Pour one out for Brad Radke and his spiritual descendants.
We don't typically think of particular player types as being associated with certain teams. There are some exceptions that seem to persist over time: the Rockies go after groundballers, for instance, and the Yankees tend to target lefty-swinging sluggers. But those teams' player preferences are tied to their ballparks. If the Rockies played at a lower altitude or the Yankees found they could fit in another luxury box by making their outfield fences more symmetrical, they would adapt to their new surroundings and stop pursuing the same sort of player.
Other apparent preferences are illusions or short-term trends based on temporary team composition or the whims of one front-office regime. The A’s, for a while, liked fat guys, but then they discovered defense. The Royals, under Dayton Moore, have a thing for former Braves. The Tigers, under Dave Dombrowski and scouting director David Chadd, have a reputation for liking big pitchers who throw hard. But that’s almost an obvious affinity, sort of like saying a team favors hitters who hit the ball far. The Tigers might like pitchers who throw hard a little more than most teams, and they might be a bit more willing to overlook the shortcomings of pitchers who fit that profile. But what team doesn’t like big pitchers who throw hard?
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Putting every major-league player back with his original team in an alternative universe can tell us a lot about team building.
In March, I introduced The No Turnover Standings which measured what teams’ records would have been if Major League Baseball did not allow any player movement and all players had provided the same production for the team that originally drafted or signed them as amateurs. As I described in that article:
What would happen if players had to stay with the teams who originally drafted or signed them as amateurs?
"Loyalty to any one sports team is pretty hard to justify because the players are always changing, the team can move to another city, you're actually rooting for the clothes when you get right down to it. You know what I mean? You are standing and cheering and yelling for your clothes to beat the clothes from another city. Fans will be so in love with a player, but if he goes to another team, they boo him. This is the same human being in a different shirt! They hate him now! Boo! Different shirt!! Boo!"
The tricky task of predicting the value and utility of non-closing relief pitchers.
The last time we ran this column, I discussed writing a few pieces over the offseason to examine different strategies and approaches for getting the most out of relief pitchers for your fantasy team. Today we'll take a look at how valuable non-closer relievers can be, as they are often neglected in leagues without statistical categories specific to them, such as holds.
Finding it is fleeting, which suggests strategies for when and who to draft.
Drafting the right relievers presents an annual problem for fantasy owners. Sure, you can always take a look at their saves totals-or holds, if that's part of the game in your league-but this often ends with a few owners getting the shaft and drafting closers who have poor peripherals that drag down their other categories, just for the sake of picking up extra saves. If you overdraft for a guy guaranteed to get you saves rather than some of the poorer options that are picked up towards the back end of the draft, you may miss out on important contributors elsewhere. Today we're going to run a little exercise using WXRL, in order to see how often top relievers replicate their success, and whether it is worth it or not for you to spend (or waste) high draft picks on them.
BP's Fantasy Scoresheet League is back for another year. Today, the participants outline their strategies and draft results.
Despite that snafu, I'm pretty happy with the end result of my team. I have a better pitching staff than last year, and a number of good prospects getting closer to being able to help me. And since I'm not in Nate's division, I'll have an opportunity to contend.
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.
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.
Bryan Smith wonders about the draft pick/free agent tradeoff, and considers how the Padres specifically may have fared had they let all three star players walk this winter.
In the end, veterans Giles and Hoffman gave the Padres the "San Diego discount," while Hernandez opted into the richest deal he could find. There are certainly concerns that the Padres let the youngest of the three leave, while investing $43.5 million into two players older than thirty-five. The arguments against these contracts are centered around the fact that the team could have spent its money on younger players, while simply collecting first-round draft picks for their losses.
Historically, however, this would have been the Padres worst move. Not only were Giles and Hoffman two of the best free agents at their respective positions, but also because San Diego has a spotty history at cashing in on draft picks. I went back and looked at the last ten San Diego drafts (prior to 2005, which is simply too recent to judge), in hopes of finding whether Jacque Jones, Bob Wickman, $22.5 million and four draft picks was a better option than the one Kevin Towers took. The findings, to say the least, do not support such a claim.