With some new features, PECOTA's better-prepared than ever to tell you where Matt Wieters ranks among promising backstops.
I've kept you all waiting so long for the PECOTA Takes on Prospects series that I'm going to eschew any lengthy philosophical discussions. Instead, let me quickly tick off the new features that should make these rankings more accurate-or at least less inaccurate-than ever before:
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Is this a category you can punt, or one you need to take especially seriously?
Last week's starting pitcher rankings generated a lot of e-mail that had questions along the same lines. The main question was something to the effect of, "Why is X not in the top 50? I think he is better than Y and Z." There are a few general responses to this that I have come up with in between articles.
Every winter involves some railing at the industry's wacky-pack free agent rankings--what gives?
Every year, one of the first steps in the free agent dance is the ranking of players who finished the year on major league rosters for purposes of compensation. Under baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), teams that lose a free agent may be entitled to additional picks in the next year's Rule 4 amateur draft, depending on how good the free agent is.
Everything you wanted to know about the BP Kings Charity Scoresheet Draft.
Peter Gammons' unfortunate incident focused the spotlight on cerebral aneurysms, but my connection is more personal. My mother had a cerebral aneurysm rupture way back in 1977 and was fortunate to survive.
Draft Strategy: Be strong at scarce positions offensively, avoided the dreaded Pitcher-AAA as always, and work on building a better bullpen to compensate for the lack of early starting pitchers. I sort of strayed from that strategy by taking John Lackey relatively early, and I might have a problem at second base if Jose Lopez doesn't pan out. I wanted to build a good core under the age of 30, and I did a fairly decent job of that. One of my harder decisions was my first one--Grady Sizemore vs. Joe Mauer. The consensus seems to be that I went the wrong with Sizemore--the consensus could be right, but I get the idea that three years from now Mauer won't be catching as often, to preserve his knees. Maybe that's too far forward to look, but at the same token, I see Sizemore as basically being risk-free.
I participated in the Mock Draft in the Scoresheet newsgroup, and because of that I expected the draft to be a little more prospect-heavy early-on. With the notable exception of Nate Silver, it wasn't, which suits me fine. I'm happy to have Brignac and Adam Miller among my top prospects.
Draft Strategy: Our only real strategy was to get big bats with the first few picks, then turn to pitching. Other than that, we basically reacted to the draft. We had the third pick, and in a league with an obvious top three, that made things easy. The one who's left is your guy, and that was Joe Mauer, whom we were happy to have. When Vernon Wells fell, we felt, to us at No. 22, we had our theme for the early part of the draft: Young, studly up-the-middle guys.
A small change to the CBA had a very large effect on this winter's free-agent market, and will have one on the upcoming draft as well.
Part of the allure of baseball is that, while players and teams come and go, the game itself changes at such a glacial pace that a 90-year-old fan today would have trouble coming up with any differences between the games he watched as a child from the game he sees today. Basketball before the invention of the shot clock was a vastly different game than the one played today. The shot clock wasn't even adopted by the NCAA until Michael Jordan had already left school. Football adds and subtracts penalties like an accountant furiously trying to make the books balance. The NHL made more rule changes after their lost season of two years ago than Major League Baseball has made since 1920.
Jonah Keri introduces us to the participants in Baseball Prospectus' Celebrity Scoresheet League.
Even the most die-hard Rotisserie player would stop short of calling the game a perfect proxy for the real thing, though. Roto's focus on statistics such as RBI, stolen bases, saves and wins are enough to make any card-carrying stathead scurry for the soothing comfort of his VORP tables. Luckily there are games that do a better job of replicating real-life baseball. Strat-O-Matic incorporates such elements as defense and strategic decisions (taking the extra base, bunting, hit-and-run plays) into its game. Strat does fall short in one element though, as it relies on the previous season's stats to generate the action. "What, Derrek Lee hit another three-run homer? Shocking!"
Scoresheet Baseball, on the other hand, combines realistic game results with current-year statistics. If Eric Chavez goes 11-for-24 in a given week, you get the benefit of that offensive outburst and Chavez's Gold Glove defense during the corresponding week on the Scoresheet schedule. Scoresheet has a few flaws too. It doesn't account for park effects for one, making Rockies hitters and Nationals pitchers appear more valuable than they are in reality. Still, it's a challenging, fun-to-play game that's a departure from traditional rotoball.
Jeff wonders if fantasy owners should stock their farm system with young hitters or young pitchers.
Is the same true of a fantasy farm system? I've always believed so, and my experiences in keeper leagues have only reinforced that point of view. Take the RotoWire Staff League as an example. We now have three years under our belt, in an 18-team league where each team starts the year with a 10-man minor league roster. In those three years, I've drafted 19 minor leaguers (because some of those draftees were retained, I didn't have the full complement of 10 picks each season) and traded for three others: