Scouring The Lower Minors

A few weeks ago, my deep dynasty league had their monthly minor league auction which is the only time that true minor leaguers may be added to our rosters. Considering that there are 20 teams with up to 50 roster spots dedicated to minor leaguers, this is an important time. Since the team I took over hadn’t had any minor league transactions to date, I had the full $100 to work with. I quickly proposed about 20 one-dollar bids after a quick look at high performers at the Rookie and Low-A levels. One of the names I identified was Samir Duenez. When another owner bid $2, I let him go and laughed to myself at his effort to raise the price on a player I didn’t really care much about. A month later, I’m wondering if the other owner was in fact laughing at me. Duenez has seen a significant rise in value after a season in which he has seen him earn promotions from full season A ball to Double-A. It’s too soon to draw conclusions from his Double-A performance, but his other two stops were rousing successes. Leading up to 2015, Duenez, while young for his placement, did not show much success with the bat. He hit a total of two home runs in his first three seasons and generally had an OPS in the .650 range. This year has been a different story. For the season, he has posted a triple-slash line of .288/.348/.451. He’s probably not going to be a future star, but players with his profile – low strikeouts, decent walk-rate, a little speed – tend to have a high floor. He’s not a must-add in regular formated dynasty leagues, but in my league that rosters 1000 prospects, he was a great find.

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C.J. Cron has quietly had a breakout season

Unless it’s Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, or another small handful of superstars, every batter is going to have his warts. It can be in the form of a lack of speed, power, too many strikeouts, not enough walks, a low batting average, or another few hundred aspects of the game. Ideally, young hitters can improve upon some weaknesses, allowing them to turn into better all-around hitters as they develop, but the majority of players see these deficiencies become an unfortunate reality they simply must accept.

The relative scarcity of marked improvements means whenever a player truly takes a significant step forward, it’s cause for excitement. Advancements can spur substantial improvements in overall numbers, so noteworthy developments often earn the attention of many baseball analysts. Oddly enough, one player has done just this, but is getting very little recognition for his adjustments. The lack of buzz may be due to the broken hand that has cost him a month-and-a-half of the season, but it’s time to talk about C.J. Cron.
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Planting Seeds: RB’s – Uncovering Future Starters

 

Earlier this week I wrote about some of my favorite cheap quarterback “seeds” I am planting for 2Qb/Superflex leagues.

Today I’m going to focus on uncovering future starting running backs among players with the latest dynasty startup ADP between 7/1 and 8/4 outside of the top 100 (the one exception is Jay Ajayi, whose ADP is clearly out-of-date since Arian Foster’s signing has pushed his value down). Kenneth Dixon does not register as he’s inside the top 100, but he’d be my favorite back from tier two if he did.

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The Top 250 Dynasty Football Rankings 2.0 – Preseason Refresh

Plenty of talented fantasy writers advocate that fantasy football players stop paying attention to football between August 1st and September 1st. The thinking is that the extra information in tiny samples is more likely to cause us to overreact than improve our decision making.

Me? I always prefer more information. While I can’t say that I have ignored preseason, most of these changes reflect new information I’ve gleaned from being a sponge (philosophy #3) this past week and researching players further (mostly based on 2015 collegiate/NFL production, not preseason).

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Planting Seeds: QB’s – Uncovering Future Starters

If you’re in a deeper two quarterback or superflex league, you’ve probably found that filling the quarterback position with a player you’re reasonably confident will be starter can sometimes be a challenge week to week. After all, there are only 32 starters in the league.

To that end, this post is focused on the “seeds” I am planting in hopes of unearthing a future starting quarterback cheaply. These players may never return star value, but finding starters before they emerge as starters helps us stay out of the expensive quarterback market and focus on beefing up the rest of our lineup.

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The Value of a Walk in OBP Leagues

Last week I took a look at an alternative scoring setting that is becoming more common in fantasy baseball, the quality start. This week, I will examine what I consider to be the offensive sibling as far as changes from traditional formats, on-base percentage as a replacement for batting average.

The Gainers

Name AVG OBP OBP-AVG
Joc Pederson -2.0 0.6 2.6
Carlos Santana -1.2 0.9 2.1
Joey Votto 1.8 3.9 2.1
Jose Bautista -0.5 1.5 2.0
Yasmani Grandal -1.1 0.8 1.9
Chris Carter -2.4 -0.6 1.8
Bryce Harper 2.4 3.9 1.5
Lucas Duda -0.8 0.7 1.5
Mike Napoli -1.5 -0.1 1.4
Alex Rodriguez -0.5 0.8 1.4
Curtis Granderson -0.2 1.1 1.3
Anthony Rizzo 0.5 1.8 1.3
Mark Teixeira -0.4 0.9 1.2
Alex Gordon 0.2 1.5 1.2
Steven Souza Jr. -1.5 -0.3 1.2
Andrew McCutchen 1.0 2.2 1.2
Miguel Montero -0.6 0.5 1.1
Adam LaRoche -2.1 -1.0 1.1
Paul Goldschmidt 2.1 3.2 1.1
Dexter Fowler -0.5 0.6 1.1
Chris Davis -0.1 1.0 1.1
Luis Valbuena -1.5 -0.5 1.0
Brian McCann -1.2 -0.2 1.0
Shin-Soo Choo 0.4 1.4 1.0
Russell Martin -0.9 0.1 1.0
Chris Coghlan -0.5 0.4 1.0

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The Next Next Big Things: Pitcher Edition

As dynasty owners, we treat Top 100 lists as gospel. Every year, we pour over these lists and try to make roster moves accordingly. And every year, whether it is through call-ups or just erosion of skills, these lists change dramatically. To try to stay ahead of the curve, and more importantly ahead of your fellow owners, it’s important to try and project who might be the next to see their stock rise as a prospect. It’s always fun to have a farm system chock full of Top 100 guys. It’s even more fun to snag these prospects before they break out, ensuring bargain basement prices.

Yohander Mendez, LHP, Texas

It must be nice to be able to trade away Luis Ortiz and Dillon Tate and still be able to feel good about your future pitching. For the Rangers, Mendez allows just that. Signed as a 17-year-old out of Venezuela in 2012, Mendez has already shown skills that make his $1.5 million signing bonus look like a flat-out steal. While the lefty’s combo of high strikeouts and low walks has been on display since he signed (and probably before then, I’d imagine, but I can’t prove it), the team handled Mendez with kid gloves, not allowing more than 46 innings until his 2015 run in the Sally League.

In 2015, Mendez started to creep onto the radar as a prospect to watch with a stellar performance in Level A ball. In 66 1/3 innings, he fanned 74 batters, while issuing only 15 free passes. The Rangers continued to heavily monitor his innings, however, as Mendez only made eight starts in his 21 appearances. Those eight starts were enough to create some buzz for him, and he entered the 2016 season as the eighth best prospect in the Rangers’ system, according to Baseball Prospectus.

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The Top 250 Dynasty Football Rankings – August 2016

Making fantasy football rankings is a relative breeze, because unlike other sports that can be highly format dependent, my rankings would remain mostly unchanged for any league size or type.

Don’t get me wrong, if you play in a 14-team Superflex or two-QB league, a quarterback is incrementally more valuable than if you play in a 12-team league of the same type. So you should remain aware of the nuances of your own league (TE premium, PPR, etc.). Still, the goal—get potential starters that can contribute over many years—remains the same. Mine are necessarily designed for those 2QB leagues (so fade QBs if you play in single quarterback leagues) and tend to lean towards PPR since that is the dominant format today.

I’ve played fantasy football for decades, keeper league football since 2009 until going from zero to sixty on to to dynasty football in recent years. (I can’t imagine playing redraft ever again.) Here’s the kind of roster you can end up with if you follow my WR/QB-heavy strategy. I will need to trade for a running back or two before the season starts, but I should be pretty well set up to contend for an extended run. And if you want to read more about my general philosophies as a dynasty player (so you know what you’re getting yourself into), I wrote them out here.

In addition to general experience, I tend to get a lot of football information from my favorite sites like Rotoviz, Rotoworld, 4for4 and ProFootballFocus.

Without further adieu… the rankings:

*8/25 Edit. Find the 8/23 update here.

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An Adventure, An Introduction, and Three Guiding Principles

When Bret approached me about helping him expand The Dynasty Guru to include dynasty football and basketball content, I was intrigued. I had just started my own blog (RIP “TheNostraThomas.com”) and in its short life, I really enjoyed the creative outlet and sharing my enthusiasm for the dynasty format with others.

I hemmed and hawed—people seemed to really think the URL was clever. How could I give that up? Could I really turn my back upon the dozens upon dozens of mothers and in-laws that I sent my articles to after weeks of loyal reading?

Then he told me the specifics of what an incredible following he and his colleagues at TDG have already garnered. I could not resist but to jump on the bandwagon and, Godzingis* willing, help it grow further.

I could not be more excited about getting started at TDG. If you’re like me, you come to TDG for the rankings and stay for the thoughtful analysis of specific players throughout the year. In the short term, I will focus on producing rankings for hoops and football, along with contributing to the baseball rankings, and update them as much as I possibly can.

Whether you choose to follow those rankings is up to you, but perhaps I can pull back the curtain in to how I evaluate players.

I owe much of my success in dynasty sports to three philosophies that govern most of my decisions.

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How do quality starts change pitcher value?

A few weeks ago I joined a twenty-team auction dynasty league. The settings for this league were a bit different than any other league I had been in, even beyond the dollar value attached to each player. This league uses quality starts instead of wins, and on-base percentage and slugging percentage instead of batting average. Even though I have until the offseason to develop a valuation system, I was immediately curious of the effect that replacing wins with quality starts would have on player value. I previously had resisted proposals to convert my long-time dynasty league into using quality starts rather than wins .Although I recognize that wins are an imperfect statistic and very team dependent, I felt no more positively about quality starts. You can make the case that a pitcher deserves better than nothing for a 1-0 loss. However, I would argue that it’s no different than a hitter who hits 4 doubles without a home run. Sure, the rarest statistic isn’t obtained but all the smaller pieces, the strikeouts, lack of base runners, lack of runs, all go into the end result. I would counter with the opinion that a pitcher who allows three earned runs in six innings is not any better than a pitcher who allows four earned runs in nine innings. In fact, I’d say he was markedly less valuable.

 

Either way, here are the results of my study. For this edition, I focused solely on quality starts and wins with all statistics from the 2015 season.

 

Below is a list of all players whose rank improved by 20 or more spots due to the change from wins to quality starts.

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