Identifying the best late-round options for mixing and matching in your fantasy lineup.
One of the first articles I wrote here at Baseball Prospectus was a detailed look at how platoon splits, when deployed tactically and objectively, can create a surplus of value by taking two roster spots and turning them into one “super position player.” And the great thing about this concept is that you can keep using it from year to year, just with different names. There are always going to be players with flaws available later in the draft, but there’s a competitive advantage to being able to use certainly players in a way that optimizes their strengths and negates their weaknesses. Here’s what the original experiment looked like:
The exercises below show the benefits of using one of your bench spots specifically to platoon one of your final offensive players, using the 2012 season as the example. The guidelines of the exercises are simple. For each scenario, I took two players who were drafted outside the top 200 last pre-season and set a fixed schedule of when one would be in the lineup over the other—leaving no room for subjectivity. The only exceptions to this were when one of the players was not in the starting lineup (out) or one of the players was participating in a doubleheader (in). Then, I went back through the 2012 game logs to determine the actual statistics and value earned out of this “alternative arrangement.” But before we dive in, we have to set a baseline of value for the roster spots.
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He has the least-famous name, but Felix Doubront has been Boston's most dependable starter.
The Weekend Takeaway Ryan Dempster has struggled since an excellent April. Clay Buchholz has been sidelined since early June. John Lackey has a 5.49 ERA since the All-Star break. And Jon Lester has taken his team for a season-long rollercoaster ride.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington saw a club in need of rotation reinforcements last month, and he took action a day before the trade deadline, snagging Jake Peavy from the White Sox in a three-team deal that shipped Jose Iglesias to the Tigers. Peavy, whom Cherington lauded as a pitcher who “gives us a chance to win every time out,” tossed seven innings of two-run ball to help the Red Sox past the Diamondbacks in game two of three at Fenway Park.
The Tigers, Indians, and Royals have separated themselves from the Twins and White Sox, but which will emerge victorious?
The Thursday Takeaway
Were it not for the wholeheartedly rebuilding Astros, whose record is 36-70 but whose future gets a few watts brighter with every trade, no division would have a greater gap between first and last place than the American League Central, where the Tigers are at the top and the White Sox are at the bottom. That gap has grown wider in recent days, as the Tigers, Indians, and Royals have surged, leaving the Twins and White Sox in their dust.
The top three teams in the Central have won a combined 22 consecutive games—the Tigers five, the Indians eight, and the Royals nine. The bottom two have dropped 11 straight—the Twins four and the White Sox seven. Thus the Tigers are now two up on the Indians, who are 4 ½ up on the Royals, who are nine up on the Twins, who are 5 ½ half up on the White Sox. The gap from first to last is 21 games, exceeded only by the 26 ½-game chasm between the Athletics and Astros, but the margin between the contenders (generously counting the Royals, whose odds of reaching the playoffs are south of five percent) is as large as it is in any division, with the possible exception of the National League East, where the Nationals’ freefall has given the Braves a clear path to October.
The tater trots for May 8 were dominated by Josh Hamilton's four home runs versus the Orioles in Baltimore.
The night was dominated by one ultra-rare occurrence that had only happened 15 times before: Cesar Izturis's home run for the Brewers, the 16th home run of his career. I suppose a few people were also talking about the four home runs Josh Hamilton put up against the Baltimore Orioles last night, too.
Looking for a replacement for your injured third baseman? Michael looks at plenty of hot-corner options this week, especially in Playing Pepper.
As Jason Collette and Paul Sporer covered in BP’s Towers of Power Fantasy Hour podcast this week, four front-line third-base qualifiers—Evan Longoria, Mat Gamel, Kevin Youkilis, and Pablo Sandoval—hit the DL this past week, leaving fantasy owners scrambling at an already-thin position. While many of the replacement players are marginal, sometimes a warm body is all you need to keep your fantasy squad afloat until more help arrives via an early-season callup. I’ll examine a few of those hot corner replacement options in this week’s column.
As the first month of the season closes, Michael's Value Picks list only loses two players, although it won't be long until the list graduates a few more members.
A compulsive lineup tinkerer, I have a rule with my fantasy teams to mess with them as little as possible the first month of the season, except in the case of injury or outright demotion. It’s too easy to overreact to small sample sizes, hot and cold streaks, or that tweet suggesting the manager’s secret man-crush on an obscure player in Double-A.
Michael graduates his first VP of the season, but he still points out plenty of undervalued corner infielders to be found on your league's waiver wires.
For our nation’s scholars, graduation is just around the corner, but we start things early here at Value Picks, bidding adieu to our first departee. He leaves the list after quickly exceeding ownership thresholds, but I’ve got lots of other players ready to prove themselves to VP readers, including several bubble candidates in Playing Pepper.
Michael leads off the regular season Value Picks with a fresh slate of productive players you can find on the waiver wire, even in the deepest leagues.
The principle at Value Picks is simple: find valuable players with less than 20 percent ownership in most (preferably all) of the Big Three fantasy sites (Yahoo!, ESPN, and CBS). It’s not always easy to find players fitting this description, but in past seasons, I’ve called readers’ attention to then-undervalued players like Gaby Sanchez, David Freese, and Lucas Duda, who enjoy much higher ownership rates these days.