Advice on resisting the urge to overreact to results from the first week-and-change of the regular season.
After months of preparation and then putting your team (or teams) together in a draft or auction, it was finally here. Opening Day is arguably the most exciting day of the year for baseball fans. Spring training is not without its charms, particularly if you had the time and money to travel to Florida or Arizona, but while it is a wonderful harbinger of the baseball season, it is not quite the same as the real thing.
For fantasy baseball writers, this is an odd time of the season. For writers who cover major league teams or the sport on the whole, the transition from spring training to regular season games is a smooth one. Game write-ups take precedence, but features pertaining to what a manager or a player are thinking present natural opportunities for copy. In fantasy, most of the heavy lifting occurs between January and Opening Day. While the subject well doesn’t run entirely dry, there nearly isn’t as much for much for us to do.
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Cubs slugger Javier Baez continues to lead the way, as Nomar Mazara and three others graduate from the list.
We already have a few high-profile graduates from last week’s first Stash. For a refresher on the four types of players that are eligible for inclusion on this list, please see the first edition of the year.
Examining players who might pique your interest in deeper formats.
It’s still April, which means a lot of statistics are nowhere near stabilizing and some unfamiliar names dot the leaderboards. Since most numbers are still all over the place, it’s hard to tell which improvements or declines are real or illusory. Still, this is the time to place your FAAB bets because you get a lot more value from five-plus months of a player than you do from one you acquire in the middle of the season.
J.P. evaluates the merits of three barters submitted by readers on Twitter.
Between the Bat Signal and Twitter, the Fantasy Team gets hundreds of hypothetical trade proposals each year. Should I trade Player A and Player B for Player C? Am I giving up too much? Would you do that trade? We do our best to offer thoughtful advice in an attempt to aid your quest for a fantasy championship.
Examining the pitchers whose worm-burning and flyballing styles mesh best and worst with their clubs.
We tend to operate with certain assumed axioms in the world of fantasy baseball, one of which is that pitchers who generate ample groundball contact and avoid the tightrope of excessive flyball contact are preferable. And the risk-reward is certainly apparent in the numbers: Last year big-league hitters mustered just a .144 average on flyballs but slugged .443, compared to a .243/.263 line on grounders. Sure, you give up more base hits on the ground, but they tend to be singles with limited potential to really do stand-alone damage. Flyballs, on the other hand, leave yards and lead to runs.
But all pitchers, and all pitching contexts, are not created equal; there are some guys whose stellar groundball rates mean less because they pitch in front of porous infield defenses, while others who walk on the wilder side in the sky are better bets on account of stellar fly-catching troupes patrolling the grass behind them. Now, the variance here isn’t extreme for most pitchers, but it isn’t insignificant either. Major-league leader Brett Anderson induced 380 grounders last year, and had he done so in front of the most efficient infield unit (the Giants) he’d have benefitted from an extra 26 out conversions over the course of his 180 innings relative to the worst unit (Philadelphia).
As the fantasy staff prepares its bold predictions for the 2016 season, Jeff examines the biases that can underlie them.
The Baseball Prospectus Fantasy team, me included, will be rolling out (bold) predictions this week (and maybe next week). The esteemed and excellently named Wilson Karaman already released his bold predictions here. You love bold predictions, I love bold predictions, we all love bold predictions. There are a lot of reasons we like bold predictions. Per my best estimates, the main reasons we like bold predictions are as follows: (i) they are easy to digest (instead of the slog that is an article on, say, confirmation bias), (ii) they offer analysis and insight that is often a break from the consensus, and (iii) they can confirm our past decisions or current beliefs and if they do not, then they can easily be ignored.
Over here at The Quinton, we cannot let stand people finding happiness in things. It just wouldn’t be right. That said, while the first two reasons for liking bold predictions are, on their own, harmless, the last reason can be problematic in regards to our future decision making. We might not want to admit it, but the way we read bold predictions articles is to quickly scan through for anything that makes us feel good, for anything that confirms what we believe or want to believe. The person writing the article thinks the player I reached for is going to be awesome? Awesome, now I do not feel as bad about the decision I made. The person writing the article thinks the player I passed on even though it was a great price is going to be bad? Awesome, now I feel better about the decision I made.
Surveying the ninth-inning situations around the league.
We’re one week into the season and, unsurprisingly, not a whole lot has happened in the world of closers. There have been a few changes, but most of the news has been more speculative than concrete. Here is the up-to-date closer grid, with the changes made since last week’s publishing highlighted in yellow.
Scooter runs down the players he owns across many of his half-dozen leagues this year.
On Sunday I finished my final auction of the 2016 season. After a Founders Red’s Rye and a Tired Hands Alien Church with a few of my fellow owners, I went home and started to compile a list of players I owned in each league, with an eye toward figuring out which players I had most frequently across my six leagues.
The D'backs infielder is off to a hot start in the desert, but can he sustain it?
We often hear about second-half players, guys who traditionally struggle early in the season and pick it up once the weather heats up. Aramis Ramirez and Adam LaRoche are two oft-cited examples of this archetype, with Ian Desmond being a more current reference point. As fantasy owners, we focus on these types of players because they’re “buy-low” candidates every summer.
Examining players who might pique your interest in deeper formats.
The season isn’t even a week old, so we don’t have a lot of data to go on, but FAAB bidding in your league will open soon if it hasn’t already. Time to get to work. Here are some players to put on your radar for week 1.
Mike identifies the flaws in the rules that typically govern basic fantasy formats.
No! Wait! Don’t leave! I know that the last thing anyone wants to talk about when it comes to fantasy baseball are rules. Many, many years ago, I was in a home league where at least half of the league was populated by attorneys, and we would spend at least an hour before each auction discussing the league’s constitution. This is as gut-wrenchingly awful as it sounds. There were a few years where we held our auctions in metropolitan high rises and I would keep wistfully looking at the window, wondering if there was any way at all to unbolt it and fly away to sweet, sweet freedom.
Now that I write for Baseball Prospectus, I play in many more expert leagues than I used to and have been exposed to more combinations of rules and formats than I would have ever imagined possible. Tout Wars, the expert league formed by Peter Kreutzer, Lawr Michaels, Ron Shandler, and Jeff Erickson in 1998, is particularly innovative, offering several twists on the “traditional” Rotisserie rulebook that in some cases have been adopted by the fantasy industry at large.