“The Mad Professor” 4th of July Mid-Season Reflections
Take a moment to have some good thoughts for the victims of the latest terror attack, this time in Turkey…
The last two weeks I looked at the studs and duds–players who were over- or underperforming—at a macro level. I got some great feedback on and off the site. The best comment come from my colleague Joe Iannone about how best to assess value. My analysis drew off of Yahoo!’s comparison of preseason value and current performance. Joe noted that Tristan Cockroft of ESPN establishes value based on projected performance for the rest of the season.
What’s better? Well it depends. One thing to note: Preseason rankings are value projections. So, an analysis of current v. preseason projections boils down to a reflection on how good those preseason analyses were. End of the season values will determine how good the assessment of value at any time during the season was. Again, this is as much an art as a science.
Today I look at the data from the last two columns from a slightly different perspective. I’ll use the same data. But, I want to highlight some peculiarities regarding absolute and relative value.
In the top 20 P as of 27 June, three had seen their values fall: Scherzer, Greinke and Kluber. Why? Disastrous starts and what not aside. Let’s look at some numbers. Scherzer is #2 in, #5 in IP, #18 in W (with 8) and he has 11 QS. Why has his value dropped?
|Clayton Kershaw LAD – P||16||4||1||3||99%||115||11||0||141||1.23||1.57||0.67||14|
|Madison Bumgarner SF – P?||16||28||11||17||99%||108||8||0||122||1.13||1.99||1.02||14|
|Johnny Cueto SF – P||15||65||12||53||99%||109||11||0||96||0.88||2.06||0.99||13|
|Jake Arrieta ChC – P||15||25||13||12||99%||98||11||0||107||1.09||1.74||0.98||10|
|Jon Lester ChC – P||15||73||18||55||98%||98||9||0||99||1.01||2.10||1.00||13|
|Chris Sale CWS – P||15||24||20||4||99%||105||12||0||102||0.97||2.83||0.99||11|
|Noah Syndergaard NYM – P||15||37||21||16||99%||91||8||0||110||1.21||2.08||0.99||12|
|José Fernández Mia – P||14||30||22||8||99%||87||9||0||125||1.43||2.36||0.99||9|
|Max Scherzer Was – P||16||15||29||-14||99%||107||8||0||138||1.29||3.52||1.00||11|
|Stephen Strasburg Was – P||14||38||30||8||99%||93||10||0||118||1.27||2.90||1.06||10|
|Julio Teherán Atl – P||16||164||41||123||86%||106||3||0||99||0.93||2.46||0.89||10|
|Steven Wright Bos – P||15||300||45||255||87%||103||8||0||84||0.82||2.18||1.14||12|
|John Lackey ChC – P||15||145||50||95||94%||98||7||0||102||1.04||3.29||1.04||12|
|Danny Salazar Cle – P||14||83||51||32||97%||86||9||0||99||1.15||2.40||1.15||8|
|Marco Estrada Tor – P||14||264||56||208||83%||93||5||0||84||0.90||2.70||0.98||11|
|Drew Pomeranz SD – P||15||307||62||245||80%||88||7||0||102||1.16||2.76||1.13||9|
|Corey Kluber Cle – P||15||36||63||-27||98%||102||7||0||103||1.01||3.59||1.01||9|
|Cole Hamels Tex – P||15||80||64||16||98%||96||8||0||95||0.99||2.79||1.22||11|
|Justin Verlander Det – P||15||122||68||54||94%||100||7||0||102||1.02||3.78||1.07||11|
|Zack Greinke Ari – P||16||42||69||-27||99%||107||10||0||89||0.83||3.61||1.15||10|
By comparison, Arrieta and Strasburg have 10 QS each. But their run support has been better and they have 10 and 11 W, respectively. Granted their ERAs are a run less, so they give their bullpens and batters more to work with. Still, Arrieta and Strasburg have experience significant increases in their rankings while Scherzer has fallen.
Looking at the big gainers from last week (this table shows the 25 biggest gainers in the current 100 top P), we see equally intriguing data. Two of these guys have 10 QS (as many as Arrieta or Strasburg). Jeff Locke’s 7 W compare to John Lackey and Corey Kluber even though Locke has 13 fewer IP. He’s clearly benefited from run support (otherwise that 5.12 ERA would have killed him). But the same can be said of Chris Archer, whose line is:
|Chris Archer TB – P||16||50||249||-199||95%||92||4||0||108||1.17||4.70||1.43||8|
The only real difference between Archer and Locke is strikeouts. When not pitching batting practice to opposing hitters,
Archer strikes folks out. Since we value Ks as Defense–Independent counting stats in fantasy, Archer wins in terms of ranking. But, in retrospect, skipping Archer for a batter and picking up Locke at the end of your draft would have cost you little.
Granted, no one expected Archer’s implosion. Nonetheless, the same line (essentially) that has cost Archer nearly 200 spots in the ranking has increased Locke’s by nearly 800 spots. As I noted those numbers require a lot of massaging because Locke had nowhere to go but up at the start of the season. Nonetheless in a generic 5×5 league, the Archer-Locke comparison sheds light on the peculiarities of Fantasy analysis.
All but three of the players on this list are owned in less than 25% of Yahoo! leagues.
|Jeff Locke Pit – P||16||1130||337||793||4%||89||7||0||46||0.5||5.12||1.37||9|
|Matt Moore TB – P||15||1095||385||710||20%||89||3||0||84||0.9||5.04||1.37||6|
|Ricky Nolasco Min – P||15||1113||406||707||4%||91||3||0||74||0.8||4.95||1.35||6|
|Chris Rusin Col – P||12||1111||430||681||0%||54||2||0||39||0.7||4.12||1.34||3|
|Martín Pérez Tex – P||15||886||218||668||16%||90||6||0||45||0.5||3.57||1.39||10|
|Jonathon Niese Pit – P||15||1071||403||668||11%||87||6||0||63||0.7||4.93||1.48||7|
|Chad Bettis Col – P||15||1082||421||661||5%||84||6||0||66||0.8||5.44||1.46||7|
|Christian Friedrich SD – P||8||1028||370||658||9%||45||4||0||36||0.8||3.60||1.56||4|
|Kevin Gausman Bal – P||13||891||266||625||26%||75||1||0||69||0.9||3.93||1.27||7|
|Matt Wisler Atl – P||15||830||208||622||11%||89||3||1||61||0.7||4.22||1.22||10|
|Wade Miley Sea – P||13||1033||413||620||8%||76||6||0||58||0.8||5.28||1.38||4|
|Derek Holland Tex – P||14||1039||435||604||7%||72||5||0||43||0.6||5.20||1.42||7|
|Jered Weaver LAA – P||15||1088||484||604||6%||89||6||0||51||0.6||5.24||1.44||7|
|Mike Foltynewicz Atl – P||6||956||353||603||2%||33||2||0||28||0.8||3.51||1.26||3|
|Jon Gray Col – P||12||787||210||577||26%||69||4||0||75||1.1||4.80||1.23||8|
|Shane Greene Det – P||15||1055||483||572||2%||25||1||1||25||1.0||4.97||1.18||1|
|Mat Latos CWS – P||11||969||398||571||8%||60||6||0||32||0.5||4.62||1.46||5|
|Juan Nicasio Pit – P||13||1059||490||569||11%||63||5||0||65||1.0||5.83||1.48||4|
|Robbie Ray Ari – P||15||915||347||568||10%||80||4||0||93||1.2||4.59||1.54||6|
|Williams Pérez Atl – P||9||1031||472||559||0%||48||2||0||23||0.5||4.62||1.21||3|
|Nathan Eovaldi NYY – P||14||842||295||547||30%||80||6||0||70||0.9||5.02||1.35||6|
|Iván Nova NYY – P||15||1035||488||547||4%||64||5||1||44||0.7||5.18||1.38||2|
|Tom Koehler Mia – P||15||789||252||537||12%||84||6||0||71||0.8||4.07||1.49||8|
|Chase Anderson Mil – P||14||912||381||531||5%||73||4||0||60||0.8||5.13||1.28||4|
|Archie Bradley Ari – P||8||885||369||516||19%||46||3||0||49||1.1||4.50||1.37||3|
Of course, the rankings are a function of trends as well as cumulative present value. But, were you to do a league redraft on the 4th of July, would you let an Archer drop? Dismiss Scherzer for a round or two? Snap up Locke while your friends were not looking? At various points in the season, if we had followed this kind of reasoning, we’d now be looking at Carlos Gomez and Zach Greinke on someone else’s team.
So, how much of what we do is gut instinct? How much do we cultivate that with the cold, analytical proofs of Mr. Spock-like science?
What’s amazing is that the answer is “it depends.” Even Tristan Cockroft at ESPN acknowledges that he’s swap Kershaw (the consensus #1) for the right bat at this point in the season. (See his latest analysis here: http://espn.go.com/fantasy/baseball/story/_/page/mlbranks_june22/clayton-kershaw-no-1-updated-fantasy-baseball-rankings-fantasy-baseball). When one looks at his top 25, they do not differ much from Yahoo!’s. The same players are there, though they may not be in the same order.
So, looking at Cockroft, Yahoo!’s and a host of other sites, we see that Ron Shandler’s Broad Assessment Balance Sheet (“BABS”) displays a lot of wisdom. (You can read about some of this at ronshandler.com. Some of it is subscription only.) Shandler suggests that you can get away from the granularity of trying to decide who should be #7 or #10 and focus more broadly on projected skill levels. Worry less about a particular Pitcher’s K potential or hitter’s HR projection and build instead a team that is a good portfolio of important skills.
It’s a great approach to draft day. But what to do come midseason when draft options are gone, you’ve got high-priced duds and you don’t want to abandon ship to stock up for next year? (The NFL does not start for 2 months.) In a good league, with quality owners, there will be very few degrees of freedom after draft day and, barring extraordinary luck in snapping up a waiver wire or free agent game-changer, we find ourselves pondering the Jeff Lockes of the world as we clean the grill and look towards the HR Derby. The analysis of player performance is fascinating. But, barring a redraft, that analysis provides more perspective on the MLB than is does on your fantasy roster.
More to come next week with a look at batters. Best wishes for the holiday.