As I hinted at in yesterday’s post on the updated Top 500 Dynasty League Rankings, Ben, Craig and I sat down to “record” the latest PFYE on the subject at hand. So for your amusement, we talked over gchat for almost an hour and a half about what we’ve liked and not liked so far during the 2013 season–along with some tough decisions to be made. The following conversation has not been edited, abridged or otherwise touched (besides cleaning up our names and the formatting so that it’s easier to read).
Without any further introduction (because this post is long enough as is), I present to you the Episode 2 of A Podcast For Your Eyes.
Bret: i’m back, babydoll!
Craig: BRETTY WESTSIDE
Bret: so you guys ready to kick this thing off?
Craig: as long as you’re not being Lucy to our Charlie Brown, yes.
Ben: i am prepared.
Craig: but seriously I just logged off twitter, so yes I’m ready
He who is resistant to change is destined to perish.
On one hand, it’s so simple. The whole off-season we build value-based mausoleums around all of these players, as time stands still long enough for us to construct them. But the only problem with that is that these players are not dead–they are, in fact, very alive. As as soon as you think you’ve built the perfect chamber, with statistics and narratives covering the walls, things begin to change. Quickly. And as dynasty league owners, it’s even more important to separate the signal from the noise when it comes to early season performance. If we wait too long to notice real changes, or if we refuse to accept the ones which are in front of us, it can derail a team off its course for years. So it’s in our best interest not to have static valuations, and part of that comes from placing a higher value on current season production. The future is great, but current production is king. So when Jose Reyes is out for two months, not only does his redraft league value go down, but his dynasty value does as well. Just not as much, since it’s unlikely to be something that will affect him long-term.
The risers on this list are sure to catch your attention, and in fact, there are 20 players who have jumped more than 100 spots in the rankings (including those who weren’t ranked in the top-500 last time around. Many are names which will not surprise you, like Carlos Gomez, Chris Davis and Josh Donaldson–but the important thing to note is that they are based on skill-set improvements which can be sustainable. On the other hand, you’ll find 17 players who dropped 100 spots or more, and those are even easier to spot. The vast majority of these are either older pitchers who have undergone surgery or players (closers-slash-otherwise) who have lost their roles. You won’t find healthy players drop very far based solely on performance, except in extreme circumstances. That tends to be more of a slow burn.
Coming into the 2013 season, there was a generally accepted belief that the new class of young superstars in this league began and ended with Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. It’s not that there wasn’t a next tier, it’s that the gap was well established — even when you dropped to also-studs like Giancarlo Stanton, Jason Heyward and Starlin Castro. It’s the difference between the usual level of greatness that we see, and the greatness only exuded by the generational talents who have the skills to change the conversation. But as it turns out, there may be room for a third wheel in that class.
Manny Machado was, in some ways, a victim of his own success in fantasy circles. It’s no secret that he was consistently challenged by the Orioles with his assignments, tackling Low-A at age 18 and Double-A at age 19. So, simply by holding his own at the levels he was assigned to was a strong statement about his talent — and those gaudy minor league numbers, like the ones many of the “household name” prospects put up, never came. But that didn’t deter the Orioles from seeing what he was capable of, as he was promoted to the major leagues just one month after his 20th birthday, and all he did was post a 98 OPS+ in the middle of a playoff race. Not to mention that he was playing great defense at a position he only played two games at during his entire minor league career.
All of us, myself included, come into each season with preconceived notions about certain players, whether it’s on the positive side or the negative side. The question is how much of the season we need to see to leave those notions behind, and the answer is that it’s different for every player.
Take Coco Crisp, for example. I had Crisp ranked at #58 among dynasty league outfielders this off-season, and he was one of the most valuable players for fantasy in April. When I update my rankings (stay tuned for an announcement on this–and yes, I’m aware that I just teased a teaser), he might move up a few spots overall, but nothing drastic. In this case, it’s because Crisp wasn’t ranked higher due to his proclivity for injuries, and he’s on the DL again right now. As far as his performance, we know that he’s capable of performing like a stud in spurts–it’s already built into his value.
It’s when new information comes out that has to factor into a player’s valuation that the ranking moves in a significant fashion. And here are a couple of guys giving new reasons for their rankings to start changing.
The decision process around whether to trade a prospect (or two) for established big leaguers can be one that owners lose sleep over. However, you can usually hang your hat on the fact that prospects are unproven and the established big leaguers are either in their prime or have an established baseline of performance. When the player you’re trading for is performing above expectations, but is still reasonably aged, you’re also buying the chance that this is a new baseline–like with Dexter Fowler or Chris Davis. And when that player is a little older, but has that baseline, you’re looking at buying more steady future performance, even if you know it won’t last forever–like Chase Utley. It’s when neither of those things are true that things start to get a little dicier.
However, sometimes the best deals you can make are ones where the market is dictating a run in the opposite direction. And they are often the best deals because the prices tend to be pretty low. You could be dealing with an owner who is rebuilding but had to grab a few veterans to fill out his active roster, and is now seeing that he could potentially get a return for one of these players. Or you could be dealing with a contending team who just doesn’t need this player on his/her active roster. Either way, here are five hitters who could potentially be had for a prospect you might not miss all that much in your dynasty league:
There’s nothing like a week of high-profile starting pitcher injury concerns to make you re-think how you go after pitching in fantasy leagues. And no, I’m not talking about Chad Billingsley having Tommy John surgery, which was just about the most unsurprising news blurb I’ve seen in a long time. However, when you start seeing the names of Stephen Strasburg and Dylan Bundy thrown around with elbow/forearm issues, things get a little more real. But before we start freaking out and doing something we’ll potentially regret, let’s take a look at each player individually to see how this is potentially affecting their value.
The fear with Strasburg isn’t necessarily going to go the way of Mark Prior, but that he will have too many injuries to reach the lofty potential we’ve all anointed him with. And I say we, as I’m certainly guilty of this too–after all, he was the #2 starting pitcher in my off-season dynasty rankings (next to Clayton Kershaw). And while I still feel pretty confident about the ranking, I don’t feel great about it. But let’s be honest, there’s a reason to feel not so great about anyone you could slide into that spot (unless you want to dig down a little bit for someone like Adam Wainwright). Verlander has his velocity issues, which are worrying some. Price and Hamels have have pretty bad starts to the season. King Felix has the specter of the elbow injury. The list goes on.
It’s always fun when you can have another first in life, and Friday night I had a pretty exciting one–it was the first time I went to a professional baseball game with a press pass. With the assistance of the almighty Joe Hamrahi and my new friends at the Trenton Thunder, I had a perfect seat right behind home plate, which allowed me to do fun things like take some video (which I’ve attached at the end of the post) from a nice angle.
And fortunately for me, I got to see a number of players who matter for dynasty leagues up close and personally. So, while I’m not a scout, the more baseball I watch, the more little things I pick up. And the more little things I pick up, the better informed I become about the game as a whole. It’s the same as with anything else in life–repetition breeds knowledge. So with the opportunity to see Xander Bogaerts, Matt Barnes, Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott and Nik Turley, I arrived at the ballpark excited for what would excite me. And as baseball would have it, the players who would excite me most were not even on that brief list.
Unfortunately, the biggest reason for this was that Xander Bogaerts was held out of the starting lineup, for reasons unknown. As he was the biggest reason I made the 75 minute drive down to Trenton, it was quite a bummer when I first discovered that. I’m sure if he were on the field, I’d be raving about him for pages and pages and pages, so consider yourselves all lucky that i didn’t. However, these were some players who I saw and how much attention they are worth paying in dynasty leagues:
With the nearly frightening number of injured players who were being relied upon for fantasy so far this season, the age old question gets brought up again and again: How much should your return be diminished for a currently injured player in a dynasty format? The answers are obviously variant depending on where your team is on the contention spectrum or whether it’s a rotisserie or head-to-head format (currently injured players are slightly more valuable in H2H because they will be in your lineup down the stretch, when it matters most). But if neither of those are an issue, where is the line of demarcation?
Say you are one of the lucky Zack Greinke owners in a dynasty format and another owner offers you Mike Minor for him. If I’m the Greinke owner, I do not make that trade, but as you work your way up the list, you will get to players with less side-by-side talent and more “value”. Someone asked me on Twitter if they would deal Jeff Samardzija for Zack Greinke in a dynasty format, and honestly, I think that I would. Greinke’s injury is not something which was to his elbow or shoulder, and he should make a full recovery without a particularly high risk of a setback. Yes, it stinks to be without one of your best pitchers for an extended period of time, but the difference in value for future years outweighs that (especially for pitchers, who are much more replaceable than hitters.
With that said, let’s move onto some more players who are possibly seeing their dynasty league values change over the first few weeks of 2013:
Back in November, when I was writing my Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster series, I had to jump from the team which was the focus of the first two-thirds of the series to a team in a different league which was further along in the process. However, as things progress with the original team, I’m going post addendums to the series so that the exercise of following one team through the entire rebuilding process can be followed to completion. Here are the previous entries in this series:
Just as a reminder, here are the league details that are helpful in following along. Active lineups are 17 players and break out as follows: C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, 3 OF, 2 Util and 7 pitchers. Teams also have 8 bench spots, 2 DL spots and 25 minor league spots – which makes the player pool pretty deep. Pitchers seem a little more valuable than hitters in general in this point system, so most competitive teams stock their benches with starting pitching (though there’s a 14 start limit per week). My other first thoughts from looking at the scoring system were that big IP, low WHIP pitchers are very valuable, with strikeouts being slightly devalued compared to other points leagues. From the offensive side, it seemed pretty standard for this type of format – pretty OPS focused, with some skewing based on walks and strikeouts. Steals are a factor, but not a huge one.
For the 2013 draft, I had the 9th overall pick in the 1st round (out of 16 teams) and the draft snaked for the second round. I had accumulated five picks in the first two rounds from trades during the season and was looking forward to using them to further stock my farm system. But, as I talked about in my post on the draft, sometimes things happen that you don’t expect and you have to adjust. Here are how my picks went:
As the number of questions I get on Twitter have seen a bump since the season has started (which I would expect), I am going start up a simple, old-fashioned AQA for this weekend. And yes, that means “All Questions Answered”. For those of you not familiar with the concept of an AQA, it’s really simple — you leave a question in the comments and we will answer it. We may not answer it within five minutes or an hour, but every question left in this thread will get an answer.
So if you have trades you’re mulling over, roster decisions to make or just want some advice that is not particularly easy to cut down to 140 characters, leave it in the comments. We will take questions on all types of leagues: dynasty, keeper, redraft, sim, etc. If you play it, you can ask it. Or even if you want to ask something random and non-baseball related, we’ll answer it. I take the ALL in AQA very seriously. Unsolicited compliments are also welcome (neigh, encouraged). And as a reminder, it’s very easy to find any of us on Twitter–