Wednesday, February 17, 2010
1. Victor Martinez
2. Joe Mauer
3. Brian McCann
4. Geovany Soto
5. Russell Martin
6. Matt Wieters
7. Jorge Posada
8. Ryan Doumit
9. Miguel Montero
10. Mike Napoli
11. Kurt Suzuki
12. Bengie Molina
13. A.J. Pierzynski
14. John Baker
15. Ramon Hernandez
Next two: 16. Chris Iannetta and 17. Yadier Molina
1. Albert Pujols
2. Prince Fielder
3. Mark Teixeira
4. Ryan Howard
5. Joey Votto
6. Miguel Cabrera
7. Kevin Youkilis
8. Lance Berkman
9. Justin Morneau
10. Adrian Gonzalez
11. Kendry Morales
12. Derrek Lee
13. Mark Reynolds
14. Pablo Sandoval
15. Victor Martinez
Next three: 16. Billy Butler, 17. Adam Dunn and 18. James Loney
1. Chase Utley
2. Ian Kinsler
3. Dustin Pedroia
4. Brandon Phillips
5. Brian Roberts
6. Robinson Cano
7. Aaron Hill
8. Jose Lopez
9. Howie Kendrick
10. Ben Zobrist
11. Asdrubal Cabrera
12. Dan Uggla
13. Placido Polanco
14. Rickie Weeks
15. Ian Stewart
Next two: 16. Clint Barmes and 17. Orlando Hudson
1. Alex Rodriguez
2. Evan Longoria
3. David Wright
4. Kevin Youkilis
5. Ryan Zimmerman
6. Chone Figgins
7. Aramis Ramirez
8. Mark Reynolds
9. Pablo Sandoval
10. Jorge Cantu
11. Chipper Jones
12. Michael Young
13. Chris Davis
14. Adrian Beltre
15. Gordon Beckham
Next three: 16. Alex Gordon, 17. Casey Blake and 18. Ian Stewart
1. Hanley Ramirez
2. Jose Reyes
3. Troy Tulowitzki
4. Jimmy Rollins
5. Derek Jeter
6. Alexei Ramirez
7. Ben Zobrist
8. Stephen Drew
9. Rafael Furcal
10. Yunel Escobar
11. Asdrubal Cabrera
12. Orlando Cabrera
13. Miguel Tejada
14. Jhonny Peralta
15. Jason Bartlett (Think Theriot 2009)
Next two: 16. Elvis Andrus and 17. J.J. Hardy
Outfielders (excluding Beltran)
1. Ryan Braun
2. Matt Holliday
3. Grady Sizemore
4. Carl Crawford
5. Matt Kemp
6. Jason Bay
7. Justin Upton
8. Ichiro Suzuki
9. Bobby Abreu
10. Jacoby Ellsbury
11. Nate McLouth
12. Curtis Granderson
13. Carlos Quentin
14. Shane Victorino
15. Nick Markakis
16. Manny Ramirez
18. Carlos Lee
19. Adam Lind
20. Torii Hunter
21. Adam Dunn
22. Jason Werth
23. Raul Ibanez
24. Hunter Pence
25. Alfonso Soriano
26. Johnny Damon
27. Ryan Ludwick
28. Alex Rios
29. Nelson Cruz
30. Jay Bruce
31. Josh Hamilton
32. Shin-Soo Choo
33. Denard Span
34. Corey Hart
35. Ben Zobrist
36. Michael Bourn
Next five: 37. Carlos Gonzalez, 38. Brad Hawpe, 39. Andrew McCutchen, 40. Andre Ethier and 41. Adam Jones
Friday, February 12, 2010
Streaming is the act of adding and dropping players to gain an edge in production. Gamers stream to exceed the games played total or to make up for games lost due to injury, benchings, etc.
Contrary to popular belief, yes, streaming is an art. Amateurs add the best available options; those who have studied streaming go beyond that.
Myself, in football, I will consider: match-up, defensive injuries, individual match-up, climate, historical success or failure, current trends (within four weeks), their floors versus their ceilings, my opposition's players' floors versus their ceilings and every sortable defensive stat. This is for one-week rentals.
In baseball, I will consider: runs generated (team), current trends, total stolen bases (shows how aggressive the team is), match-up team-wise, individual match-up including historical success against the night's hurler and how they bat against righties/lefties, pre-all star splits versus post-all star splits, splits by month, the stadium's dimensions, the ball park, proven science (LaRoche only hits after the break), pedigree (though this rarely comes into play), minor league stats (sportsnet is the site I use) and in a few cases, contract incentives. For pitchers, I also look up the opposing team's strikeout totals which generally indicates a team's level of discipline. All this for, yes, a one-to-three-game rental. I'm not a sabermetrics guy. This works for me.
In basketball, I consider: recent trends, minutes per night and sometimes match-up. I don't look too much into basketball because when they're hot and playing, you snag them.
In hockey, I will consider: recent trends and the opposition's starting goaltender (for snipers); and for enforcers, PIM trends, the team they're facing, the team they're facing's enforcers and their likeliness to drop the gloves, the team they're facing's enforcer's recent PIM trends and sortable team PIM stats.
One week ago, I was pulling 81.5 points in the Roto Arcade Blog League. I was hidden and obscured in the middle of the pack in moves made. Then I started streaming.
Predictably, I climbed from sixth to fourth in the standings and made a 17-point jump to 98.5 points. I have been streaming one C, one RW and one D and the results have been plentiful:
Feb 12, 10 - Lombardi (2 PIM), Orr (an overwhelming 32 PIM, characteristically Orr), O'Byrne (2 PIM)
Feb 11, 10 - Bryan Allen (2 PIM)
Feb 10, 10 - Boll (2 PIM)
Feb 09, 10 - Mayers (5 PIM)
Feb 07, 10 - Sturm (2 goals), O'Byrne (5 PIM)
Feb 06, 10 - Sturm (1 assist), Orr (7 PIM)
Feb 05, 10 - Bryan Allen (5 PIM)
Seven days, a 17-point jump.
Would remaining stagnent have yielded these results? Would putting principle ahead of realistic and attainable improvement allow for such improvement?
If a player's not out there that night, they can't help your team statistically. The production you're getting out of three waiver wire pick-ups from the nights of February 11-13, for example, will, in 98% of cases, exceed that of the one winger you start routinely.
Frankly, and I have always felt this way, if you don't stream to prevent a loss, you deserve to lose. Additionally, if a person streams and overtakes a non-streamer, he or she should be praised not lambasted and criticized mercilessly. If anything, non-streamer should be the one condemned for their failure of making moves to stay competitive. The streamer's trying to win.
You have to play the settings. Everyone starts with the same settings; you're playing within them. Play them to your advantage. Make up those game. You're 70+ PIM short? Brian Rafalski will not turn into a rogue badass mofo who KOs 6-foot-3 guys overnight. If you're not streaming, you're leaving points on the table.
Streaming is a choice. It goes beyond ethical or non-ethical, beyond roto etiquette; what it comes down to is how badly you want to win. If you can put aside the conventional fantasy mind-set that is commonly regarded and accepted as the general principles of the game, you have a more favorable chance of being successful than your static competition.
At the end of the season, you can finish with 359 transactions made and your opponent might have 11; tell me now, who had the stronger drive and the burning passion to win?
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Assume 12-team format (Y! default rankings listed below).
1) Joe Mauer (13.56) 94-28-96-4-.365
2) Victor Martinez (24.62) 88-23-108-1-.303
3) Brian McCann (42.62) 63-21-94-4-.281
4) Matt Wieters (103.03) 35-9-43-0-.288 Extrapolate his numbers in 96 games through a 162-game grind: 60-16-73-0-.288
5) Russell Martin (138.53) 63-7-53-11-.250 Disappointing 2008-2009 season for Martin (he was basically unownable during one stretch) but he's too talent to post another sub-par year. His 2007 season was an outlier. At catcher, though, I'm looking for power so I'll be waiting.
6) Mike Napoli (180.00) 60-20-56-3-.272
7) Kurt Suzuki (132.47) 74-15-88-8-.274
8) Benji Molina (160.52) 52-20-80-0-.265
9) Jorge Posada (117.57) 55-22-81-1-.285 I'd endorse him as the ninth catcher off the board, but more than likely, someone will reach.
10) Geovany Soto (154.04) 27-11-47-1-.218
11) Miguel Montero (146.59) 61-16-59-1-.294 The Yahoo! crew has this cat ranked as the fifth catcher in their preseason ranks. I'm not seeing it. Prime age (27), yes, but his minor league track record is spotty.
12) Ryan Doumit (208.57) 31-10-38-4-.250
13) Yadier Molina (232.54) 45-6-54-9-.293 Lack of power means he'll be on none of my virtual teams.
14) A.J. Pierzynski (254.89) 57-13-49-1-.300
15) Miguel Olivo (248.12) 51-23-65-5-.249 Moves to a favorable park coming off a career season but appears to be second on the Colorado depth chart.
Insight: So clearly, after the first three backstops are taken off the board, there is a precipitous drop in production at the position. I strongly urge you to pass on Mauer who won't justify his ADP, and I'd advise you to pass on Martinez as well. Matt Wieters, hyped relentlessly during the '09 campaign, is a good value in the eighth or ninth. I have taken Napoli in each of my four mock drafts. I expect solid seasons out of Soto and Doumit, too, both of whom will bounce back after injury-plagued 2009 seasons. Pierzynski is the least excitable catcher to own; in a 2-catcher league, though, you won't lose money on him. I would avoid the Olivo/Iannetta battle.
Getting a 55-20-70-.275 line out of your catcher position is suffice if you've built a strong offensive foundation with your other picks.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Closer is a unique position; where should they go in a draft? How heavily should one invest in closers? How does one soften the blow he or she takes when selecting a closer with marginal ratios? (I call this ratio profiling).
Wait on the position. That's my advice. Typically closer runs start in the seventh or eighth, and later in experts drafts. There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball, so if you're playing in a 12-team league, gun for three closers. If it's a 15-team league, make your move a little earlier (you don't want to be the guy with one closer; that limits your ability to advance in the standings).
Of course, the importance of a closer, first and foremost, is tied to the save. The common belief is that winning teams produce more save opportunities and thus, hold a much greater significance. Well, yes. However, in the roto game it goes beyond that. Every team in the majors can produce a capable 30-save closer. That's the reality. For crying out loud, Mike MacDougal notched 20 saves for the 59-win Nationals last season. That's surprising on two fronts: 1) They rotated him in and out of the role at least twice, and 2) It's Mike MacDougal. The guy owns a career WHIP over 1.50. How he claims such a vital role is beyond me.
Every year, without fail, roughly half the league undergoes changes at closer. In one sense, that makes Papelbon, Mariano and Broxton that much more attractive; in a roto sense, however, that spells opportunity. Opportunity to extract considerable value. Investing a sixth-rounder in Papelbon is ludicrous; why play for one category when a Bobby Abreu plays for four?
Yes, when you point-and-click on Matt Capps' name, you'll probably hate youself for the rest of the evening, but pair him with an effective middle reliever with exceptional ratios and closer-in-waiting status and suddenly, things aren't so bad. (This is a roto strategy, mind you). Think about it. Suppose Kevin Gregg or whoever is closing for Toronto allows two runs per one inning. If your starters go out and pitch 20 innings giving up seven, you finish the night with a competitive 3.86 ERA. And if you have a middle reliever that goes two scoreless, you're down to 3.52. Certainly not anything to write home about, but it keeps you in the mix.
Starters go six and seven and eight; closers, one. Why, then, is Broxton's value greater than Beckett's, who delivers in four cats?
Off the top of my head, closers who emerged last season include Ryan Franklin (debatable but he was battling Motte and Perez), Howell, Aardsma, Bailey, Sherrill, Jim Johnson, Soria, Downs/Frasor, and the plethora of closers Washington kept churning out.
Sometimes, the steak knives come in handy.
Here's a rundown of closers on a team-by-team basis and their respective ADPs:
NYY - Rivera (71.58)
BoSox - Papelbon (71.00)
Rays - Soriano (155.25)
T.O. - Gregg (328.16), Frasor (323.11), Downs (311.04). Being familiar with the Jays bullpen, I can tell you Frasor is a solid reliever. He did an adequate job relieving Downs last season. That stated, there has to be a reason Gregg was brought in and I think it goes beyond solidifying the bullpen.
Baltimore - M. Gonzalez, until he blows his arm out, then Jim Johnson. (198.48)
Twins - Nathan (75.31)
Tigers - Valverde (133.13)
White Sox - Jenks (161.26)
Royals - Soria (100.00)
Indians - Wood (240.18)
LAA - Fuentes (115.27)
TX - Francisco (202.79). Rank seems unjustifiably low.
Mariners - Aardsma (152.08)
Athletics - Bailey (125.75)
Phillies - Lidge (232.23)
FLA - Nunez (251.92). Encouraging words from the Marlin's skipper. With Lindstrom jettisoned and no real competition, expect Nunez to exceed his current ADP by quite a bit.
ATL - Wagner. No faith in him whatsoever. This has blown arm written all over it. (151.29). Even if he does post a brilliant line, it's a bad selection on the drafter's part with all the risk attached.
NYM - K-Rod (87.40)
Nats - Capps (229.39)
STL - Franklin (146.26)
Cubs - Marmol (142.31). Dead to me.
Brewers - Hoffman (163.90)
Reds - Franky Cordero (107.34)
Houston - Lindstrom (289.16)
Pirates - Dotel (303.86)
LAD - Broxton (71.81)
Rockies - Street (151.47)
Giants - Wilson (138.26)
SD - Bell (100.34)
D'Backs - Qualls (255.97)
Tread carefully, because I promise you things will shake up much differently come May's end.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Mock draft. February 09, 2010.
Fantasy baseball season is upon us! And prepping always helps. It doesn't matter if you're a wide-eyed rookie or a seasoned vet; if you have a general sense of how the draft will play out, you're at an advantage. I usually take six to eight hours out of one day per season and dedicate it to drafting a blueprint, going over the draft several times (three or more), and roughly etching out the details of each round (for example, I lay it out on a chart. Picks 1-12: what I expect to get, who I expect to be there, specific targets, complementary numbers. Then I do the same for picks 13-24. And so on).
During a mock draft, get used to jumping to the next pick instantly after you've made your selection. It's similar to basketball -- you take your shot and regardless of the outcome, all at once, you divert your attention to the next play, be it crashing the boards for an offensive rebound or heading back on D.
Here's what's scribbled on my pad:
NFBC (National Fantasy Baseball Championship) Format - 15 teams, 23 picks per
R1 P6 - Straight-forward decision: Braun or teammate Fielder.
R2 P10 - Missed out on Reyes. Add some speed w. Upton. Go 1B next pick.
R3 P6 - Happy to snag Youkilis. All-round goodness. Safe floor. More reliable than Berkman (who I'm a proponent of) and Sandoval would feel like a reach here.
R4 P10 - Approaching pick, OF on my mind (see: settings. It's deep).
-Berkman/Granderson/Abreu. Grand over Berkman hurt my soul, but play the settings accordingly.
R5 P6 - How do you *not* gamble w. Manny in the fifth? He's been a professional hitter throughout his entire career. Has he lost it? Is the drop-off a reality? We'll find out. Delighted w. the value regardless.
- Manny over Lester, Carlos Lee.
- Difficult format to time rotation building.
R6 P10 - Could use Hunter's speed if he falls to me. And he does. No faith in Carp.
- Filling up 4/5 OF spots @ this juncture ... I'm thrilled.
R7 P6 - Landed Beckett here (over Nolasco, Hamels, Gallardo). Pleased.
R8 P10 - Had Jose Lopez penciled in, queued ... but upon quick glance @ Alexei Ramirez's player page, feelings for Lopez aborted. Adds speed, SS dimension.
R9 P6 - Dilemma: Jose Lopez, Lackey, Lilly. Went with Lopez simply because, scrolling down, MI options were uninspiring. Not completely sold on Lackey for '10.
R10 P10 - Perennially-consistent arm, Lilly, still available. Easy click.
R11 P6 - Franklin snagged the pick before me. Consideration: Franklin, Montero, Napoli.
R12 P10 - Could use a little more speed. Early targets - Beltre (CI) or Weeks (MI).
- Beltre. A-Cab, O-Cab, Weeks still available; could afford to wait on MI.
R13 P6 - Not completely sold on Dempster, Floyd coming into '10. DLR a toss-up, too.
- Looking forward, SPs unimpressive.
- Gavin Floyd flashed signs of absolute brilliance last season. Frankly, satisfied w. selection.
R14 P10 - Ryan Doumit. Considered DLR here but Coors (pitchers ... erm, not trying to make an alcohol-referenced joke here) always drives fear in me. Plus, Sanchez (SF) available later on.
R15 P6 - Kerry Wood was taken w. under 9 seconds left on the clock. A hurried pick. I spent so much time fighting myself on DLR/Niemann/Slowey at this spot, the clock forced my hand. Needed a closer so this pick worked out, came out much better than initial closer who caught my eye, Capps.
R16 P10 - Slowey highlighted, Sanchez of SF selected. Either was suffice.
- Sanchez: Favorable park tempting. If he catches your eye, those favorable park conditions will be your weakness. Trust me on this.
R17 P6 - LaRoche fills my Util. In roto, never sweat streaks if the player in question is even halfway proven. The numbers will be there.
- Playing for contract in 2010.
R18 P10 - Solidify speed cat w. Fowler. A steal, in my mind. No pun intended.
R19 P6 - Matt Thornton contributes outstanding ratios as a middle reliever. You need a few of these guys on your roto roster to alleviate the damage of less-than-elite closers. Otherwise, you won't sleep well. Trust the guy who generally refrains from nabbing a closer in the first 11 or 12 picks. Not fun. Long nights. Hard drinks.
- Thornton has the ability to close.
R20 P10 - Dotel is slated to close for the Bucs. Alternative options (for them) underwhelming.
R21 P6 - Gregg. Three-way battle in T.O. Bringing him in showed they lack confidence in Downs, Frasor. Downs goes Frasor.
R22 P10 - Kaz Matsui should rebound with a healthy Berkman, an emerging Pence (I say this every year), Lee and Bourn. Threat on the bases. Fowler can now split bench time w. a masher reserve ... of course, "masher" used loosely when you're 22 deep. The 'Stros ranked ninth in the league in steals so taking a flier on him this late to fill a MI spot was an effortless decision, really.
R23 P6 - Latos or Volquez were considered here. Went with Latos 'cause everyone's been hyping the kid. Not that he'll be a stud this year, but he has the potential to be a truly productive player.
Let me preface this by saying I rarely come out of a draft even 80% confident with my virtual imaginary roster. Overall, though, truthfully I don't think I could have come out better here. Maybe it's the nine trophies captured last season in as many leagues talking (doubt it), but I really, really like this assembled team. It features a few of my favorites, of course, but in a 5x5 15-teamer, I feel this team would be a lock for a top 3 finish. It has to work the wire for saves, though. Add a couple of reliable MRs to keep the ratios competitive. Unfortunately they cut the 7 additional spots that would have been reserved for a bench.
Know your format and settings. If your league emphasizes heavily on outfielders, likewise to this one, be prepared to target outfielders at times when you otherwise wouldn't. Hypothetically, an outfielder could become more valuable than an infielder despite what the stats say.
I won the Roto Arcade Pro-Am last season playing this setting. It was intriguing, definitely a worthwhile experience. I fully endorse this kind of setting. If you have the patience, you'll be rewarded handsomely.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
A lot was made about New Orlean's coach Sean Payton's decision to go for it on fourth down. He was criticized heavily. Had the play gone successfully, would he have been praised? Probably. But more than that, he wouldn't have felt the heat of several media outlets calling him out for making the right call in that situation. Yes, the right one.
With the Saints having driven roughly 70 yards, facing a fourth and a long one and trailing 10-3 with 2:00 minutes and change remaining in the second, Payton decided to go for it. The offensive call he made was a poor one; a feeble run by Pierre Thomas that was stuffed almost instantly, but going for it in that situation was completely appropriate. Consider: You're facing Manning, the best quarterback of our generation -- given the chance to put up seven in that scenario, you have to go for it. Had Sanchez and the Jets advanced, this would be an entirely different ball game. You could afford to take the three and play it safe keeping the score close. But with Manning under the helm on the opposing sideline, you need to stay in the game by any means necessary.
Suppose you kick it and the score's now 10-6. Manning still had plenty of time to march his unit down the field and score either a field goal or a touchdown. In the case of the former, the score heading into the half would be 13-6; a seven point deficit. If you go for it and fail, yes, you're still down seven (10-3) but the Colts are backed up all the way at their 1. And bear in mind, the Colts would receive possession coming out of halftime.
With regards to the play call, though, why Payton would run Thomas over a Brees pass is beyond me. Here you have the league's most precise passer in the most crucial of plays. He lead the league in touchdowns with 34. Perhaps the call was to throw the Colts defense off, but when the quarterback completes over 70% of his passes (Brees' 70.6% completion rate during the regular season established a new NFL record), an astounding feat, you put it in his hands.
Skeptics argue that, down 10-3, you can't leave points out there when you're facing Manning and the Colts. By passing on seven, you're leaving points out there (four of them), especially with less than two yards to go, a feasible distance.
It's akin to making a move in poker. You can make the right call - in this case, going for it on fourth - but the cards might not fall your way. The Saints lost a chunk of their chips by not scoring, but it was the correct move. It was a calculated risk.
The analysts on the network praised Payton during halftime, including Super Bowl winning coach Bill Cowher.
The Super Bowl, without question, is unlike any other game of the season. You have to make unconventional calls at critical junctures in the game that sometimes defy conservative logic. Forget about being labelled a hero or a goat; you ultimately have to play out the situation.
Not many get the opportunity to play in the elusive dance, and it's a win or lose affair, so to have the intestinal fortitude to play for the win should be something to be admired. Regardless of the outcome of the play.
Photo via NFL.com