Cubs, A’s, Addison Russell and Billy Beane

The first big deal of the MLB Trade Deadline season went down last night – Ken Rosenthal and other reporting that the A’s acquired both Jeff Samardzija  and Jason Hammel from the Cubs in exchange for Addison Russell, Billy McKinney and a couple other players. There are a lot of “win for both sides” opinions floating around this morning, but I think a few other items are worth noting.

(1) Billy Beane finally goes all in – or does he?. Most pundits are noting that the trade marks a stark departure for Billy Beane’s A”s teams – while his excellence as a GM is rarely questioned, his teams have advanced past the ALDS only once, and this trade squarely addresses that issue. Beyond Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir, the A’s have a very deep rotation but one that fails to strike fear in the heart of playoff opponents – Samardzija  has ascended this year to near ace status and will get the ball in Game 2 or 3.  Hammel is a nice 4th starter, who could potentially see a playoff start, but who likely contributes more value in allowing the A’s to give Scott Kazmir and Sonny Gray some rest down the stretch (neither has ever thrown 200 IP) so they are able to pitch deep into October.   In terms of what Beane acquired:  Hammel is a free agent after this season, while Samardzija  has one year of arbitration left before hitting free agency after the 2015 season.   Given the A’s budgetary limitations, it seems fair to say they are unlikely to be players for either Hammel this off season, or Shark next season.   Why are we assuming that Beane won’t turn around and flip Samardzija  before opening day 2015?  Starting pitching is always in demand and given the Shark is in store for a big raise in arbitration, I would expect Beane to be aggressively looking to re-tool his farm system using Samardzija  as the primary chip, rather than swallowing his big 2015 raise and injury risk.

(2)  Cubs Logjam at SS? Some of the discussion in our baseball circles focuses on Theo Epstein’s choice of return for Samardzija  – rather than looking to address a thin crop of pitching in the upper minors, the Cubs stockpiled another top SS prospect.  As of now, the Cubs have Starlin Castro at SS at Wrigley, Addison Russell presumably reporting to AAA Iowa to play SS – where Javy Baez is already playing SS.  They also have Arismendy Alcantara, a natural SS, playing 2B there, and have recently promoted Kris Bryant to play 3B.  Is this a problem?  I’m not sure I see the problem.  First of all, Starlin Castro is not going to block any of this players.  He is owed almost $50M through 2020 but has regressed significantly since exploding onto the season as a 20 year old, bottoming out in 2013 with a .280 wOBA.  Castro has rebounded to post a .351 wOBA through the first half of 2014, but I see no differences in plate discipline or contact, merely a few extra fly balls that have found the seats (but according to baseballheatmaps.com, his fly ball distance is nearly the same as 2013, lending reasonable grounds for skepticism as to whether the improvement is real).  If Theo Epstein can find a believer in Castro’s resurgence, all the better for the Cubs rebuild plans.  There are also significant questions as to whether Kris Bryant’s true position is 3B or RF, as some scouts doubt his has the quickness to play 3B in the majors, but his arm and defense would play as plus in RF.  As for Baez, his power potential is off the charts, but questions remain about both how much contact he’ll make (currently striking out at a 33% clip in the minors) and whether at 6’ and 190 pounds at 21, he is better suited to 3B.  While his bat would be truly impact at SS, all reports indicate it will be good enough to play anywhere, presuming he tones down his aggressive approach and/or learns to do a little more damage against secondary pitches.

(3)  Back to Beane – David Price?  I’ve been critical of Beane in the past as someone too willing to write off the postseason as a crapshoot – and for that reason, I certainly must applaud him for his bold move yesterday.   The A’s are clearly the best team in baseball through the halfway mark, sporting a 3.5 game lead in the AL West that would be bigger but for the fact that the A’s bullpen has struggled and arguably the AL’s second best team also resides in the AL West.  The only question I have for Beane is, if you were going to move Addison Russell, could you have gotten David Price?  Samardzija  is good, Price is even better.  Both are eligible for their final year of arbitration in 2015 before hitting free agency.  Price will undoubtedly cost more, so that may have been a consideration for the A’s as well (paying $10M+ for Shark in 2015 could be possible, paying $20M ish for Price perhaps not), but I can’t help but wonder if this was truly the A’s “all in” year, Beane would have been better served selling out for Price, and then potentially moving him in the offseason to avoid Price’s expense in 2015.

Ultimately, most commentators are agreed that this move will be judged on the A’s side squarely on whether the A’s get to and/or win the World Series.  I think that’s partially true, though I am not sure that Beane won’t use Samardzija  to restock his system during the Winter Meetings.  On the Cubs side, I just don’t see the logjam many are predicting.  There are still questions about the pitching pipeline on the North Side, but the middle of their lineup in 2015 and forward looks formidable.

Posted in A's, Billy Beane, Business of Baseball, Contracts, Cubs, GMs, MLB, Teams | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why I’m Not Buying the Albert Pujols Resurgence

Baseball now approaches the quarter pole, and one of the early season stories has been the resurgence of Albert Pujols, following a disastrous, injury riddled 2013.   Through the Angels’ first 32 games, Pujols is hitting 302/368/957, good for a .409 wOBA (12th in all of MLB) and a 166 wRC+ (5th overall).  Despite the resurgent numbers, I just traded him away in @Ottoneu, and here’s why:

  (1)  Bad Rate Trends.  Pujols currently sports an 8.3% BB rate (which would be a career low, far below his 12.4% career number and even below his 9.0% from a nightmarish 2013).  Similarly, his ground ball rates have spiked and pop-up rates have spiked, while line drive rates have cratered.  Even discounting because of the variability of these stats through 30 games, the trend raises question marks in my mind and portend the end of the rebound.

 

(2)  Fly Balls and Home Runs.  Though Pujols has hit 10 HRs, his HR/FB rate stands at 23%, double what it was in 2013 and nearly 80% higher than 2012 (and 25% higher than his career rate).  Further, according to baseballheatmaps, his flyball and home run distance stands at 283 feet, good for 90th in baseball (just a few spots behind noted sluggers Luis Valbuena and Nate McClouth, albeit one spot above the struggling and now injured Jay Bruce).

 

(3)  Pitchers Unafraid?  I am interested to see how pitchers attack him for the rest of the year.  Early on, Pujols is seeing more fastballs (59%) than ever before, perhaps an indication that his bat has slowed and pitchers are less afraid to challenge him.  While his Zone% is unchanged from career norms, he is seeing almost 60% first pitch strikes, and his contact rate is again at career low 2013 levels (albeit slightly above league average).

 

Sometimes I worry that the new era of advanced analytics has led me to a place where we are too critical, especially of the games great players.  Baseball is fundamentally about failure so let’s not lose sight of what the greats can do while we talk about what they can’t do.  I hope that Albert’s rebound is real — but I just don’t see any reason to be optimistic.  I suppose I will console myself by watching replays of this moonshot in the playoffs against Brad Lidge.

 

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@Ottoneu Standings – Tools for Looking Deeper      

With May here, @Ottoneu leagues begin to take shape.  I suspect that in most leagues teams classify themselves as contenders or rebuilders prior to Opening Day, but there are always a few overly optimistic rosters.  In our league as I read the standings, there are clearly 5 contenders (actually, one team trying to run away and hide, and 4 teams desperately attempting to stop that from happening) and 5 rebuilders.  In my opinion, two other teams ought to be rebuilding, but they seem caught in no man’s land – a subject for a different post.

For all of @Ottoneu’s great qualities, the standings page has for years left me lacking.  The P/IP and P/G columns are somewhat useful, but as you try to assess pace of innings pitched, games started and the volume of luck present in a month’s worth of stats, they are incomplete.  In an attempt to delve a bit deeper, I developed a very elementary Excel spreadsheet that would take the standing page, and for each team, also show the teams wOBA, BABIP (Pitching, not hitting), OBP, SLG, OPS – in other words, some additional numbers that comprised a team’s aggregate point production.  My goal was to develop a tool that might provide a bit more insight into the true performance YTD – i.e., a team sporting a .330 BABIP or absurdly high HR/FB rates might be in for some positive regression, while another team batting .344 as a team might swing the other direction.

Happily, I shared my simple spreadsheet with our league’s commissioner, @Fazeorange – and here is the result.  Trey, as dedicated a commissioner as exists in the Ottoneu world, took what was a tiny acorn and cultivated a giant, beautiful oak of a dashboard – his tool offers a detailed look into each team’s performance via the advance metrics with which readers of this blog are familiar, and standards against which to judge (i.e., league average numbers in each category and 2013 champion averages as well).   As he and I have discussed, I find myself perusing this page each night (it is simple to update it for your league, just follow the instructions on copying your standings page and pasting it to the appropriate cell).  There are a few points of particular usefulness in my mind:

(1)     Breaking down a team’s hitting performance.  For me, the P/G particularly underwhelms as a measure for team hitting success.  With this spreadsheet, I can look at each team’s wOBA, as well as where it might be improved.  As an example, comparing @Fazeorange’s team (Lucky Strikes – one of the contenders) and mine (Enrico Palazzo – also hopefully one of the contenders),  we have scored an almost identical 1764 and 1747 points to date, Trey coming in at 5.51/G and me at 5.41/G.   I sport a 10 point advantage in OBP thanks primarily to patience with free passes; however, @Fazeorange’s team posts 16 and 18 point leads in ISO and SLG, respectively, more than making up the difference in OBP.  To improve my team, I’d probably be looking to add a bit of power in the OF.

(2)     Chasing down the Leader.  YTD, our league leader (Chicago Chiefs — @NickKappel) raced out to a 600 point lead.  Part of that is that he has thrown 60-90 innings more than his followers, but even if that is half of the lead, the other 300 points are unaccounted for.  Looking at his pitching performance, the term “otherworldly” comes to mind at 5.86 points per game – -but for those of us chasing, hope abounds.  The .274 BABIP and 0.70 HR/9 are unlikely to remain so low, and his team’s below league average ability to miss bats may catch up in the end, especially in the LWTS format.  Of course, in two months’ time I may look back at this as mere wishful thinking.

(3)     Pretenders.  While this is more art than science, one of the interesting aspects of the @Ottoneu format is that, in any given year, the limited number of “contenders” create for interesting decision making.  I may expand this into another post, but my main thought is that with only 4-5 teams really in contention in a given season, it can be slightly more important to take on a head to head approach in some discussions.  I recently closed a couple of trades for high end hitting that I didn’t particularly need (though of course players like Albert Pujols and a healthy Chase Utley always help), but I felt it important to prevent them from winding up in one of my competitors hands.  In a league where you are competing against 11 other owners, this is more challenging.   Similarly, as I evaluate potential trades, there are a few teams with whom I am very reluctant to trade, as the fear of improving their rosters against me outweighs the value to my own team.  I raise the point because @Fazeorange’s standings dashboard does a good job in my mind of confirming that a couple teams are likely pretenders though their position in the standings suggests otherwise.  As an example, The Syndicate, one of our league’s best owners, has a team that has been in 2nd-3rd all season – but I see nothing but trouble ahead.  The team OBP of .330 is significantly below league average while the 3.71 FIP may portend additional trouble on the mound, and he is dealing with significant injuries to both his lineup and starting pitching staff.   From a head to head perspective, I might be more willing to deal with this team despite its heightened position in the standings because I believe the regression monster is coming.

(4)     A quick note on league averages.  Of course, one point must be made with respect to the league average column – with so many teams rebuilding, it is hard to assess what value these numbers present.  The rebuilding teams are probably running out lineups, but with 2015 on the mind, there is no incentive to worry about whether Corey Kluber might be a good start on the road in Chicago, because the points don’t matter in 2014.  I wonder whether there might be a way to create another column to identify contenders and pretenders manually, and then compare amongst the teams we deem relevant to our quest for fantasy gold.

All in all, I can’t thank Trey (@Fazeorange) enough for expanding what was merely a simple idea and basic spreadsheet into a valuable @Ottoneu tool.  Look for a forthcoming post of his own on the topic via the Fangraphs Community Blog.  Of course, all comments are welcome here at Sports By the Numbers, or comment to me via twitter (@wfporter1972).

 

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What do we expect from Brandon Crawford in 2014?

Over at McCovey Chronicles, Grant Bisbee (@mccoveychron – a must follow even for the non SF Giant fans out there) has a piece today about Brandon Crawford, trying to offer some perspective on projecting him for 2014 and beyond (partially tongue in cheek).  I’m fascinated by Crawford — and I really don’t have a good reason why — but I feel like people miss the boat on him.

Everyone knows he plays elite defense at SS — his UZR ratings have him right in the mix with Elvis Andrus, Alexei Ramirez and most of the considered best shortstops in the game.  The question is the bat — as a 24-year-old in 2011, his wRC+ of 66 was near the bottom of SS in the league.  In 2012, he moved up to an 80, good for 17th among SS with at least 450 plate appearances, and in 2013 his 91 was good for 10th out of 18.

Grant looks at the projection for his wRC+ numbers, but for me, it seems as though we’re diminishing Crawford because of one simple fact:  he cannot hit left-handed pitching.  And when I say he can’t hit, I don’t mean for a slick fielding SS — I mean he literally can’t hit LHP.  In 2013, among 118 players with at least 150 plate appearances against LHP, Brandon Crawford’s wRC+ of 56 was 113th.

On the bright side, Crawford against RHP in 2013 hit 269/333/394 (in an extreme pitchers park), good for a wRC+ of 106.  The 106 number doesn’t strike you as worldbeating, but at SS it’s fairly impressive regardless of what you’re doing on defense.  In Jean Segura’s breakout 2013 campaign, he managed a 97 wRC+ against RHP.   JJ Hardy and Yunel Escobar were even lower, at 95 and 93 respectively.  Jhonny Peralta and Asdrubal Cabrera, hit first shortstops, posted near identical 106 and 104s.

So, ultimately, Brandon Crawford is a gold glove caliber defensive player, whose offense numbers as a whole look worse than they should because his defensive abilities force him to take 200 plate appearances every year that he shouldn’t take.   Hitting left-handed pitching matters, so we can’t ignore it, but for my money, Brandon Crawford entering his age 27 season is a guy who is already above average (factoring in both offense and defense), and is clearly behind Tulo, Desmond and Hanley Ramirez.  But beyond that, what SS are better than Crawford?  Jose Reyes is 32 and can’t stay healthy.  Jed Lowrie is coming of the first year where he played 150 games (and is also 30).  Is Jean Segura better than Crawford?  I’m not sure — I don’t want to penalize the guy for being so good on defense that I can’t afford to bench him against tough lefties.

Posted in Giants, MLB, Teams | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Brief Follow-up on Elite RP and @Ottoneu LWTS

The debate on reliever in fantasy baseball continues to rage in our Ottoneu league – and today, Rotographs’ Brad Johnson joined the fray with an article on the subject inspired by our intrepid commissioner @Fazeorange.  To be fair to Brad, he stated up front that his goal was not to resolve the argument, but rather to present a framework to answering the question.  Given my trademark immodesty, I’d like to offer a high level (and what I consider rather obvious) answer to the question.

Beyond my endless rants on the subject, this question arises from a real world situation:  one of our best and most active owners (and a former champion) has, at least on the message boards, been championing a strategy whereby he stacks his bullpen with “elite” relievers, thereby projecting an enormous bullpen advantage that not only confers extra points, but added flexibility elsewhere (because elite RPs are cheaper than elite position players or starting pitchers).  His bullpen currently includes 3 of the top 5 RPs from last year, and were LWTS scoring retrospective (like a Strat-o-Matic league, perhaps), this makes sense.  However, the question is whether it is likely his bullpen is filled with elite 2014 RPs.  Unfortunately, that is unlikely the case.

To attempt to gather data that might answer the question (if you want the entire spreadsheet, please email me), I went back and gathered the list of Top 10 projected players at each position (25 for the OF) in March 2012 and March 2013 (ie, immediately prior to the beginning of the season).   I used ESPN rankings, though I’m not sure that the lists matter, the variation at the top is minimal each year.  I then pulled each players Ottoneu LWTS point total for that season, and compared that number to the replacement level for his position in that year.  Brad’s replacement level for RPs was 72 (on the assumption that each team rostered about 5 RPs, an perhaps a bench player – in other words, sorting by RP scoring the 72nd ranked player).  For my positions, I defined the “replacement” player as follows:

C 18
1B 24
2B 24
SS 24
3B 18
OF 72
SP 72
RP 72

[** Interestingly, the replacement 3B in each year, finishing 18th each year, was Alberto Callaspo – at the gut level, this gives me some confidence we are defining replacement level appropriately]

Next, I summed the PAR (or, in some cases, the points below replacement) for each position.  Broken down by position and year, the results are as follows:

2012 Total PAR PAR/Player 2013 Total PAR PAR/Player
C 2706 271 C 2018 202
1B 1118 112 1B 1978 198
2B 3301 330 2B 2457 246
SS 3295 330 SS 2476 248
3B 3091 309 3B 3126 313
OF 6805 272 OF 6924 277
SP 3431 343 SP 3537 354
RP 686 69 RP 528 53

What do we see?  Surprisingly, the level of production for the top 10 projected players across the positions versus our replacement level is remarkably constant – except for RP.  If you invest in Robinson Cano, or Adrian Beltre, or Clayton Kershaw, you can be expecting 300-350 Points Above Replacement.  The only outlier here is RP – if you invest in an elite RP, you can expect to receive and extra 50-60 points from that investment.  Why?  Well, because even amongst the top 10, the flame out rate is significant.  In 2012, here is the projected top 10, along with their actual production and PAR:

Player Points PAR
Craig Kimbrel 747 377
Mariano Rivera 79 -291
Jonathan Papelbon 582 212
John Axford 480 110
Brian Wilson 7 -363
Rafael Betancourt 449 79
Joel Hanrahan 439 69
Jose Valverde 498 128
Jason Motte 620 250
J.J. Putz 485 115

Craig Kimbrel was the #1 ranked RP and performed like it.  Mariano Rivera blew out his knee shagging flies, while Brian Wilson wrecked his elbow as pitchers do, and both delivered far below replacement level value.  Rafael Betancourt and Joel Hanrahan managed to deliver replacement level to slightly above performance – but presumably at elite prices.

Was 2012 an outlier?  Here is the same table from 2013:

Player Points PAR
Craig Kimbrel 722 323
Aroldis Chapman 603 204
Jonathan Papelbon 449 50
Rafael Soriano 501 102
Fernando Rodney 553 154
Mariano Rivera 547 148
J.J. Putz 215 -184
Joe Nathan 649 250
Joel Hanrahan -11 -410
John Axford 290 -109

Is there a pattern?  Sort of.  Craig Kimbrel?  Monster – go get him if you can.  3 of the 10 posted wildly below replacement level.  A couple other big names Papelbon and Rodney) managed slightly above replacement, and a couple (Chapman and Nathan) were excellent.

Of course, this is a first level review – as always in Ottoneu, price matters, so a $2 Brian Wilson headed to Tommy John doesn’t affect things very much.  However, the question we’re trying to answer here is whether or not investing in the best RPs pre-season makes sense.  Regardless of price, in my view it doesn’t because there is such little likelihood that can can identify them if they’re not wearing a Braves jersey and closing in Atlanta.  Why does this debate rage, at least in our league?  My suspicion is that, as we look back year over year, it can be difficult to remember which relievers were expected to be elite – those sitting on Koji Uehara now can scarcely remember a time when he wasn’t atop the RP leaderboards.  Nevertheless, if we look at the numbers, RP is the one position that investing in anyone not named Craig Kimbrel makes little sense from the perspective of Points Above Replacement.

Thoughts?  Issues?  Problems with my methodology?  General screeds?  All are welcome, either though the site or via email at bill dot porter at gmail dot com.

Posted in Fantasy Baseball, LWTS, Ottoneu | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

@Ottoneu Trade Value (2014)

Likely in an event to avoid as much HOF news as possible today, my mind drifted to the topic of the best contracts in our Ottoneu league.  I believe the “Trade Value” series originated when Bill Simmons was The Sports Guy, writing his blog in Boston, but it has evolved to the point now where writers in all sports attempt to analyze players as assets by looking at their production, contract, age etc.  (Dave Cameron does the series for Fangraphs, Jonah Keri for Grantland on the baseball front).  As we approach the January 31st cut down date across Ottoneu leagues, I though that I would attempt a similar look at our Ottoneu league (so the dollar values you see below are the contract prices for each player in our league).

The “rules” for the trade value series are here, but to generalize, the main point is that we’re not looking at mere production, we’re looking at production, age, positional scarcity, projection for the future, and of course price.  Add on top of those rules the Ottoneu specific rules regarding starting lineups and rosters (162 Catcher games rather than “two catcher” leagues, 40 man rosters, inflation for both major and minor league players, 1500 IP pitching limits).   In theory, the resulting list would me in a one for one swap, you’d trade anyone on the list for anyone above him, and you wouldn’t make the reverse deal.

The biggest challenge for me was sorting the 2013 stats and players and cutting down to a manageable number from which to choose.  Ultimately, I split into hitters and pitchers, and then sorted by FPTS, by Points/Game or Points/IP, and by Points/$.  I identified about 20 or so hitters and 15 or so pitchers, and from there created a master list that included the categories mentioned above as well as age (with the presumption that pretty much everyone knows which position these guys play).  If anyone wants a copy of my spreadsheet with all the information, it is messy but I’m happy to share.

Before I present the top 10, a few comments on those guys that didn’t make it:

– The best hitter and best pitcher in the league didn’t make the cut.  Mike Trout ($70) and Clayton Kershaw ($56) were passed over, obviously not for reasons of on field production.  Cutting Trout was much easier in my mind, OF is a position in Ottoneu where replacement production can be found either in cheaper but still elite production, or by piecing together games by platoon-type mashers (think Brandon Moss).   Kershaw is tougher – his price is so high at $56, but aces are much harder to find or replace and getting nearly 1500 points out of one SP is absurd.  Still though, if he sat on my roster I would be madly shopping him on the assumption that those $56 could be better allocated elsewhere.

–  In most of my revisions before finalizing, Yadier Molina ($13) was safely in the top 10.  Ultimately, I pulled him out primarily because of his age (31 in 2014), though the low bar of catcher production leaves me thinking that I may regret that decision.

– I love both Kyle Seager and Carlos Gomez at $9, and while I think they’re great assets, I struggle to see either of them surpassing 2013 numbers — which isn’t a criticism, but their lack of upside is the primary reason to leave them out.

– Matt Carpenter is the subject of great debate in our Ottoneu league currently.  He nearly made the list, ultimately though I guess I’m in the “unbeliever” camp for Carpenter, because while I love his production, (a) he’s going to lose that 2B eligibility this year, and (b) I can’t ignore the fact that though he mashed as a 27 year old in St Louis last year, he was also a 24 year old stuck in AA and looked to have utility infielder career path before last year’s break out.  If he had even one more strong season under his belt, he would likely be on the list.

With that background, here’s my top 10:

Without going through each player in detail, I’ll try to offer some thoughts on my reasoning:

– Toughest decision on the list was 1 and 2.  I still don’t really know how to answer the question.  As between elite SP and elite Hitters, the hitter carries so much more certainty, and here the prices are almost identical.  Of course, some may say that I’m biased in favor of a player that I own (Darvish), but the interesting thing about this exercise is that, were Durham to offer me Davis for Darvish, I should accept the deal according to this table. I wouldn’t – because I’m so afraid of how to find replacement (elite) SP.  However, if the situation were reversed, I also wouldn’t offer Davis for Darvish for fear of injury.  So, I’m trying not to cop out, but I really don’t know what the right way to order those two assets.
– I suspect that Jean Segura is ranked higher than most would rank him. I feel like he’s the victim of some post-sleeper hype, a highly valued prospect who changed teams and perhaps got lost amidst the Harper/Trout/Machado prospect shuffle.  He is only 23, plays the hardest to replace position in fantasy baseball, and is the cheapest player on this list.
– Andrew McCutcheon at $42 may seem like an odd inclusion, but he is awesome across the board, and I struggle when I look at the guys who just missed to see who I should replace him with.  He is the same price as Paul Goldschmidt – I would take McCutcheon.  Similar analysis for Stephen Strasburg.  If Yadier Molina were 3 years younger he’d bump Cutch out, but alas . . .
– The two youngest players on the list are Machado and Fernandez.  Fernandez is probably an obvious one, Machado perhaps not (both got significant arbitration dollars thrown at them in November).  For me, all pitchers are injury risks so in some ways that’s why I ran Fernandez up the list.  There is no certainty in pitching, he’s proven to be elite over an admittedly small sample, but given that SPs are shooting stars, ride it out while you can.  Machado perhaps is more controversial (and coming off a knee injury, though he is expected to be ready for the start of the season) – he has yet to hit like an elite player, but the fact that he is putting up slightly above league average at ages 19 and 20 is everything as you project him.
– I really don’t know what to think of Yasiel Puig.  He’s electric, but (a) he plays the easiest position to replace in Ottoneu, and (b) his plate discipline causes me great concern, especially for those of us playing in linear weights leagues.  The talent is undeniable though, so he makes the list easily.

So there you have it.  Please let me know who you think I left out (or ranked incorrectly).

Posted in Contracts, Fantasy Baseball, LWTS, Ottoneu | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

@Ottoneu Arbitration Results

At long last, the first stage of the Ottoneu offseason is complete.  Yesterday constituted the Ottoneu arbitration deadline, where teams finalized allocation of their $25 to throw at other teams.   The extra arbitration dollars serve a few purposes — (1) helping minimize the advantage savvy owners may have by collecting underpriced assets, (2) punishing owners that appear to have the best teams lined up for 2014, or perhaps (3) merely punishing quality owners.

Teams have $25 to spread around the rest of the league, but can only allocate $3 to any team (and must spend at least $1 on each team).   I received a total of $29, spread across 12 players:2014 Arbitration Results (Enrico Palazzo) (Dollars Received) (1280x546) (2)

Quite honestly, the results stunned me — in a positive way.  Coming into the arbitration period, I had a number of players priced to attract $$, but none more than Yu Darvish ($8) and Manny Machado ($10).   Pre-arbitration, Cano sat at $44, Strasburg $36, Hamels $32 and Posey $28, while Lowrie and Corbin were $8, and Alex Gordon carred at $10 salary.

Yu Darvish finished 6th among SP with 1141 points while leading the league in strikeouts. Machado didn’t produce at quite an elite level, but managed to put up nearly 800 points as a 20-year-old 3B.  When Machado went down with a knee injury, I figured that some of the dollars would flow over to Darvish.  Honestly, I never considered that Strasburg, Cano, Posey or Hamels would attract arbitration dollars — each are priced decently given their elite level of production, but none carry a huge discount that I figured owners would be looking to pile cash on top of.  

Instead, Machado and Darvish got $8 each, bringing their price to $18 and $16, respectively.   Looking across Ottoneu LWTS leagues, Machado’s $18 is right around average, while Darvish still has significant excess value against a $32 average across all the leagues.

Looking past Machado and Darvish, 9 of my players received $1 allocations, including Robinson Cano ($44) and Stephen Strasburg ($36) on the high end of the price spectrum, and Patrick Corbin and Jed Lowrie (both $8) on the other side.  I don’t really understand any of these allocations.  Adding a mere $1 to pretty much any player makes little sense to me — to think that I would view a $44 Cano differently than a $45 Cano implies a level of precision that doesn’t exist in fantasy baseball — keeping, cutting or trading him will be the same decision regardless of $1 either way. Even looking at the prospects, adding $1 to Oscar Taveras or Carlos Correa doesn’t change their asset value in my view one bit.  Given the prices of Darvish/Machado, the arbitration impact of the $9 could have been painful (ie, if I were now holding a $27 Darvish instead of $18, his value to me and the open market significantly changes), but instead is largely irrelevant.

Ultimately, I had budgeted my 2014 roster plan to include an extra $33 divided in some manner between Darvish and Machado — so receiving $29 was a $4 benefit, and the $13 allocated to players where the price difference doesn’t matter is an added bonus.

Next Post:  A look at my $25 Arbitration allocations.

Posted in Fantasy Baseball, LWTS, Ottoneu | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments