• Roto Riteup
    The most roto-relevant news of the previous day, recapped in a concise format for your morning coffee.
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    Detailed daily updates and charts on every bullpen in the Major Leagues to help you manage your saves and holds.
  • Prospect Coverage
    Our prospect team mines the minors for top prospects and useful pieces alike.
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    Award-winning in-depth injury report with analysis from Jeff Zimmerman.
  • The Sleeper and The Bust Podcast
    Paul Sporer, Justin Mason, and Jason Collette lead the RotoGraphs staff in a regular fantasy podcast.
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    The RotoGraphs team discusses daily fantasy strategy and then makes picks for the day.
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    Strategy for the year-round FanGraphs Fantasy game.
  • Top 50 Fantasy Prospects
    Marc Hulet adjusts (and updates) his prospect list for fantasy purposes.
  • Field of Streams
    A contest to see who can make the better picks: streaming pitcher and hitter choices for every day of the season in a podcast hosted by Dylan Higgins and Matthew Dewoskin.
C  -  1B  -  2B  -  SS  -  3B  -  OF  -  SP  -  RP

The Marquez Group

When I released my SP rankings yesterday, I was fairly certain that the German Marquez slotting would continue to garner attention. There were questions when I had him 34th back in February and after more research and shuffling, he actually dropped a spot to 35 on the March list. Part of me definitely finds it weird that I have to keep justifying my Marquez ranking while those with him in the Top 25 just skate by unchallenged. How is anyone comfortable ranking someone that high when they must contend with Coors Field for half their games?

Furthermore, are we just completely ignoring Marquez’s career before last summer now? He undoubtedly made improvements, namely the excellent curve and surge in fastball performance. But I’m just not sure that 113 excellent innings is enough to say he’s a completely new pitcher, especially with Coors lingering overhead. Let me be clear about one thing: I think German Marquez is a good pitcher. I don’t want my ranking to be seen as some indictment of him. I just don’t think he’s ready to be an unmitigated fantasy ace.

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Bonus Predictions: Shane Bieber and Orlando Arcia

I did not pack quite enough boldness into my Bold Predictions column, so I am branching out into a second column. This time around, I’ve got fewer predictions but I’m going more in-depth for these final ones.

I could just go with the short versions for my final two predictions: I’m not a Belieber, and it could be a new dawn for Orlando Arcia. But I’ll explain why I’m bearish on a top 40 starting pitcher in ADP but intrigued by a shortstop being drafted outside the top 400.
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9 Handcrafted And Expertly Curated Player Captions

A few weeks ago, we quietly rolled out our FanGraphs-Plus (FG+) player captions. These are located on most major league player pages, sandwiched between the most recent links and the data tables. We don’t do enough to promote these often insightful and frequently humorous write-ups. And so, I asked my colleagues to identify some of their favorites for inclusion in this article.

My favorite part of this process is everybody’s approach to the prompt. I tend towards the absurd, such as prior to 2017 when I “mistook” Rougned Odor for his brother by the same name (the resultant caption was NSFW). Others like Jeff Zimmerman prefer very straight takes.

For more player caps, search literally any player. You can also read past seasons.

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Revisiting the Quadrinity: The $80 Pitching Staff

And now let’s begin our annual foray into Fantasy Baseball theology—a consultation of the Holy Quadrinity. For those of you who are new to our world: Back in the day, Bret Sayre of Baseball Prospectus posited that “the three skills that are most important to the art of pitching [are] getting strikeouts, reducing walks, and keeping the ball on the ground,” and that pitchers who can do all three of those things, as betokened by their above-average stats in those categories, are or can be something special. He called this approach The Holy Trinity.

The Quadrinity is our contribution to the ongoing dialectic. We look for pitchers who are in the upper half of two categories (strikeout percentage and soft-hit percentage) and the lower half—in other words, the upper half—of two other categories (walk percentage and hard-hit percentage). You can see why both the Trinity and the Quadrinity would work, insofar as they identify really good pitchers. But you don’t need them to tell you that Jacob deGrom and Chris Sale are really good pitchers. What we found surprising is that the Quadrinity often identifies pitchers who are in fact really good, but aren’t recognized as such by the Fantasy market. Read the rest of this entry »

2019 Pod vs Steamer — SB Downside

Yesterday, I compared my 2019 Pod Projections to Steamer in the stolen base category, identifying five hitters I was forecasting upside for versus the computer system. Today, I’ll discuss five of the downside guys.

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2019 Starting Pitcher Rankings

This is always the most difficult ranking for me. I research and re-slot. Research and re-slot. And even after settling on this list, I could still draft a team differently as I start to draft for need over best available once I have 3-4 starters.

At any rate, I’ll keep this intro short because I have much more on the way about starting pitching, but I’ll reiterate as I do in all of these SP rankings to not focus too much on the number. I’ve discussed The Glob™ regularly since last year and it’s more prominent than ever. The basic takeaway is that the tiers get huge after the top 30 or so and thus the true talent gap between something like pitcher #56 and #82 isn’t as large as a 26-point difference might otherwise suggest.

That’s not a copout to avoid accountability. I’ve ranked these guys in my order and I will still defend my rankings with evidence of why I like one over the other, but I will stress that the differences just aren’t always as vast as a number might usually suggest. Realistically if I wanted to focus heavily on the number, I’d probably have ties, but instead let’s just focus more on the tier and talent instead of the number.

Previous iteration: Top 120 – Feb.

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Position Battles: Yankees, Pirates, Indians, & Rockies

I’m going to focus on position battles until the season starts and possibly into the season. Most of the early season breakouts happen because of additional playing time.

Pirates Third Base

Jung Ho Kang vs Colin Moran

Pirates 3B
Depth Chart Spring Training
Colin Moran 490 .264 .325 .409 .734 24 0.509 474
Jung Ho Kang 140 .257 .335 .444 .779 22 1.035 442

Other analysts and I probably didn’t give Kang enough love but he’s coming out firing with an OPS twice that of Moran. The 31-year-old Kang had a couple of acceptable seasons with double-digit home runs and an OBP near .350. He didn’t play any last season because of a DUI in South Korea and wasn’t able to obtain a visa. He seems to have not missed a beat.

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Al Melchior’s 2019 Bold Predictions

The other day, my wife asked me what my next column was going to be about, and I told her it would be my annual Bold Predictions piece. She wanted to contribute a prediction, and when I asked her what it would be, I realized it would be the perfect addition to this column.

So the first-ever Bold Prediction for Mary Beth Melchior is this: J.T. Realmuto will break the all-time single-season record for home runs for a catcher.
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Relevant Out Of Options Players

Major league teams have become increasingly sensitive to roster flexibility. One way to extend the back end of the roster is to have players with options. In most cases, players come with three option years. This means their team can demote them to the minors without penalty. Once an option is used in a given year, that player can be demoted any number of times. For example, the Rays yo-yoed numerous relievers between Durham and Tampa to extend their bullpen.

Once a player has been optioned three times in his career, he is said to be “out of options.” In other words, he can no longer be sent to the minors without passing through waivers. If the player is good enough, he’ll be claimed by another club. They’ll either use him in the majors or try to pass him through waivers again.

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Help Design These League Incentives

A few years ago I posted an article about designing fantasy league incentives.  While the popularity of customized, add-on incentives is hard to measure across the fantasy community, it’s clear that leagues conceptually understand the potential value of features and rewards that attempt to keep owners engaged over the course of a long baseball season.  In the standard winner-takes-all format of many points leagues, commissioners are often left to mitigate the wreckage of AWOL owners that sell off and check out early, so carrots, even small ones, can help in cross-checking drastic, standings-shaking transactions if designed thoughtfully. But designing the right league incentives is easier said than done because owners are motivated by different values.

The purpose of this article is for you, the reader, to help me design the right incentive structure for the very first 20 team Ottoneu league (more on this soon), an exciting experiment that will dramatically alter the traditional economic model that serves as the foundation of standard 12 team Ottoneu leagues. Your feedback will be critical to building a league that lasts, but the discussion will hopefully be a helpful reference for others attempting to structure leagues that are as engaging as possible.

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