Ben’s 2014 All-Disappointment Team

It’s Monday morning, and the entire world is grumpy. I am part of the world, and so also grumpy.

Rather than write a positive, insightful or analytical column, I’m going to vent. Many of my teams are somewhere between fourth and seventh place in my respective leagues, and this was not a year in which I was planning to rebuild. This is a fact that makes me angry.

So here you go: a complete lineup of suck that has drained the life from many of my redraft and dynasty league teams alike. Thanks for nothing, professional athletes who have failed to live up to my lofty, unreasonable standards.

C: Carlos Santana, CLE
1B: Eric Hosmer. KC
2B: Jedd Gyorko, SD
3B: Brett Lawrie, TOR
SS: J.J. Hardy, BAL Continue reading

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Time to Worry About These Struggling Aces? Verlander, Price, Cole, Zimmerman and Miller

This week I will take a look at some really good starting pitchers who have not met our expectations. All of these guys were highly ranked and drafted early and their owners were depending on them to perform much better than they have thus far. We have now played more than 1/3 of the season, so if these guys are going to bounce back it is now or never. Let’s figure out which of these guys you should try to dump and which of them you should trade for while their owners in your league are panicking over their nasty stats.

Justin Verlander — Yahoo preseason rank #10, current rank #263 among SP
6-5 Record, 61 Ks in 86 innings, 4.19 ERA, 1.47 WHIP Continue reading

#TDGX Status Check: Time to Make the Donuts

Last week I put together a snapshot of where my team stands in TDGX at the two-month point, and this week we’ll turn the page from past performance to future performance. Since that post my team has gained some tenuous ground from 127.0 points and a seventh place standing to 136.5 points and 6th place. I took steps forward in Runs (+3), WHIP (+3), strikeouts (+2), and runs (+1.5) to make up the ground, and currently sit 4th in total offense and 9th in total pitching, about 40 points behind the league leader (give or take). It’s a solid position, but if I’m going to make a run this year I’ve got some work to do to make up some ground over the next couple months heading to the trade deadline.

Over the course of my analysis last week I identified top-end starting pitching and the tandem of batting average and homeruns as my most pressing holes in need of addressing at this point, and that’s where we’ll pick up this week. The hour is nigh for aggressive action if you’re looking to compete this season. Time to rise and shine and figure out what comes next.

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#TDGX Status Check: Building the Foundation for a Deep League Run

We’re almost exactly two months into the baseball season, and I’ve always liked to use the start of June as the jumping off point to make my first real soul-searching conclusions about the squad(s) I’m fielding. We’ve reached a stage of the season where a decent number of stats have gained a semblance of statistical significance, and we can start to separate some early season performance from the security blanket of small sample size. So with the spirit of self-evaluation in the thick air, let’s take a look under the hood of my TDGX squad. In Part I this week I’ll check in on how the team has performed to date, and then in Part II next week I’ll plot and scheme on what I should be looking to accomplish over the next phase of the season.

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TDGX Player Notes: Shelby Miller, Ryan Howard, & Andre Ethier

One of the reasons I was so excited about Bret’s idea to create TDGX this year is that I knew the massively deep league structure would provide me with an almost endless supply of players to write about from the vantage point of someone with a vested interest in their performance. So every couple of weeks I plan to use this space to check in on a handful of players on my TDGX team in order to take a deeper look at their current performance trends. Hopefully this’ll be a helpful exercise for both owners of these players as well as managers who might (or might not yet) be considering acquiring or trading them.

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TDGX Motto: “Relax. It’s a Long Season.”

Disaster struck my squad in Week One. I sat in 17th place out of 20 in the TDGX league, with some significant warning lights flashing already. My first round draft pick, Ryan Braun, can’t feel the thumb on his throwing hand. More importantly for our purposes, that thumb happens to be kind of important for swinging the bat, something Braun did not do well at all out of the gate. My elite speed guys didn’t steal a single base. One of my primary AVG/Runs guys, Omar Infante, took a fastball to the face and went down like Eddie Richardson taking a left hook from Mike Tyson. On the pitching side, my #1 starter gave up 8 runs in his debut start. My ostensible #6 starter, a late-game pick I was extremely proud of, mind you, lost out on a rotation spot to Lucas Harrell. Lucas Harrell. A guy who had a 5.86 ERA and 89:88 strikeout-to-walk ratio in over 150 innings last season. And there still exists no plausible scenario in which anybody on my roster will log even one save this season. Clearly it was time to sell, sell, SELL!

Or not. Deep breath, kids. It’s the second week of the season. A couple solid days in a row already boosted me back up to 11th as of this writing, and the larger takeaway is that it is way, way too early to consider drastic measures of any kind. Even if your team hasn’t gotten off to the banner start you envisioned when you cackled maniacally to yourself in the dark after your draft ended, it’s important to not overreact to small sample sizes. Still, it’s never too early to start evaluating your team’s performance, so that when the time comes you’ll be in the best position possible to make the most appropriate moves. Let’s take a closer look at a couple of the early storylines with my team in the context of early season strategy.

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#TDGX Recap – Team Karaman Lurches On Towards Draft’s End

In the 3rd installment of my series on the draft we meander into the waning rounds of the draft’s second half. We’re in our third week of drafting at this point, and as you can imagine we’re down to the longest of shots and fringiest of regular and semi-regular Major League contributors at this point. To refresh your memory on my first five picks you can check here, and rounds six through 26 are here. Here’s a brief synopsis on the thinking behind each of my next eleven picks and where I stand heading into the final three selections I’ll have in this draft.

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Team Recap: Slap a 55 Present/60 Future Grade on Team Karaman

The TDGX Draft has been alternately slowly creeping and gallantly galloping along, and as I write this I’ve just made my 26th selection of the draft. You can read a more in-depth look at my first five selections here, and I’ll post my roster construction as it exists presently at the bottom of this piece. Here’s some briefer commentary on the picks I’ve made since that top 5 and how I see my squad shaping up.

6.112 Everth Cabrera, SS SDG

Cabrera was far and away the best SS option on my draft board here, and I was excited to be able to snap him up. His speed and stolen base efficiency is second only to what we assume is to come out of Billy Hamilton, and he was in the midst of a tremendous breakout before the suspension came down last year. He’s always shown an impressive ability to take walks despite poor power, and if he can couple a double-digit walk rate with the .280 AVG he was on pace for last year he’s a guy that can steal 60+ bases in a full season. At 27 I like what I’ve got here for the next 4 years, and between him and Braun I can launch a “Bash Brothers” redux marketing campaign: the Biogenesis Brothers. The kids will love it.

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TDGX Recap: Team Karaman and the Top 5

I drew the #9 pick for the Dynasty Guru draft, and it proved to be a more challenging slot that I anticipated. You can read about the bidding guidelines for purchasing draft slots here, along with some stellar analysis for the staggering 15-keeper price paid by winning bidder Mike Buttil for the right to draft Mike Trout 1st overall. In planning my pre-draft strategy I assessed very quickly that I was not going to be willing to go as high as I anticipated I’d need to in order to compete for the slot. I made a smaller wager on the 3 spot to see if I could snag Miguel Cabrera for a short-term run, but that didn’t pan out (I bid 4 slots, winning bid was 6). So I threw in a slot apiece on the 8th, 9th, and 10th spots with an eye towards hopefully grabbing Giancarlo Stanton in the first round followed by nice, evenly spaced picks for the duration of the draft.

The first part of the equation didn’t happen either as Stanton was popped at #8, one pick before me. I immediately regretted not going to 2 picks with my bid on that slot, even moreso after seeing what remained on the draft board. And what was left, you ask? A whooole lotta question marks, that’s what. Can you count on Hanley Ramirez to stay on the field, and even if you can what is the baseline performance expectation for him at this point, anyway? Can Ryan Braun come back from a half season of lost at-bats and again be the elite power/speed combo now that he’s (presumably) off the sauce? Can you count on Joey Votto for elite production in more than two categories? What do we make of Yasiel Puig? Did Troy Tulowitzki’s achilles just explode while I was typing this? Not a fun bunch of questions to be asking ahead of your first pick in an indefinite-keep dynasty league. Here’s how things went down:

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The Dynasty Guru’s Top 200 Dynasty League Starting Pitchers, Nos. 1-20

From the 21st of January to the 20th of February, the writers at TDG will be taking you through our rankings position-by-position. As I mentioned in the primer, this year we’re doing things a little differently. Instead of having my personal rankings up on this site, like last year, these rankings for 2014 are of the consensus variety and being brought to you by all of the TDG staff. Everyone put a lot of work into this project, so we hope you enjoy the end result. And if you are looking for my personal dynasty league rankings, you can find them this off-season at Baseball Prospectus.

So we hope you enjoy the rankings package that we’ve put together here. And if you do, I hope that you will make a donation to show appreciation for the content you’ve seen here at the Dynasty Guru. You can do that through this link, or by clicking the “Donate” button on the top-right corner of the homepage. All donations are truly appreciated.

Starting pitching is always tough to evaluate as a whole since the group of usable starters is sooooooo big, but we have seen a shift towards more high-level performance out of younger and less-experienced hitters. In fact, were it not for Matt Harvey’s elbow explosion (dibs on that for a band name), we could have seen two pitchers in the top-five who came into 2013 with less than 60 major league innings combined. However, with great performance also comes great responsiblity–and that responsibility is for the fantasy owner to determine whether their young pitcher who was surprisingly good can continue at a high level over a long period of time. We’re pretty confident we know Jose Fernandez is going to be great, but can you say the same thing about Michael Wacha, Sonny Gray, Danny Salazar and Tony Cingrani. I’m not so confident. The other noticeable thing about starting pitching is that some of the depth we’re used to seeing is drying up a bit. But you won’t notice that with this group of studs (just wait until Thursday and Friday).

Now the 20 best starting pitchers in dynasty leagues, starting with a unanimous pick at the top spot among all TDG rankers (like you really need to ask who it is):

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