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C  -  1B  -  2B  -  SS  -  3B  -  OF  -  SP  -  RP

Why We Missed: Disappointing Hitters

It’s time for the final installment of “Why We Missed”. The breakout pitchers and hitters are done along with the disappointing pitchers so it’s time to dive into hitting busts.

To determine who disappointed, I collected the information on any hitters who saw more than a $10 decline in value from their draft-day price. I didn’t want to just use the difference in ranks because the gap from #1 to #15 could be over $10 but the difference between #250 to #300 might just be $1. I only analyzed the hitters who had a positive draft day value.
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2019 Performance Review: The Not-Losses

Let’s continue right along with my personal performance review. Today we’ll look at my rosters which fell short of winning the champions jock strap (get it? it’s a cup!) without qualifying as entirely negative. If you missed it, I reviewed my two lonely victories yesterday. I also checked in on my successful DFS season earlier in October.

This year, three of my teams fit the “not-loss” criteria. The formats and circumstances were very different so let’s just dig right in…

Old School Head-to-Head

This is a 12-team H2H Yahoo league with my old college teammates. It’s 6×6 scoring using OPS and K/BB as the added categories. I typically spend most of my budget – upwards of 80 percent – on pitchers since it’s easy to dominate the pitching categories every week while scraping together a few points on offense. The K/BB category in particular rewards ace-heavy clubs. This year, I was not available for the draft. My surrogate mostly executed my plan and even nabbed a not-yet-trendy Matt Boyd for me which I later traded for Jose Altuve and Freddie Freeman (it’s a keeper format, Boyd was $7-to-keep, the others were expensive).

Ultimately, my pitching didn’t live up to my usual standards. Luis Severino never showed up while Justin Verlander, Stephen Strasburg, Carlos Carrasco, and Boyd simply weren’t enough ace-power to pull off my vision. The roster finished a comfortable third place during the regular season (money back). Unfortunately, losing Adalberto Mondesi and Byron Buxton ruined my path to easy stolen base dominance when the games mattered most. The offense turned out to be the strength of this club although they didn’t show up to a first-week playoff loss.

Fantasy baseball is nine-tenths effort. While that’s a completely fabricated hyperbole, I’m sure we all agree about the importance of trying. While I consistently set my daily lineups with active players, I made almost no attempt to improve my team via waivers or trade. My 33 moves and two trades represent career lows in this long-running league. Since I finished only four points behind second place, I have to imagine a more active approach would have rewarded me with a better result. Or maybe I would have made dumb cuts. I’m not immune to mistakes. In any case, the broad strokes were fine, but the devil is in the details. And I ignored them.

Lack of effort/attention is a running theme throughout my failures this year. It stems from simply managing too many leagues. In addition to the 10 teams which were solely mine, I was an active adviser for another 10+ rosters. That’s in addition to DFS. I’ll need to trim back on both numbers next year.

Staff League Déjà Vu

FanGraphs Staff is a Head-to-Head FGpts ottoneu league (not to be confused with FanGraphs Staff Two, a standard FGpts league which I won). For a second straight season, I waltzed to the best regular season record. In my opinion, winning the regular season is the same as winning the league. The playoffs are just there to give the losers a reason to stick around.

In 2018, Nick Pollack narrowly edged past me in the final. This time, I flamed out in the semi-finals versus a club co-managed by, uh, “The Embassy” and David Gagnon. Can’t say I’ve met either of them.

In any case, I strongly recommend that you don’t lose Mike Trout (and Fernando Tatis) when it matters most. Especially if your backup outfielders are David Fletcher and Josh VanMeter. That’s not the only reason I lost my playoff matchup – my pitching matchups simply weren’t staggered in an optimal way. Still, I only fell short of a second finals trip by 25 points. And at the rate Trout was launching dingers, I’m pretty comfortable saying he would have made things a LOT closer.

Admittedly, I squeezed my roster for every spare point. Effort was not the issue here. I simply failed to overcome a small taste of adversity.

Dynastic Mediocrity

When Chad Young asked me to join him in The Devil’s Rejects, a 20-team, weekly, 5×5-OBP industry dynasty league, I walked in on a half-finished roster. Basically, it was Charlie Blackmon, J.D. Martinez, a very young Nomar Mazara, and scraps. Since then, we’ve finished sixth, fifth, third, third, and fourth. The top five spots pay. Chad’s since walked away. Walter McMichael is currently serving in an advisory role.

This team deserves an article of it’s own of the merits of retooling over rebuilding. For the second time in three seasons, I opted to re-tool at the trade deadline after falling out of the race for a paid spot. And for the second time, my new acquisitions helped pave the way to a small payday. Part of my decision to sell my bulk of older stars like Jose Altuve, Blackmon, Anthony Rizzo, Martinez, Pat Corbin, James Paxton, Sean Doolittle, DJ LeMahieu, and Yuli Gurriel was driven by circumstance. There were five teams in an obvious position to push for first place. All but one had lovely long term building block talents. Meanwhile, precisely zero teams were selling the kind of talent I had available.

In this particular dynasty league, players like Gurriel and LeMahieu are generally disdained as low-value assets (never mind their excellent performance). Owners prefer the next big thing like future first round pick Robert Hassell. Pitchers can also see their asset value spontaneously implode without warning. Thus, this represented an obvious opportunity to escape aging talent while extracting the most possible. The alternative option was to ride them all into the ground. In retrospect, I probably would have finished third if I had done so.

In the end, I traded one spot back in the standings and a bunch of truly excellent players for Bryce Harper, Joey Gallo, Cavan Biggio, Giancarlo Stanton, Trey Mancini, VanMeter, Josh Rojas, Christin Stewart, Nick Solak, and Jonathan Ornelas. It’s a top heavy group and a stark bet on a return to a saner sort of baseball. The pitching side of the roster is, admittedly, a disaster.

I’ve been beating this drum for a long time. So long as you’re not overly concerned about outright winning your deep dynasty league, you can make a lot of money by just fielding a full roster every week.

2019 Spring Starting Pitcher K% Surgers — A Review

Backed by this study supporting the idea that pitcher strikeout rate over spring training does hold some predictive value, I identified and discussed 12 starting pitchers that had posted significantly higher strikeout rates during the spring than my Pod Projection. Let’s see how many, if any, of these pitchers actually outperformed my forecast.

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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 748 – 2020 Outfielders


The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live. Support the show by subscribing to Fangraphs! With a standard $20 membership, you help maintain and improve our database of stats and graphs as well as our staff of 8 full-time employees and over 50 contributors. The premium ad-free membership at $50 year supports site growth and also includes faster load speeds and better site performance. You can also support monthly for just $3.

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2019 Performance Review: The Wins

This week, I’ll review the performance of my core teams – in part to pluck lessons learned from the desiccated ruins of those rosters. The other purpose of this annual series is to prove my qualification as an advice giver vis-à-vis this fantasy baseball thing.

This year, I won two leagues – a simulation league using Diamond Mind Baseball set in 2008 and the an ottoneu league titled FanGraphs Staff Two. This marks my first victory in the sim league. I’m a four-time winner in Staff Two.

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Ottoneu Arbitration Omnibus VI

Ottoneu arbitration began on October 15 and runs through November 15. This omnibus is a one stop shop for all the strategy and tactics you need to get through the process. The following omnibus is a recreation of the one I published the last four years. We’ve mostly said everything there is to say over the course of more than 10,000 words. But first, some background.

Ottoneu is the award-eligible fantasy platform hosted by FanGraphs. Think of it as dynasty-lite. You get a 40-man roster, a $400 payroll, and way too much freedom to manage your team your way. For reasons unbeknownst to me, the platform is named after former St. Louis Browns player Otto Neu who compiled a whopping zero plate appearances over his “career.”

Over the offseason, the price of every major league player increases by $2. Minor leaguers increase by $1. Then there is an arbitration process that can be done one of two ways. Most leagues use the allocation process which ultimately adds an additional $11 to $33 per team. This omnibus is intended for both forms of arbitration, but the allocation process does open more possibilities for strategery and thus has more words dedicated to it.

As I mentioned, there are two systems of arbitration: voting and allocation. An asterisk indicates that the article is intending for voting leagues. I’ve organized the omnibus into sections: intro, intermediate, and advanced. Read the rest of this entry »

Why We Missed: Disappointing Pitchers

After looking at the pitchers and hitters who exceeded expectations, it was time to examine the players who didn’t live up to their ADP. I had a good idea this list would be loaded with pitchers who missed a ton of time and I was correct. Of the 48 pitchers featured, 39 spent time on the IL at some point last season.

To determine who disappointed, I collected the information on any pitcher who saw more than a $10 decline in value from their draft-day price. I didn’t want to just use the difference in ranks because the gap from #1 to #15 could be over $10 but the difference between #250 to #300 might just be $1. I just analyzed the pitchers who had a positive draft day value.

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Peripheral Prospects 2019: Brad’s Review

In case you missed it, Peripheral Prospects was the fanboy spawn of Carson Cistulli’s erstwhile Fringe Five column. I worked on PP in conjunction with Alex Chamberlain (his review), although I must admit we never actually discussed our picks. Basically, we both like finding value on the fringes of the fantasy scene. To that end, we brought our own processes for discovering these often free gems.

Anyway, let’s move on to reviewing my favorite/best picks. Read Alex’s review (above) if you’re desirous of further introduction.

Week 1: Spencer Turnbull

Turnbull broke camp with the pitiful Tigers. In a different run environment, I’m convinced he would have been a useful fantasy asset. He actually held opponents to 0.85 HR/9 – which ranks seventh-best among pitchers with 100 or more innings. He also recorded a hair under a strikeout per inning with a non-lethal 4.61 ERA. Don’t mind the 1.44 WHIP or 3-17 record. I’ll have my eye on him next season.

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2019 Pod vs Steamer — ERA Downside, A Review

Today, I finish my comparison of Pod ERA projections vs Steamer with the downside guys. Given that league ERA was at its highest since 2006, this should be an easy win for Pod. But, I only listed and discussed four pitchers, probably because on the whole, Pod was more bullish on ERA than Steamer was (oops), so there were fewer pitchers I was projecting for a significantly worse ERA. Let’s see how the for performed.

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Which Pitching Staffs Benefited Most From Defense?

Rawlings announced the finalists for the Gold Glove Awards on Thursday, and some teams who collectively scored well on defensive metrics were rewarded with several nominations. Conversely, several teams who scored poorly on those metrics were either shut out or left with a single nominee.

Six Cardinals have been nominated for Gold Gloves. As a team, they compiled the third-highest defensive runs above average, and their pitching staff registered the majors’ fifth-lowest BABIP (.283). The Athletics were one of five teams to have four Gold Glove nominees, and no team finished with a higher total of defensive runs above average. Correspondingly, only two pitching staffs had a lower BABIP than their .278.
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