite similar.

Bryce was never awful, but they both had three weeks below average. Bryce was beyond outstanding five times to Max’s six. Really amazing.

They key to take from these two pictures. Is that basically two players were basically dead even.¬†When you remove the context of the draft, of how the teams will have to proceed with back-fill going forward, among other tiny details. Things look pretty good. Both parties seem quite content that both won the deal, and perhaps… maybe they’re both ahead.

Some thoughts about my team…

A few¬†days¬†have passed since our auction draft and I’m still not settled on how I feel about my team overall. Some things I like, some I don’t.

So I’m going to write some words and think this thing through a little. Sometimes writing helps to clarify.

You can also read Jordan’s thoughts on my team here.

As an aside: you can probably tell by now that I don’t care too much about talking about my team publicly. Some owners are tight-lipped. Personally, I don’t think sharing my thought processes gives away any competitive advantage. If I have a thought that I think becoming public does compromise some advantage then, well, I just won’t share it publicly. Simple enough.

Thought #1: I kinda wish I hadn’t won BOTH Joey Votto and Miguel Cabrera.

Coming into the auction, I hoped to get two cornerstone hitters and go from there. I did not plan for them to both play the same position.

To be clear, I love both these guys. I’m not upset that I have them. But I do wish I would’ve spent the cash — $70 went to Votto, $71 to Miggy — from one of these guys on a player from a different position.¬†Like, say, Josh Donaldson ($68), Andrew McCutchen ($69), or Jose Bautista ($62).

In a vacuum, I’ll take Miggy or Votto over all three of those guys. But given positional need and roster flexibility, I painted myself into a corner taking two top tier first basemen.

Thought #2: Alex Rodriguez is kind of an obstacle.

I don’t think $21 for A-Rod is too much. Jordan looked at some values using the FanGraphs auction calculator suggesting A-Rod is a $1 player, meaning I overpaid by $20 and cost myself significant value.¬†I think the calculator is wrong.

Zips has a .336 wOBA for A-Rod in 2016. Steamer is much cooler on him. According to Steamer, he’ll be only the 105th best hitter. Fantrax, whose projections aren’t worth much, has him as the 71st best hitter. He was the 31st highest scoring hitter a year ago in a renaissance season.

No matter how you slice it, this is not a $1 player. Truthfully, $21 probably is a few bucks too much, but that’s true of a bunch of players. David Ortiz, who is A-Rod’s mirror image in a lot of ways (age, risk, production, position eligibility), went for $30. At 40, anything can happen with A-Rod. But I feel like I’ll get good numbers from him.

The problem is, he’s a utility-only hitter. And one of Miggy or Votto is plugged into that other spot, which leaves my options slim. I tend to try to accumulate talent first and worry about lineup composition later, but in this case I wish I hadn’t.

Thought #3: Patrick Corbin and Nick Markakis are a couple of my favorite values.

I love Patrick Corbin. (You love him too, given all the inquiries I’ve had for him already.) In his only full season in 2013, he posted a 3.43 FIP. Last year, in 16 games coming back from Tommy John, he picked up right where he left off with a 3.35 FIP. Oh, and he improved his strikeout and walk rates. He got swinging strikes on his slider 24% of the time.

The risk with him is clear. He could get hurt again,¬†the track record is short, and he could be on an innings cap in 2016. I guess his home park is less than ideal too. But he’s also just 26 and has posted the kind of numbers most teams will seek from their SP2 or SP3.

And for $16. Marcus Stroman, who I like a lot, went for twice as much. I’ll take my $16 Corbin over a $41 Michael Wacha or $30 Masahiro Tanaka, for example.¬†Off-season fantasy darling Raisel Iglesias, who I also like a lot, went for $29. Corbin struck out about a batter and a half less per nine, but also walked fewer and posted better FIP, xFIP, and HR/9 despite a¬†BABIP that was higher by .041. I’m not saying Iglesias won’t be superior (because “upside!” or whatever). But $13 better? All I’m saying is I like this particular player at his particular price.

Markakis, meanwhile, is just an old favorite of mine from his time with the Orioles. Four bucks for a career .291/.359/.429 hitter makes me happy.

Of course, the “upside” here is nil and the power numbers last year were sobering. He hit three home runs all year with a .080 ISO. But in 2013, he hit 10 homers with a slightly better .085 ISO. He had a 2.1% HR/FB rate a year ago. Of players with 500 or more plate appearances, only noodle bats Alcides Escobar, Ben Revere, and Angel Pagan got less of their fly balls into the seats. Escobar went for $3 and Revere for $6, for whatever that’s worth. I don’t think getting back to double digit bombs is unrealistic — I think it’s likely, in fact — and if he does that (and frankly, even if he doesn’t) he will be a very solid starting outfielder at practically no cost.

Thought #4: I left too much money on the table.

I came in $10 short of our $500 auction budget¬†due to trades,¬†then proceeded to leave $21 in my pocket at draft’s end. That was very stupid.

Here’s what happened: after starting slowly, I quickly piled up some big dollar players. My first three players cost me $70, $71, and $71. Then I added a $21 A-Rod and $60 Johnny Cueto. My next two players, Sonny Gray and Tyson Ross, were had for $96 total. That was my setup through the first 98¬†nominees.

From there, I hybernated. I eventually grabbed Martin Prado ($4) at the 179th nomination spot. Going 81 spots and almost two hours without adding a player is a long time. The wait was deliberate. My cash was much lower than most everyone else’s, so I decided unless a player I really coveted came up, I’d sit back and let other teams spend, hopefully opening some holes for me later.

It worked, but I failed to hit those holes.

I sometimes undervalue hitters and/or overvalue my own ability to squeeze points out of lesser hitters. That cost me. I just waited and waited, and eventually the players worth spending on ran out and I was left with $21. I feel a lot better about my offense today if I’ve got an Alex Gordon ($17) or Matt Kemp ($11) to plug in. Or I could have, you know, taken that extra $21 plus the $21 spent on A-Rod and allocated it better. That’s enough to have bought a Starling Marte, Robinson Cano, Yasiel Puig, or JD Martinez, just to rattle off a few.

Thought #5: I should’ve kept pushing for Max Scherzer.

This sort of rolls into #1 and #4.

I bid Scherzer up to $85, then he went to Ferns¬†for $86. There’s no telling how high the bidding might have gone if I’d kept pushing, but I wish I’d found out. If I land Scherzer, I almost definitely don’t get both Miggy and Votto.

I’m also not totally comfortable with Carlos Carrasco ($71) as my SP1, though I don’t mind his price. In other words, getting Scherzer would’ve likely took me out of the market for one of the hitters, but not Carrasco. Penciling him in as my SP2 behind Mad Max would’ve been fun.

Thought #6: Speaking of Carlos Carrasco

Someone commented in the auction room after Carrasco went off the board that the winning bid¬†was influenced by “hype.” To which I say: when a guy finishes as the 17th highest scorer on only 30 starts, the ninth best FIP, the fourth best xFIP, and the fifth best K/9 rate,¬†the hype has some merit behind it. And he did all that with a high, unfortunate BABIP and elevated HR/FB rate.

I get the risks here. He’s gone over 100 innings in his big league career just thrice and has maxed out at 183.2. That’s on my radar. I won’t sleep easy knowing this. But he’s paid as a top 12-13 pitcher and all indicators are that, if healthy (a caveat that applies to every pitcher), he should produce right in that range.

Thought #7: I won’t have trouble rooting for my guys.

I don’t really believe in targeting players I “like” as in, hey, so and so is¬†fun to watch on TV, so I should do something totally irrational to get him. It’s a tiebreaker for me when choosing between similar players. But I ended up coming out of this auction with a bunch of unheralded guys that I generally like beyond just fantasy stuff. Mike Napoli ($4), Nori Aoki ($1), Denard Span ($4), and Johnny Cueto ($60). The latter isn’t “unheralded” but I wanted to mention him so that I could link to that photo.

I remember a few years ago — I think 2011, but I’m not sure — I had Aoki on my MLB The Show team. Except I had no idea he was a real player. I thought he was one of the random minor leaguers or a fictitious rookie the game created. But he was awesome in the game. He was a slap hitter kind of like Ichiro, lashing line drives all over the place. He was fast, too. In video game baseball, I attempt a million steals. As soon as I realized he actually existed, I liked him even more and have been fond of him ever since.

Thought #8: Please stay healthy, Corey Dickerson.

I didn’t actually mean to win Dickerson. I was sort of half bidding him up, half interested in him at a bargain basement price. But I accidentally clicked him for the $10 winning bid which, actually, you know, might¬†end up working out quite nicely.

This is a guy with perpetual health issues who is obviously going from a hitter’s park so favorable that calling it simply a “hitter’s park” isn’t enough. His perceived value is way down. But he’s still just 26 years old and has posted some remarkable offensive numbers. Of batters with 600+ plate appearance since the beginning of 2014, he has the 23rd best WRC+ (133). Because park factors play so vividly in how Dickerson’s viewed, I used WRC+ because it’s a park adjusted stat. wOBA (.390), which is not park adjusted, ranks him 11th in all of baseball under those same criteria.

Neither Zips or Steamer expect him to continue hitting so torridly, nor do they expect him to play a full slate of games. Maybe both are true. Maybe I’m trying to talk myself into the player. I mean, Max Kepler, who has logged a grand total of seven MLB at-bats, went for the same price. Depending on your lens, Dickerson at $10 is a bargain.

Closing thoughts…

Overall, I¬†expect this team to compete. But the path¬†will be tougher than it should’ve been, and that’s my own fault. I’m excited for the challenge.

Not that in anyone in Grinders should or does care, but I took the salaries players went for here and applied them to my team in the Dy-Nasty league you’ve heard us mention on a few podcasts, which uses pretty much identical scoring. My 25-man roster over there went for $792 total here. I’ve got another seven guys in my minors there that were auctioned off here and aren’t included in that total.

The roster I’m starting with is going to require a lot more effort and attention on my part. The margin for error is smaller. My offense is going to require patience and caffeine, because while there are quality players all over (I can’t wait until those of you who are new to this depth/scoring start seeing the types of players that become valuable), it’s a unit about as exciting as flossing your teeth.

But navigating that stuff is part of the fun, and I doubt anyone is looking at their team post-auction and seeing perfection. Everyone has work to do. I’m ready to get started.

The Best of What’s Left

We have all agreed that Fantrax projections are not very good. ¬†That being said, it’s probably pretty important to follow along with the FanGraphs Auction Calculator considering we are basing future prices off of it. ¬†So why not compare the two sites? ¬†Let’s see just how bad Fantrax projections really are!

Both sites project undrafted starting pitchers to have the most fantasy points, but only Tom Koehler and Jered Weaver are on both top five lists.

Koehler tops the Fantrax projections while he is second on FanGraphs – a difference of 66 projected fantasy points.

Ignoring the most recent Weaver injury, he ranks fourth on both lists, with a similar split in projected fantasy points at 64.

The three free agent starters that Fantrax projects to have a good year are Colby Lewis, Danny Duffy and Matt Shoemaker.  Lewis has the largest projected point differential between the sites at 341.  Shoemaker is just under 300 points at 295 while Duffy is just over 150 at 152 points.

Joe Kelly is projected by FanGraphs to be the top undrafted starting pitcher Р356 points better than Fantrax projects.  Yovani Gallardo slides in at third and both sides are within 30 points of Gallardo projection.  That differential slides Gallardo down to 9th on Fantrax.  Matt Garza is the fifth best free agent starter projected by FanGraphs and is actually slotted two spots ahead of Gallardo on Fantrax.

James McCann tops both sites as the top free agent catcher.  Clearly he is the the top target should you not feel comfortable with your depth chart or your team suffers an injury.  Fantrax also like Angels catcher Carlos Perez while FanGraphs prefers veterans A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Avila.

The recent announcement of Adam LaRoche‘s retirement will leave a hole in the middle of the White Sox lineup. ¬†Until we find out how the Sox plan on filling that hole, teams looking for a potential future 1B can turn to Ryan Howard, as both sites agree he is the one of the top three best options. ¬†Fantrax likes¬†Justin Morneau, despite not being on a MLB roster, while FanGraphs suggests Logan Morrison. ¬†Fantrax will then point you towards James Loney while FanGraphs will say give Darin Ruf a go.

It’s going to be tough to find replacements at first base moving forward, that’s for sure. ¬†Better hope your 1B minor leaguer makes the big league roster ASAP!

David Freese is the only player at the other CI position that both sites agree on.  Fantrax likes Cody Asche and Tyler Saladino while FanGraphs prefers Aaron Hill and Derek Dietrich.

Much like 1B there is so little left at 3B and I hope you drafted some depth at the position or have a minor leaguer that is near MLB-ready.

Both Johnny Giavotella and Jace Peterson make the top three 2B on both sites.  Jace Pederson jumps in between them on Fantrax while veteran Aaron Hill is the third best remaining option according to FanGraphs.

There is a general consensus at the SS position

SS Fantrax Pts FanGraphs Pts DIFF
Jose Iglesias 504.4 490.5 -13.9
Adeiny Hechavarria 494.6 440.8 -53.8
Jimmy Rollins 456.9 433.2 -23.7

Both sites agree that Austin Jackson is the top CF available but Fantrax prefers Angel Pagan after him while FanGraphs likes Leonys Martin next.  They return in agreement on Anthony Gose being the third best CF available.

Austin Jackson is RF eligible as well and is the top target there. Fantrax likes Alex Rios while Brandon Guyer is the next best thing on FanGraphs, despite a crowded OF in Tampa Bay.

I was very excited to see Adam Duvall get traded by the Giants last year as I have been tracking him for a while in the Minors and he was stuck there unless dealt. ¬†Now with the Reds, they have no reason not to play him¬†at 3B/LF a couple times a week. ¬†Dude can mash and FanGraphs thinks he can put up nearly 500 points this year! ¬†He doesn’t currently have 3B eligibility though, so he is strictly a LF/UTIL at this point.

Fantrax believes Cody Asche is 200 points better than FanGraphs and he can play LF as well as 3B. ¬†He won’t beat out Maikel Franco to be the Phillies starting 3B, but Peter Bourjos is little competition in LF.

Team by team auction draft review and rankings!

Predictive analysis is a fun exercise. The Major League Baseball regular season does not start for a few weeks. So we have some time to fill between our auction draft this past weekend and the start of countable events. The next few posts will qualitatively analyze the auction draft of each team on a team-by-team basis.

Each team will be reviewed by me, and purely on conjecture. I’m using various projection systems to rate these teams and surmise my opinions. But, the ratings are based on how I feel about the core of each team. I’m using my experience with the league setup, so comments both positive and negative should be taken with a grain of salt.

Each team will be rated on their offense, pitching and their depth. Here’s the scale from best to worst: Outstanding, Great, Very Good, Good, Alright, Not quite, Uh-oh, Whoops.

  • Outstanding¬†– Outstanding was reserved for a few special cases where almost anyone in the league would prefer this group over their own group. There’s room for failure and the group should still be great.
  • Great –¬†Great squads have good balance or at least a good strategy poured into their group, most teams would trade their group for these groups, but it is not perfect.
  • Very Good – Everything about this group is good, I just prefer it to the other good groups.
  • Good –¬†Better than average as a whole, if things go well things will be great, but there’s enough reason to see the downsides.
  • Alright – Everything about this group is good, I just prefer the other good groups.
  • Not quite – There¬†are¬†some holes here that are for concern. ¬†I could be surprised, but those holes…
  • Uh-oh –¬†Well, all is not lost! I am sure most can agree with the lack of¬†excitement about this group. Where’s the bang?
  • Whoops – I mean punting a whole group is a God damn bold strategy and I respect the hell out of you for trying it. I for one cannot wait to¬†see how it works out.

I gave ratings to each team’s Hitting, Pitching and Depth. The first two groups being more important than the third.

For each hitting group I focused on the ten hitters most likely being the everyday starter while peaking at the bench behind them all.

For each pitching group I focused on your first four starters, gave bonuses for good bullpens, and then peaked at the remaining starters available.

For the depth group I rated your team for positional flexibility and basically imagined a couple of bad injuries to your starters and how would your team flesh out. Good depth is great if you have to use it, but you probably would prefer to not break the glass.

Finally I break down in a few short sentences what has to go right for the team to be viable for the final four. Then a few short sentences of what goes wrong and you’re looking at the basement four (anyone have¬†a better name¬†for these brackets? please?).

I plan on releasing three or four teams each day as I edit them. While, things may change between now and then; the reviews will stay focused as if the draft had just occurred. For a teaser here’s how my ratings broke down:

Hitting:
(1) Outstanding
(2) Great
(2) Very Good
(4) Good
(4) Alright
(1) Not Quite
(1) Uh-oh
(1) Whoops

Pitching
(2) Outstanding
(3) Great
(2) Very Good
(2) Good
(2) Alright
(3) Not Quite
(1) Uh-oh
(1) Whoops

Depth
(0) Outstanding
(2) Great
(2) Very Good
(5) Good
(3) Alright
(3) Not Quite
(1) Uh-oh
(0) Whoops

Where was the value at?

Immediately within the first hour of the auction¬†draft it was clear that value was not easy to find.¬†Prices of players were not¬†excruciatingly high or overspent. But, these prices were high enough to ensure that there was not large values at the top either. Shrewd drafting made Saturday’s event an interesting battle of attrition as the player pool continued to shrink. As the pool shrank there was a¬†seemingly never ending pile of teams with money looming over each auction.

Immediately, it looks like the teams that left money on the table are the most hurt. 50% of the league, 8-teams spent 100% of their budget. Leaving zero dollars left on the table. Of the remaining teams:

The Foundation – $1
Beach Bum – $5
Senior Squids – $6
TBD – $10
Preseason Favorite – $10
We Talk Fantasy Sports – $14
Capital City Ironmen – $21
The Wilfred Brimley Fighting Diabeetuses – $28

In some cases that unspent auction money being left on the table is not terribly frightening. But, at the bottom of that list, I can only imagine the day after regret. Good fantasy baseball talent auctioned off in that $10-$20 range. Even if you did not need a particular player, at least that drafted player has value. These extra auction dollars left unspent, are lost. They have no value.

Moving on to the auction money that got spent. More importantly how that money got spent. We can see how efficient teams were compared to this setting of the FanGraphs Auction Calculator. Keep in mind this calculator does not factor in our dynasty format (the hidden and unknown value of opportunity cost for keeping guys), nor does it fully understand our relievers scoring. But, for this exercise, and based on the results of the draft, it was quite accurate.

value

 

What you see above is the chart of how each of the teams did. Teams with positive values, overspent according to the FanGraphs calculator and the teams with negative values found bargains. The rank is from 1 “most efficient” to 16 “least efficient”.

Now before you go and say well done and patting yourself on the back, this is removing a lot of context away from the story. I believe you are sitting in a great place if you were most efficient with value, and you spent all of your auction budget. My team The Foundation finds itself there, so take that bias for what it is worth.

If you did not spend all of your auction money and you were not efficient in how you spent the money either, well you may have some extra work to do. Maybe your projections and targets are valued differently than how FanGraphs did and if so you’re probably okay! FanGraphs and projections are¬†wrong more often than not.

Going a step further, let us take a look at everyone’s “best value”. What you should see below is a table¬†that has the FanGraphs calculator value, how much they were paid for in the auction, and then the difference.

 

ss+(2016-03-13+at+10.06.30)

The best value of the day was projections wonder-boy Wei-Yin Chen who was bought for $17, and had been projected to be worth $48. Chen’s¬†transition to the National¬†League, to the Marlins ballpark and being away from the American League East is likely positive.

It does seems like pitchers stole the value show:¬†Alex Wood, CJ Wilson, James Shields, Jeff Samardzija and Jimmy Nelson were their representative team’s best value and created over $20 in value per player. Outfielders might be the next undervalued commodity in the draft as you see Alex Gordon, Nick Markakis, Melky Cabrera, Josh Reddick and Khris Davis on the list above.

Finally, we also have a look at each team’s “worst” value. Now, I must warn you. If you’re the kind of guy who’s into the hot young star and cannot stand to see them in any negative light, please look away.

ss+(2016-03-13+at+10.03.38)

Corey Seager, Addison Russell, Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton. Phew these¬†boys cost a pretty penny to claim. Trea Turner, Noah Syndergaard, Randal Grichuk¬†and¬†Jurickson Profar were all also coveted prospects¬†on draft day. None of those guys are terribly far off in lost value, they’re all capable of being worth what they’re paid. Plus we have discussed before about the opportunity cost of getting said players. There is value in these overspends. But, how much?

Starting pitchers what say you?

Those who are new to an OttoNeu scoring league such as this are in for a real treat. Especially with our head to head rules that limit teams to seven (7) games started (GS) by a SP each week. This creates a huge opportunity cost when selecting the starts you will be using each week. So on this leap day, let’s leap into it!

Would you rather have one Clayton Kershaw or¬†three versions of James Shields? The answer isn’t so clear. James Shields is pretty good. He’s slightly above average. He’s one of my “comfortable” starters. Meaning any given week, I’ll use his start that week without much hesitation. He’s not awesome anymore, but he’s not awful either.

Kershaw is projected to go for over $100 in the auction and no matter what, based on past production he’s certainly going to go for a value. What you’re buying with Kershaw is an ability to get deep into games. The last three years of Kershaw saw him pitch into the 7th inning 73 of his 93 starts (that’s more than 78% of the time).

You’re also buying that he’s the team ace so he’s going to rarely get pulled before the 5th. Part of his job is to give his team’s bullpen a breather. In fact, Kershaw failed to get through five¬†innings just twice in the last three seasons, and one of those games was the last game of the year in 2015 where he was pitching for records.

What do those two things mean? Deep into games often leads towards higher points ceilings. Low chance of an early hook means higher points floors.

Now there’s more than a few aces out there who accomplish both of those things every five days. But Kershaw, as you know, is ridiculously good on top of just chewing up innings. He strikes guys out (points!), he doesn’t allow many walks, homers or hits (avoid negative points!), and he’s reliable.

Here’s the final tally on each of Kershaw’s 93 starts over the last 3 seasons:

kershaw

Wow. Starting pitchers are really cool, right? Well hold your pants. That’s a really good starter. Here’s what Shields over the same time looks like:

Keep in mind that before you look at the following graph, that James Shields makes 101 starts, with an average 32.5 points per start (getting 32.5 points from a start is very good!).

shields

Wow. Those are two different distributions. Keep in mind, Shields according to Steamer projections is set to be about the 30th best SP for 2016. In a 16-team league, Shields is a SP2. There’s two things to really take from this. Kershaw, about once a season, in one single start, is worth the equivalent of almost three GOOD starts. THREE!

Then on the flip side the awful starts. Kershaw has one a season. Shields has just enough that you’re probably not predicting when they happen to avoid. Those negative starts hurt your week. A lot. Bad starts don’t hurt your week so much, but they don’t make you feel good. Average starts you take and put in your hat and move on. Any good start gets your juices flowing.

It’s amazing what Kershaw could do for any team. He’s so far above the rest of the world that his value is basically “name a price and just pay it.” When Kershaw has a two start week, odds are great that you’re basically playing with a 30+ point jump at a minimum over any other two start combo that your weekly match-ups throw at you.

Consider that like an extra start, or like adding Ryan Braun‘s average for a week to your line up as a bonus. Unreal.

As you go down further in the pitcher pool, you’ll see what you’d expect: the distribution leans even more left (that’s the bad side). There’s some guys who will have a distribution that is much flatter, they’re¬†inconsistently good, awful, average.

A lot of times you can guess when these guys will be good based on match-ups and you can combine a few different guys to look like a good starter, but its a risky game. For those who may be consider punting pitchers, be careful, you don’t want to be in a position where you’re praying for at least a bad start from a guy who’s a spot starter that you found in the free agent pool because he’s hot garbage. It’s very difficult to cobble together your starting pitching. The opportunity cost that the 7-start per week limit adds to these aces is significant.

Oh and so just show how Kershaw is in his own tier. Here’s SP #2 overall, Max Scherzer:

max

Leans to the right. Yes. Max was quite good. Those perfect games, no-no are seriously awesome. But, to compare to Kershaw. Kershaw had 9 starts, average or worse. Max has SIX awful starts. Eight bad starts and nine average starts. Don’t get me wrong. Max is amazing! But he occasionally has an off day. Kerhsaw is just absurdly good.

For fun, let us take a look at what an average pitcher looks like over 3 years. This becomes a hard exercise, nobody is exactly average for three straight years, so what I did was combined Jarrod Parkers 2013 with Jorge de la Rosa‘s 2014 and Mark Buerhle‘s 2015 and smashed them together to make the 27 point per start SP. Here’s the graph.

average

It’s a mixed bag. Plenty of great useful starts in there, but the red and peach columns start to add up really quick. You’re looking at a $10-$20 pitcher. Good luck!