Faithful TDG readers, as the 2014 fantasy season is now behind us, we move into a time of reflection, research and prediction. Actually, we can add celebration to that, as Ian Kahn and Tim McLeod took home the first #TDGX championship yesterday. Congrats to both of them on a well earned title.
But this post isn’t about glorifying those we know, it’s about discovering those we don’t. We are looking for a few new writers to join our band of merry men as we march through the off-season, into our rankings and beyond. The last time we ran this search, we were very fortunate, so out expectations are high. Jeff Quinton and Wilson Karaman, both now writers at Baseball Prospectus, we’re just two of the submissions we received. We also found Nick Doran, who has become one of our lead writers here at TDG and others who have gone on to write at sites like Rotoworld and Razzball. So if you’re interested in writing about fantasy baseball, this is a great place to get exposure.
Two of the best pitchers in baseball square off in this week’s Smackdown. Lester has had a tremendous bounce-back season to regain his former slot in the pantheon of elite pitchers. Bumgarner kept right on doing what he has done ever since he hit the big leagues — mow down hitters with ruthless efficiency. This Smackdown will determine which one of them had the better season and which one is the better pitcher to own for the future.
Both contestants are southpaws pitching a few miles apart in the Bay Area. Both are big and almost the same height and weight (6’5″, 235 for Bumgarner, 6’4″, 240 for Lester), but despite their size they deliver only average velocity. Bumgarner is 5.5 years younger than Lester. Both have been true workhorses ever since coming to the major leagues, averaging more than 200 innings per year. Bumgarner has yet to have a disappointing year in his stellar career. Lester on the other hand stumbled for a couple years. Lester was excellent his first 4 full seasons from 2008 through 2011, but then he took a big step backwards in 2012 before partially recovering last year in 2013. This year he has been as good as ever.
Traditonal Fantasy Stats
Major League Average
16 – 11
18 – 10
First let’s take a look at the traditional 5×5 fantasy stat categories to see if we can declare an early leader in the contest. Continue reading →
As the fantasy season winds down so too does the inaugural season of our Dynasty Guru Experts League. We’ve written pretty extensively about the comings and goings on in the league on these pages. It has certainly been a fun exercise for us as managers to be able to so openly discuss strategy among competitors, and hopefully it’s been an illuminating source of public disclosure for you as readers. So as a final act of transparency for the season I used this space last week to talk about some of the players I nailed correctly, and now I get the pleasure of going through all of my numerous failures. Realistically I could just run through my top seven picks, because I managed to whiff to varying degrees on all of them. My first two picks, Ryan Braun and Evan Longoria, both produced substantially below draft value returns, and perhaps most troublingly for a dynasty format both look like shaky propositions going forward. But here now is a cautionary tale of my five worst misses.
This week’s Smackdown pits two 27 year old veteran minor leaguers who emerged as star hurlers in 2014. Neither of them were ever considered top prospects by any stretch of the imagination. McHugh was an 18th round draft pick by the Mets in 2008 and reached the majors with them in 2012. He was traded to the Rockies last summer but they made a big mistake by releasing him last December. The Astros claimed him off waivers and he has been an ace ever since. Shoemaker wasn’t drafted at all, signing as an undrafted free agent that same year of 2008. Neither of them distinguished themselves in the minors or gave a hint of future stardom. How did these two completely unheralded pitchers develop into aces? Are they for real or are they merely mirages that will quickly disappear when we examine them closely? Which one of them is the better bet for your fantasy team? Let the Smackdown begin…
As the fantasy season winds down so too does the inaugural season of our Dynasty Guru Experts League. We’ve written pretty extensively about the comings and goings on in the league on these pages. It has certainly been a fun exercise for us as managers to be able to so openly discuss strategy among competitors, and hopefully it’s been an illuminating source of public disclosure for you as readers. So as a final act of transparency for the season I’m going to use this space for the next two weeks to talk about some of the players I nailed correctly as targets as well as the ones I whiffed on, as well as the future dynasty league value for all. This week we’ll start with the hits, because hey, good news first, right?
This week’s smackdown pits two young hurlers named Alex — the Rays’ righty Cobb and the Braves’ lefty Wood. Both are a little light on innings this year but for different reasons. Cobb missed some time early in the season due to an oblique injury that sidelined him for a month. Wood spent a month in the bullpen due to the crowded Atlanta starting rotation. Here are their stats for the season:
9 – 7
10 – 10
Right now the duel is too close to call. Wood has one more win and a few more strikeouts, but Cobb has fewer losses and a slight edge in both ERA and WHIP. Both have been fantastic. We are going to have to dig deeper to find a winner. Continue reading →
Every year a handful of players that weren’t on anybody’s radar invariably come out of nowhere to impact leagues and help determine championships. It’s always fun – and usually necessary for a title run in a competitive league – to hit on one or two of these guys, but figuring out what to do with them in dynasty leagues after the season ends can present a challenge. Was it a flash in the pan or a legitimate coming out party for a player no one saw coming?
Perhaps no player better fits the mold this year than 27 year-old Astros righthander Collin McHugh. A former Met 18th rounder from a tiny school in rural Georgia, McHugh put together a solid if unspectacular minor league progression before running into nothing but trouble at the big league level. He bottomed out last year in a seven game, five start trial with both the Mets and Rockies, when he somehow managed to give up 45 hits over 26 innings en route to a double-digit ERA. That performance for the ages led the Baseball Prospectus staff to conclude in our Annual that “after another disastrous season…it’s time to ask what McHugh really offers a major-league team.” McHugh subsequently went undrafted in NFBC leagues and remained unowned in Sportline leagues for the first month of the season. And then…well, a funny thing happened.
Fast-forward to the present, McHugh has turned in the 27th most valuable fantasy season by a starting pitcher, highlighted by a sparkling 2.79 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 144:40 K:BB in 142 innings. So what gives? What’s changed in McHugh’s profile to explain the huge turnaround, and what does it mean for his future value?
Inspired by watching the Orioles absolutely hammer Anthony Ranaudo on Tuesday, and Brandon Workman on Wednesday, I thought it might be useful to look at the real value of back end rotation prospects in dynasty leagues.*
Danny Duffy and Jake Arrieta are both pitchers who have burst onto the fantasy scene this year despite very low expectations coming into the season. Their ownership rates in fantasy leagues were practically zero on Opening Day but that changed gradually as the season wore on and both are now owned in nearly all competitive leagues of 12 or more teams. In 5×5 roto leagues Arrieta ranks as the 23rd best starting pitcher in 2014 while Duffy comes in one slot behind at 24th. That is better than Stephen Strasburg, Yu Darvish, Jeff Samardzija, Sonny Gray, Jeff Weaver, James Shields and many other good pitchers.
If you compare their statistics you can see a lot of similarities:
Both look like excellent young fantasy starters. Both have stellar ERA and WHIP scores. Both have well above average fastball velocity. Since they look so much alike it seems this smackdown could end in a tie. We are going to have to look much deeper into their peripherals to figure out which of these guys is better than the other: Continue reading →
This time of year it’s always fun to start looking at some of the players who took big steps forward production-wise in the second half. It’s a valuable exercise for dynasty leagues, as it can be a big help in setting up early off-season target lists and getting a head start on thinking about keepers for next season. So today a simple exercise: I’ve sorted out the top 20 hitters in baseball for the second half by wOBA, and below are four who have performed most dramatically better than their first half efforts. Let’s take a look and see if we can identify anything helpful in the profiles of these guys.