- Yahoo Sports3 days ago
Every week, we essentially rank by telling you who is over and underachieving in fantasy based on the more predictable stats that usually are the foundation of fantasy performance.
Winning pitching is the key to fantasy baseball. It’s the best way to make a profit on draft day. We all know who the good hitters are, so there is a convergence of opinion and thus price on them. You just have to accept that you’re going to have to pay retail for hitters. But with the exception of most of the top tier, there is significant divergence of opinion on pitchers, even among top fantasy baseball players. So me being right about the pitchers I like offers a profit potential that often is the difference between winning and losing.
- Yahoo Sports10 days ago
There’s a lot of talk every year around this time about hitters who had far more doubles than homers. The idea is that they are due for more homers this year. Call it the Manny Machado effect.
But this is a better stat for pitchers. Hitters control outcomes more than pitchers do. So you can be a doubles hitter more reasonably than you can be a doubles pitcher.
Yes, if you are a ground-ball pitcher, you can “earn” your higher double rate to some degree. While you are giving up hard contact, you arguably are controlling that this contact is of the ground-ball variety. And of course there are cheap doubles, too. But they are rare.
So this list (below) is a good check, generally, and especially at the extremes, for pitchers due for a homer correction. The major league average last year was 1.8 doubles per homer.
- Yahoo Sports17 days ago
Many sabermetricians prefer strikeouts minus walks to the more commonly available K/BB ratio. I agree. But I still use the latter mainly because none of the stats sites produce sortable strikeout-minus-walk lists.
But it’s easy enough to put one together ourselves in a spreadsheet. The missing element though is tethering it to innings pitched. So I simply divided the K minus BB total by the innings pitched (IP).
Those who read Pitching by the Numbers and follow me on Twitter (@MichaelSalfino) know my belief that strikeouts and walks are the keys to projecting pitching. And I really like this one hybrid stat very much for ranking purposes, too, since strikeout and walk rates repeat better than the other statistics (i.e., they are more bettable; remember, nothing is bankable). And I’m using only 2013 numbers because, in some cases, that’s all we have and also because pitchers can and do make lasting changes to their repertoires that especially affect strikeout rates – witness Justin Masterson last year and his slider usage with two strikes.
But before we chart this up, let’s review the 2014 Pitching by the Numbers archives for late arrivers.
- Yahoo Sports24 days ago
The select few strikeout-dominant closers are too cheap in our game. The tremendous impact that they can have on the overall pitching staff in Ks seems too discounted given how the coming off the board now, even in expert leagues.
I’ve always said that relievers are like french fries in that they are only good when they’re hot – and they don’t stay hot for long. But if you can bet on anything with them, it’s strikeout rates.
So when I look at closers, I mainly see their surplus Ks over innings pitched because I want to take that surplus and add it to my starters’ strikeouts. The math is simple. For every strikeout my reliever is over innings pitched, I get to add one full strikeout for nine innings worth of pitching from my starters. This is critical of course in leagues like many on Yahoo that have innings caps, essentially turning the strikeout category into a K/9 category.
- Yahoo Sports1 mth ago
In our first Pitching by the Numbers of '14, let’s look at the newest hot commodity, Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees.
Here’s what Tanaka did in Japan compared to some recent imports of note:
These stats are all pre-MLB (some pitchers went back after pitching in the majors). I’ve sorted by the most important stat, SO/BB. There’s also a good argument for strikeouts minus walks (next week’s column). But I try not to use stats that are not commonly tracked when there is a comparable one that is almost as good and easily available. The objective here generally is to provide you with projecting models that you can easily use yourself.
Now let’s use Rotochamp.com to pull some Tanaka projections for 2014.
My major quarrel here is mainly with the strikeouts. I think they’ll be considerably higher.
- Yahoo Sports2 mths ago
Calvin Johnson came up empty in the biggest moment for his owners, but it's amazing what he’s been able to do all year with his knee obviously remaining an issue. So rather than this disappointment contradicting his greatness, I think it actually confirms it because his injury probably would have rendered mere mortal wideouts useless long ago. Late in the Packers game on an otherwise pretty meaningless play, we saw some very high-level NFL WR receiving action by Le’Veon Bell, turning three quarters of the way around to catch a bullet with his outstretched hands. There is a lot of untapped receiving potential here and I really like Bell a lot in 2014. Arizona allowed its league-worst 17th touchdown pass to tight ends, which is a weird stat. Why would a team be that bad against all tight ends? I think teams are just targeting that position more near the end zone because of that stat. It’s feeding on itself, basically. This game illustrated what I meant when I said last week that the Seahawks were going to run themselves right out of the postseason. Russell Wilson is great but Seattle doesn’t pass enough to have the kind of really crisp passing game they are sure to need at some point during a postseason run. This is simply acknowledging that practice makes perfect. No teams are invincible at home. Why would they be? Noise? Come on, this isn’t high school. The Seahawks are just good and also mostly played a bunch of rotten teams during their home run (and some good ones, too, of course). I disapproved of the entire Seahawks-Cardinals game, by the way. Pet peeve: not spreading teams out near the goal-line with four wide receivers and THEN running the ball. Mike McCarthy finally got this right the second chance he had to score from in close after a blocked field goal/batted ball fiasco. Matthew Stafford is just not very good. He has a big arm and that seduces some, I guess, but the Lions will never go anywhere meaningful with him. I know Stafford's pick-six went off the receiver's hands, but the target was well covered and it was a missile, begging for trouble. I had to keep an eye on the Jets and Giants today for other work that I do, which reminded me of being a kid and being told I had to eat my Brussels sprouts. Was that Danny Amendola or Julian Edelman getting caught from behind so easily in the clear open field? I get crossed up sometimes. Yeah, I know: they're only so slow because their big hearts weigh them down. Well, streaming Ryan Succop was a bad move on my part in championship week of Brad Evans’ Silence the Noise league. I guess this is revenge for my #killthekicker. In that case, well played, kickers. Oh, yeah, and Justin Tucker is just so projectable and so not random, right? Stop it! Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, on their touchdown today, were both
- Yahoo Sports2 mths ago
Every movement has its moment and, in fantasy football, the moment has come, my fellow Americans, for "Kill The Kicker." So let’s start Splitsville here this week. I don’t think I need to detail the impact that Justin Tucker had on many leagues in our Week 15 playoffs, as it’s already bad-beat legend. And Tucker wasn’t even the highest scoring kicker last week (Dan Bailey). Let’s take the arguments against killing the kicker on one by one. “Kickers are a part of real football and we should be as much like real football as we can be.” Huh? This is fantasy football. Kickers are never a part of any football fantasy. No cheerleader has ever even fantasized about marrying a kicker, for cryin’ out loud. We have the power to make our fake game anyway we want. We can play with two quarterbacks, three running backs and, clearly, no kicker. “We need kickers because we should play with as many players as possible. More is always better than less.” I’m not saying to get rid of kickers and not replace them with anything. Add another flex, a second QB, coach scoring (based on team wins and total points scored). The sharks who say this don’t really want more players played, they want usually meaningless kickers sucking up roster spots so the waiver wire is easier for them to mine. So they really want us to play less “real” players, not more. It’s a con. “There is skill in picking kickers. So learn how to play the game better.” Yes, Tucker’s six field goals were totally projectable. The problem here is that none of us pick kickers because we think the kicker is so good. They’re all good (well, except Garrett Hartley, but he’ll be good again soon, I guarantee it). We try to pick the team that has an offense that’s good but not too good with a good defense and that plays close games. But even after all that, these Tucker days are totally random. “We’ve always had kickers. It’s tradition.” We must evolve. Kickers are making 86.1% of all field goals now. They are making 65.1% of 50-plus yarders. So even penalizing misses doesn’t work. Distance bonuses only make things worse. Back when fantasy football was first popularized in 1990, teams made 74.4% of field goals and 36% of 50-plus yarders. Another reasonable fantasy football complaint: “Head-to-head play is too random.” The most important thing to have in our game is the best defense, which we obviously have no control over. I talked about that this week, and other fantasy football happenings, on the Wall Street Journal “Sports Retort” podcast. An alternative that doesn’t destroy head-to-head play is to play two games every week, a head-to-head game and a game against the league average point total. So if you have a great week but play a team that had a better week, you go 1-1 (not a disaster). And if you get lucky by playing a worse team
I think any commentary right now would be crass without first giving the NFL a virtual standing ovation for outdoing itself every week with games that are simply astounding while setting new standards for pulse-racing excitement. Nothing else comes close. Layering in our fake games just dials everything up to 11. And with epic games we get epic fantasy football scoring, too. Like many who were still alive, I was "Charles'd" out of the playoffs, as in Jamaal Charles. But I tip my cap to Andy Reid and the Chiefs for realizing that piling up meaningless touches with him was doomed. The “less is more” approach, especially getting him in space on Sunday in the passing game, is clearly the way to go with this undersized but dynamic weapon. He’s gone from the high 20s to the low 20s in touches of late and Sunday he had just 16 for 215 total yards and four receiving touchdowns (five total), the first time in history a running back has done that. We are biased toward offense. And irrespective of fantasy football, I know that it’s best to build an offense because it generally controls outcomes. But of course there are exceptions at the extreme ends of the defensive scale. What we are witnessing now in Dallas is really disgraceful. Letting a team’s fourth quarterback of the season (Matt Flynn) come in and light you up in the second half? Providing no resistance to Eddie Lacy (who is very solid now and, barring injury, for the foreseeable future)? Ridiculous. Why the roof always seems to fall in late in the season on Tony Romo is a mystery but it’s never the quarterback’s fault when the other team scores 37 points and gains over 450 yards. Isn’t Dez Bryant just the best though? That touchdown catch has to be seen to be believed. And that the refs got the call right on the field is amazing, too, given the grab seemed to defy multiple laws of physics. Beyond Romo, the real mystery with the Cowboys is why they just don’t play pitch and catch with Dez more given that even being well covered by multiple defenders isn’t an impediment to scoring. I also love Bryant’s obvious passion for the game. When you care so much and are so good you can only be great. I don’t think I’d ever trust DeMarco Murray because he’s tall and relatively slender and runs tall, too. When he’s healthy, he’s often phenomenal but I just can’t allow myself to get caught up in that because he’s an injury waiting to happen. Standard yards scoring for QBs is very annoying when a quarterback just piles up attempts in total garbage time like Drew Brees did. Add in a rushing TD and it was quite a productive day for a nothing day in reality. Man, Marques Colston is a beast now suddenly. Every year there are castoffs or nobodies who make a lot of noise down the stretch. But again,
Rob Gronkowski’s injury is the big news in Week 14 and has his owners who survived scrambling for a waiver-wire replacement and owners of Tom Brady pondering whether he can be trusted for the remainder of the fantasy football playoff season. Meanwhile, Josh Gordon just keeps delighting his owners and is now as dangerous as any player in our game. No defensive back can handle him and the really good ones are dumb enough to try so you should especially look forward to days like Sunday against Aqib Talib. With all the volume in the Browns passing game, you should never have gotten off of the Jordan Cameron bandwagon, either. When a team is throwing over 40 passes a game and the TE is always running patterns on third down, you must start him unless you have Vernon Davis or a pre-injury Gronkowski. Ryan Mathews’ 29 carries were the story in the Chargers victory over the Giants. But the volume will be down again next week in Denver. More important is the status of the one of the best rookie technicians I’ve ever seen at the wide receiver position, Keenan Allen. The feeling from beat reporter and former Yahoo! scribe Michael Gehlken, now a Chargers beat reporter, is that Allen will be fine. An example: On the long TD, Allen gave Philip Rivers plenty of room to find him instead of drifting too close to the sideline/12th defender. If you are still alive after drafting Victor Cruz, pat yourself on the back but please bench him because he’s worthless now against everyone and gets Seattle next week. If you’re playing Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, the loss by Seattle in San Francisco ensures that Seattle will be playing for keeps in Week 16. Luke Willson (and those two Ls are not a misprint) has definite sleeper potential in 2014 as a TE/WR hybrid. Wilson talked him up as a gym rat in the summer. He’s a decent plug-in for Gronkowski owners next week, too. Seattle needs to see right now if he can be a mismatch player in the passing game given Percy Harvin’s shaky status. Carson Palmer can still play. He was 12-for-12 on throws to Larry Fitzgerald. Only five of 32 passes hit the ground all day. And he did it without many big plays. Michael Floyd was left in the cold but that’s the life of a No. 2 receiver. Definitely play Floyd next week at Tennessee. The Titans showed that they are not a big-time passing defense. How can you be with the rules in place now? People were worried about Peyton Manning in the cold but I’ve been telling everyone not just this year but for years that it’s wind that’s the killer, and for all QBs. Manning, like Brees, throws a wobbly ball, which increases accuracy but may generally not react as well in the denser, colder air and also the wind. The former is marginal, as Manning showed on Sunday. But the latter