I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while, and got into it in detail on Jonah Keri’s podcast last week. In short, most leagues require outright collusion, i.e., one team purposely making a bad trade with another for some outside consideration, in order to veto a trade. In practice, that standard is almost never met – few people in friendly leagues are corrupt enough, for example, to agree to split the winnings at the end of the year in exchange for an advantageous deal. Instead, most bad trades that distort league outcomes are of the negligent variety.
We talk about velocity quite a bit when evaluating pitching and rightly show concern when a pitcher loses it. Jeff Zimmerman has done a great job tracking and evaluating it both in his articles and constantly updated google docs. But while generally speaking more velocity is better, and losing velocity is costly (Zimmerman estimates a 1 mph drop raises a starter’s ERA by .28), not all pitchers respond to velocity changes the same way.
Trevor Story already has seven home runs. Should you sell “high,” and if so what’s high? Is it a player like Christian Yelich or Nelson Cruz? The answer depends on what meaning you extract from Story’s mind-blowing one-week sample. In February, I emphasized how a sample’s size was only one factor, its amplitude being the other. If Story hit three homers last week, it would still be a strong start, and the sample would still be one week, but it would easier to chalk up to variance. Seven home runs per week is obviously not sustainable even for Babe Ruth on steroids in Coors, but it’s more likely we’re looking at a 25-homer baseline player (in Colorado) than it was before the season. All but the most irrationally-stubborn Story-faders would concede that, but how much more likely? Are there stats we can use to determine whether a power spike is for real?
On Saturday, April 2 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, I drafted my $125K grand prize, NFBC Main Event team. The Main Event consists of 30 15-team leagues, the members of which compete for both league prizes and the overall title. Because a substantial portion of your entry fee goes toward the overall prizes, you must draft not only with an eye on winning your individual league, but also the entire contest. There’s no trading (for obvious reasons) so you need to have a team with both upside and balance, i.e., you can’t afford to tank a category and expect to do well in the overall.
With seven drafts down and one more to go, I’ve assembled an investment portfolio of sorts in my season long leagues over the last five weeks. Here’s how it looks so far:
Reading Jeff Erickson’s take on the draft reminded me to post my own. It’s an odd format with a 1450-innings cap for your pitching stats, four outfielders, two utility spots and only one catcher. You can also have an unbalanced roster with, say, only six pitchers, for example, and three extra hitters on your bench if you like. Moreover, there are daily transactions, though free agent pickups accrue to your roster the following day. All these quirks have implications for player value, as did the fact there were only 12 teams this year as opposed to 14 or 15 in the past. Full results are here.
On Saturday, I bought our AL Tout Wars squad in a 12-team, 5 x 5 auction with 23 lineup spots and $260 budget. There are two wrinkles: (1) one of the OF spots is removed for a swingman which can be any position including pitcher; and (2) on-base-percentage (OBP) replaces batting average as a hitting category.
Here are the full results: