Tagged: fantasy baseball

Josh Anderson: cheap speed in the outfield

AT the end of my 12-team head-to-head draft, one of the owners said they needed a little bit more speed in their lineup.

They considered trading one of their excess power bats for some wheels, but also asked me if there was anyone on waivers who could maybe help out.

I had a quick look over the outfielders on the waivers list and threw out the name of Josh Anderson – a 26-year-old leftie who came up through the Astros system after being drafted in the 4th round of the 2003 amatuer draft.

Anderson has a history of being fleet footed. He swiped 280 bases over six seasons in A-ball, including 40 at the Astros’ AAA team Roundrock Express in 2007 and 42 last year for the Richmond Braves (Atlanta’s AAA affiliate) in the International League.

During his short big league stay in 2008 in Atlanta, he stole 10 bases in just 136 at bats, so the upside is there for 25 or more with regular playing time.

Unfortunately, there were two main problems with Anderson.

  1. He was fighting for, and ultimately set to lose, the final outfield spot in the Braves’ Major League roster.
  2. He has no pop, and I mean none.


josh anderson.jpgLuckily for Anderson, one of those problems solved itself with the surprise departure of Gary Sheffield.

Anderson was traded to the Detroit Tigers at the end of March. Shef, seemingly a lock in the Tigers’ outfield, was cut free the very next day.

With Granderson and Ordonez the only two guarantees in the outfield, Anderson should get plenty of opportunities to play.

He is better than Thames and Guillen will be seeing plenty of at bats in the DH spot. Maybe more importantly, he is a left-handed bat in a lineup dominated by righties and he can play all three outfield positions.

Anderson will probably hit around the .270 mark, but he has the skills and potential to bat anywhere up to .290. If he could improve his patience and build on that 4 per cent walk rate, he could seriously raise his OBP and prove to be a real threat.

But with a histroy of being a career .340 OBP guy, the chances of that are slim. You’ve heard it a million times, but you can’t steal first base.

He hit three home runs and stole seven bases last September, so there is something there, but you are not going to be drafting him for his home runs and RBI.

Bid for the 20 steals and hope for more than 300 at bats. A tiny spattering of long fly balls are nothing more than a frequent and unexpected bonus.

If your fantasy league is anything like mine, there won’t be a surplus of speed in the free agant pool. Maybe only a Rajai Davis or Joey Gathright if you’re lucky. And even then, how desperate do you need to be to get them??

They only hit three home runs and walked 28 times between them in 493 at bats in ’08!

If you have a spare spot for a 4th OF on your roster, now might be the time to grab him. I just have.

 

Chad Qualls – my diamond in the desert rough


chadqualls.jpgFOR those of you who don’t know me too well, I will be the first to admit I have a mini ego. I am very self-congratulatory, and often for no real reason.

That’s why when I get even a glimmer of a chance to boast, I do it.

Ok, so maybe I am making myself out to be a bit too weird, but you get the idea.

Anyway, as a fantasy baseball fan, I have a semi lob on for a few guys this year, my man crushes for 2009.

My love for Brett Myers and Mike Jacobs is well known, but I’m getting more excited by the day with Chad Qualls. I’m telling you, 40 saves are coming his way this season.

Let me share with you my post about Qualls which I wrote over a month ago:

The Cardinal’s pitcher is getting picked up, on average, in the 22nd round of a 12-man league, when he’s even being selected at all.
He is going undrafted in 55 per cent of mock drafts, but has the skills to be a fantastic end-game closer.
The 30-year-old righty makes hitters pound the ball frustratingly into the ground at an alarming rate (58 per cent) and he has above-average command coupled with a high strikeout rate.
If he gets the full-time closers job, that nasty sinker could carry himself, and your team, a long way.

Comparable to: Francisco Cordero (Cin) and Kerry Wood (Cle). These two closers are being picked up in the 12th round of snake drafts. Expect Qualls to have as many saves as either pitcher, but with a better ERA and lower amount of walks.

Ok, so he hasn’t nailed down even his first save yet, but the things I’m hearing about him so far are very promising.

Tony Pena gave up four runs and six hits in two-thirds of an inning against the Rockies on Monday.
If there wasn’t much of a gap between closer Chad Qualls and setup men Pena and Jon Rauch at the beginning of the spring, there is now. Qualls has allowed three runs in eight innings this spring, while Pena has given up eight earned in his eight and Rauch has allowed eight in seven innings. ~ Rotoworld

With too many questions as to who is going to get the saves, both Joey Devine and Brad Ziegler still fell short of the list. Instead, it is the Diamondbacks’ Chad Qualls who steps in and takes the last spot.

Qualls is a sleeper option having little experience closing games, but he posted tremendous numbers last season (2.83 ERA, 1.08 WHIP). He’s certainly worth grabbing late in your draft. ~ Bleacher Report

But my favorite article about the closer situation in Arizona is from KFFL’s Ilan Mochari

The full article is here. But to steal a few lines, he wrote:

Why is the Arizona Diamondbacks bullpen worth discussing? For one thing, the Diamondbacks had 62 save opportunities in 2008.

In 2009, the save opportunities should be plentiful again, with starting pitchers Brandon Webb (22-7 last year) and Dan Haren (16-8) anchoring the rotation. The most likely beneficiary is relief pitcher Chad Qualls, 30, who converted all seven of his save chances after wresting the job from the faltering Lyon in September. 

In fantasy terms, these numbers suggest Qualls is no ordinary first-time closer; his command is exquisite. Likewise, Pena and Rauch are a cut above the typical middle relievers listed as sleeper closers only by virtue of owning eighth-inning roles. Rather, Pena and Rauch are terrific pitchers in their own right. They enter the game and throw strikes – in spades.  

Furthermore, Qualls’ overall resume is sparkling. Since 2005, he ranks third among all relievers with 245 innings pitched and 237 appearances. He is also the first reliever to post at least 20 holds for four straight seasons.

By all counts, Qualls will begin the season as the Diamondbacks closer. His lack of experience in the role is causing him to slip in many drafts. For that reason, it may be possible to draft him as a No. 3 fantasy closer. That would be ideal, since Qualls could easily rack up 30 saves with superb peripherals. In other words, by drafting Qualls you might get a No. 2 closer at a No. 3 value.

Only time will tell to see if Qualls can not only hold onto the job, but can flourish. My money says he will. But I’m English. What do I know?!? 🙂 

Salary Cap Baseball – a plan and a prayer

FOR those of you who can’t get enough fantasy baseball from your head-to-head league, rotisserie challenge or keeper competition, there is also salary cap fantasy baseball.

The general concept works like stocks and shares. You buy low and sell high.

There are a number of games out there that meet this salary cap ideal where you have a finite budget to assemble your squad and where the players’ values rise and fall throughout the season based on performance and demand.

The one that I will be taking part in this year is the Citizen Sports Salary Cap game on Facebook, as advertised here on the MLB 411. If you have never listened to the show, do it. You’ll love it and you’ll keep coming back for more.
Their blog can be found here
. Mike Siano and Cory Schwartz do a great job and you can compete against them as well as Jeffrey Ma through the Facebook page.

If you want to play the game, go to http://apps.facebook.com/salarycap.
Ok, so cheap plugs out of the way, let’s get to the info.

Different thinking

There are a number of schools of thought about how to select your team.

    1. You can get 2 or 3 of the biggest names in the game such as Johan Santana and Hanley Ramirez and then fill out the rest of the position with a mixture of mid-tier players and affordable scrubs.
    2. You could focus solely on the 9 hitting positions and then assemble a 5-man pitching staff to the best of your ability with whatever is left.
    3. Alternatively, you could say that because there are so many hitting spots to fill, you want to get the best 5 pitchers money will buy and then get maybe 1 stud hitter and a bunch of lovable others to round out your team.
    4. Or you could get the cheapest team money can buy, focusing on value players or those who appear to be underrated. You then sit back and wait for them to put up crazy numbers at which point you can sell them for a massive profit and buy a whole team full of Albert Pujols and CC Sabathias.

salary cap.jpgValue

Ok, so with that in mind, which way am I swinging? Of course, I’m all about the value and the big ceilings, so I am going to focus on the potential of a host of players and then spend the money I have left over on upgrading some of them.

My thinking is that a ton of people will select the guys like Han Ram. That is fine. But he costs $44m of your $250m budget.

The scoring is based on 1 point for a single, 2 for a double, 3 for a three-bagger and 5 for a home run. You then get an extra point for each run and rbi and 2 points for each steal. You lose 1 point for every 3 outs made.

Let’s consider Hanley then.

Don’t get me wrong, he is a beast. I have him down in my projects to be the 2nd most valuable player in the game behind Pujols.

I have him penciled in to get 177 hits, 38 doubles, 5 triples and 34 home runs. That alone would score him:

100*1 = 100
38*2 = 76
5*3 = 15
34*5 = 170

= 361 points.

Added to that are 104 and 95 rbi for another 199 points, plus a further 50 from 25 projected steals. That all adds up to 610 points. Now, we know Han Ram is going to play every day, so let’s deduct 133 points for his estimated 400 outs.

That gives us a grand projected total of 477. So theoretically, you are getting almost 11 points for every $1m you pay.

Sounds good right?

Wrong.

Mistake

Why spend $44m on Han Ram when you could get, say, JJ Hardy for $6m?

Hardy has been tearing it up this spring. He will not out-perform Han Ram, but is still very capable of 30 home runs and 80+ rbi and runs. I have Hardy down to score 339 points – a massive 42 points per $1m spent.

With the extra $38m you save, you could almost do anything you wanted. You could get another stud – someone like Grady Sizemore or Roy Hallady.

If you have, for example, just 4 hitters on your roster at $6m who perform well and make $4m of profit each, you could then upgrade another position.

How great would it feel to be doing so well that you could just replace a Billy Butler or Jason Giambi with Pujols at 1B?

With that in mind, here is my cost-effective 2009 batting lineup:

C: Pablo Sandoval
1B: Mike Jacobs
2B: Jose Lopez
3B: Kevin Kouzmanoff
SS: JJ Hardy
OF: Jay Bruce
OF: David DeJesus
OF: Adam Lind
DH: Adam Laroche

This lineup would cost $57m. Pujols would cost you $44m alone!

Of course, depending on your pitching staff which could be equally as cost-effective, you can then make your upgrades.

For example, you could replace Kouzmanoff with Aramis Ramirez ($19m) or David Wright ($42).

Let me know how you would select your team. And let me know if you are taking part in this salary cap game. It would be great to hear your thoughts and to see how different strategies work.

For me, it’s value all the way, with upgrades in the middle tiers.

Follow me on Twitter here.

2009 draft – meet my boys

So, the draft is over – let me introduce you to your 2009 Walk Off Scrubs…….

It pretty much went according to plan. My team is stacked with offense and a boatload of speed. A little disappointed I couldn’t get Pedroia or Roberts at 2B, but Figgins (who can play 2B or 3B) was my back-up choice for 3B if I didn’t get Aramis, so that worked out well.
I’m loving my outfield and utility and I might have to get Jackson some ABs there too. Iannetta went really early, so I missed out on him, but he was actaully going to be my backup for Napoli, so I didn’t mind.

I also got most of the starters I wanted, other than maybe Greinke or Vazquez, so a job well done.

C Mike Napoli
1B Albert Pujols
2B Chone Figgins
3B Aramis Ramirez
SS Rafael Furcal
OF Matt Holliday
OF Johnny Damon
OF Bobby Abreu
UTIL Carlos Guillen

SP Brett Myers
SP Joba Chamberlain
RP Mariano Rivera
RP Chad Qualls
P Gil Meche
P Wandy Rodriguez
P JJ Putz

BN Pablo Sandoval
BN Luis Castillo
BN Ryan Theriot
BN Jody Gerut
BN Conor Jackson
BN Michael Cuddyer
BN Jerry Blevins
BN Cla Meredith
BN Andy Pettitte 

DRAFT – update

Hello all,

I’ll be drafting out of the number 1 position! So, good news is that I know I can get Pujols, bad news is that Pedroia and or Beltran could both be gone by my next pick. So…probably Holliday or Quentin if the others are gone. I’m kinda sad that I won’t get the chance to get Teix, he was my man crush this year, but needs must, and I needs me some Albert.

Here’s a more likely team for me now….

Will update you all later.

C Napoli
1B Pujols
2B Pedroia/ Roberts
3B Ramirez
SS Furcal
OF Holliday
OF Damon
OF Dye
UTIL Ethier

SP Myers
SP Greinke
RP Rivera
RP Qualls
P Baker
P Wandy Rodriguez
P Meche

BN Iannetta
BN Guillen
BN Theriot
BN Sandoval
BN Jackson
BN Cameron
BN Blevins
BN Meredith
BN Kuo

Fantasy draft – hours away

I’ve had a few conversations with fellow fantasy baseballers about this year’s drafts. I will be taking part in a number of leagues this year, but the draft for the main one is in 4 hours.

It’s a 12-team, 25-man, head-to-head league. I’d like to think that my draft prep this year has been awesome – I enjoy draft day as much as any part of the fantasy season.

I told one of the guys in my league that I know what my team is going to look like and he laughed at me.

He said that there’s no way I can tell who I’m going to draft; that there are way too many variables, led mostly by 11 other teams who can throw a spanner in the works at any point.

To a point he’s right, but not really. Yes it’s true what there can be up to 22 picks in between my own, but that is where your preparation comes in. It’s all about knowing your league and knowing the value of the players. Average draft positions are decent for this.

For example, let’s look at the first two rounds – the easiest rounds to predict. You know that unless you have a top 3 pick you’re not going to be able to draft a Pujols or a Wright.

It’s also fair to say that you know that if you have the 4th overall pick, while you may be able to draft Reyes, you are almost certianly not also going to be able to draft someone like Kinsler or Teixeira in round 2 because by the time your pick comes around (21st overall) these guys will be long gone.

I do not know my draft position yet, and I won’t know until about 30 minutes before the start of the draft. That in itself is annoying, but that’s ok because it is only really these first 2 or 3 rounds that can be awkward.

If I have the 1st overall pick, I’m taking Pujols in round 1 and hoping Pedroia falls to me on the turn for my 2nd pick. If not, I’ll target an outfielder, either Beltran, Holliday or Quentin.

If I am picking 3rd overall, i’ll target Wright (assuming Pujols and Ramirez go 1 and 2) and then take Pedroia in round 2 and someone like Aramis Ramirez in rd 3.

That said, here’s a team that could not be too far from my own, depending on where I draft:

C Napoli
1B Teixeira
2B Pedroia/ Roberts
3B Huff
SS Furcal
OF Markakis
OF Damon
OF Dye
UTIL Ethier

SP Myers
SP Greinke
RP Rivera
RP Qualls
P Baker
P Wandy Rodriguez
P Meche

BN Iannetta
BN Guillen
BN Theriot
BN Sandoval
BN Jackson
BN Cameron
BN Blevins
BN Meredith
BN Kuo

There are lots of other guys who I will be considering, but again, position will dictate to some extent. But I love, as everyone does, Pujols, Wright and Han Ram.
Other than that trio which will likely go 1-2-3 in whatever order, I will be targetting Morneua, Figgins, Holliday, Beltran, Abreu and Conor Jackson.

I’ll update this blog with my draft position, and any last-minute changes which that could represent. At the minute, this draft above is what my team could look like, assuming I have a pick around the 7 or 8 position.

If it does, i’ll be on top of the world.

Daniel Murphy – what can you expect?

WHAT can the Mets expect from Daniel Murphy this season?

Having watched him throughout the early days of Spring Training, you can see that Manuel is priming him to play everyday. He is reading the ball well off the bat in left field and taking good routes to flyballs hit his way. His swing looks level and compact and he is running the basepaths well, going first to third when the chance arrives. He’s also looking to shoot it the other way and I can see him being a mini version of a five tool guy because he has average pop and speed and he hits for average.

Let’s see what different sites have to say about his chances of success at Citi Field…

Baseball Projections

441 ABs, 10HRs, 64rbi, 8SB, 41 BBs, 72Ks, .270 avg

Baseball Guru

221 ABs, 4HR, 28rbi, 2SB, 29BBs, 45Ks, .287 avg

ESPN

11HR, 63rbi, 3SB, .283 avg

Fan Graphs

456 ABs, 14HR, 73rbi, 14SB, 53BBs, 67Ks, .294 avg

The uncertainty surrounding his playing time is perfectly encapsulated here, with projections showing anything from 221 at bats to more than twice that number and 139 games played.

At the top end of the projections is Fan Graphs (Bill James) who sees him as a regular left fielder. With more at bats comes more counting stats, and this site suggests he is right on the cusp of a 15-15 season, something which the ESPN site predicts if he can get regular playing time.

The ESPN report, although not predicting a set amount of plate appearances, suggests similar numbers to the Baseball Projections website but with less speed, while Baseball Guru believes Murphy will be the left-handed bat in a platoon.

So where do I sit within these numbers?

Well unsurprisingly, it’s on the fence, in the middle of them all. I think he will beat out Tatis for the job in left and that his minor league ABs at 3B and 2B will prove to be irrelevant. I think 440 at bats is pretty realistic and 12 home runs isn’t too much of a reach at all considering he has average power.

He is only 23 years old, so there is still room to grow and I expect more contact and fewer whiffs than many expect. I read on Baseball Prospectus that he is not a .300 hitter and I agree with that. But assuming his walk rate is similar to what he has proved at a lower level there is nothing to say he won’t swipe a dozen bags.

Fan Graph’s .294 seems a little high for me, but he’s only a few big league adjustments from that being the back end of his upside. If you scale down Fan Graph’s projections a few games, I don’t think it’s a million miles from the truth.

As for Baseball Guru – well, that seems to be a million miles from everything. As a Mets fan, I hope they’re proved wrong.