Like many of you, I spent time this past weekend preparing for a fantasy draft or auction, typing lists of player names into spreadsheets, ranking them, and assembling a draft strategy. A large number of factors come into play when ranking players—age, long-term vs. short-term value, positional need, injury risk, ceiling vs. likelihood of meeting it, and whether the player is on a team you’re comfortable rooting for. However, there’s one final tiebreaker for me that can come into play: whether or not I like the player’s name. All else being equal, I’ll take the player whose moniker is more enjoyable for me to say, type, or think about.
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Sorting out side bets for who does what in the Senior Circuit.
Last week, I unveiled a contest wherein readers could try to predict the performance of interesting players during the 2011 season by choosing whether they would perform above or below a given performance benchmark—in Vegas parlance, picking an “Over/Under.” The first installment listed two Over/Under lines for players on each team in the American League, generally players I think will be either key performers or interesting to follow in the upcoming season. Below you can find the two Over/Under lines I’ve set for each National League team.
It's time to take a tip from Vegas and predict the over/unders on AL player performances for 2011.
Around this time of year, our old friend Joe Sheehan was wont to write a column about value bets for the upcoming baseball season, looking at the Vegas betting lines for team records and trying to discern where statistical analysis could help a bettor find an edge against the house. It was always one of my more favorite pieces of the year, since I’ve always been interested in such things, and more to the point, I’ve always thought it would be fun to let loose my internal Ace Rothstein and determine where the line should be set.
Who could be the surprise player of 2011, and could he rival the Jays' breakout ballplayer of 2010?
Last week in this space, among my random wishes for the upcoming season, I mentioned my desire for there to be another Jose Bautista in 2011, i.e., another veteran player who suddenly and unexpectedly puts up a monster year. Virtually no one predicted that the Jose-Bot would suddenly go all George Foster on the American League, but anyone that could have would have had a huge advantage in their fantasy or sim leagues last year.
With pitchers and catchers just short weeks away, one man's list of things he'd like to see.
My local weather forecast is calling for somewhere between four and twenty inches of snow over the next few days — obviously the folks at Weather Central read Colin Wyers and remembered to display their error bars — but now that February is here, spring and baseball are just around the corner. Pitchers and catchers will be reporting in two weeks, and I’m counting down the days by preparing for my Strat league draft, and wondering if I should trust my home-grown formula that says playing Jack Cust in left field against right-handed starters is truly the right thing to do. The latest BP annual is set for publication this month, the PECOTAs are coming, and Joe Hamrahi’s invaluable Top Prospects Compilation is growing full. All will soon be right with the world.
As promised, below you can find the answers to the crossword puzzle and cryptoquote posted Friday in honor of National Puzzle Day. I'm not posting the solution to the BProdoku, because I suspect anyone that attempted it was able to solve it with little difficulty, and an image with 81 tiny pictures of BP contributors looks disconcertingly like the "Guess Who?" game. Hope you enjoyed them.
Saturday won't just be SABR Day, so bend your brain to the task of these puzzles three, ere your weekend well-spent shall be.
This weekend in New York City, a strong contingent of BP staff members will be joining an even stronger contingent of baseball fans at Foley’s Pub in Manhattan to celebrate SABR Day. For those of you lucky enough to have a ticket you’re likely in for a treat, as it looks to be a wicked event to be followed by an even more wicked after-party.
Unveiling the new general manager aptitude test. Are you destined for front-office glory, or will you be left on the farm?
Several months ago in this space you may have seen the Baseball Skipper Aptitude Test (BSAT), a semi-tongue-in-cheek battery of questions designed to tease out the thought processes of managerial candidates and identify those who may be a little more forward-thinking. In response to that piece, I received a number of reader requests to develop a similar set of questions for general manager candidates, and the results can be found below for your enjoyment. Coming up with questions for GMs is a lot harder than it is for field managers, since the job of the GM is far more varied, far more important, and in most cases far less visible. Making it even harder is the fact that GMs as a group, at least to my untrained eyes, seem to be making fewer and fewer cringe-inducing decisions than they used to, reducing the number of obvious targets for gentle ribbing in the questions. I hope you enjoy them nonetheless.
Attempting to turn a perennial contender with early post-season exits into a champion.
Stepping in as the general manager for the Minnesota Twins, even for a day, is a somewhat daunting task. Ask around the league and you’ll hear franchise after franchise, at least those in the “Accord/Split-Level/Vacations In Orlando” economic strata, talk about how they want to model their organizations after the Twins. While some of the traits attributed to the Twins in the media, such as their commitment to “small ball” and how they “play the game right,” seem more like a projection of how outsiders familiar with the Upper Midwest mostly through Fargo and A Prairie Home Companion would expect a Minnesota franchise to play than how the Twins actually go about their business, there’s no doubting their success or how they’ve achieved it. The Twins have managed to win six division titles in nine years, and have done so with a payroll that has only twice broken the $70 million mark. They’ve achieved this due to a productive player development system and a commitment to avoiding crippling long-term contracts—a responsible, conservative business plan that leads to success, stability, and rather boring Hot Stove seasons in the Gopher state.
Examining the answers of the Baseball Prospectus team when it comes to the Baseball Skipper Aptitude Test.
When last we met in this space, I shared with you the Baseball Skipper Aptitude Test (BSAT), a semi-tongue-in-cheek multiple-choice exam designed to help identify quality managerial candidates based on their approach to such things as lineups, bullpen usage, and in-game strategy. My purpose was primarily to entertain, but a number of readers have asked that we divulge the “correct” answers, or at least the answers to which most Baseball Prospectus authors would subscribe. To that end, earlier this week I took a quick poll to discover how our staff members would answer these questions, and you can find the results below. I’m not surprised to report that some of the questions provoked a wide array of responses, and given the pulsing intellect and contrarian nature of our authors, a fair number chose to occasionally go outside the menu with their answers. .
With such a strong, affordable core, the future in Florida depends on the progression of the kids.
When considering the franchises for which you might want to serve as GM for a Day, arguments can be made for the Florida Marlins as both the most- and least-appealing franchise to take a stab at. While this year’s squad finished just below .500 and could never quite pull itself into the NL East race, few clubs can boast Florida’s collection of young, under-compensated talent and lack of regretful long-term commitments—exactly the recipe for building a consistent winner in a small market. However, the Marlins have other issues which make them far less attractive than they ought, issues which are touched on by my proposed mission statement.
Unveiling the skipper aptitude test. How do you measure up?
Good afternoon, gentlemen—and lady! How cool is that?! I’d like to thank you all for coming in today to take our Baseball Skipper Aptitude Test. As you all know, we like to consider ourselves a forward-thinking organization, and we feel that having you take this short examination will give us more insight into the qualities you possess, your decision-making processes, and the opinions you have which might affect how you would perform in our organization. Since we’re a small-market club we could only afford to hire a professional proctor for one day, hence the rather unique decision to bring you all in at the same time to take this test.