Friday, September 30, 2011

Fantasy Hockey musings - Rays Demolish Rangers

I've been busy ranking hockey players in time for a draft I can't make this weekend.  Probably annoying for most, but I find just ranking the players ahead of time saves me in-draft stress.  I mean this is not REAL stress. This is a game we're playing here.

If you're reading this I assume you've been in a live draft before. I find I can sit back and relax during the draft since I'm not digging up stats and injury lists like other guys I'm assuming are. There are always guys that take the entire allotted time to make a pick.  You can bet after all that time the player they draft is lousy too, especially the deeper the draft goes. Those I think are the guys that don't take time to pre-rank.

During this process, I don't do anything remarkable.  I just rank the total number players that are to be drafted. As it gets deeper I end up selecting players that I can tolerate, as opposed to players I actually would like.  In hockey that 'tolerate list' is pretty large as once your outside of the top 150 players it becomes a crap shoot.  I think this is similar in any fantasy sports game.  More about hockey later... let's shift gears...

About the Rays:

Well is it too early to call Tampa the favorite?  They're definitely the hottest team coming in to the post season (other than the Cardinals).  It kind of scares me that they tossed out a rookie, Matt Moore today who ended up shutting out one of the best hitting ball clubs in the league.  The Rays just have insane minor league depth.  Hats off to their management, coaching and scouting staff.  The Rays might not be the better team but I don't think the Rangers have the pitching depth to get past the Rays.  To be honest, I'm not certain any AL team has better pitching than the Rays.  James Shields is an ace, David Price is not far off and Jeff Niemann might have been the best pitcher in the major leagues down the stretch.

Detroit and New York will have to rely on aces Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia respectively.  Can they really get to the World Series with one ace?  Time will tell..

Thanks for reading...

A note about sabermetrics:

BABIP: Batting average on balls in play - a luck factor
GB%: Ground ball rate - a skill factor for pitchers, as well as hitters.  The lower the GB% for a hitter the more likely he's making good contact, the higher for pitchers the harder it is to make solid contact off of him.
K/9: A simple one, strikeouts per 9 innings pitched.
BB/9:  Ditto but with walks.

I always found it helpful to have this glossary around.  I tend to use the terms like I'm talking to people who know exactly what they mean.  That's not necessarily a good thing so you can always refer back to this post in times of pure 'saber-speak'.

Ricky Romero - Avoid 2012

It pains me to say this but Ricky is due for a down season next year.  Let's look at this way, in 2010 he posted a 3.73 ERA 1.29 WHIP and 174 K.  This season 2.92 ERA 1.14 WHIP and 178 K.  Looks like he's figured something out somewhere right?  Upon closer inspection we see no improvement in K/9, GB% (ground ball rate) but a slight decrease of BB/9 (down to 3.20 this past season).  What's the deal here?  Well, like Jeremy Hellickson (read down a few posts) he's managed to get gigantically lucky on balls in play (.242) this season.  Romero's skills suggest his ERA should have been closer to 4.00 than 3.0.  Add to that he pitches in the AL East and suddenly we're looking at two red flags.  I'm not going to say abandon Romero in 2012 but if you think he's an ace, think again.  He's a solid #2 starter tops and you should treat him as such in drafts next year.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Post Comments For Advice

I'll probably have to re-post this a few times but just be aware that if you want any questions answered just post in the comments or tweet me @games_on_lance.  I'll be happy (well mildly amused anyway) to respond!


Jeremy Hellickson - 2012 Avoid

This will be of course written before Hellickson goes through the playoffs destroying all in his path as the Rays win the Championship.  There we got our first blind and completely uninhibited prediction out of the way.  Seriously though,  there are a couple of things to know about Jeremy Hellickson who's 2.95 ERA and sparkling 1.15 will be deceiving for 2012.  First,  he's not striking out near enough batters (5.57 K/9) to warrant drafting him especially playing in the ultra competitive AL East.  His minor league resume boasts a relatively steady 9+ K/9 Although at his age (24) there will be lots of time to improve as he figures major league hitters out.  Second, his .223 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) was as lucky as you can get.  Third and most importantly, his GB% (ground ball rate) was just 35%.  That's the scary part.  65% of the balls hit in play were either line drives or pop flys.  I'm just mentioning the AL East factor again, as the rest of the division all play in cozy hitters parks.  His draft stock will indeed be high but I think it goes without saying, avoid Hellickson like the plague in 2012.

Fantasy Baseball Season Ends With a Bang

That sound you hear is likely a ton of Boston fans crying out in unison.  What a nasty way to finish if you are a Red Sox fan.  Seriously though did they even have a shot at winning?  I'm not completely sure they did.  Beaten up after annual post-season berths, the Sox were going to have to trade for a starting pitcher to pitch in the event of a tie breaker (the rumors were swirling around KC's Bruce Chen).

So now where will the play offs take us?  Last season, the San Francisco Giants scraped into the playoffs despite winning the NL West.  They went on to best the Rangers for the World Series title.  Could that possibly be the Tampa Bay Rays this season?  With all of the youth and talent in that clubhouse can they really be a World Series champion? 

I'm certain those questions were swirling around last season as well.  As baseball stays the same, the Yankees, Phillies, Cardinals and Rangers have been in the post season regularly, it also is in constant motion.  We somehow end up with a highly improbable champion when its all said and done.  Let's be fair here though, in baseball playoffs, its all about the starting pitching.  If you have three good starters, or even two dominating ones like the Giants did last season with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, you're going to make some noise. 

Right away, that makes the Phillies the team to beat.  We'll have to wait and see. 

I'm hoping become a bit more vocal in this space especially over the baseball off season.  We'll take a look at some players I like for next season, some off season movement and anything else that tickles my fancy.  So please tune in...