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Captain's Log


Building Profit into Your Auction Roster PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 00:00

Fantasy baseball auctions are FUN for lots of reasons. First, if there is a player you covet, you know you can have him on your team.

That isn’t great strategy, at least for the top players, BUT you want to have a team YOU want to root for, so especially in leagues where you want to have more fun, it is possible if you have great self-control. I am sure you have read about several different auction strategies, and I am not trying to deflate any of them, but no matter how you construct your roster, you should be looking to build profit into your selections.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have Mike Trout on your team, but if you pay $50 for him and he earns our currently projected $45 (12-team mixed), then you have your first loss. If you can sit on your bidding hand or mouse until later in the auction, you can still add a lot of profit to go with Trout.

Personally, I try and enter every auction not married to any specific player and looking for “value” when I can find it. Normally, I won’t spend more than low thirties for my best hitter or pitcher, trying to spread dollars across most positions in the beginning and middle of the auction, knowing that there will be great bargains, especially on outfielders and pitchers in the end game.

Let’s see how that worked in a mock auction draft that was put together by Rotoworld’s Seth Trachtman a few weeks ago that I participated in along with Lawr and Pasko. As you know, I am not a big fan of mock drafts, but with a very good cast of writers and analysts, I thought this would have some value, especially when I might face some of them in later LABR or NFBC auctions this spring. Because of some problems with the first site where we gathered, there were some minor problems with early prices but nothing that would seriously disrupt the validity of the total pricing.

I bought just a few players in the early stage of this auction – Carlos Gomez for $33, Jonathan Lucroy for $20 (pre hamstring issues), Ian Kinsler $21,  Todd Frazier $13, Wilin Rosario $12, Mike Morse $5 and just one pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka for $9.  So going into the middle of the auction, I had the most money left to spend with $147 and needed 16 more players. And I waited, looking to find players that would contribute to my team that were undervalued by my competitors or that they no longer had money to buy. That started slowly and then I was on a buying spree until I was back in the middle of the available funds and then I waited for the end game and specific players to fill the positions I had left, making lists for each.

Here is the final roster with prices paid and projected earnings.

Pos   Player Cost Proj
C1 - Jonathan Lucroy 20 29
C2 - Wilin Rosario 12 21
1B - Adam LaRoche 8 16
3B - Todd Frazier 13 17
CI - Evan Longoria 13 19
2B - Ian Kinsler 21 21
SS - Jimmy Rollins 9 13
MI - Daniel Murphy 8 17
OF1 - Carlos Gomez 33 35
OF2 - Mike Morse 5 7
OF3 - Matt Holliday 15 19
OF4 - Danny Santana 6 14
OF5 - Steven Souza 7 14
UT - Adam Lind 1 11
TOTAL 171 253

Some nice position flexibility there with Morse also 1B eligible and Santana SS eligible, and Lind 1B eligible.

SP - Masahiro Tanaka 9 11
SP - Julio Teheran 17 17
SP - Sonny Gray 13 17
SP - Tyson Ross 8 14
SP - Gio Gonzalez 9 8
SP - Jered Weaver 6 11
SP - Mike Fiers 3 5
CL - Kenley Jansen 15 16
CL - Dellin Betances 9 14
TOTAL 89 113

With two high strikeout closers in Jansen and Betances, it boosts the staff with some starters projected for lower strikeout totals (although none of those are really low).

So how did this do on my flexible 170/90 budget?

Despite moving some funds back and forth in the end game, I finished at 171/89.

The nine pitchers bought for $89 have projected earnings of $113.

The hitters bought for $171 have projected earnings of $253 (although Lucroy may take a small hit depending on how many games he misses and we still don’t know what Colorado is going to do with three catchers, so I expect Rosario to earn less (both if he stays a Rockie or if he is traded).

But as you see, while none of those are ridiculously low buys (Lind is always devalued and if brought up late, LaRoche is underpriced), most every player looks like he will add some profit and paying $260 for $364 of stats will win you a lot of leagues. In case you are wondering about those stats, here are the projected category totals:

HR - 262
RBI - 1009
Runs - 1089
SB - 177
BA - 0.272
Wins - 94
SV - 78
ERA - 3.236
WHIP - 1.151
K - 1386

And that is with an early (low) projection on Fiers for innings pitched. But all the categories are in line with the top 20 percent totals from the 2014 NFBC Rotowire Online Championship (12 team).

And auctions always have different ebbs and flows but are still always FUN.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 February 2015 15:26
 
Adding Auction Format Heightens Early NFBC Leagues PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 00:00

The National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) has had quite a bit of success in running Draft Champion (DC) leagues in January and February as fantasy baseball players get ready for the high stakes leagues that will draft in March.

In addition to gaining a much better knowledge of the current player pool, one of the main attractions of these leagues has been the low maintenance level as the DC leagues draft 50-man rosters to use the whole season and there are no free agents added during the year, which saves a lot of time for those who are doing that weekly for their main event, online championship, and/or specialty higher stakes league every Sunday.

The DC leagues are also available at a variety of price ranges – starting at $150 and going up to $250, $400, $500, and even some $1,000 leagues. In most of these leagues, there is both a league payout for the top three teams but a very large combined prize pool with some of the entry fee for all DC leagues furnishing the $25,000 prize to the overall champion and paying out the top 22 finishers.

So while these 50-round drafts have been very popular and still growing – there were 164 DC leagues last year and NFBC is ahead of that pace now with 84 full leagues - there are two things creating the demand for the new auction format. First, of course, you actually have more control in your initial 23-man roster – you could pay for both Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw if you were so inclined or any other combination you wanted to have as your team’s cornerstones. The second thing is that many of the NFBC drafters have not done auction drafts, only the serpentine drafts that the NFBC’s main event or online championship use. There were no auction leagues in the DC format last year and there have already been ten full ones with more to be added, so they may finish with 16-20 and should do far more next year when their online auction platform is ready. So this is a great opportunity for many to learn the auction format. For some, it may be ground work for their plans for the NFBC Auction Championship event that will be held in Las Vegas and New York in late March. This separate event with a $1,200 entry will pay $10,500 in league prizes but all teams in the 12-plus leagues will also compete for a $20,000 overall prize.

I participated in one of the $125 auction leagues on January 23 and thought I would share my roster from the $260 auction as well as my reserve selections drafted online later. In trying to keep this description at an easily readable length, I will give my starting 23-man roster with the auction prices (in parenthesis), and then a few notes about my reserves and then the final roster by position.

At the auction, I bought these starters:

C – Evan Gattis (20) and Devin Mesoraco (17)

CI – Eric Hosmer (10), Josh Donaldson (31), and Adrian Beltre (24)

MI – Ian Kinsler (21), Danny Santana (14), and Ben Zobrist (12)

OF – Kole Calhoun (16), Adam Eaton (5), Dalton Pompey (4), Coco Crisp (2), and Rajai Davis (2)

UT – Adam Lind (1)

SP – Max Scherzer (32), Doug Fister (10), Lance Lynn (8), Jose Quintana (5), Henderson Alvarez (2), Taijuan Walker (2), and Jarred Cosart (1)

RP – Mark Melancon (19) and LaTroy Hawkins (2)

This turned out to be a 179/81 hitting vs pitching split. The offense is very strong – numbers that would have been in the top ten of all teams in the 2014 event. The pitching has in my opinion a strong base but the projected numbers for just those nine would have been good enough to win a single league but would need to be very strongly supplemented for the team to have good enough category totals to contend for the overall championship.

Going into the reserve rounds, I wanted to get a third starting catcher and to supplement my pitching with several starters and hopefully another closer and/or some relief pitchers who might accumulate some saves. In the first round, I took Francisco Cervelli (in my opinion, you must have at least a couple extra catchers to survive a long season where backstops get nicked up – I usually prefer four if not five). With the next several picks, I worked on pitching, adding Joe Kelly and Vance Worley followed by Houston’s Chad Qualls, who figures to break camp as the closer (I will worry later about how long he holds the role). My fifth and sixth picks were Alexi Amarista, who not only qualifies at 2B, 3B and SS but also looks to be the Padres starting shortstop, and outfielder Matt Joyce, now of the Angels, who should get a large number of the DH at-bats in Anaheim at least against right-handed pitching.

Okay, here is the full roster by position with players who have multiple eligibility shown at the position they were drafted to play (but also in parenthesis at the other positions where I might deploy them). I thought this would give a better view of the overall depth of the hitters since I drafted more pitchers.

C – Gattis, Mesoraco, Cervelli, and Caleb Joseph

1B – Hosmer, (Lind), A. Rosales, (M. Canha)

3B – Donaldson, Beltre, (Amarista)

2B – Kinsler, Zobrist, (Amarista), Carlos Sanchez

SS – D. Santana, Amarista, (Zobrist)

OF – Calhoun, Eaton, Pompey, Crisp, R. Davis, Joyce, Jake Smolinski, Ryan Rua, Mark Canha, and Andrew Lambo

SP – Scherzer, Fister, Lynn, Quintana, Alvarez, Walker, Cosart, Kelly, Worley, Miguel Gonzalez,

Mike Foltynewicz, Tyler Glasnow, Martin Perez, Eddie Butler, C.J. Edwards, and Robbie Ray

RP – Melancon, Hawkins, Qualls, Tony Watson, Bruce Rondon, Darren O’Day, Dan Otero, Eric O’Flaherty, Shea Simmons, and Dale Thayer

That is probably more relief pitchers than Todd would like, but the number of injuries was devastating last year in MLB and more so in this format. In addition, all have some shot at adding at least a few saves. Simmons is a particularly nice sleeper for this in case the Braves do in fact trade Craig Kimbrel during the year as part of their rebuilding process.

As usual, I'm glad to answer questions here or in the Forums (where several other teams are listed).

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 February 2015 02:06
 
First Six Draft Rounds & Some Auction Prices PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Thursday, 05 February 2015 00:00

I am going to show you the first six rounds of a recently completed NFBC DC draft and then put together the teams to see how they look.

15-team mixed, 5x5 with standard 23 starters, if you are not familiar with NFBC leagues.

1.01    Mike Trout, OF
1.02    Giancarlo Stanton, OF
1.03    Andrew McCutchen, OF
1.04    Clayton Kershaw, SP
1.05    Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
1.06    Miguel Cabrera, 1B
1.07    Jose Bautista, OF
1.08    Carlos Gomez, OF
1.09    Jose Abreu, 1B
1.10    Felix Hernandez, SP
1.11    Anthony Rizzo, 1B
1.12    Adam Jones, OF
1.13    Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
1.14    Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B
1.15    Max Scherzer, SP
2.01    Jacoby Ellsbury, OF
2.02    Jose Altuve, 2B
2.03    Troy Tulowitzki, SS
2.04    Robinson Cano, 2B
2.05    Michael Brantley, OF
2.06    Chris Sale, SP
2.07    Ian Desmond, SS
2.08    Hanley Ramirez, SS
2.09    Josh Donaldson, 3B
2.10    Madison Bumgarner, SP
2.11    Starling Marte, OF
2.12    Stephen Strasburg, SP
2.13    Buster Posey, C
2.14    Ryan Braun, OF
2.15    Adrian Beltre, 3B
3.01    Bryce Harper, OF
3.02    Yasiel Puig, OF
3.03    Corey Kluber, SP
3.04    Corey Dickerson, OF
3.05    Aroldis Chapman, RP
3.06    David Price, SP
3.07    Jose Reyes, SS
3.08    Yu Darvish, SP
3.09    Billy Hamilton, OF
3.10    Albert Pujols, 1B
3.11    Justin Upton, OF
3.12    Dee Gordon, 2B
3.13    Victor Martinez, 1B
3.14    George Springer, OF
3.15    Prince Fielder, 1B
4.01    Kyle Seager, 3B
4.02    Freddie Freeman, 1B
4.03    Carlos Gonzalez, OF
4.04    Adam Wainwright, SP
4.05    Todd Frazier, 1B/3B
4.06    Craig Kimbrel, RP
4.07    Zack Greinke, SP
4.08    Kenley Jansen, RP
4.09    Brian Dozier, 2B
4.10    Greg Holland, RP
4.11    Jordan Zimmermann, SP
4.12    Nolan Arenado, 3B
4.13    Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
4.14    Matt Kemp, OF
4.15    Johnny Cueto, SP
5.01    Cole Hamels, SP
5.02    Jason Kipnis, 2B
5.03    Ian Kinsler, 2B
5.04    Jonathan Lucroy, C
5.05    Yoenis Cespedes, OF
5.06    Hunter Pence, OF
5.07    David Robertson, RP
5.08    Chris Davis, 1B/3B
5.09    Dellin Betances, RP
5.10    Evan Longoria, 3B
5.11    Jon Lester, SP
5.12    Devin Mesoraco, C
5.13    Carlos Santana, 1B
5.14    Julio Teheran, SP
5.15    Joey Votto, 1B
6.01    Mark Melancon, RP
6.02    Nelson Cruz, OF
6.03    Matt Harvey, SP
6.04    Charlie Blackmon, OF
6.05    Gerrit Cole, SP
6.06    Jason Heyward, OF
6.07    Dustin Pedroia, 2B
6.08    Alexei Ramirez, SS
6.09    Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF
6.10    Trevor Rosenthal, RP
6.11    Cody Allen, RP
6.12    Christian Yelich, OF
6.13    Josh Harrison, 3B/OF
6.14    Starlin Castro, SS
6.15    Sonny Gray, SP

Well, as I remarked on the NFBC message board, this was a better group of drafters, as you can see with the picks, especially those in the first round and several in the subsequent rounds. But when we talk about picks, especially if all you saw was the above, we miss the context of how an individual drafter is constructing his team. So I thought it would be worthwhile to see how the teams look after six rounds.

Team 1 - Mike Trout, Adrian Beltre, Bryce Harper, Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels, Sonny Gray
Team 2 - Giancarlo Stanton, Ryan Braun, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Jason Kipnis, Starlin Castro
Team 3 - Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, Corey Kluber, Adrian Gonzalez, Ian Kinsler, Josh Harrison
Team 4 - Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Corey Dickerson, Nolan Arenado, Jonathan Lucroy, Christian Yelich
Team 5 - Paul Goldschmidt, Starling Marte, Aroldis Chapman, Jordan Zimmermann, Yoenis Cespedes, Cody Allen
Team 6 - Miguel Cabrera, Madison Bumgarner, David Price, Greg Holland, Hunter Pence, Trevor Rosenthal
Team 7 - Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Jose Reyes, Brian Dozier, David Robertson, Mark Trumbo
Team 8 - Carlos Gomez, Hanley Ramirez, Yu Darvish, Kenley Jansen, Chris Davis, Alexei Ramirez
Team 9 - Jose Abreu, Ian Desmond, Billy Hamilton, Zack Greinke, Dellin Betances, Dustin Pedroia
Team 10 - Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale, Albert Pujols, Craig Kimbrel, Evan Longoria, Jason Heyward
Team 11 - Anthony Rizzo, Michael Brantley, Justin Upton, Todd Frazier, Jon Lester, Gerrit Cole
Team 12 - Adam Jones, Robinson Cano, Dee Gordon, Adam Wainwright, Devin Mesoraco, Charlie Blackmon
Team 13 - Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki, Victor Martinez, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Santana, Matt Harvey
Team 14 - Anthony Rendon, Jose Altuve, George Springer, Freddie Freeman, Julio Teheran, Nelson Cruz
Team 15 - Max Scherzer, Jacoby Ellsbury, Prince Fielder, Kyle Seager, Joey Votto, Mark Melancon

Comments?

One additional note I did an NFBC auction two weeks ago and have seen some other results and the first comment that I would make is that I still see some players - either on reputation or perceived potential that are overvalued. Here are a few:

Bryce Harper - projected earnings $16, going in the mid $20s
Yasiel Puig - projected earnings $21, going high $20s and low $30s
Giancarlo Stanton - projected earnings $35, going in the low/mid $40s
Joey Votto - projected earnings $15, going in the low $20s
Anthony Rendon - projected earnings $28, going in the high $30s ($40 in my draft)
Nolan Arenado - projected earnings $14, going in the high $20s
Stephen Strasburg - projected earnings $25, going in the low $30s

While money always flows more at the beginning of the draft, some of those seem excessive to me.

What do you think?

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 February 2015 09:07
 
Which Draft Spot Would You Choose? PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 04 February 2015 00:00

In March, I will once again draft online in the Tout Wars mixed draft league. That is the league that I lost in 2014 on the last day of the season, so I really want to win it this year.

The league has a unique method of selecting draft spots. The 2014 order of finish is used with each player getting their first available choice of draft positions. So assuming the 2014 League Champion Tim McLeod (RotoRob.com) took the first pick and thus likely Mike Trout, should I pick second or move down, and if the latter, to which spot?

As a reminder, this is a 15-team mixed 5x5 league with On-Base Percentage (OBP) instead of batting average. So what draft spot would you take?

As we have seen in NFBC 15-team mixed drafts, the usual choices early in the draft would be Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Paul Goldschmidt, and for some drafters, Clayton Kershaw. As I have stated before, while I do agree that Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game today and is as much a lock as any of the hitters to provide early first round value, I would prefer to take a top flight hitter with at least my first pick in the draft.

What I first wanted to check was how the change in the average category would affect projected value. Stanton gets a huge boost with his projected 385 OBP to jump in total value to the same $41 value as Goldschmidt, both just one dollar behind McCutchen. Stanton’s projected BA rank is 58th while he is 12th in OBP, so you can see the reason for the jump.

This worked well for me as I would rather be lower than second with negligible difference in value on the first round but an earlier pick in the second round. I settled on 1.03 versus 1.04, so on draft day, not only would I have a choice of either 1B or OF or between the two outfielders, but I would be protected just in case one of the three came limping out of spring training.

My choosing to pick third gave Brent Hershey of BHQ a chance to move up to second in the draft, so we will see what he does on March 10. There was also one interesting note as there were probably a few Tout drafters that would prefer to be at the end of the draft rather than in the middle, none more so than Anthony Perri (Fantistics Insider Baseball), who had the seventh choice of position and chose to draft in the last spot in the first round.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 February 2015 01:08
 
Who is a First Round Draft Pick in 2015? PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Monday, 26 January 2015 00:00

In last week’s column on draft prep for the NFBC, I gave you the first round from a 2014 main event league and asked you who you thought was still on the list this year in drafts so far.

That would mean cutting some of those and thinking about who would replace them in this year’s drafts. So let’s take a look at what those players earned last year and who is still a first round pick this season.

1.01  Mike Trout – earned $41 in 2014 and clear number one pick

1.02  Miguel Cabrera – earned $33 last year despite minor injuries; still a first round pick

1.03  Paul Goldschmidt – earned $20 but missed several months; still a first round pick

1.04  Andrew McCutchen – earned $34; a top five first round pick

1.05  Ryan Braun – earned $18

1.06  Chris Davis – earned just $4 in 2014

1.07  Carlos Gonzalez – earned negative $3 in injury filled season

1.08  Hanley Ramirez – earned $16

1.09  Adam Jones – earned $28; a late first or early second round pick

1.10  Clayton Kershaw – earned $40 despite missing a few starts; first round pick for some

1.11  Bryce Harper – earned one whole dollar

1.12  Carlos Gomez – earned $34; a clear first round pick

1.13  Robinson Cano – earned $25

1.14  Prince Fielder – earned negative $12 due to injury

1.15  Joey Votto – earned negative $7 due to injury

The top earners in the 2014 season were:

  1. Jose Altuve $46
  2. Mike Trout $41
  3. Clayton Kershaw $40
  4. Michael Brantley $40
  5. Felix Hernandez $38
  6. Johnny Cueto $38
  7. Victor Martinez $37
  8. Giancarlo Stanton $35
  9. Jose Abreu $35
  10. Carlos Gomez $34
  11. Dee Gordon $34
  12. Andrew McCutchen $34
  13. Miguel Cabrera $33
  14. Jose Bautista $33
  15. Anthony Rendon & Nelson Cruz $31

Here is what the current ADP is for NFBC (15-team, mixed, 5x5) drafts:

1.01    Mike Trout

1.02    Giancarlo Stanton

1.03    Clayton Kershaw

1.04    Andrew McCutchen

1.05    Miguel Cabrera

1.06    Paul Goldschmidt

1.07    Jose Abreu

1.08    Carlos Gomez

1.09    Felix Hernandez

1.10    Jose Altuve

1.11    Jose Bautista

1.12    Anthony Rendon

1.13    Edwin Encarnacion

1.14    Adam Jones

1.15    Troy Tulowitzki

Just outside the first round is Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo, and I am pretty sure he will be a first rounder as we get closer to the season. Kershaw is a personal choice first rounder – that is he certainly will earn the draft spot but some, especially this writer, wouldn’t trade the hitting stats of a first round pick for a pitcher – even one as great as Kershaw. But Felix Hernandez is certainly a second round pick at best, so I think Rizzo replaces him. And really outside the haze in Colorado, Tulowitzki shouldn’t be drafted in the first round either. I can’t argue against any of the others, although I think Jose Altuve will not only have trouble duplicating last year's numbers but the power deficit should also put him in the second round.

Here is what the second round currently looks like, again on averaging picks from this year’s drafts so far:

2.01 Anthony Rizzo

2.02 Michael Brantley

2.03 Buster Posey

2.04 Ian Desmond

2.05 Chris Sale

2.06 Jacoby Ellsbury

2.07 Robinson Cano

2.08 Madison Bumgarner

2.09 Hanley Ramirez

2.10 Josh Donaldson

2.11 Ryan Braun

2.12 Stephen Strasburg

2.13 Corey Kluber

2.14 David Price

2.15 Justin Upton

The five pitchers in the second round will likely fade as the drafting season continues but especially the late second rounders are understandable if they truly desire an “Ace” starter and pick a strong hitter early in the third and just didn’t want to lose their choice to one of the drafters behind them. I would also expect Max Scherzer to be drafted higher than all of those five starting pitchers with the possible exception of Sale.

Questions?

Comments?

Last Updated on Monday, 26 January 2015 08:22
 
Planning for NFBC Main Event Drafts PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 00:00

I had mentioned last week that I would look at ADP this week but thought later that was putting the cart in front of the horse – that before we looked at draft positions and thus roster construction, we should spell out what you are trying to draft.

The generally accepted “target” level would be to try and finish in the top 20 percent of each category. Last year, there were 420 teams in the main event, so 84th in each category would get you 337 points or a total of 3370. That total would have finished in 11th place (10th was just a point more). You will obviously do better in many of the categories, so hopefully you have some upside, but it does validate our top 20 percentile aim.

Here is a comparison of those targets followed by the top mark in each category.

Cat 20% 1st
AVG 0.2674 0.2819
Runs 989 1115
HR 237 292
RBI 956 1121
SB 155 216
ERA 3.321 2.913
Wins 99 139
WHIP 1.191 1.067
K 1416 1588
Saves 90 163

The Main Event winners last year were Mastersball columnist Greg Morgan and his father Dale. Their total points were a very healthy 3643, more than 100 points better than the 2nd and 3rd place teams who had nice 3500+ totals.

But let’s look at the Morgans’ “Sons of Thunder” team and see how they did by category.

AVG 0.2776 416
Runs 1107 419
HR 247 376.5
RBI 1033 411
SB 186 410.5
ERA 3.278 358
Wins 106 383
WHIP 1.174 368
K 1503 401
Saves 50 100

They were so strong, especially in the offensive categories and with strikeouts, that they easily made up for the low saves total.

The reason you need to have the category targets in mind is so that you need to have a more balanced team because there is no trading and thus you can’t turn a surplus in stolen bases into points in any other category during the season. So you need to draft enough to try and finish strong in each category and then let your good and bad categories cancel out but still reach a competitive total score.

I will present current ADP next week but first, take this quiz – here is the first round from a 2014 league – Look at it and write down which players won’t be in the first round this spring and some other players you do expect to find in the first round.

1.01  Mike Trout

1.02  Miguel Cabrera

1.03  Paul Goldschmidt

1.04  Andrew McCutchen

1.05  Ryan Braun

1.06  Chris Davis

1.07  Carlos Gonzalez

1.08  Hanley Ramirez

1.09  Adam Jones

1.10  Clayton Kershaw

1.11  Bryce Harper

1.12  Carlos Gomez

1.13  Robinson Cano

1.14  Prince Fielder

1.15  Joey Votto

Teams could have won with several of those picks and clearly had an uphill battle with others. The winner in this league avoided Braun, Davis or Gonzalez because he picked tenth and Kershaw was still there for him.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 11:40
 
Why You Should Join Some Early Baseball Leagues PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 14 January 2015 00:00

First, let’s be clear that I am not talking about mock drafting. I generally find those a true waste of time. Unless you have a very dedicated group of drafters who will be quick and attentive and you are using the exact format you are preparing for – and you rarely get that in free leagues or mocks.

But there are several places you can find $100 leagues that are drafting in January and February. The National Fantasy Baseball Championship in fact has two different ones and each has different advantages and disadvantages. So let’s look at both of those draft formats.

The Draft Champions format is very popular for several reasons. First, these $150 leagues WILL make you much more knowledgeable about the mixed league player pool. And knowing the “inventory” of players is a key ingredient to success in mixed league formats – especially those with deeper rosters. These drafts are either slow online exercises that will take several weeks (hopefully you will do two rounds or better each day but many get bogged down) or “express” versions in which you will draft all 50 rounds in around five hours. The 50-man rosters (as opposed to 30 roster spots in the regular NFBC leagues) is because there are no free agent pickups throughout the season. The 50 players you draft early in the year are your only players for the six-month season. One of the benefits of these leagues is that aside from setting your lineup on Mondays and Fridays, there is no in-season work – no FAAB to grind through each week (which is one of the downsides of doing too many leagues).

The other option is to wait for the NFBC satellite leagues to start up in late-February. Here you will draft 30 players for a $125 team in a regular 15-team mixed league. You will then have FAAB to add and drop players each week during the season. In essence, this is a cheaper version of the main event leagues and much better preparation for those leagues. You will also get a better return on placing in your league as it only pays three places with the prize pool while in the DC format the league payouts are smaller because a portion of the money goes towards the overall winners (which is very difficult to do). Another advantage is that these drafts are much quicker – done in less than three hours.

Whichever you choose, these early leagues will really get you ready for whichever leagues you will be drafting in March or April. And there are no bots or players that will disappear after a few rounds.

Next week we will look at some early Average Draft Position data from these leagues.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 January 2015 12:18
 
Fantasy Football Playoffs Are Here PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 03 December 2014 00:00

It seems like just yesterday we were at our fantasy football draft tables or at our computer drafting online. And in the big picture that is true. If you drafted in early September, it was just three months ago.

But this week is the first week of the playoffs for many leagues or in some of the national contests the first week of the “dash for cash” where teams start with their regular season weekly average and add on their scores in weeks 14/15/16 to get the overall champions.

In mid-September, I wrote about a team that Greg Morgan and I drafted to try and “grab the FF brass ring” – one of 7,000 teams drafted in the Football Guys Players Championship, so I thought as we enter those critical final weeks, we should take a look at how that team fared.

Here is the team we drafted online on September 3:

QB – D. Brees

RB – D. Murray, M. Jones-Drew, D. McFadden, D. McCluster, B. Cunningham, I. Crowell, J. Grimes, D. Archer

WR – A. Johnson, M. Floyd, M. Colston, E. Decker, A. Boldin, A. Dobson, J. Jones

TE – J. Graham, T. Wright

K – J. Tucker

DST – Houston Texans

Eleven of those players remain on our championship bracket roster which now looks like:

QB – Brees and Bridgewater

RB – Murray, Crowell, D. Robinson, L. Murray, B. Oliver

WR – Johnson, Floyd, Boldin, Decker, Ch. Johnson, M. Bryant

TE – Graham and Wright

K – Tucker and Sturgis

DST – Texans, Cardinals, Rams

We went 10-1 in the 11-week regular season in this contest to get the number one seed for the league playoffs and get into the championship bracket. We had added running backs throughout the season and were early on Oliver (when he was playing), Murray, who had his career game on our bench, and fortunately Bryant as he became the number two receiver for the Steelers. At the end of the season, we needed a sub for the Texans and Tucker and the Cardinals were excellent for that game and Sturgis was adequate for his one week. Going into the playoffs, we needed to add a quarterback – yeah I know we are playing Brees every week but what would happen if we had two really good scores in Weeks 14 and 15 and then Brees was sitting in the last game? So in the last week of free agent pickups (Week 13 for the four teams in the league playoffs), we wanted to get a backup passer. I also wanted to get the Rams defense and Greg wanted to get Charles Johnson, hoping his role would continue to grow in Minnesota. We were fortunate to have $117 of FAAB remaining and our LCG opponent had $105 so we bid $106 on the Rams D, $10 on Johnson and Stedmon Bailey, and then one dollar each on Bridgewater, Mettenberger and McCown. Giant success – our opponent bid a lot (but not max) on STL and we got all three of our first choices. That was huge because in the Week 13 game for first place in the league, while Jimmy Graham got zero targets, the Rams scored a monstrous 34 points as we won by about eight points.

Now on to the three-week lottery for the BIG money – yes we are 30 points back of the leader but three really good weeks can propel any team to the winner’s circle and $300K.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 December 2014 00:56
 
Why Did You Bid on Him? PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 00:00

Another look at last Friday’s 2015 XFL auction draft but through a different prism.

If you took a lot of English classes or were involved with speech or debate programs or even some writing courses, you no doubt learned the different meanings of the same sentence by emphasizing one word over the others – the classic years ago was “How many can we squeeze in here?”

Let’s look at the XFL draft noting using my title:

WHY did you bid on him? – what was the reason

Why DID you bid on him? – similar but slightly different question

Why did YOU bid on him? – personal question, perhaps why did YOU need/want him?

Why did you BID on him? – as opposed to draft or trade to acquire

Why did you bid on HIM? – in particular why THAT player?

Pre-auction background for my team heading into this 15-team mixed keeper league that uses OBP instead of AVG: I kept 11 players and four minor leaguers (max 15 keepers). The hitters were:

C – Evan Gattis, $7 (also qualifies at OF)

1B – Mark Trumbo, $13 (also qualifies at OF)

3B – Trevor Plouffe, $6

MI – Dee Gordon $6 (qualifies at both 2B and SS)

OF – Starling Marte, $10

So yes, I needed to buy a lot of hitters and some very good ones to supplement a cheap base which probably has 100-plus stolen bases.

I froze the following pitchers – Doug Fister ($12), Mike Fiers ($10), Wily Peralta ($6), Jesse Hahn ($4), Aaron Sanchez ($4) and Neftali Feliz ($10). My plan for three pitchers was a Tier 1 starting pitcher and a second closer, and the last pitcher could be a closer, high strikeout reliever who might inherit a job or a starter as long as it was for a very low cost. I entered the auction with 172 available dollars, not the most, but I was one of three teams that had more than $170.

So, Why Did I Bid on Him? [players, position, team, amount paid, and rationale]

Rusney Castillo, OF, Boston, $21 – Castillo is still a somewhat unknown commodity since we saw only a month of minor league numbers and four games in the majors. I think others in this “expert” (I prefer the term “industry”) league may have been wanted their first look at him last week but he had injured his hand and was no longer on his AFL team. I think Castillo, like fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig, has a very high ceiling of both power and speed although I expect his first year in Boston will approach a 20 HR/20 SB season. He does not have as much power as Puig and may not be as fast but appears to be more athletic. Don Drooker and I had a pre-conference side bet on Castillo’s auction price in this league, Don thinking it would be $27 while I thought closer to $21 so I won a diet coke in addition to the player.

Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis, $19 – I wanted one of the two top catchers available (Molina and Russell Martin being far more valuable than the next tier available in Wilin Rosario and Dioner Navarro) and thought this was a very reasonable price for Molina.

Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas, $44 – yes I know it is a lot but I thought the top power hitters available (Beltre as well as Miguel Cabrera and Troy Tulowitzki) could all go for close to fifty dollars (Cabrera went for $60 and Tulo for $45) and Beltre again put up very good numbers at the hot corner in 2014 even though the team’s struggles depressed his R/RBI numbers (387 OBA, 19 HR, 79 R, 77 RBI).

Jordan Zimmermann, SP, Washington, $25 – JZimm, Cole Hamels, and Zack Greinke all went for relatively the same amount – 25/26/27 respectively, and I was happy to land Zimmermann – and yes have my second Nationals starter.

Ian Kinsler, 2B, Detroit, $28 – the market price for the best middle infielder below Tulowitzki and Robinson Cano in my opinion – and I still had the money left despite the previous $109 spent.

Russell Martin, C, FA, $18 – yes I already had two good catchers but no matter where Martin lands next season if the Pirates can’t resign him I expect him to have a great on base percentage and good contributions in all the other categories. I felt both Molina and Martin should have gone for $20-25 and I would rather move Gattis to an outfield slot and have the luxury of a good third backstop (they do get hurt back there) than have Martin in a competitor’s lineup at $17. I doubt I would have bid again but really don’t know.

I now had $17 for my last six players. But as I remarked to Gene McCaffrey who was seated to my immediate right, most of us were now in trouble because three players still had north of seventy dollars, more than the other twelve combined. So we would have to hope they found players they liked quickly, whether they fought over a Jayson Werth to a $37 price or just filled a roster spot for a few dollars – if we really wanted a player it was hard to bring them up just to feed the big dog$.

I likely pushed nominating another catcher since several teams still needed one or two a little too far because I got crickets after nominating Baltimore’s likely opening day catcher Caleb Joseph for $1. Personally I don’t think Matt Wieters catches a lot next season coming off the injury with the Orioles who are likely to lose Nelson Cruz to free agency and having seen Joseph’s nine home runs in just more than two hundred at bats with very good play behind the plate. Still as my utility player I can easily replace him in our March supplemental draft and have another catcher in reserve (although yes, his OBP is well below my other options).

It was awhile before there was another player I wanted to bid a significant part of my sixteen dollars on, but as the prices got lower Andrelton Simmons was I thought the best available middle infielder and I landed him for $7. From there on I rostered the following end game players:

Michael Morse, OF, San Francisco, $1 – very surprised to hear crickets on Morse as he had the most power of end game hitters. But I was very happy to land him for that dollar regardless of where he plays.

Adam Lind, 1B, Toronto on draft night, since traded to Milwaukee, $1 – Obviously I thought Lind might still be in Toronto and thus fighting for at bats at 1B and DH. In Milwaukee he will lose the DH opportunities (aside from inter league games in AL parks) but should have at least all the LH at bats at first base and frankly I am fine if they platoon him as he doesn’t do well against LHP. Still a 380 OBP plays just fine and the Brewers’ yard will see plenty of his fly balls clear the fences and send Bernie Brewer down the chute.

Now down to seven dollars for my final two players I was forced to nominate my cheap save play, so

LaTroy Hawkins, CL, Colorado, $2 – Knowing the Rockies had picked up his $2.5 million option; I nominated Hawkins at two and was delighted to get crickets. He is not a closer who will manicure ratios or strike out a lot of batters but I only paid two dollars and will be very happy with another twenty three saves for that investment.

Now with five dollars left for my last pitcher I was happy to roster:

Jarred Cosart, SP, Miami, $1 – I doubt my league mates would look only at Cosart’s 2014 ERA of 3.693 and WHIP of 1.364, but perhaps some of them are not in NL only leagues or weren’t looking hard for pitchers in September when Cosart was pitching in Miami instead of Houston. In his ten NL starts in August and September, Cosart had (rough) numbers of 2.42 ERA and 1.19 WHIP and six of his ten starts for the Marlins were PQS of 4 or 5 with none at 0 or 1. So YES I was very happy to land him for just a dollar which with another good season in the NL would make him a keeper for 2016 at $6.

Hopefully I answered all the different questions contained in my title. I will update this team after I add thirteen players in our serpentine supplemental draft next March when I will start with one pick in each of the first two rounds and three picks in the third round.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 November 2014 01:27
 
The Weather is Here, I Wish You Were Beautiful PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 00:00

My team in the Tout Wars Mixed draft league feels much like Jimmy Buffet’s lyric – the points are there for me to get but will I be able to do it?

Here are the current standings with less than two weeks left to play:

 

Team Name R HR RBI SB OBP W SV ERA WHIP SO TOTAL +/-
Tim McLeod 13 10.5 13 10 7 6.5 8 15 14 13 110 0.5
Perry Van Hook 14 14.5 15 15 15 9.5 5 9 11 1 109 2.5
Brent Hershey 12 13 14 1 14 6.5 3 13 13 10 99.5 -7.5
Ray Murphy 8 14.5 8 7.5 9 15 10 4 6 12 94 1.5
Adam Ronis 5 3 11 7.5 8 12 11 11 9 11 88.5 -3
Anthony Perri 6.5 12 9 14 5 9.5 15 7 3 3 84 -3.5
Tom Kessenich 11 5 3 13 10 13.5 3 6 7 9 80.5 0
Charlie Wiegert 10 2 7 12 6 11 6.5 5 4 14 77.5 3
Paul Greco 9 9 10 9 3 2.5 9 10 10 6 77.5 3
Scott Engel 1 1 1 4 2 13.5 12 12 15 15 76.5 -0.5
Grey Albright 3 7.5 5 2 1 6.5 14 14 12 4 69 7
Paul Sporer 2 4 2 5 13 6.5 13 8 5 8 66.5 0.5
Nicholas Minnix 15 6 6 11 12 2.5 3 2 1 7 65.5 1.5
Greg Ambrosius 6.5 10.5 12 3 11 4 1 1 2 5 56 -1.5
Eno Sarris 4 7.5 4 6 4 1 6.5 3 8 2 46 -3.5

I can easily pick up that last half point in home runs – I had 12 dingers last week while Ray Murphy had nine. The point in Runs is a little iffy – I have 950 and Nick Minnix has 959 but I did have eight more than he did last week. And sure I have to maintain in RBI and OBP but I have a huge lead in steals.

The categories where I will likely get the points to overtake my Canuck friend Tim McLeod are Wins and Saves. I am not sure why so many writers tell you not to chase wins – invariably that single category leads to more wins or losses than any other. Today I have 86 wins, tied for sixth for 9.5 points, so there is the easy half point and there is an 87 above me. I will send Jered Weaver, Doug Fister, Jarred Cosart (two starts), Danny Duffy and two new recruits for this week, Cory Rasmus (two starts) and Brad Peacock (was scheduled for two starts but now looks like just one assuming his back is okay) to try and get the Wins.

In the Saves category, I have 55 for five points but there are two teams with 56, each of whom had just one save last week while I had two, with Casey Janssen, Neftali Feliz and LaTroy Hawkins in my bullpen.

And I need nine more strikeouts to overtake Eno Sarris and add another point.

It would be great to bring this title home to Mastersball, so if my hurlers aren’t costing you money in your league, I could always use a few extra cheers.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 00:14
 
Potential AL/NL Free Agent Help PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 00:00

Heading into the last meaningful week for free agent bidding, there are two groups of players for fantasy players to add for the final full week of the season (maybe they will help in the short week 26 as well).

First, if you are contending, you need to plug any/every hole in your lineup. If not contending and in a keeper league, you should be looking to add players who might make your team out of spring training next year (assuming that is legal/affordable).

This is certainly not meant to be all-inclusive but there are a few names that stood out to me when looking at my AL and NL keeper leagues yesterday.

In the American League, don’t be afraid to look to the improving Houston Astros for some pitching help. Scott Feldman has been better lately - only seven earned runs in his last four starts and Saturday he was dominant against Oakland with a shutout through eight innings. Sadly, they put him out for the ninth inning and then Chad Qualls allowed both his runners to score – still a solid effort. Feldman has a home start against the Mariners next week, scheduled to be against Felix Hernandez (but that could change depending on where Seattle is in the wild card race).

His teammate Brad Peacock has given up only four earned runs in his last four starts and was very good in his five shutout innings on Saturday in Seattle. Next week, Peacock is slated for two home starts, first against Cleveland and then he will face Seattle again late in the week.

Speaking of Cleveland, watch the Indians box scores this week to see if former Angel J.B. Shuck, acquired in a trade for cash this week, is playing enough because if Shuck gets the at-bats, he can help in the offensive categories.

I am not as bullish on Chris Young, the former Diamondback and Met who the Yankees signed a few weeks ago after the Metropolitans dropped him. The Yankees have now called him up and if Brett Gardner continues to be unable to play, Young represents some HR and SB potential – yes, along with a terrible batting average.

Keeper league players should look at the Red Sox. Matt Barnes, Boston’s first round pick in the 2011 draft who for some strange reason was just recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket, is likely to pitch out of the bullpen. But Barnes is a good bet to be a starter in the future for the Bosox and if possible, I would grab him now and see what happens next spring. I said strange because the Pawtucket team is now in the International League Triple-A playoffs, so you would think he would be trying to help that club.

And just promoted again by Boston from Double-A Portland was Cuban import Rusney Castillo. Castillo, who has double-digit HR and SB potential, will play in the Triple-A playoffs this week and then likely head to Boston next week. In a league where he is keepable, I would spend whatever I had left to roster him.

If you are looking for some stolen bases and Mariners outfielder James Jones is not available, then Terrance Gore, now up with Kansas City, would be a good target.

I don’t see as many clear choices in the NL (at least in my league) but there are a few very interesting players in the NL East. The Mets recalled SP Rafael Montero and while previous results did not reflect his long term ability, Montero is scheduled to get a home start against the Rockies next Wednesday. Also joining the Metropolitans after the Las Vegas B51s finished their playoffs (losing to Reno in the Pacific Coast League championships) is Gonzalez Germen, who might get a save chance or two in the final weeks.

And I am sure you know that the Dodgers number one prospect outfielder Joc Pederson was recalled last week. Pederson, who had a 30-30 season at Triple-A Albuquerque, hasn’t played much but that could change next week if the Dodgers have clinched the NL West. Pederson is the best centerfielder in the Dodgers organization, including the big league team.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 September 2014 23:13
 
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