February 2013

Composite Projections are Here!

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics

Hi folks,

Attached is the first draft of this year’s composite projections, representing the average projection from 10 different providers. That’s down from a peak of 16 from two years ago, and 11 last year, but it’s still a large sampling of what various systems expect for this upcoming season.


For the uninitiated, a few helpful notes to get you started:

* First and most importantly, keep in mind that these are NOT predictions, and they are not “MY” projections… they are averages of projections provided by multiple other systems. Feel free to disagree with any of these numbers, and adjust as you see fit, but don’t complain about it here!

* This includes all players who were projected in at least four of the 10 systems; the PRO column indicates how many projections were averaged for each player. Obviously those with fewer projections are more speculative and should be taken with appropriate grains of salt.

* The POS column is based on standard position eligibility rules: any position at which the player appeared in 20 or more games in the previous season, or the position at which the player appeared the most if he played less than 20 games at any one position. Players who appeared only in the minors last season are eligible only at the single position where they played the most games.

* Teams listed are as of yesterday, February 18… free agents are indicated with “FA” in the team and league columns.

* These are unadjusted for playing time, so when you see some A-ball player projected for 500 at-bats, that’s a “what if” projection and not necessarily a prediction he will play that much. Adjust playing time as you see fit, and pro-rate all the other stats on the line to match.

* RBI’s are NOT based on the average projections; instead they are calculated using the “Padden formula” (see links below for more on this), but with a few of the weightings slightly adjusted to improve the correlation with last year’s actual results:


This formula generally correlates very well with “actual” RBI’s, but should be adjusted up or down as you see fit based on lineup spot, etc. Obviously a player batting 3rd for an NL team is likely to have more RBI’s than the leadoff hitter, all other things being equal.

* Runs and RBI’s are NOT correlated… the average team will have RBI’s on about 94-96% of their runs scored, so the run totals may be adjusted up or down on a team-wide basis to match the projected RBI’s.

* Wins and saves are not adjusted either, so this does not necessarily reflect expectations for who will actually be the closer for any given team, such as the Cubs, Detroit, Houston, etc. Saves are more about opportunity than performance, so adjust as you see fit.

Here are some older blog posts that explain how our projections are created, and other useful information on the topic:








I’ll be posting an updated version of this in a few weeks, with some of these adjustments made… let me know what might be helpful to add?




Expert Slow Mock Draft Recap

Hey everybody,

What’s so special about Nolan Reimold? Well, he was the 345th and final pick of the 15-team, 23-round expert slow mock draft that began on January 9th and ended today. So I figured I’d take this opportunity to run through each of my picks and throw in some analysis.

By the way, you can view the full draft results here


OK, here we go! I drew the #12 spot and honestly wasn’t thrilled. Personally, I don’t like to be near the ends as it often forces you to reach for guys you really want, and there were a number of instances where I did just that.

1.12   Prince Fielder  (1B)

I wasn’t expecting Prince to fall to me here and was reluctantly preparing to take Stanton (I’m a bit nervous about the lack of a supporting cast in the Marlins’ lineup), but Joe Sheehan’s surprising Buster Posey selection at 1.10 combined with Jason Collette’s decision to snag Stanton enabled me to draft Fielder, who in light of the Ryan Braun controversy, is arguably the safest fantasy option outside of Miguel Cabrera. Prince’s late-season power surge gives me confidence that he’ll hit more than 30 home runs this year, and the guy has missed a combined 13 games over his seven full big league seasons. Now that’s durability!

2.4   Justin Upton  (OF1)

I’ll be all over J-Up this year if he can get him at any sort of discount. To me, 19th pick is a discount. How many other 25-year-olds can be labeled busts after batting .280 with 17 homers, 18 steals and 107 runs scored while battling a nagging thumb injury?

3.12   Matt Holliday  (OF2)

Holliday vs. Bruce was a tough call but I opted for the dependable, high AVG hitter over the budding young star who could hit 40 homers but might bat .250. Remember that AVG is an underrated category, but Holliday does come with some health concerns, so a strong case can be made for Bruce. And guess who was taken with the next pick? Yep, Jay Bruce.

4.4   Jimmy Rollins  (SS)

My first reach of the draft! J-Roll has been a favorite of mine over the years but I understand why many are skeptical about him for 2013. He’s getting old, the AVG is nothing special and maybe he’ll run a little less now. But give me a shortstop who can very realistically hit 18-20 homers, steal 25-30 bases and score 100-plus runs and I’ll gladly take him. I was considering Ian Desmond here but figured that Rollins was a little safer, and there was no way he would be around for my next turn.

5.12   Ian Desmond  (MI)

Now this wasn’t planned at all. The fact that Desmond was still available at this point means that Rollins probably would’ve still been available which means that I probably would’ve been better off drafting Ben Zobrist or even Craig Kimbrel at 4.4. Oh well. I liked the idea of taking another power/speed guy here and love the Rollins/Desmond MI duo.

6.4   Jonathan Papelbon  (CL1)

I always try to get one closer from the elite group and since I wasn’t going to pick again for awhile, I felt that now was the time to pounce.

7.12   Desmond Jennings  (OF3)

Shocked that he fell this far. The batting average might be mediocre but we’re talking about 15-20 homers, 35-40 steals and 90-100 runs. I’m pumped up about my Upton/Holliday/Jennings OF trio.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angeles

8.4   Dan Haren  (SP1)

Another reach. After waiting this long for my first SP, I probably would’ve been better off waiting a little longer. But I’m very high on Haren this year as a bounce back candidate and he was the only SP left, with the possible exception of Lincecum, who truly has ace-level upside.

9.12   Hiroki Kuroda  (SP2)

Proved last year that he can succeed in the AL East. More like a #3 than a #2 as there’s no guarantee he can duplicate last season’s 167 K’s, but he’s a pretty safe bet to again put up quality ratios.

10.4   Will Middlebrooks  (3B)

The 3B position is very deep this year and I had targeted Middlebrooks as a player who I’d be content with at this stage of the draft. Give me a choice between Headley in the 4th, Sandoval in the 5th or Middlebrooks in the 10th and I’ll choose Middlebrooks every time.

11.12   Dan Uggla  (2B)

Needed a starting second baseman badly and no other available 2B offered the same level of upside as Uggla. There’s a chance he will be just as disappointing in 2013 as he was in 2012, but there’s also a chance he will bat .250 with 30 homers. That would be nice!

12.4   Anibal Sanchez  (SP3)

Move to AL didn’t phase him. A solid mid-rotation SP who doesn’t come with a whole lot of risk. The other offenses in the AL Central aren’t great and he’ll be pitching in a favorable ballpark.

13.12   Huston Street  (CL2)

The most reliable closer left on the board. If only he can stay healthy…

14.4   Ryan Doumit  (C1)

Not expecting 18 homers again but still an above average fantasy backstop who won’t be catching every day. And that’s always a plus.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Arizona Diamondbacks

15.12   Jason Kubel  (OF4)

Much like Rollins, he’s a longtime personal favorite as he always seems to be underrated. After a stellar start to 2012, Kubel fell off a cliff in the second half, batting a measly .201. But take a look at the end of season numbers (.253 AVG, 30 HR, 90 RBI, 75 R, .833 OPS) and they’re good enough for a #3 OF in a deep mixed league. And I have him as my #4.

16.4   Shaun Marcum  (SP4)

Injury risk but the reward is substantial since I drafted him this late. Marcum will have the benefit of pitching his home games at spacious Citi Field and I love to target starting pitchers with consistently low walk rates.

17.12   Edwin Jackson  (SP5)

A couple of disastrous September outings ballooned his final ERA to 4.03, but otherwise E-Jax was fairly consistent last year. I needed to add more depth to my staff and Jackson, Beckett and Hughes were the three most attractive starters still out there. I don’t trust Beckett and picking Jackson over Hughes was basically an NL Central vs. AL East decision.

18.4   Brandon Belt  (CI)

Not an ideal starting CI but there was no way I was taking Adam Dunn with one AVG killer, Dan Uggla, already on my roster. I thought about Yonder Alonso here but figured that Belt had the higher ceiling.

19.12   Jon Jay  (OF5)

Looking to add a little more speed to my squad while at the same time addressing batting average, I came to the conclusion that Jay fit the bill. A solid #5 OF.

20.4   Cody Ross  (UTIL)

It’s a little weird to own both Kubel and Ross but the Justin Upton trade opens the door for Ross to get everyday at-bats and I’m really liking him this year as a cheap source of power. Playing half of his games at Chase Field, 25 homers shouldn’t be a problem.

21.12   Frank Francisco  (CL3)

30 saves? 20 saves? 5 saves? Who knows. But in the 21st round I’ll take any reliever who is actually opening the season in the closer role. After all, saves is a category!

22.4   Chris Iannetta  (C2)

Slim pickings at the catcher position at this point but Iannetta heads into the season as the clear-cut starting backstop for the Halos and offers 20-homer potential, albeit with a woeful batting average.

23.12   Johan Santana  (SP6)

Remember when he was a first-rounder? Hopefully, he can rebound from whatever went wrong immediately following that no-hitter.

So what’s the final verdict? Strong in power, good enough in speed, a decent bullpen and a starting rotation mix of high-upside injury risks and underappreciated veterans.

A first place team? Maybe not.

A team that I would feel comfortable going into battle with? Absolutely.

2013 List of 12

First off, this is long overdue, so apologies to those who have waited patiently for this year’s List of 12… but now your wait is over! Without further delay, here it is

For those not familiar with how something called the List of 12 can have 21 names, here’s some background: http://fantasy411.mlblogs.com/2012/01/27/2012-list-of-12/. Below is a loosely ranked overview of each name on the list; note that three guys enter the 2013 season with fewer than the typical 500 career innings, but we’re making “close enough” exceptions for them.

Bumgarner, Madison – He’s already a star, and he doesn’t even turn 24 until August. There’s no reason to expect anything less than what he did last season, and there’s still plenty of ceiling for growth, but at his age his tremendous reliance on the slider is something of a concern.

Zimmermann, Jordan (479.1 IP) – Simply put, he was tremendous last season, although he faded somewhat down the stretch. His indicators were mostly outstanding, albeit with a little bit of good luck reflected in his strand rate and HR/FB, but at the age of 27 and now two seasons removed from Tommy John surgery, he could be poised for a full-scale breakout. With slightly increased stamina and a little bit of good luck on his BABIP, he could emerge this season as a fringe Cy Young candidate.

Latos, Mat – As expected, Great American Ballpark was much less forgiving than PETCO, but he countered that by bumping up the ground ball rate and cutting down the walks, resulting in a nearly identical ERA and WHIP. We’ve yet to see a wire-to-wire strong season from Latos, a notoriously slow starter, but I’m betting that his combination of age, experience and skill will make that happen in 2013. I think he’s a strong candidate for a big step forward this year into the clear-cut #2 tier, or perhaps a “soft ace” for those who discount pitching.

Fister, Doug – Averaged 5.2 K/9 in 378.0 IP with the Mariners, but 7.5 K/9 in 231.1 IP since coming to the Tigers, while actually increasing his ground ball rate and maintaining his stingy walk rate. That’s a large enough sample size to make a believer out of me; I have every confidence in him this year as a #2 for those who slow-play starters, or as a #3 for those who like to stock up.

Garcia, Jaime – Garcia arguably pitched better last year than in 2011, but his BABIP went up by 26 points and of course injuries limited him to only 121.2 IP. If healthy this year, I think he can take a big step forward and put up numbers similar to 2010, but unlike that season, more fully supported by his underlying indicators. His strikeout, walk and groundball rates have all remained consistent, so the combination of age, maturity and experience could yield a big step forward. I’m buying, especially now with Chris Carpenter out of the picture.

Vogelsong, Ryan – Something of a mystery after his shocking 2011 performance, Vogelsong actually pitched a little better last year but gave up more fly balls and enjoyed less luck with his strand rate. Even more importantly though, his strikeout and walk rates both improved, so even at the age of 35 he looks to have established a strong level of performance. Throw out his career numbers and look only at the last two years and there’s little reason to believe he’s not a legit #3 starter.

MLB: New York Mets at Texas Rangers

Niese, Jon – His fly ball rates went up and his strikeouts went down from 2011, but improvements in his walk rate combined with better luck on his BABIP and strand rates to drop his ERA by exactly a full run in 2012. In reality, Niese has pitched at a very consistent level for the past three seasons, but swings in his BABIP, HR/FB and strand rate have clouded the results. He’s only 26 this season, so a repeat of 2012 seems like a safe investment, though he lacks the stuff to blow hitters away and as such seems unlikely to take more than a small step forward.

Bailey, Homer  – He finally broke through last year with career highs across the board, but did he really improve? Most of his rate stats were virtually identical to the year before, but a slight dip in his BABIP and HR/FB rates, combined with a bump in his ground ball rate, led to a 0.75 run drop in his ERA. Bailey is clearly becoming a better pitcher than in his youth, and he’s in his age 27 season so he could take another big step forward. But, based on his indicators, I’d pay for what he is now – a solid mid-rotation option – than what he may or may not become.

Harrison, Matt – He’s very durable, doesn’t walk anyone, gets a lot of ground balls and is efficient with his pitches. Unfortunately, a mediocre strikeout rate caps Harrison’s value, and there’s no evidence to suggest an impending spike. It wouldn’t surprise me if we’ve already seen his best, but that’s pretty good, so he’s a very solid 3-4 starter.

McDonald, James (482.2 IP) – A terrible second half left McDonald with an identical ERA to his 2011 season but also masked the considerable improvements in his overall performance. He cut his walk rate while bumping his strikeout rate back up to its career level, got more grounders and controlled the long ball better. Remember that he’s still relatively inexperienced for a 28-year-old pitcher, but with the addition of the slider to go with age and experience, there’s still room for improvement here. A strong end-of-rotation option with definite upside potential.

Holland, Derek – Very similar to his teammate Matt Harrison, but for two big differences. First, he has much better strikeout rates, so his fantasy upside is much greater. Secondly, he is much more fly ball prone, and the resulting higher home run rates have led to significantly higher ERA’s. He’s young enough to take a step forward this year if he can stay healthy, but controlling the long ball will ultimately determine his true value.

Hughes, Phil – His indicators returned to their 2010 levels and his fantasy stats followed suit, and in fact, his BB/9 and K/BB rates were career bests. Unfortunately, he is an extreme fly ball pitcher in one of the worst parks in baseball for that profile, so ERA’s in the low 4’s seem to be his lot in life unless he trades in his four-seamer for a sinker… in other words, pay for a repeat of 2012, but nothing more.

MLB: New York Mets at Houston Astros

Norris, Bud – He was outstanding at home (1.71 ERA) and horrendous on the road (6.94) in 2012, but on the whole, Norris’ underlying performance was actually very similar to 2011. His strikeout rate improved but he walked more while he got slightly fewer grounders and a little less luck in his BABIP and strand rates. Overall, Norris has established a fairly consistent level of performance – a lot of K’s, with a few too many walks and homers to break out – but his value would go way up with a trade to a better team in a better ballpark. As of now, the K’s make him a solid end-of-rotation option with some upside.

Hanson, Tommy – Simply put, I don’t believe he’s healthy. His velocity was way down last season, his walk rate was a career-worst, and he was simply much more hittable. Even if he is healthy, these indicators are all pointing in the wrong direction, although he’s only 26 and we can point to 2009-2010 as to his upside. But I’m not taking the gamble to see if he can earn it.

Buchholz, Clay – On the bright side, Buchholz reached a career-high in innings last year with a career-low walk rate. He still gets a lot of ground balls, and he’s in his age 28 season. That’s about it for the positives. His strikeout rate continues to trend downward and he’s very homer-prone despite his solid ground ball rates. I like him as an end-of-rotation option but anyone looking for a repeat of 2010 is likely to be sorely disappointed.

Leake, Mike (485.0 IP) – He gets plenty of grounders, is stingy with the walks and is very pitch efficient, but simply lacks the swing-and-miss stuff to get many strikeouts, and as a result is also homer-prone in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark. He may get bumped out of the rotation this season, but even if he doesn’t, he’s best valued as a Pitch or Ditch option.

Williams, Jerome – He’s on this list by virtue of his innings pitched total, but in reality he’s a journeyman rotation filler who will probably serve as a long man this year. He has his stretches of usefulness as a starter, but without a regular rotation spot he has no mixed league value.

Happ, J.A. – His strikeout rates spiked to career-highs after his trade to Toronto, but it was only for 40.1 IP, so obviously that’s much too small a sample size to draw any conclusions. He’s currently on the outside looking in at the Blue Jays’ rotation, and nothing else in his career record suggests much upside. A Pitch or Ditch option at best, even if he does earn a rotation spot.

In addition, there are three holdovers from last year’s list who were included even though they entered the season a shade below 500 career innings: Ian Kennedy, Edinson Volquez and Jeff Niemann. Kennedy’s true level is somewhere between 2011 and 2012 while Volquez simply walks too many to be anything more than a Pitch or Ditch choice.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Detroit Tigers

Take a long look at Niemann, though… we touted him as a breakout candidate last year and he was on the right track to that, with a 3.08 ERA in his first eight starts, before a fluke broken leg cut short his season. Assuming he wins a rotation spot this spring, we’re pushing our chips in on him again.

Questions, comments, feedback? Let’s hear it! Next up, composite projections… give me a few more weeks to work on it though…



Zach’s Musings (2/8)

Hey everyone,

It’s that time again! With the NFL season officially in the books, earlier this week ESPN and Yahoo became the latest sites to launch their 2013 fantasy baseball game, meaning that some people who couldn’t wait any longer to draft their teams already have rosters to stare at. I’d prefer it if you are not one of those owners though, as I fully endorse the Mike Siano rule of not drafting before St. Patty’s Day. Too much can change between now and then and don’t you want to take advantage of spring training to do some scouting?

Anyway, let’s continue the trades/signings series by looking at the fantasy relevant moves that have taken place since my last post.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Seattle Mariners

Felix Hernandez signs 7 yr/$175 million extension with Mariners

Whoa. The deal makes King Felix the highest paid pitcher in big league history and quite frankly took me by surprise. I mean, Hernandez was under contract through 2014 anyway and we all know about the risks involved in committing long-term to pitchers. But I guess M’s ownership wanted to make a statement to their fan base that they care about their team, and they certainly did that. And if you are going to gamble that a starting pitcher will both continue to dominate and stay healthy for a seven-year period, there’s really no better option than Hernandez, who is coming off yet another Cy Young caliber year and has tossed at least 190 innings in each of his first seven full big league seasons. For fantasy purposes, he’s a no-brainer top-5 SP and probably belongs in the top-3, behind only Verlander and Kershaw, which means that there’s a 99% chance I won’t be owning him in any of my leagues because, well, I don’t spend big on starting pitching.

Travis Hafner signs with Yankees for one yr/$2 million

A nice low-cost investment for the Bombers considering that Pronk posted a solid .798 OPS versus right-handed pitching last year and should benefit from the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium. But what the Yanks really needed was a right-handed outfield bat, so why they went out and signed a left-handed hitter who can’t play the field is just another head scratcher in what has been a puzzling off-season for this team. If he manages to stay healthy (a big if), I can see Hafner hitting 20 homers as the Yankees’ primary DH against righties, which makes him worth taking a flier on in AL-only leagues. In mixed leagues I’d pass, especially considering that he will clog up your Utility spot, which is very annoying.

Joe Saunders signs one-year contract with Mariners

Saundo was hoping for a decent multi-year contract but the bottom line is that he’s a league average, low-strikeout pitcher. He’ll give Seattle innings and maybe an ERA around 4.00, but that’s about it. And with the fences moving in at Safeco, you can’t even say that he’s moving to an extreme pitcher’s park. He should be relegated to AL-only leagues for the most part, though you might want to spot-start him in mixed leagues when he faces the Astros, the odds on favorite to post the league’s worst record in 2013.

A’s acquire Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez from Astros for Chris Carter, Brad Peacock and Max Stassi

Lowrie launched a single-season high 16 homers in just 340 at-bats last year, but the move to the Coliseum in Oakland puts a real damper on his power upside. The good news is that since he can play multiple infield positions, playing time shouldn’t be an issue. But while I expect Lowrie to receive close to everyday at-bats and appreciate the multi-positional eligibility, I just don’t see much mixed league value here. He doesn’t hit for average and doesn’t run, so if his HR total falls to the 10-12 range, why bother? As for Carter, keep him in mind as a cheap source of power in AL-only leagues. 16 homers in 218 at-bats for Oakland last season is pretty impressive, and he’s likely to get first crack at earning the Astros’ regular DH job. And don’t forget that he’ll now get to play his home games at a much more hitter-friendly ballpark.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Tampa Bay Rays

Luke Scott re-signs with Rays for one yr/$2.75 million

Scott missed a significant amount of time due to injury last year but still managed to smack 14 home runs in a mere 314 at-bats. I’m very high on him as an under-the-radar power contributor, especially in AL-only leagues. This is a guy who averaged 25 home runs per season from 2008 through 2010. A fully healthy year could easily result in 20-plus homers for Scott, who is slated to serve as Tampa Bay’s DH versus right-handed pitching.

Kelly Johnson signs with Rays for one yr/$2.45 million

Honestly, I’ve lost all of my patience with Johnson, but if you want to roll the dice on him in the last couple of rounds of your deep mixed league draft due to his 20/15 potential, go right ahead. At least it seems like he’ll be the Rays’ starting second baseman on Opening Day with Ben Zobrist moving to the outfield. Who knows, maybe he will surprise us.

Matt Capps (CLE), Jon Rauch (MIA), Kyle Farnsworth (TB), Brandon Lyon (NYM)

I’ll lump together these four middle reliever signings, the most intriguing one being Lyon. As if Frank Francisco’s ninth inning job security wasn’t dicey enough with Bobby Parnell waiting in the wings, Lyon now provides the Mets with another closing option. Yeah, he has a terrible track record as a closer, but he is coming off a strong bounce back campaign. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he sees some save chances at some point during the season. Whether or not he succeeds is anyone’s guess. Lyon should probably be avoided on draft day in all but the deepest of NL-only leagues, but the Mets’ closer situation will be worth monitoring throughout the year.