Examining keystoners who see their values rise and fall in OBP and points formats.
Well, that was fast. A week after surveying the view from the mountaintop while discussing the wonder and might of the first basemen in your league, we trudge back down into the valley where we started in our look at catchers two weeks ago. Second baseman actually had something of a renaissance last year, running up an extra 27 collective points of slugging relative to 2014, while also getting on base at a marginally better clip and hitting a somewhat staggering 93 more homers. Still, those rates and totals were good for just fourth, fourth, and fifth, respectively, among the six positional groupings. Keystoners were more valuable contributors, in other words, but in most cases they still weren’t going to be mistaken for the straws stirring your lineup’s drink.
Identifying under-the-radar fantasy targets to help your squad in this category.
Finally, we’ve arrived at the part of our Fantasy Categorical Breakdownseries tailored to the more discerning tastes of those of you who play in an OBP-based league. Greg Wellemeyer gave us the 30,000-foot view on Wednesday, while J.J. Jansons momentarily relaxed his restrictions on E-A-T-I-N-G in his classroom to dive into some of 2015’s over- and under-achievers in the category yesterday. Today we’re going to take a look at some otherwise off-the-board types who have far less relevance in standard leagues than they do in deeper OBP formats.
Mike Napoli, 1B, Indians
Boy, was Napoli frustrating last year. Woof! I wrote nice things about him in last winter’s Adjuster column for first basemen, and he promptly responded with a .207/.307/.386 turd sandwich of a first half before crushing it in a part-time role with Texas in the second half. But! Note the OBP even in spite of his overall struggles. Mike Napoli can get on base, and even with the circumstantial evidence of opposing pitcher attack patterns pointing squarely in the direction of him losing a click or three of bat speed, he’s still very much a name for CI target lists in OBP formats.
After several years of decline, the league-average on-base percentage rose three points this season—from .318 in 2014 to .321 in 2015—as Greg pointed out yesterday. With that frame of reference, let’s take a look at three players that owners in OBP-leagues were thrilled with in 2015 and three that were disappointments. The rankings are reflective of players receiving 400 or more plate appearances in 2015 in order cast a wider net than just qualifiers.
The past season reversed a recent downtrend in OBP, but was the small reversal a sign of less out-making to come?
You didn’t think the Baseball Prospectus fantasy team was only going to discuss standard 5x5 categories as part of our Fantasy Categorical Breakdownseries, did you? After tackling nine of those ten already, I’m here to introduce the OBP category. J.J. Jansons and Wilson Karaman have my back with the over/underachiever and deep dive later this week.
The latest on the longest season-starting walkless streaks.
It’s appropriate that Jeff Keppinger’s first walk of 2013 was a game-winner. After 140 plate appearances without one—150 dating back to the end of last season—it would’ve been a shame if the walk we’d all been waiting for hadn’t helped the White Sox win.
Before we can attempt to figure out why a player improved or regressed, we have to figure out how much his performance actually changed.
Quick, which player had the greatest change in on-base percentage from 2011 to 2012? Did you say Houston Astros pitcher Aneury Rodriguez? In 2011, Rodriguez went 0-for-9 with two sac bunts. In 2012, Rodriguez appeared in only one major-league game, but he came to the plate once and got a hit. Rodriguez went from a seasonal OBP of .000 to 1.000. It doesn't get bigger than that.
Answers to some of the most unanswerable and most easily answerable questions about baseball on the internet.
This weekend, dozens of people with baseball-related questions went to Yahoo! Answers to get answers from yahoos. Get it? I switched the words. What I'm saying is Yahoo! Answers, everybody. The best. Especially the best for baseball questions, which, in nearly all cases, could be answered quickly by one of the many websites that track and record every pitch ever thrown, or else are entirely unanswerable. Just the very, very best.
Rather than leave these poor people without answers to their questions, I'd like to answer a few of this weekend's questions. Only the most important ones, obviously. Let's go answer some nutballs' questions!
Sabermetric pioneer Pete Palmer tackles the hit and run and other statistical topics.
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.
Pete Palmer is the co-author of The Hidden Game of Baseball with John Thorn and co-editor of the Barnes and Noble ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia with Gary Gillette. Pete introduced on-base average as an official statistic for the American League in 1979 and invented on-base plus slugging, now universally used as a good measure of batting strength. A member of SABR since 1973, his baseball data is used by the SABR Encyclopedia, MLB.com, Retrosheet, ESPN, and Baseball-Reference.com. He was selected by SABR to be in the inaugural group of nine given the Henry Chadwick award in 2010. Pete is also the editor of Who’s Who in Baseball, soon to be celebrating its 100th anniversary. His latest book, Basic Ball: New Approaches for Determining the Greatest Baseball, Football, and Basketball Players of All-Time, was released late last year.
A lot of younger veterans are having huge starts to their years, but are the stat lines legit, or will they be turning back into pumpkins soon?
Last year around this time, I wrote a series of articles about the “All-Bounceback Team,” highlighting aging players who were off to such great starts that they had already provided more value than they had during the whole previous season, and predicting whether they could continue on at that level. In trying to put together a similar list this week, I noticed there are far more young veterans surpassing their recent performances than there were older veterans reclaiming their mojo. Thus, I’ve decided to use this year’s columns to identify whether these players’ performance so far points to a “Bounceback” for a veteran player, a “Breakthrough” for a young player who has never experienced much success, or is merely the “Balderdash” of small-sample success that’s doomed to erode.
It's red-on-red violence between two founding franchises, but who'll wind up dead?
Back in the '70s, the Phillies and the Reds were half of a quartet of clubs that basically owned the National League. Dial up National League post-season action, and you'd get the Reds or the Dodgers from the old NL West, and the Pirates or the Phillies from the old NL East. That foursome won nine pennants and 18 of the 20 playoff slots from 1970-79; get picky and run from 1971-80, and it's still niine of 10 and 17 of 20. Yet for all that, this will be just the second time two of the league's founding franchises get to square off. You have to be a fan of a certain age or owe a bit to Joe Posnanski to have much memory of the 1976 NLCS, which was the Big Red Machine's stepping stone to its second (and last) pennant—they had to go through crushing the Phillies first, sweeping three in the best-of-five, with the third game decided in Cincinnati after an exchange of blown saves.
Taking a look at TAv broken down by position, one month into the season.
Seeing what positions are providing you with the most offense is important when you need to make a trade or drop a player to make room for one on the waiver wire. If you're into positional scarcity, then knowing where offense is the most scarce (or prevalent) is key for knowing what a player's value is like contextually. Today we'll take a look at how each position is doing via True Average (TAv) thus far, and compare it to last year's end of season totals. TAv is a catch-all offensive statistic scaled to batting average--.260 is always league average, but each position can have a different average to it.
Now, it's been just over a month, so these numbers are subject to change, but the lowest at-bat total at a position this far in is 2650, so we're not playing with tiny numbers either: