Twitter has got fantasy questions, we've got answers. Hot starts, cold starts, bullpens in flux, trade scenarios, a top 10 that'll start 30,000 fights, and much more, all covered in this edition of the Roster Doctor.
Stick with Wade Davis and Jon Niese? Or ditch ’em for likes of Vance Worley, Ryan Vogelsong, Joe Blanton?
What the hell do I do with Jarrod Parker (10-team mixed league)?
The answer to these two questions is none of the above. In standard mixed leagues, there's no reason to stick with any these guys. Parker might've had a nice year in 2012, Vogelsong might've had a couple of good years, and Niese might've come into 2013 as a trendy sleeper. But these are all pitchers you should stream, and nothing more. Even in 14- or 16-team mixed leagues, I'd feel no obligation to own Parker, for instance. Sure he's been marginally better in his past three starts than he was at the beginning of the year. But even if Parker bounces back, you'd have a shot at comparable production by slotting the right Scott Feldman types into the right matchups on a weekly basis. It's more work to study schedules every weekend, scan the waiver wire, and find the perfect plug-and-plays. But fantasy baseball isn't an idle pursuit based almost entirely on luck the way, say, fantasy football is. You want to win your league? Gotta work for it.
One of the core fantasy baseball philosophies I've developed over the years is to act early. Part of that is a function of the IDGAC approach to drafting: If you walk away with four or five closers, that probably means you have weaknesses elsewhere, and you'll want to pursue deals to address those holes. But really, acting early is a play on two trends: people overreact to stats in small sample sizes (even in smart fantasy leagues), and getting five-plus months of production from a player is a lot better than just two.
That's why you need to keep a close eye on all the news and streaks that pop up in April. Recognizing trends before your competition would've enabled you to snag Ian Desmond or Josh Reddick last year, before they put up big numbers that won a lot of people a lot of leagues. Scrutinizing any and all early-season happenings — even the subtle ones — will improve your chances of competing for a title down the stretch.
Last year, Jason Motte was one of the best and most reliable closers in the game, racking up 42 saves, nearly 11 strikeouts per nine innings, and a 2.75 ERA. He signed a two-year, $12 million contract in January, and was widely expected to have another big year banking saves for a playoff-contending Cardinals team.
We'll let the excellent news and analysis site Rotowire.com take it from here:
MARCH 23: Motte has what the club is describing as a "mild strain" in his right elbow that will keep him off the mound for at least a week as the team explores the severity of the injury and potential treatments, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. General manager John Mozeliak said Motte will "likely" start the season on the disabled list with the flexor strain.
It's not easy being agnostic. Forget religion or politics. Try telling a buddy that you have no strong opinion either way on Breaking Bad. Or that all beers taste the same to you. Fence-sitting on any number of topics can and will get you an earful. So when a guy who writes about fantasy baseball describes his draft strategy as "I Don't Give a Crap," he's asking for a punch in the nose.
This year, I decided to go a different route in my go-to 18-team mixed-league auction. Yes, I would still seek out as many value picks as possible, staying true to projections and worrying about roster balance, position scarcity, and everything else only after the fact. Since nobody likes to pay for closers, that would mean there would be an excellent chance that I would wind up with four or five of them, yet again. Since everybody likes to pay for big-name power hitters, that would mean I would need to assemble a team with no major weaknesses, my cheapest players smashing the performance of the scrubs on the many stars-and-scrubs rosters sure to be assembled.
On top of all that, I would add a new wrinkle. Though value would remain the main goal, I'd compile a short list of players I liked before the auction. Every one of them would be a sleeper of some kind, so that bargains would remain the target. But having these names handy, I'd be ready to pounce when prices did drop, ensuring that I'm not missing out on any major sources of upside. Moreover, keeping this list close would provide a source for potential trade targets, since there would be no way to land everyone on it. Since you've all done your drafts and auctions already, consider that target list, as well as some of the players I'll highlight that I actually drafted, a good starting point for your own trade discussions.
Let's call this IDGAC, with a twist. Here's what transpired:
Welcome to a new season of fantasy baseball with the Roster Doctor. Last year, I introduced you to the I Don't Give A Crap plan, which favors no strategy other than grabbing as many value picks as possible, regardless of position and without fear of waiting two hours in your auction before buying your first player.
For the record, in my three leagues last year, I finished first in an 18-team auction, tied for first in a 15-team LABR-Mixed experts league, and second in a 13-team mixed league (plus winning the league sidepot). IDGAC works better in auction format than straight draft, but the core principles hold for both. I'll report back on this year's draft results a little closer to Opening Day.
One of the main benefits of IDGAC is the ability to outbid everyone else late in the draft. If every other team blew their budgets on superstars early on, that should leave you with the few extra bucks necessary to acquire legitimate talent, while everyone else scrambles for $1 dregs. Last year, a cheap Mike Trout may have won you a league by himself. Ian Desmond, Kyle Seager, and Ben Revere were all significant contributors nabbed at the end of most drafts. Ditto for Wade Miley, Lance Lynn, and Tom Wilhelmsen. Many of these players might've only cost an extra buck or two to acquire above minimum bid levels; that extra buck or two led to a lot of Yoo-hoo showers six months later. With that in mind, let's discuss some compelling endgame picks for 2013, the ones that can make or break your draft (and especially your auction).
This season, the Roster Doctor has doled out plenty of theoretical advice, on the best types of players to pursue, the best types of trades to make, the broad trends you should exploit to win your league.
That time is over. There's less than a month to go this season. If you're still in the race this year, every little move could make a difference. So let's look at some of the players likely available in your league, flip through schedules, and see which ones make for optimal pickups.
We're approaching your keeper league's trade deadline, and your chances of winning this year are slim to none. You want to cash in your veterans for killer keepers, but the owners of Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, and Clayton Kershaw understandably aren't budging.
It's time to look at next-tier keeper candidates. Rather than trading all your tradable parts for the guy with the Mickey Mantle comps, you might be able to trade your Justin Verlander or David Wright for two or three of the players below.
As we hurtle toward the second half of the season, it's a pretty sure bet that you haven't clinched your fantasy league. You're either trailing or nursing a lead precarious enough to get blown up by a couple of injuries or a few prolonged slumps. With so much baseball still to be played and so many new stories yet to be written, fortune favors the bold.
It's with that go-for-it spirit that we're unveiling our second-half fantasy predictions. But not just any predictions. These are the out-on-a-limb, if-they-pay-off-for-you-you'll-win-your-league kind of predictions. Doesn't mean you should burn your team to the ground to trade for the best of this group, or sell any of the projected laggards at 20 cents on the dollar. But with the league on hiatus until Friday and no new stats coming in, there's an opportunity to go long or sell short on these second-half movers. Here's how we see a few of these guys shaking out.
The concept of buying low in fantasy can be a tricky one to navigate. Whether or not you're truly buying low can depend on the size of your league, and how savvy your competitors are. You might have free-agent budgets to consider, or an intransigent owner who won't trade the guy you want, even with a strong offer.
Best we can do is dig up a few players having regrettable seasons, factor in their reputations, then sort them by three categories: buy low, buy lower, and buy lowest. Think of the buy-low players as waiver pickups or trade possibilities in standard (12-team) mixed leagues, on down to target guys in 20-team mixed, or AL-/NL-only leagues.
When Voros McCracken wrote his seminal piece on pitching and defense 11 years ago, he helped change the way people — fans, writers, even general managers — think about run prevention in baseball. Where once we used to throw most of the blame for a hit on the pitcher who gave it up, McCracken helped us realize that a slew of other factors go into whether a ball hit into play falls for a hit. For many people in the game and others who simply watch it, our ability to recognize the influence of defense, park effects, and dumb luck can be traced back to that one little article.
Today, we have multiple stats that can help us better understand a pitcher's influence on the game. Fair Run Average (FRA), Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), and Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) all attempt to parse the events a pitcher best controls from those over which he has the least control. The fantasy implications seem obvious. If a pitcher, say, posts a much higher ERA than xFIP for a few weeks or a few months, we might expect luck to start working in his favor in the future, and for his ERA (and other fantasy stats) to start improving. If he puts up a much lower ERA than xFIP, you could argue that his good fortune might be due to run out soon.
No matter how hard you study, no matter how hard you try to manage risk, there's a good chance you're going to badly overdraft at least one player. Even the best of us end up with first-rounders who perform like 15th-rounders. What's important is figuring out what to do once you've made that kind of mistake, then learning a lesson for the future.
So you can call this a venting session, and a teachable moment. Here are 10 of this year's biggest Fantasy Murderers.
Every week, without fail, the Grantland Fantasy mailbag (email@example.com) fills up with the same question: "Player X has been worse than 10,000 loose stools — should I dump him?"
These questions often have easy answers. No, you should not dump Jose Bautista. Yes, you should dump Willie Bloomquist. But the vast majority of major leaguers fall somewhere between Bautista and Bloomquist, and we don't mean Steve Bedrosian, Sean Berry, and Dante Bichette.
It's May 1, which means two things. It's time to watch Rick Jeanneret lose his mind. And it's time to start exploring trades in your fantasy league.
This week, we'll look at three players you could consider trading, and how you should sell them to others in your league. Don't take this as a sign that you should panic on these three players in particular. They're simply examples of different types of sell opportunities. Still, if you own one or more of these three (or players like them), here are some suggestions for how to proceed.