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    Our prospect team mines the minors for top prospects and useful pieces alike.
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    Paul Sporer, Justin Mason, and Jason Collette lead the RotoGraphs staff in a regular fantasy podcast.
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    Marc Hulet adjusts (and updates) his prospect list for fantasy purposes.
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    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

How to Target Middle Relievers

A completely underappreciated class of players is non-closing relievers. With starters going fewer and fewer innings, the gap between the starting dregs and good non-closers has narrow considerably. This past season Devin Williams, Matt Foster, Josh Fleming, and Pete Fairbanks each ended the season as a top-60 pitcher value.  Starters don’t throw enough to get the Win or accumulate many strikeouts. A reliever can easily occur more strikeouts than a single-start starter in a single week. Additionally, the strikeouts usually come with better ratios and the off chance for a Win or a Save. Picking out elite middle relievers is tough, but I have a couple of simple rules to follow to help find them.

Determining who is going to be a good middle reliever in the upcoming season is tough. It’s almost impossible. First, few repeat being lights out each season (e.g. Andrew Miller). Second, the relievers who show the skills to be elite from season-to-season become closers and their price skyrockets. It’s a dynamic group.

The 2020 season added to the chaos. When it ended, MLB and fantasy teams were just settling into their rotations. Middle relievers were just getting to the point of becoming roster regulars. I don’t think they were as valuable in the shorter season where teams had excessive FAAB to spend on a new pitching staff each week.
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The Big Kevin Gausman Breakout Has Arrived, A Review

Back in late August, about a month into the season, I proclaimed that the big Kevin Gausman breakout has arrived. At the time, he had thrown 31 innings and was sitting with an unattractive 4.65 ERA. How could a pitcher’s breakout have arrived if his ERA was actually worse than the 4.48 MLB average?! It’s easy really, it’s all about the peripherals, or underlying skills as I call them. ERA, especially over a small sample like 31 innings, is pretty meaningless and doesn’t tell you a whole lot about how a pitcher has actually pitched. So we dive deeper, look at those underlying skills, which ultimately drive SIERA, a much better indicator of a pitcher’s performance, again, especially over a small sample. We now know that since I posted my breakout article, Gausman posted a sterling 2.51 ERA the rest of the way over 28.2 inning. So yeah, the breakout arrived. Let’s see if anything actually changed though, or if it was merely the luck metrics (BABIP, HR/FB, LOB%) that reverted back toward the league average.

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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 859 – Too Early Mock Hitters


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The Catching Pool

Catchers Discussed: J.T. Realmuto, Salvador Perez, Christian Vazquez, Gary Sánchez, Austin Nola, Sean Murphy, Daulton Varsho, James McCann, Mitch Garver, Max Stassi, Joey Bart, Danny Jansen, Tyler Stephenson, Omar Narváez

Where is Hitter X Goin?

Favorite Post-200 Hitters

As usual, don’t hesitate to tweet us or comment with fantasy questions.

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Approximately 91 minutes of joyous analysis.

Hitter FB% Decliners — 8/11/20, A Review

Yesterday, I reviewed the hitters that enjoyed a fly ball rate surge early on in the season to see how they performed the rest of the way. Today, let’s review the decliners. Did they rebound back to their 2019 level or was the early season slump an indication of a season-long decreased FB%?

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League Retrospectives: Draft & Hold Breakdown Procedure

I enjoy participating in some early season draft-and-holds because they allow me to dive deep into the player pool before FAAB drafts start. Also, the extra time between picks allows my partners and me to work out our differences before any timed drafts. This past season, my results varied from winning the league to not even being competitive. I’m going to go through my process for dissecting leagues to find any possible future improvements (full drafts at end of the article).

I’m going to focus on the procedure of breaking down a league after the carnage. I know people don’t want to read about my leagues, hell I don’t even care about them as I get ready for 2021 but I need to stop making the same mistakes. Here are the four steps I use to investigate and improve my leagues.
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Is Zach Plesac a Bonafide Ace?

Coming into the 2020 season when anyone would mention the Cleveland Indians rotation you would have automatically thought of Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber, Carlos Carrasco, and maybe even Aaron Civale. No one thought anything of Zach Plesac. Yet here we are two and a half months later and Zach Plesac had an ADP of pick 79 in the “2 early mocks.” Plesac balled out in this shortened season pitching 55.1 innings with a 2.28 ERA and 24.8% K-BB%.

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Hitter FB% Surgers — 8/10/20, A Review

I love batted ball distribution changes (hitting more fly balls or ground balls), because they are usually under the hood and require a review of the hitter’s statistical profile to uncover. Typically, when we see a home run breakout, it’s usually because of the obvious — the hitter has raised his HR/FB rate. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes he’s hitting home runs on his flies at the same rate, but simply hitting more fly balls. That’ll get you to the same destination, but following a different route. So in early/mid August, I identified and discussed the hitters that had increased their fly ball rates the most versus 2019. At that point, the sample size was still small, of course, so I was curious how these hitters performed the rest of the way. Did they maintain their FB% spikes or did those marks fall back to their 2019 levels over the rest of the season? Let’s find out.

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11 Interesting Batting Draft Prices in the #TooEarlyMocks

Justin is running his annual Too Early Mocks and the wonderful Smada has once again compiled the average draft data for our perusal. Check out my 11 interesting pitching prices, too.

Christian Yelich 10.9 ADP – I was very interested in seeing how much the superstar would fall on the heels of a disappointing 2020 and unfortunately the market hasn’t overreacted as I’d have loved to catch a huge discount. Instead, he was still a firm 1st rounder ranging from pick 7 to 13 (these were 15-team leagues) and with good reason. It’s not at all unreasonable to suggest he’d have worked through his issues versus righties (1.068 OPS vL) in a full season as his .213 BABIP would’ve likely worked its way back to his career .354 while the 11-point jump in strikeout came in lieu of lower swinging strike and O-swing rates. I’m happily buying, even at this price.

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Projection Busting Research Updated (2021 Edition)

I’ve been grinding my way through the various inputs I use in addition to projection to make my team-building decisions. It’s time for the final few lists.

For reference, here are the factors I’ve already published.

Also, I’m not going to take into account two minor league related factors: Voit/Muncy List (2020 list) and bumping up hitting prospect projections. Without a minor league season, the Voit/Muncy list can’t be generated.

As for bumping up hitting prospects, I’m going to pass this year. I know there will be prospect rankings but I’ll not give two-shits about them. Even with some reports from the alternate sites and fall instructs, the information will be spotty at best.
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Fantasy Baseball Chat With Jeff Zimmerman

El Guapo: Is Paddack a key part of Padres rotation in 2021?

Jeff Zimmerman: He’s going to interesting to value in 2021. He’s likely the 4th or 5th starter with several nice arms in the minors.

Jeff Zimmerman: I think he’s close to being a Matt Boyd/Robbie Ray clone. Two pitches and the fastball gets hit around.

El Guapo: Is Teoscar a top 30 OF next year?

Jeff Zimmerman: He’s going to be drafted as one.

Jeff Zimmerman: I’ve done some digging on him and I’m not sure I buy into the breakout. I want to see how the park effects effect his projections first. Buffalo was Coors East

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