I was going over the Miami Carlins roster and looking over their 2012 statistics when I saw something interesting to me and nobody else. When I drafted the team one statistic I didn’t pay attention to much with my hitters was strikeouts. In this league we lose a point for each strikeout our players have. For pitchers, strikeouts were one of the more important things I looked at. Curious, I zoomed through to find who on my team had the most strikeouts in 2012. The answer is Jason Kubel who struck out 151 times. Next on the list was Colby Rasmus with 149 followed by Nelson Cruz with 140. Andrew McCutchen, who was an MVP candidate, was left stranded at the plate 130 times. After these four guys there was a huge drop-off. Could the Miami Carlins have the best plate discipline of any team in the league?
Even more suspicious and interested, I checked my pitcher’s strikeout numbers from last season. Yu Darvish led the way with 221, Cole Hamels had a fantastic 216, Matt Moore had 175, and Jordan Zimmerman had 153. So if you cannot do the math yourself, I have four pitchers with more strikeouts than any of my hitters. Is this common or not?
I wanted to see how many other teams in the league have this same anomaly. How many other teams have pitchers with more strikeouts than hitters?
Cecil Cantrell – 1
C.C. Sabathia 197 K’s
Curtis Granderson 195 K’s
SI Hurricanes – 3
Gio Gonzalez 207 K’s
Jon Lester 166 K’s
Josh Johnson 165 K’s
Ike Davis 141 K’s
Jimmy Dean Vienna Sausages – 5 (there goes my bragging rights)
Clayton Kershaw 229 K’s
Jake Peavy 194 K’s
Madison Bumgartner 191 K’s
Adam Wainwright 184 K’s
Jeff Samardizja 180 K’s
Jayson Heyward 152 K’s
Team Gold – 3.5
Chris Sale 192 K’s
Ian Kennedy 187 K’s
Mat Latos 185 K’s
Lance Lynn 180 K’s
Pedro Alvarez 180 K’s
The Fuzzy Taints – 2
R.A. Dickey 230 K’s
Tim Lincecum 190 K’s
Danny Espinosa 189 K’s
Houston Asterisks – 0
Adam Dunn 222 K’s
Drunkin Drafter – 5
Justin Verlander 239 K’s
James Shields 223 K’s
David Price 205 K’s
A.J. Burnett 180 K’s
C.J. Wilson 173 K’s
Alfonso Soriano 153 K’s
Stone Cold – 4
Max Scherzer 231 K’s
Felix Hernandez 223 K’s
Yovani Gallardo 204 K’s
Edwin Jackson 168 K’s
Jay Bruce 155 K’s
Team Boyle – 2
Cliff Lee 207 K’s
Stephan Strasburg 197 K’s
B.J. Upton/Chris Davis/Rickie Weeks 169 K’s
If I did my math correctly then the average number of pitchers a team has with more strikeouts than the most “swinging and missing” player should be 2.95 which I suppose we can round up to 3. Of course there’s not much in this theory as outliers can completely change anything. Guys like Adam Dunn can completely throw things off. Not to mention, strikeouts are not make or break in any league. They’re a little something extra to make things interesting.
Now that I’m done worrying about strikeouts I can start getting worried about how many errors my team is expected to make. Is picking all DH’s a bad idea?
With my league’s draft only a little more than 24 hours away (I decided to give up exact math once they tried to teach me algebra so pardon the estimation) I feel the need to do one last pre-draft post offering whatever advice I can. I’ve crunched the numbers, prayed to many gods, and sacrificed a goat for this knowledge. Here are 10 things to ask yourself before the draft begins.
1) Should I pick players who play on my favorite team? Yes. Of course. This is a ridiculous question. If anything you should pick only players from your favorite team. Somewhere down the line you will end up rooting against your team. Make sure if you are a rabid fan to avoid picking too many players from rival teams. You may end up sitting on your couch in September watching a game rooting to see your favorite team crash and burn.
2) Should I pick players on rival teams? I already answered this question. Please pay attention.
3) Who would be the perfect number one pick? It depends on your league and how they score. If I have the number one pick I would pick Ryan Braun. He’s consistent and proved last year he can play well without steroids. Or he can play well with a good steroids masking agent. Whichever, he is probably the best overall player. Miguel Cabrera probably will not be able to repeat last season. As far as Mike Trout goes, the term “sophomore slump” exists for a reason. There’s a year worth of video on Trout now. After an off-season of analyzing it I do not see him living up to the hype.
4) How long should I wait until I pick a pitcher? You should wait until someone else picks Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, or whomever they decide to use as their first pitcher pick. You don’t need the best pitcher in the league to succeed. Kershaw also is prone to injury while Verlander is probably due. Remember when Cliff Lee came out of nowhere a few years ago and won over 20 games? You never know what can happen.
5) What statistic should I look most when deciding who to pick? This is a hard question to answer and remember, I’m not an expert nor do I get paid to write out this valuable advice. One easy to analyze stat to gander at would be RBIs. Players with high RBIs tend to also hit for power and score a lot of runs. That’s not to say this is the only stat to look at it. This question can best be answered by looking at your own league and how things will be scored.
6) Is there a position I should focus on early in the draft? Be sure to take a second baseman, short stop, or third baseman in the first three rounds. Second baseman and short stops have gone back to the way they were in the 80s where an All-Star hits .265 and hits 7 home runs. There just aren’t as many good ones out there anymore. Robinson Cano is not a bad first round pick. If he’s still around in the second round he’s perfect. Short stops are much weaker. The league we are using, ESPN, has Ben Zobrist listed as the second best short stop behind Troy “My Back Aches” Tulowitzki. I’m not sure what has happened to third basemen. There are a handful of talented players like David Wright, Adrian Beltre, and Miguel Cabrera. Unfortunately many of the talented third baseman are also old or have had careers plagued by injuries like Evan Longoria and Ryan “110 Game Season” Zimmerman. I love giving out nicknames.
7) How do I go about picking a good relief pitcher? I covered this in a previous post and I”m not exactly sure which one it is. You should be reading this blog as an anthology, not missing a single thing. I am not a fan of relief pitching in fantasy baseball because it’s so hard to predict. Can you really go wrong with Craig Kimbrel? Possibly. The Braves added some nice offensive to their lineup this season. I see Kimbrel pitching well, but not Craig Kimbrel well.
8) I love Bryce Harper’s attitude, how early should I pick him? I would not pick Bryce Harper too early at all. Last season he hit .270 with 22 home runs and 59 RBIs in a full season. I’m wearing at the lack of RBIs in connection to his home runs. He did score almost 100 runs which is nice. Certainly there are much better players to take than Harper. The same with Mike Trout, don’t expect great things from him until the 2014 season. That’s when I see Harper pushing for MVP nods.
9) Are you struggling to come up with 10 questions? Yes. I ate a snack in between 6 and 7.
10) Any other random advice? Take a risk on at least one rookie/second year player. It’s common for these guys to put up big numbers out of nowhere. Don’t waste an early pick on potential though. Snatch up as many consistent and healthy players as you can before playing risk.
I found out the draft for my league is this Wednesday at 8pm. This means I have until then to take out the competition so they miss the draft completely and have to auto-pick. If I can take them out these teams will end up with 7 first basemen and two relief pitchers who are out for the season. This is the perfect strategy to cheat my way into winning the pot. I don’t literally mean the prize is some marijuana either. It’s a figure of speech, sort of.
(Not our league’s prize)
Here are some easy and cheap ways to make sure your competitors do no make the draft. I am in a league with 9 other guys so here are the 9 things I could do to them.
1) Hire someone to bust their knee with a tire iron when they are taking out the trash at night.
2) Offer to take them out for coffee then point claiming you have spotted a celebrity. When they are turned poison their coffee. They can always sue the cafe and will lose interest in playing anyway
3) Slash their tires while they are driving so they crash their car. This will require some skill, but being a champion takes hard work.
4) Kidnap their children. The anguish will make them fall apart emotionally.
5) Blackmail their employer and have him fire them. Chances are they will go postal and kill their boss, thus imprisoning them.
6) Sleep with their wife and do a really good job at it so she leaves him. You can use this one on the poorest married man in the league. He will not be able to afford Internet access.
7) Lie and say the draft has been pushed back a week.
8) Buy tickets for an event your competitor has always wanted to go to that takes place during the draft then shoot him with a gun when he inquires about going. I said these would be cheap. Buying tickets for anything is expensive.
9) Trick your competitor into falling in love with you. You will probably have to kiss a man. Just pretend you’re back at summer camp.
In my last post I mentioned teams I thought would do well enough this season offensively that picking players from these teams would be helpful because of the offense around them. Today I am doing the complete opposite. There are a few teams out there who offensively appear to be so bad it will rub off on the rest of the team. Call it some crazy theory, but picking players from the following teams may do more harm than you will ever bargain for.
The namesake of my fantasy team, the Marlins historically screwed South Florida by trading away Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, and Josh Johnson to the Blue Jays for two pears, a Canadian penny, and a bag of used diabetes socks. Giancarlo “Don’t Call Me Mike” Stanton will be heading up this lineup with nearly nothing around him. Nobody expects the Marlins to do a single thing this season. They might be so bad they will finish 6th in the NL East. This may appear mathematically impossible, but we thought the same thing about a team trading away its core.
This team looks to be historically bad. Shakespeare has considered rising from the dead to write a tragedy about them. The only name players they have in their lineup are Jed Lowrie and Carlos Pena. The rest of the team will be randomly picked from the stands. It’s been a while since the Astros were anything to brag about and things do not look to be getting much better. A move to the American League West, you know, the division with the Angels, Athletics, and Rangers who all made the playoffs last season, WILL prove disastrous for Houston.
New York Mets
The only positive to take away from the Mets’ lineup is that these players have been together for a while already. Unfortunately this is baseball where teamwork means less than the other sports. David Wright is the only shining star in this lineup as has been the case for some time now. The only way the Mets have a chance at putting up good offensive numbers this year is if they move the CitiField outfield walls in another 150 feet.
One fantasy draft strategy a person can consider is picking players based on what team they play for. Personally I believe this is a strategy that can work. Factoring in ballpark, the team’s lineup, the team’s bullpen and other things, you can make decisions on those late round draft picks without having a clue as to who the guy even is.
Top 3 Offensive Teams
When choosing position players you want the most well-rounded you can get. You want someone who hits for average, power, and knocks in a lot of runs. Sorry for stating the obvious, but I needed some sort of introduction here.
Guys like Ryan Braun, Albert Pujols, and Miguel Cabrera have consistently hit for average and power. They are much more valuable than say a Ryan Howard who will hit 40 home runs with a .255 average or a Jose Reyes who will hit .330 but only hit 10 home runs and knock in around 60. When the later draft rounds come, and they will come, pick players from these teams:
Toronto Blue Jays
They are the Vegas favorites this season and the American League team I will be pulling for. Their projected lineup looks to be something from the early 90s Blue Jays days with potential league leaders in several categories. I don’t believe they will win it all but surely their offensive numbers will jump up for just about everyone. There’s no more pitching around Jose Bautista. I expect him to have another fine season as long as he stays healthy.
Overlooked Player: Catcher J.P. Arencibia
He may not be the best catcher to take, but as a backup he should do more than most, especially if the Blue Jays live up to the hype.
For the most part they are the Blue Jays of the National League. They are well-rounded in many ways. Their ballpark isn’t particularly for hitters however unless you’re in Colorado or San Diego that rarely makes much of a difference. With 36 games against the Mets and Marlins, expect much of this lineup to put up big numbers.
Overlooked Player: Short Stop Ian Desmond
Short stops are not as good as they used to be. Desmond will supplement what was only for a short time a nice offensive position. He jumps around the lineup a bit which may hurt him. Other than that, Desmond could be a good starting SS for any team.
Rather than go with the Rockies here or even the Anaheim Angels, I decided to pick the Diamondbacks. The big outfield in Arizona has supplied many hitters with a few more doubles than home runs they deserved at times, but the positive is down the right and left field lines. With the absence of Justin Upton this year, others will have a chance to step up. The team is young and right now in baseball young is good. There are no Mike Trouts or Bryce Harpers on the team. Still, guys like Jason Kubel, Cody Ross, or youngster Adam Eaton (no relation to the pitcher, I hope) may have a few more pounds to their slugging percentage.
Overlooked Player: First Baseman Paul Goldschmidt
Maybe not the first baseman of everybody’s dreams, Goldschmidt is still a viable candidate to put up some big offensive numbers. Look to add him as a back-up or as a starter if you somehow forget about getting someone like Prince Fielder.
I got an email from my fantasy league over at ESPN today with a very valuable article. That is to say it’s valuable if you value the opinions of people you have never met.
I have a few things to say about it since if I didn’t this would be nothing more than me posting links to things other people wrote which seems like thievery.
First you must understand what a sleeper is and what a bust is to truly appreciate this piece.
Sleeper: Someone who sneaks up out of nowhere and does a fantastic job. Say for instance you’re at a bar and you spot a fat girl. Normally you would not go up and talk to this fat girl. Alcohol does something to people and you may lose inhibitions. When you lose this self-respect you may talk to the fatty. History will tell you when given the chance fat girls can come through. If they’re more than you expected then they may be considered a sleeper.
Busts: Someone who is expected to do a fantastic job and they end up failing miserably. Say for instance you’re at a bar and you spot a pretty girl. She’s everything you have ever wanted in the looks department and now all you have to do is find out what she’s like on the inside. You walk over to her and begin to speak only to realize she is a complete ditz. Simple math is too difficult for her. The only way she knows her own name is because she has it written down on her palm. This woman would be considered a bust. She was not what you though she would be.
Now, onto the actual article.
There was not much to disagree with here. The only real important thing to point out is how ridiculously easy it is to write up a Sleepers and Busts article. Picking a sleeper is easy. If you are wrong then it’s no big deal. Picking a bust is a little tougher because if they live up to expectations then you seem like a pessimistic fool. Admittedly I am hardly familiar with the majority of the sleepers on the list. I have an inkling some of these choices were completely picked at random.
So what advice do I give on this topic?
If you see a sleeper on the list and your first instinct is he will do well then go for it. Don’t load up on sleepers though. They’re more of a middle of the road to end of the draft pick. The busts on the list are hit and miss. I do believe a few of the guys on the list will have decent seasons despite what the experts say. These experts by the way are like weathermen. They will be wrong more than they will be right.
For the sake of having something to look back at and getting made fun of for being an idiot or for being right months in advance, here are my sleepers and busts based on the list provided.
C Jonathon Lucroy: As long as he doesn’t break his hand packing luggage again he should have a fine season.
1B Freddie Freeman: With the absence of Chipper Jones I see Freedman stepping up and becoming a new stud in the Braves’ lineup. Look at his name, it’s almost as fun to say as Chipper.
2B Jedd Gyorko: This is one of those guys I am not too familiar with. I’m going to go with the experts on this one for the sake of knowing they got paid to write their article and I’m not. Money is a motivator for accuracy.
3B Todd Frazier: He had a great year last year, plus in most leagues he can play 1B and 3B which is always valuable.
SS Josh Rutledge: He plays in Colorado, enough said. He’ll probably play mostly 2B, although Troy Tulowitzki will probably miss some time due to a large back pimple. Can that man ever stay healthy?
OF Josh Reddick: I have always been a fan of Reddick’s and have seen him as an ultimate sleeper for a while now. He had a fine year last season and I expect him to do the same this time around.
SP Rick Porcello: Last year he struggled a bit but I see him having a bounce back season. He’s on the Tigers which means he will get run support. Plus, the AL East is not the toughest division. I think I could win 5 games starting in it.
RP This is always a crapshoot. Wait until spring training ends and pick up a nice reliever who has stepped in for an injured teammate.
C Victor Martinez: He’s always getting injured and hasn’t had a good season in quite some time. He’s a fine pick if your league lasts two months, otherwise stay away.
1B Mark Teixera: The Yankees first baseman is already injured and he’s admitted he is overpaid. This gives him enough of a psychological excuse to have another disappointing season.
2B Chase Utley: As a Phillies fan it pains me to say Utley is done. He’ll hit .270 with 18 home runs at best. I expect him to lose his spot at third in the lineup sometime around the All-Star break. I feel like jumping off a bridge now knowing I have no faith in my own team.
3B Chase Headley: There is no way he can duplicate what he did last season. The Padres haven’t gotten any better which gives opposing pitchers little reason to even pitch to the guy. Expect lots of walks, but that’s it.
SS Derek Jeter: Is anyone expecting big things from Jeter anymore? He’s coming off a major injury and he’s old. Really old. A-Rod may have a better season this year and I predict him getting chased out of the Bronx with pitchforks before things are over with.
OF Josh Hamilton: He’ll have a good season, but not a Josh Hamilton season. How can he live up to the hype? He’s in a completely new environment which will take some adjusting before he can get things going. I predict him hitting .283 with 28 HRs and 97 RBIs. These are fine numbers but people are expecting a lot more.
SP Gio Gonzalez: Another guy who had a great season last year and probably won’t this year. The Nationals should be great, Gonzalez should do well, but typically a younger guy who comes from almost out of nowhere can have two great seasons back to back.
RP Again, this is a waste to try to predict and closers are always changing anyway. If you rely on saves to win in your league then you’re doing something wrong.
With age comes wisdom. In fantasy baseball, wisdom means nothing.
In many of the places I’ve looked in preparation for this draft the top position player and the top pitcher are Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw. Both of these men are younger than I am, Kershaw by a few months and Trout by a few years. At 25 I feel a little strange relying on people younger than I am to make sure I win this fantasy baseball season. I would not rely on either of these men for anything else in life. I know myself well enough to understand people our age are usually good at one thing. I’m still searching for my talent.
Last season Kershaw was 14-9 with a 2.53 ERA. This was dramatically worse than the previous season when he went 21-5 with a 2.28 ERA. Despite his ERA jumping up about one point for every year he has existed, he still led the league with the lowest. Kershaw should be a good pick this year as he has proven so far in his career to remain consistent. He picks up a lot of strikeouts, eats innings, and with the new additions the Dodgers made in the off-season will easily win 15 games as long as he stays healthy.
Mike Trout has yet to spend a full season in the majors but he is already on the cover of magazines. In no other industry can you reach the top for such a short period of time and get as much coverage as Trout has. People seem to forget he played 40 games in 2011, hitting just .220 in 123 at-bats. Of course last year he proved he has what it takes to last a full season. He led the league in runs with an astonishing 129 which coming from a team that did not make the playoffs is pretty impressive. I’m still hesitant to spend my first pick on Trout. I expect a little bit of a sophomore slump from Trout this season. He’s already packed on a noticeable amount of pounds. Will he be able to steal nearly 50 bases again this year? Fat people are notorious for being slow. Trout will have to prove history wrong.