Michael Salfino

  • By the Numbers: What to do when you can't get Gronk

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 21 hrs ago

    Let’s look at market share with the tight end crop as we look beyond last year’s raw stats to attempt to determine what is more predictive than descriptive.

     The idea here is to see the percentage of targets, yards and touchdowns each tight end was allocated last year. We adjust for games played, so consider these numbers to be on a per-game basis. I think touchdowns are least predictive and targets most predictive but yards are very important too, especially relative to targets. So the players who gained a higher percentage of their team passing yards than the passing target share they were allocated are reasonably in line for more targets this year, assuming their teams are aware of this efficiency.

     Since we’re mostly playing in 12-team, one-tight end leagues, I’ve determined the top 12 ranges and averages in each of these categories last year.

     As a share of targets (again this is all top-12 only), the range was 16.1% to 22.9% in the top 12 and average target share was 19.2%. 

     As a share of yards, the range was 16.7% to 29.1% with average share being 22.3%

     TDs: Range 23.4% to 38.7%, average 29.1%. 


  • By the Numbers: It's time for more Miller in Miami

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

     Let’s continue our By the Numbers overview of the fantasy football landscape by focusing on the ground with the running back position. 

    I decided against a zeroRB redux this year. The approach worked out well for many of you last year but that doesn’t mean it will work again. I’m still a big proponent of it, for the same reason we went over last August.  And just like last year, in this column, we’ll review our favorite RB selections in each of the zero RB rounds, let’s call it rounds 6 through 14.

    So using play-by-play data, we came up with the list of the backs - from best to worst, with a of minimum 75 carries in 2014 - in play-success percentage. The league average was 47.9%. Here are all the backs last year over 50%:  

    Gray is definitely a zeroRB target for me and this is as good a reason to speculate on him as any.

    Miller you can see is a great bargain. It’s very unlikely the Dolphins are unaware of his success in converting down and distance, which bodes well for his 2015 usage, health permitting.

     Round 7: Chris Ivory (RB33, ADP 79)

  • If you're going to draft a QB early, go Aaron Rodgers over Andrew Luck

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 15 days ago

    Let’s provide some contrarian analytics for projecting the quarterback position by looking at how each has actually performed the past three years per 525 pass attempts. 

    This really shakes up the draft board and is admittedly just Step 1 in a two-step process. After we get a firm handle on the efficiency with which each passer is likely to produce, we have to then take into account how much over or under those 525 pass attempts each passer is likely to be. But I would bet efficiency heavier than volume (again never discounting volume completely) because team circumstances and game flow can have a big impact on volume — and are very hard to project.

    [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!]

    It’s a mistake to draft a quarterback early. It puts you behind at the running back and wide receiver position, which are far more difficult to finesse with late picks and via the waiver wire. Quarterbacks have a high floor given their near certain number of touches (pass attempts and the occasional rushes) every week.

  • Pitching by the Numbers: deGrom's dominance

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 20 days ago

    I’m switching over to the Fantasy Football beat, so this has to be my last baseball column of the season. But I’m not saying goodbye. You can still fire away with your baseball questions by simply dropping me a tweet @MichaelSalfino.

    I want to leave you with something big enough to last you through the coming weeks as you commence your championship push. So I again turn to Inside-Edge. I’ve sorted the qualifying pitchers (1,400+ pitches) by dominance but noted their overall score, too, to give you the entire picture in really two numerical grades that, like in school, are scaled basically from 60-to-100 points.

     Inside-Edge defines dominance by performance relative to the league average in three statistics: 1) percentage of innings that are 1-2-3, 2) percentage of outs that are strikeouts in four pitches or less and 3) missed swing percentage. 

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    Here’s the full list.    


  • Don't bet on rookie receivers in your fantasy draft when veterans offer value

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 22 days ago

    Wide receiver is the way you slay your opponents in Points Per Reception leagues. It’s not the running back position anymore. And some tight ends are wide receiver-esque and essentially give you another high-upside weapon. So let’s look for value by projecting last year into this year in two key areas: the seemingly transformed value of rookie wide receivers and the most and least effective receivers (including tight ends) in the context of their teams. [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!] Was last year’s electrifying crop of rookie wideouts the signal that rookies now come into the league pro-ready and thus able to make a fantasy impact right out of the gate? I’m reminded of the 2013 offseason where we were told that the performance of the rookie quarterbacks in 2012, when three (Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck) instantly became viable fantasy options, was sold as the new normal. When it didn’t happen in 2013, that was blamed on a poor rookie class. But last year, two highly-regarded prospects, Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel also were terrible. So now people view that 2012 class an an outlier.

  • Pitching by the Numbers: Quintana makes his case

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 28 days ago

    Let’s look this week at, roughly, the last month of action to see which pitchers are performing well in ERA while also having a strong foundation in the K-minus-BB metric.

    I went back to June 25 to account for the All-Star break. The standard sample is about 35–to-40 innings but Corey Kluber is kicking it old-school with 53.1 somehow. 

    Here’s the full list. But let's pull the top 30 (out of 81) sorted by (strikeouts minus walks) divided by innings pitched here.

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    The pitchers who are excelling in both ERA (less than 3.00) while being elite in (K-BB)/IP are Kershaw, Keuchel, Sale, Lester, Fernandez, deGrom, Quintana (!), Price, Arrieta, Syndergaard, Lynn, Greinke.


  • Pitching by the Numbers: Model behavior

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    There’s no sugar-coating it: This year has been a really bad one for the strikeout-minus-walk pitcher prediction model. That’s  after two really good seasons for it in 2013 and 2014.  

    So what went wrong? Remember, we used the model to highlight the bargains that you could get in double-digit rounds, thus loading up on hitters and power closers in the single-digit rounds.   Among the recommendations that were busts for non-injury reasons: Phil Hughes, Colin McHugh, Matt Shoemaker, Ian Kennedy, Drew Hutchison, Shane Greene. There were some hits in there but this is really bad. Most of the cheap recommendations have been brutal.

    Still, this in no way was enough to allow us to make up ground for those draft-season busts. So the owners who used this model as a tool to help win their leagues in 2013 and 2014 are hating it now. 

  • Pitching by the Numbers: All-Fantasy Team and best values

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    Let’s continue to honor the concept of the midsummer classic in non-parochial style by naming our All-Fantasy Pitching Staff through July 8.

    We did the hitters last week.You have to actually be an all-star to be named here. We’re going by estimated dollars earned season-to-date in 12-team mixed leagues, as calculated by our friends at TG Fantasy Baseball.

    And Inside-Edge scouting will help us assess a player’s likelihood of maintaining this rate of performance in the second-half.

    Stats for pitchers are: dollars earned to date,wins, saves, innings, Ks, K/9, ERA, WHIP

    Max Scherzer, WSH: $33, 9 wins, 0 saves, 123.3 IP, 143 Ks, 10.4 K/9, 2.12 ERA, 0.80 WHIP

    Zack Greinke, LAD: $33, 7 wins, 0 saves, 115.3 IP, 98 Ks, 7.6 K/9, 1.48 ERA, 0.89 WHIP

    Dallas Keuchel, HOU: $32,  11 wins, 0 saves, 130.3 IP, 110 Ks, 7.6 K/9, 2.14 ERA, 0.99 WHIP

    Jacob deGrom, NYM: $27, 9 wins, 0 saves, 113.7 IP, 112 Ks, 8.9 K/9, 2.14 ERA, 0.92 WHIP

    Sonny Gray, OAK: $25, 9 wins, 0 saves, 114.7 IP, 102 Ks, 8.0 K/9, 2.20 ERA, 1.01 WHIP

  • Hitting by the Numbers: All-Fantasy Team and best values

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    Kansas City Royals fans may have ruined the “game formerly known as the All-Star Game” but we still can honor the concept by naming an All-Fantasy Team through July 1. You won’t find any Salvador Perezes or Omar Infantes on this team. You have to actually be an all-star to be named here. We’re going by estimated dollars earned in 12-team mixed leagues, as calculated by our friends at TG Fantasy Baseball. And Inside-Edge scouting will help us assess a player’s likelihood of maintaining this rate of performance in the second-half. While we’re focusing on the best players at every position, we’ll also name “All-Value” players at each spot, since it’s the surplus value of our players that enables us to win championships. Stats for hitters are dollars earned to date, average, runs, homers, RBI and steals. We’ll full out a pitching staff next week. Catcher: Buster Posey ($24/.304/41/12/54/1) Not a lot of surplus value here. I doubt Posey is the reason anyone is winning their league. But we also have to park a lot of money in safe assets and Posey is the definition of that strategy. You don't need me to tell you there are no fleas in Posey’s game. Posey trails only Stephen Vogt in the Inside-Edge grading scale that spans 23 statistics in eight broad hitting categories. All-Value: Russell Martin ($17/.262/46/11/37/4) The runs have been golden on the best offense in baseball. Martin has extra value in OBP leagues, which factor in his 28 walks. I frankly thought he’d be playing more but he remains the best cheap catcher drafted mostly because he crushes runs and is far from a drag in power while also adding a handful of bags that could make a difference. First Base: Paul Goldschmidt ($41/.350/55/20/65/15) The steals are what’s really insane. Can he keep it up? Those are likely to fall by the wayside in all likelihood as the grind of the hot summer continues. Steals are pretty meaningless in reality, after all. But Goldschmidt probably will keep running if there’s a chance for a 30/30 or even 40/40 season. So his owners need a milestone. The average is coming way down going forward, too, of course. All-Value: Stephen Vogt ($13/.295/39/13/53/0) He’s been solid and the fundamentals are sound according to Inside-Edge (96 on their 100-point hitting scale). Don't expect much, if any, regression. Second Base: Dee Gordon ($34/.350/41/1/21/26) He’s really a one-category guy now with Stanton out (and who knows how Stanton will hit once he comes back)? So you have to buy the plus-plus batting average. Even accepting his speed (infield hits including bunts), he profiles more like a .290 hitter. Major regression in BABIP severely cuts into the stolen-base totals, too. I’d sell, but then I never own these 1.5-to-3 category guys. All-Value: Matt Duffy ($12/.300/31/8/37/3) Duffy truly came out of nowhere and qualifies at short and third in many leagues, too. Inside-Edge is slightly bearish, granting him a 90 on their 100-point scale. The big worry: his well-hit average is low (13.7% vs. MLB average of 15.4%). I am bearish on Duffy in the second half. Third Base: Todd Frazier ($35/.281/54/25/54/8) I believe the power, of course. But Frazier’s batting average upside is compromised by poor plate discipline: his chase early percentage, chase with two strikes percentage and chase non-hittable pitches are all worse than the MLB average. Expect .240-to-.260 going forward. All-Value: Justin Turner ($13/.314/30/11/37/1) Turner’s made adjustments the last two years, supposedly with the tutelage of Marlon Byrd in the off-season. How hilarious is it that the Mets had Turner and Byrd and let them both go and now can’t hit to save their lives or their electrifying young pitching (something I’ve touched on before). The only thing that can slow Turner down are his troublesome knees. Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki ($29/.320/40/8/41/0) Nothing to say here. The cream rose. But the 15/57 BB/K ratios bother me a lot. His career is 426/698. He may really need that Coors bump now (.756 OPS on the road, 922 at home). I’m mildly bearish and would look to sell if someone is willing to pay the preseason price. All-Value: Yunel Escobar ($21/.321/38/4/27/1) This is shocking. But .361 BABIP plus a below-average well-hit rate. That means he’s still a .280 hitter going forward and then he becomes useful but marginal. Outfield : Bryce Harper ($49/.340/53/24/58/3) Mike Trout ($41/.303/57/21/44/9) Brett Gardner ($32/.304/58/9/39/15) We all have known since he was 15 and on the cover of Sports Illustrated that Harper was coming. He plays the game hard and thus has a higher injury risk than most players but you see he’s running less and he hasn't been running into walls. He seems to be dialing it back. Trout is one of the few players ever who could put up these kinds of numbers and be viewed as a mild disappointment. Early in Gardner’s career, I wrote his lack of power and high K percentage for a powerless hitter would cripple his ability to generate a high-enough walk rate to succeed as a leadoff hitter. But he proceeded to not only defy those historic comps but suddenly develop power at age 29. Now he’s nearly doubled his isolated power (ISO is slugging average minus batting average) to nearly .200. The walks are down, not ironically, because he’s now doing damage early in the count. Expect only mild regression, mostly in batting average. All-Value: Joc Pederson ($18/.243/45/20/38/2) The steals are disappointing. But the power is real and he has such tremendous bat speed that the average should be much higher. His .287 BABIP feels about 50 points too low, at least. All-Value: Nelson Cruz ($30/.307/39/20/48/1) Seattle has hurt his power. Check out his home and road splits, which are backwards. Hitters have an OPS about 40 points higher at home, on average, but Cruz’s OPS is about 200 points higher on the road.

  • Hitting by the Numbers: Bad luck burying Valbuena

    Michael Salfino at Yahoo Sports 2 mths ago

    Armed with Inside-Edge well-hit data, we’re branching out from our usual pitching analysis and tackling expected batting average in this debut of Hitting by the Numbers. The pitching analysis will return next week.

     Inside-Edge uses video scouts to track how often a hitter hits the ball well. Generally, well-hit average should correlate to batting average, meaning if you hit the ball well far more than most you should get more hits (about 70% of well-hit balls are hits) and thus a higher average.

     Of course, some players will not see this correlation. Luck is the biggest factor. But so is speed, the degree to which you strike out and how susceptible your spray chart makes you to shifts.

     The average hitter hits 115 points better than his well-hit rate. But of course, that’s assuming the hitter is also average in strikeouts, speed, batted-ball type, everything. Individual mileage, thus, will vary. 

     Let’s look at the other hitters who have a very small difference, relatively speaking, between their well-hit and actual batting averages. These stats are as of Thursday.