Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Reply: What Else Should the Pirates Do?

Battling Bucs just posted a new article this evening entitled What Else Should the Pirates Do? I wanted to respond to them with my own thoughts, but it got lengthy and out of hand and decided to simply write about it myself.

I highly suggest reading his original post before checking out my response to it.

I agree the Pirates are essentially the same team as last year. Their free agent losses were offset by those who were acquired thus far, but I think there's still an opportunity to improve. He requests a more "serviceable" backstop option behind Rod Barajas, Michael McKenry, and Jose Morales then suggests Chris Snyder who seems to be the last semi-viable catcher left on the free agent market. His price may be lower than the $6.75 million contract option which was declined, but I'm not sure I can justify providing a backup catcher a multimillion dollar contract. The catcher position has been fairly weak over the course of history, aside from a few notable exceptions, so I feel the money could be better spent elsewhere.

I've looked at a few projected 25-man rosters for the Pittsburgh Pirates and it is still quite depressing even after the acquisitions made this offseason. Andrew McCutchen deserves to bat third, which Battling Bucs' projection displays, but Neil Walker batting cleanup is joke. The team is still missing a bat with power, which was supposedly a priority. Perhaps Pedro Alvarez will snap out of his funk, but I won't bet money on it.

Although there are several healthy options to play first base, he chooses to stick with Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee who will be under team control for the next four and three seasons, respectively. It's an interesting decision, though McGehee had a performance comparably dismal performance last season similar to Alvarez. They both have the potential to hit 20 or more home runs, so it is possible they could eventually land into the #4 and #5 slots of the Pirates lineup behind McCutchen.

Unfortunately, I don't share his optimism and would prefer to acquire a free agent, if only for a season or two. Derrek Lee and Carlos Pena are both almost certainly waiting until Prince Fielder signs, then the scramble will begin for first baseman. Lee experienced a small resurgence when he was traded to Pittsburgh last July, though I suppose I can understand why he would prefer not to come back. If either player would swallow their pride to play for the lowly Pirates, then we would have someone who could hit 20 or more home runs and would be a clear choice to bat cleanup.

I'm excited to see what Erik Bedard can do for us and hope he stays healthy for most of the season. Kevin Correia has me worried considering how poorly he did when he pitched at home. The rest of the rotation is still quite young, so maybe last season's experiences will help them grow and develop into better pitchers in 2012. Our rotation is not very threatening no matter how you look at it and understand his reasoning toward Jeff Francis.

Francis would be a conventional, low-risk decision similar to when Correia was acquired last season, but I still would prefer my previous suggestion, Brandon Webb: high-risk with the potential of high reward at little cost. The next exciting option beyond Webb is Roy Oswalt, who supposedly lowered his asking price and just may be Pirates price range. They will never land Lee/Pena and Oswalt, though it is increasingly doubtful they will end up with any of them.

I published my pitching article less than a week ago and four of my top nine options have signed since then, so they're falling fast now with only 32 days left until pitchers/catchers report for Spring Training and 78 days until Opening Day.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fantasy Nomad Show

Michael Pichan invited me to be a guest on the Fantasy Nomad Show. We both participated in the fantasy baseball mock draft almost a month ago (has it been that long already?) and we compared our notes against each other. My segment starts around the 46 minute mark after some talk about basketball. Here's the show description and a link to the show. I apologize in advance for my microphone. :(

The Fantasy Nomad Show, brought to you by RotoInfo.com, returns to the air waves for 2012 with the same great Fantasy Sports Insight and Analysis and Great Guests including:

Scott Malewig ( @Sports_25toLife & @fakebasketball ) of TheFakeBasketball.com joins the show to help you score some early season success in your Fantasy Basketball leagues and help overcome the injuries that seem to be stacking up in this shortened NBA season.

Ryan Sendek ( @AATH_Baseball ) from AnalysisAroundTheHorn.blogspot.com compares notes with the Fantasy Nomad, from their recent Expert Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft, to help you identify some draft trends and values.

For more Fantasy Sports Insight bookmark RotoInfo.com and follow them on twitter @RotoInfo_Com to get "All Your Fantasy Sports News All The Time."

Outro song "Believe In Make Believe" performed by rapper JZac. Be sure to follow JZac on Facebook and on You Tube to hear more of his work and find out when he will be in concert.

Listen to internet radio with RotoinfoXcomX on Blog Talk Radio

Ryan's microphone makes baseball fans cry.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How Can You Replace Ross Ohlendorf?

As I asked in the title, how can you replace Ross Ohlendorf? Here is the simplest answer:


The former Pittsburgh Pirate was non-tendered on December 9, 2011 before the arbitration deadline and is now a free agent, which adds him to the thinning pool of starting pitchers. This is perfectly fine by me as he has been a AAAA-level pitcher throughout his career, though this past season was especially dismal. Sure, he missed nearly the entire season due to nagging shoulder injuries, but he was no ace beforehand. The injury simply adds another problem to his resume.

These spreadsheets were compiled using data I gathered from FanGraphs. The players included on the following spreadsheet are all free agent starting pitchers included on MLB Trade Rumors Free Agent Tracker except Sergio Mitre who did not start any games in 2011.

There are 24 starting pitchers in the free agent pool created by MLBTR. I sorted them using my own metric: WAR/GS, which is simply their wins above replacement divided by their games started. Only Scott Kazmir and Armando Galarraga had a worse WAR/GS than Ohlendorf, Galarraga also had the lowest WAR among the group.

If we only use this near-sighted information, then it shows nearly any of these candidates should be an improvement over Ohlendorf. This very well may be true, though it would be best to increase our scope to the past three years. This next spreadsheet includes every free agent starting pitcher from MLBTR as well as some who have not yet declared retirement.

Broadening our scope increases the pool of free agents from 24 to 36 and Ohlendorf's WAR/GS score increases from -0.07 to a mere +0.02. 26 pitchers rank above him while 9 are below. This is a reasonable starting point, though I should quickly point out Clay Hensley as an outlier. He ranked the highest due to his fine performance as a relief pitcher for the Marlins in 2010.

Based upon Pirates Prospects estimation, the team should have $4 to $13 million left before they reach their aforementioned $50 million payroll threshold, depending upon arbitration agreements. That should be plenty to sign one pitcher for one or two seasons, which should be just long enough until Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon is ready for the big leagues.

It would be great if we managed to sign Roy Oswalt, Edwin Jackson, Joel Pineiro, Javier Vazquez or Hiroki Kuroda, but I am sure they would need to be overpaid and would be reluctant to agree upon a short-term contract. Oswalt may have interest in a one year contract, though I seriously doubt any willingness to move to the home of the double decade loser after having a taste of winning on the other side of Pennsylvania.

That leaves 20 pitchers who could still be an upgrade over Ohlendorf. Age should not be a major factor given the likelihood of a short-term deal. My ideal starting pitcher candidate would either have the capability to accumulate strikeouts while also maintaining control or preference toward ground ball outs. He would also have a reasonable price tag, which could be due to recovery from an injury but have the potential upside to outweigh the risk, similarly to Erik Bedard.

These potential candidates fall directly behind Oswalt et al: Jeff Francis, Bartolo Colon, Vicente Padilla, and Carlos Silva. They are all in their early 30s aside from Colon who will be 39. None of them will blow anyone away with strikeout power, but they manage to maintain a healthy K/BB ratio while recording more ground balls. Aaron Cook won't record many strikeouts and may have some difficulty with control, but he has the best GB/FB ratio on the board. (I forgot Cook was recently signed by the Boston Red Sox.) Rich Harden definitely can get the strikeouts, but he allows even more walks, fly balls, and home runs than Ohlendorf.

Most of the other pitchers are quite comparable to Ohlendorf's basement baseline and may be a modestly cheap addition until Charlie Morton recovers from surgery or as an alternative to Brad Lincoln, though the final name on the list would be most intriguing and possibly more exciting than our Bedard acquisition: Brandon Webb.

Webb was a former National League Cy Young award winner for the Arizona Diamondbacks, but has not pitched a full season since 2008. He was placed on the disabled list in April of 2009 due to shoulder bursitis and underwent surgery on his right shoulder. The Texas Rangers took the risk on him last season for only $3 million and began the season still on the disabled list. He attempted a rehab minor league start in late May of 2011, his first game in over two years, but would undergo a second surgery on his right rotator cuff that would keep him from pitching again in 2011.

Jon Heyman from CBS reported recently, "Webb began throwing in late December. Agent, Jonathan Maurer, said arm feels 'strong and loose.'" He will turn 33 toward the beginning of 2012 and may never return to his previous caliber of performance. Considering Webb, someone who has not pitched on the major league level for almost three years, may not be the direction the Pirates will take, but he would have the most potential upside out of all the free agent starting pitchers available and should be quite affordable. Just look at Webb's weighted average on my last chart. He would be an amazing acquisition if he could come close to those numbers.

I say give him a chance. What's your opinion?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Who Should Draft Consistently in 2012

I shared a compilation of player rankings from five websites last week in order to prepare for the 2012 fantasy baseball season. The spreadsheets I created included the unweighted and weighted averages from the player rankings. In case you missed these previous posts, both lists can be accessed below as well as the standard deviation, which will help determine the consistency of one's drafting position.

The first sheet listed below is entitled "Measuring Draft Consistency" and will be the topic I will focus upon. A low standard deviation score should help us determine which players are locks in particular rounds of the draft depending upon how the experts ranked them, while a higher score should raise concern. I calculated a player's Average Draft Round (ADR) based upon their average rank with and without weight while also assuming a standard Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Baseball 12 team league with 23 picks per team.

Disclaimer: Just because someone ranks somewhere on my lists still means he could be drafted earlier or later. Please use these spreadsheets as a guide, not fact.

Your first round draft picks consistently occupy the top 17 slots aside from Evan Longoria who is ranked 28th. Most of your early rounders scored a low standard deviation score, though there was some consistency in a few late round picks as well. For example, Miguel Montero is ranked 19th and falls in the 9th round and Joel Hanrahan is ranked 41st and had an ADR of 132 on both lists.

A few players to be wary of on draft day were generally drafted early, but had a very high standard deviation. The most obvious candidates are Ryan Braun and Ryan Howard, who both may miss a significant amount of playing time next season. Adam Wainwright and Josh Johnson both fell in the 9th round overall, but were all over the board due to our hesitance as they mutually recover from injuries.

I quickly did an eyeball comparison between this list and our slow mock draft from last month. Some players aligned with these predictions, while others were drafted earlier or later. This can be expected because our draft was setup in a different format when compared to Yahoo. It also shows you can sometimes afford to wait and reach for some players. Derek Jeter was the 224th pick in our draft, while most would claim him much earlier. This could have been the best pick of the entire draft, though everyone questioned it.

These spreadsheets will be updated and re-released once Fantasy Gameday publishes their list. I will attempt to update this data if any of my referenced analysts updates their lists.

(BleacherGM, CBS Sports, Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks, Mock Draft Central via KFFL, Roto Summit)

Before you leave today, please cast your vote for my 2012 fantasy baseball team names based upon the formerly popular Super Nintendo game, Super Baseball 2020. Select as many names as you want. Thanks for voting!

Fantasy Baseball Team Names:

Which team names should be chosen from Super Baseball 2020?

American Dreams
Tokyo Samurais
Naples Seagulls
Taiwan Megapowers
Korea Dragoon
Battle Angels
Battle Heroes
Ninja Blacksox
Aussie Battlers
Mechanical Brains
Metal Slashers
Tropical Girls

pollcode.com free polls 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 Fantasy Baseball Weighted Average Rankings

I introduced five websites to you earlier this week that spent a lot of time to create their fantasy baseball rankings for the upcoming 2012 season. All of the ranked players were compiled into a spreadsheet where I found their unweighted average ranking. The following spreadsheet is the same list, except sorted using their weighted average rankings:

The weighted values I chose were dependent upon how many individuals were included when the website released their results. When I last compiled the data on January 1, 2012, KFFL had accumulated the results from 143 drafts from Mock Draft Central. Rather than provide them with an unrealistic weight of 143, I gave them a modest weighted value of four. BleacherGM received a weighted value of two; CBS Fantasy, one; Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks, two; and Roto Summit, one. FBCJ actually has three writers, but only two submitted their lists thus far, which is why they will eventually receive a weighted value of three.

While working on this article, I realized the values I used for BGM and MDC were in a different format than everyone else, which caused their ranks to become skewed. For example, Albert Pujols had a value of 3.31 on MDC but was actually ranked 2nd on their list. I have since conformed the values on both spreadsheets. Don't worry if you miss the updated unweighted list because everything will be analyzed later this week. These lists will be updated and republished next month as well once Fantasy Gameday's ranking list is released.

Be sure to leave a comment if you don't agree with my weighted values or if you have any other suggestions.

Help me choose the names for my fantasy baseball teams next season: Poll & Original Post.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Choose My Fantasy Baseball Team Names

"Super Baseball 2020 is a futuristic baseball video game... The game follows the basic rules of baseball, but there are several upgrades since the game takes place in the year 2020. The most obvious difference from real baseball is that some of the characters in this game are robots. All the human characters are equipped with powerful armor, computer sensors, and jet-packs for improved offense and defensive skills." -- Wikipedia

I decided to choose a theme for my fantasy baseball teams in 2012: Super Baseball 2020. This decision caused me to dust off my Super Nintendo and ProPad controller, connect them to our television, blow out the old cartridge, and play a couple games last night. No emulators for me!

Oh, sweet childhood nostalgia. I sincerely hope mentioning this game causes a stroll down one's memory lane. Here's a little background info courtesy of Steve from RVGFANATIC:
When Super Baseball 2020 came out nearly 20 years ago in 1991, 2020 seemed like it would never come. It's a bit of a trip to think we're only a short decade from seeing our favorite Major League ball players all replaced with robots who can leap in the air 50 feet to rob potential game winning home runs. 10 more years...

In the year 2020, baseball rules and regulations have drastically changed. Now the emphasis is on a large fair playing field, making action quicker and more exciting. The foul zone has now been reduced to strictly behind the catcher. One can score hits all over the field!

Also new in 2020 is the usage of money to upgrade your robot players into super soldier robots of destruction. Earn or lose money on positive and negative plays alike. Adds a bit of depth and strategy to the ol' baseball formula.

One of the coolest things about Super Baseball 2020 for me as a kid was NO DOUBT about it those futuristic looking blue glass plates that cover the audience. Not just used to cosmetic purposes, in the year 2020 balls that are hit on the glass plates are in play! This leads to what I like to call "Wall Ball" and balls potentially rolling down several planes of glass for miles and miles, allowing you to stretch singles into doubles or even triples! No other baseball game offers this, so it made SB 2020 very unique and fun to play.

Instead of a lame 7th inning stretch, in 2020 the 7th inning means the WILD CARD INNING where both teams receive a major dosage of added power. You can call "time out" and replace your pitcher, fielders, base runners or hitter with a robot off the bench, or upgrade if you have the cash. Throughout the course of a game, robots will lose energy and give warning signs before completely breaking down. Be sure to replace them as once they start to leak, so to speak, they become close to ineffective (hit/power/speed all drastically dip).

Perhaps there are some teams you remember whenever you played this game yourself. I recall always choosing the Mechanical Brains or Korea Dragoon while growing up, though last night I played as the Battle Heroes and Tokyo Samurais.

I intend to draft at least four teams this season and as many as six, so more votes will help me. As an additional challenge for myself, I will attempt to draft my teams toward an equivalent statistical goal as the teams chosen. (i.e. American Dreams. Hitting:10/10, Pitching:5/10)

Without further ado, here is the poll:

Fantasy Baseball Team Names:
Which team names should be chosen from Super Baseball 2020?


American Dreams
Tokyo Samurais
Naples Seagulls
Taiwan Megapowers
Korea Dragoon
Battle Angels
Battle Heroes
Ninja Blacksox
Aussie Battlers
Mechanical Brains
Metal Slashers
Tropical Girls

pollcode.com free polls 

I've thought about this before, but how cool would it be to see a modern day version of Super Baseball 2020 using today's players from Major League Baseball? How awesome would it be to see the guys wearing cybernetic suits and jet packs? Justin Verlander could hurl the ball upwards to 300 miles per hour, Jose Bautista would launch the ball into the stratosphere, and Yadier Molina would be a fielding abomination behind the plate. Would Albert Pujols still be "The Machine" or would the robot? I'll keep dreaming.

Thanks for your participation and walking down memory lane with me.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Fantasy Baseball Average Rankings

Note: If you are looking for my updated list, then please click the tab above entitled "2012 Overall Ranks."

Welcome to 2012. It's time to really get focused on fantasy baseball since it's officially the new year and there are less than two months until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

Everyone has their own opinions regarding where a baseball player should be ranked during a fantasy baseball draft. These opinions are ever evolving, especially during the offseason while some men are still seeking a new home. How can you trust one resource?

I don't know about you but I can't, so here is an average of several websites.

I've compiled the data from the following five websites to create the average rank for nearly 400 players.
A portion of these lists are actually dated, which is why you can't rely on only one website and makes the analysis fun. For example, BleacherGM's lists were compiled by Jeffrey and Jeremy before and after the alleged Ryan Braun PED accusation, respectively. Jeffrey ranked Braun second on December 1st, while Jeremy chose to not rank him at all on December 15th.

Scott White from CBS Sports released his article on December 13th, Jesse Sakstrup from RotoSummit released his list on November 4th, and the list from Mock Draft Central is continuously compiled. As I write this article, 143 drafts were recorded and extracted today on January 1st. The guys from Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks were gracious enough to forward me an early copy of their rankings. In addition to these, Fantasy GameDay will also be included next month after their list is released.

You may have noticed the table is labeled as the "Unweighted Average." If a player was skipped in one website's draft, then I provided that individual a standard value of one higher than their maximum. For example, CBS Sports ranked 300 players, so an unranked player received a value of 301 (300+1). These unweighted values are fine, though I think it's a tad unfair given the amount of input provided by some of these websites. That said, I will release the weighted average rankings later this week.

No analysis tonight. Enjoy the pretty list for now. Happy New Year, everyone.

(Updated @ 10:36pm CST)
Oops. I referenced the incorrect data from RotoSummit and must have crossed my wires when I was sorting the spreadsheet on top of that. Everything should check out now. Sorry about that, Jesse.