Archive for ‘2011 Fantasy Guide’

Thursday: 03.17.2011

2011 Closer Tiers

Here’s a look at my 2011 closer rankings.  I’m going to do my Middle Reliever article soon so the top 7th and 8th inning guys will get their coverage there.  I mentioned a few in here, but none of them are ranked unless they are in a committee to close.

Stat consideration in order of importance: Strikeouts, Saves, ERA, WHIP.  I would take a few less saves for a ridiculous strikeout rate.  Closers can impact ERA a decent bit (at the truly elite levels), but their WHIP impact is often insignificant (even at its worst, more on that later).

Tier 1

Joakim Soria – He has an incredibly rock solid skills profile over the past four seasons and yet he is still just 27 years old.  His inferior team hasn’t prevent him from two 40+ save seasons and in non-40 save season he struck out 69 in 53 innings (he wasn’t the full time closer in the first of his four seasons).

Carlos Marmol – Too many outlets greatly overrate the impact of a reliever’s WHIP (and ERA for that matter) on your team’s bottom line.  Take Marmol’s awful 1.46 WHIP in 2009 and add it to a standard team with 1250-1300 innings and it increases the WHIP by 0.01.  You can’t tell me that his otherworldly strikeout rates for a reliever don’t more than cancel out that negligible impact.

Heath Bell – Similar to Wilson, he’s on a team that can win, but when they do it’s close because they aren’t powered by offense.  This has led to 42 and 47 save seasons the last two years for Bell.  He’s also notching better than 10 strikeouts per nine with elite ERA and WHIP totals to boot.

Neftali Feliz – After a back-n-forth Spring Training and rampant speculation about whether or not he was going to start or close, he has finally been locked down as the closer again.  He was brilliant last year and I expect no different in 2011.  He has devastating starter’s stuff which plays pretty well in one-inning bursts.  Remember that with the tiers, I see everyone within a tier relatively similarly.  So if you wanted to take Feliz first in an AL-Only (or mixed for that matter), I support that.  I ranked them how I prefer them, but there’s little difference one to the next.

Mariano Rivera – He’s a freak, even at 41. The Ks dropped last year (6.8 K/9), but ratios remained absurd and I’m not betting against him.  K rate dropped to 6.6 in 2006 and then he reeled off three straight seasons above 9.0 at ages 37 through 39, so don’t let the 41 years make you believe he can’t bounce right back again.  He almost deserves his own second tier because there is a little risk with anyone his age, but I’ll give him the T1 respect.

Tier 2

Brian Wilson – He’s just on another level right now delivering near-Marmolian strikeout rates (10.3, 11.2 last two years) with great ratios and high save counts (on a team that wins, but not with offense meaning more close games).  Update: Injuries move him down, but still worth drafting pretty high.

J.J. Putz – Last year Putz looked a lot like the guy who notched 36 and 40 save seasons back in 2006 and 2007.  Once an elite closer, Putz quickly earned a closer’s role this offseason and there is no reason to believe he won’t once again become a big time stopper.  He’s being a little overlooked so far this draft season.  If you want to skip the first wave, jump on Putz a few rounds after.

Matt Thornton – Rightfully given the job to start the season, Thornton has been an elite reliever for three years now though many might not realize it as he has just 13 saves in that time.  Posted a ridiculous 12.0 strikeout rate last year, but even if he’s “only” at the 10.6 he averaged the two years before, he is still an excellent investment.

Jonathan Papelbon – For all his issues (ascending walk rate, ERA and WHIP; dropping save totals), his strikeout rate is actually ticking up yearly since 2008 (10.0, 10.1, 10.2) and at 29, he’s still well within in his prime.  As annoying as Papelbon can be personally, he could be an undervalued fantasy asset this year as his demise is being overrated.

Francisco Rodriguez – We are seeing a lot risk in this tier which says a lot about the state of closers in the 2011 preseason.  K-Rod is no different, but it’s hard to deny the talent.  The main concern is that if the Mets don’t trade him, they might game his playing time to avoid a vesting option for 2012 (needs to finish 55+ games).

Tier 3

Jonathan Broxton – He is inexplicably being written off for three bad months.  He was brilliant through June 26th with a sub-1.00 ERA and 48 Ks in 33 innings.  The wheels came off the next day with a 4-run outing and he was never the same the rest of the year.  No way I’m going to write off a 27-year old with as much talent as Broxton just yet.

Jose Valverde – An up and down season in 2010 that was essentially four great months and two horrible ones.  Elbow soreness likely caused some of the issues that led to 8.25 and 7.00 ERAs in July and August, but he bounced back with eight strong innings in September.  He looks good so far in Spring Training so I’d be comfortable investing in a standard Valverdian season.

Andrew Bailey – He might have crept into Tier 1 if it weren’t for the major injury scare a few days ago during a spring outing.  We are being told he’s fine for now and doesn’t need surgery, but the uncertainty of his elbow plus his injury track record make him a frightening investment.  Handcuff Brian Fuentes here.

Joe Nathan – He might ease into the role for a few weeks in April, but I think he will be the full-time closer no later than May given health.  Like Putz, I think we’ll see a quick return to form and Nathan will once again be a reliable premier asset.

Chris Perez – He came into his own last year and started paying dividends on his top 100 prospect status from 2008 (97) and 2009 (91).  Control is the missing element in his game to this point (4.3 BB/9 in 162 career IP), but at 25 years old there is still plenty of time.  His stuff is undeniable and he should feel secure in the job.  You should feel secure when investing.

Tier 4

Huston Street – The skills are there, always have been, but it’s hard to rely on him being there for you all season.  That lack of consistent health is why he has just two 35+ save seasons in his six years in the majors.  Each of the other four has yielded 23 or fewer.

John Axford – Burst onto the scene last year for a huge rookie season taking over for Trevor Hoffman with nearly 12 strikeouts per game and 24 saves in 27 chances.  His control needs work (4.2 BB/9), but that and a deep track record are the only missing ingredients for an elite closer.

Joel Hanrahan – You may be shocked to learn that Hanrahan has improved his strikeout rate each of his four seasons in the big leagues and had a career-best 3.4 BB/9 last year.  He’s been given the job for now, but Evan Meek looms if he fails.  The skills are there, but does he have the fortitude to closer?  I’d bet yes.

Leo Nunez – He had a career year in his first as the full-time closer which is enticing, but can it last?  He makes a strong secondary or tertiary closer on a team with a T1 in mixed leagues.  I also like him as a cheap option in an NL-Only if you don’t like investing a ton in saves.  I like him a lot more than most and I think he’s being a bit underrated.

Tier 5

Brad Lidge – A sore biceps tendon has caused a preseason scare, but Lidge asserts it’s something he has dealt with before and writes it off as no big deal.  Even still, he’s far from “Lights Out” these days despite the still impressive strikeout totals.  Tread cautiously. Update: Injuries also move him down as he’s now set to start the season on the DL.

Frank Francisco – He’s closed before and posted 3.2 K/BB rates or better each of the last three years, but a sore pectoral has cast some doubt over him, especially in light the depth of competition in Toronto.  If healthy, he could be a cheaper option that pans out very nicely.

Francisco Cordero – His eroding skillset belies the gaudy save totals (79 the last two years) as his strikeout rate has dropped in each of the last three seasons coming in below 8.0 each of the last two seasons.  Mix that in with his age (36) and legitimate competition behind him (Aroldis Chapman and Nick Masset) and Cordero becomes a risky proposition.

Craig Kimbrel/Jonny Venters – Listing them together because they are set to share the job for now.  I think one will emerge, but who knows who?  Venters was brilliant in 83 innings so it seems like he’d be more reliable, but Kimbrel really impressed with 40 strikeouts in 21 innings.  I wouldn’t be afraid to invest in either or both if the prices weren’t out of whack.  They only rate this low because saves are the guiding factor of these tiers.  From a pure skills standpoint, both can be elite relievers.

Kevin Gregg – Middling skills combined with legitimate competition on hand (namely Koji Uehara) make Gregg a risky option.  Throw in a mediocre at best team in the league’s toughest division and this could get ugly.  That said, he held on for 37 saves in the same division last year.

Ryan Franklin – Regression popped his ERA last year, but he tightened up the control a lot yielding an even better WHIP than 2009.  Still, I don’t like closers with lame strikeout rates especially if I can’t count on excellent ERA and WHIP.

Tier 6

Alexei Ogando – My main concern is that Ron Washington seems to lack much confidence in him and this whole Neftali Feliz melodrama might not be over yet, either.  Buying Ogando while things remain pretty uncertain could represent a nice bargain as I think he is the clear choice behind Feliz if he does end up a starter (which he should if Texas is smart… and they generally are…)

Jake McGee/Kyle Farnsworth – Manager Joe Maddon is firm on going with a committee marginalizing the value of both of these guys, who would otherwise be pretty valuable if they were the lone closer.  Their skills and team situation is better some of the other committees found in T6 so they still rate above them even as a tandem.

Fernando Rodney – I can’t envision a scenario where he keeps the job all year long.  Any one of Jordan Walden, Kevin Jepsen or Scott Downs would be better options.  Of course, they will probably get their shot in reverse order of how I listed them.  Downs is on the DL right now, but Rodney should at least hold it through April.

Brandon League/David Aardsma – League is a placeholder until Aardsma is healthy after having hip surgery in January.  I loved League heading into last year after his 2009 season, but he pretty much flopped and made his 2009 skills (9.2 K/9, 3.6 K/BB) look like an outlier.  Don’t buy both.  If you buy one, it should only be as a third option regardless of league format.

Drew Storen – A rough spring is putting his grasp on the job in serious doubt as manager Jim Riggleman obviously doesn’t realize how worthless Spring Training numbers are in the grand scheme.  Add in the myriad of options (none particularly good) behind Storen and he becomes a serious risk.

Brandon Lyon – A lesser version of Ryan Franklin on a much lesser team.  Wilton Lopez lingers, too, but I’m not sold he keeps the 0.7 BB/9 he displayed in 67 innings last year.

Wednesday: 03.16.2011

Save Opportunities According to Team Performance

This will serve as the 3/16 Daily Dose

There may not be a more polarizing subject in terms of how to approach it in fantasy drafts than relief pitching.  Some hold firmly to the mantra of “Don’t Pay for Saves” while others advocate doubling up on stud closers as early as the 4th and 5th rounds.  Still others play it by ear and kind of mix the two nabbing a reliable guy in the 7th/8th round and supplementing him with upside plays who might get saves, low end guys with the job right or punting a second one altogether and playing the wire during the season.

I think a lot of league variables go into deciding which is best for you in your setup.  One adage that always strikes me is the discounting of closers on worse teams (regardless of talent) because “they will get fewer opportunities” than the guys in better overall situations.

That isn’t an outlandish statement taken at face value.  It makes very good sense in a practical manner, but there have been several beliefs in baseball that seem viable enough on the surface and are accepted as truisms until further review blows them out of the water.  This one has always struck me as one that might not hold up against the numbers after digging into it.  So I decided to do the digging.

I just thought that with at least 65 wins per team each year, even the low end closers were getting enough opportunities to convert a healthy number of saves on par with those on the best teams.  Also, a worse team is likely playing closer games and a lot more of their 65 wins are probably coming down to the wire as opposed to those of a 90-win ballclub.   Essentially, I was worried that the disparity in opportunities between the best and worst teams may have been overstated.

Conversely, a team winning 87-90 games and up is likely to have a much better entire bullpen than the bottom feeders lending credence to original theorem because they wouldn’t blow leads in the 6th-7th-8th innings leading up to their stopper.  So there’s a balance between the good teams winning by 4+ runs more often against their overall better bullpen holding otherwise tenuous leads in the middle innings more frequently than the lesser teams thus creating more chances for their closer.

What do the numbers tell us?

Win Percentage

(The data set used is from 2005 through 2010.)

Let’s take a look at the average save opportunities on a real basic level of win percentage split between teams over .500 and teams under .500:

Win Percentage Data Pts Avg. SVO
.500+ Win Pct. 95 62
sub-.500 WP 85 58

On a macro level, the theory holds true that closers on better teams will indeed average more attempts.  The four attempt split isn’t drastic, but again this is a high level view so I’m not sure it tells us all we need to know.

Sticking with this split for another moment, how do things look from a conversion rate standpoint?

Win Percentage Blown Opps Close Rate
.500+ Win Pct. 1774 5919 70%
sub-.500 WP 1797 4895 63%

This goes back to the point I made above in support of the theorem that the better bullpens as a whole will generate more leads for closers thus leading to more saves.  We see a stark difference in the split here with the sub-.500 teams not only blowing more saves, but doing so with more than a 1,000 fewer opportunities.


Getting a bit more granular now, let’s look at how things breakdown at four different levels going by 10s until 70 and then using sub-70 as one level:

Wins Data Pts Avg. SVO
90-100 41 64
80-89 61 61
70-79 48 59
<69 30 55

Now we are really seeing where a good surrounding team can make a significant difference opportunity edge.  This only makes Joakim Soria’s two 40+ save seasons all the more impressive considering how much his team hamstrung him.  He has closed out 91% of his saves for his career and was at a 93% clip in the two 40+ seasons.

Yet another step down gives us our best look at how things stratify within the standings:

Wins Data Pts Avg. SVO
92-100+ W 31 64
87-91 W 32 62
82-86 W 27 61
76-81 W 31 59
70-75 W 29 59
69 or fewer W 30 55

The conclusion to this point fully supports the basic theory that closers on better teams (or perceived to be better since we can’t know how the season will play out) are likely to receive more opportunities from their team than those at or near the bottom of the standings.

I am thinking of doing a part 2 of this piece.  I want to take a look at things at the player level.  These numbers so far aren’t completely useless, they confirm an adage that has been in play for some time, but they also take into account all save opportunities including those blown by the non-closer before the 9th inning.

What can individual data tell us about this adage?  It would stand to reason, based on what we have seen so far, that guys like Mariano Rivera and Joe Nathan should be getting more opportunities than Soria or someone like Chad Cordero when he was in Washington.  Is that how it plays out or do we see opportunities tied more to team type where someone like Brian Wilson notches more opps than a Rivera because his team not only wins, but plays closer games because they aren’t led by their offense?

For now while we do have evidence that the better teams offer more save opportunities on average, I would be careful not to use it as an a primary factor for closer selection.  I would still focus entirely on the skill of the pitcher well before this opportunity factor came into play.

Soria, who I continue to mention since he is the best example of a great closer on a terrible team, deserves to be at or near the top of the closer rankings for 2011 regardless of how pitiful the Royals will be this season.  Don’t take a less skilled player on a better team (Francisco Cordero, for example) just because they might notch upwards of nine more opportunities over the season (and there’s no guarantee for that again because this data takes all save opportunities into account).

Tomorrow: My Closer Tiers for 2011

Tuesday: 03.15.2011

Why Joe Mauer Isn’t the Top Catcher in 2011

This will serve as the 3/15 Daily Dose (Ed. note – I’ve got time for one post a day right now, so it’s either a feature like this or the DD).

Catcher is always a tricky spot in fantasy baseball.  It’s usually pretty thin putting a premium on the studs, but that is counterbalanced by the fact that even the studs are guaranteed to miss time by not catching at least a day and sometimes two each week.  There is a firm ceiling on a catcher’s output because of those built-in days off plus the significant risk of more missed time due to injury.

Despite all of that, Joe Mauer remains the consensus top catcher and usually goes very early.  Whether people are still salivating over that MVP season from 2009 and hoping it will return (only for a full season this time instead of five months) or they just want to get the perceived best player at a perceived scarce position who will at the very least give you a major boost in an oft-forgotten or at least generally mishandled category (batting average).

First things first, catcher isn’t as scarce as conventional wisdom suggests.  It’s not superstar-laden, but the upper crust (8 or 9 guys spread across two, maybe three tiers) is thicker and the mid-to-late round options contain about 10 or so guys who don’t vary much in their overall value.

The point of this article is less about scarcity and more about that perceived top option.  I have nothing against Mauer.  Despite being a Tigers fan with the Twins as one of our chief rivals, I really like the guy.  I actually want him to become the guy he was in 2009 and I was convinced he would be for most of the 2010 offseason until March hit and I came to my senses and backed off in the nick of time (a lot of it had to due with reading some convincing pieces, namely by Ron Shandler).  I still think he’s capable of being truly elite when it comes to power and pure hitting, but until he shows it that 2009 season is a major outlier.

When I posted my catcher rankings back on February 9th, I had Mauer first.  In fact every single one of the seven offseason magazines I sheepishly admit to having bought (Borders giftcard + addiction to fantasy baseball = win!) did, too.  I have thought long and hard about it and I’m making a change.  This is not home team bias driven, but I think Victor Martinez should be the top catcher for 2011.

Before I get into why, I want to clarify that this doesn’t mean you have to draft him first.  I think he will have the most value, but you will still see at least Mauer go before if not Brian McCann, Buster Posey and maybe even Carlos Santana, too.  Be careful, though, catcher is a position that tends to go in runs so if you see Mauer go, it is probably time to pounce on Martinez if you’re on board with my thoughts.

The reason I like him as the top catcher is the obvious one: he’s not going to be catching much at all.  The problem with catchers is the position.  It’s a grueling position that inherently wears guys down and cuts into their offensive value in a myriad of ways, most of which I already covered.  The general degradation of their bodies as the season progresses just eats into their value.

The Tigers are planning to play Martinez at DH most days, catcher every once in a while to spell Alex Avila and some first base when Miguel Cabrera needs a partial day off and moves to DH.  Speaking of Cabrera, if a worst-case scenario came to fruition for the Tigers whereby they missed Cabrera for any amount of time due to his off-the-field issues, then that would just mean more time for Martinez not catching as he is the primary backup at first.

So what does not catching do to his value?  We have a glimpse of it in the form of his 2009 season.  He caught 85 games and played first for another 70 logging a career high 155 games and essentially matched the production in line with his best seasons.  Coming at age 30 for a catcher, that’s impressive.  His OPS+ was 126, 3rd-highest of his career (130 as a 26 year old, 129 at 28).  He hit .303 with 23 homers and 108 RBIs (2nd-best HR, RBI totals and 3rd-best AVG of his career).

In the 2011, his split between games catching and not catching will be much greater which should result in another 150+ games played and could even yield career-high production.  I think we could see as much as a 7-10% increase of his production from 2009 season with the bulk of his catching duties removed from his plate combined with the fact that he is still in his prime (although 32 years old is generally regarded as that final year of the prime).

Just using the low end of that increase yields a .324 average, 25 home runs, 116 RBIs and 94 runs scored, which would no doubt lap the field in terms of catchers.  In fact, unless Mauer repeats his 2009, Martinez with “just” a .300-20-100- season is better than Mauer at .330-10-80.  Mauer’s batting average advantage offers .002 more to the bottom line over Martinez, but Martinez more than makes up that difference with 10 more HRs and 20 more RBI.  Martinez has three 20-100 seasons; two included a .300+ average.  He also had .302-20-79 last year in just 127 games.

Consider also that power is drying up recently making his 20+ ability all the more valuable, especially since it doesn’t come with the deficiencies found in a Mike Napoli 20-homer season (granted, V-Mart costs more than Nap, too).  Mauer’s batting average boost is nice, there is no denying that, especially since he is capable of .350 in any given season, but Martinez is hardly a liability there and he often logs more at-bats than Mauer.  Mauer has yet to reach 540 at-bats in a season while Martinez has four such seasons, three of which topped 560.

For as great a hitter as Mauer is, he has yet to rack up 100 RBIs in any given season, either.  Martinez has three such seasons.  I’m struggling to see why Mauer is an unchallenged #1 at the position.  The batting average impact is undeniable.  His “worst” season in the last three was last year’s .327, but compared to Martinez the advantage isn’t as glaring.  Apart from 2009’s explosion of 28 homers, he has reached double digits just once (13, 2006).  Same with topping 85 RBIs, only 2009’s 96 fit the bill.

Instead of betting on what Mauer can be, why not invest in what Martinez already is?  There is too much risk tied up in catchers already before you even get into the personal situations of each, but then you look at Mauer with his injury history combined with the underwhelming production save the one star category.

Looking at Martinez, you’re alleviating a great deal of the risk associated with catching by getting a catcher-eligible DH/1B, combining that with a proven track record of power production at a position lacking it (just four 20+ HR hitters in 2010; more than four just once since 2003 [2009]) with a guy still in his prime.  Adding it all up, you have a new #1 atop the catcher rankings.  Martinez is your guy if you want to go with catching early.

Monday: 03.14.2011

Spring Training Stats are WORTHLESS!

This will serve as the 3/14 Daily Dose

It seems that no matter how often it’s said (even if it’s every year), fantasy baseball owners still want to put stock into Spring Training stats.  I understand the enticement of them.  You spent a long, cold winter desperate for Hot Stove news, poring over the previous year’s stats and preparing a bit for the upcoming season.  Finally in late February you have some actual boxscores and with the real season just a month or so away, you get caught up in a frenzy and start to give meaning to the numbers before you.

Let me assure you that they are almost 100% meaningless.  In fact, the numbers themselves are 100% meaningless and the only instance where they have some significance is when someone is competing for a job.  If a marginal player or up & coming rookie believed not to be ready has a blistering spring to win a job, the gaudy stats aren’t a precursor of things to come during the season, rather they are merely a ticket to entry.  You should use previous career track to that point for a projection going forward, not the spring numbers.

Still articles and podcasts all over the internet are littered with lines about how well established player X is hitting so far or how poorly established pitcher B has been doing thus far.  Often people will then use confirmation bias in May or June for the few instances of players who continue to perform (for better or worse) as they did in spring, all the while ignoring the 100s of examples going against them.

For every Jose Bautista (.439, 5 HR, 11 RBI) there are four or five Shaun Marcums (8.10 ERA in 10 IP returning from TJS).  Bautista’s September should have been your indicator if you were looking for a sign of breakout, not Spring Training.  He hit 10 bombs with 21 RBIs in 125 plate appearances in games that mattered.

Pitching is especially deceptive.  Guys are just working on various things during their spring stints whether it’s building velocity, spinning a new pitch, refining their worst pitch, gaining stamina, developing their command, etc…  They don’t really care about the ERA and WHIP accumulated, nor should you.

Even strikeout-to-walk ratios can be misleading.  You will hear some back that as the most reliable spring stat for a pitcher, but it is just as prone to failure as the rest of them.  Rodrigo Lopez had a 4.3 K/BB in 19 innings with a 1.90 ERA.  He then posted a 5.00 ERA with 2.1 K/BB in 200 innings for the Diamondbacks.

Or what about last year’s breakout star, Ubaldo Jimenez?  If you kept yourself from getting too giddy about the 2.89 ERA and instead just trusted the strikeout-to-walk ration, you wouldn’t have been too heartened by his 1.3 K/BB mark (14 K, 11 BB in 19 IP).

Teammmates Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez are couple of other interesting cases.  Nolasco had a ridiculous spring where he threw 25 brilliant innings striking out 21 and walking just one en route to a 1.78 ERA.  His skills were still solid throughout 2010 (4.5 K/BB), but he had a 4.51 ERA because of his 1.4 HR/9.  Sanchez meanwhile was trash throwing 18 ugly innings with a 7.00 ERA striking out a healthy 17 but also walking 11.  He then had the first full season of his career notching 32 starts posting a 3.55 ERA in 195 innings.  He had a 7.2 K/9 and 2.2 K/BB.

These examples are all admittedly cherry-picked as I peruse the 2010 Spring Training stats, but I could put together a 3,000-word piece further proving the point.  I stand firmly behind the notion that spring stats don’t mean anything.  What about last year’s spring HR leaders?

1. Chris Johnson – 8
2. John Bowker – 6
3. Aaron Hill – 6
4. Mike Napoli – 6
5. Sean Rodriguez – 6
6. Justin Upton – 6
7. Delwyn Young – 6
8. Ryan Zimmerman – 6
9. Jose Bautista – 5
10. Nelson Cruz – 5

You’ve got six established studs already known for their power, a guy whose spring made him a massively overrated commodity in fantasy drafts (Rodriguez) and three trashbags who were trashbags before their spring and then throughout the 2010 season (Johnson, Bowker and Young).

And like I said, I could easily keep going.  Don’t let quality spring numbers validate someone you’re high on or worse, dissuade from someone whose skills you love and expect a breakout from in 2011.  They are a non-factor and you really would be better off ignoring them completely if you can do it.

If you can’t contain yourself and must peruse them, use them as a tool against your opponents.  Talk up another nice spring from Delwyn Young (fewer HR, but .333 AVG in 2nd-most AB [42]) or mention how Mark Trumbo has had a great spring and will be ready to take over if Kendrys Morales isn’t 100% by Opening Day (hopefully wasting money on Trumbo and driving Morales’ cost down).

Or loudly discuss how Carlos Zambrano has continued his hot second half (which was a complete and utter worthless fluke) posting a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings so far (make no mention of his pathetic 6-to-4 K/BB).  And lastly, point out how Joe Blanton might have to replace Cole Hamels in that famed Fantastic Four for Philly because Hamels has been getting rocked with a 4.61 ERA.  Then promptly buy Hamels and enjoy a Cy Young season.

Trust skills, especially for established stars.

Thursday: 03.10.2011

National League Pitching Prospects List

This will serve as the 3/10 Daily Dose

It’s time for my prospect rankings for each league and I want to throw out a few points before I get to today’s National League list:

o   I’m new to prospecting.  This is my first ranking of prospects as I’ve spent the last two years getting better at it before finally diving in this year.  Keith Law, Kevin Goldstein, John Sickels, Jason Collette, the BA folks (Jim Callis, Aaron Fitt, John Manuel, etc…) and Adam Foster are all much more seasoned, just to name a handful whose work I enjoy.  I stand 100% behind the work, but this isn’t yet an area of expertise for me.  I wouldn’t necessarily be eager to suggest anything is an area of “expertise” for me, but I’m much more in my element discussing major leaguers right now, but I want to get better at prospecting so it’s time to start ranking.

o   I have seen a handful of these guys live, though the bulk of my experience with them comes from reading extensively and watching video online.

o   There aren’t individual player capsules here, those are all in the Starting Pitcher Guide.

o   The ceiling is a best-case scenario as I see it.

o   The ranking combines the best-case scenario with how likely they are to reach it.  This means someone might project with a higher ceiling, but be less likely to reach it and thus rank below someone with a lower ceiling who is closer to it.

o   This doesn’t slant toward 2011.  It’s all encompassing.  In other words, don’t use it in your re-draft fantasy leagues and get upset with me if Arodys Vizcaino doesn’t throw 120 innings for you later this summer.  It’s meant more for leagues with minor league rosters of any size and dynasty leagues.

RK Player TEAM ETA Ceiling
1 Julio Teheran ATL 2012 1
2 Jameson Taillon PIT 2014 1
3 Mike Minor ATL 2010 2
4 Jarrod Parker ARI 2011 1
5 Shelby Miller STL 2012 1
6 Simon Castro SD 2011 1
7 Jordan Lyles HOU 2011 2
8 Jenrry Mejia NYM 2010 1
9 Randall Delgado ATL 2012 1
10 Tyler Matzek COL 2013 1
11 Zach Lee LAD 2013 1
12 Casey Kelly SD 2012 2
13 Trey McNutt CHC 2012 1/Closer
14 Arodys Vizcaino ATL 2013 1
15 Trevor May PHI 2013 1
16 Stetson Allie PIT 2014 1/Closer
17 Matt Harvey NYM 2013 1
18 Zack Wheeler SF 2013 1
19 Brandon Beachy ATL 2010 3
20 Jarred Cosart PHI 2014 2
21 Christian Friedrich COL 2011 2
22 Tyler Skaggs ARi 2013 2
23 Chad James FLO 2013 2
24 Cory Luebke SD 2010 3
25 Brody Colvin PHI 2014 1
26 AJ Cole WAS 2014 2
27 Chris Withrow LAD 2012 2
28 Rubby de la Rosa LAD 2013 1
29 Brad Hand FLO 2012 3
30 Mike Foltynewicz HOU 2014 2
31 Luis Heredia PIT 2014 1
32 Chad Bettis COL 2014 3
33 Jesse Biddle PHI 2014 2
34 Juan Urbina NYM 2014 2
35 Jay Jackson CHC 2011 3
36 Lance Lynn STL 2011 3
37 Juan Nicasio COL 2013 2
38 Sammy Solis WAS 2012 3
39 Aaron Miller LAD 2012 3
40 Hayden Simpson CHC 2013 2
41 Carlos Martinez STL 2014 1
42 Daryl Thompson CIN 2008 3
43 Ethan Martin LAD 2013 2
44 David Holmberg ARI 2014 3
45 JJ Hoover ATL 2012 3
46 Pat Corbin ARI 2013 3
47 Mark Rogers MIL 2010 3
48 Tyrell Jenkins STL 2015 2
49 Bryan Morris PIT 2011 3
50 Brad Boxberger CIN 2012 3

I’ll be hosting a chat soon to discuss both this and more of the Starting Pitching Guide. Plan for next Thursday, but I’ll definitely post the details ahead of time. In the meantime you can reach me on Twitter or Facebook if you have questions about this list.

Wednesday: 03.9.2011

American League Pitching Prospects List

This will serve as the 3/9 Daily Dose

It’s time for my prospect rankings for each league and I want to throw out a few points before I get to today’s American League list:

o   I’m new to prospecting.  This is my first ranking of prospects as I’ve spent the last two years getting better at it before finally diving in this year.  Keith Law, Kevin Goldstein, John Sickels, Jason Collette, the BA folks (Jim Callis, Aaron Fitt, John Manuel, etc…) and Adam Foster are all much more seasoned, just to name a handful whose work I enjoy.  I stand 100% behind the work, but this isn’t yet an area of expertise for me.  I wouldn’t necessarily be eager to suggest anything is an area of “expertise” for me, but I’m much more in my element discussing major leaguers right now, but I want to get better at prospecting so it’s time to start ranking.

o   I have seen a handful of these guys live, though the bulk of my experience with them comes from reading extensively and watching video online.

o   There aren’t individual player capsules here, those are all in the Starting Pitcher Guide.

o   The ceiling is a best-case scenario as I see it.

o   The ranking combines the best-case scenario with how likely they are to reach it.  This means someone might project with a higher ceiling, but be less likely to reach it and thus rank below someone with a lower ceiling who is closer to it.

o   This doesn’t slant toward 2011.  It’s all encompassing.  In other words, don’t use it in your re-draft fantasy leagues and get upset with me if Jacob Turner doesn’t throw 120 innings for you later this summer.  It’s meant more for leagues with minor league rosters of any size and dynasty leagues.

RK Player TEAM ETA Ceiling
1 Jeremy Hellickson TB 2011 1
2 Matt Moore TB 2012 1
3 Michael Pineda SEA 2011 1
4 Manuel Banuelos NYY 2012 1
5 Zach Britton BAL 2011 2
6 Jacob Turner DET 2013 1
7 Martin Perez TEX 2012 1
8 Kyle Drabek TOR 2010 2
9 Mike Montgomery KC 2012 1
10 Chris Sale CHW 2010 1/Closer
11 Dellin Betances NYY 2012 2/Closer
12 John Lamb KC 2012 2
13 Chris Archer TB 2012 2
14 Kyle Gibson MIN 2011 2
15 Andy Oliver DET 2010 2
16 Danny Duffy KC 2012 2
17 Drew Pomeranz CLE 2012 2
18 Casey Crosby DET 2013 2
19 Alex Wimmers MIN 2013 2
20 Chris Dwyer KC 2012 2
21 Alex White CLE 2012 2
22 Aaron Crow KC 2012 2
23 Drake Britton BOS 2013 2
24 Alex Torres TB 2012 2
25 Jason Knapp CLE 2012 2
26 Tyler Chatwood LAA 2011 2
27 Alex Colome TB 2013 2
28 Anthony Ranaudo BOS 2013 2
29 Michael Kirkman TEX 2010 3
30 Tijuan Walker SEA 2014 1
31 Tanner Scheppers TEX 2011 2/Closer
32 Robbie Erlin TEX 2013 3
33 Miguel de los Santos TEX 2013 2
34 Ivan Nova NYY 2010 3
35 Jason Thompson TB 2013 2
36 Enny Romero TB 2014 2
37 Andrew Brackman NYY 2012 2/Closer
38 Felix Doubront BOS 2010 3
39 Mauricio Robles SEA 2011 3
40 Zach Stewart TOR 2011 3/Closer
41 Drew Smyly DET 2013 2
42 Andre Rienzo CHW 2014 2
43 Jake Odorizzi KC 2013 2
44 Ian Krol OAK 2013 3
45 Brett Marshall NYY 2013 3
46 Alex Cobb TB 2012 3
47 Aaron Sanchez TOR 2014 2
48 Yordano Ventura KC 2014 2
49 Charlie Furbush DET 2011 3
50 Shawn Haviland OAK 2012 3

I’ll be hosting a chat soon to discuss both this and more of the Starting Pitching Guide.  Plan for next Thursday, but I’ll definitely post the details ahead of time.  In the meantime you can reach me on Twitter or Facebook if you have questions about this list.

Friday: 03.4.2011

Donation Jersey Contest Update

I got a couple of emails the last day or two asking about the Donation Jersey Contest related to the Starting Pitcher Guide.  Instead of charging, I wanted to give users of the SP Guide the option to donate to the Guide if they saw fit.  In exchange for the donation, you not only get the Guide of course, but you also get entered into a drawing for a Tim Lincecum or Justin Verlander jersey.  I will do the drawing shortly after Opening Day (which is March 31st).  This gives everyone a legitimate chance to read through the Guide and truly decide if they want to donate and enter the contest.

I wanted to sincerely thank all of you who have already donated.  I am truly grateful that you deemed the project worthy of your hard-earned money.  It’s a really cool feeling when people make that kind of commentary on your work by choosing to give their money for the product.  So all of you who have donated, thank you very much and also sit tight as you are entered into the drawing.  Anyone still interested, there is time and there is no threshold donation to get you in.  If you donate, you’re in.  I will probably record the drawing on my FlipCam and throw it up on YouTube.  Like I said, that will be in early April sometime so enjoy the book and good luck in your drafts & auctions that are coming up.

Upcoming on the site there will be:

  • Podcast Recommendation List
  • Top Pitching Prospect List
  • Sleepers List
  • Positional Tiers List
  • Hitter Capsules (provided by‘s Ray Flowers)
  • Middle Reliever Methodology
  • Some stuff on Closers
  • More 3 Questions entries
  • Bold Predictions column
  • and of course Daily Doses
Thursday: 02.24.2011

Starting Pitcher Chat: Thursday 2/24 @ 11 am Central

I’ll be hosting a chat later this morning to discuss the Starting Pitcher Guide.  Come by and hit me with any & all starting pitcher-related questions.  And frankly, I will answer anything fantasy baseball-related, but I suspect most questions will be tied to the SP guide.

Click Here to Chat.

Thursday: 02.24.2011

The 2011 Starting Pitcher Guide

It’s here!!!

I’d set you up with an intro here, but there are 73,375 words in this guide, you don’t need to waste time reading me reiterate what you’re going to read in the opening of the book anyway.  I truly hope you enjoy this guide.  It was a max effort project and I couldn’t have done it without the help of my esteemed guest writers:

A huge thanks to them for coming onboard to make this far & away the best version of my SP guide yet.  I would LOVE to hear your feedback on the guide so please feel free to comment here, hit me up on Twitter (@sporer) or email me directly sporer at gmail.  I’m interested in what you thought worked, what you thought didn’t work, what you’d like to see in the future, etc…  Enjoy!!!!

Also don’t forget that while the work is free, if you choose to donate using the Paypal button in the upper right corner, you will be entered to win a Tim Lincecum or Justin Verlander jersey.  The drawing for that will likely take place sometime just after Opening Day.

I am very proud to present to you the 2011 Starting Pitcher Guide in all its glory and the Charts & Rankings right below:

The Guide:

2011 SP Guide with Articles & Player Capsules.

The Charts & Rankings:

2011 Rankings & Charts for Excel 2010.

2011 Rankings & Charts for Excel 97-2003.

Monday: 02.21.2011

2011 SP Guide Release Date Pushed

Today was supposed to be the release date for the 2011 Starting Pitcher Guide, but alas it’s not yet completed.  I had all of last week off to work on the guide and while I got a ton of it done, there was just too much to push through in a week.  I didn’t want to take any shortcuts on the over 500 pitcher profiles or the nine articles I had to write or edit or the handful of useful (hopefully) charts and graphs for your viewing pleasure.

That said, I’m almost done.  There is only one more team to write up and then editing.  I’ve only got two more articles of my own to write and then editing the guest articles.  I am aiming for a Wednesday release.  I am still planning on having a chat a day or two after release where I will answer any and all pitcher-related questions (well, I’ll answer anything fantasy baseball-related to be honest).

I appreciate the patience.  Even with the pushed back release, there should still be more than ample time to utilize the guide for your draft or auction prep as most leagues don’t even turn in keepers until the calendar flips over to March.  I’m very excited about the final product and I think it will be worth the extra wait.  Also, with the time being invested into the guide, the Daily Dose won’t be back up & running until later this week.  Stay tuned for more.