I have been a big fan and frequent drafter of Troy Tulowitzki. I have ridden his hot streaks right through fantasy playoffs and onto the championship. But he is not without risk, and that risk is primarily is health. It is hard to predict injuries, it is often a fluke injury sliding into home plate, or washing your RV. Tulowitzki has shown however a tendency to get injured enough that it must be a factor in your decision making. If an owner can get 500+ at bats out of Tulowitzki in 2014, that owner is looking at 30 home run, 100 runs batted in guy.
So lets say that he is worth the draft spot, and we take him. Lets say that he does get his 500 at bats, what are we worried about now? Sure he enjoys hitting in Coors field but he is also under contract with the Rockies for some time. Plus Tulowitzki is no slouch on the road. 11 of his 25 home runs last year came on the road, as well as his .281 batting average while on the road.
And his career home and road splits:
Tulowitzki is a risky top pick, but after the first handful or so picks, there are not many players without some sort of risk. Considering the short stop eligibility, why not take the risk on a short stop who could come up big?
Hanley Ramirez appears to be happy in Los Angeles, and a happy Ramirez is a .300 hitter. We don’t have statistics for happiness, but Ramirez seems to enjoy his new city, and seems to enjoy the star power around him. No I am not talking about Hollywood, I am talking about Gonzalez, Kemp, Puig, and the like. Ramirez produced enough in 2013 to be the first shortstop taken in most 2014 drafts.
The at bats were down in 2013 due to injuries. If Ramirez can stay healthy in 2014 it would be fair to expect a healthy increase in runs and runs batted in. The stolen bases I have no doubt are in decline, and a fantasy owner should not bank on his old 50 or even 30 stolen base days. In many draft Ramirez may be a first rounder. This is primarily due to his position being shortstop. An owner is not maximizing their projected statistics by taking Ramirez in the first round compared to many of the other first rounders, who will hit with more power, or run with more speed. But an owner will be drafting a shortstop who can produce significantly more than the second tier of shortstops available.
As I mentioned earlier I do believe Ramirez is a .300 hitter. In 9 seasons Ramirez has had 3 season under .300, one of which was his rookie season (.292). The other two season below .300 were 2011 and 2012, these were the seasons where Ramirez was not happy with his playing situation in Miami. It is unsettling that a disgruntled Ramirez could mean a 60 point drop in batting average, but we have reason to believe that he is happy and ready to produce.
I would prefer to use my early picks on players that are going to boost my counting numbers, Ramirez can not do this to the degree other top notch players can. But if your goal is to get strength at a weak position Ramirez may be a good choice.
My 2014 projection for Ramirez:
Jacoby Ellsbury got his big contract for the Yankees, and will require an equally high investment in fantasy draft rooms. But what are you investing in exactly? In 2013 Ellsbury put together a fine season:
The stolen bases really stand out in this stat line. He will supply runs and a good batting average as well, but is he a first rounder? I have found that you can typically find stolen bases later in the draft. They may not come from as balanced of a player, but I’d prefer to pick up power in the early rounds. You want to argue that Ellsbury can hit for power? You think he will benefit from the jet stream going to right field at the new Yankee stadium? Lets take a look.
In 2011 Ellsbury was fantasy gold, added power to his speed game.
I quite simply do not buy the power numbers, I think they were some sort of mirage. His home run totals since have been, 4 and 9, and I do not think Yankee stadium will be a big help. In that awesome 2011 season Ellsbury hit 4 home runs at Yankee stadium.
These are his career numbers at the new Yankee Stadium:
Notice the home run numbers are the same. I will prefer to find my stolen bases elsewhere and wait on Ellsbury, unless he falls enough in draft, which I do not expect him too.
My 2014 Projection for Ellsbury:
After Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera the first round picks are open for debate. One player I find interesting in this mix is Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez had a strong year in 2013, and did so in only 391 at-bats. He did however strike out over 25% of his at-bats, which is worrisome, but also much higher than his previous seasons. It is as surprising as it is worrisome to note that he still hit over .300 while striking out at this rate.
The two previous years Gonzalez averaged 500 at bats. Had Gonzalez remained at his 500 at-bat average his numbers would have been stronger, potentially as a top 5 fantasy hitter. Gonzalez has experienced some injuries in his career that must be accounted for when deciding to take him in a draft. The other aspect of Cargo’s game is to analyze is his home ballpark. He enjoys hitting at Coors field for half his season, but is no slouch hitting on the road.
Cargo is also under contract with the Rockies until 2017, so the risk of his leaving the mile high stadium are minimal as well.
My 2014 projections for Gonzalez:
The fantasy football season has come to a close. That signals that start of fantasy baseball for me. Here are some important things to look at as your prepare for the 2014 baseball season.
1. 2013 Reflection: What worked well for you last year? What did not work well for you? What worked well for the people that won your leagues? Did your team just get plagued by injuries last year? Did some of your top picks bottom out? Did the guy who drafted only power hitters in your league do well? Maybe this year you draft with less injury risk, or take safer but lower ceiling early picks, or draft for power. If you have statistics available from last year, take a look at them, use those numbers to set goals for your team, which will help with how to construct your roster.
2. Identify draft strategies: Now that you have an idea of how you may want to construct your team, you can start focusing on how. Are you just drafting for the most rounded players? Waiting on pitching? Collecting the power hitters? With these ideas, you can start planning how you should approach your draft.
3. Identify target players: Here is the best place to find hidden values. What players fit well into your strategies? Some of them might be hidden lower/cheaper in your drafts. What players seem to be getting overrated? Look at their stats, and their history, are they worth the hype? Look at players you find yourself coveting, but are still down in the rankings. Why are they lower than you would have them? You may need to change your thinking on that player, or you may have found a value. In keeper leagues you can also evaluate target players to trade for, that may not be as valued by other owners than you.
4. It is still early: This early in the off-season, don’t get too carried away with developing draft strategies or making off-season trades. A lot can still change by the time drafts start. Some free agents don’t even have teams yet! Start planning now, but allow yourself to be flexible during your off-season planning.
Playoff baseball is underway. That mean there is lots of exciting baseball to come, but it also means that the fantasy baseball season has come to a close. I enjoyed a successful 2013 and wanted to discuss what went right for me. This is a fun way for me to reflect on the moves and strategies I made this season, while possibly helping to succeed next year as well. This post is regarding a 12 team keeper ROTO league.
Keepers: Before the 2013 draft I took some key players into the draft already on my roster. Chris Davis, Dustin Pedroia, Carlos Santana, Mike Minor, Pedro Alvarez, Jay Bruce, and Adam Jones. These guys were all relatively cheap dollar amounts allowing me some spending cash going into the auction. Note: I had attempted in the off season to trade Chris Davis for… wait for it… Edwin Jackson… glad that one didn’t go through.
Pre-draft Strategy: I looked up the results from our last years league and what statistics were earned in each category. Through this information and the projections I was using for my keepers and the players in the draft, I could start trying to plan how I wanted to build my team to reach my statistical goals in each category.
The Draft: Aware of the possible PED scare, I drafted Braun at what I thought to be a discount (in a keeper league). I also added Adrian Gonzalez and Derek Holland. These three were pretty much my only contributors to my season. I did however draft Oscar Taveras, who I traded for Gio Gonzalez later in the season.
The Season: As the season started, I found that my team had a tremendous amount of power. At the time I didn’t know if Chris Davis was going to continue his production, but I very quickly jumped out to a sizable lead in runs, homeruns, and RBIs, while still doing very well in batting average. I was short on speed, but knew that would be the easiest to add later in the season, so I continued to just pile on the power numbers till the last month of the season. By that time I had such a sizable lead I could start adding stolen base guys to earn very valuable late season points. My pitching all season long was middle of the pack in about everything. I enjoyed cheap starters Minor and Holland, until I decided to make some moves to go for the win.
The Late Season Push: Being a keeper league it is easier to add high end talent for young promising (or cheap) players. I made the decision to go for the championship THIS year. Through a couple deal I traded away, Minor, Holland, Profar, Myers, Alvarez, Cishek, and received; Ellsbury, Hamels, Price, Cargo, Kinsler. I completely sold the farm to win this year, and would do so again.
Targeting Categories: After these moves, I wasn’t done yet. Once there was a month left in the season I started targeting categories that I could make up points in. I had a sizable lead in the power categories so I could drop guys like Josh Hamilton, Pablo Sandoval, etc. to add guys like Rajai Davis, and Craig Gentry. I also started steaming pitchers. I took huge point leaps in Quality Starts and Ks.
Summary: I won the league in large part thanks to Chris Davis. I expected 30 HRs from him and a horrible batting average and got much more than that. I also was able to add closers throughout the season and finished first in saves without having to invest heavily in the draft. I made trades to win NOW, though Wil Myers ended up producing more down the stretch than Cargo. I put almost all my money in hitting and traded for and streamed pitchers to win the league.
The 2013 fantasy baseball season is in the books. There were sleepers who excelled, sleepers who kept on sleeping, breakouts that broke out and breakouts that just broke. This post is going to discuss strategies and other aspects of a fantasy season that went well for my H2H points league.
Pitching strategy going in: With rosters locking weekly, this eliminates streaming pitchers. I wanted to maximize starts for my pitchers, so I targeted starting pitchers with RP eligibility. I drafted Aroldis Chapman (when I thought he would start in the 5th round and then Medlen in the 6th. When Chapman was announced as closer I traded him for Alex Gordon, after I added Iwakuma in the first few weeks of the season. It turned out that Chapman scored the exact same amount of points in our league as Medlen. I rode Iwakuma and Medlen all season long as my RPs. Iwakuma ended up being the highest scoring RP. After I established my RP advantage, I focused on two start pitchers. I had a staff of Kershaw, Lester, and Peavy, but frequently was starting fringe guys with two starts.
Hitting strategy: I used projections that combine many sources, and made my own player rankings based off the projections and the scoring in my league. I frequently hear that pitching wins H2H points leagues, but I still felt I could find pitching later, and draft pretty hitter heavy in the early rounds. I also had a few huge waiver moves, it is here where I probably won my league.
Waiver wire pickups: I already mentioned I added Iwakuma in the first few weeks of the season. The same week I added Iwakuma I added Matt Carpenter. Carpenter turned out to be the 7th ranked hitter in an ESPN standard scoring league. I also added Jean Segura when Jose Reyes got hurt. These two guys provided a huge lift for me. (By the time Segura cooled off I had Jose Reyes back). I was also able to take advantage of managers who were down on their under-performers, by being able to add Cespedes and Ian Desmond after they were dropped.
Summary: I believe I won this league out of the waiver wire. Kershaw was a beast, but I also had to overcome early picks underperforming like Bautista, and Reyes. In a 10 team league I was able to consistently stream two start pitchers like, Cole, Gray, Lackey, and other guys of that caliber. This allowed me to draft heavier on hitting and take advantage of my hitters outhitting the other teams in my league, while not suffering from a lack of pitching.