Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NL King: Analyzing the Percentage Categories for NL Only Leagues

The NL King loves to give fantasy baseball advice and my favorite topic to discuss is the percentage categories in fantasy baseball and how often they get over looked during draft preparation. Most owners look towards power, speed, wins, saves or strikeouts, but, the majority of the time they don't ask themselves - how does my batting average look? What about my ERA and Ratio? Why is this?
The percentage categories are just not as sexy as HR or SB or K’s. In a standard 5 X 5 league the percentage categories are three of the ten categories. So they’re crucial for any fantasy owners success. What makes these categories so difficult to navigate is they’re very volatile, one day your numbers can be up and the next down. You can really see this especially on the pitching side what two or three disastrous outings can do to your ERA and Ratio (WHIP).
First rule of thumb for the percentage categories is you do not want to fall too far behind over the first couple months of the season. Frankly, these categories are too hard to come back from. In most instances, when I see a team who is far behind in the percentage categories on Memorial Day, they never recover. For instance, if your team hit .250 for the first half of the season and you need your team to hit above .265 to stay competitive, that means your hitters would need to hit around .285 for the second half. That's very difficult. You need all your players to chip in and help you in these categories or at least not hurt it and give you a push average, ERA or Ratio. A push means that this would be your league's medium. So if your leagues’ push batting average is .263 and if you have a good hitter helping you in various categories and hits .263 you can rely on your higher batting average players to help you rise in that category. Basically if you can have positive numbers on 2/3 of your roster from both hitting and pitching for the percentage categories and a push from the remaining 1/3 of your roster you will do very well in these categories.

The second rule of thumb is you need to look at your leagues standings the last three years and look at the final numbers in your league for batting average, ERA and Ratio to see what percentages fall in the top third and what falls at least in the middle of the categories. This will give you an idea what your goals have to be for the upcoming season for these categories.

Batting Average: In batting average you have more of an error factor than ERA and Ratio. Quite simply you have 14 hitters and 9 pitchers in just about every league. Also most rosters a very large percentage of their hitters play every day, while in terms of the pitchers, the starters pitch once every 5 days and relievers pitch between 3 to 4 innings a week. There are a lot of hitters who can really help you in the other categories but produce poor batting averages. I am not saying these players cannot be on your team BUT you must pick your spots. You cannot have too many of these players and I would say I wouldn’t have more than 2 of these players. Furthermore if you do have a player like this, that player MUST make a significant impact in the other categories, such as players as Dan Uggla of the Atlanta Braves or Chris Young of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Players like Rod Barajas who give you decent power numbers especially for a catcher, in my estimation, should not be on your team. They are an overall negative to how much they help you in the other hitting categories which will be wiped away by their .220 batting average over 400+ AB's. Do not draft these players. Like I said, above guys like Dan Uggla who hit .233 last season and most of his years he has hit in the .240's still produced strong numbers with 36HR's, 82RBI's and 88R's. Chris Young is a lifetime .240 hitter and has only hit above .250 once in his six year career (hit .257 in 2010). But despite his .236 average last year, Chris Young still had 20HR, 71RBI, 89R & 22SB. You can have these kind of players on your team but you must limit them and for every one of these guys you have, you need to offset them with an everyday hitter who is going to hit at least .300.

Trend Analysis Batting Average: I constructed a chart for the last four years in my own league for each percentage category and came to some stark realizations of where the NL numbers are heading (again I am in a 12 team NL only 5 X 5 Keeper League). I’m sure just by following baseball everyone knows the hitting numbers are down and the pitching numbers are up. But how much up and down? In my league last season a team batting average of .2656 finished in 3rd place. That same batting average in 2008 would have resulted in an 11th place finish. In fact here is a little chart for .2656 batting average for my 12 team league:

2011 - 3rd Place Finish
2010 - 6th Place Finish
2009 - 8th Place Finish
2008 - 11th Place Finish

In fact in 2008, half my league finished with a team batting average of .270 or better but in the last two seasons only two teams per season finished with a batting average of .270 better. Now using my numbers is just one league but I am in a very competitive league and it illustrates how batting averages are decreasing. Your goal for a team batting average should be between .267 and .268 heading into 2012. This should allow you to finish in the upper third of that category. If you can construct a team with a .270 batting average I think you will thrive.

ERA and Ratio: We want to make sure we have solid numbers in these categories to stay competitive. How do we do that? We avoid all pitchers who are most likely to have negative numbers in these categories. The one exception I would make would be for a closer who can give us at least 30 saves. In 2008 I had Brian Wilson who had terrible percentage numbers (4.62 ERA and 1.44 Ratio) but had 41 saves and 67K's in 62 innings. I also had Wilson at a cheap price. A situation like this is not ideal but can work as it did for Wilson who only had 62 innings that season. Never draft a starter who is going to produce those kind of numbers in ERA and Ratio. Again, you need to look at your league standings the last three years and see what team ERA's and Ratios are falling in the upper third of the category. That must be your goal. Everyone needs to respect these categories as they are very volatile and it's so hard to make up ground when you fall way behind the pack. Much more difficult than batting average because you have a lot less numbers to work with in terms of IP than you do AB's even if your league allows daily moves.

One of my upcoming articles will be about "Putting Together a Pitching Staff" and we will go into further detail on how we attack the percentage categories. But just to give you a taste, our ERA and Ratio will come from our dominant starter(s), very good starters, our closer and our secret weapon... middle relievers. The last third of our roster will be with push pitchers.

Trend Analysis ERA & Ratio: Again using the chart I constructed from my league the last four years the ERA and Ratio final team numbers are staggering in terms of how much they changed. In terms of ERA the team that finished in last place last season in my league had a 4.14 ERA. That same ERA in 2008 would have finished in 6th place middle of the pack. In fact in 2011 3/4 of my league finished with an ERA below 4.00. In 2008 only 1/3 of my league finished with a team ERA below 4.00. In terms of ratio last season 2/3 of my league had a team ratio under 1.30. In 2008 only 2 teams, that's 1/6 finished with a team ratio under 1.30. Each year since 2008, the pitching numbers have been getting better and better, many reasons but that's an article in itself.

I hope this gives everyone a road map on how to attack these categories for the upcoming season. I will do an article on building a pitching staff over the next month and that will hit home the points on ERA and Ratio among the other three categories as well.

NL King - C.Lizza

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Fantasy Man's 2012 Fantasy Baseball Second Base 2B Rankings

The Fantasy Man's 2012 Fantasy Baseball Second Base 2B Rankings
UPDATED 3/13/12

1. Robinson Cano - No brainer top 2B, top 5 overall IMO, I think he can steal 10+SB
2. Ian Kinsler - 30/30 again in mid prime
3. Dustin Pedroia - 20/20/.300+ super solid pick
4. Chase Utley - Has #1 2B fantasy talent so this could be a nice value if healthy
5. Ben Zobrist - He's a bit inconsistent week by week but numbers are there at the end
6. Brandon Phillips - the rare 5 category 2B, but which category will thrive this year?
7. Dan Uggla - Big power, stinky BA, decent OBP
8. Rickie Weeks - Had his best year yet the final numbers weren't too exciting
9. Howie Kendrick - Position eligibility, entering prime, possible breakout, must stay healthy
10. Dustin Ackley - the next Chase Utley, just needs a supporting cast
11. Danny Espinoza - 20/20 potential but super inconsistent in 2011, I like the upside
12. Neil Walker - Power/speed a bit disappointing in '11 but a full season and a half under belt
13. Jemille Weeks - Could be boom or bust, BA should dip a bit but speed is real
14. Jason Kipnis - small sample shows power/speed, I can't go crazy here
15. Daniel Murphy - Could be top 10 2B by end of 2012 if healthy, 1B/2B/3B eligible
16. Gordon Beckham - Seen talent, must put it together, new coach should help
17. Kelly Johnson - Nice power, few SB's, the rest blows
18. Aaron Hill - Lost power, added 20+ SB in 2011, the rest blows
19. Brian Roberts - Assuming healthy, gets you .280/10-15HR/85+R/25+ SB, nice value
20. Marco Scutaro - Could lead off in COL, possible boost in power, nice value
21. Sean Rodriguez - May be the starting SS, position eligibility, nice power/speed upside
22. Alexi Casilla - Could hit .280/20+SB with full-time AB
23. Ryan Raburn - Full-time AB could create nice upside
24. Darwin Barney - Nice serviceable player
25. Jose Altuve - Good contact hitter, 15+ SB speed, 5-10 HR
26. Johnny Giavotella - Like Altuve with slightly less speed
27. Omar Infante - Can hit for a decent BA but has no power
28. Mark Ellis - If healthy could be 15/15 serviceable, likely low BA
29. Freddie Sanchez - Serviceable
30. Orlando Hudson - Serviceable
31. Skip Schumaker - Serviceable
32. Ramon Santiago - Save for the waiver wire

Monday, November 21, 2011

NL King is Back! NL Only League Questions for 2012

By the NL King - C. Lizza

Fantasy Baseball season is back and the NL King is ready help your win your NL Only league again in 2012.  Just to recap, I play in a super competitive keeper auction NL only league. Same guys every year, big money with a ton of strategy and preparation.  I love to share my knowledge and The Fantasy Man gives me a place to do that here at Fantasy Baseball Express.  I'm just a regular guy who love fantasy baseball so I'm back to provide my insight to NL Only leaguers for 2012. I hope you enjoy and I encourage any comments and feedback below. Good luck in 2012.

This years off-season kickoff  article will be about asking key questions in the NL, so let's set up the scene. 
I will be doing a lot of articles on these questions between now and mid January.  At that point I would imagine the crux of 
the substantial free agents will be signed as well as significant trading in MLB that will effect the National League. 
Once spring training starts, we'll gave a good idea as to who the starting players for each team and I will start doing the 
rankings articles by position. So let's start asking questions in no particular order that you will need answers to this off-season....
These are the questions we need to ask ourselves no in order to prepare and research properly for 2012.  Let's just get our feet wet here.  Ask yourself these questions now and hopefully you won't be in the bookstore looking for a fantasy mag 10 
minutes before your draft....
Support the cause!  get the Keep Jose Reyes T-shirt here!

Support Jose Reyes at www.KeepReyes.com

- What went right for your fantasy team last year and what went wrong? If you finished in the money,  what worked? 
If you didn't finish in the money, why not?

- What players emerged last year (i.e. Craig Kimbrel, Jesus Guzman) ? Who took a step backwards (Carlos Lee, Jason Bay)?  Why did this happen to these players (team, ballpark, contract, age, etc)?

- Astros AL Bound for 2013 what effect will that have in 2012 for NL leagues?

- How do your keepers look heading into next season? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your keeper list and of your draft for 2012? How is the off-season trade market look? How do your keepers match up compared to the rest of your league?

- The percentage categories are changing dramatically over the last 4 years, will that continue?

- What will be the impact of this years free agent crop on the NL?

- The New Marlins Stadium - how will it affect Marlins players for fantasy baseball? 
The Mets also moved in, who will that affect?

- Matt Kemp's $160 million dollar contract - what will that mean for his stats in 2012?

- What prospects / minor leaguers should we keep tabs on for 2012? Potential call up?

These are some of the questions we will answer over the next 6 weeks before the position rankings articles. 
And don't worry, there will be more questions to answer. I hope everyone enjoys the off-season articles my next one 
will be right after Thanksgiving and focuses on the percentage categories and how important and volatile they are and how 
they are changing dramatically in the NL.

Everyone have a great Thanksgiving day !!!!

NL King - C.Lizza

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Fantasy Man's 2012 Fantasy Baseball First Base Rankings

The Fantasy Man's 2012 Fantasy Baseball First Base Rankings
UPDATED 3/13/12

1. Miguel Cabrera - Close to Pujols numbers but younger, 3B eligibility early
2. Albert Pujols - I expect Pujols to be Pujols
3. Adrian Gonzalez - Puts up #1 type numbers at the end of Round 1, slight value here IMO
4. Prince Fielder - Dependable and reliable source of power, solid BA, etc.
5. Joey Votto - Top notch numbers all around
6. Mark Teixeira - The negative post season talk will have him more motivated in 2012
7. Ryan Howard - Probably a nice value pick -  OUT UNTIL JUNE or longer...
8. Paul Konerko - He scares me a bit, I won't pick him before the 6th round
9. Mike Morse - Legit power, decent BA, up and coming team, I love the upside
10. Mike Young - Multi-positional eligibility makes for a great value
11. Justin Morneau - A healthy Morneau puts him at #7 or #8, probably "steal of the draft"
12. Freddie Freeman - only way to go is up for this guy, cant go wrong for a decent price
13. Eric Hosmer - Nice upside, good BA/power combo potential but way over hyped
14. Adam Lind - This guy drives me nuts, numbers look good at end of season, super streaky
15. Ike Davis - Should be valued lower in drafts, dude can hit, Mets moved fences in
16. Mark Trumbo - Legit power, probably a .260-.270 type hitter at 1B
17. Paul Goldschmidt - Big time power, should be a nice sleeper, grab cheap for a few years
18. Brandon Belt - If he makes the team I slot him behind Goldschmidt, if not, drop down 10 spots
19. Gaby Sanchez - Nice upside here but expect .275/20/80...ish
20. Kendrys Morales - Could take a half to get back on track at DH
21. Mark Reynolds - BA is garbage, draft for the 30+ power/10 SB's and find BA elsewhere
22. Carlos Lee - My pick for Konerko of 2010 or Berkman of 2011
23. Adam Dunn - lol
24. Mat Gamel - First full-time job, 25+HR power, terrible glove, lots of upside here
25. Mitch Moreland - Fluid swing, grinder kind of guy, I like the upside, will be super cheap
26. John Mayberry - 1B/OF eligibility, 20/20 Power/Speed combo, 27 Years old, I'm buying in
27. Justin Smoak - Love the power, too inconsistent, pitchers park, no protection but has upside
28. Aubrey Huff - You get a good power streak at least once a year good for 8-10 HR at a time
29. Adam LaRoche - Missed 2011with injury, good for .270/25/80+ at end of draft
30. Todd Helton - Just a serviceable but reliable bat for some BA and some RBI's
31. James Loney - I'm not doing the sleeper thing again, but showed promise in 2nd half
32. Yonder Alonso - Should make the team, start, and have 1B/OF eligibility
33. Chris Davis - Upside/potential, big power but hoping he can put it together
34. Casey Kotchman - Bank more on the BA then the power
35. Garrett Jones - Serviceable, won't wow you but possesses a power/speed combo potential
36. Ty Wigginton - Multi-position eligibility, good for 20 HR
37. Bryan LaHair - Keeping the seat warm for Rizzo, but could hit 15-20 HR
38. Brett Wallace - If makes team, should see a slight increase in production, possible 3B eligible
39. Jesus Guzman - Big sleeper, tore up the waiver wire late last season but SD will hurt power
40. Kyle Blanks - Nice sleeper for power if he makes the team, could be an OF
41. Anthony Rizzo - Great talent, nice sleeper, but San Diego sucks the lifeblood out of your team
42. Matt LaPorta - He's in the Loney boat but without the 2nd half promise in '11
43. - 46. - Daric Barton - Brandon Allen, Kila, Ka'iahue, Chris Carter.... pick one

DH's to consider if your position eligibility rule is low:
Billy Butler - Played 11 games at 1B, I'd stash between Morse and Morneau, HUGE UPSIDE
David Ortiz - Expect typical Big Papi
Raul Ibanez - Yankees DH should thrive in lineup but expect one bad 1/2 of season
Travis Hafner - No longer the 40HR guy, won't play everyday, maybe 20+HR if healthy

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Fantasy Man's 2012 Fantasy Baseball Catchers Rankings

The Fantasy Man's 2012 Fantasy Baseball Catchers Rankings
UPDATED 3/13/12

1. Carlos Santana - He's clear cut #1
2. Brian McCann - He's only 27! Eventually will pull a Napoli like emergence
3. Mike Napoli - He was a beast in second half of 2011
4. Victor Martinez - A healthy year still gets you .300/20+/90+ - OUT FOR YEAR!!
5. Joe Mauer - Should be a nice value around rounds 5-7
6. Buster Posey - Has to show he's healthy, nice value thanks to last years injury
7. Matt Wieters - .262/22/68 in 2011 is a step up - loads of potential here
8. Jesus Montero - This guy will be top 5 in 2013
9. Miguel Montero - Good solid player
10. Alex Avila - Lots of upside here if he can be consistent
11. Geovany Soto - Typical 20+HR potential pop but low BA - Higher ceiling then the rest
12. Yadier Molina - .305/14/65 in 2011 and only 29! He's on the rise, solid, and dependable
13. J.P. Arencibia - Monster power, should get a better BA in 2012
14. Wilson Ramos - Second year could be boom or bust but I like a little boom
15. Russell Martin - Serviceable in a great lineup
16. Salvador Perez - Loads of potential here, nice sneaky sleeper pick
17. Chris Ianetta - 29 in April, I'd say potential breakout but who knows...
18. Jarrod Saltalamacchia - I like Salty to break out faster then Ianetta
19. John Buck - Back to reality
20. Kurt Suzuki - I still don't see the big break out here but did pack on some muscle
21. Ryan Doumit - Multi-positional eligibility, can be serviceable if healthy
22. Jonathan LuCroy - Some room here for upside
23. Jeff Mathis - 3HR in 247AB? Either major sleeper or bust, only 28, hit 21HR in '05 AAA
24. Carlos Ruiz - Might get you some BA
25. Josh Thole - Upside in BA/OBP
26. Miguel Olivo - 15HR+ power but lacks contact skills
27. Rod Barajas - When he's hot, he's hot
28. A.J. Pierzynski - Serviceable
29. Chris Snyder - Will fight with Castro for job, Posses 20+HR power with full-time AB
30. Jason Castro - Will fight with Snyder for starting job, still unproven but has upside
31. Nick Hundley - Not much power or BA potential

Some others to consider as the offseason rolls on:
Jorge Posada - RETIRED
Hank Conger
Tyler Flowers
Devin Mesoraco
A.J. Ellis
Tim Federowicz

Sunday, November 13, 2011

2012 Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Strategies, and Advice

It's that time of the year again as The Fantasy Man starts to think about Fantasy Baseball advice, rankings, strategies, etc. Over the next few weeks I plan to release my 2012 rankings as I'm sure many of you don't mind getting started a bit early this year.

With fantasy football at full speed and Tim Tebow taking over the NFL, the focus turns to the many question marks going into 2012. Will the New York Mets keep Jose Reyes? Will Jonathan Papelbon dominate the National League? Prince Fielder? Albert Pujols?  Big off season coming our way!

Here's a look into the Fantasy Baseball Express future...

Monday November 14th -  Catchers
Wednesday November 16th - First Basemen
Friday November 18th - Second Basemen
Monday November 21st - Shortstops
Wednesday November 23rd - Third Basemen
Monday November 28th - Outfielders
Monday December 5th - Starting Pitchers
Wednesday December 7th - Relief Pitchers

We'll see how well I stick to this schedule!  I have a trip to Scotland coming up and also a trip to Vegas, both for work but I'm pretty confident this schedule will go down.  So stand by and stick around and lets get the 2012 fantasy baseball season off to a great start!