Category: Dailies

Bonus Mailbag: Top Fantasy Rookies

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Since my Expert League matchup is fairly dull right now (I’m
down 2-7-1 going into the weekend, but due to a fluke of scheduling, I’ve only
had one starter pitch so far) and I’ve got to post something or there will be
dozens of people in the world with an extra 45 seconds to kill, here is a bonus
mailbag question.

 

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Tobee,

Long time reader,
third time poster here. Who are your early favorites for fantasy ROY pitcher
and position player?

 

david price.jpg

Impressive spelling of my name.  I’ve seen it with one “e” before but not
two.  I guess the extra one is short for
“extraordinarily adequate” which is the perfect way to describe me.

 

You do pose an interesting question though.  The favorites for the Rookie of the Year Award (at least in the AL) are probably Matt Wieters and David Price, but since
both are still in the minors, it’s entirely possible that other players end up
having a greater fantasy impact this year. 
In fact, Wieters and Price are actually hurting fantasy players who
participate in leagues with short benches right now, as they are taking up
valuable real estate without providing any production.

 

However, the rumor winds are starting to gust saying Price
will be pitching in Tampa by the first week of May.  If they prove true and he joins the rotation
in place of the struggling Jeff Niemann, he’ll throw about 150 innings this
year.  With the backing of that powerful offense
and with Price’s huge strikeout potential, it would be foolish to think another
rookie pitcher will have a bigger fantasy impact this year. 

 

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That being said, Jordan Zimmermann’s debut with the
Nationals, while not spectacular, proved he belongs on the big league level and
with no one pushing him for his rotation spot, he’ll finish the season as a Top
50 starting pitcher and is thus ownable in all but the shallowest of leagues.

 

octomom poster.jpg

On the hitter’s side, my current crush on Dexter Fowler is
well documented, so he’s got to be my choice. 
Because of Fowler, Seth Smith is becoming irrelevant faster than
Octomom, as Fowler is playing nearly every day.  At the top of that Rockies lineup, he’s going
to score 100 runs, while stealing 25-30 bags and hitting 15-20 homers.  If Wieters doesn’t come up until June, he’ll
likely hit 5-10 more homers than Fowler on the season while stealing 25 less
bags and scoring 30 less runs.  Depending
on your league format, for this year and this year only, I’d rather have Fowler
and his full season’s worth of production over the much-hyped Wieters.

Tomorrow we’ll have an interview with Ryan Hallam of Fighting Chance Fantasy.  If you have any questions for Ryan, leave them in the comments below.

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Mailbag – FAAB Management and Point Break 2

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2 Questions for the
mailbag:

 

nick swisher pitching.jpg

1) There are a
plethora of guides out there for the average fantasy player to reference to
establish the value of a player during draft time. But, I know of nothing
comparable to reference when using a FAAB budget for picking up a player off of
the waiver wire. Is there a good place to go to get an idea of how much to bid
on a player who is on the waiver wire? If there is nothing out there, do you
have any ground rules that you can suggest? In my league ($100 FAAB), I have routinely
seen people bid $0 for a player, but then I have also seen bids on what I
considered average pick-ups balloon to as high as $14.

 

Great question.  As a
quick primer, FAAB is short for Free Agent Acquisition Budget and it serves as
an alternative to waiver wires for distributing free agents.  It’s basically a mini-auction held every week
and if your league doesn’t use it, I highly recommend you consider implementing
it next year, as it’s both a fairer way to distribute free agents and a lot of
fun (who wouldn’t want to have a mini version of draft day every week?)

 

I agree with you, weekly guidelines for FAAB bidding are
seemingly sparse across the internet, which is shocking when you consider the
amount of content devoted to this silly hobby of ours each and every week.  The only dedicated column to the subject I
know about is written by Jeff Erickson at Rotowire, but its part of their pay
content.  So unless you are willing to
part with real bucks to get some guidance on how to spend your fake bucks, you
are on your own.

 

I guess one of the problems with creating a blanket
guideline for FAAB is the price determination is incredibly fact specific, as
the value of a player can swing wildly based on budget, mixed-league vs solo
league, shallowness of the league, number of bench spots, etc.  Assuming you aren’t in a solo league where
there is a serious incentive to hoard as much FAAB as possible in case a star
is traded across leagues, I think there are three primary factors to consider:

Continue reading

Marry, Bury, Date: Week 3

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Thumbnail image for old prom.JPG

Welcome back to another week of Marry, Bury, Date — the
childhood game I’ve hijacked to provide the framework for my initial foray into
providing expert fantasy baseball advice.

 

The premise of the game is simple.  Three names are thrown out and the participants
must pick which one they would Marry (ie commit to long-term), Bury (get rid of
forever), or Date (could be fun in the short-term).  When considering trade offers or waiver wire
pick-ups, fantasy players are faced with these same three decisions all the
time, so in an effort to help aid these choices, I’ll name one player who I
like for the rest of the season, one player who I think could help in the
short-term, and one guy I wouldn’t touch in this space each week.

 

After I’m done, if you want to whisper to the player that I
“like ’em, like ’em” that’s up to you. 
If you do, I look forward to the awkwardness that ensues all the way
through the Junior High Prom.  Maybe I’ll
get my courage up and ask them to dance during “Lady in Red.” 

 

This week’s picks are below.

Continue reading

Expert League Update: Nats Bullpen Causes Loss, Pain

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kolb watercooler.jpg

Is there anything more frustrating in baseball than a
consistently wretched bullpen?  My first
year of law school, the guy who lived in the apartment beneath mine was a huge
Braves fan and never missed a game.  Once
he found out I was a fan of both baseball and watching people suffer, he invited
me to join the Dan Kolb Experience. 

 

Every time the Braves had a lead in the late stages of the
game, this guy (let’s call him Mad Cat) called or e-mailed me to let me know
Kolb was about to come in.  I’d then come
down to his apartment, where it was curtains up.  I’d watch in delighted horror as Kolb and Mad
Cat both experienced complete and utter meltdowns each and every night.  It was amazing.  No lead was safe, no situation was
unscrewupable (is too a word).

 

As Kolb blew game after game, Mad Cat would shift between
coping mechanisms.  Some nights he’d yell
and scream.  Other nights he’d quietly
stew and rub his temples.  My favorite
nights occurred when he would just mutter super bitter sarcastic comments after
every pitch.  My least favorite nights
were when he’d glance back and forth from the TV to the sword that hung on the
wall, lost in his own J.D. from “Scrubs” fantasy world.  Every night, one thing was clear though —
Dan Kolb was ruining his life.  And I was
delighted to watch it happen.

 

ultimate warrior cleaning house.jpg

Nearly five years later, my chickens are coming home to
roost.  The Nationals just finished an
epic series with the Marlins, blowing all three games in the ninth inning at
home.  I don’t know the last time a home team
lost the lead in the ninth in every game of a series, but I’m guessing Kolb was
involved (if not, he’s got to be extremely jealous right now).  I do know that the Nationals desperately
needed a win and losing in such spectacular fashion three straight nights puts
them in danger of squandering the goodwill they gained with their fan base
after the Adam Dunn signing.  They apparently
know this, as after the game, The Nats cleaned house like they were the
Ultimate Warrior rushing into the ring on “Saturday Night’s Main Event.”  The last boo hadn’t even finished echoing
through the stadium before Saul Rivera (last night’s losing pitcher who managed
to turn a 4-3 lead into a 7-4 deficit in the blink of a fan’s tearful eye) and two
other relievers were either sent down or designated for assignment.

 

So why am I writing about this in a fantasy baseball
blog?  Well one because writing is my
coping mechanism and while the Nats have put their fans through a lot since
returning to the nation’s capital, this series marked a new low and served as a perfect microcosm
for the team.  They constantly get their
fans hopes up, whether it be through an early lead or a roster full of young
talent, but so far they seemingly always find a way to crush their fans faith and
if I don’t vent for a few paragraphs here, I’ll find it hard to tune into the
game tonight.  I can’t let that happen,
the season is too young.  To quote Robert
The Bruce “I DON’T WANT TO LOSE HEART!  I
want to believe.”

 

But way more relevantly, I had injury added to insult as I
entered the weekend leading my Expert League matchup by two in the saves
category.  While many fantasy owners were
hurt by owning Joel Hanrahan, I faced the opposite problem, as I was playing
against Matt Lindstrom.  If the Nats
could have closed out any of those games, Lindstrom would have been left in the
bullpen and my lead would have been safe. 
But instead, by the time the dust had settled on Sunday, I had watched
on in horror as my opponent rode Lindstrom to tie me for the week.  While I still managed to win the matchup
5-4-1, after the roller coaster ride the Nats had put me through, I felt like I
had been sucker punched and I knew that somewhere, Mad Cat was laughing.

Fantasy Baseball Expert Interview – Matthew Leach

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matthew leach book cover.jpg

Welcome
back to the newest installment in our series of interviews aimed at giving
readers insight into the minds and backgrounds of those fantasy writers and
pundits who have reached the level of “expert.” It seems there
has been an explosion in the number of people claiming the title in the last
few years, but no one seems to know where they come from. These interviews
aim to change all that, while also giving aspiring “experts” (such as
myself) some advice on both how to break into the industry and ways to improve
your fantasy skills.

Our guest this week is Matthew Leach, the longtime Cardinals
beat writer for MLB.com
and author of “Game of My Life: St. Louis Cardinals:
Memorable Stories of Cardinals Baseball,” which you can buy here.

 

Do you think your
role as a beat writer helps or hurts in playing fantasy?

Yes. It helps with some things — I have a pretty good read on the teams in the
NL Central and what they’re doing, as well as the teams I see a lot in Spring
Training (Orioles, Mets, Marlins). But it can be harder to keep up with the
rest of the game, because I’m so focused on the team right in front of me.

 

Continue reading

Expert League Update – All Hail Ian Kinsler

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ian kinsler.jpg

Its days like Wednesday that make fantasy exceedingly fun to
play.  Don’t get me wrong, there are
plenty of times it’s excruciating.  When
a top pick lands on the DL, when your entire team goes in the tank on a Sunday
costing you a head-to-head matchup, when one of your pitchers implodes faster
than Kenny Powers and gets a snowman hung on him — those days will cause you
to swear off fantasy forever.  But then
your first-round pick explodes like Ian Kinsler did on Wednesday night and makes
it all worthwhile.

 

DATE

OPP

H/AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

4/15

Bal

6/6

5

1

4

1

 

Good gosh.  Check out
that line again, you might not see a more perfect one all season, as he
provided elite production across all five fantasy categories.  Watching it all unfold caused a strange mix of
hope and skepticism.  You figure with
each at-bat there is no way he could keep it up, but he was on such a roll you
couldn’t bet against him, like a hot player at a craps table or Al Bundy during
his four touchdown game.

 

To top it off, Kinsler accomplished my favorite goofy
baseball achievement — hitting for the cycle. 
A no-hitter is more elegant to watch and a triple play is usually
luckier, but nothing is more randomly beautiful.  It’s usually just a product of happenstance
and doesn’t really showcase skills, but it always leads to really fun scenarios
where you might see a a guy banging one off the wall in a blowout and walking
to first base since he only needs a single or a Prince Fielder-type trying to
stretch a double and calling for oxygen whether he makes it or not or.  I don’t know why, but whenever a player hits
a triple, my first thought always relates to the possibility for a cycle.  It’s Pavlovian.

 

sam thompson.jpg

As a final testament to how good Kinsler was last night,
consider he’s the first player to get six hits and hit for the cycle in a nine
inning game since Sam Thompson.  If you
don’t know who Thompson is, he was an outfielder for the Phillies.  In 1894. 
The records from that era are fuzzy, but I’m pretty sure the losing
pitcher in that game was Tim Wakefield. 
Also, check out his sweet picture. 
I think his stache hit .300 that year.

 

When the dust settled, the Rangers had eviscerated the
Orioles and Kinsler had pretty much singlehandedly vaulted me ahead in all five
hitting categories, allowing me to turn a 3-7 deficit into a 7-3 lead going
into the weekend.  Probably won’t end
that way, but even if it doesn’t hold up, I’ll have the memory of Kinsler’s epic
night to console me and give me hope for next week.  And because of the possibility of more games
like that one, I’ll be watching my guys play every chance I get.

Mailbag – How Soon Is Too Soon?

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Hello everyone

 

Each Wednesday, I’m going to answer a question from the
comments or my email, so if you have a question (about fantasy baseball or
anything else), let it fly in the comment section below.  Here is
this week’s question.

Toby, I have a
question. My problem is that I have no patience. If a guy has a bad couple
weeks, I want to drop him. Every time this happens, some other manager picks
the guy up and naturally he goes on a tear. Of course, I learn from this, and
the next time a guy’s in a slump, I hold onto him. When I do, naturally, he
continues to suck.  So, tell me, please,
Toby, how to solve this problem?

 

Metsfankrod

 

starting lineup.jpg

Well first of all, I’d like to say welcome to the “my
actions can effect real life sports events” club.  I’d like to say we are exclusive, but that’s
a tough claim to make when millions of people feel the same way.  Some people have their lucky t-shirt, others
have a spot on the couch they must sit on. 
One writer here at MLBlogs eats the same meal each day as long as they
Yankees are winning.  Me?  My TV is above my fireplace, so I often build
fires and offer sacrifices to the sports gods. 
So far it’s been innocuous stuff like newspaper articles about the
opposing team, but I’m thinking of simulating human sacrifice by tossing in vintage
Starting Lineup figures this year.

 

Second of all, I didn’t know Krod Mandoon was a Mets fan,
but I do know I’m bloody sick of those commercials.  When watching “The Daily Show”, I’d rather be
told “size matters” for the 3,000th time by the roided up Bow-flex
guys than see these neverending promos for a show that is so epically bad.

 

Your question is a great one and it plagues everyone who has
ever picked up the fantasy game (by the way, we need a cool phrase like “laced
up the cleats” or “strapped on a helmet” for fantasy players.  I’m going to toss out “cheered for a kicker”
for now, but I need to give this more thought). 
If you are overly reactionary, you may have done something last year
like trade Ryan Howard for Jay Bruce, in which case you certainly lost your
league.  On the other hand, if you never
make a move, you probably rode Eric Byrnes or Travis Hafner straight into the
abyss.

 

Unfortunately, there is no one answer to your
question.  When considering whether to
fish or cut bait, you need to weigh the factors below.

Continue reading

Marry, Bury, Date – Week 2

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Welcome back to another week of Marry, Bury, Date — the
childhood game I’ve hijacked to provide the framework for my initial foray into
providing expert fantasy baseball advice.

 

The premise of the game is simple.  Three names are thrown out and the
participants must pick which one they would Marry (ie commit to long-term),
Bury (get rid of forever), or Date (could be fun in the short-term).  When considering trade offers or waiver wire
pick-ups, fantasy players are faced with these same three decisions all the
time, so in an effort to help aid these choices, I’ll name one player who I
like for the rest of the season, one player who I think could help in the
short-term, and one guy I wouldn’t touch in this space each week.

 

MS dance.jpg

After I’m done, if you want to whisper to the player that I
“like ’em, like ’em” that’s up to you. 
If you do, I look forward to the awkwardness that ensues all the way
through the Junior High Prom.  Maybe I’ll
get my courage up and ask them to dance during “Endless Love.” 

 

This week’s picks are below.

Continue reading

Expert League Update – It Is Actually Better To Be Lucky Than Good

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gollum_l.jpg

I got lucky this week. 
Extremely lucky.  Like Frodo in
Mount Doom at the end of “Return of the King” lucky.  (Spoiler alert.  If Gollum doesn’t bail out Frodo by wrestling
the ring away from him, Frodo ends up either a wraith or murdered by Rudy.  Instead, he gets to have a giant pillow fight
before getting on a sweet sailboat to heaven. 
He got lucky.  And yes, I did just
manage to find something nerdier to talk about than fantasy baseball.).

 

In the Fantasy Baseball Search Expert League, I entered the weekend
losing 3-6-1 and well on my way to my rightful place in the league’s
cellar.  Resigned to my fate, I spent
most of Sunday alternating between watching The Masters and stealing Easter candy
and quarters from my nephew (he doesn’t need the money, he’d just spend it on
more candy for me to thieve). 

 

But when I got home, I logged in to discover crazy things
had happened.  My previously punchless
offense had all of a sudden exploded for five bombs, nine RBIs, and 11 runs.  Even more remarkable, my previously terrible
pitching had turned around 180 degrees. 
Led by Aaron Harang’s gem, five starters combined for a 2.45 ERA and 0.91
WHIP on Sunday.  When combined with my
opponent’s own implosion, this was somehow enough to make me competitive in
both ratio categories for the week, despite having owned a 7.00-plus ERA and a 2.00-plus WHIP as
late as Friday.

 

So instead of being down 3-6-1, I had vaulted to a 7-3 lead
that I was holding on to by the skin of my teeth (where the heck does this
phrase come from?  Did we use to have skin
on our teeth?  Do we still have it
now?  The human mouth already freaks me
out enough — if you tell me there is skin in there, I might have to write it off
forever).

 

uggla small.jpg

Entering Sunday night’s game, my team was finished and had a
scant two point lead in both homers and RBIs, but my opponent had Braun and Hart
still to go.  After Hart went yard in the fourth, my lead was down to a single point in both categories and I was
in danger of falling back to earth.  All
of a sudden, every Braun and Hart at-bat was more intense than Dan Uggla’s
stare.

 

Entering the ninth inning, I thought I was
safe.  Marmol had struck out Hart in the eigth on a nasty slider and Braun wasn’t due up unless two Brewers
reached base.  Gregg got two quick outs
and I began to celebrate.  Then Weeks
homered.  Uh-oh.  Then Counsell doubled to bring up Braun and
trigger my sense of impending doom.

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Optimists always think something good is about to happen,
while pessimists feel the opposite.  When
it comes to fantasy, I’m neither, as I KNOW something bad is going to happen
and just wait to see how it will unfold.  This situation
was a classic setup for a crushing defeat, almost as if the fantasy gods had
sent a tailor over to my house to ensure that it suited me perfectly.

 

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So imagine my shock when Braun took ball four.  It’s amazing how something as seemingly
innocuous as a walk in Milwaukee can trigger a raucous celebration in DC, as I
immediately entered into a pig pile that involved me, two couch cushions and
one very confused dog.

 

So that was it, I won 7-3. 
Or so I thought.  Instead, when I
woke up this morning, I discovered a scoring correction actually shaved an
extra 0.20 off my ERA, giving me just enough to win the category for the
week.  Unbelievable, 8-2 and in the
league lead.  And completely and utterly
undeserved.

 

So there you go.  When
expert leagues are discussed, it’s often assumed that because everyone is a
professional, skill and talent wins out. 
Nope.  I’m living proof that luck
has just as much to do with it in this league as in every home league across
the country.  But I don’t feel bad, as
it’s important to enjoy good fortune when it smiles upon you.  It makes it much easier to take when you are
on the other side of it.  So for now, I’m
going to sit back, smile, and enjoy being in first place in my first expert league
for the first (and probably last) time.

Fantasy Baseball Expert Interview – Matt Lutovsky

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Welcome back to the newest installment in our series of
interviews aimed at giving readers insight into the minds and backgrounds of
those fantasy writers and pundits who have reached the level of
“expert.” It seems there has been an explosion in the number of
people claiming the title in the last few years, but no one seems to know where
they come from. These interviews aim to change all that, while also giving
aspiring “experts” (such as myself) some advice on both how to break
into the industry and ways to improve your fantasy skills.

 

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Our guest this week is Matt Lutovsky, one of the top fantasy
writers for industry leader The Sporting News.

 

In your opinion, what
makes you a fantasy expert? (basically the polite way of asking – why should
people listen to you?)

 

I have good feel for what it takes to be competitive in
fantasy leagues — types of players you want, types to avoid, draft situations,
etc. But more than that, I enjoy digging through stats and trying to prove or
disprove widely held beliefs about players or trends. For instance, I was
confused this year as to why everyone just took for granted that Josh Hamilton
was a first-round pick, but Carlos Quentin was dropping to third or fourth
rounds in a lot of drafts. They’re basically the same player and have about the
same major league track record. Based on per plate appearance numbers, Quentin
was better last year (which a lot of people might not realize). Yet, fewer
people believe in him than Hamilton. Why?

 

I love looking for stuff like that and expounding on it. Sometimes
you start digging through the numbers and find out you’re wrong. So be it, but
you have to look. I take pride in doing that, and I take pride in always
looking ahead and trying to figure out potential issues before they even pop
up. I’m not always right, but I’m always looking.

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