Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bleacher Report Highlights Black Book

Will Carroll's new piece on Bleacher Report highlights the RPV stat from the Fantasy Baseball Black Book. Check it out! Great read about injuries and player values with a little help from your's truly.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Bryce Harper is over his sophomore slump
and the third time will be a charm.
Here is Part II of my look at early ADP (Average Draft Position). This time we are looking at points league formats. Understanding the ADP trends allows you to map out a clear draft strategy. It will tell you how long you can wait on certain players and who is being under/overrated. Remember its not only about getting the best talent. It's also about getting that talent for the proper value. The biggest change you will see is the value of pitching in this format as opposed to roto leagues and with good reason. Two start weeks and big game bonuses are a huge advantage in this format. As I laid out in this year's FANTASY BASEBALL BLACK BOOK '14, the RPV (Relative Position Value) advantage of having multiple front line starters can be enormous.

Here is a look at some early trends in points league ADP worth noting that can influence your draft strategy a great deal. (ADP based on CBS Fantasy Sports)


(Picks 1-30)

The usual pitching suspects show up in the early going (Kershaw #2, Wainwright #5, Darvish #7, Verlander #9, Scherzer #10, Felix Hernandez #11). It's nice to see Verlander getting a pass for a down year since he has earned it. As you can see, if you want an elite starter you have to be willing to draft one in the first round. The one starter that I think is trending a little too high is Cliff Lee at #13 overall. He certainly performed like and ace last year, but at 35 on a team with question marks I think that is a little high. This is especially true when you consider Strasburg (#16), Jose Fernandez (#19), Sale (#23) and Bumgarner (#26) are all still on the board at that point. In a snake draft, I would definitely take the big bat over Lee and grab one of these other arms in the later second round. David Price at #17 is the most overrated pitcher based off the fact his strikeout rate is declining and he did have an injury plagued 2013. He is far from done, but not worth this high of a pick heading into this season.
At #15 Troy Tulowitzki is trending upward in a terrible shortstop market. Chris Davis at #24 is much more reasonable than his roto league ADP. His strikeouts are a burden in points leagues and I am more apt to take Edwin Encarnacion (#28) a few picks later. He may have a lower ceiling than Davis, but he has two consecutive consistent power seasons to his name. Basically, you know what you are getting with Encarnacion; Davis' value on the other hand is far more unknown. Ryan Braun is a steal at #18, as is Carlos Gonzalez at #22. When you talk about value per draft pick here is a prime example. Braun's PED suspension has brought his value down from a top 3 pick to the 15-20 range. Cargo had his best overall season when you consider his new found away game production. Constant injuries weigh down his ranking. Both guys come with risk, but when the rewards are this high you shouldn't be gun shy.
Yasiel Puig (#29) is edging out Bryce Harper (#30) and that is just bananas in my world. Puig is a talented player, but he is in for a big adjustment in year two. I am not ready to anoint him after a partial season of good production. Plus, he comes with a fair amount of personal liability as well. If you don't think that matters you are wrong. Harper is poised in his third season to really take a step forward in his development and I believe could even reach first round level production if everything breaks right. He has more experience than Puig and is clearly more mature despite being younger.

(Picks 31-60)
David Wright is still worth
a big investment.
The infield market begins to fly off the board with Pedroia (#32), Matt Carpenter (#34), David Wright (#35) and Jose Reyes (#40). The estimated 3rd round value is about right considering: Pedroia's declining power, Carpenter has done it only once and Wright and Reyes have had trouble staying on the field. Craig Kimbrel (#36) is the first and only closer selected within these 30 picks. Again, points leagues are a different animal. Depending on what saves are worth in your specific league and how many you are allowed to play, this trend can vary. Elite closers can be an alternative to starters in the right situation when they have high strikeout rates.
Rounds 4-6 in this ADP are really about filling your infield and rotation. There are really no glaring values out of balance. Perhaps you can argue than Anibal Sanchez at #59 should be higher than Julio Teheran (#49) who has had one big year, and Jered Weaver (#50) who is aging and trending in the wrong direction; but that is splitting hairs. For my money, the secondary pitching market yields great value with middle tier starters and young up and comers like Michael Wacha, Tony Cingrani, Shelby Miller, Sonny Gray, Taijuan Walker etc. It would be smarter to invest in offense at this stage in the draft and go with the "strength in numbers" philosophy in your rotation once you have one or two top guys. Conversely, the offensive market is not what it used to be and there is greater value to be had at this stage in the draft than any other. Basically, it's better to be drafting Jason Kipnis (#52) than Matt Cain (#47) is the main idea.

(Picks 61-100)
The draft now shifts to the aforementioned young starters and elite closers like Chapman (#61), Jensen (#64), Holland (#66) and Rosenthal (#81). If you can only play one reliever, I suggest letting this market come to you. If your league has 16 teams, you are still going to be putting out a closer in the top half of league market and saves are easy to find. I would rather be drafting Ian Desmond (#80) or Ben Zobrist (#82). Matt Kemp at #74 is intriguing, though I believe that ADP will rise as he begins to play in spring games. Early drafts will benefit from players like Kemp who come with risk off down years.
Josh Donaldson at 76 could be a steal. Yes, he has had one big year, but it was a consistent one and he has minor league track record to back it up. Similar situation to Matt Carpenter, yet Carpenter is going 40 picks ahead of him. That is a bit crazy. Carlos Gomez (#87) is also a steal considering his skill set. Allen Craig's versatility and run production is another sleeper at #98. Many first baseman and outfielders have already gone and Craig has the ability to put up similar stats. He drops this far because he has had trouble staying on the field. Players with talent are worth risk, and Craig can be a steal. His position flexibility is also a huge plus.
Now for the overvalued...Justin Upton at #63 is way too high. He has never reached the "potential" scouts have suggested and despite being relatively young there are simply other outfield bats out there that can put up similar power numbers. Patrick Corbin (#69) is another guy I would avoid at this value.Way too many options out there and Corbin was dreadful after the break. Mark Trumbo (#75) has power, but the change in leagues and his big strikeout rates should not have him in above Jayson Werth (#86) and even Josh Hamilton (#91).

Again, its about getting the right player at the right price.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Here's my latest appearance on the DEAR MR. FANTASY PODCAST with Chris McBrien and the Fantasy Doctor. We cover the 2B position, movies and other fun nonsense. Always great to talk baseball with these fine Canadians! Give a listen!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Chris Davis as a Top 10 Roto League pick
may be biting off more that you can chew.
Personally, I never found a "Top 100 List" very useful in preparing for a draft. It's interesting to see where experts rank certain players and it can be a goal to end up with as many players from a list like that as possible. However, at the end of the draft day it's about building a team to fit for your specific league format. What are your rules on innings totals? Is OBP is a category? If so, then you must knock "all or nothing sluggers" down a peg. What I believe is useful is a strong look at ADP (Average Draft Position). What that allows you to do is get an idea what players are being selected at what time in most drafts. That can make an enormous difference in your approach. Just because you are high on a player does not always mean other owners are too. You should never "reach" for a guy that you may be able to wait a few more rounds on and still own. That sort of planned patience can allow you to continue to build your roster and actually get better value per pick. ADP can also show you which players are being overvalued. That information can help you write off certain players that you don't have faith in that are going way too soon.

Here is a look at some early trends in Roto league ADP that are worth noting that can influence your draft strategy a great deal. (ADP based on CBS Fantasy Sports)


(Picks 1-30)

The top 10 is filled with the usual suspects (Trout, Cabrera, Kershaw etc). Ryan Braun is cracking the top 10 at the #9 slot. I expect that his stock will rise as drafts continue and he shows any signs of life in spring training games. Chris Davis rounds out this group, and in my mind is a huge red flag. Yes, Davis is in his prime, had a huge season and is firmly entrenched in the middle of the Baltimore order. However, I am not ready to claim him as a franchise fantasy player after on huge year. The biggest issue I have here is if Davis slips to a 35HR/105RBI season; how is he all that different from Prince Fielder (#13 overall ADP). Joey Votto (#15) or Edwin Encarnacion (#20)? Davis historically has struggles versus lefties and last year was no different (.235 BA/.763 OPS vs LHP). 37 of his 53 homers came in the first half. If you marginalize that monstrous first half, a 30/100 player is more likely than the 50/130 player we saw last year. From an RPV (Relative Position Value) standpoint, Hanley Ramirez (#11) or Troy Tulowitzki (#16) are far better risks and have many more elite seasons of production if you are putting your fantasy season on the line.
Yasiel Puig at #14 is another player who I think is vastly being "over-drafted" when known entities like Adrian Beltre (#17), Evan Longoria (#18) and David Wright (#19) are all still on the board. Bryce Harper at #21 may or may not be a reach. However, if you want him then clearly you are going to have to make your move and pay top dollar. The same can be said for Giancarlo Stanton (#29) and Matt Kemp (#30), regardless of their respective down years and injuries. No discounts on these big bats nor on big arms like Adam Wainright (#22) or Yu Darvish (#25). I am pleased that Justin Verlander (#27) is a small step ahead of Max Scherzer (#28). Having been dominant for so many years should mean something, even after a down year.

(Picks 31-60)
Here is where the young pitching starts to fly: Jose Fernandez (#35), Stephen Strasburg (#37), Chris Sale (#53) and Madison Bumgarner (#58).
Chris Sale should not be undervalued
based on win potential.
I think Sale and Bumgarner are much closer to these other two and are being undervalued. Obviously people think Sale's win total will be limited. Yet, Fernandez pitching in Miami is certainly not a lock to win more games than Sale. Never chase wins and take your chances on Sale a round later. Bumgarner is durable, pitches in a favorable park and could easily outperform all of them. He is the best bang for your fantasy buck of the group.
Steals are also starting to go off the board Starling Marte (#38), Jose Reyes (#39), Jean Segura (#41), Elvis Andrus (#47), Billy Hamilton (#55) and Jose Altuve (#57). Considering the disappearance of Marte and Segura in the second half, it's a tad surprising to see them go top 50 overall regardless of their speed. Billy Hamilton is a boom or bust and his ADP is bound to rise over the next month as he is over-hyped by fantasy outlets on his 70-100 stolen base potential. As tempting as he is in this format, you have to be careful not to put yourself in a situation where your season hinges on his success. I'll take my chances with Reyes and his 40+ steals at shortstop.
Elite closers Craig Kimbrel (#36), Kenley Jansen (#54), and Aroldis Chapman (#56) are all gone by pick #60. Chapman in my opinion is closer to Kimbrel than Jansen, and is being undervalued. Just because Jansen is on a better team on paper does not necessarily translate to more saves. If Chapman is going this late, I am perfectly content to be the 3rd owner to take a closer.
Joe Mauer at #34 is surprising, but catcher eligible players who play everyday at another position are a big RPV advantage. Mauer at catcher is not a sleeper folks, sorry. Dustin Pedroia at #43 is a steal considering his RPV at a weak position and his dependability. Albert Pujols rounds out the group at 60. If he rebounds to 30/100 levels, yet another reason not to go out on a limb for Chris Davis.

(Picks 61-100)
This is where you can start to see opportunity knocking. Matt Carpenter at #65 is coming off a breakthrough year, but his minor league track record and major league sampling suggest he can be a close proximity. Teammate Trevor Rosenthal (#70) is no longer a sleeper, being drafted right after Greg Holland (#62). They are perfectly suitable consolation prizes should you miss out on Kimbrel or Chapman. Matt Adams (#74) is also getting a lot of attention for his power potential. Josh Hamilton comes in at #79 and frankly I don't see why. That's not to say he can't live up to this ADP, but Hamilton is aging and was never the same hitter outside of Arlington. There are better options out there.
Catchers Carlos Santana (#61), Wilin Rosario (#67), Jonatahn Lucroy (#69), Yadier Molina (#85), Brian McCann (#86), Matt Wieters (#94) and Salvador Perez (#100) are flying off the board. As much as I like Rosario and his potential to reach 30 homers, I can't see taking him two rounds before Molina or three rounds before Perez. If you miss out on this group and play two catchers in your roto league, you are in deep trouble. There is clearly the potential for a serious catcher "run" in this year's draft.
If you are looking for starting pitcher value, Anibal Sanchez (#91), Hisashi Iwakuma (#98) and Julio Teheran (#99) are terrific choices. Considering Sanchez's incredible strikeout rate and ERA in '13 (2.57 mark led the AL), he is by far the most underrated arm in the top 100 ADP.
Of this entire list, Evan Gattis at #83 I feel is the worst choice of the top 100 ADP for three reasons. First off, being full time catcher in Atlanta is going to take it's physical toll. Secondly, he lacks on base skills (.291OBP in '13). Lastly, he did not fare well when the league made adjustments to him. When you add in the fact he is losing at bats by catching everyday, his top 100 ADP is a farce. The best value in the top 100 ADP is David Ortiz at #73. All he does is hit despite advanced age and the fact he is limited to DH duties in most leagues. Power is scarce nowadays, so you should take it wherever you can get it. His high BA and penchant for driving runs makes him one of the safer draft day solutions to power categories. Ben Zobrist, at #113, based on his versatility and track record should be in the top 100 ADP and is the first glaring omission.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

All Underrated Fantasy Team for 2014

Last week we took a look at what makes a player overrated. Just as important in your upcoming draft is the understanding of what makes a player undervalued. Usually undervalued players tend to not be household names. They don’t always put up gaudy numbers, but what they usually do is produce time and time again. Sometimes they are on small market teams who don’t garner as much national attention. A lesser known entity that produces like a known commodity at a reduced price is what a savvy fantasy owner should always be on the lookout for on draft day.
My personal favorite undervalued player type is the young guy who burst on the scene, fails in year two, and then resurrects himself in year three. Eric Hosmer, Jason Heyward and many others fit this bill. Rookies sometimes come on like gangbusters, which cause fantasy writers to overvalue them and over-hype them. Their value consequently skyrockets. Then they have a sophomore slump and their value plummets. What happens is owners get so down on them because they paid such a hefty price and got burned. The next year they are still young talented players, but because they owners were scorned by them, they become taboo. People get scared off way too easily. This is when you scoop up these guys in the mid-to-late rounds the following year and watch them blossom into stars. If they don’t, you only spent a mid level pick to find out. No harm done. As long as they have good minor league track records they should turn things around eventually and steady the ship.
C Salvador Perez KC Hits for a high average and gets glowing reviews from his coaching staff. Young catchers sometimes take longer to develop offensively. Power is coming down the road and his second half OPS of .818 was 100 points higher than his first half. Clearly he is making progress.
1B Brandon Belt SF Had a very strong second half (.329BA/.390OBP/.525SLG/.915OPS)
and will no longer be looking over his shoulder to be sure he is starting every day.
2B Martin Prado ARZ Once he got over the pressure of living up to being dealt for Justin Upton, he settled in had had another terrific season. He has never been a streaky player in the past so last year was a fluke.
3B Matt Carpenter STL His 2013 was a Wade Boggs-esque season and folks still don’t realize how valuable his on base skills are…you should. he led the NL in runs, hits and doubles.
SS Andrelton Simmons ATL He is still very young and already shown 15-20 homerun power at a weak position. His defense is off the charts, so he is never coming out of the Braves lineup no matter how bad he may slump.
OF Hunter Pence SF All he does is give you great production every year in every category. Matt Kemp will probably be drafted ahead of him, but Pence has a good chance to outproduce him for the third year in a row.
OF Matt Holliday STL He may be getting older, but he still has power and will be on base a ton…a very reliable bat.
OF Norichika Aoki KC How many guys walk more than they strikeout out, hit double digit homers, steal 20+bases and cost very little? This guy is one of them.
RHP Doug Fister WAS Take a terrific mid rotation AL arm and drop him on arguably the best team in a weak hitting NL East division. He could easily outperform many bigger names and will always work deep into games.
LHP Madison Bumgarner Still so young with a terrific K/BB rate, a favorable home ballpark and an improving offense.What's not to like? This could be the last year you get him for a discount.
RP Glen Perkins MIN Has put together a nice run as closer with good peripherals on a team going nowhere. Pitching for the Twins in anonymity is why he slides under the radar, but that makes him a great value.

It’s not just about paying for talent. It’s about paying appropriately for that talent. If you can do that on a consistent basis, you will be successful in your drafts and separate yourself from the rest of your league mates.