Steering Into the Skid – Results from the “Beat Jeff Erickson” Draft

My baseball draft season began in earnest Tuesday night with the “Beat Jeff Erickson” contest in the NFBC’s RotoWire Online Championship. As a quick reminder, there are two components to this contest – your 12-team league, and an overall contest that over 1,700 entries last year, at $350 per person. There’s no trading in the league, and the pressure to do well in the overall contest in addition to the individual league creates the incentive to contend in all categories.

That said, there’s a difference between competing in all categories, and exiting the draft with a perfectly balanced team. For starters, the latter concept is mostly an illusion – we think we have balance, but injuries and managerial whims often conspire from attaining that balance, let alone the volatile nature of the game. You may very well think you have 90 saves in the bag after a draft, but you might have 30, or you might have 120. The latter is fine, except that you probably invested more resources than you needed to hit your target number, preventing you from contending in other categories overall.

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It Don’t Mean a Thing if You Ain’t Got That Swing(ing Strike Rate)

Alex Colome led Major League Baseball in saves with 47 in 2017. He did that despite seeing his strikeout rate drop from 31.4% in 2016 to 20.6% in 2017. While he had a 3.24 ERA, his xFIP ERA was all the way up to 4.32. I already viewed him as a risk because of his likelihood of being dealt, but when DVR and I were talking about closers on our SiriusXM show this week, he named him as one of the established closers that he’s most worried about. He cited Colome’s 11.9% swinging strike rate, which was 85th among all qualified relievers last year. As a point of reference, Craig Kimbrel led all relievers with a 19.8% swinging strike rate, followed by Kenley Jansen at 18.2%.

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NFBC Replacement Value

What’s more valuable, 200 strikeouts from a starting pitcher or 37 home runs from an outfielder? The answer isn’t obvious, and it’s actually not knowable without having information about the league context. The context in which I’ve been most interested lately is the NFBC format, in this case the 12-team. And before we can answer the question even for that specific format, we need to understand the concept of replacement value.

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