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The League of Alternate Baseball Reality (LABR) includes experts from the fantasy sports industry. The Rick Wolf and Glenn Colton ownership team has  3 championships in ten years in the NL only league.  I looked at the Wolf/Colton roster composition , and decided to use their model as I approached the Carolina Baseball League (CBL) Auction draft (03/13/2011).  Based on their roster, it seems the strategy was not paying a lot for pitching, and using most of their money around five high end batters who provide multiple categories.

The Wolf/Cotton team spent $148 on five high end bats that included:

  1. $39 Joey Votto
  2. $32 Andrew McCutchen
  3. $30 Matt Holliday
  4. $29 Hunter Pence
  5. $18 Aramis Ramirez

For our draft, Hunter Pence and Andrew McCutchen were not available. I spent $145 for six primary bats:

  1. $39 Joey Votto
  2. $37 Justin Upton
  3. $39 Matt Holliday
  4. $10 Pedro Alvarez
  5. $10 Cody Ross
  6. $10 Logan Morrison

Like Wolf/Colton, I have both Votto and Holliday. For their Aramis Ramirez selection, I already had Pedro Alvarez for that slot. I considered Cory Hart for the Hunter Pence slot, but decided with his injury to move the money else where. Instead, I combined Cody Ross and Logan Morrison for $20.

On pitching, Wolf/Colton  went with three good starters who were nicely priced, and a high end closer:

  1. $20 Brian Wilson
  2. $16 Jonathan Sanchez
  3. $13 Matt Garza
  4. $13 Ricky Nolasco

For my pitching, I had a similar makeup but I went with two closers:

  1. $20 J.J. Putz
  2. $11 Matt Latos
  3. $13 Tommy Hanson
  4. $10 Kyle McClellan
  5. $10 Travis Wood
  6. $6 Craig Kimbrel

Here is my roster for opening day:

Pos Edit Active Batters Salary

C Hernandez, Ramon(C) CIN

4 C Thole, Josh(C) NYM 6

1B Votto, Joey(1B) CIN 39

2B Young, Eric(2B) COL  10

3B Alvarez, Pedro(3B) PIT 10

SS Renteria, Edgar(SS) CIN 2

MI DeWitt, Blake(2B) CHC 2

CI Overbay, Lyle(1B) PIT 9

OF Holliday, Matt(OF) STL 39

OF Morrison, Logan(OF) FLA

10 OF Ross, Cody(OF) SF

10 OF Upton, Justin(OF) ARI 37

OF Venable, Will(OF) SD  4

U Hairston, Scott(OF) NYM 5

Bench

Bench (3B) Baker, Jeff(2B,3B) CHC  3

Bench (SS) Emaus, Brad(SS) NYM 10

Bench (OF) Jackson, Brett(OF) CHC  10

Bench (U) Gibbons, Jay(OF) LA  2

Pos Edit Active Pitchers Salary

P Hammel, Jason(P) COL 7

P Hanson, Tommy(P) ATL 11

P Kimbrel, Craig(P) ATL  6

P Latos, Mat(P) SD 11

P Marquis, Jason(P) WAS  1

P McClellan, Kyle(P) STL  10

P Putz, J.J.(P) ARI 20

P Wood, Travis(P) CIN  10

P Young, Chris(P) NYM  1

Bench (P) Luebke, Cory(P) SD  6

Bench (P) Mejia, Jenrry(P) NYM  7

Bench (P) Rodriguez, Henry(P) WAS 5

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In a 1972 article that appeared in the Boston Globe  titled “Aaron May Set HR Record, Can’t Equal Ruth’s Slugging” , the reporter Harold Case conducted an interview with fan and local statistician Harold Paretchan. In setting the HR record, Babe Ruth did it in 8399 at bats. At the time, Aaron was going on almost 11,000 at bats when he was getting close to the home run record. Mr. Paretchan noted Ruth had a HR once every 11.76 at bats, compared to 16.35  for Aaron.

Harold R. Paretchan Sr. was an inhalation therapist with a flair for baseball statistics who devoted his retirement to trumpeting the contributions of scientists he thought were overlooked.

He wrote the book World Series: The Statistical Record .

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I can remember that miracle rookie season of 1988, Mark McGwire hitting home runs at a mammoth pace.  Its hard to recall someone coming on the scene and being a slugger like we were witnessing that year.  With his Bash Brother counterpart Jose Canseco, these guys were the talk of baseball.

We have heard the Jose Canseco claims that McGwire participated in steriods as they were slugging home runs together in Oakland. I don’t really believe McGwire saying he did not discuss steroids with any other players, as I believe it was Jose Canseco that introduced McGwire to the steroid lifestyle.

Sure, McGwire had been blessed with the ability to crush a baseball. However, steroids do help you. In the steroid era, the record setting numbers were enhanced like never before. I am puzzled why he took this long to come clean. I believe he did go on an exile, refusing to speak to reporters. Additionally, it’s hard to  believe that  reporters failed to approach him to tell his story.

As McGwire gets ready to start a job in baseball, I find it hard to believe he will not become a distraction to the St Louis Cardinals. It will be a traveling roadshow in every town he enters. Instead of the players on the field being the focus when the Cardinals come to town,  the local press will replay the steroid story.

I wonder at what point McGwire fessed up to LaRussa on the steroids. Was it after he accepted the job as the hitting coach, or is it something that McGwire wanted to get off his chest before starting his new job. In a way, he did prevent alot of the negativity that was sure to come his way, as the last image we have of him is his claiming to congress that ‘We are not here to talk about the past’.

I am sure as a man, its freeing to get this out of his system and to turn the page. We’ll see how this plays out, but he sure has a lot more explaining to do.

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It is well known that Ryan Howard is one of the power hitting offensive forces of the past 4 years in the National league.  The Phillies have 18 million reasons they like the lefty slugger coming into the 2009 season. But, one thing I touched on a few weeks ago about Ryan Howard:

Every now and then you hear the whispers that Howard is simply just a good platoon hitter.

So, lets take a look at Howard’s track record with the righty lefty splits.

Name Year vs Lefty (AB) vs Righty (AB) vs Lefty  (HR) vs Righty (HR) vs Lefty (AVG) vs Righty (Avg ) vs Lefty (SLG) vs Righty (SLG)
Howard 2008 237 373 14 34 .224 .268 .451 .601
Howard 2007 209 320 16 31 .225 .297 .493 .644
Howard 2006 197 384 16 42 .279 .331 .558 .711
Howard 2005 61 251 1 21 .148 .323 .246 .645

So,  in the red columns we see Ryan Howard’s production against left handed pitching. In his three full seasons, in the rate categories against lefties he has continued his decline in batting average and slugging. His home run production against righties just about doubles his production against lefties.  To be fair, the Phillies are aware of the situation and he has received less at bats against lefties. The question remains though, would the Phillies be better off platooning him at first base.

I am certain they could find a right handed batter who could do better than a .224 batting average  against the southpaws.  Better yet, in fantasy leagues that allow for daily transactions, would you be better off sitting Howard against lefties.

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The word out of Toronto is slugging DH Frank Thomas who was benched days ago has been released by the Blue Jays. Big Frank who had 235 Times on Base, and 255 Total Bases last season certainly can still provide some offense with teams lacking in that area. It is certainly a small sample size to base a benching on. As, some players it takes longer to get in their groove.

I for one think Frank Thomas is a certain Hall Of Famer. Five years after this great piece was written, do you still feel it?

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We are already past “Pitchers and Catchers”, and the exhibition games for the 2008 baseball season are underway. Its that time of the year that baseball fantasy owners are monitoring very closely what is going on in the Cactus League in Arizona, and the Grapefruit league in Florida.

One of the better blogs I came across this off-season is called Greener On the Other Side where they offer Objective Insight to Sabermetrics and Strategy In Fantasy Baseball. Brett Greenfield and I participated in a blog exchange of questions and answers. My responses to his questions appear at Greener on the Other Side. Brett’s responses to my questions appear below in bold.

1. Just like in Major League baseball, after a while you can recognize
the type of players or strategies certain GMs favor. In fantasy baseball keeper leagues, what type of patterns among other fantasy owners do you see pretty often?

Many owners fail to realize mistakes they’ve made. We all do it. For example, those who drafted or kept guys like Alex Gordon or Delmon Young last year are highly likely to keep them again this year.

An intelligent owner cuts bait on his these players and goes for the certain thing. Nobody knew Ryan Braun would be as productive as he was last year and become a first round pick this year. Sometimes it takes guys like Young and Gordon time to develop and other times they never do.

So a trend I see all too often is holding on to a player just because you thought highly of him in the year before. I also see rosters that have players in common. There is usually the owner who drafts all young players and not enough proven veterans to contend. Every team needs a Todd Helton. Other teams only take the older guys who have “slipped” to them because other owners think they are too old to draft in a “keeper league.”

Finding a happy medium usually results in success. While in a keeper league everyone needs to remember that your primary goal is to win this year not in 2010.

2. The saves and stolen bases always seem to be the hardest categories
to fill out on your fantasy roster with. Do you suggest going after the high fliers in those categories and having to pay for it, or go after with several cheaper players that get you the stats collectively?

Saves and stolen bases are the hardest to fill out. This is the case mainly because the players who provide these two categories don’t provide you with any help in other categories. Closers for example help your ERA and WHIP yet only give you that help in about a third of the innings of a starting pitcher.

Even the best closers who strike out 100 still give you a total as low as Chien-Ming Wang. I prefer landing cheaper sources of saves such as Todd Jones and Kevin Gregg. In such a volatile position I hate to use a high draft pick on a player who only provides me with 3 categories at most. Stacking up on high-end SP’s who can get you help in four categories and then drafting late closers works best in my opinion.

The same can be said for stolen bases when a large majority of your SB guys include Figgins, Pierre and Taveras. They rarely provide you with much help elsewhere.

That being said for my first two rounds in the draft I try to target players like David Wright, Carl Crawford, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, Alfonso Soriano, etc.

A guy like Ryan Howard in the first round gives you zero SB and his .261 AVG is a lot more real than his .300 AVG from the year before.

In targeting SB I prefer to get an all-around player and when targeting saves I prefer to wait until rounds 17-20 and grab lesser values closers much like Al Reyes and Kevin Gregg last year.

3. It seems you always hear to spend a certain percentage of your team
on offense and certain percentage on pitching. Why is it that offense is always at a premium percentage of your overall budget when both offense and pitching both contribute to five categories?

Generally speaking, offense usually comprises a larger portion of a fantasy roster. In addition, hitters suffer far less injuries than pitchers and are more reliable because of that. Lastly, even the best pitchers like Peavy and Santana don’t provide you with 5 categories since they won’t be getting any saves. A hitter like David Wright provides above average assistance in all 5 categories.

So in rotisserie leagues, its always worth spending the big bucks on the guys who provide you with help in the most categories as possible.

4. We have seen some teams make bold moves with a player they acquired
this off-season either through trades or free agent signings. Which move in particular strikes you as a move that we can call the “Fools Gold” transaction of 2008?

The fool’s gold transaction of the 2008 offseason was the White Sox and A’s trade involving Nick Swisher and Gio Gonzalez. Last year, Gio led the minor leagues in strikeouts and sported a 3.18 ERA to go along with a 1.15 WHIP. He was blocked in Chicago by a slew of pitchers that they’ve had including Vazquez, Garland, Contreras, Buehrle, Danks and Floyd. Now moving from an extreme hitters park to a pitcher’s paradise with a great chance to log 150+ innings, expect him to be the “Fools Gold” of 2008 as Billy Beane has done it again.

5. The Houston Astros Roy Oswalt was one of the top pitchers in many
draft boards last season. Tell me why I should avoid or go after
Houston Astros Pitcher Roy Oswalt in 2008?

Roy Oswalt has seen his stats decrease over the last few years. His strikeouts have decreased at a clip of 20 per year over the last 4 seasons and his strikeout rate dropped to a career low 6.5/9. His ERA, while still at 3.18 has risen over the last three years and his WHIP was a career high last year. For those interested in Sabermetrics, Oswalt’s Component ERA was 3.72 and his DIPS ERA was 3.51, both higher than his 3.18 ERA looks on the surface. His two back to back 20-win seasons are in the past as his run support has dwindled over the last two seasons. Avoid Roy Oswalt.

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