Thursday, July 26, 2007

Daily Projections

Unfortunately, I've let this blog go dormant...but the good news is that there's a great new fantasy baseball website that I'd consider the 'spiritual descendant' of The Waiver Wire. I definitely recommend checking out Daily Projections!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

James & Valverde

For a starting pitcher pick for today I like Chuck James at home against Washington. Pretty good pitcher at home against really bad offense is always a nice formula. Honorable mention to Dave Bush against Florida.

For a reliever, I'll go with Jose Valverde who is somehow still available in slightly more than 50% of Yahoo leagues according to the player ranker. Are there leagues that don't count saves or something?

And I'll try to get a day ahead for the first time this season. There's really slim pickings tomorrows, and I'd go without a rotating starting pitcher. Pat Neshek at home against Tampa Bay is a good relief pick up.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Apologies for the lack of recent posts. Real life collided with blogging in a big way between getting very busy at work and getting really sick for a couple days. I'll start posting regularly again in the next day or two.

First priority - Walter, whoever and wherever you are, please send me an email at so I know what email address to send the calculator to!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

El Duque and Benitez

For today's starter, I'll take El Duque (who I like as long as he maintains his typically good K/9) and since Benitez is just below 50% on the Yahoo player ranker, I'll take him. Note that I like Valverde a lot more, but since he pitched yesterday, he's about 50% less likely to get a save today. If these closers stay under 50% for long, I may change my threshhold to 45% to make things tougher for myself.

Monday, April 2, 2007

First Day of Picks

I didn't make any picks for the Mets/Cards game, so today will be my first day of picks. I really am not a Carl Pavano fan, but at home, with the Yankees offense behind him against Tampa Bay, he's worth picking up. On the relief side, there are a number of closers still less than 50% owned. I don't expect that to continue, so I'll take the chance to pitch Jose Valverde today. He's at Colorado, which is a minus, but not as big a deal as it used to be, and I think he's good enough to make it worthwhile. Ryan Dempster at Cinn. would have been a good choice too.

For now, I'll be picking players who are less than 50% owned in the Yahoo 'Player Rater' at the time of the pick. I will 'allow myself' to make picks for future days if I want, and if I haven't specified my pick for a given day, then by default its the same players as the prewious day. I'll update my stats at least once a week, but probably more.

Friday, March 30, 2007

I Take it Back

Due to some strong complaints, I will stick with my original intention of identifying one undervalued starter and one undervalued reliever every day. I'll identify the criteria for 'undervalued' between now and Sunday.

Also, I've been saying that Rotohog sign-ups were ending this week. It turns out that isn't true. They will remain open thoughout the season. Late entrants just won't get to participate in a draft, and obviously they won't have much chance of winning the overall competition. But there will be monthly and/or weekly contents that they'll be eligible for.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Heath Bell

I knew that Heath Bell was a pitcher who has had a lot of success in the minor leagues, but was somewhat unfairly criticized for his lack of success in the majors, but didn't realize to what an extent this was true, until I looked up his stats after reading a short comment about him at Rotoauthority this morning.

Bell has an ERA of 4.92 in 108 innings pitched, and that's the kind of number that tends to scare people off. On the other hand, he's struck out 105 and walked only 30 in those 108 innings, so his K/9 and K/BB are both excellent. In addition he induces plenty of ground balls (over 50% in 2 of his 3 major league seasons), so it appears that his bad ERA has been mostly the result of bad luck.

Even more encouraging are the numbers Bell has put up in the minors over parts of the past few years. In 35 AAA innings last year, he struck out 56 and walked only 8 in 35 innings. That's truly exceptional, and Bell should be able to put up an ERA about 2 full runs below his major league total so far. I will be using him as a big part of my middle reliever rotation.

Some Changes

I've decided to slightly change the 'mission' of this blog. Originally I pictured most of my posts focusing on which pitchers to pick up off the waiver wire in daily transaction leagues. I've come to realize that I can still address that, while broadening the focus to include all sorts of discussion of how to make adjustments to your team during the season. Most fantasy baseball advice focuses too heavily on preparation for the season and the draft, and there's not enough information out there and how to make evaluations and adjustments once the season begins. For daily transaction leagues in particular, the in-season adjustments are critical, but they make a big difference in weekly transaction leagues as well. I was leaning towards this change in focus already, and then realized I had to do something to change the blog's stated mission, when I noticed that Yahoo doesn't list what percentage of leagues a player is owned in...making my original goal of recommending players who are less than 50% owned in Yahoo leagues impossible. So instead, I'll be explaining the transactions I make on my own Yahoo team, showing the statistical results of those transactions, and giving advice on how to manage your teams during the season. If anyone has any thoughts or suggestion regarding this change, feel free to email me or leave a comment.

Since the last update on my Yahoo team, I've made one transaction. After Julio was traded to Florida, I picked him up as a free agent and dropped Owens. This solved the last big problem I felt I had coming out of my draft - needing a 3rd closer. I actually expect to use Owens as part of my rotating middle relievers strategy, but not need to fill up a roster spot with him now...I should be able to pick him (or someone like him) up whenever I need. Julio should be a decent closer and I think he's likely to hold onto the role no matter how well Owens and the other Florida relievers pitch.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Closer Usage Patterns

I just did some really basic 'back of napkin' research on closer usage patters. I looked at data for three of the top closer - Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera, and Francisco Rodriguez. Altogether there were 197 games where they had pitched the previous day. Out of those 197 games, they were used in a total of 51 games, and picked up 42 wins or saves. There were 289 games where they had not pitched the previous day. Out of those 289 games, they were used in a total of 145 games. So in games where they pitched the previous day they picked up a win or save 21% of the time, while in games where they did not pitch the previous day, they picked up a win or save 31% of the time. And they actually appeared in games almost twice as often following a day off. Note that the results would have been even more extreme if I had eliminated games where a player missed time for an injury, since these periods obviously consisted only of days off, followed by games where they did not pitch.

Why does this matter? Well, in many leagues, it doesn't. But in leagues where there's a possibility of rotating closers...for example a salary cap league with daily transactions, this is huge. Closers are going to be AT LEAST 50% more valuable in games where they didn't pitch the previous day.

Last Week for Rotohog Sign-ups

This is the last week for Rotohog sign-ups. The last drafts are on Thursday, and trading begins Friday morning. For those who don't know, this is a FREE, fantasy baseball game with a $100K FIRST PRIZE! Other twists to the game include a 37 minute draft (teams make picks each round simultaneously) and 'open market' style trading like a stock exchange. If you haven't already registered, please use my referral code 'waiverwire' (without the quotes) when you sign up at Rotohog.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Keys to Winning at Fantasy Baseball

This is a slightly revised version of a guest article I wrote a few days ago for Fantasy Baseball Guy...

Yes, I’m aware that at least three other bloggers have written about this very same topic in the past few days. But I have a slightly different take on what the keys to winning at fantasy baseball are, and I’d like to share them. Obviously there are a lot of different things that can impact your results in a fantasy baseball league, but I believe that these three are the ones that most frequently separate the winners from the also rans.

Exploit Your Edge:
One of the keys to winning is having a plan. You need to know where your edge is going to come from and you need to have a strategy that allows you to maximize the benefit you’ll gain from that edge. It’s not enough to just draft the best players possible and hope for the best. If you do that, you’ll do ok if you value players well, but you’ll get beaten out by someone with a real plan for how to win the league.

For example, I believe that my edge comes from an understanding of how to project pitching performance. My understanding of which stats are good predictors of future performance and which aren’t has consistently allowed me to do a better job than most people of picking up undervalued pitchers and steering clear of overvalued ones. My strategy to exploit that edge is that I focus very heavily on hitting during the most drafts, confident that I can put together an ok staff of undervalued pitchers in the later rounds of the draft, and gradually improve my staff over the course of the season. Another reasonable strategy for someone with my edge would be to focus a little more on pitchers who I thought were good values even if they went relatively early in the draft (ie…pick Peavy if he’s there in the 4th round) with the intention of trading some of my pitching away once everyone else recognizes just how good my pitchers are…but obviously that will only work in a league where teams are so active that I can be sure I’ll find someone to trade with. My experience has been that that’s rarely the case.

Another example of an edge that someone might have is that they spend so much time online and watching baseball that they’re almost always the first one to know about injuries. For that person, it might be reasonable to draft only one closer, since they’ll almost certainly be able to pick up closers during the season when somebody gets hurt.

Know The Rules:
Its really important to know the rules of your league. Not just the obvious stuff like what the scoring system is, but every little detail. Is there an innings pitched maximum? An innings pitched minimum? Games played maximums at each position for hitters? What time is the transaction deadline? Are you allowed to draft an invalid roster? What are the requirements for position eligibility? Is there a disabled list? When do trading, waivers, and free agency begin? Are there limits to the number of transactions you can make? In a keeper league, what exactly are the keeper rules? Each of these (and many more) rules should play a part in the strategies that you consider using during the season. For example, a low enough innings pitched maximum might make middle relievers have some value, even in a shallow league where they normally wouldn’t. In league where you can draft an invalid roster, instead of drafting a replacement level hitter at your last open position, maybe you draft someone with an outside shot of winning the role as their team’s closer before the season starts. There are so many of these tricks and adjustments to be made, but if you don’t know the league’s rules really well, you’re not going to be able to properly take advantage of them.

Be Willing to Drop Players:
This was probably the toughest and most important lesson that I learned on the way from being a mediocre fantasy baseball player to being a good one. You simply can’t get too attached to your players. Lots of people advise this, but they’re usually talking about being willing to give up something good to get what you need in trades. While that is true, I think a willingness to drop ‘good’ players when its necessary is tougher, and more important too. In leagues with shallow benches, don’t kill your chances by carrying too manyh injured stars…at some point you may need to drop one to pick up someone who will play. In leagues with daily transactions, don’t hesitate to drop the 3-5 weakest players on your team, even if they’re pretty good. You’ll b e able to get much better production by rotating players in favorable situations….even if someone picks up the guy you just dropped. And never, ever sacrifice current production because you’re carrying a useless player for their ‘trade value’. You could wait a long time before someone is willing to trade for them.

Be Relentless:
While you can certainly lose the season with a bad enough draft, you can’t win it with a good draft. You’re going to need to check on your team and make adjustments throughout the season to have a chance of winning. Most leagues I’ve been in have been won by the person who did the best job of this, not the one with the best draft. Don’t underestimate how much ground you can make up by staying on top of things day in, day out, for the full six month season.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Tony Sipp

I decided to do some research on Tony Sipp after somebody posted on Rotojunkie that along with Fernando Cabrera, he's a possibility to take over as the Cleveland closer if Joe Borowski is injured or ineffective. I hadn't heard Sipp's name before, so I had to look up his minor league stats. I'm not actually sure that Sipp is even going to have a place in the Cleveland bullpen , but the poster was right about one thing - he should be immediately effective (although a little wild) when he gets his chance in the majors. At Akron last year (AA) he struck out 80 and walked 21 in 60.1 innings. Those are the statistics of an excellent prospect, and even if you assume that skipping AAA would lead to a relatively large drop in his K/9 rate and an increase in his BB/9, both should remain good enough for Sipp to hold his own against major league competition.


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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tampa Closer Situation

This is an updated version of a guest article I wrote for Fake Teams last week.

Last week, Joe Maddon was quoted as saying that he was far from having his mind made up about having Seth McClung act as the closer for Tampa Bay to start the season. Well, I’ts about time! Up until then, we’d been hearing that because he throws hard (or something like that) McClung was going to be given the closer’s role. Whoever had decided this apparently was overlooking one important fact…Seth McClung is a terrible pitcher. Last year he walked more batters than he stuck out (68 to 59)! That’s awful. And that was in 103 innings, so its not like he showed signs that he could be a superstar if he just improved his control. McClung hasn’t pitched well at any level above high A ball. Pitching in relief after the All-Star break last year, he wasn’t much better than as a starter in the first half of the season. While his K/9 rate went up substantially, so did his BB/9. You can’t success as a major league pitcher walking a batter every inning.

The amazing thing about how long they’d clung to the idea of using McClung as their starter is that Tampa Bay has a number of superior options.

I’ve talked about Chad Orvella before here. While he’s certainly a high risk choice, he’s got TONS of upside potential (unlike McClung who has very little chance of excelling in the majors despite the speed of his fastball), and the potential downside isn’t much worse than what McClung has done so far in his career.

A safer choice among young, unproven pitchers would be Juan Salas. I have to confess that I didn’t know much about him until recently, when somebody told me he might have a shot at the Tampa Bay closer job. I took a look at his stats, and I like what I saw: Combined 2006 stats at AA, AAA, and 10 major league innings were 93 strikeouts and 28 walks in 73.1 innings. If Salas wins the job, he should do a perfectly adequate job…far, far better than anything they could hope for out of Seth McClung.

An even better choice would be Al Reyes. He’s not young, but he’s been pretty good over the course of his major league career, with a K/9 rate close to 9 and better than a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio. And it appears that he’s been getting better over the years as his K/9 and K/BB have been substantially better since 2002. The main question with Reyes is whether he will pitch effectively after missing all of 2006. So far in Spring Training, he looks ok with 4 strikeouts and 1 walk in 6 innings pitched.

Why they would consider handing the closer’s job to a marginal major leaguer like McClung over a proven pitcher like Reyes is beyond me. But given their questionable decision making so far, Tampa Bay fans should be afraid…very afraid. Because one of the alternatives that has been mentioned is to make Ruddy Lugo the closer…and he may be even worse than McClung based on last year’s 48K/37BB in 85IP performance.

One last contender for the role of closer on Tampa Bay has emerged in the past week. Brian Stokes is a 27 year old with unexceptional minor league stats. Maddon has announced that he’ll be moved to the bullpen and is in the mix for the closer job. At AAA last year he had 103K/49BB in 133.2 inning pitched. In 24 major league innings, he had 15K/9BB. The relatively low K/9 and K/BB in AAA (and his limited time in Tampa) suggest performance similar to what I’d expect from McClung or Lugo, but he does have one thing in his favor. He’ll be moving from a role as a starter to being a reliever, and many pitchers are significantly better as relievers.

So far, it seems that only McClung has likely pitched himself out of the role, and even that isn’t definite. If Orvella, Reyes, Salas, or Stokes can win the job, I think they have a reasonable chance of pitching well enough to keep it. If McClung or Lugo win the job, I’d expect them to struggle to hold onto it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

DIPS, K/9, K/BB, and more

I realized that I talk a lot about how important ratios like K/9 and K/BB are in predicting future performance, but I've never really presented the evidence for that belief in this blog. Here's a link to a 2004 Article in Futility Infielder that summarizes a lot of the information and provides links to virtually all the important research that had been done on the topic up until then.

In addition, there are two books that devote at least a chapter to the topic and have tons of other great baseball research if you're into this stuff. I've read 'Baseball Between the Numbers' (which is by the staff of Baseball Prospectus) and although I haven't read 'The Book' yet, the authors (Tom Tango and Mitchel Lichtman) have published a lot of great work online, so I'm looking forward to having the time to read it. Don't be fooled by it's current lack of is completed, and just looks like the hardcover version is out of print so they're taking pre-orders on the paperback.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Innings Limits & Platooning

I got the following questions in an email from a reader yesterday:

1. Do you run into problems with the max innings pitched and max games played?
I'm having problems with my fantasy basketball team cause I've maxed out the games played at various positions already.

2. Do you run platoons?
I've loaded my team with lefties and I plan to utilize my bench spots by platooning a lot of positions (3b, OF, 1b, util). Unfortunately, if you platoon like this you'll have less roster spots available for waiver wire transactions, which I'm supposing is the basis of your whole strategy.

These are great questions, and I'll try to answer both of them. Obviously the answers are going to depend on the type of league you're in. But assuming that there is an innings pitched limit, then that plays a large factor in my strategy. In a daily transactions league (which I assume is what the reader was asking about) I'm going to be rotating middle relievers and starters in and out of my lineup on a daily basis. The middle relievers are in there to allow me to lower my ERA and WHIP. The starters are basically just innings eaters, in their to make sure I get enough innings pitched to be competitive in strikeouts and wins. If I'm able to draft enough good starters, then I might not rotate any starters during the season, but I generally am going to focus on hitting during the draft, so typically one or more of the starters I draft aren't good enough to outperform rotated starters I get off the waiver wire when they're in good pitchers parks and facing weak lineups.

I typically don't run lefty/righty platoons, although there's definitely some merit to doing so. If I rotate hitters at all (which I do a lot less than with pitchers) I'm typically looking for players going in good hitters parks and against pitchers with low strikeout rates. Either way, the key here is that I'm mostly doing this with the players at the 'bottom' of my roster, so I just drop whoever I'm not using. Unless you have a very large bench in your league, you're going to sometimes have to drop some pretty decent players to maximize the advantages you can get from rotating players.

Monday, March 19, 2007

More on My Yahoo Team

In the comments section on my 2nd post about my Yahoo team, Nimrod (his name for himself...not mine) said that he doesn't think my pitching looks that good. He's not the first one to say that, and that's usually the case for my teams. I still believe that I will be able to win or come close to winning most of the pitching categories. First of all, I like the pitchers I got...I suspect that they're generally going to outperform most people's expectations and make this at least a middle of the pack pitching staff. But the real reason I'll excel in the pitching categories is that I'm allowed to make transactions and this is a daily league. You can expect me to drop several of my lesser pitchers (and hitters on my bench) and rotate through top middle relievers in favorable situations (at home against weak opponents) as well as possible rotating some 'spot starters' in especially favorable situations. This will let me lower my ERA and WHIP substantially (because of the middle relievers) while accumulating a ton of Ks and Ws. Because I'll be making so many transactions during the season, I'm going to spend most of my time with one of the lower waiver priorities...its just not worth delaying my pick-ups to keep a high selection. With that in mind, I solved my problem of having only 3B on my bench by using my #1 waiver priority to drop Alex Gordon and pick up Delmon Young who had just been dropped. Now all I need is another closer (assuming Owens doesn't win the role in Florida), but there's plenty of time to pick one up.

I think it's worth discussing the general lessons here - tailor your team to the strategy you plan to use, and come up with a strategy that takes advantage of the type of league you're in. In leagues, but especially those with daily transactions, there are TONS of opportunities to tinker with your rosters and gain many, many small edges over your opponents over the course of the season. Those edges add up to an extremely high likelihood of winning your league. Ulimately, I think that's what this blog is about. Other blogs are almost entirely focused on preparing for your draft, and then keeping up to date on the news during the season. The Waiver Wire will be focused on finding opportunities to gain the upper hand throughout the season.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Park Factors

I was looking for a site with good park factors, and discovered that ESPN has great park factor data. Instead of the usual runs and home runs, their data includes specific park factors for HR, H, 2B, 3B, and BB as well. Also, they have the data for each of the past 5 seasons. And it looks like they'll be updating the 2007 data on a daily basis once the MLB season starts.

I think most of us probably underutilize park factors. Sure, when a player switches teams we make some kind of adjustment based on the ballpark he's moving from and the ballpark he's moving to...but do we actually figure out the impact on each of his component stats and how that affects his valuation?

And even fewer of us are using park factors as a major factor in our determination of who to play each week (or each day in a daily transaction league). We may take a quick glance at where our pitchers are scheduled to play, but in theory we should be making park-based adjustments to our projections for all players each week or each day and recalculating their value based on that before we decide who to play each week. The bottom part of our roster (especially in daily transaction leagues) should probably be a rotating door of players facing especially favorable situation (both park and opponent) rather than us using a 'buy and hold' type strategy with mediocre players.

I'm going to have a LOT more to say on this topic over the coming weeks and months.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Fantasy Game Day

Some how when I was originally looking for other useful fantasy baseball blogs, I missed this one. Fantasy Game Day is definitely worth visiting. They've got lots of great stuff, starting with their ADP (Average Draft Position) data, which is really valuable in helping plan out your draft strategy and avoid wasting a high pick on a favorit player when you can get the same player much later in most drafts.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Home Run Mania

You may have noticed the description of and link to another fantasy baseball game on the right side of the screen. This one is called Home Run Mania, and while it lacks some of the intricacy of other games, it's ideal for those who don't have the time to devote to preparation, lengthy drafts, and in-season transactions. Basically the idea is that you choose a team of 8 players who hit a total of less than 200 home runs last year, and your score is the number of home runs that those players hit over the course of the 2007 season. At least 80% of the entry money will be distributed in monthly and season long prizes to the highest finishers, which compares favorably with sites such as CBS Sportsline whose public leagues give out barely 50% of entry fees in prize money.

Three announcements that are somewhat related to Home Run Mania:
1. If you register to play it, please let them know I sent you, either by selecting 'The Waiver Wire' in the drop down that indicates where you heard about the game, or by letting me know you signed up with them, or by putting waiverwire as your referral code. Here is the link to play Home Run Mania.

2. If you send me an email to be included on my mailing list, I'll send you what I think is the optimal selection of players for the game.

3. I'm going to be taking entries for the first contest I've run here. Sort of a mini-Home Run Mania. Entry is free. Pick any 3 hitters who totaled a maximum of 50 home runs in the major leagues in 2006. Email me your picks. Unless you specify otherwise, I'll add you to my mailing list, and I will be sending out standings to members of the list periodically throughout the season. At the end of the season, I'll announce the winner. In addition to bragging rights, the winner will receive the choice of either writing a guest article on the topic of their choice (anything non-offensive or controversial to me) or of having me write an article on the topic of their choice (again, within reason, but doesn't have to baseball related). You can use this as an opportunity to promote a web site of your own, advertise a commerical venture you're involved in, look for a job, help a charity...whatever you want.

More About My Yahoo Draft

In the comments section for the post where I showed the results of my Yahoo Draft, ratdog gave a really good assessment of my draft. For anyone who's interested, I suggest reading what he wrote. The league is a 12 team, daily transaction, 5*5 rotisserie scoring league.

Here is the actual order of my picks:
1. (12) Carl Crawford OF
2. (13) David Wright 3B
3. (36) Hanley Ramírez SS
4. (37) Joe Mauer C
5. (60) Adam Dunn OF
6. (61) Prince Fielder 1B
7. (84) Brett Myers SP
8. (85) Cole Hamels SP
9. (108) Álex Ríos OF
10. (109) Brad Lidge RP
11. (132) John Patterson SP
12. (133) Jim Thome Util
13. (156) Takashi Saito RP
14. (157) Ian Kinsler 2B
15. (180) Dave Bush SP
16. (181) Adrián Béltre 3B
17. (204) Alex Gordon 3B
18. (205) Ted Lilly SP
19. (228) Scott Olsen SP
20. (229) Henry Owens RP
21. (252) Scot Shields RP

I like my pitching staff, and believe that combined with rotating in a ton of good middle relievers in favorable situations, I should win most of the pitching categories (other than saves unless I can get more closers) despite my lack of a true ace.

As I mentioned before, my biggest mistake was getting two 3B for my bench. I won't be able to fill in when players in other positions have the day off or get injured. The best hitter available on waivers right now is Frank Thomas, and he wouldn't solve my position flexibility issue - I really need an OF. I haven't taken the time to see who's available yet. One of the great things about shallow daily leagues is that you don't need a star at every can often make do with an ok player going against a weak pitcher in a hitter's park.

Stock Up, Stock Down

A few quick updates on players who I've talked about in previous posts...

Octavio Dotel: 3IP, 4K, 0BB. Tiny sample size, but its looking like he's ok. Nice sleeper for most leagues.

Zack Greinke: 9IP, 11K, 0BB. Very nice. Too bad they're talking about having him start the year in AAA. Some other team should volunteer to take him off KC's hands, since they don't seem to recognize that he's a pretty good pitcher.

Brad Lidge: 5IP, 5K, 2BB. Not bad, but because of his 10.80 ERA there's a perception that something is 'still wrong' with him. I think he'll pitch fine but might downgrade him slightly just because of the risk that they could pull him from the closer role prematurely.

Mark Prior: 3.1IP, 0K, 5BB. Uh oh. Normally reports of low velocity and control issues in Spring Training aren't anything to be too concerned about. When the stats confirms those reports in a player with Prior's injury history, be concerned. Add to that the fact that he was moved back in the rotation, which may indicate that he's no longer being considered for the Cubs #5 rotation spot, and Prior is now AT MOST a $1 player.

Rich Hill: 5IP, 6K, 0BB. Nice.

Ted Lilly: 5IP, 2K, 0BB. Not so nice, but nothing to be concerned about at all.

Henry Owens: 7IP, 3K, 1BB. Not bad, but not too exciting. His 0.00 ERA certainly still has him in the race to be Florida's closer, although Gregg and Lindstrom also have low ERAs, and Florida is said to be considering trading for Benitez or Julio, so this is far from over.

Yusmeiro Petit: 7.2IP, 8K, 0BB. Nice. Too bad his 7.04 ERA is likely to scare them away from giving him a spot in the rotation.

Phillip Hughes: 4.2IP, 2K, 6BB. Along with a 7.71 ERA. If there was any chance of him making the team out of Spring Training, its gone now.

That's it for now. Note that Hill, Lilly, and Lidge do NOT qualify as the types of players who you should really be tracking Spring Training stats for...I just included them for anyone who is curious.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Yahoo Draft Results

The results of the Yahoo draft I mentioned earlier are below. Overall I thought it went pretty well given the extreme lack of preparation. The only two real flaws were:

1. Both offensive players on my bench are 3B. I'll need to trade or drop one of them before the season, so I can get an OF to fill in on days when my OF have the day off.

2. I picked 6 SP. I like all of them, but I know that my strategy for these leagues works best with only 4 or 5 SP. Instead of Olsen or Lilly I would have been better off picking a top 5 MR (Neshek and Broxton were still available), a potential closer (some of the guys from Florida, Tampa Bay, and Cincinnati were still available), or a top 10 MR with a very slight chance of ending up somewhere as a closer (Linebrink). As it is, I'm probably going to end up dropping one of the SP I picked, unless I'm able to trade them or someone gets hurt. I'm not too hopeful about trades, since I won't be devoting too much time to this league.

C: Mauer
1B: Fielder
2B: Kinsler
3B: Wright
SS: Ramirez
OF: Crawford
OF: Dunn
OF: Rios
Util: Thome
BN: Beltre
BN: Gordon

SP: Myers
SP: Hamels
RP: Lidge
RP: Saito
P: Patterson
P: Bush
P: Lilly
BN: Olsen
BN: Owens
BN: Shields

I'd love to hear some comments on what people think of this draft!

First Draft

In about 2 minutes I'll be starting my first draft of the season. Its a Yahoo Public league, and I should mention that I haven't prepared for it at all - no valuations, no pre-ranking, nothing. I don't have a lot emotionally invested in winning the league, although I certainly expect to win. I'm entering it because if I'm going to be making recommendations throughout the season on what undervalued pitchers to pick up, I want to be using those suggestions myself. I'll post the results sometime after the draft. The basics of my strategy are:
1. I'll be rotating in a ton of middle relievers, so I only need about 3 starting pitchers and 3 closers.
2. Draft hitting early.
3. There is generally a position surplus in the OF in Yahoo leagues.
4. Draft high risk, high reward players late in the draft.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Zig When They Zag

This post is about one element to choosing a set of statistical projections to base your fantasy baseball player valuations on. Obviously if you have reason to believe that you know which set of projections are the most accurate, that's the one you should use. But most people don't have any means of determining which of the dozens of projections on the market are the most accurate, and the only study I'm aware of that looked at this didn't find any overwhelmingly persuasive evidence in favor of one set or another.

So assuming that all the sets of projections are about equally accurate, you should use one that the other people in your league are NOT using. While your data won't be any more (or less) accurate than your opponents', you won't end up overbidding on the same players as everyone else, and the guys you identify as potential sleepers will tend to go cheaper than the 'sleepers' on everyone else's list.

Sometimes these 'tactical' suggestions are easiest to illustrate with simplified examples. Let's look at two players - Ted Lilly and Rich Hill. Imagine you're in a ten team league. You use one set of projections. The other nine people in your league all use the same set of projections as each other, but a different one from what you use. Let's say your projections show that Lilly is a $3 player and Hill is a $10 player. Your opponents' projections show the opposite - Hill is a $3 player and Lilly is a $10 player. Since we're assuming that both projection systems are equally accurate, Lilly and Hill are actually likely to perform equally over the course of the season. But in the draft, you're going to be able to get Hill on your team for $4 (a bargain according to your data) while someone else is going to have to pay at least $11, and likely much more for the same production from Lilly. Without having any more accuracy, your projections have helped you get the edge on your competition simply by being different than what everyone else was using.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Next Wave in Fantasy Baseball

Fantasy baseball has gone through a few phases in its history. First there were the days of keeping track of stats on paper or in a spreadsheet and live in-person drafts for all leagues. The next major 'revolution' in the development of fantasy sports games was the advent of internet leagues where you could play online against people who you didn't necessarily know. For the past few years, there hasn't be a lot of change in what kinds of games are available, but this year appears to be the beginning of another period of change, with lots of really original new games becoming available, and more in the works. I'll be talking about some of these periodically, because I believe that some of them will be really fun, and that until enough people are really paying attention and have time to figure out the correct strategy, there are going to be some great opportunities to make a lot of money. Most people just don't understand strategy well enough to adjust quickly to new sets of rules.

I've already talk at length about Rotohog, and am excited enough about it that I started a blog The Rotohog Blog dedicated to it. Today I want to talk about another of the new faces on the fantasy sports scene.

GameDayDraft has a few twists of its own. First of all, each contest only lasts one day. You can 'draft' your team right before the games begin, and by the end of the night, you know whether you won or lost. You can play free games, or deposit money and play for real cash. And best of all, they offer some games with free entry but small cash prizes! The games themselves use a points scoring system, and you choose a roster of players made up of one from each of a number of 'groups' or categories. Basically, the strategy comes down to proper valuation of players, and knowing how to make adjustments for the specific conditions (ballpark, opposing pitcher, etc.) of that day's game. Everything about the site from the single day contests to the slightly cheesy graphics makes me think that it will appeal to bad players, making it a VERY profitable opportunity for those who know what they're doing. I can't wait!

If you sign up to play there (no deposit'll get 1000 pretend dollars to start), they'll require you to put a referral code. Put waiverwire to let them know I sent you. And if you sign up for my mailing list, I'll be sending out some player valuations, and tips on adjusting for ballpark and opposing pitcher. The link to access the game is Game Day Draft.

Mailing List

If you're interested in being on The Waiver Wire's mailing list, send your email address to me at I'll use it to inform people of contests, guest articles, special features, special offers, and more.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Chris Young

In his excellent Rotoauthority blog, Tim Dierkes recently argued that Chris Young is unlikely to equal last season’s success, because his .230 BABIP is historically low, and likely unrepeatable. Although Tim did acknowledge that Young might improve in other areas (specifically his control), but he’s still projecting him for a 3.99 ERA and 1.27 WHIP, both of which seem substantially too high to me.

For those who don’t know, BABIP is ‘batting average on balls in play’, and research has shown that it’s largely out of the control of the pitcher, depending more on defense and luck. What that means is that when a pitcher has an unusually low BABIP one season, his stats are likely to change for the worse the next season, and when he has an unusually high BABIP, they’re likely to improve the next season.

While Young’s BABIP will almost certainly be higher than .230 this year, there are a couple factors that are likely to negate the impact this will have on his ERA and WHIP.

Firstly, he’s an extreme flyball pitcher. While this is generally a bad thing (because it means he’ll always allow plenty of home runs), it generally leads to a lower BABIP, so Young will tend to have below average numbers in this area. In other words, while his ERA may generally be higher than his K/9 and K/BB would predict, his WHIP will tend to be lower.

Second, and more importantly, despite the move from the AL to the NL, Young’s walk rate was almost 50% higher than either of the previous two years. While this could be due to some change in health or mechanics, I’m going to view it as a bit of a fluke until he proves otherwise by repeating the high walk rate. I think Young’s control will be so much better this year, that it cancels out the impact of a rising BABIP. I think Tim isn’t too far off on Young’s likely ERA (I’ll predict something like 3.60), but I think he’s way off on Youngs WHIP, where I think something around 1.17 or 1.18 is likely.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

When Do Spring Training Stats Matter?

For the most part, Spring Training stats should be ignored, just like Spring Training standings. But there are at least three situations where its worthwhile to pay attention to Spring Training stats:

1. To see whether players returning from injury will be effective. Particularly with pitchers, you can tell how they're doing by looking at their K/9 and K/BB. Just make sure to ignore stats like ERA that have more variance. Good examples in this category this year will be guys like Dotel, Gagne, and Isringhausen.

2. Look for young hitters with MONSTER numbers. Not just good numbers, but numbers among the best in the league. Research has shown that guys who have a Spring Training slugging percentage more than .200 better than their career average will tend to improve their regular season stats. Andruw Jones right before his breakout season was a good example.

3. See how players fighting for jobs are doing. You're really trying to look at this from the perspective of their managers, many of whom put too much stock in Spring Training stats, despite the small sample size. This may be players trying to stick in the majors, fighting for the closer job, or fighting for an everyday spot in the lineup.

The best place to get Spring Training stats is MLB Spring Training Stats.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Pat Neshek

In his first major league opportunity last year, Pat Neshek proved to be one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. What is especially amazing about his stats (K:53, BB: 6, IP: 37) is that this was done in less than half a season. Add in his AAA stats, and he pitched almost 100 innings of absolutely great middle relief. His K/9 and K/BB ratios have been terrific at every level of the minors, so there's no reason to expect anything other than another great season from Neshek. With Nathan, Rincon, and Neshek in their bullpen, teams better get ahead of Minnesota early in games this year, because they're not going to be scoring many runs off the bullpen!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

I wanted to remind any new readers that 1/4 of whatever I earn from the ads on The Waiver Wire will be donated to Save The Children. If you're interested in helping this worthy cause, obviously the best thing you can do is give them money directly. The next best thing is to make purchases through the ads on this site and on my other blog The Rotohog Blog. If you are planning to buy any books, do it through the ads on this site (even if its for a different book than advertised). If you're going to buy baseball tickets, consider doing it through the StubHub ads on either site, and if there are other vendors you plan to do a lot of online shopping from, let me know and I'll see if I can add them.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Henry Owens

Right now, Henry Owens is probably third in line for the Florida closer job behind Taylor Tankersley (if healthy) and Kevin Gregg. That said, any one of 5 or 6 different pitchers could win the job by opening day, and Owens is definitely in the mix. This is worth watching VERY closely. Owens has been overpowering at all levels in the minors with a total of 341 strikeouts in 249 innings. He's struggled a little (not badly) with his control at times, but its still unclear why he never pitched above AA until he was 27 years old. His season last year at AA was incredible - 74K/10BB in only 40 IP!!! That's astonishing. His downside this year should be a VERY effective middle reliever, but if he gets a chance to be the Florida closer, he's going to be an incredible bargain in most leagues.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Aaron Brown Article Up At The Rotohog Blog

If you haven't already signed up for Rotohog, or visited my new blog The Rotohog Blog dedicated to this new game, you should take a look now. I've just posted a LONG article to the blog that was written by Aaron Brown, the author of The Poker Face of Wall Street. There are very few people who combine as much knowledge about the financial markets with a love of games as Aaron does, and if you think the strategy for Rotohog will be just like other points based fantasy baseball games, think again...and read Aaron's article!


One great blog that I linked to a few days ago, but haven't mentioned yet is Boogeyblog. If you're as excited by the idea of a 500 word discussion of the merits of trading Brandon McCarthy for Mark Teahen as I am, head over there...that's the topic of the latest post.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Chad Billingsley

I've been engaged in a bit of a debate about Chad Billingsley in one of the online forums. My 'opponents' think he's a top prospect who may be ready for a breakout season. I don't. In 90 major league innings last year, he struck out 59 and walked 58. That's awful! He was a little better later in the year, but not good. His minor league stats (available from The Baseball Cube here show a guy who will have a good (but not phenomenal) strikeout rate, but will be VERY wild in the majors. He's got a shot to be an ok major league pitcher, but he won't be good this year, and if the Dodgers put him in their rotation ahead of Kuo, they're making a very big mistake. He belongs in middle relief or at AAA. Someone suggested that his minor league number looks a lot like Randy Johnson's...and that's true. But they also look like a lot of guys who never made the majors. And based on his age, even if he followed Johnson's career path he'd be 4 years aways from being an effective major league starter, and 8 years from having his first exceptional season. Stay away, unless you're in a deep and/or keeper league.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Anthony Reyes

Pitching in AA in 2004, Anthony Reyes struck out 102 batters and walked only 13 in 74.1 innings. I was convinced he was a future superstar. It now appears that his strikeout rate that season may have been a bit of a fluke. While he still has a fairly bright future, nothing he's done before or since seems consistent with such an overpowering K/9 rate at AA ball.

In the majors last year he struck out 72 and walked 34 in 85.1 innings. That's not a bad K/9 or K/BB and indicates that he should easily improve on his 5.06 ERA of a year ago. Based on his minor league stats, it also seems reasonable that he could lower his BB rate a little. So far in the major leagues, he's been a fly ball pitcher, so I expect him to continue to allow home runs. Overall, I think its reasonable to expect an ERA right around 4 or slightly higher this year.

Yusmeiro Petit

With the health of Josh Johnson's shoulder in question, Yusmeiro Petit has gone from having a very remote chance of making Florida's rotation to having a good chance of starting the season in their rotation.

Petit is a guy who has generally been loved by most 'numbers guys' and considered only a fringe prospect by traditional scouts. Maybe ironically, after looking over his stats, I think the scouts may be onto something here.

Between 2003 and 2005 Petit pitched a combined 341.1 innings in the lower minor leagues (up to and including AA) and was dominant: 413 K with only 69 BB. He was significantly less effective at AAA in 2005 and 2006: 82 K and 26 BB in a combined 111.1 innings pitched. His brief opportunity in the majors was pretty consistent with his AAA performance: 20 K and 9 BB in 26.1 innings. In addition, he's had pretty bad HR/9 throughout his professional career, and was an extreme flyball pitcher in the only sample for which I have GB/FB data (the 26.1 innings in the majors).

So based on his AAA and Major League experience, we'd have to assume that he'll be a moderately effective major leaguer who is prone to high home run rates. Basically a #4 or #5 starter throughout his career. This is more or less what the scouts and 'tools guys' have been predicting for him for several years. Even when he was dominating at AA they said that his less than overwhelming fastball wouldn't convert well to the major leagues.

So is there hope for anything better from Petit? Maybe, for two reasons:
1. He's still only 22 years old. While youth isn't always the blessing for pitching prospects that it is for hitters, it means there's plenty of time for him to improve.
2. His performance in AA in 2005 was really exceptional. The competition at AA (where many top prospects are sent) typically isn't that much worse than AAA (where rosters are often filled with washed up or failed major leaguers) and he managed to strike out 130 batters in 117.2 innings with only 18 walks. Adjusted for the more difficult competition in the majors, that should indicate he's got the potential to be a decent #2 or #3 type starter. If that happens this year, then he's going to be a huge steal in fantasy drafts. Since you'll be able to get him late (probably undrafted in shallow mixed leagues), there's some upside without any real risk.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Rich Hill

Last year in the majors, Rich Hill struck out 90 batters and walked 39 in 99.1 innings. In large part due to allowing 16 home runs, his ERA was a somewhat mediocre 4.17. In a recent mock draft at Rotojunkie he was selected with the 174th pick...probably about right if was to repeat that quality of performance, but over a full season.

However, I think that barring injury, a repeat performance is a worst case for Hill. For years he was a dominant, but wild minor league pitcher. Adjusted for the level of competition, his stats looked something like Daniel Cabrera (who I always use as an example of dominant, but wild, and ineffective). But in 2005, Hill figured things out and at three stops in the minor leagues he struck out a combined 194, while walking only 35 in 131.2 innings. He struggled in a short stay in the majors late in the year, and began 2006 at AAA. He was even better than the previous year, as he struck out 135 and walked only 21 in exactly 100 innings. He only allowed 3 home runs at AAA.

Hill's performance the past two years in the minor leagues leads me to believe that his ceiling is quite a bit higher than his major leaue performance to date would indicate. I think he's got the potential to be a top starting pitcher. The only thing limiting him is that he's been an extreme fly ball pitcher so far in the majors, which means that his 16 home runs allowed in Chicago is probably a better indicator of his future than the 3 home runs allowed at AAA. Regardless I think he deserves to be picked a lot higher than #174, especially in 5X5 drafts.

New Blog - The Rotohog Blog

As you may have noticed I'm quite excited about a new fantasy baseball game called Rotohog. I've got a lot of ideas about the best strategy for it, and to spare those of you who won't be playing it, I've decided to create a new blog: The Rotohog Blog. The Waiver Wire will be dedicated primarily to traditional fantasy baseball leagues, with only an occaisonal mention of Rotohog.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

More About Rotohog

If you haven't already read my earlier post about Rotohog, here is the link. I'm really excited about playing this game, and wanted to talk about how strategy for it will differ from normal leagues. I've only just begun planning out my strategy, but some obvious differences are:

1. Hitters with good plate control (high BB, low K) are worth more.
2. Strikeout pitchers will be worth even more than usual, because hits allowed are penalized more than walks allowed.
3. Pitchers on bad teams will be penalized even more than usual.
4. It looks like pitchers who eat innings will be worth more...although the impact of this will be limited by the innings pitched limit of 1300.

Anyway, I highly recommend signing up for this
free game with a $100,000 grand prize and trading structure based on the stock market. Also the 37 minute 'free for all' drafts should be pretty intense. If you do sign up please put 'waiverwire' as your referal code to help this blog...and help Save The Children, which will get 1/4 of whatever I earn from referals. After you sign up, join The Waiver Wire league for a little friendly competition.

Increased Playing Time

This post is a reprint of a post that Ed Reaven (revo) made at Rotojunkie recently about players whose stats are likely to improve this year due to increased playing time. I thought the information was so useful that I asked Ed's permission to reprint it here...

It's pretty tough to determine a breakout based on improved skills, age, etc., but it's a bit easier to peg someone for a bustout based on increased playing time (or in the case of pitchers, change in roles).

While it's far from an exact science -- you can't just extrapolate numbers based on limited playing time the previous year -- it's likely a few breakout players will come from the list below. If you took Ryan Howard last year, he was a perfect example of the "increased playing time" breakout from '05 to '06(and then some!)

I compiled a list of these players I think fit the same description. I'm making no projections, and many of these are "well, duh" no brainers. But it's a handy list, I think.

Feel free to add any I forgot about, and I'll add them in.

Almost-guaranteed increased PT candidates:

WES HELMS -- should double his '06 ABs (where he hit .330 in 249 ABs with good power and run production)
SHANE VICTORINO -- has RF to himself
CHRIS BURKE -- now the full-time CFer
CHRIS DUNCAN -- the Cards want him to be the full time LFer
ADAM WAINWRIGHT-- moves into the rotation after overpowering post-season
COREY HART -- takes over RF from Jenkins
JOSH BARD -- becomes the everyday catcher (well, 450 ABs worth)
RYAN CHURCH -- should fend off Snelling and is prime to have a breakout year
CHRIS DUFFY -- had 26 SBs in only 314 ABs
REED JOHNSON -- no more platoon, and had 86 Runs in 460 ABs, a huge ratio of runs/AB...if he gets 580 ABs, he may end up with 110 Runs
WILSON BETEMIT -- has a good chance to hit 25 HRs as the full-time 3B
DAVID DELLUCCI -- had only 264 ABs last year (with 13 HRs), has only the puny Jason Michaels to fend off....if he could get to 450 ABs, expect 20+ HRs
ANDY MARTE -- everyday 3B thanks to his defense, his bat should finally be able to come around
NELSON CRUZ -- only the decrepit Sammy Sosa stands in his way of getting 500 ABs
FRANK CATALANOTTO -- leaves the Toronto platoon for Texas, where he seems guaranteed to finally top 550 PAs (and is rumored to bat leadoff)
BRADEN LOOPER -- only if he lands STL's #5 rotation spot
DAVID ROSS -- amazingly had only 247 ABs last year (and hit 21 HRs). If he gets 475 ABs, he can be a Top 5 catcher.
KAZ MATSUI -- Jamey Carroll will steal some ABs, but if Matsui hits as well as he did in his brief COL stint last year, he should easily get 500 PAs (and double digit HRs and SBs)
OCTAVIO DOTEL -- obvious one, moves into the closer role
SALOMON TORRES -- another obvious one
JASON KUBEL -- former top prospect now the everyday LF/DH
LUKE SCOTT -- as per Nascarfan, Scott is likely to get 400-450 ABs. 20+ HRs, 75+ RBIs?
KELLY JOHNSON -- Positives: Braves dumped Marcus Giles for him; Had nice production when last healthy in '05 (9 HRs, 40 RBIs in 290 ABs); the Braves think he can hit 20 HRs; Negatives: injury prone; never played 2nd.
MATT DIAZ -- according to the Braves website, he's the favorite to win the LF job and is "awesome right now" (Bobby Cox's words). With 525 ABs (which means relegating Langerhans to the dustbin), Diaz could produce solid numbers for a last round selection in your fantasy draft (but I'm sure that .327 comes down a notch).

Next tier:
JOEL PINEIRO -- only if he becomes closer (but he'll still suck)
NOOK LOGAN -- they love him apparently. Another sleeper SB candidate if he wins the job
TERRMEL SLEDGE -- will likely split time with Jose Cruz Jr., and this is his last shot. Worth a late round flier.
ALFREDO AMEZAGA -- Marlins CF picture is ugly, but Amezaga had 20 SBs in only 334 ABs in '06. If he wins the job and plays well early, he could get 500 ABs and 30 SBs.

The no-brainers follow, but it's just for reference. Basically, these are the guys who will go from 80-100 IP to 180-200 IP, and 150-250 ABs to 550 ABs. Like Ryan Howard, they may have done well in '06 in their limited PT, but given the larger PT, their stats could explode:

Rookies who will likely start the year in the majors in prominent roles:

Players who are healthy after missing a large percentage of the '06 season. Many of these players have broken out before or have had very successful careers (a la Sheff, Matsui, Lee & Gagne), but they should be able to post numbers similar to their pre-injury totals, so don't forget about them:
CARL PAVANO (yeah right!)

Thanks again to Ed for letting me share this valuable information!

Baseball in China

Since I began this blog, according to the data I get from Google, I've had a few visitors from China, including someone from Suzhou who appears to visit the blog every day. The past two days, I've had significantly more Chinese visitors...people from 5 or 6 cities in China have visited. I'm really interested in learning where this traffic is coming baseball that popular in China? Is this just some weird internet thing where Google is incorrectly determining where people are from? If you read this blog and you're in China, please post in the comments or send me an email ( to let me know about yourself, how you found out about the blog, and about baseball's status in China!

Hong-chih Kuo

One of the more interesting (and harder to evaluate) pitchers going into the 2007 baseball season is Hong-chih Kuo. His minor league record suggested that he'd be a dominant (9+ K/9) reliever in the majors, but would struggle with his control. Typically a pitcher like that is going to be only marginally effective as a starter, where they won't strike out as many batters, but will still struggle with control. If you look at his overall statistics for the 2006 season (his first full season in the majors) they look very much the way you'd expect his stats as a reliever to look: 59.2 innings pitched, 71 strikeouts, 33 walks.

But things get interesting when you look at his splits between starting and relieving. In 5 September starts, he struck out 35 and walked only 7 batters, in 29.1 innings. That's an amazing performance. It also means that as a reliever last year he struck out 36 and walked 26 in 30.1 innings. That's not so amazing. In fact, that's remarkably similar to Daniel Cabrera numbers, except that Kuo did it against the easier competition in the NL. Kuo has also been quoted as saying that he's more comfortable as a starter than as a reliever. So should we assume that he's a great sleeper pick if he's in the LA rotation, but that he will fail in a relief role? I don't think so. Only two of his relief appearances were after he returned in September and he struck out 7 batters and walked 2, in 3 innings pitched. So I think he would have excelled in either role late in the year. Its VERY unusual for a pitcher to put up numbers that are so much better as a starter than as a reliever, so I have to assume that something was wrong earlier in the year...either he had a minor injury or there was a problem with his pitching mechanics that got worked out. I'm confident he can excel in either role, and that his rate stats (K/9 and K/BB) will be better as a reliever than as a starter. That said, I think until he does it again, his incredible September performance has to be viewed more as a display of his full potential than as an indication of his current skill level. Expect numbers similar to his overall stats last year, but there's potential for a lot better. He's a great late round pick in relatively shallow leagues if he still appears to have a shot at the starting rotation when your draft takes place.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Rotohog - This looks awesome

If you haven't already done so, you've got to check out Rotohog. This is a new FREE fantasy baseball game with a $100,000 grand prize. As great as that sounds, what's most exciting to me about it is that once the season starts, players will trade on an open market, almost like a stock exchange. I'll get to combine two of my greatest interests in one game, for free, for a huge prize! I've literally been obsessed thinking about my strategies since I signed up last night.

This really looks like its going to be fun, so I'd suggest taking a look. The folks at Rotohog have set up a referal incentive program for bloggers with some pretty large potential incentives at stake, so if you sign up please enter 'waiverwire' (without the quotes) into the referal code field at the bottom of the registration form. Remember that 1/4 of whatever I get for the referals (which could potentially be as much as $1,000) will go to 'Save The Children'.

Here's the link to Rotohog ...don't forget to enter waiverwire as the referal code!

I've also create a league within Rotohog called 'The Waiver Wire' which I'd encourage you to join. This doesn't really affect anything in the game (including the draft) but is a way for all of us to keep track of each other's progress and foster a little friendly competition.

I'll probably be talking about this unique game a lot more over the coming months.

Prior & Lidge: Negative Hype Is Your Friend

Everyone knows that sometimes the hype about a player can overtake his actual abilities, and many people know to steer clear of that latest overhyped rookie or prospect. But less people seem to be able to avoid falling for the negative hype associated with certain players, so these players can fall much further in fantasy baseball drafts than their performance of health risk warrants. Two great examples of that this year are Mark Prior and Brad Lidge.

When healthy, pretty much everyone agrees that Mark Prior is one of the ten best starting pitchers in baseball, and has the potential to be one of the two best. But because of a series of injuries over the years, he hasn't done much pitching, and last year his performance in the majors was poor. Because of this, he's been falling VERY far in mock drafts that have been conducted so far. Rather than weight the pros and cons of picking him and making an objective decision, people are acting like there's no chance at all that he'll be healthy and effective. In one recent mock draft at Rotojunkie, he was picked with the 237th pick. That means he would have gone undrafted in a standard CBS Sportsline draft! That's insane! Among starting pitchers, he was picked right after John Maine and right before Tom Glavine. I'm a big Mets fan, but that just makes no sense. Prior is reported to be healthy and throwing hard in Spring Training. If there's even a 30-40% chance that I'll get more than half a season of the 'real' Mark Prior, he's worth more than those guys. I'm not saying you should go out there and draft him in the 5th round, but I certainly think he should be picked by around the 150th pick in most drafts.

Another player where negative hype has overtaken reality is Brad Lidge. People are asking what is wrong with him, and comparisions have been made to the loss of control that Mark Wohlers went through. What's overlooked is that Lidge had 104 strikeouts and only 35 walks in 75 innings last year. That's a dominant performance...almost as good as his previous two years. The only thing wrong with him was that he allowed more home runs than the previous two years and had worse luck on balls in play (over which the pitcher has very little control), leading to an ERA that was far worse than his actual performance. His ground ball rate was about the same as in 2005 (and better than 2004), so there's no reason to think the home runs were anything other than a fluke. I predict Lidge will go back to being a top tier closer this year, and there won't be any more talk about slider flattening out. Lidge fell to pick #132 in the same Rotojunkie mock draft mentioned above...I think he should be picked in the top 100 picks, and if I believe in using high picks on closers, I'd certainly go for him in the top 70 or so.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Another Useful Resource

Another useful resource is The Closer Watch Blog which keeps you up to date on the latest news about who is closing for which teams, and who would be next in line if they're injured or falter.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Philip Hughes

As a Mets fan, I hate to say this, but Philip Hughes is the real deal. I'm profiling him now to show the contract between a prospect who has the potential to be very good (Homer Bailey, who I profiled last post) and prospect who already IS very good. I think people tend to underestimate how good an indicator a low BB/9 rate in the minors is for pitchers with high K/9 ratios. Hughes is 20 years old, and hasn't had major health problems that I'm aware of. Here are his stats:

YEAR Team Level IP BB K
2005 Charlston+Tampa A/A+ 86.1 20 93
2006 Tampa A+ 30 2 30
2006 Trenton AA 116 32 138

That looks like he'll dominate at AAA this year, and I expect him to prove himself as a very effective major league pitcher starting sometime before the All-Star break. If you're in a league with a deep bench, definitely target him if you can get him in the late rounds. And if you're in a keeper league, he's definitely someone you want.

Also, a couple reminders:
1. I'm very interested in hearing feedback from people reading the blog...especially regular readers. Who are you, where are you from, what do you like about the blog, what don't you like, what question do you have, etc.?

2. If you buy anything from the vendors advertising on the blog after clicking on their links, I will be giving 1/4 of the money I get to Save The Children. This is true regardless of whether the item you buy is the one advertised. So if you're planning to do any shopping on Amazon or EBay (or especially if you're going to register for a new EBay account) please do it through the links on The Waiver Wire. And if you're going to buy baseball tickets, consider looking at what's available through the StubHub link on the right side of the blog and at the very bottom of the main blog page. Also, let me know what other online vendors you make purchases from and I'll see if I can sign up as an affiliate with them. It varies from one advertiser to another, but in general you can assume that I'll get anywhere from 1%-9% of your purchase value, and I'll give 1/4 of that to Save The Children. Not a lot maybe, but if you're going to buy something anyway, why not help a good cause?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Homer Bailey

Homer Bailey is one of the more hyped pitching prospects going into this year. I'm not sure it's justified. He's obviously got the potential to be dominant with a K/9 over 9 at every level he's pitched, but his control has been just ok...and that usually converts to being pretty wild in the majors. One thing he's got going for him is his age (20), but that's much more of mixed blessing for pitchers than hitters. First of all, young arms tend to be injured more easily, and skills develop in less of a straight line in young pitchers than hitters. Here are his numbers from The Baseball Cube:

2005 Dayton A 103.2 62 125
2006 Sarasota A+ 70.2 22 79
2006 Chattga AA 68 28 77

I think these numbers equate to an effective major leaguer, but not an immediate star by any means. Next post I'll show you what the minor league numbers of a REAL star prospect look like.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I won't be posting much (if at all) this week, but should be back to normal next week. In the meantime, I'd love to hear from some of my regular visitors - who are you, what kinds of fantasy baseball league do you play in, what do you like about the blog, what don't you like, what affiliate ads would you use for shopping to help Save the Children...? I'm especially interested to learn about some of you who I've noticed visiting every day including those in Edmonton, Adelaide, Suzhou(!), and Granville. Who are you? Feel free to post in comments or use the email link on the right side of the blog.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Juan Cruz

I was inspired to write about him when I saw a reference to Juan Cruz as a 'young starter'. This struck me as odd, since it seems like he's been around forever. I was shocked to find that he's still only 26 years old. Anyway, courtesy of The Baseball Cube, here are his stats for the past three years (not including 3 innings at Tucson last year).

He's got the strikeout rate to pitch very effectively, but his control is consistently pretty shaky. I usually think this type of pitcher is better suited to being a reliever, and he's been so much more effective against righties each of the past three years, that it really looks like they should stop messing around with him as a part time starter, and just use him in relief, particularly when a few righties in a row will be batting.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Takashi Saito

Obviously, Takashi Saito was awesome last year (IP: 78.1, K:107, BB:23), and should now be considered a top tier closer.

If you look at his Japanese League Stats at The Baseball Cube, you'll notice a few things that are interesting. First of all, his K/9 was never anywhere near as high as it was last year. Just goes to show you how much easier it is for a reliever to be dominant than a starter. I'm curious exactly why that is. The most obvious explanation would be that starters are holding back a little to conserve energy...but you never hear them say, "yeah I was going about 90% on that pitch". Another explanation is that they either get tired or lose effectiveness the second time through the order...but then they should have better stats in the first inning, and I don't think that's the case at all.

The second interesting thing in his stats is if you look at the Games and Games Started. For every single year of his career (which is quite long) Saito pitched in games as a starter and as a reliever. If that's normal in Japan, I didn't realize it.

By the way, I wrote an article for Lenny Melnick Fantasy Baseball on strategy for your last picks in the draft. Take a look, let me know what you think, and let Lenny know if you think the article is hard to find or that my blog would be hard to find from his site.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Jose Valverde

So I just read a discussion thread over on Rotojunkie about who will take over as Arizona's closer when Valverde falters. What?!?!? Why do we think Valverde is going to falter? He had 69 strikeouts in 49 innings last year. He's had a dominant strikeout rate every year in the majors. Sure, he's a little wild, but not enough to cancel out the extremely low number of hits he's generally going to allow. He hasn't even had a really bad home run rate. So we're basically assuming that his luck when it comes to hits allowed on balls in play will continue to be bad, despite the fact that every study that looks at that finds that it mostly really is just luck and players' success or failure in that area doesn't tend to repeat from one year to the next. If Jose Valverde falls anywhere near the later rounds of your draft (let's say after round 12 of a CBS Sportsline standard league) draft him. Don't hesitate to draft him a little higher than that if you need a closer.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Cole Hamels

Hamels obviously isn't going to qualify as one of my daily picks (50% and under ownership in Yahoo leagues is the criteria) but I'll talk about him anyway. His season last year was simply awesome for a 22 year old rookie. IP: 132.1, K:145, BB:48. That's like a healthy Mark Prior. His minor league numbers are great too. If you want to see them, take a look at The Baseball Cube. The only real risk is that like Prior, Hamels has an extensive injury history. That said, he's SO good that its worth it. I think his 4.08 ERA last year is going to scare enough people off that he should be a bargain in most leagues. And his future is so bright if he stays healthy that I'm pretty tempted to invest in some of his baseball cards.

Octavio Dotel

Dotel should theoretically be fully recovered from surgery and may get first shot at KC's closer job. If he's fully healthy, he'll be a very valuable closer. Ignore the people who say he pitches better as a set up man. I actually think he's going to be an exceelent high risk/high reward late round pick because of the great upside, and the fact that you'll know whether the pick worked out very quickly. Watch his K/9 and K/BB in Spring Training. If they look more like 2004 (IP: 50.2, K:72, BB:18) he's at least a middle-tier closer. If they look more like 2005 (IP:15.1, K:16, BB:11) be somewhat concerned and only pick him with a late round pick. If they look more like 2006 (IP: 10, K:7, BB:11) don't pick him under any circumstances.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Odds & Ends

Another new blog to tell you about: Fantasy Baseball Island. All these good, new blogs (including mine) make me wonder whether there were a bunch of guys just like us last year who started blogs that fizzled out for one reason or another.

On another note, this Live Hive Fantasy look like it could be really cool, and sounds like an idea I had about a year ago.

Q&A with the Fantasy Baseball Guy

I recently exchanged questions and answers with The Fantasy Baseball Guy, Paul Greco. Here's what he had to say:

1. What is your greatest accomplishment in fantasy baseball?
After playing Fantasy Baseball for over 15 years (BTW I'm 32, but when you say 15 years, it makes you sound old), you have good and bad moments. My greatest accomplishment though has to be when I won the Gotham Baseball Fantasy Championship last year. I was playing against guys in the business, but to play against my cousin, Mark Healey, who is the executive editor of Gotham Baseball Magazine, was the best.

Mark and I hadn't seen each other in over 15 years because of location and me being the military for 10 years, but baseball and family brought us back together in January 2006. When he asked me to join the Gotham League I jump at the chance. To win it all, felt pretty good, but to beat my cousin, felt great!!!

2. What makes your fantasy baseball web site different from others?
There are a lot of great Fantasy Baseball sites out there, including yours Alex. When I sat down to figure out what I wanted to do with, how I wanted the site laid out, I just wanted people to know what I was doing with my team(s) day in and day out as a Fantasy owner. That's why I have a journal on the site. I try to post each day to show other Fantasy owners what I'm up to. I also wanted to Showcase other sites and tools that are out there that might make things easier for Fantasy Owners. That being said, people have asked me why I would do something like that, showcase someone else’s site. To me, it’s all about getting the information to the Fantasy Owners, and if it means pointing out a site that gives you more information then mine, that’s fine, cause in the end, I know I helped you find that site.

Another reason why I put up is because other big Fantasy sites give you the same things; news, stats, and articles. The one thing I found though, is as the season goes on, do we, the Fantasy Geeks who are the reading the articles, really know if those guys are following their own advice? You really don't! I want to showcase my teams, and keep people up to date with how I’m doing, what moves I’ve made and why, and what other Owners in my leagues are doing. True advice has to followed, and I want to show people that everything I say on I do myself.

3. Who is a sleeper that you think will surprise people this year?
All true Fantasy Owners know that statistics are great, and big time Fantasy advice is awesome, but the gut tells you where to go. This year, my gut is telling me that the tandem of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood will finally show their promise. Kerry Wood reportedly has lost 30 pounds and is 100%, and could be the closer for the Cubs before seasons end.

Mark Prior on the other hand is a little more iffy. He’s been strengthen his right shoulder over the winter, and will compete for the Cubs fifth spot in the rotation. I really think that if he wins the job, we could see a 12 win season out of him. Other players I’d look at coming back or breaking out; Rickie Weeks, Jason Varitek, Mike Sweeney (if healthy), Dustin Pedroria, Shane Victorino, and Matt Cain.

Zito and Lilly and more

One group of pitchers I always focus especially closely on is those switching from the AL to the NL. Not only do they benefit from not having to face the DH, but the past few years the overall talent level has been substantially higher in the NL. Two of those pitchers this year are Barry Zito and Ted Lilly, and they're VERY similar in a lot of way. Both have average around 2:1 K/BB with decent K/9 rates. Both are fly ball pitchers who will generally allow plenty of home runs. Both are at an age where they probably shouldn't be expected to get either much better or much worse from year to year. The only differences are that Lilly will strike out more batters, while Zito has slightly better control (except in 2006) and a slightly higher ground ball %. Also, I would expect Zito to go much higher in most drafts. Both of these guys should be quite effective with the move to the NL, and I consider Lilly an excellent sleeper based on the likelihood that he won't be picked early.

Also wanted to clarify something from the John Patterson, Part II post - I'm not saying those are good assumptions. I'm saying that even if they were true, picking Clemens over Patterson probably wouldn't be a good move. Add in the fact, that Patterson might not get hurt, Clemens might get hurt, Clemens is 44 and might not pitch as well, and I think Patterson is an easy choice over Clemens.

Someone asked what I think about John Maine. I actually think his K/9 and K/BB are almost exactly what we should expect based on his minor league stats. It looks like he got a little lucky though and I'd expect his ERA and WHIP to increase...maybe to 4.00 and 1.30. I suspect he may be onoe of the pitchers who meets my 'eligibility requirements' for my daily picks once the season starts, and I won't hesitate to use him in favorable situations.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

John Patterson, Part II - Timing Matters

'Matt' commented that since Patterson usually gets injured anyway, if he's going to draft someone for half a season, he'd rather get Clemens. On the surface, this makes sense, but there's a problem with thinking this way. Let's make some assumptions (some of which may not be true):
1. Patterson will get injured half way through the season and be out for the year.
2. Clemens will come back halfway through the season and be healthy.
3. They will go for equal prices on draft day.
4. Clemens is better than Patterson.

So we should obviously pick Clemens, right?

Not necessarily. At least in leagues with relatively shallow benches. Clemens is going to take up a roster spot for the first half of the season while he sits on the bench. Patterson can be dropped as soon as he blows out his arm halfway through the season. This will allow us to pick up a replacement. In a league with shallow benches, for example Sportsline Public leagues with a two man bench and no DL, this is a big deal. It means that our choice is really between a half season of Clemens or a half season of Patterson + a half season of some replacement level pitcher.

John Patterson

One guy I'll definitely be targeting in all my drafts is John Patterson. While he seems to be somewhat injury prone, its worth the risk for a good who is this good. And he's like to fall further than he should in most drafts, because his ERAs haven't been too sexy. If you've been reading this blog, you know that I think to a large extent that's luck, and that the numbers to look at are the K/9 and K/BB rates. The only thing keeping Patterson from being an elite pitcher is that his high flyball rate does mean that he'll generally allow a lot of HRs. However, his home park helps limit the damage from that. In one mock draft I saw he fell to the 13th round...and that was in a league with 16 teams. You can't beat that for value! He was getting picked after pitchers like Verlander, Burnett, and Pettitte, all of whom should be substantially lower as long as they're in the AL and Patterson is in the NL.

2004 MON 98.1 46 99
2005 WAS 198.1 65 185
2006 WAS 40.2 9 42

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Helping Save The Children

As I've mentioned before, I will be donating 1/4 of whatever I earn from the ads on The Waiver Wire this season to Save the Children. There are a two ways you can help:

1. Obviously the best way is to donate money directly to them. If you do so, I'd love to hear about it to know if I'm making a difference.

2. If you're planning to make any purchases from any of the advertising affiliates on this site (which will include Amazon, EBay, and StubHub) please click on the links on this site to access them before making your purchase. The Waiver Wire will receive credit even if you purchase items other than those pictured in the links. In addition, you can find general purpose links to each site at the bottom of the main blog page.

If you want to learn more about Save the Children, here is their mission statement.

Cla Meredith

A lot of people are very high on Cla Meredith going into this season, and with good reason. He's got a pretty good strikeout rate, great control, and had more than a 2:1 ground ball to fly ball ratio in his first season in the majors. That said, I those who consider him the best middle reliever in baseball may be disappointed this year for a couple reasons. First of all, he got really lucky last with the % of hits he allowed on balls in play. Secondly, his minor league record doesn't really suggest the kind of amazing control he showed in 2006, so there is some risk that his walk rate will increase. He's obviously not going to repeat the 1.07 ERA, but he's going to be pretty good. Worst case would be something like Chad Bradford (in a good year). Best case would be a whole lot better.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Yet another great fantasy sports site is Rotoscoop. They cover other sports too, but it looks like they're beginning to gear up the baseball material just in time for Spring Training.

While I try to focus on just fantasy sports material on this site, its probably worth mentioning that at some point in the next month, The Waiver Wire will go un-updated for about a week. Have no will be back!

Matt Capps

I didn't know a whole lot about Matt Capps, but kept seeing positive references to him, so I took a look at his stats this morning. Meh. He's likely to have a long and boring (for fantasy baseball players) career. His stats from 2006 seem right in line with what you'd expect from his minor league career: IP: 80.2, K:56, BB: 12, HR: 12. With such good control, he'll always be fairly effective, but there's very little in his past to suggest much upside, and his ground ball rate (around 40%) suggests that he will continue to allow plenty of home runs.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Chad Orvella: More Questions Than Answers

Usually I like to give a firm opinion in these player profiles, but in this case I don't have one yet. I posted the following on rotojunkie this morning to see if anyone over there can help me out...I'd love to hear your opinions as well:

Can someone explain Chad Orvella to me?

How does someone whose minor league stats are IP:149.2, K:215, BB:26
Do this in the majors last year: IP:24.1, K:17, BB:20

Usually I would assume that there's an injury...but that doesn't make sense here. I haven't seen his minor league game logs, but it looks like he dominated in the minors, got called up and sucked in the majors, was sent down and dominated in the minors again, and then got called up and sucked again in the majors.

I don't really believe in 'quadruple A' players who dominate in the majors but don't have the stuff for the majors.

Is he one of those guys who just fall apart when the spotlight is on them...sort of a variation on Ankiel? Or is there some other possible explanation?

On another note...there's something else I'd like to ask for some help on. In an effort to get the word out about this blog I've been swapping links with other useful fantasy baseball sites - basically if their advice seems good and they update the site often I'm happy to let people know about them. If any of you have any suggestions of sites not already in my link list, let me know.

Friday, February 9, 2007


If you had to bet your life on the accuracy of an ERA forecast made by one stat, what would it be? Mine would be xFIP, which is easily available at The Hardball Times. First of all, here's how they define it...

xFIP: Expected Fielding Independent Pitching. This is an experimental stat that adjusts FIP and "normalizes" the home run component. Research has shown that home runs allowed are pretty much a function of flyballs allowed and home park, so xFIP is based on the average number of home runs allowed per outfield fly. Theoretically, this should be a better predicter of a pitcher's future ERA.

and here's the definition of FIP (which they referenced above)...

FIP: Fielding Independent Pitching, a measure of all those things for which a pitcher is specifically responsible. The formula is (HR*13+(BB+HBP)*3-K*2)/IP, plus a league-specific factor (usually around 3.2) to round out the number to an equivalent ERA number. FIP helps you understand how well a pitcher pitched, regardless of how well his fielders fielded. FIP was invented by Tangotiger.

So what's so great about this? Its a relatively quick and dirty calculation that puts its weight on the factors that pitchers DO control (Ks, BBs, GB/FB ratio) and eliminates the factors that are basically out of their control (what happens on balls in play, whether an outfield fly ball happens to make it over the wall or not).

And what's not so great about it? Well, a few things:
1. Ideally you want to factor in the pitcher's team's expected defensive efficiency when making a forecast.

2. Pitchers actually do have a little control over what happens on balls in play. Knuckleball pitchers in particular seem to have an edge here.

3. While Outfield FB % is a better predictor of HR allowed than HR is, its not perfect...probably some weighted combination of the two would be better yet.

4. xFIP (at least as used here) is based on just one season's data. A weighted average of multiple seasons would probably be better.

5. Above all...this is an art, not a science. No single stat can show everything...for example, was the pitcher playing with an injury? Did he learn a new pitch in the offseason? Its trying to put all these factors together that make fantasy baseball fun to play!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Bob Howry, Part II

Based on some comments about my discussion of Bob Howry both here and at another web site that was kind enough mention me, I thought I should revisit my discussion of Bob Howry.

First of all, I did NOT use Bob Howry as an example of how pitching in the AL is tougher than in the NL. I said that if he was a starting pitcher I would attribute his improved K/9 and K/BB in 2006 to the league change, BUT I thought that was less important for relievers. Based on that, I believe that his high K rate in 2006 is a little out of line with the trend of his past few years and may not be repeatable.

I did say that he was better in 2006 than in 2005, and based on his great ERA and WHIP in 2005 I can certainly see how that might seem like an odd statement. The truth is, I barely look at ERA and WHIP, even though those are how we're scored in fantasy baseball. I simply believe that K/9 and K/BB are much better indicators of how well the pitcher pitched, and that the other stats include a pretty large dose of luck...particularly in the case of a relief pitcher, where sample sizes are limited. For anybody who thinks I'm crazy to view things that way, let's see how my picks do during the season. In fact, I will be running some contests during the season where you can see how your own picks do compared to mine.

Big Announcement: I'm a Good Guy

I started adding some advertisements to the right side of this blog today. As I earn money from these, I'll be donating 25% of what I earn to least through the end of September. The initial charity I'm planning to give to is Save The Children. So if you're planning to buy any of the products you see advertised on the site, click on the links to buy them and a small amount will go to Save The Children. I'll post periodic updates on how much I've been able to give.

And since I'm sure some of you will ask why I'm not giving more to of the site's earnings away, there's an easy answer to that...I'm not THAT good.

My Expectations

This post will be partly about my expectations for the performance of my picks during the season, and partly about how I think you should use those picks. One reader suggested that I may be overemphasizing the importance of middle relievers in fantasy baseball. In some leagues (for example a 10 team, mixed league, weekly transactions league) its true that middle relievers are generally worthless. However, the reader suggested that they're not useful in daily transaction leagues because you can just rotate starters in a number of roster spots. That's wrong. In fact, that's backwards. The reason you DO need middle relievers in a daily transaction league (and I'm mostly talking about roto leagues, although I assume the same holds in h2h) is that rotating starters in one or two roster slots will ensure that you easily win the Wins and Strikeouts categories. However, the starters you rotate aren't really going to excel in ERA and WHIP, so you'll want to use lots of middle relievers to help you win those categories too.

So what are my expectations for my picks? Well I'm thinking my starting pitcher picks should give me about 40 wins and 500 strikeouts. From one roster spot. Seriously. Real pitchers get 32 starts. My 162 headed monster will get 162 starts. Actually maybe more, since I will sometimes be able to find someone usable on Monday or Thursday when most teams have off. I would imagine that I can manage an ERA around 4.00 and a WHIP around 1.30 in those starts. My relievers should manage an ERA below 2.75 and a WHIP under 1.15. In a standard Yahoo public roto league I would probably aim to have about 3 middle relievers and 1 rotating starter slot along with 5 permanent starting pitchers and 3 closers.

Another Introduction

Another site I've stumbled onto recently is run by Paul Greco. Paul is releasing his fantasy baseball draft kit in the next few days. I'm definitely looking forward to it, because when it comes to hitters, I'm generally too lazy to do exhaustive rankings of all of them. Luckily for me, Paul isn't, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he's got to say.

Pelfrey and Humber

So I took a quick look over their stats after posting Eric's thoughts on Humber and Pelfrey, and I agree with him. Other than Humber's injury, there's not much to separate the two in their stats, and Pelfrey isn't really worthy of the hype he's getting. Both had outstanding K rates in college with good control, both blew through A ball, had excellent K rates with relatively ok control in limited exposure to AA, and neither has proven anything yet at AAA or in the majors. If you think that Pelfrey has already proven anything at the higher levels, take a look at his K/BB rates.

An Introduction

You may have noticed that I'm steadily adding more fantasy baseball links on the right side of the screen. If you have any suggestions for others, let me know!

One of those links is for Fake Teams ( ), a fantasy baseball blog that I just 'discovered'. It looks like Eric updates it VERY frequently, which is a big plus in my book. He and I agreed to swap answers to three questions as a way of introducing eachother's blogs. Here is what he had to say...

Q: Key pitching stat you watch?
A: I focus on the effects that pitcher's have on the ratio categories. I'm not convinced I can reliably predict Ws, but I feel comfortable selecting starters based on WHIP and allowing wins to fall where they may. because I've seen too many middle relievers allow inherited runners to score, I don't give as much weight to ERA. When looking an additional level down, I will examine the pitchers walk rates and strikeout rates. For major leaguers, WHIP first followed by BB:9 and K:9. For call-ups, I check their K:9 ratio because I prefer to see minor league pitchers who dominate minor league hitters via missing bats - Jeremy Sowers being the exception to the rule.

Q: Fantasy Pitching Sleeper?
A: This would be a deep sleeper in any format, but I really like the Mets' Philip Humber. He returned from TJ surgery last year and dominated at each level of his rehab while maintaining his K:9. Heck, his major league K:9 equaled 1.00 - in two innings! I expect him to remain under the radar given the higher profile of Mike Pelfrey. The back-end of the Mets rotation is a mess, but I expect the MEts to try several candidates ahead of Humber. The decision will be to let Humber accumulate more innings while letting the back-end candidates fight it out. After Humber dominates AAA and/or those back-end candidates prove unworthy, the Mets will recall Humber. I figure mid-May at the earliest.

Q: Draft or Auction?
A: My two keeper leagues are auctions. I find them to be more interesting in terms of interaction as every player that comes up can be yours while a draft has you selecting once and then waiting and hoping the player you want is stere there "x" number of picks later. The frenzy that builds around a player or two is more exciting. last year, Carl Crawford was in the draft pool for the first time and went for $50. It was the first time a player hit that mark in the nine-year history of the league. That just doesn't happen at snake drafts.