Author Archives: pwstein87

2013 MLB Fantasy Keeper Rankings: Outfield

Tuesday November 6th, 2012

Peter Stein:  Now that the 2012 season is over, it is time to start thinking about the 2013. For many owners, that includes deciding on keepers, although keeper systems vary from league to league. In some leagues, keepers can be held onto for an indefinite period of time, while others build upon the previous year’s draft value. Regardless of your league’s keeper setting, this piece identifies the top keeper player at each position. I chose a time period of five years; therefore, the player at each position should produce the most total fantasy value over the course of the next five years. That is, of course, assuming another Mike Trout doesn’t jump onto the scene.

Here is the outfield installment of the 2013 fantasy keeper focus:

CREAM OF THE CROP:

Mike Trout stole the spotlight in 2012. He is the complete package and a five category stud, as his rookie season looked like this: .326/30/83 and 49 steals and 129 runs. The 21-year-old can literally anchor your team in every offensive category. The most encouraging aspect to Trout’s season is that his first and second half production was very similar. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if Trout endures any type of sophomore slump. Clearly, he has the ability to make adjustments and even a slight downgrade in production from 2012 would have him at an elite level. Although I do expect a slight dip in production in 2013, Trout’s best years are still years away. Scary, right? Five years from now he will truly be in his prime and he is capable of putting together several MVP performances. If you are fortunate enough to own him in a keeper league, enjoy the ride! Read the rest of this entry

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2013 MLB Fantasy Keeper Rankings: Third Base

Tuesday October 16th, 2012

Peter Stein:  Now that the 2012 season is over, it is time to start thinking about the 2013. For many owners, that includes deciding on keepers, although keeper systems vary from league to league. In some leagues, keepers can be held onto for an indefinite period of time, while others build upon the previous year’s draft value. Regardless of your league’s keeper setting, this piece identifies the top keeper player at each position. I chose a time period of five years; therefore, the player at each position should produce the most total fantasy value over the course of the next five years. That is, of course, assuming another Mike Trout doesn’t jump onto the scene.

Here is the second installment of the 2013 fantasy keeper focus:

Third Base

Winner: Miguel Cabrera

Honorable Mention: Chase Headley, David Wright, and Ryan Zimmerman

We all know about Cabrera’s ridiculous offensive achievements in 2013. The only complaint about Cabrera is his defense at third base. However, the Tigers seem to be doing just fine right now. Even though he may not always look pretty, Cabrera has held his own defensively. Furthermore, he doesn’t look like he will be switching positions anytime soon with Fielder at first and Victor Martinez likely to DH next season. Read the rest of this entry

2013 MLB Fantasy Keeper Rankings: Installment #1

Friday October 12th, 2012

Peter Stein:  Now that the 2012 season is over, it is time to start thinking about the 2013. For many owners, that includes deciding on keepers, although keeper systems vary from league to league. In some leagues, keepers can be held onto for an indefinite period of time, while others build upon the previous year’s draft value. Regardless of your league’s keeper setting, this piece identifies the top keeper player at each position. I chose a time period of five years; therefore, the player at each position should produce the most total fantasy value over the course of the next five years. That is, of course, assuming another Mike Trout doesn’t jump onto the scene.

Here is the first installment of the 2013 fantasy keeper focus:

First Base:

Winner: Joey Votto

Honorable Mention: Paul Goldschmidt

First base is actually the most tenuous and hardest to predict position on this list.  Can we really expect Albert Pujols to be super-productive for another five years? He will be 33 next season and his struggles at the beginning of the year are certainly not encouraging. Then again, a .285/30/105/8 season is considered a major down year from him. And, we all know how much better he was after the brutal start. Edwin Encarnacion (.280/42/110/13) emerged into the mix and excluding Miguel Cabrera was the top option at first base. However, he is 29 years old and has just a career .815 OPS in eight seasons. Clearly he has made strides, but he is very tough to predict moving forward. (more…)

MLB: Final Fantasy MMXXII

Monday October 1st, 2012

Peter Stein:  Although the past week may have marked the end of your fantasy season, in many of the most competitive leagues the championship comes down to the very last games of the regular season. Just as many of these games have significant meaning to many MLB times, the same holds true with fortunate fantasy owners. If you fighting it out for a championship in the final days, then read on. If not, check back next week as the focus will shift to strategy and 2013 rankings.

First and foremost, in the final days some teams will be sitting players to rest for the playoffs or giving their youngsters a taste of the big leagues. However, with the second wild card spot implemented this year, these games actually have significance for almost half of the teams in the league. No team can rest easy, including Texas, as teams want to avoid the one game playoff. Ironically, with a now a three game lead, it will probably be the Tigers (7th best record in the AL) that will clinch first and be able to rest players. However, don’t think they will be sitting Miguel Cabrera when he is in the hunt for the elusive Triple Crown title. Thus, the good news is that you most likely don’t need to worry about your star player being benched, but these are the people you need to monitor over the final three days: Read the rest of this entry

Your Saves Savior: The Closing Strategy for Your 2013 Fantasy Baseball Team

Tuesday September 18, 2012

Peter Stein:  

The following stat is the most telling about the roles of closers from a fantasy baseball perspective: 47 players have recorded 5 or more saves and a total of 61 have record 3 or more in 2012. The dispersion of saves throughout baseball reaffirm the old fantasy adage to never overpay for saves, demonstrating just how volatile the closing position is… and the difficulty of predicting saves.

A look at the top-five save leaders tells us even more:

Fernando Rodney (0.66 ERA, 0.78 WHIP 43 saves)

Jim Johnson (2.82 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 43 saves)

Rafael Soriano (2.07 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 40 saves)

Chris Perez (3.48 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 36 saves)

Craig Kimbrel (1.14 ERA, .0.67 WHIP, 36 saves) Read the rest of this entry

Fantasy Advice for the MLB Stretch Run: Waiver Wire Gems

Tuesday September 11th, 2012

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst):

It’s that time of the year where you are hopefully competing or preparing for the playoffs/stretch run of the fantasy season. That’s why you need to be ahead of the competition and go the extra distance to secure a title because It’s the little moves that will ultimately make a difference. Understanding that the trading season is past, I have identified players likely available on your waiver wire that can help your team, as well as other advice based on player match-ups:

Ervin Santana, with a 5.21 ERA and 8-11 win/loss record has largely been a disappointment for fantasy owners in 2012. However, he has been much more of a reliable pitcher down the stretch. He is most recently coming off a 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 10K, performance against the tough hitting Detroit Tigers. Next up for Santana, who is owned in just 38.5% of ESPN leagues, is the softer hitting Oakland Athletics on Tuesday. Santana produced a 3.58 ERA in August and has allowed just 4 ER in 13.2 September innings to go with a 15:3 K/B ratio.  We know he is shaky, but he appears to be a safe start, especially as he has held the Athletics to just 4 ER in 14.2 IP in 2012. Furthermore, Santana is much stronger pitching at home, evidenced by his .210 BAA, compared to .268 on the road. Santana’s following start is slated to be at Kansas City, which could be another decent option depending on Tuesday’s outing. Read the rest of this entry

September MLB Call-Ups: The Fantasy Low-Down

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst)

In what many have dubbed the “Year of the Rookie”, can we really expect any more impact youngsters in the crop of September call-ups?  This is the time of the year that we generally have to wait to the teenagers and early twenty-something’s. However, competing teams, particularly in the NL West, have showed increased willingness, or perhaps found it a necessity, to expedite the developmental process of their minor league talent and give them a taste of the big leagues. For many, they have had more than just a taste and proved ready to produce at the big league level. As a result, after Trout and Harper led the way, there has been an implosion of young talent in the big leagues.

From a fantasy perspective; however, this does not mean that the talent well has run dry in the core of players called up when the rosters expanded this past Saturday. And, if you find yourself out of the playoff race in your league, now is the time to scout talent for next year and try to locate the bargains of the 2013 draft. A prime example of such a player in 2011 was Addison Reed, who pitched brilliantly last September and a year later is the closer of the Al Central leading White Sox. Let’s take a look at the September call-ups who have potential to provide value down the stretch as well as in the 2013 season: Read the rest of this entry

The Fantasy Implications of the Red Sox and Dodgers Blockbuster

Monday August 27th, 2012

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst):

The blockbuster trade between the Red Sox and Dodgers certainly shifted the balance of power in the NL West and marked the end of a tumultuous season in Boston. With such an unprecedented type of deal, fantasy owners, in late August nonetheless, were greatly impacted by this waiver wire trade. I, for one, lost Carl Crawford, Jose Bautista, and Adrian Gonzalez in my AL only league in the matter of a week. My first place lead will soon slip from my grasp, as I am left without any opportunity or options to improve my team this late in the game.

With the waiver wire deals we have seen over the last few years, it no longer makes sense to lineup a fantasy trade deadline with the non-waiver deadline of July 31. In reality this blockbuster only truly impacts AL and NL only leagues, but each of the players traded to the Dodgers should have a boost in value down the stretch when owners most need it.

Needless to say, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett finally have something to play for and have the benefit of a fresh start. Crawford, not knowing he would soon be traded to a contender, may have thought twice about electing for season ending surgery had he been able to predict the future. Still, despite his productive play while injured, the surgery was necessary and it sets him up for a more successful 2013 campaign.

Let’s take a look at each of these players’ values- not only for this season, but moving forward as well: Read the rest of this entry

A Fantasy Season for the 2012 Chicago White Sox

Tuesday August 21st, 2012

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst):

Some of the biggest surprises in fantasy baseball this season have come from the same team: the 2012 Chicago White Sox. As a result, the White Sox are currently sitting in first place in the AL central thanks to big turnaround seasons from Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, and Jake Peavy. Each of these guys were former fantasy studs, but performed like absolute duds in 2011.

However, the contributions to the White Sox success extend far beyond this trio of players. Let’s take a look at the entire roster, which contains fantasy contributors from top to bottom. The White Sox, similar to the Angels, Rangers, or Yankees lineups, are one of the few, and certainly the most surprising, that are almost a fantasy team in themselves.

Alejandro De Aza was finally given a chance to play by the White Sox, and for the better part of the year was one of the game’s top leadoff hitters. Injuries have slowed him down recently, but his numbers to date are great for a number three fantasy outfielder: .280/6/44 to go along with 73 runs and 21 stolen bases. Read the rest of this entry

Fantasy Baseball: Winning The Waiver Wire

Monday August 6th, 2012

Photo Courtesy of ESPN.com

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst):

In the majority of fantasy leagues, the trade deadline has already passed and owners are depending on the core roster that they have assembled all year for the final stretch run of the season. When trading becomes closed, it makes it much more difficulty to fill the void left by an injury. However, the waiver wire remains open. And although you aren’t likely to hit a home run at this point of the season, there are players still available that can prove to be the difference in a championship quest.

Here are a group of players to consider if you face an unexpected injury over the last two months of the season:

Bartolo Colon, available in 85% of ESPN leagues, continues to surprise us all with his advanced age and weight. Most recently, he shutdown the Blue Jays over eight scoreless innings at the Coliseum. Just know that Colon is not a must start option, but is a good one at home and if he faces weaker opponents like Seattle. Read the rest of this entry

In The Year of The Rookie: Who’s For Real? Comparing MLB Prospects and Suspects in Fantasy Baseball

Monday July 30th, 2012

Peter Stein:  2012 truly has been the year of the rookie.

With all of this new talent and many surprises, it most likely means that there is a lot of parity amongst fantasy leagues. This is great. But the question you must ask moving forward: which players can actually sustain this level of play? Remember that last year, the entire buzz was around Eric Hosmer, whose sophomore campaign (.232/9/42) indicates that he might actually need some time in AAA.  Don’t forget about Jason Heyward’s disappointing encore after his breakout rookie campaign too. And didn’t we all write of Anthony Rizzo after he was completely over matched by major league pitching in 2011?

Amazingly, Yoenis Cespedes has produced a stat line of .305/14/54 and 8 SB through 69 games played and has no shot of winning rookie of the year. That honor will belong to Mike Trout – .350/16/49 and 31 SB in 79 total games. A plethora of other rookies are mashing too, including Rizzo (.941 OPS), Todd Frazier (.857 OPS), Will Middlebrooks (.848 OPS), and Matt Carpenter (.836 OPS). Not included in this list is Bryce Harper, who is already a dynamic fantasy option at the age of nineteen. Read the rest of this entry

MLB Trade Deadline: Fantasy Baseball Targets

Wednesday July 18th, 2012

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports):  

The upcoming trade deadline has the potential to sway the course of a fantasy season, especially in AL and NL only leagues. While the big trades are just over a week away from formulating, now is the time to make decisions instead of trying to react after the deadline. As many sub-.500 teams will be looking to deal their end of the game bullpen options to contenders, these are the players to stash away immediately:


Greg Holland, since returning form an injury in early May, has a 1.75 ERA and 36 K’s in 25.2 innings. Remember, coming into the season, he was by and large considered the favorite end of the game option before struggling and dealing with injury. Now, the reality is that Broxton will likely be traded at the deadline. He is at peak value, with a 2.14 ER and 22 saves in 26 opportunities. However, with a 23/14 K:B ratio in 33.2 innings, he is clearly not as dominate as the 2009 version of Broxton and is due for some regression. The Royals will almost certainly deal Broxton to a contender, and as a result might have to assume setup duty behind another closer. Meanwhile, Holland is more than ready to take over the save opportunities for the final two months of the season. Read the rest of this entry

MLB All-Star Break: Second Half Fantasy Baseball Targets and Flops

Wednesday July 11th, 2012

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports):  

As we sit at the All-Star break, the first half of the season brought with it many fantasy busts and surprises. This is a great opportunity to buy low on many players, as well as sell high on the players that cannot sustain their strong first half of the 2012 season.


SECOND HALF TARGETS:


Edwin Encarnacion’s power surge appears to be legit, very similar to the manner of his teammate Jose Bautista. Combine the second half of 2011 with the first half of 2012, and you are looking at 34 home runs 94 RBIs, and 19 stolen bases. Try and pry Edwin if an owner is looking to sell and acquire a more household name. Edwin continues to improve his approach the plate and is not overly benefiting from inflated BABIP or ISO numbers.


Carlos Santana had a miserable first half and with a high stock coming into 2012, many fantasy owners have been left devastated. The truth is that he ahs been consistently banged up with injuries, including a concussion, and really hasn’t been able to establish any rhythm. His stock is at an all-time low and he has the ability to produce like a top-3 catcher in the second half. Read the rest of this entry

Fantasy Baseball Report: Week of May 28th

Monday May 28th, 2012

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports):  In this week’s fantasy focus, I take a look at a group of hitter who have improved significantly in one category and as a result have seen a tremendous increase in their overall value. While some of these guys are legit, others should be traded while their value is at a peak. Also, do not miss the “Closer Corner”, as the saves category has been as frustrating and hard to predict as any in 2012. 


Martin Prado
has always been a serviceable infield option, although now only eligible at third base, due to his ability to hit for average and decent power and production. However, his average took a hit in 2011 (.260) and his career highs in home runs (15) and stolen bases (5) leaves a lot to be desired. In 2012, Prado has made an effort to be more aggressive on the base paths and has already stolen 7 bases in 8 attempts. Even 15 stolen bases would tremendously increase his overall value. I expect him to approach 20, especially as he is getting on base more with an even 21:21 walk to strikeout ratio. His average is a robust .333 (career .297) and his new approach at the plate could have Prado ending the year with a line looking something like this: .310/14/80/20.

After crushing 21 home runs in 2009, Billy Butler has disappointed many owners by hitting 15 and 19 home runs in his follow-up seasons. He is an OPS machine and the power seems to be developing in 2012, as he already has 11 home runs. Due to his size, 240 pounds, people expected the power to develop right away, but we cannot forget that he is only 26 years old. Guys typically do not reach their full power potential until their late twenties. While we know we can expect a .300 average from Butler, is appears that he will at least come close to approaching 30 home runs in 2012.  The fact that he hit 13 of his 19 home runs in the final three months of the 2011 season is even more promising for Butler owners. The only discouraging thing about Butler is that he is only eligible at the DH position in most leagues. Read the rest of this entry

Fantasy Baseball Report: Week of May 14th

Monday May 14th, 2012

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): I think we can learn a lot from Albert Pujols, Adam Dunn, and Prince Fiedler, namely that it is not an easy transition to switch leagues in the middle a career. Adam Dunn, who also reported to the White Sox rather overweight in 2011, was completely overmatched last season and put up one of the worst statistical seasons in major league history. However, in 2012 he has already matched his home run total from last season and he is actually on pace for a career year with .993 OPS (career .879). Dunn is performing like the guy who blasted 38 home runs or more eight consecutive seasons.  


Like Dunn, Pujols is struggling in his first season in the major leagues. One must figure that in addition adapting to the new surrounding and pitchers, the mental aspect has to be taking a toll on Pujols. Although I expect him to recover, it will certainly be too late in the minds of fantasy owners who took as one of the first two overall picks. I now see him as a nice buy-low candidate for 2013, in the same mold of Dunn. Although Prince Fielder is not struggling to the same degree, his .746 OPS in 2012 is well below his career .926 average. He and Pujols could still both finish the season with 30 plus homers, but it seems unlikely that they will produce at the level they were accustomed to in the NL. Look for them to both get hot at the end of the season and not struggle through the whole year like Dunn. And since Dunn looked to be one his way out of baseball and has recovered nicely, I think we can expect the same delayed results for the struggling first baseman in Detroit and Los Angeles. Read the rest of this entry

Week 4 – MLB 2012 Season: Fantasy Baseball Report

Monday April 30th, 2012

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): This offseason, I told myself (and others) to stay away from names like Matt Kemp and Josh Hamilton. It wasn’t even a question. There was no way Kemp could repeat his 2011 season (and his .380 BAPIP). But he appears to be on his way to surpassing last year and making a hard push towards the triple crown. Josh Hamilton, who I also intentionally stayed away from, simply cannot be counted on to play 150 games. Hamilton has had a Kemp-like start to the season and is also single-handedly carrying fantasy teams throughout the first month of the season. However, he did leave Sunday’s game with back tightness (out Monday as well) and this could be a start of a trend that we have seen in seasons past. 

On the pitching side, Jake Peavy was another guy who fell in the same category as Hamilton, having only made 39 starts in his 2.5 seasons with the White Sox. Furthermore, the results were poor in those starts as he transitioned from a pitcher friendly park in baseball’s weakest hitting division to the American League.  But even more of an afterthought in addition to the health concerns, was Peavy’s transition from the NL West and the most pitcher friendly park to the hitting friendly confines of U.S. Cellular Field. However, Peavy looks like the Peavy of old and is pitching like a number one type pitcher again.  But will that last? Are you prepared to take that gamble? Read the rest of this entry

Week 3 – MLB 2012 Season: Sell High and Buy Low Candidates in Fantasy Baseball

Monday April 23rd, 2012

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): The name of the game in fantasy baseball is sell high and buy low. This is the best method to improve your team. But it takes careful consideration and analysis to determine who is legit and who is fluking. As we are approximately 16 games through the season, remember that you are playing for a 162 games of stats and thus we are only 10% through the 2012 season. Trust the preseason predictions, and make an upgrade whenever possible. Therefore, in this week’s fantasy focus, I highlight which guys to target and which guys to sell.

 

Sell High:

 

Josh Hamilton is currently playing t-ball (.418/7/17/1). We have seen Hamilton go on stretches like this before, but we know his expected 162 game season still places him outside of the top-ten. Furthermore, we simply cannot expect a full 162 games out of Hamilton. Perhaps he was undervalued heading into this year, and he is playing for a contract, but his hot start has the potential to net you a safer option in one of the buy low candidates listed below.


David Freese I talked about last week, because he will not keep up his current pace (.333/3/15) and has plenty of name recognition after last October. Furthermore, he is prone to prolonged absences due to injury and offers nothing in the stolen base category.  He is certainly an above average fantasy third baseman, but you might as well try to capitalize at his peak value. Read the rest of this entry

It is Amazing How People Overreact to a Small Statistical Sample Size

Tuesday April 17th, 2012

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): The opening of the 2012 baseball season remains interesting and unpredictable. Although we are dealing with such a small sample size and people tend to overreact (approximately 10 games), there a lot of early season performances to that deserved to be examined a little closer.

 

Before we go making Matt Kemp comparisons, Chris Young is clearly benefiting from a new approach at the plate. Young has always displayed the ability to hit for great power and speed, but just lacked in the average department. However, he made significant mechanical adjustments in the offseason and his new approach has been successful since the spring, when he batted .400. His .405/5/13/2 stat line is clearly unsustainable, but lets not forget he is only 28 years of age and might finally be figuring out how to consistently put it together. What might be most telling of his improvement is his 4:5 strikeout to walk total after 10 games, from a guy who has throughout his career averaged a ratio of 3.3:7.4. This could be the year that the average is .270-280 to accompany his 30/30 potential, making him a top-level talent. Read the rest of this entry

First Week of the 2012 MLB Season is in the Books: Fantasy Baseball Thoughts

Tuesday April 10th, 2012

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): What an interesting first week of baseball, in both the real and fantasy world. What jumps out most to me; however, is the proof that you should never overpay for closers. Saves can be had on the waiver wire, which Hector Santiago, Fernando Rodney, Henry Rodriguez, and Brad Lidge each demonstrated in the season’s first week. Last week, if you recall, I told you to grab Alfredo Aceves as well as Lidge and Rodriguez. Although Aceves has struggled as closer (except for his save last night in Toronto), his value skyrocketed when he was named the closer and I was able to flip him for John Danks. In a surprise move, rookie manager Robin Ventura named rookie Hector Santiago closer for the White Sox. I had monitored this situation since spring training and owned Santiago. Again, as soon as he was named closer I traded him as well- this time for DL’d Tim Hudson. So, after a draft in which I was left thin in pitching, within one week I was able to add Hudson and Danks for two waiver pickups, to join Dan Haren, Matt Cain, Wandy Rodriguez, and Bartolo Colon for a now very formidable starting staff in a 15-team league. The point is: people will overpay for saves, especially as guys go down with injuries. Do your best to capitalize while you can!


On the same note, take advantage of some of the old timers or well-known players who are off to a good start. For instance, Rafael Furcal is off to a blazing start, and is a great add. At the top of the Cardinals lineup, he can be a great source for runs and stolen bases. With his name recognition, he might also be able to net you some great value. Chone Figgins fits this mold as well, but he has been so horrendous the past few seasons, it is tough to expect much of anything from him. A definite buy-low candidate.


What has really surprised me after the first week, are the surprise starting pitchers. There are a lot of intriguing names more than likely available on your waiver wire. Filling in for Chris Carpenter, Lance Lynn dominated the Brewers lineup and I actually expect him to pitch himself into the rotation even when Carpenter returns. Likewise, Jeff Samardzija had a great 2012 debut start with the Cubs and could be a great matchup starter. With 11 strikeouts and 8 1/3 innings against San Diego, Chad Billingsley reverted back to his old form. Perhaps he can put his 2011 struggles behind him…or just maybe the Padres lineup can make any pitcher look good.


Although we are only a week into the season, Matt Kemp is already trying to prove that 2011 was no fluke. Maybe he can repeat his MVP-like season. Another consensus top-five player, Miguel Cabrera looks primed for a huge year with a solid first week, and his value will truly rise to another level when he gains 3B eligibility in a few days. A slow start for Albert Pujols with the Angels, but I expect him to breakout in a big way, perhaps on the big stage against the Yankees this weekend. Oh, and Eric Hosmer is the real, real, real deal. He could easily finish as a top-ten player this year and is a legit five-category stud at just 22 years of age.


That’s all for this week! Remember, the season is just one week old, but you can use it to your advantage. Be active on the waiver wires and with trades, and if can make an upgrade, or what you would have thought was an upgrade during your draft two weeks ago, go ahead and do it!

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein)***

 

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Spring Training is Almost Finished: Final Roster Decisions for Your 2012 Fantasy Baseball Team

Monday April 2nd, 2012


Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): The 2012 fantasy baseball season kicked off this past week with the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners two game set in Japan. What can we learn from this series? Even in a hitter friendly park, neither of these teams can really hit. They will both struggle to score runs all year. Therefore, Bartolo Colon will have a lot of value pitching in the friendly confines of the Oakland Coliseum. Colon needs to be owned in all leagues, because he proved he still has something left in the tank last year. He is a must start option anytime he faces the Mariners and in most instances he pitches at home. The same is true with teammate Brandon McCarthy, who could perform to a near ace level this season. However, he does have an injury past, which also goes without saying with the old and portly Bartolo Colon. I also think this short series spoke volumes about the potential of Dustin Ackley, who can quickly emerge as a top ten option at second base.


With only two regular season games to reflect upon, let’s take a closer look at the end of spring training and its fantasy relevance. Henry Rodriguez is most likely available in your league, and the 100mph flamethrower will have the opportunity to close games as Drew Storen begins the season the disabled list. In 10 spring training innings, Rodriguez has allowed just four hits, but more importantly struck out nine batters compared to only two walks. The strike zone was the problem in 2011, when he still posted respectable numbers. But he seems to have found better control of the plate. He could be deadly and Zumaya-like. He should provide great value for strikeouts, and is great insurance for Storen owners, as I would not even be surprised to see him assume the closer role at some point during the 2012 season. Read the rest of this entry

AL East: Value Picks, Up-and-Coming Players and Red Flags in Fantasy Baseball

Tuesday March 20th, 2012


Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): We saved the best for last in our sixth and final installment to prepare for your fantasy drafts. The Al East is by far the most talented and exciting division in Major League Baseball. At times there were fourth place teams, such as the Blue Jays and Rays, that would most certainly finish in first place in other divisions. However, what makes the AL East most fantasy-relevant is the changing of the tides and cycle of talent. Just as the A-Rod’s, Ortiz’s, Jeter’s, and Crawford’s are aging and not to playing up to their price or draft pick, the entire division, from top to bottom, has young talent that appear primed to outperform their projected draft value.


Instead of your run of the mill position-by-position rankings, I identify players who fall into the following three categories: value picks, buyer beware, and up-and-coming. The traditional rankings often do a disservice and give owners too close-minded of an approach, particularly in the ROTO format. An owner cannot have a clear-cut strategy and ranking system, as one must adapt to the circumstances on draft day. Remember that you are often building a team for five categories, and you cannot predict which categories you will need to target to offset weaknesses as the draft progresses. Therefore, the key to success is to understand which player’s are over and undervalued, by looking at determinants such as performance trends, offseason movement, and skill development. We are all aware of the fantasy studs, but the way to build a winning roster is to identify players who provide sneaky good value. (more…)

AL Central: Value Picks, Up-and-Coming Players and Red Flags in Fantasy Baseball

Tuesday March 13th, 2012


Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): Prince Fielder teams up with Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander, as the Detroit Tigers are the home of the Al Central’s three biggest fantasy stars. While the rest of the teams in the division are “rebuilding” (I don’t really know what the White Sox are doing), there are many promising youngsters and other players to target as value picks in the AL central on your draft day.

Read the rest of this entry

AL West: Value Picks, Up-and-Coming Players and Red Flags in Fantasy Baseball

Friday March 9th, 2012



Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): While the Angels and Rangers should battle for first place and eclipse 90 wins each, the Mariners and Athletics will most likely lose ninety games apiece. Despite this dichotomy, from a fantasy perspective, the American League West might the most intriguing division in MLB. The Angels and Rangers are loaded with fantasy studs, although many come at a risk, while there a number of undervalued and up and coming players on M’s and A’s roster that need to be targeted in fantasy leagues in 2012.

VALUE PICKS:

Colby Lewis is easily one of the most undervalued pitchers in baseball. Most people are quick to credit his 2010 return to the major leagues as a fluke. Although a slight drop in velocity last year, his 2011 numbers were very similar to 2010. He is a safe bet for a dozen wins an ERA around 4 and strikeout rate around 8K/9. He is not going to blow hitters away, but he is an attractive start against division foes Oakland and Seattle and should be available for a relatively cheap price. Read the rest of this entry

NL Central: Value Picks, Up-and-Coming Players and Red Flags in Fantasy Baseball

Tuesday February 21st, 2012


Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): The NL Central loses a lot of its offensive firepower in 2012 with the departure of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Not to mention Ryan Braun’s suspension, which makes him a tough player to value come draft day. I still struggle to put a price on Braun in my league, because if his value falls too low than he can be had at a price that will be very keeper friendly in 2013. However, despite the loss of some top dollar talent, the six-team NL Central division is loaded with prospects and potential sleeper picks. At the same time there are a number of newcomers and other players who I have identified having inflated values. Read the rest of this entry

MLB Third Basemen in 2012: Fantasy Strategies

Wednesday February 8th, 2012


Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): Third base is one of my favorite positions in fantasy baseball, mainly due to the fact that most owners do not have a wise approach in this area come draft day. Third base is clearly one of the shallowest positions in baseball and contains a plethora of high-risk players. However, third base is also the home of some of the games top players, most notably Miguel Cabrera- who looks to regain eligibility in 2012 after the Tigers’ acquisition of Prince Fielder.

Clearly, Cabrera changes the dynamics of the position. He was already my top rated first baseman, so eligibility at third base, along with Fielder’s production, makes him even that much more valuable. Just be sure you understand your league’s eligibility rules, but it appears that Cabrera will at least be playing third base a couple times a week. After Cabrera, Jose Bautista is the clear number two, followed by Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre, Ryan Zimmerman, and David Wright. Read the rest of this entry

Why Triples Matter: Stocking Your Fantasy Team with Three-Baggers

Tuesday January 24th, 2012


Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): Many baseball fans are fascinated by triples, but it is certainly not a stat that people in standard Roto 5X5 fantasy baseball leagues pay any mind to. From an offensive standpoint, you are solely concerned with average, home runs, RBIs, and runs. Certainly triples contribute to a player’s offensive output, but by no means are they an asset to target in fantasy baseball. In reality, triples are often the product of a fortuitous bounce or carom and reflect more about a defensive player than the actual hitter. Nonetheless, triples are a rare occurrence and have a unique ability to excite the crowd and rally a team.

So, in fantasy baseball should we care about triples at all? On the surface the answer is no… but on a deeper level, it is actually yes. By no means is it wise to build a roster full of the league’s triples leaders. But a closer look at this stat can tell us a lot about a player.

In fantasy baseball and particularly in 5×5 Roto leagues, the goal is to find a player who can do it all: hit for average and power, produce and score runs, and steal bases. Not surprisingly, the league’s triples leaders are also at the top of the stolen bases leaderboard. It is the rare occurrence when you see a player like Curtis Granderson, who in 2011 showed his power with 41 home runs, as well as his speed with 10 triples and 25 stolen bases. The Granderson/Braun/Kemp/Ellsbury types of players are few and far between and are also on many championship rosters.

Before we go any further, let’s think about what it takes to hit a triple – namely a combination of power and speed. Triples are most commonly doubles, that are normally a double for a slower player.  Therefore, if we look at a player like Brett Gardner with 19 doubles, 8 triples, and 9 home runs in 2011, it appears that his triple output has more to do with his speed and less about his power. For someone like Granderson with the 41 home runs and 26 doubles, it appears to be an equal combination of both. Let’s look for more examples of those types of players.

Take Michael Bourn: 61 steals, 10 triples and 2 home runs in 2011. Clearly, his double-digit triple output reflects his speed and surely not his power. When I scroll down the leaderboard and see Starlin Castro, (9 triples in 2011), light bulbs instantly begin to flash. Castro’s high triple out cannot be credited to speed alone (22 steals) because he still slugged 10 home runs and 36 doubles. At 21 years of age, Castro already has an amazing blend of power and speed, which is reflected by his ability to produce a three-base hit. By looking at Castro’s triples, we can tell that he posses this coveted five-category ability. You can only expect both his power and speed to increase and in my opinion, he has the ability to put up some Soriano-like home run/sb totals.  Castro’s potential is most likely maxed out at 30/30, but this is due to the fact that he hits for average (.304 lifetime in 1137 at-bats) and is not likely to sacrifice for power. He could easily steal 40 bases and hit 30 home runs in the prime of his career.

The key is to look at the triple total for the young players who have yet to fully develop their power and speed. Triples can be a helpful future indicator of a player’s power and speed. For example, in his first full season in 2008, Adam Jones finished with 9 home runs, 7 triples and 10 stolen bases. The seven triples stand out, and although he possess great speed, the ten stolen bases indicate that he most likely did not rely solely on speed. His 9 home runs and 21 doubles demonstrate this his power also contributed to his seven three-baggers. The signs point to a player who has both speed and power. Sure enough, Adam Jones jumped to 19 home runs in 2009 and hit 25 home run with 12 stolen bases in 2011.

Triples shouldn’t even really be a concern for fantasy baseball owners, but can serve as a research aid of sorts. Look at the triples leaders and try to find the players who are not doing it on speed alone and have above average double and home run totals. If they are young and yet to reach their prime, all signs point to a player who has the ability to combine power and speed and develop into the coveted 5-category player.


***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein).***

 Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Batting Average and Earned Run Average: Are They Still Useful Baseball Stats?

Wednesday January 18th, 2012

 

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): Just as baseball cards have become outdated, so too are the statistics that many of us memorized on the backs of those same cards as kids. The statistics that I am referring to are the generic stats used to measure a player’s success, particularly batting average for hitters and earned run average (ERA) for pitchers. Sabermetrics has taught us that there are better methods to more measure a player’s worth or success on the diamond. Far too often, numbers like ERA or batting average are skewed and do not accurately depict a player’s true level of skill.

However, batting average and ERA are statistics that are fixtures in the game, particularly in fantasy baseball. They are used to define players and probably will continue to do so. For those of us in standard 5X5 Roto Leagues, batting average and ERA account for two essential categories.

In 500 at bats, the difference between a .250 and .300 hitter is 25 hits. With six months in a season (approximately 24 weeks), that comes to about 1 hit per week. I repeat, one hit per week! I think I first heard this statistic from Major League I. Remember the old catcher with the bad knees, Jake Taylor?

If you have ever watched baseball, you know how much luck can play a factor. A guy can hit the ball on the screws four times- yet make four outs… but just as easily, getting three hits without hitting the ball out of the infield. Likewise, a pitcher’s ERA can be entirely skewed based on circumstances beyond their control. Therefore, I introduce to you two sabermetric statistics that are key in determining a player’s “true” batting average and ERA.

According to Fangraphs, Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) “measures what a player’s ERA should have looked like over a give time period, assuming that performance on balls in play and timing were league average.”

The equation for FIP: ((13*HR)+(3*(BB+HBP-IBB))-(2*K))/IP + constant

XFIP takes it even a step further by replacing a pitcher’s homerun rate with the league average (10.6% HR/FB), since this statistic is subject to high volatility.

Considering the above, Fielding Independent Pitching and Expected Fielding Independent Pitching are great determinants for what a pitcher’s ERA should be. It can tell you if a player is overachieving or perhaps pitching better than their ERA might indicate. This is the key to fantasy baseball. Target the guys who have FIP’s lower than their actual ERA and sell high on the pitcher who’s FIP is much higher than their actual ERA. By no means is the stat perfect, but it certainly gives you insight into a player’s performance and is a better indicator of future success than ERA alone.

For batters, the key statistic in determining batting average is Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP), which according to Fangraphs “While typically around 30% of all balls in play fall for hits, there are three main variables that can affect BABIP rates for individual players: defense, luck, and changes in talent level.”

The average BABIP for players is between .290 and .310, although some hitters can maintain a much higher level. For example, Ichiro Suzuki has maintained a career BABIP of .351, well above the league average. Therefore, you can look at a player’s BABIP to see how well they are actually doing at the plate. Buy low on a guy whose BAPIP is thirty points lower than his career total. Chances are his batting average is suffering and he is a good buy-low candidate. The lower BAPIP indicates that has a victim of bad luck. Likewise, the guy who is sporting a .400 BAPIP simply cannot maintain that level and will see a major regression to the mean. In this case: sell, sell, sell!

A perfect BAPIP example is Austin Jackson, who exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rookie in 2010. With a .293 batting average and good speed, he was an attractive young player with a rising stock. However, his.293 batting average in 2010 coincided with a .396 BABIP. We know Jackson is not Ichiro (.351 BAPIP) and therefore we had to expect a major regression in 2011. Sure enough, his BAPIP dropped to .340 (still well above the league average) and as result, he finished the season with a .249 average. Therefore, I would not touch Jackson with a ten-foot pole in most leagues, at least not until he can cut down his strikeout rates and put the ball in play on a more consistent basis. Although he has proven he can produce a hit more often than most when he makes contact, he simply does not make enough contact at this point in his career to be a .300 hitter.

The young guns are generally the guys who are most difficult to read. With the veterans, you at least have their career BAPIP to use as a reference. However, do not be afraid to look at the minor league stats, which usually prove to be solid enough indicators. At the same time, never take too much stock in minor league numbers and make a hitter prove himself at the major league level.

Overall, stats like FIP and BAPIP are really just cheats for your fantasy baseball league. Batting average and ERA are statistics that are so deep-rooted that they will most likely be used forever to define a player’s success and as a result, will continue to be used in fantasy baseball. However, do not look at ERA and batting average to value a player and trying to predict their future ERA and batting average. FIP and BAPIP give you a more accurate story and are better indicators for future success- by at least attempting to eliminate the many variables that exist in the wonderful game of baseball.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein).***

 Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Wins Above Replacement (WAR): Analyzing MLB Statistics using Sabermetrics

Wednesday January 11th, 2012

 

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): Although WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is not the best of the sabermetric stats for fantasy baseball purposes, it has certainly transformed the way in which we can truly understand a given major league baseball player’s contribution (or lack there of) to his team. WAR attempts to epitomize a player’s total value in one sole statistic, taking into account both the offensive and defensive aspects of the game. FanGraphs (the sabermetrics bible) aptly describes the essence of WAR: “If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with a minor leaguer or someone from their bench, how much value would the team be losing.” A player is measured in “Wins” for a season (i.e. 3.4), while an average full-time player is worth 2 wins and a replacement player represents 0 wins. Furthermore an average staring pitcher is worth 2.0 WAR, while 1.0 WAR represents a strong season for a relief pitcher.  

Here are the 2011 leaders in WAR:

Batting

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury – 9.4

  2. Matt Kemp – 8.7

  3. Jose Bautista – 8.3

  4. Dustin Pedroia – 8.0

  5. Ryan Braun – 7.8

  6. Ian Kinsler – 7.7

  7. Miguel Cabrera – 7.3

  8. Curtis Granderson 7.0

  9. Alex Gordon 6.9

  10. Joey Votto 6.9


Pitching

  1. Roy Halladay – 8.2

  2. C.C. Sabathia – 7.1

  3. Justin Verlander – 7.0

  4. Clayton Kershaw – 6.8

  5. Cliff Lee – 6.7

  6. Dan Haren

  7. C.J. Wilson – 6.4

  8. Jered Weaver – 5.9

  9. Doug Fister – 5.6

  10. Felix Hernandez – 5.6


The statistic actually defines a player’s value, something that MVP (Most Valuable Players) voters should perhaps consider come each October. For batters, the stat itself is calculated by taking into account two stats: wRAA (Weighted Runs Above Average) and UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating), which represent a batter’s offensive and defensive values, respectively. Pitching WAR replaces these two sabermetric stats with FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), a stat that normalizes ERA for the “uncontrollable,” in conjunction with numbers of innings pitched. The Uncontrollable refers to what happens after the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand, because obviously pitchers have almost no control over the balls that are in play. They are ultimately at the mercy of their defense.

Fangraphs site the formula for FIP as the following:

FIP: ((13*HR)+(3*(BB+HBP-IBB))-(2*K))/IP + constant

If you are unfamiliar with Sabermetrics and WAR, this should feel like a mix between learning a foreign language and a calculus problem. However, don’t let this intimidate you. Spend some time on FanGraphs (It’s okay take it slowly) and it will change the way in which you think about the game of baseball. Please note that Baseball Reference has a slightly different formula/method to calculate WAR.

The beauty of WAR, however, is that it not only takes in account a player’s defensive skills (using UZR), but also the difficulty of the position. Therefore, someone like Dustin Pedroia at second base is significantly more valuable than a slugging Prince Fielder, at the first base position where power and production is demanded. Perhaps that is why Fielder is still fielding offers and has not landed a contract within his desired range. Not too shabby of statistic for a General Manager, huh? My hope is that this analysis paints the complexity of WAR and the many factors used to determine the number of wins that a player is ultimately worth to his team.

Let it be clear that by no means is WAR perfect. From a rather cynical standpoint, the very philosophy of WAR, which is calculated with so many components, professes that you cannot use one sole determinant to measure a player’s value. Furthermore, the positional adjustment numbers are the most arbitrary difficult to calculate. Can we really determine that a Center Fielder, due to difficulty to play the position itself, is worth 1.5 more wins than a first baseman? It is also difficult to determine the UZR for a first baseman, a position in which success is defined less by range and more by the ability to field throws. Paul Konerko certainly does not have great range, but he is universally regarded as one of the league’s top defensive first baseman, most likely saving Alexei Ramirez a handful of errors each season. Likewise, you cannot measure range for catchers, which use the fielding component of Stolen Base Runs Saved (rSB).  We also know that much of catcher’s true value is related to his ability to call a smart game (which cannot be measured by any given statistic).

However, from a fantasy perspective, we do not care about defense, and therefore wRAA is a more accurate indicator of offensive output. FIP can be used as well. For example, if a pitcher’s FIP indicates that his defense is frequently letting him down, and said pitcher joins a top rated defensive team; you have acquired knowledge about a player’s ability not represented by the generic stats out there. This is how you will earn surplus value and land the “surprises”, the “bounce-back” players, and avoid the “busts”.

I admit, when I first familiarized myself with FanGraphs, I felt like I was cheating in my fantasy baseball leagues. However, after joining more competitive leagues and with sabermetrics entering the mainstream, I have learned that this only provides a slight advantage. Just as it holds true for every other aspect of life, it is impossible to predict the future in the world of baseball. However, in a game of numbers- only the slightest advantage is needed to set your team apart from the competition.

WAR is a one of a kind stat. It helps us more thoroughly examine a player’s worth, especially when compared to their salary. Ultimately, the stat serves as a good building block to work back from to understand the intricacies and essence of sabermetrics.


***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein).***

 Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson: 2012 Projections

Tuesday December 13, 2011

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports):  Unless you have been living under a rock for the past two weeks, you are probably well aware of the splash that the Angels made in the free agent market with the signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. Certainly, the balance of power in the American League West has shifted to the Angels, who have set themselves up for a championship run. While Pujols and Wilson have a good chance to bring home a championship in Los Angeles, they will likely be on many winning fantasy rosters as well.

As I discussed a few weeks back, Pujols has been the best fantasy player in baseball after 10 Ruth-like seasons after he busted onto the scene in 2001. However, 2011 was an interesting year for Pujols, the first in which he did not produce a .300 average, hit 30 HR and drive in 100 runs. He missed this feat by just one RBI and one average point. Through the Cardinal’s first 54 games, Pujols batted .257 with 8 home runs and 28 RBI. However, in the final 108 games, which included the time missed with the wrist injury, he batted .322 with 29 home runs and 71 RBI’s. That is the Pujols that we have all been accustomed to over the last decade. Therefore, I do not think you need to be overly concerned about a significant A-Rod-esque drop off just yet. The back-end of Pujols’ contract will certainly get ugly for the Angels, but expect the usual slugger for the first few years. Now, the other factor on Pujols’ performance is the shift to a new team and new league. In terms of ballparks, Busch Stadium and Angels Stadium are very similar in degree of hitter friendliness. For the switch to the AL. below are his career interleague numbers, which add up to almost one full major league season:

143 GP 39 HR 121 RBI .348 AVG 1.071 OPS (1.037 career)

The stats show the Albert dominates against the American League, with numbers that even exceed his career averages. With a hitter as good as Pujols, it’s the American League pitchers who will be tasked with making adjustments and not Pujols. The Angels lineup is actually pretty similar to the Cardinals, and if people step up (Kendrys Morales), it has potential to be a lot better. Therefore, I expect the usual greatness from Pujols.

Projections: .312 39 HR 120 RBI 117 R 12 SB

C.J. Wilson enjoyed his finest season as a pro in 2011 with a 16-7 record and a 2.94 ERA. At age 31 and not as young as many expect, there is not too much room for actual skill development with Wilson. However, the major factors that impact pitchers results after a team change are in favor for Wilson. Let’s start with park factors and opposition. Wilson no longer has to pitch as many games in Texas, where he sported a career 3.89 ERA, compared to 3.26 on the road. The contrast was even starker in 2011, when he posted a 3.69 ERA at home and a 2.31 ERA on the road. Much of the reason for his success on the road were his regular matchups against the lowly Mariners and Athletics offenses, which he will continue have. Fortunate to have Pujols on his team now, he will still have to face his former talented Rangers teammates. Looking at the defense behind Wilson, it is pretty much a wash. The Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler double play combination was one of the best in baseball, but the Angels outfield is significantly better than the Rangers. Lastly, although the Angels made significant offensive upgrades, it is still safe to think the Rangers would provide more run support, potentially cutting into his win total.

The move to the Angels appears to make Wilson potentially more valuable in 2012. His FIP and XFIP indicate that his ERA range should have been closer to 3.20-3.30, so it might be tough to expect a sub-3 ERA in 2012. However, his recent success, coupled with his change of scenery (most importantly out of Texas), indicate that he should be one the game’s most valuable pitchers in 2012.

Projections: 208 IP, 16-9 WL, 3.28 ERA, and 180 K’s

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein).***

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter (@MLBreports) and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

A Tribute to Frank “Sweet Music” Viola

Tuesday December 6, 2011

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports):  This week, I take a look at back and crunch the numbers of an intriguing former great player, Frank Viola. Nicknamed “Sweet Music”, the crafty left-hander finished his fifteen-year career with a 3.73 ERA and a 176-150-career record. Impressive numbers that earned Viola an induction to the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame. However, his qualifications by no means ended up landing him a spot in Cooperstown with the big boys.  Viola only received 2 votes in 2002 (0.4%) and went off the ballot after only one year of eligibility.

Since I was only nine years old when Viola retired in 1996, I don’t have the pleasure of seeing him pitch firsthand. I have heard a lot about the lefty, and while examining his career at a closer level; there are uncanny parallels to my favorite pitcher of all-time, Mark Buehrle. As much as I have tried to the case for Buehrle as a HOF, and as much as he has accomplished, he is simply not a dominant player of his generation. The same was true for Viola.

In the prime of his career, Viola was masterful and ate up a lot of innings. He consistently finished the season around 250 innings pitched and threw a whopping 74 career complete games. He had the ability to miss bats, but only surpassed the 200-strikeout plateau once in his career. He allowed a lot of hits, one per inning throughout his career, but he did have good control and kept the walks to a minimum. Not blowing hitters away, Viola creatively maneuvered around the strike zone and made the most of his “stuff”, a term used to describe a pitcher’s repertoire and arsenal.

Outside of my own wishes and perhaps members of the White Sox nation, Mark Buehrle is not considered a HOF caliber player at this point in his career. However, a move to the National League and another six-plus years of strong pitching, then he truly becomes a candidate if he can surpass the 250-win level. Remember, this is a guy who has thrown a no-hitter, a perfect game, started AND saved a World Series game, and started and won an All-Star game. Since becoming a starter in 2001, he has thrown at least 200 innings in one 10 games in each season.  A model of consistency. With a 161-119 career record and 3.83 lifetime ERA. His numbers stack up nicely compared to Viola, despite throwing 30 fewer games.

Admittedly, Viola was more dominant than Buehrle during several of his best seasons, particularly in 1984, 1987, 1988, and 1990. Viola was a 3-time all-star selection, a World Series champion and MVP in 1987, and was the 1988 AL CY Young Award winner. Clearly, Viola was good and even dominant for a few years. However, he does not stack up against the true greats. Overall, he amassed a 43.9 career WAR in fifteen seasons, ranking him 106th overall for pitchers. Buehrle, with a 46.6 career WAR to date, in through just 11 seasons, is ranked 92nd overall.  

Therefore, based on this comparative analysis, if Frank Viola should have been HOF worthy, than so is Mark Buehrle – right now. Their career numbers are almost identical, as well as their style and stuff, despite the fact that Buehrle has pitched about one fewer full season of games. While Buehrle still has an outside chance to one day reach Cooperstown, Frank “Sweet Music” Viola, simply did not have enough dominant seasons to reach the Hall of Fame. Viola though did enjoy an outstanding career and will forever be remembered as one of the pitching greats of his generation.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein).***

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter (@MLBreports) and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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