Fantasy Baseball Blog Fantasy Baseball

MLB Position Eligibility Changes

One of the most interesting database projects that comes up each fall is sweeping for players whose position eligibility has changed. In many instances, players become eligible at more valuable positions for the upcoming year, and in others, players lose eligibility at a more valuable position. Some very low-end players with fewer than 20 games played at any position are omitted from the list, even though their default position on the site has been updated.

MLB Playoffs Cheat Sheet

Here’s a quick MLB Playoffs Cheat Sheet. This is for 5×5 leagues, assuming that you have a single draft before the playoffs start, without any redrafts after a round of the playoffs is completed. As such, we’re trying to project who is going to play more games in addition to simply evaluating players. Positions are based on 20 games played during the 2016 regular season.

My operating assumptions:

  • I like the Giants and Blue Jays slightly better in the Wild Card games, but neither Wild Card winner to advance beyond the next round.
  • I’m picking against the Indians and Nationals in their respective Divisional Round matchups because their starting pitching is so decimated.
  • Even though I like the Giants and Jays to have better chances, many of their respective top players are buried in the rankings because of the risk that they play just one game, or none at all in the case of their starting pitchers. At best, they’re 52-48 favorites.
  • My team preferences are pretty chalky – I like, in this order: Cubs, Dodgers, Rangers, Red Sox, if I’m building a stack in drafts.

NFBC – The “Beat Ryan Rufe League” Final Update

2016 was my fourth year playing the National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) against some of the best fantasy baseball players in the world. In the past, I’ve been successful in the $150 NFBC Draft Champions format (15 teams, 50 rounds, no in-season pickups), finishing as high as 55th overall out of 2,880 teams in 2015. But the $350 NFBC RotoWire Online Championship (12 teams, 30 rounds, with in-season pickups) has always been a different story. Entering this season, I was 0-for-3 in the “OC,” finishing 3rd in my league twice and 4th once in previous attempts. For those unaware, the OC awards prizes for the top-2 finishers in each league, so you can imagine the frustration I’ve experienced in this particular format, especially given the $350 entry fee. $350 may not be a lot to some people, but to me, it’s a hefty chunk of change, or an average grocery bill for my family of five (including two very hungry teenagers). Believe me, I wouldn’t be dropping that much if I wasn’t confident in my abilities to hang with NFBC’s finest.

Back in March, I asked myself what I could do differently to find success in the NFBC Online Championship. I’m no stats expert, so diving deep into xFIP, wOBA and other sabermetrics was not part of my agenda. That’s not to say I ignored those statistics completely, but if I stare at numbers too long, I risk battling a throbbing headache that only a dose of Kershaw highlights can cure. As an alternative, I decided to it would benefit myself and perhaps other loyal readers of the RotoWire Blog to track my progress, or lack thereof, in writing.

Back on April 1, I drafted my $100k grand prize, NFBC RotoWire Online Championship team. You may remember the updates I posted at the beginning of June and August documenting my position in the league and the overall contest, the logic behind my free-agent pickups/drops, and recaps of my players’ performance. Consider this blog post the final installment of my 4-part 2016 NFBC Online Championship series.

When I was typing my August update, I was sitting in 3rd place in my league, 29.5 points out of first place and 20.5 points out of second, thinking my season was over. Clayton Kershaw and Wade Davis were injured at the time. I thought I had no chance (cue Vince McMahon’s theme) of turning my season around. I was mentally preparing myself for yet another 3rd or 4th place finish. Many fantasy players would have checked out under these circumstances, but I was fortunate to grow up with excellent rec-league coaches (who also happened to be my parents) who taught me to play hard no matter what, and battle to the end no matter how poorly things were going. Yes, it was a grind, but I finally accomplished a goal that had eluded me for three years prior. I cashed in the NFBC RotoWire Online Championship.

Here are the final standings of my self-proclaimed “Beat Ryan Rufe League”:

nfbc-standings-20161003

I realize 2nd place is nothing to brag about. I would have loved to finish 1st in my league and place high enough in the overall standings — I finished 144th out of 1,632 entries — to take home an additional prize. I’ll just have to work a bit harder to have a shot at that $100k next year, both in draft preparation and in-season roster management.

So how did I overcome a 20.5 point deficit to climb back into the race and nearly win the league? Let’s dive in.

In years past, I used to think the FAAB process was a nightmare. I used to dread Sunday evenings, pondering how many FAAB dollars I’d have to waste on the new hot closer who likely only held onto the job for a week. This year, I found the FAAB process to be much less stressful, mainly because invested early draft picks on two reliable closers, Wade Davis and Cody Allen. I also landed Sam Dyson for cheap right before he was named closer in Texas and got save contributions from Kevin Jepsen and Dellin Betances along the way. Chasing saves is the absolute WORST. I’ll probably stick with a similar plan next year and target the ultra-reliable closers early in drafts — guys like Britton and Chapman, who will get you the saves along with elite ratios and strikeout totals.

FAAB Results (Weeks 19-26) & Observations

After submitting my August update, I only had $6 FAAB dollars to spend, so I won’t go too in-depth here. In Week 19, I added Jorge Soler and Mike Fiers for $1 apiece, dropping Randal Grichuk (minors) and Cody Allen (CLE acquired Andrew Miller). I added Reynaldo Lopez for $1 in Week 20 (dropping Tim Anderson) and Raisel Iglesias for $1 in Week 21 (dropping Matt Holliday). I was lucky to nab Alex Reyes for $1 in Week 22 (dropping Lance McCullers) and in Week 24, I spent my last FAAB dollar on Andrew Benintendi (dropping Stephen Strasburg). None of these players did much for me, but I was BARELY fielding a healthy lineup and all were active for me at some point down the stretch.

Next year, I’ll be more careful with how I manage my FAAB dollars through July and budget a lot more for the final two months of the season. Sure, I was still able to land some high-upside players with $6 measly FAAB dollars, but I also missed out on guys like Gary Sanchez, Edwin Diaz, Tyler Thornburg, CJ Cron, Robert Gsellman, Ryon Healy and Dee Gordon. I was also forced to start the injured Jorge Soler and Daniel Murphy over the last few weeks of the season because I was FAAB-broke and couldn’t add healthy replacements.

FAAB Success Stories

Evan Gattis ($76, Week 7) – I was extremely fortunate that Gattis gained catcher eligibility when he did, otherwise I would have been stuck with AJ Pierzynski, Dioner Navarro, James McCann or Chris Herrman as my C2 behind Brian McCann.

Sam Dyson ($22, Week 7) – Contributed 34 saves to my squad, kept me afloat in the saves category when Davis was injured.

Jose Ramirez ($12, Week 9) – One of the main reasons why I was successful this season. Hit well over .300 with moderate pop, solid run production and 18 steals. And to think Derek Dietrich was my primary waiver target that week!

Jameson Taillon ($303, Week 12) – Spending $303 wasn’t exactly a win, but he did give me 70 solid innings with good ratios and strikeout totals. Wins (2) were the only thing lacking.

Tyler Naquin ($2, Week 15) – Was a platoon option for the Indians and struggled down the stretch for a bit, but still hit .273 for me.

Sean Manaea ($7, Week 17) – Brilliant down the stretch, elevated his fantasy stock for next year. A big reason why I climbed back into contention.

Alex Bregman ($12, Week 18) – His disastrous first week in the majors enabled me to land him on the cheap. Bregman proceeded to go on a tear before missing 14 games in September. He’s another reason why I climbed back into contention.

FAAB Busts

Kevin Jepsen ($334, Week 3) – Killed my ratios and netted only five saves over 20 innings.

Byron Buxton ($30, Week 10) – Added him for steals, but hit just .181 over 81 at-bats for me, with only 3 base swipes.

Tim Anderson ($121, Week 11) – He didn’t perform poorly (he hit .274 after all), but I added him for steals and he only gave me four of those.

Trea Turner

Yes, he gets his own section. I drafted Turner in the 26th round and patiently anticipated his mid-July arrival. That patience was rewarded, as Trea single-handedly helped me gain 7 points in the stolen base category alone. Not only that, he hit .342 with 13 homers and 40 RBI while crossing the plate 53 times for Stealing Signals, giving me a boost in all 5 hitting categories. Turner also provided position flexibility (2B/OF), which was extremely helpful to me when Lorenzo Cain, Matt Holliday and Randal Grichuk (minors) all missed time in the latter months.

Draft Gems

No explanation needed for the guys I drafted in Rounds 1-4, as Kershaw, Springer, Strasburg and Votto all did what they were supposed to do. Wade Davis (Rd6) and Kyle Seager (Rd7) were steady contributors. Aside from Turner (Rd26), the true heroes for Stealing Signals were Carlos Martinez (Rd8), Stephen Piscotty (Rd13), Kenta Maeda (Rd14), Daniel Murphy (Rd16), Dellin Betances (Rd17) and  Jerad Eickhoff (Rd22). Martinez paced my rotation with 16 wins and 180.1 innings pitched, while posting an impressive 2.60 ERA and 1.18 WHIP with 162 strikeouts. Piscotty entered the season with a fair amount of hype, but most (including myself) drafted Grichuk ahead of him. Nobody really knew if Maeda would make a successful transition to MLB, but he passed that test with flying colors. Murphy flat-out raked all year — thanks Daniel! Betances was overlooked in my draft because he didn’t open 2016 as the Yankees’ closer, but he ended up the role anyway after Brian Cashman dealt away Chapman and Miller. Last but not least, I hated my Eickhoff pick when I made it, thinking it was a reach for someone who only had 8 big league starts under his belt at the time. He ended up being a nice surprise.

End of Season Stat-Wrap

Here’s a summary of my pitching stats:

pitching-standings-20161003

Here’s a summary of my hitting stats:

batting-standings-20161003

Hopefully this was helpful to those who have been along for the ride over the past 6 months. I’m very passionate about the NFBC and always love talking/sharing strategy. Notice something that I could have done better? Want to share success stories/failures? Hit me on Twitter anytime.

NFBC – The “Beat Ryan Rufe League” Update v.2

Four months of the MLB season is in the books and I wanted to check back in on the standings of the NFBC “Beat Ryan Rufe League”. As a reminder, this is a 12-team mixed league, standard 5×5 scoring, no trades allowed, as part of the $100k grand prize RotoWire Online Championship.

NFBC Standings 20160802

As you can see, my squad “Stealing Signals” is still in third place out of 12 teams (standings as of August 2, 2016). I’m 29.5 points out of first place and 20.5 points from cashing — far worse than the 16 point and 10 point deficits than I had when I posted my previous update back in June.

I currently sit in 474th place out of 1,644 teams overall — 233 spots lower than my previous update. Every morning, I receive my auto-generated Daily Report email from NFBC and shed a few tears as I slip further and further away from cashing in my self-proclaimed “Beat Ryan Rufe League.”

RotoWire & FanDuel Fantasy Baseball Championship – Week 14

Where does the time go? Not only is the season at its halfway point, but there are also just two weeks left for RotoWire readers to qualify for the championship round of the 2016 RWBC tournament. The top-10 from each event are entered into the finale on July 22nd, which carries a $5,000 prize pool. There are plenty of other goodies to be won along the way, so don’t miss the opportunity to grab your share. Full contest rules can be found here.

Friday Fantasy Pickup: Dee Gordon, 2B, Marlins

Gordon was suspended 80 games in late April after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He is still four weeks away from returning, but his ownership levels will rapidly increase as we close in on his return date of July 28. The rare opportunity to pick up a player of his caliber is one that, regardless of your roster situation, is too good to pass up.

There’s little doubt that, upon his activation, he will immediately jump back into the top tier of second baseman. The 28-year-old speedster will return with 61 games remaining on the Marlins’ schedule. Throughout his five-year career, Gordon has averaged one stolen base every 2.5 games — which puts him among the all-time best baserunners in that regard. Using these numbers, last season’s stolen-base champion is good for nearly 25 swipes between his return date and the end of the regular season. He’s got the green light practically every time he’s on base, and Gordon will be plenty motivated to try and surpass even this high projection.

RotoWire & FanDuel Fantasy Baseball Championship – Week 13

Some 240 years ago, a group of no-nonsense, wig-headed renegades declared themselves free of tyranny and oppression from their over-bearing government mark the brith of this great nation. Many will take this long weekend to celebrate with family and friends. You’ll eat BBQ, drink beer and and do like The Simpsons told us “celebrate the independence your country by blowing up a small part of it.” But what summer weekend would be complete without also mixing in a little MLB action.

Friday you have yet another chance to earn yourself a spot in the 2016 Rotowire & FanDuel Fantasy Baseball Championship with your weekly chance to qualify for the Championship round to be held on July 22. A top-10 finish in the weekly contest will earn you a ticket for the big dance.

Rotowire Expert Competition

Brian Pelowski put together a 200-point effort in the week 12 competition to top the field. A 41.1-point performance from James Loney along with solid nights from Mookie Betts, Manny Machado and Nolan Arrenado helped him best the field.

With three weeks left to go in the overall competition, Josh Fathollahi has put nearly 100 points between himself and the next best performer as he looks to finish out strong and wrap up the 15-week expert competition. Derek VanRiper and Andrew Par remain within striking distance, but there is very little margin for error.

Here’s how the top-11 for the year shakes out. Why top-11? Because everyone knows it just gives a much more complete picture than presenting just the top-10.

  1. Josh Fathollahi (jashfath) – 1651.8
  2. Derek VanRiper (rotowiredvr) – 1566
  3. Andrew Parr (aparr013) – 1561.1
  4. Aaron Quinn (aaronq) – 1519
  5. James Seltzer (schweppy23) – 1513.2
  6. Scott Jenstad (oaktownsj) – 1513.1
  7. Ken Crites (kencrw) – 1512.3
  8. Ronny Mor (ronnymor2) – 1507.3
  9. Jake Letarski (rotojakeski) – 1506.7
  10. AJ Scholz (bcswimmer10) -1503.7
  11. Brett Goldhammer (bretskyball) – 1480.10

Also, be sure to continue to keep tabs on the race with the full leaderboard.

Daily Strategy

Many think the DFS game takes hours and hours of prep work each and every day. And yes, having the time to thoroughly research the matchups, lineups and players can be time consuming. The great news, however, is that we’ve already done the work for you. My DFS routine has three simple steps. First, identify a solid slate — I don’t like playing with too many staggered starts given FanDuel’s lineup lock policy. Next, find your pitcher. Since you’re only starting one, just pony up the cash. And finally, plug that pitcher into RotoWire’s Daily MLB Lineup Oprtimizer and let the magic of the interwebs find you some value. Sure, there’s always room for tweaks, but really, the heavy lifting is already done. It’s as simple as that.

Value Plays

SP Jason Hammel Chicago Cubs @ New York Mets

Fanduel Price: $8,800

For a few years now, Jason Hammel has remained one of the more underrated starters in the game. Since 2014, he’s quietly posted a 3.40 ERA, 1.12 WHIP while racking up 8.3 K/9. These are top-30 type starter numbers in the fantasy game but he’s rarely recognized as having ace-type upside. Hammel is in the midst of his best season as a pro, holding a 2.58 ERA and 1.08 WHIP through his first 15 starts this season. Despite a recent dip in strikeouts, he’s remained effective and  gets a solid matchup Friday against a Mets offense that ranks in the bottom third in the league against right-handed pitching. Take the plunge.

SS Jonathan Villar Milwaukee Brewers @ St. Louis Cardinals

Fanduel Price: $3,300

He remains one of the biggest breakout bats of the 2016 season, bringing an overall .299/.380/.430 line into Friday’s action. Villar has done his best work against left-handed pitching, posting a .321 average with 18 runs scored  in 81 at-bats against southpaws this season. He’ll get lefty Jaime Garcia on Friday and makes a solid investment with some power/speed upside at an affordable price.

OF Ryan Braun Milwaukee Brewers @ St. Louis Cardinals

Fanduel Price: $3,800

Sticking with a little Brew-crew mini-stack, lets turn our attention Ryan Braun who enters the game riding an 11-game hitting streak over which time he’s put together a .409/.458/.705 line with a couple of homers, eight runs scored, eight RBI and a steal. Braun’s body has been anything but durable in the recent past, but he’s clearly feeling good right now and, hey, we only care about today!

High Risk/High Reward

1B Paul Goldschmidt Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Francisco Giants

Fanduel Price: $3,900

Goldy’s .350/.432/.563 performance in June made everyone forget about his sluggish start of the season. He remains one of the top true hitters in baseball and certainly warrants being one of the pricier bats in his lineup. A Friday showdown with Johnny Cueto may give some potential owners pause about inserting the big slugger into their lineup, but Goldy has done solid work when given the chance against Cueto, notching six hits in 16 at-bats with a home run. Of course, Cueto is capable of dominating just about every time he takes the bump, so risk remains.

Steer Clear

SP Johnny Cueto San Francisco Giants @ Arizona Diamondbacks

Fanduel Price: $10,700

Cueto is the unquestioned top pitcher going on Friday, but the Diamondbacks at Chase Field is a tough draw and the ace is coming off his worst start of the season. I wouldn’t necessarily run from this matchup, but I would certainly be wary of making the investment.