How did our fantasy guru fare in his recent Tout Wars and LABR drafts?
This past weekend, I ventured into New York City for the annual Tout Wars draft. Earlier in the week, I was moved from the Tout Wars Mixed to the NL-only league, which means that I’d be a participant in the two highest-profile NL-only auction leagues for the 2012 season: Tout Wars and LABR (which I drafted at the beginning of the month). Since I didn’t get a chance to write up my LABR team, I thought it would be useful to show you how it compares with my Tout team, give some thoughts on the common threads between the two, and get your opinion on how my teams look.
You’ll find my rosters below (note that LABR uses 10 pitchers and six reserves, while Tout uses nine and four; additionally, Tout uses a “swingman” instead of a fifth outfielder, which can be filled by any hitter or pitcher):
A look at whether the top competitors in Tout Wars followed common fantasy advice this season
Fantasy baseball is anywhere from 30 to 50 years old depending on which game you subscribe to, but there are a lot of commandments in this game that people still swear by because they read it in a magazine or some fantasy expert they follow told them it is the way to go. A great personal example I like to relay is my first and only experience in the NFBC draft in 2009 out in Las Vegas.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Taking a trip through time to discover how the game you play today took shape.
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
R. Emmet Sweeney is a film critic and fantasy baseball player who writes a weekly column for the official blog of Turner Classic Movies, Movie Morlocks. He has also contributed to Film Comment, Time Out Chicago, IFC News, The Believer, Moving Image Source and the Village Voice. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and the Ford at Fox box set. You can follow him on twitter at @r_emmet.
How to get through the season's first month without panicking.
Albert Pujols is on pace to hit into 486 double plays in 2011. This would shatter the record of 36 double plays that Jim Rice grounded into in 1984. Meanwhile, Robinson Cano is going to have problems hitting over .300 again, as he is on pace to strike out 324 times this season.
Rob McQuown kicks off the Scoresheet Baseball season with some basic tips and help with keeper decisions.
Welcome to the kickoff of BP Scoresheet! The “cuts” deadline for most leagues is coming up soon, and the Scoresheet forums are buzzing with titles including the words “protect” and “keeper” and “draft”. And with only 13 keepers available in most leagues, these are some tough decisions.
But first, what is Scoresheet Baseball, why is it included under “BP Fantasy”, and how can insights into Scoresheet help in other fantasy baseball contexts?
One of the staples of this website is the yearly Prospectus Today column in which Joe Sheehan discusses the expert fantasy leagues he participates in-the Rotowire Staff League and Tout Wars. Today, I find myself in the odd position of hijacking one of those discussions, mainly because of peculiar luck and a wonky wireless Internet connection. Last Friday, I was BP's on-site representative at the AL Tout Wars draft-yes, the one made famous by Sam Walker's bestseller, Fantasyland, as the ne plus ultra of fantasy leagues.
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.
Even Alexis Gomez came from somewhere (Kansas City). Kevin tells us how the Tigers and A's acquired the rest of their postseason difference-makers.
\nMathematically, leverage is based on the win expectancy work done by Keith Woolner in BP 2005, and is defined as the change in the probability of winning the game from scoring (or allowing) one additional run in the current game situation divided by the change in probability from scoring\n(or allowing) one run at the start of the game.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_18 = 'Adjusted Pitcher Wins. Thorn and Palmers method for calculating a starters value in wins. Included for comparison with SNVA. APW values here calculated using runs instead of earned runs.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_20 = 'The number of double play opportunities (defined as less than two outs with runner(s) on first, first and second, or first second and third).';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_22 = 'Winning percentage. For teams, Win% is determined by dividing wins by games played. For pitchers, Win% is determined by dividing wins by total decisions. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_23 = 'Expected winning percentage for the pitcher, based on how often\na pitcher with the same innings pitched and runs allowed in each individual\ngame earned a win or loss historically in the modern era (1972-present).';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_24 = 'Attrition Rate is the percent chance that a hitters plate appearances or a pitchers opposing batters faced will decrease by at least 50% relative to his Baseline playing time forecast. Although it is generally a good indicator of the risk of injury, Attrition Rate will also capture seasons in which his playing time decreases due to poor performance or managerial decisions. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.';
xxxpxxxxx1160846402_31 = 'The Baseline forecast, although it does not appear here, is a crucial intermediate step in creating a players forecast. The Baseline developed based on the players previous three seasons of performance. Both major league and (translated) minor league performances are considered.
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: