Articles by Jason Collette

A listing of all the articles written by Jason Collette for the RotoWire Blog.

My Rotowire|FRONTS|NFBC Online Championship Team

If you would like to see the complete draft results, in order, click here.

My roster:

C – Buster Posey (4.10)
C – Alex Avila (27.3)
1B – Jose Abreu (7.3)
3B – Evan Longoria (2.10)
CI – Kyle Seager (11.3)
2B – Martin Prado (12.10)
SS – Jonathan Villar (16.10)
MI – Brad Miller (17.3)
OF – Andrew McCutchen (1.3)
OF – Carlos Gomez (3.3)
OF – Desmond Jennings (8.10)
OF – Austin Jackson (14.10)
OF – Josh Reddick (18.10)
U – Colby Rasmus (20.10)
P – David Price (5.3)
P – James Shields (6.10)
P – David Robertson (9.3)
P – Hyun-Jin Ryu (10.10)
P – Hiroki Kuroda (13.3)
P – John Axford (15.10)
P – Corey Kluber (19.3)
P – Rick Porcello (21.3)
P – Jose Quintana (22.10)
R – Kelly Johnson (23.3)
R – Anthony Rendon (24.10)
R – Wily Peralta (25.10
R – Chad Qualls (26.3)
R – Jonathon Niese (28.10)
R – Kendrys Morales (29.3)
R – Gregory Polanco (30.10)

I missed out a few targets later in the draft, including Chris Johnson who I have been able to safely get in every draft I’ve done this season. Now that he is hitting cleanup, the RBI and average potential are there and I ended up with power upside but average downside in Reddick and Rasmus around him. Oh well. The fact he went 226th after starting the season with an ADP in the 300’s makes me happy.

Do You Have To Spend It All?

This was the email I received today from a friend. He and I have played in home leagues together for quite some time now, and I’ve always found him a challenge to draft against because he is tough to read. He also ends up taking a lot my reserve targets in that part of the draft each year!

He had a question for me about spending in a keeper auction:

Everything I read says it is important to spend your entire budget at the draft. What I don’t understand is why.

I don’t dispute the notion it’s just that I have a hard time reconciling bargains or under value pickups with over spending just so you can use all your money. More than once I’ve left money on the table and been the subject of ridicule so that I feel I’ve lost before the first game has been played. However I should point out that recently I won a league without spending my entire budget.

Does the dynamics of keeper league’s affect this at all. When is over spending for the sole purpose of spending your budget okay? For example If I have have a Cabrera valued at $50 and the bidding goes to $60, should I keep bidding because I have the budget it for it or should I look for something elsewhere? I am not as adept as a lot of players in fantasy but growing up around New York City poolrooms thought me that you have to pay to learn so I don’t mind paying and losing. As long as I am learning.

This is one concept I can’t get my mind around and would really appreciate any help you might be willing to offer. I enjoy the game and would just like to be more competitive, make less mistakes etc.

There are some excellent questions here. Let’s look at each one separately.

Why do I have to spend all of my money? In a reset league, the simple answer is that you cannot take that money home with you. Bargains at the draft are always great, but if your team is completely full of bargains and you still have some money left over at the end of a reset league, you either have an issue with the dollar values you are utilizing, or the rest of your league mates do. If you end a draft with a few bucks left over, it is one thing. If you get to your final three slots with $30-$60 left over, which I witness happen twice in Tout Wars this weekend, you have an imperfect storm of poor execution and issues with your dollar values.

Does the dynamics of a keeper league affect this at all? Absolutely, it does. Keeper leagues present inflation, which makes all standard published dollar values the starting point for research rather than the final answer. You have to get your keeper lists, and then see how much value out of the talent pool is being protected in order to know how much to inflate the dollar values of the players available. In a keeper league, you buy what fits your plan. If your plan is a two to three year plan, buy accordingly. Last season in a league he and I play together in, I had a rather poor keeper list and I quickly figured out once the guys I really wanted were going several dollars over my projections, I punted the season at the draft.

For example, I wanted Matt Kemp at $45. He went $51. The first five guys I wanted each went at least $6 more than I had projected. I decided to let people spend their money and then bought mid-tier guys for the sole purpose of trading for better keepers. I ended up trading for Billy Hamilton, Gregory Polanco, Archie Bradley, and Eddie Butler in this league while also landing Anthony Rendon, Andrelton Simmons, and a somewhat cheap Hanley Ramirez. It put my keeper list for 2014 in much better shape and rather than chasing multiple numbers, I was able to chase a more narrowed skill set in my most recent auction.

When is over spending for the sole purpose of spending your budget okay?
This is never OK in a keeper league. You are buying a player for multiple years, so there is no reason to throw a lot of money on your final players simply because you have it. If you walk away from a keeper league auction with money on the table and you have hit your categorical targets that you wanted to hit, job well done. If you fell short, and left money on the table, you can play the couldawouldashoulda game and figure out who  you may have landed had you gone the extra dollar or three. In a reset league, this depends on the rules. Early in an auction, if you have Cabrera at $50 on your sheet and are also the high money man by $10 or more dollars, you do not need to give up the high ground simply because you have the advantage. You can, and let people drive you up or stick them with the player, or you can wait and buy two $30 players later when others will be powerless to stop you.

You are not fooling anyone if you throw down your final $15 on a second catcher or a middle reliever because you had the money. The critics are still going to find issues with your roster. In Tout Wars, we have rules that allow you to reclaim a player’s auction salary in FAAB dollars. Yesterday, a Tout Wars owner dropped $61 on Brandon Beachy to salvage his draft and will get to reclaim that as FAAB giving him 60|PERCENT| more FAAB dollars to play with throughout the season. He can trade that money, or he can spend that money to help improve the holes in his team. Outside of those two reasons, if you are the high money owner on the board two-thirds of the way through a reset auction, ignore your dollar values and buy the players that you most need to get as close to your categorical benchmarks as possible.

In the end, auctions all come down to being confident in your dollar values and not letting others muscle you around. Keeper auctions are three year plans and dollars saved in year one are dollars earned when you get to that third year and have to decide whether or not to extend that player. If you threw $15 down on Glen Perkins three years ago because you liked him as a middle reliever and did not want to be ridiculed for leaving money on the table, you would likely be letting him walk after this season rather than extending his contract.

It is your team, it is your auction dollars, and it is your real dollars you are paying to play in the league. Be diligent with the fake money and the real money will come sooner rather than later.

My FSWA team

Monday night, I participated in a FSWA draft named after me, which they do for their annual award winners. That was not the coolest part of the draft as the best part was the league format. The rules drop batting average, home runs, and wins and replace them with on base percentage, slugging percentage, and quality starts. I love the format and wish it were more mainstream.

In reviewing the league last season, these were the benchmarks that it took to be in the top 3 in each category:

·         Runs: 1100

·         RBI: 1050

·         SB: 175

·         OBP: .342

·         SLG: .440

·         Quality Starts: 118

·         SV: 70

·         Strikeouts: 1425

·         ERA: 3.30

·         WHIP: 1.17

This is the team I ended up with, comparing the player’s draft slot to their custom RotoWire rankings using the Draft Software tool:

Player

Draft

Rank

2

2

Shin-Soo Choo

23

18

26

35

47

15

50

106

71

47

74

107

95

95

98

53

119

114

Hyun-Jin Ryu

122

72

143

384

146

99

167

292

170

197

191

218

194

434

215

221

218

128

239

249

242

281

263

463

266

201

287

252

290

342

311

604

314

301

335

146
 

28 players overall; 14 reaches, 12 profits, 2 spot on picks. Three of the five reaches were on the closing side of the fence, which can happen in a 12-team mixed league where closers are plentiful. I waited to take my closers until the 14th round and still like what I ended up with in terms of those guys getting me saves. I was surprised to get two pitching values in Estrada and Quintana when I did in the draft, especially Quintana who made strong strides in the second half of the season.

While Bogaerts was a large position player reach, there was quite a number of upset drafters when I took him where I did during the draft. He is a wild card, but he has the skills to be a top 150 player when it is all said and done. Some of the later reaches were done while pursuing production to get to my benchmarks. Erick Aybar was not my favorite MI selection when I made it, but I needed more steals and it was my last non-catcher pick remaining.

Here is how my projections ended up against my pre-draft benchmarks:

·         Runs: 1102 > 1100

·         RBI: 1006 < 1050

·         SB: 171 < 175

·         OBP: .356 > .342

·         SLG: .457 > .440

·         QS: 114 < 118

·         SV: 96 >70

·         K: 1217 < 1425

·         ERA: 3.44 < 3.30

·         WHIP: 1.20 < 1.17

The lack of strikeouts will be addressed by putting Quintana into the rotation over Qualls should he not hold the closer role, but I feel very good about the offense. Now, I just hope I do not finish poorly in my own league!

The Problem With Drafting Billy Hamilton

Me: Hamilton went $28 in NL

Fellow Writer: Godspeed my friends

Fellow Writer: Here’s the problem I have with Hamilton

Fellow Writer: 1. Can he earn it, period, but also…

Fellow Writer: 2. if you draft him, you’re almost committing to |STAR||STAR|avoiding|STAR||STAR| speed with every other pick

Fellow Writer: Your tactical options become very limitd with him, very quickly

Fellow Writer: He’s the Adam Dunn of speed

Me: He’s the linchpin of an entire offensive category. You will either finish 1st or last in steals, all dependent on him

Fellow Writer: Right

Fellow Writer: And that’s not good

Me: You’re going to take your Fielders, Cruz’s, etc around him for power, so if the kid flops, you have nothing

Me: easier in Tout since you can trade, but in NFBC, man that’s risky

Fellow Writer: Yep

Fellow Writer: He’s on my no-fly list this year

Fellow Writer: No scenario where I end up with him on any team

Me: Omar Moreno stole 60 bases with a sub .300 OBP, but will the Reds let him play that much? I think they have to because as bad as he may be, he’s still the best CF on that roster by far

Me: I have him as a rookie keeper in my home league – only way I’m owning him

Fellow Writer: They don’t have any other options, really

Fellow Writer: Heisey and Bruce are emergency backups, but who can play out there regularly? Schumaker? Ah, no

Me: yep, which is why the PT concerns really aren’t an issue for me. They’ll give him a lot of leash unless they find some alternative via the final weeks as rosters get trimmed

Fellow Writer: But here’s another thing… let’s say he plays 145 games or so

Fellow Writer: is that 60 steals? 80? 100? He’s unprojectable

Fellow Writer: There are no comps for him to determine what a realistic expectation is, and his PT last year was so specific that you can project against that

Me: I have him at a 45 steal floor

Fellow Writer: I have him at 80 for my projection/ranking purposes, but since I’m not drafting him anyway it kinda doesn’t matter :-)

Fellow Writer: That’s maybe even |STAR||STAR| conservative|STAR||STAR| based on his MiLB numbers

Undervalued, But Not For Long

I have to admit this up front – I have an irrational love for Aramis Ramirez.  He is one of just six players that are currently in a Spring Training camp with a career slugging percentage of at least .500 joining Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, David Ortiz, Alfonso Soriano, and Jason Giambi. In 6 of his past 11 seasons, he has earned at least $20 in single-league formats for players.  Over the past five seasons, only Evan Longoria has been more productive offensively at the hot corner. Longoria has a .371 weighted on base average in that time while Ramirez is tied with David Wright at .368.

He also comes with flaws. He has not played in as many as 150 games since the 2006 season. He has missed time on the disabled list in recent years with multiple knee issues, a shoulder dislocation, and hand problems. He also turns 36 years old this summer and that’s in the danger zone of the aging curves that Jeff Zimmerman of Fangraphs recently discussed.

A combination of those flaws outweigh his historical production as he is currently the 11th third baseman in terms of ADP in the latest NFBC Average Draft Positions rankings.

PLAYER

ADP

HIGHEST

LOWEST

19

5

27

23

14

35

24

11

35

62

37

81

70

35

90

82

53

124

103

76

146

113

66

181

116

74

166

149

107

180

154

101

200

156

112

188

156

90

196

171

118

222
 

I am a bit surprised that Ramirez is going 40 picks after Machado, who is coming off a major leg injury. The latest report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today was not terribly positive about Machado being ready to start the season.

If we continue to walk that timeline back, we see that Machado is still not even cleared to resume all baseball activities just yet.

It is one thing to assume an injury with the older Ramirez, but we know Machado is going to miss some time in April and that also required a leap of faith that he won’t miss any more time the rest of the season to help make up the gap.

If we use the composite projections that our friend at Fantasy411 posted the other day, Ramirez is quite the bargain if he continues to be drafted outside of the top ten at the position.

PLAYER

AB

xRUNS

HR

xRBI

AVG

12-team $

Cabrera

604

115

40

125

.322

$48

Beltre

600

90

29

102

.301

$26

Wright

565

98

22

85

.289

$25

Longoria

556

89

29

95

.267

$17

Zimmerman

569

87

24

87

.276

$16

Seager

621

90

21

83

.263

$16

Carpenter

632

98

12

74

.292

$14

Ramirez

534

82

22

82

.282

$13

Donaldson

561

86

21

80

.273

$13

Alvarez

582

85

33

98

.239

$13

Machado

607

80

16

75

.268

$11
 

11th in ADP, but 8th by roto value based on the composite projections. He comes out ahead of Machado, even with the aggressive playing time projection against the news that he is not going to be ready to start the season.

Simply put, Ramirez is currently being undervalued by the overall community. In the three expert drafts I have either participated in or observed, Ramirez has been gone by pick 130.  Perhaps some more attention and love from the experts will drive up his ADP as we get closer to the heavy part of the draft season.

A.J. Burnett’s Future

The signing of A.J. Burnett by Philadelphia was one that was met with as many shaking of heads as it was nodding of heads. On the heels of the news that Cole Hamels was experiencing bicep tendonitis, adding Burnett makes sense if the Phillies think they are a playoff contender. The problem is, they certainly do not appear to be a contender, even within their own division, on paper.

The other problem is that Burnett could not have picked a worse location for his skillset.

Burnett goes from a park that suppresses offense, PNC Park, to one that inflates it in Citizens Bank Park.

STADIUM

BASIC

1B

2B

3B

HR

PNC Park

97

101

100

92

90

Citizens Bank

101

98

101

95

105
 

The much larger issue is the change in defense. One of the things the Pirates did with Burnett after acquiring him from the Yankees was to get him to use his two-seam fastball more often.

The two-seamer quickly became a weapon for him as it allowed him to generate groundballs at a near-career best rate. In two seasons with Pittsburgh, Burnett had groundball rates of 56.9|PERCENT| and 56.5|PERCENT|; only his 2005 effort with the Marlins was higher.

The increased groundballs played right into the strength of the Pirates as an increased emphasis on defense allowed them to turn around their team defensive efficiency from the league’s worst in 2010 to the fifth best this past season.  In 2010, the Pittsburgh defense gave away 77 runs on defense; in 2013, they saved 68 (via Baseball Info Solutions). The Pirates saved 24 runs on the infield with their shifts, which was the 7th-best total in all of baseball and the 3rd-best in the National League behind the Dodgers (38) and the Rockies (28).

Conversely, the Phillies were the worst in both situations as their infield defense costs the team 50 runs in 2013.  Jimmy Rollins, Michael Young, , Cody Asche, Freddy Galvis and the other players that played the left side of the infield accounted for 42 runs lost on defense. Michael Young was the worst at third base in the league with -20 runs and Rollins was the fourth-worst at shortstop with -15 runs. Three of the four members of the last-place defense return and Young is replaced with Asche, who is more known for his offense than his defense.

The other part of this equation is who Burnett will be throwing to.

In 2012, Burnett threw all but 8.1 innings with Rod Barajas behind the plate. This was done mainly because Burnett is slow to the plate and the other catcher, Mike McKenry, was a poor thrower. Barajas was one of the worst catchers in terms of framing pitches as he was 12.9 runs below average. That season, Burnett had 34.2|PERCENT| of his pitches called for strikes. Last season, Burnett threw almost exclusively to Russell Martin, who was one of the best pitch framers in the league at 15.8 runs above average. Burnett saw his percentage of called strikes jump up two percentage points to 36.3|PERCENT| and Burnett finished 2013 with a career-best 3.30 ERA and his lowest WHIP since 2007.

Now, he moves to Carlos Ruiz as his primary catcher, who was six runs below average in 2013 after finishing five runs above average the previous season. Ruiz ranked 36th out of 47 catchers last season in generating called strikes; Martin ranked 23rd. On converting pitches out of the strike zone into called strikes, Ruiz ranked 38th while Martin ranked 20th.

The ballpark, the defense, the receiving; all signs point to a tougher season for A.J. Burnett in 2014 compared to what he has done the previous two seasons.

 

Man Can Live on Fastball Alone

One is young, one is old. One throws lefty, one throws righty. One is skinny, one us far from it. One uses his delivery to hide the ball from batters and the other uses his girth. One consistently pounds the strike zone while the other approaches it with shotgun aim. Despite their differences, they have very similar results across the board.

Most would guess that the younger Cingrani throws the harder fastball, and they would be right. Cingrani had an average fastball velocity of 91.8 mph last season, topping out at 96.3. Colon was further down the list at 89.9 mph, but he would occasionally dot 96 on the radar gun as well. The bigger difference shows up in how each pitcher used the fastball to achieve similar results.

Pitcher Pitches Miss|PERCENT| Strike|PERCENT| Called Str|PERCENT| In Play|PERCENT| GB|PERCENT| FB|PERCENT|
Colon 2367 12.5|PERCENT| 69.2|PERCENT| 39.7|PERCENT| 46.6|PERCENT| 42.5|PERCENT| 38.8|PERCENT|
Cingrani 1483 24.3|PERCENT| 66.5|PERCENT| 35.0|PERCENT| 31.4|PERCENT| 33.6|PERCENT| 49.6|PERCENT|

Despite the fact batters made more contact with Colon’s fastball and put a much higher percentage of them in play, Colon had the lower opponents’ OPS of the two pitchers while opponents’ batting average against Cingrai’s fastball was 62 points lower. The larger difference came in how each limited their overall damage.

Colon faced 769 batters and allowed just 29 free passes to those batters while allowing 14 home runs. Cingrani also permitted 14 home runs, but did so facing just 420 batters and walked 43. Colon’s 3.8|PERCENT| walk rate was one of the best in baseball while Cingrani’s 10.2|PERCENT| was below the league average for starting pitchers. That helped Colon post the better ERA by 0.27 points last season despite the lower LOB|PERCENT|.

If your goal is to get a pitcher that is going to help you in all four starting pitching categories, Cingrani is the clear winner simply because of the strikeout dominance. That said, the combination of a high walk rate and a very high LOB|PERCENT| for a starting pitcher are worrysome. The gap between his 2.92 ERA and 3.78 FIP last season give you a caution flag to stare at. Additionally, the fact he lost velocity as the season went on is another caution flag for the young hurler. 

If you are later in your draft and are looking for help with your ratios while letting the Win Gods do what they do, consider letting the big fat one (as Matthew Berry would declare in each Tout Wars auction) waddle his way on your roster.