Articles by Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson is a co-founder of RotoWire.com and the only two-time winner of Baseball Writer of the Year from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He roots for the Reds, Bengals, Red Wings, Pacers and Northwestern University (the real NU).

Charging The Mound – Adjusting On The Fly

Chris (Sunday March 15, 11:35 PT):

There was some chance I wound up in Swanay’s situation, but actually the bigger risk was I’d panic and overpay to avoid it. I knew from prior experience what players typically fetch, and I had a keen eye on the diminishing talent remaining, so I knew most of the way there were still players on whom I could spend all my money. The one moment where I thought I might have screwed up was when I filled my corner, OF and UT slots because I had only a catcher, two MIs and five pitchers to buy with $48. Essentially I had shut myself out of potential players like Joe Mauer (who went for $11 late, and on whom I would have gone $12 had I been able to bid), so that hampered my ability to spend on some of the values still on the board. Had all the pitchers gone for $3-$5 instead of $6-$10, I might have left a few bucks on the table (though I could have bought more expensive end-game MIs in that case.) But I wanted to leave $0 on the table and overpay for no one. I feel I was able to do that, though in a perfect world, I might have passed on Ervin Santana rather than buying him for $8.

Moving the Needle – Snakes Draft

Here are a couple of items from Sunday that caught my eye. Each day it seems as if the news coming out of each team’s respective camps is more relevant, with more items moving the needle.

Diamondbacks Nuggets:

Yasmany Tomas is already getting slated for outfield time during the first week of spring training. While the Diamondbacks want him to win the third base job outright, it’s pretty clear that they’re not quite all-in on the decision. They want Jake Lamb (who has some upside potential) to get some third base reps, and they want to preserve the possibility of Tomas playing in the outfield as well. There’s a non-zero chance that Tomas will have to begin the year in the minors if his defense at third base doesn’t improve – such a scenario would at least alleviate the playing time squeeze that they have between Lamb, Ender Inciarte (so good, he’s already had a movie made about his game) and David Peralta. If Tomas does win a starting job at either spot, it’s also possible that one of my pet favorites, A.J. Pollock, could also lose a handful of at-bats. One of the tricky parts of handicapping this race is that Arizona has a new management team in manager Chip Hale and GM Dave Stewart – we don’t really know yet who their favorites are, though one would have to think that with the amount invested in Tomas, they want him to win one of those jobs.

Swinging Strike Rate Outliers

Derek VanRiper and I had a discussion about Swinging Strike Rate as an indicator for future success, and Rick Wolf cited that metric as a reason why he and Glenn Colton loved Corey Kluber in Peter Kreutzer’s Magazine, in their Champions section for winning AL Tout Wars. A high Swinging Strike Percentage (SwStr%) should obviously translate into a high strikeout rate, but on occasion the latter stat can lag behind. A pitcher might not have mastered a secondary pitch, or otherwise has command issues that have prevented him from maxing out his strikeout rate. But if a pitcher can miss bats when they swing, it’s an obvious indicator of good times to come. Before Kluber’s monster breakout in 2014, he had SwStr’s over 10.0% in all four years in which he pitched in the majors, a rate that would put him in the top 20 among qualified starting pitchers.

Charging the Audit, Avoiding the Pitfalls

A reminderChris Liss and I are moving this to the blog – something we should have done years ago. No more waiting for four replies to publish, no more editing in the times of publication so painstakingly – just the ongoing conversation. And it’s no longer behind a paywall.

Chris (8:22 pm PT, Sunday, February 22)

I wrote up my “Beat Chris Liss” league here. I was reasonably happy with it, though I had the handicap of going against a few guys who listen to the show a lot and for God knows what reason were swayed by my arguments for some of “my players.” It’s the same thing that happens in the Vegas football draft when most people are drafting off the newly minted RotoWire magazine rankings (which I made), and I have to draft a whole different set of players than I do in other leagues. For example, I like Zack Greinke more than most, but he went at 3.3 (27 overall), and Bryce Harper was gone before I picked in the third round too.

Battle-Testing Your Rankings

“No plan survives first contact with the enemy.”

The process of projecting and ranking players is something I believe to be separate enterprises – you should first try to project what the player will do *before* seeing how he slots. Sometimes I change my mind about a particular player – on occasion I’ll upgrade or downgrade a guy after seeing a guy “out of line.” It’s not that I’ll adjust the projection to the slot, but instead I’ll take a closer look and see if there’s any aspect of that projection that’s wrong. My goal isn’t to match up with a player’s ADP by any means, but more to make sure that there’s an aspect that I haven’t overlooked.

But ranking players in the abstract is one thing. Once you get in the middle of the draft and test out your projections, you can find that what at once was logical might not make sense any longer. Mock drafts and mock auctions are one thing and helpful, but when a league counts and you’re on the clock and I just don’t want to take that player at the top of the queue, it’s a lot more instructive, especially if you play in multiple leagues. I don’t want to sacrifice one league, but that first league is always going to illustrate where I need to make changes.

Such was the case last week, when I participated in the LABR Mixed League draft. The full results of the draft can be seen here. My experiences in that draft also helped influence my input in the latest RotoWire Roundtable.