Does pulling the ball less result in more offense?
The start of a new year is unlike the rest of the year. People call their parents more frequently. The gym gets more crowded. Sales of alcohol, tobacco, and, I’d guess, unhealthy foods go down. Maybe sales of fresh fruit and vegetables go up. These trends are the result of New Year’s resolutions. But they don’t last. After a few days or weeks, people start lighting up, hitting the bottle, eating fast food, not calling mom, and sleeping in rather than going to the gym, just like they always did. New Year’s resolutions fail, because change is hard. Patterns and habits are hard to break.
Sometimes, though, against the odds resolutions work out. We really do drop weight, work harder, get along better. But that’s the exception, not the rule.
Bret brings home a coveted title in his first Tout Wars competition.
The final day of the season in any league is always a stressful venture when you're both locked in a tight race and hopelessly obsessive about your teams in general. Of course, I believe the latter to be a feature, not a bug. Sunday was the last day of Tout Wars X, yet we had all been strangely prepared for the rush to the finish line, having experienced it five times already. As I wrote when I recapped the auction back in March, this was a series of six four-week contests that would be aggregated together for a final score. As these things tend to go, it ended up being an extraordinarily close race between myself and Patrick Mayo of RotoExperts, as I tried to hold on to a lead I had built over the first five months, and he tried to put the finishing touches on a month (and a comeback) for the ages.
If the entire final month left me seasick, the final weekend made me schizophrenic. In fact, it almost made me jealous of the fantasy writers who cover both baseball and football, as I would have had a healthy distraction. Almost.By the halfway point, Pat had taken the overall lead and I was staring down the barrel of what would easily have been my worst period of the entire contest. A week later, my luck had turned and my offense started hitting--pushing me to a 5.5-point lead overall and a little more comfort, which would hold until the final lineups were set on Friday. From that point on, my team's performance became irrelevant, as Pat's team was absolutely firing on all cylinders. My lead was down to one at the end of the day Friday and gone by the evening games on Saturday. The tenor of my texts to Mike Gianella had gone steadily downhill and reached a level that makes me hope in hindsight that no one from his family saw any of them. Pat's pitching staff had allowed a total of four earned runs in 34 1/3 innings, good for a 1.05 ERA once his pitchers in the 1 p.m. games (Kris Medlen, Stephen Strasburg, and Julio Teheran) were done for the day, prompting me to actually surface on Twitter and send this:
The O's slugger had a down first half, but is there reason to expect big things down the stretch?
Early in the season it’s easy to brush off a struggling start for one of your key players because hey, it’s early. By mid-July though (if not sooner), we need to decide whether we’re going to ship off said star for someone with less status, but potentially more production. Today, I want to look at Chris Davis and determine whether he’s due for some sort of bounce-back in the season’s final 70 or so games, or if you should dump him on someone who is willing to believe more than you.
The only time Davis hasn’t been hurting your team this season was his brief stint on the disabled list with a strained oblique at the end of April/beginning of May. Outside of that time of null production, Davis has recorded a cringe-worthy .199/.309/.391. The latter two figures are actually moderately impressive in light of the former, but it’s still been a rough ride on the whole. There aren’t a ton of anomalies in the overall profile. He’s walking more than ever before, and while his 32 percent strikeout rate is elevated compared to his recent run of success, it’s not staggeringly different from the rates he’s posted in years prior, and certainly not enough to explain the bizarre drop in production.
Last year's HR leader wakes up from his slumber, Masahiro Tanaka loses a game, and more from Tuesday, plus what to watch on Wednesday.
The Tuesday Takeaway Chris Davis slugged three home runs in his first three games of the 2013 season—one in each of them—and then upped his total to four by going yard again the next day. That set the stage for his league-leading 53-homer campaign, which established the 28-year-old as one of the most feared hitters in the American League.
The top four picks in redraft leagues are relatively clear-cut, but whom should you target if your selection is just outside that tier?
Depending on what you value, there’s a distinct separation in 12-team 5x5 draft formats when it comes to the fifth pick. Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt,and Andrew McCutchen all deserve to go in the no. 1-4 spots, and I don’t think there can be much debate on that. The big question facing owners picking fifth is a value-based one. I was handed the no. 5 pick in a home league, so let’s take a look at some of the names that I thought about taking there. (Note: I’m concentrating solely on 12-team leagues, so your mileage may vary).
Kershaw is a popular choice here judging by the ADPs across a few different sites. The reasons are obvious: Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball right now; he’s a good bet to help across four categories again this year; and there’s a decent amount of uncertainty with the position players who would also be the fifth-overall pick.
A fantasy-based look at how this position stacks up through 2016.
Everyone in fantasy sports loves the look-ahead. Even in the throes of a pennant race, you can fire up a conversation about next year’s first round and it will go on for an hour. With that in mind, the BP fantasy team will be taking a long view look at every position this offseason with three-year rankings (composite value at the position over the next three seasons). We continue our way around the diamond with first basemen today! First base is the storage locker for bad defenders who can hit, especially in the NL where there is no DH. The position is almost always adding staff, but their value at the position is mitigated until they’re done qualifying elsewhere.
For example, you would be insane to use a primary-catcher first-base-eligible asset anywhere but catcher. In no circumstance are they worth more playing first base, and if you carry two such assets and put one at first base, you’re not only robbing the value of this asset, but you’re also putting yourself behind in the counting categories of first base to teams who have full-time first basemen in their lineup. At any other position (though predominantly 3B and OF), they are never more valuable at first base. You could use them there in a pinch, but just like with the catcher, you’re sapping the value of the asset.
Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Davis lead the way, but there are plenty of power bats in the middle and lower tiers.
This series began last week with a look at the catchers. Today, our positional tier rankings series continues with a look at first base.
Players at each position are divided into five tiers, represented by a numerical star rating. Five-star players are the studs at their respective position. In general, they are the players that will be nabbed in the first couple of rounds of the draft, and they'll fetch auction bids in excess of $30. Four-star players are a cut below the studs at the position. They will also be early-round selections, and they are projected to be worth more than $20 in most cases. Three-star players are the last tier in which players are projected to provide double-digit dollar value in auctions, and two-star players are projected to earn single digits in dollar value in auctions. One-star players are late round sleepers and roster placeholders. The positional tiers aren't simply a regurgitation of last year’s values but rather try to offer some insights into what we expect will happen in 2014.
We retained last year's roster requirements for the positional tier series. Dollar values come from last year’s PFM using a 12-team, standard 5x5 scoring format, with 23-man rosters and the following positions: C (2) 1B (1) 2B (1) 3B (1) SS (1) CI (1) MI (1) OF (5) UT (1) P (9). The minimum bid for players is $1, and, as we did last year, we allocate $180 of a $260 budget to hitters. Players needed to play in 20 games at a position to qualify there. The PFM is customizable, so if your league uses a different format, you can adjust it to match your league settings and see how it impacts players’ dollar values.
Players with multi-position eligibility are listed at the position where it is most likely they would start in a standard fantasy league. Buster Posey and Carlos Santana both have eligibility at catcher and first base but are not included in this part of the series for this reason. While there are unique situations where a fantasy owner might start Posey or Santana at first, these situations are the exception and not the rule.
Craig examines the strategies you should employ when filling this premium offensive position, and what it might look like down the road.
First base is always an interesting position, especially for those of us who are in dynasty leagues (or just into prospects) because it lacks the high-end prospects in the minors but manages to maintain a huge portion of value in fantasy. Because of the depth that the position picks up at the major-league level, thanks mainly to position changes, the strategy it sees can actually be similar to the one Bret mentioned in the State of the Position: Catchers writeup, in that many people will go into a draft planning on passing until the later rounds. With catchers, this can be because at some point, all that’s left are similarly (but poorly) skilled players, so it just doesn’t matter who you end up with. It’s different at first base in that, while there are elite talents at the top, the depth of the position provides some cushion for those who choose to draft/spend elsewhere early on.
That depth is the defining aspect to the position. While outfield may rival first base for its depth, it also has between 3-5 positions to fill, depending on the league, while first base only has the one (though CI is also filled by 1B-eligible players). The top of the depth chart at first base appears more muddled than ever, with Chris Davis the reigning king thanks to his power explosion in 2014. Still, Paul Goldschmidt might be the better investment thanks to a steadier track record and impressive versatility (he led all first baseman with 15 stolen bases). We’ve seen Eric Hosmer and Brandon Belt finally, hopefully, solidify themselves reliable first-base options with upside, adding talent to what has become a very robust middle tier.
A visual representation of the rankings in the tiered first-base list with a breakdown of the statistical contributions each player is projected to make.
For a primer on the graphical rankings, click here.
First base was an extremely fun position to break down this year. The top offensive producers will come from the cold corner. Miguel Cabrera will move there from third, Joe Mauer and perhaps Buster Posey will enter into transitional phases in their careers at first, and there’s still a host of highly talented incumbents that crowd the rankings quite a bit. Again, these are made to mirror Mike Gianella’s tiered system and aren’t necessarily in a hard order. With that in mind, let’s address some questions about the graphs.
Most fantasy players prefer to invest their top pick in a star hitter, but this spring, one hurler might tempt those picking outside the top five.
I have always been vehemently against taking starting pitchers in the first round of a fantasy draft. The injury risk associated with pitchers is part of it, but honestly it has always been more because I trust myself to find better pitching later—so in a sense, arrogance. It’s just easier to pluck capable arms later than it is to find the out-of-nowhere bats like Josh Donaldson or Jean Segura. As we creep through the dead of winter and start to trickle into mock draft season, I’m warming to the idea of a first-round starting pitcher, or, more specifically, Clayton Kershaw. There are a handful of quality fantasy aces out there, but Kershaw is clearly a cut above the rest.
The top of the draft is relatively well established. Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout are the unquestioned top pair at this point, with a split camp on which of the two should go first. You can’t really go wrong with either, so having a top-two pick is a prime position this year. The next pair seems to be taking a foothold on the three and four spots in either order, too. Paul Goldschmidt is the easy three for me, but there is a real debate between him and Andrew McCutchen that I would at least listen to before selecting Goldy. Others may have it reversed, but I haven’t been in a mock draft this offseason that didn’t see these four go at the top of the draft.