Examining how to wield the power of the trade offer, both when sending and receiving, more effectively.
When it comes to trades and negotiation, we have already covered a wide array of topics, from anchoring to negotiation styles to the default effect to choice architecture. What we have not covered, though, is the effect of the focusing illusion on fantasy baseball trades. Daniel Kahneman coined the term, and in discussing the focusing illusion, he famously said, “Nothing in life is as important as you think it is when you are thinking about it.”
Our means of trading is the trade offer and the trade offer inherently causes us to focus on particular players (the player being offered or requested) or a particular type of trade (a pitcher for a hitter or an expiring asset for a long-term asset). As a result of this, the focusing illusion likely plays a large role in determining the trades that get made, but how so?
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Tampa Bay may feel like a bad team, but is PECOTA nuts to think the Rays are decent?
Though they aren’t mentioned in the same breath as the Royals and the Orioles, the Rays have revealed a bit of a weakness deep in the cog-spinning heart of PECOTA. Last year our robotic pal picked the plucky, underpowered Boys in Columbia Blue to win the AL East, ahead of the favored Red Sox and Blue Jays. Needless to say, it wasn’t the system’s finest moment, as they finished tied for the second-worst record in baseball, ahead of only the Twins.
Computers know neither love nor regret, however, so PECOTA has returned in 2017 to slot the Rays in at a healthy (if more cautious) 84 wins, a total that places them a single game out of the playoff picture. If there’s something projections hate about the Orioles, something in their bullpen management or their pluck that hides amongst the numbers, cynics claim that the opposite is true of the Rays. Look only at the Steven Souza trade, a prospect adored by the system at near-Wieters levels, as aligning with some priority the team itself places, to find the natural flaws.
What exactly are we losing with the end of four-pitch intentional walks?
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred recently shed some light on the progress (or lack thereof) of rule changes that ownership submitted to the players’ union, noting that he had not received the “cooperation” that he would have liked. They did, however, agree on one proposal; eliminating the need to throw four pitches to initiate an intentional walk, opting instead for a signal from the manager.
A new list for a new year. From Yoan Moncada to Anderson Tejeda, it's the cream of the crop in dynasty leagues in 2017.
We decided to do things a little differently this year.
For the past few seasons, we have published separate top-101 dynasty lists. Largely, these lists have been similar, with the exception of chunky first basemen ranking much higher on Bret’s iteration and Ben giving dramatic boosts to any middle infielder who can run even a little. For the 2017 list, we decided to balance those biases by creating separate rankings, compiling them and then debating minutia for like a month over gchat. Fantasy prospect rankings are nothing if not scientific.
This is an interesting year for said rankings. There’s less premium talent at the top, and even the top-20 gets pretty thin near the end. But there’s more depth than there was last year, with a solid, meaty middle chunk of the list that’s chock-full of OF4s, SP5s and the like. There might not be a ton of prospects who will win you a dynasty league in this year’s iteration, but there are plenty who can help you along the way. Another consequence of that lack of premium talent? We got a little aggressive in trying to predict who the next generation of dynasty studs will be, bumping up some players with extreme risk/reward profiles. If that’s not your thing, feel free to adjust down, but if you can get in on the next Victor Robles or Ronald Acuna, well, you’ll want to.
There are a few list-specific disclaimers to go over before we jump in. Again, these rankings are for fantasy purposes only, and do not directly take into account things like an outfielder’s ability to stick in center or a catcher’s pop time. Of course, these things do matter indirectly as they affect a player’s ability to either stay in the lineup or maintain eligibility. Additionally, home parks need to be factored in, just as when we are talking about a major-league player. We can’t pretend that these prospects operate in a vacuum, unaffected by park factors. Of course, there’s no guarantee that they will reach the majors with their current organization, so while it is not a heavy consideration, it is reflected. Most importantly, the intention of this list is to balance the upside, probability, and proximity of these players to an active fantasy lineup.
A look at the rotation arms who excel and struggle, depending on who holds the platoon advantage.
This is the starting pitcher edition of Welcome to Splitsville, where we discuss players at the position from both a daily and seasonal perspective. Here are the previous editions in this series for 2017:
Rob Manfred plans to do what he wants in 2018, Eric Hosmer doesn't need a decade, and Derek Norris is expendable.
Manfred and MLB hope to push ahead with rule changes
Commissioner Rob Manfred announced Tuesday that there will be no major rule changes for the upcoming season, but several could be in line for 2018—whether or not the players’ association is willing to agree to them. Most of these discussed rule changes are aimed at improving the pace of play, such as adding a pitch clock, limiting mound visits, and changing the strike zone.
Taking a deep dive into the Cardinals right-hander's repertoire, sequencing, tunnels, and overall approach.
In one sense, Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez is an easy pitcher to understand. He can touch 100 miles per hour with his fastball. He throws both a four-seamer and a sinker, has a slider and a changeup to go with them, and all four pitches could be counted as above average. He’s fiercely competitive and a great athlete. Bob Gibson was a bigger guy than Martinez at a time when everyone else on the field was smaller. Gibson had only two dominant pitches, and rarely even bothered with others. He’s also a Hall of Famer. Still, it’s really hard not to compare Martinez to Gibson.
In another sense, though, there’s a whole lot we don’t know about Martinez. No, that’s not true. We know a ton about Martinez, far more than we would have known 10 years ago. Yet, we would have been much more confident in our assessments of Martinez then than we are now. Sometimes, even valuable new information only makes the essential truth about something feel further beyond our reach.
Notes on Connor Seabold, Colton Hock, Quinn Brodey, and possibly other guys who sound like they wear critter pants.
Connor Seabold, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
Seabold is a slender right-hander with a relatively narrow frame that has some projection to it, though there isn’t quite as much there as you’d expect out of a 6-foot-2 kid that’s barely scraping 175. The delivery features elasticity and notable coordination, with fluidity through a high, sweeping leg kick. There’s notable spine tilt into a deep arm swing, and he’ll get late on occasion. But the arm gets compact and is lightning quick to release. He repeats pretty well to drive above-average command projection. He lived off the fastball in this start, as he has in previous starts I’ve seen of his, sitting 91-93 all night with an occasional cutter in the 87-88 range. The pitch gets quality sink and finishes with some late life, and he was able to move it around and above the zone consistently all night. The command was especially strong to the arm side in this start, though his feel to work the whole of the zone was on display. He worked in the occasional upper-70s breaking ball, which can show a fairly round shape. He mostly deployed it as a chaser, and he struggled to start it consistently enough in the zone when he did. He dropped one would-be changeup at 83, as well, though it was a lost pitch. The fastball and feel are the draws here, as his heat is the type that can miss barrels consistently without premium velocity. I’ve yet to see the makings of a strikeout pitch from him, but he projects well as a durable ground-baller who generates weak contact.
Our fantasy gang identifies value picks on the bump.
Rich Hill, Los Angeles Dodgers
With an early ADP of about 130, Rich Hill stands out to me as a guy that has a good shot to return value. Last year, Hill finished in the top 60 in Yahoo 5x5 scoring, the 16th most productive starting pitcher, in just 110 innings pitched. It’s a testament to how well he pitched in those innings. Hill had a 2.12 ERA and 2.39 FIP, with a strikeout rate just under 30%. He had the second best ERA among starting pitchers who threw at least 100 IP last year, with the fourth best FIP. Since making his return to the majors in late 2015, Hill has a 2.00 ERA, 2.37 FIP and 30.3% strikeout rate in 24 starts, spanning 550 batters faced.
I know the profile is weird, but I don’t think this was a fluke. Batters just can't seem to differentiate his pitches at all, and he’s great at playing his fastball and curveball off each other, hiding each one behind the other. Hill’s deception has helped him become elite at preventing batters from squaring him up. Via xStats.org, Hill’s Statcast derived exit velocity and batted-ball angle expected slugging last year was .307, the third lowest in baseball among pitchers with at least 100 IP. The only two ahead of him were Clayton Kershaw (.302) and Jose Fernandez (.303), and the MLB average is .417. Batters rarely make loud contact against Hill. Combining weak contact with his ability to miss bats at a high level is a huge recipe for success.