A pair of pitchers taken in the late rounds helped General Manager Eric Brown and Bacon at Mile 11 earn the second best draft grade in league history in 2017.
Reliever Nick Vincent was chosen with the 377th pick of the draft and finished the 2017 season with a 3.20 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 27 net saves/holds. Vincent ended the season ranked in the Top 200, finishing 193rd.
Lucas Giolito was picked in the last round with the 409th pick but spent much of the early season in the minors before making seven starts late in the season for the White Sox. While Brown released Giolito in April, the young pitcher went on to post a 2.38 ERA and .094 WHIP and was a contributor for Everybody Hurts, who added Giolito on Sept. 3.
Finding late-round contributors is essential for a good draft but equally important is to avoid early round busts. Four of five keepers for Brown finished the season ranked in the Top 80 and Chris Archer, the one player that didn’t, finished 2017 ranked a respectable 117th.
Two late-round flyers, catcher Sandy Leon and pitcher Zack Wheeler, were the lowest-ranked players drafted by Brown. Leon was dropped in early June as he hit just .225 in 301 plate appearances while Wheeler earned just six quality starts in 86.1 innings.
By uncovering several late-round gems, minimizing keeper busts, and squeezing value out of mid-round picks, Brown finished 2017 with the league’s highest-rated draft. It helped him win the North Division title and finish with the league’s fourth-best regular season record.
The ultimate goal in the SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League is to win the championship but the true measurement of a great team is finishing the regular season with the best record.
This year, that honor belongs to the JetSetters and General Manager David Kahn. The JetSetters finished with a 154-99-11 mark, percentage points ahead of the Lower Haighters, who finished with a 154-101-9 record.
Because of the condensed nature of the playoffs, luck plays a much larger role in determining which team comes out on top. If your best hitters have a seven game weekly schedule during a playoff series rather than six games, that’s a big advantage. If your best pitchers have two starts, rather than one, that’s another advantage.
No matter what happens in the playoffs, a tip of the hat goes to David for managing his team to the league’s best record. That’s no easy feat.
A Championship is on the Line
Cleveland infielder Jose Ramirez is the hottest hitter in baseball and he’ll lead the JetSetters in their first round series against Hapamon. When these teams met in Week 2, the JetSetters cruised to a 9-3 series victory. Ramirez posted a 1.460 OPS in 27 plate appearances and led the JetSetters with eight RBI and five runs scored. Ian Kennedy led the pitching staff with a pair of quality starts.
This series lines up perfectly for the JetSetters as veteran pitchers Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels are both two-start pitchers.
The second-seeded Lower Haighters will face their old West Division rivals, A-Rod’s Mirrors, in the first round of the playoffs. The Mirrors were 2-1-1 in head-to-head meetings with the Lower Haighters this season and they’ll have both Carlos Carrasco and C.C. Sabathia starting twice this week. In his last two starts, Carrasco has given up just two runs over 16 innings. At the plate, Manny Machado is hitting .358 over his last 13 games while Albert Pujols has driven home 15 runs in his last 11 games.
Bacon at Mile 11 faces Let’s Play 2 in another quarterfinal series. It’s a rematch of their Week 4 series that was won by Let’s Play 2, 7-5. Matt Wieters and Ben Zobrist combined to drive in 12 runs to lead Let’s Play 2 while Kyle Hendricks posted a pair of quality starts in that series.
Robbie Ray has three quality starts over the past two weeks for Let’s Play 2 and is the top-rated player in our league during that stretch. Ray has allowed just three runs over his past 20.1 innings while striking out 36 batters.
Bacon and General Manager Eric Brown will counter with a healthy Mike Trout. In his last 10 games, Trout is hitting .343 with a 1.196 OPS. He’s scored 15 runs during that stretch and has five net stolen bases.
Stadium Mustard and Everybody Hurts will renew their East Division rivalry in the final first-round playoff series. Everybody Hurts defeated Stadium Mustard in two of their three meetings this year, including a 9-3 series victory in Week 21.
Edwin Encarnacion and Ender Inciarte are both swinging hot bats for Stadium Mustard over the past two weeks. Encarnacion is hitting .333 with a 1.078 OPS and 12 RBI over his last 12 games. Inciarte is hitting .377 with six runs scored and nine RBI in his last 14 games.
Everybody Hurts will be without starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson, who tossed a total of 12 scoreless innings in his past two starts. Infielder Jean Segura is the team’s best hitter over the last two weeks, hitting .292 with 10 runs scored and two net stolen bases in his last 12 games.
Land Shark Slides Into the Wooden Spoon
Two weeks ago, it appeared Las Estellas Rojas and General Manager Jen Valdevia would take home the Wooden Spoon for the team with the worst regular season record. That was until Land Shark went 4-19 over the last two weeks to finish 103-149-12. That’s a far cry from last year when Land Shark won the East Division pennant and finished third in the playoffs.
No matter where you finished this season, I want to thank everyone for playing and hopefully you enjoyed yourself. The SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League will return in 2018 so it’s never too early to begin scouting prospects.
New York Mets reliever Addison Reed is a shining example of how set-up men offer great value late in the draft. In 2016, Reed was chosen by Sean McKenna with the last pick of the draft, 416th overall. Reed pitched 78.2 innings, striking out 92 batters, while earning 37 net saves/holds. The last player chosen in the draft finished the season ranked 41st overall.
Of the 10 best values in last year’s draft, six were relievers chosen in the 22nd round or later. Houston reliever Will Harris was chosen by the Lower Haighters with the 382nd pick, was promptly released on April 3 and remained unclaimed until May 7 when he again joined the Lower Haighters. Harris finished as the league’s 79th ranked player after earning 37 net saves/holds.
No position in fantasy baseball offers more late-round upside than set-up men. Major League teams often spend April determining late-inning roles and those frequently fluctuate as the season progresses.
Overall, teams struggled in the 2016 draft. The Lower Haighters had the highest-rated draft, finishing with an average player value of 337.84 (average BaseballMonster ranking for each player at the end of the season). That ranks 11th in league history and was just the team’s fourth best draft.
High Cheese had an excellent draft in 2016. The team’s 344.8 player ranking was best in franchise history. Pitchers Shawn Kelley, Roberto Osuna, Tanner Roark, Dellin Betances, Kevin Siegrist and Aroldis Chapman led the team to 149 wins, the third most in team history.
Third baseman Pablo Sandoval, starting pitchers Gerrit Cole and Yordano Ventura, and relievers Kevin Jepsen and Huston Street all underperformed in 2016 which led to Bacon at Mile 11 having the second worst draft in team history. The 532.5 average player value was the 12th highest in league history but General Manager Eric Brown did a masterful job of managing and eventually guided the team to 149 wins.
General Manager Mark Peterson had the second best draft in franchise history and led Warning Track Power to 147 wins and the team’s first West Division pennant. Pitchers Kyle Hendricks, Pedro Strop, Zach Britton, and Justin Wilson were great draft values as was catcher Wilson Ramos.
While the 2016 draft won’t go down as one of the league’s best, it did show that team’s can recover from a bad draft to have a good season and it reinforced that set-up men are a valuable late round drat commodity.
After this week, season projections will be meaningless. Weekly projections – and your opponent – are all that matter.
Ziguana.com is another fantasy baseball site that allows you to project your league standings based on league-specific settings and their player statistical projections. I’ve run our league through Ziguana and through a “special blend” of projections supplied by Mr. Cheatsheet and run through Baseball Monster.
The team to beat, according to Ziguana’s statistics, is Warning Track Power. GM Mark Peterson‘s team has a 58 percent chance of winning the league and a 31 percent chance of finishing second. Josh Donaldson, Jason Kipnis, and J.D. Martinez are expected to lead the offense while pitcher Chris Sale is the third-ranked player in the league. Baseball Monster predicted Warning Track Power would finish second with a 109-70-1 head-to-head record so both sites like this team.
Ziguana likes Noah Syndergaard as the ace for Los Coches Bomba and David Robertson as the closer. But it’s Miguel Cabrera, Andrew McCutchen and Robinson Cano that have the team ranked second with an outside shot at the championship (26 percent). The Big Three hitters all rank in Ziguana’s Top 25 player rankings. Baseball Monster predicted Los Coches Bomba would finish fourth with a 99-80-1 head-to-head record.
Both sites expect Home Run 101 to win the North Division and play in the postseason. I write this with a caveat, both systems have outfielder A.J. Pollock highly rated and he’s going to miss a significant portion of the season with a serious elbow injury. Ziguana predicts Home Run 101 will finish third while Baseball Monster projects sixth with a 92-87-1 head-to-head record.
The projections for the defending champs is vastly different between the two sites. Ziguana has the Mirrors finishing fourth while Baseball Monster projects 15th with a 73-107-0 head-to-head record. Baseball Monster doesn’t like the team’s starting rotation while Ziguana sees Darren O’Day, Craig Kimbrel, and Arodys Vizcaino as Top 50 players that can save the pitching ratios.
The Bulls are another team with wildly different projections. Ziguana projects the team will finish second in the North Division and qualify for the playoffs while Baseball Monster says they’ll finish 13th with an 81-99-0 head-to-head record. Outfielder Hunter Pence is a polarizing player for the computer systems. Ziguana has Pence rated 35th overall while Baseball Monster has him 109th. Both sites agree Stephen Strasburg and Zack Greinke are the team’s best players.
Ziguana and Baseball Monster agree Buster Hugs will win the East Division and return to the playoffs. Baseball Monster has the team finishing third overall with a 107-73-0 head-to-head record. Starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner is seen as the team’s best player by both systems. Ziguana sees Miguel Sano as a Top 40 player by season’s end.
New GM Chris Frugiuele is expected to guide Stadium Mustard to a playoff berth according to both sites. Ziguana is predicting a seventh place finish while Baseball Monster says fifth with a 97-82-1 head-to-head record. Both sites agree that Edwin Encarnacion and Kyle Seager are the team’s two best players.
GM Meredith James and Land Shark are going to be in a tight race for the league’s final playoff berth according to both sites. Ziguana projects the team will capture the final playoff berth while Baseball Monster expects them to finish ninth with a 92-88-0 head-t0-head record. Both systems agree first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is the team leader. Goldschmidt is the league’s top-rated player by Ziguana.
If Ziguana’s projections are correct, the Lower Haighters will miss the playoffs for the first time in league history. The site is projecting a ninth place finish for the team. The “Special Blend” projections in Baseball Monster expect the Haighters to win the West Division with a 113-67-0 head-t0-head record and win the league championship. The key to the season could come down to Drew Pomeranz and Phil Hughes at the back of the starting rotation.
Baseball Monster expects Bacon at Mile 11 and GM Eric Brown to capture the league’s final playoff berth with a 86-93-1 head-to-head record, finishing second in the North Division. Ziguana forecasts a third-place finish in the North Division and 10th overall. Young players Joc Pederson and Ketel Marte will need to exceed projections for Bacon to be a title contender.
Ziguana projects the JetSetters to finish second in the South Division pennant race but miss the playoffs. Baseball Monster also expects the JetSetters to finish second in the division but squeeze into the playoffs with a 92-88-0 head-to-head record. The team’s series with Bacon at Mile 11 and Land Shark will have major playoff implications.
If the computer systems are accurate, it’s going to be a struggle for High Cheese to make the playoffs in 2016. Ziguana is projecting a 12th place finish while Baseball Monster sees High Cheese finishing third in the South Division with a 84-96-0 head-to-head record and 11th overall. The strength of the team is the bullpen with Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman and Roberto Osuna.
Both computer systems project the Eephus Monkeys to finish last in the East Division and miss the playoffs. Baseball Monster is forecasting a 85-95-0 head-to-head record and a 10th place finish. Ziguana projects a 13th place finish.
Hapamon and new GM Robert Kirkbride will avoid the dreaded Wooden Spoon awarded to the team with the worst record in the league but both computer systems project a last place finish in the North Division. They also agree that Hapamon will finish 14th overall and Baseball Monster is predicting a 80-100-0 head-to-head record.
The two projection systems differ on which team will earn the Wooden Spoon. Ziguana says it will be the Marin Menehunes while Baseball Monster expects Let’s Play 2 to take the dubious honor. Baseball Monster expects Let’s Play 2 to finish with a 72-108-0 head-to-head record while Ziguana believes they’ll finish 15th, just ahead of the Menehunes. Baseball Monster says the Menehunes will finish with a 82-98-0 head-to-head record and 12th overall.
If we’ve done nothing else in this blog during Spring Training, we have successfully tested the theory that great fantasy baseball drafts produce great seasons. The 2015 draft is our best evidence.
The top three teams in the 2015 final standings were A-Rod’s Mirrors, Bacon at Mile 11 and the Lower Haighters. The players they drafted also had the best average value of any teams in the league. In fact, they turned in three of the Top 10 drafts in league history.
The Mirrors uncovered a gem late in the draft when GM Sean McKenna selected reliever AJ Ramos with the 349th pick. Ramos converted 36 of his 42 save situations with a 2.30 ERA and 11.1 K/9. He finished the season 31st in the player rankings and helped the eventual league champions post a 321.00 average player value for the draft class. It is the best draft in franchise history and fourth best in league history.
Outfielder Bryce Harper was the team MVP, finishing the season ranked 10th. Cole Hamels, Craig Kimbrel, Prince Fielder, Yoenis Cespedes, Eric Hosmer, Ben Revere, and Ramos all finished the season ranked in the Top 100 of the player rankings.
The Lower Haighters had the seventh best draft in league history, posting a 335.07 APV. It was the third best draft in franchise history. The team had eight players finish in the Top 100 led by Jake Arrieta, who finished 2015 ranked second behind league MVP Clayton Kershaw.
Bacon at Mile 11 GM Eric Brown turned in the best draft in franchise history with a 336.19 APV. It was the ninth best draft in league history. Seven players finished the season ranked in the Top 100 led by sluggers Anthony Rizzo and Nolan Arenado. Rizzo had a career-high 701 plate appearances and finished with a .899 OPS, 101 RBI and 94 runs scored. Arenado led the league with 42 home runs and 130 RBI.
The Monkeys and GM Jordan Mazur had the steal of the 2015 draft when he selected reliever Jeurys Familia with the 395th pick. Familia converted 43 of 49 save situations with a 1.85 ERA and 9.9 K/9. He finished the season as the 31st ranked player in the league.
While the 2015 draft was decent compared to the previous two seasons, it still trailed 2010, 2011 and 2012. A total of 43 keepers failed to deliver keeper value at season’s end.
It also featured the second worst draft in league history. The Bulls finished 2015 with a 647.96 APV for their draft class. Of the team’s 26 draftees, 21 finished the season ranked below 416th in the final player rankings. It was essentially a draft class with less value than most free agents and the results were predictable – the Bulls finished with the worst record in league history at 81-169-14 and won just two series.
Clearly, the value of a good draft can’t be overstated.
When you analyze the history of the SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League you can see a clear relationship between a successful draft and a successful season. Of course, it only makes sense, teams that draft the best players should win.
The excellent fantasy baseball site, Baseball Monster, helps us measure the value of each MLB player by creating z-scores based on the specific statistics we use in the SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League. This year, Baseball Monster gave us the opportunity to upload statistical projections and create z-scores based on those.
I uploaded the 2016 MLB player statistical projections from Ron Shandler’s Baseball Forecaster. Using those projections, Baseball Monster created z-scores for each player. Below, you’ll see the average z-score for players drafted by teams in our league based on Shandler’s projections.
Remember, a player with a z-score of zero is league average. A z-score of 1.00 is excellent and a score above 2.00 is elite. Clayton Kershaw has a z-score of 2.9897 and is the highest rated player in our league. Catcher Jeff Mathis has the lowest z-score at -2.5068. It’s also important to remember that these scores were calculated using ONE SET of statistical projections based on our league scoring criteria. Shandler will have his share of misses.
Average Player Z-Scores
|Warning Track Power||+0.0234|
|Bacon at Mile 11||-0.0266|
|Los Coches Bomba||-0.1266|
|Home Run 101||-0.1505|
|Let’s Play 2||-0.2389|
When I created my draft list, I used Shandler’s projections and two sets of FanGraphs projections to develop an average z-score for each player. Because Shandler’s projections were integral to my draft list, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Lower Haighters emerged from the draft with the highest average player z-score. Now, if Shandler and FanGraphs are accurate with their player projections, the Lower Haighters should be a very competitive team. If not….
Based on Shandler’s projections, the Lower Haighters have a league-best 16 players with positive z-scores. Warning Track Power has 13 players with positive z-scores and the Marin Menehunes have 11. On the other end of the spectrum, Let’s Play 2 has just six players with positive z-scores.
Let’s dig a little deeper. Below, you’ll find the average z-scores for the starting pitchers drafted by each team based on Shandler’s 2016 statistical projections.
Average Starting Pitcher Z-Scores
|Warning Track Power||+0.0717|
|Los Coches Bomba||-0.1266|
|Bacon at Mile 11||-0.1275|
|Let’s Play 2||-0.1969|
|Home Run 101||-0.4242|
Starting pitcher notes: While Kershaw is highly rated, Hapamon’s starting pitcher z-score took a hit because Matt Cain has a -1.1447, the second lowest for any player on the team. As a keeper, Hapamon has a big investment in Cain…Starting pitching will be the issue for Home Run 101. Chris Young (-1.0828), Joe Kelly (-1.0717) and Jake Peavy (-0.8981) are the lowest rated players on the team. Two of the three will likely be in the starting lineup on opening day…Stephen Strasburg (+1.0975) is the highest-rated player for the Bulls while Zack Greinke (+0.6938) is third highest…The High Cheese starting staff is led by Jon Lester (+0.5841) but Cole Hamels, Steven Matz and Marcus Stroman all have positive z-scores…Noah Syndergaard is the only starting pitcher for Bomba with a positive Z-rating.
Average Relief Pitcher Z-Scores
|Bacon at Mile 11||+0.0640|
|Warning Track Power||+0.0595|
|Los Coches Bomba||-0.1904|
|Let’s Play 2||-0.2065|
|Home Run 101||-0.2831|
Relief Pitcher Notes: The pool of relief pitchers with a positive z-score is high and that’s reflected in our team z-scores. Seven teams have bullpens that average positive scores. It’s much tougher to find hitters and starting pitchers. Only three teams have hitters and starting pitchers with average positive z-scores…Kenley Jansen (+0.9175) is the leader for Buster Hugs but the team has just three relievers on the roster. All three are very good…Stadium Mustard has 10 players with positive z-scores to start the season and three are relievers, Wade Davis (+0.8210), AJ Ramos (+0.2812) and Brett Cecil (+0.1944)…Ken Giles (+0.6150) and Shawn Tolleson (+0.1412) are the only relievers with positive scores for Home Run 101 but the team’s overall reliever rating takes a hit because Chris Young (-1.0828) and Erasmo Ramirez (-0.7207) are both eligible as relievers…The Eephus Monkeys have the same issue with Doug Fister (-0.8311) and Marco Estrada (-0.4371).
Average Hitter Z-Scores
|Bacon at Mile 11||+0.0098|
|Home Run 101||-0.0154|
|Los Coches Bomba||-0.0556|
|Warning Track Power||-0.1651|
|Let’s Play 2||-0.2818|
Hitter notes: Mookie Betts (+1.2972) and Paul Goldschmidt (+1.2750) are Shandler’s two highest-rated hitters…The lowest-rated hitter on a roster is catcher Chris Gimenez (-2.0669) for the Bulls. Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy are the only catchers with positive z-scores. As a fantasy owner, your primary goal is to minimize the damage on a weekly basis from your two catchers…Only nine shortstops have a positive z-score led by Manny Machado (+0.8195)…The Mirrors have eight players with a positive z-score and six of the eight are hitters. Bryce Harper (+1.1252) is the highest-rated player for the defending champs…The Lower Haighters are led by young shortstop Carlos Correa (+0.7632), Ryan Braun (+0.6458), and Giancarlo Stanton (+0.5979)….High Cheese might be second-guessing last year’s trade of Machado to the Mirrors for pitcher Wei-Yin Chen. Cheese has just four hitters with positive z-scores on the roster.
You worked hard on that draft. At least, some of you did. You carefully curated a list, picked for value, and assembled a team that will succeed over a six-month season. Now, watch a second catcher go 9-for-17 with eight RBI and a .937 OPS and sink you in Week 1. Welcome to head-to-head fantasy baseball.
That’s what makes the game so much fun. Upsets happen and they happen frequently. Head-to-head, weekly, fantasy baseball is a game where your fifth starter can get hot and help you pull an upset, or the other team’s guy can do the same.
Daily leagues require too much work. Few people have the time to manage their fantasy baseball roster on a daily basis. In the SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League, make your waiver claims Sunday night and add them to your roster (provided another fantasy team doesn’t beat you to the player) Monday morning. Then set your lineup before the first pitch of Monday’s game and let it ride for the week.
This site will be the place for the league’s weekly series previews. We’ll use Baseball Monster’s projections to determine series favorites and underdogs. Those of you have played this game for six years understand that Baseball Monster is about 75 percent accurate – on a good week. As accurate as the site is, it can’t predict a two quality start week from Randall Delgado.
The ups-and-downs of the SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League season will be chronicled here. You’ll also find daily updates on our league Facebook and Twitter sites. As you can probably tell, who wins or loses isn’t nearly as important to me as how the story unfolds.