Friday, March 30, 2012

David Bobke - Anticipating Needs and Values


Disclaimer: If you're a fantasy baseball expert, you will probably not learn anything from this article. Or maybe you will. If you're a newbie, you should learn something from this article. But maybe you won't.  It's still worth a try if you're getting ready for your first year of Roto ball. It could be the difference between having and not having hair by the end of your draft.

Concept 2: An-tici-pating Needs and Values Pt. 2

Last article discussed stats and how good it is to have some idea of what you think a player's numbers will be. Now we get into the important aspect of your draft: the rankings.

Here are the main points to remember when it comes to rankings:
1) Go easy on yourself. Start with the draft site's rankings, and make yourself familiar with them.
2) ADP = Average Draft Position; valuable tool to know, necessary to use, especially early in the draft
3) Don't radically overvalue, but be willing to pick a guy earlier than his ADP. We'll get into that more shortly.
4) You're not just picking positions, you're picking categories.

For me, it's a little disorienting when I move players all over the site's rankings list. When I see their numbers all jumbled out of order, I lose track of what pick we're on and who is a reach and who is a value. I wouldn't adjust the rankings too much, but I'd be sure to keep tabs on the guys that I think are worth taking earlier than their site states. I'll shift a few guys around at the top, move up a few players later in the draft up to where I think they might actually get picked (example: if SP Adam Wainwright is ranked #100 on the drafting website, and I think he's a lock to be a much better player than they're projecting him to be, I might notate that I could take him earlier; I don't want to severely overdraft him, but if I'm positive he's worth taking in the early 9th round instead of waiting until the 10th, then that may be a reasonable stretch (keep in mind, for more seasoned players or “experts”, this advice would go out the window; hopefully if you're new, you're playing against other people who aren't named “Kuchera” or “Melnick.”)

There's an argument about drafting a player early if you know he won't be available when your next pick comes up. There is something to that, but less so in early rounds. So if Wainwright's ADP puts him down as the last pick in Round 11 and I have the last pick of Round 10 and first of Round 11, then yes, picking him with either of those would be reasonable.

These last couple paragraphs are from my experience in relatively formal leagues. If you end up doing a more competitive league against people who've been playing the game for 10 years, they'll probably have their own rankings and ignore the site their on, so you may want to follow suit. Bottom line in any draft is this: If you're going to “reach” for someone, be right. If you're right, you're fine. I guess that goes without saying, doesn't it? Sometimes, the obvious needs mentioning.

But picking the #11 player with the #1 pick using that logic is not wise. Actually, it's dumb. Real dumb. You can draft Cabrera or Pujols and trade them off for that #11 guy later on. Yes, there will be certain players you want, but don't forget about value. You're drafting players, but you're also drafting value.

Yes, I know, I'd love to have Ryan Braun too, but if I'm picking 1st, I'm picking Cabrera. I may say to the guy with Braun, “If you wanted to work out a deal for Cabrera, I'd be open to it.”

That takes us to that “radically overvaluing a player” issue. Sit down, let me tell you a story from a Fantasy Football league. Consider this my version of “Reefer Madness.”
This past season, a friend of mine liked WR Chad Ochocinco. He was projected as probably an 8th Round pick. My friend drafted him in the 3rd Round. I don't need to tell you how badly his team did. He could've had him in the 7th pretty easily, MAYBE the 6th if he really didn't want to risk losing him. He buried his team with that pick. His 1st Round pick was a little questionable, but defensible. His 2nd Round pick was solid.  Then came Ochocinco. Don't let that happen to you. There is that old saying in fantasy, “You can't win your league with your 1st pick, but you can lose it.

Just because someone's ADP is 100.5 doesn't mean you have to wait until pick 100 to get them. Check out the ADPs on MockDraftCentral.com; some of the ranges are huge. A guy with an ADP of 100.5 could be getting picked as high as 85 and as low as 120. Guys like that, you want to value however YOU deem appropriate. Like Adam Wainwright? Think he's going to be really good? Might want to presume he'll be on the earlier end of that ADP in your league (either because you'll be drafting him there or some other jerk in your league will think the same thing and snag him before you can.) Have I hounded you enough on this? There's a reason I've gone on about it for the last 20 minutes, trust me!

Here's another point I want to stress. In Roto leagues, you aren't just drafting to meet positional needs, you're also drafting to meet statistical needs. We've gone over this idea before (you can't do extra Math homework to cover the fact that you don't know Science, remember?)

You will want to find target numbers for each category. They're better for season-long leagues rather than head-to-head leagues, but they can aid you in H2H too. For example, in 10 team mixed leagues on ESPN.com over the last 3 years, 107 is the average number to win the Wins category. That's probably a good number to go for. So if you go for Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels early in the draft, you're at about 35 projected wins right there. If you wait on pitching and go with Ricky Romero, Matt Garza, and Shaun Marcum, you're looking at 40 projected wins. Either way, there are a number of SP's projected for 10 wins or more, and your RP's will get a few as well; in a daily league, you can rotate a few SP's around, so you can factor that in however you deem appropriate (if you're planning to start 6 SP's and 3 RP's regularly, and carrying 1 more SP, you're still going to get something from that 7th SP if you rotate him in, so don't think you need all your Wins from only 6 of those guys.)

This is probably a lot to digest, and if you're like me, you probably want to see some practical examples. We're getting there! Next time we'll talk about what you can do to apply this prep work to ranking your actual draft, then we'll discuss...okay, I'll discuss setting up your rankings in tiers.

David Bobke

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

David Bobke - Anticipating Fantasy Baseball Needs and Values for Beginners

Reminder: I am attempting to simplify some basic Roto FB concepts so that even a novice baseball fan looking to play Fantasy Baseball for the first time can hold some chance of not finishing dead last, and maybe even finishing near or at the top. But then again, this advice is free, and you get what you pay for! But then again, with free samples at the mall food court, you win there, don't you?


Concept #2: An-tici-pating Needs and Values

How does one predict the future? The magic 8 ball? A phone call to Miss Cleo? Maybe those will give you some piece of mind, but you're better off with your own list of predictions.

There's a couple things to remember here. One is projected stats. Experts can help you figure out about how well every player and their mother is going to do during a season. The other thing to remember is your player rankings. The rankings we'll get to next time; I'm going to start with the projected stats because that should help you decide on how you rank players before your draft.

Now don't fret over projected statistics; you don't need to predict everything yourself. There are a number of sources that offer numbers up free of charge, ESPN.com, Yahoo.com, and so forth. They all give you updated projections free of charge. Take some time to glance over the numbers, consider where you think their stats are way off, but use those stats as your template to start from. Start with the stats of the website you'll be drafting on; every site will have different rankings. If you're playing against friends, they'll probably draft from that list, not what some other site says (and if they do draft based on another site, there's no way to prepare for every possible contingency.) If you don't know what site you're playing on yet, look at a bunch of them, make mental notes of the players that are much higher or lower on other sites, and go over this step later.

Big point here...don't dogmatically stick with the site's list, but don't greatly over- or undervalue players that you think are going to be great or terrible. Don't take a guy listed as the 205th best player in the 10th Round just because you think he'll be amazing. Say you like the guy this site has listed as 205th best, SP Stinky McGee. You think he should be up in the 100-110 range. That's fine, but don't take him here. If he's the 205th player on the board, he's projected to go in the 21st round. Don't take him 11 rounds early. I'll put it this way, which of the following would you rather have:

SP Stinky McGee and an 18th Round pick OR
SP Stinky McGee and a 10th Round pick

Dumb question right? You'd rather have the second option. Yes, taking McGee in the 18th is a little earlier than projected, but that's okay in later rounds. At that point, you don't have “sure things” like you do in the first several rounds or “good bets” like you have in the next several rounds. By the last several rounds, you're taking guys you think could break out. 18th Round is okay for a guy projected to go in the 21st. Even if McGee pans out, and puts up numbers that makes him the 100th best player in the league, you'll have overpaid for him and hurt your team's overall talent level.

Summarizing that last paragraph...the talent pool is like a pyramid. You have a few bricks at the top, a lot more a couple layers down, more yet a few more layers down, and a plethora at the bottom. The top ones are the most reliable players, the bottom ones are the least reliable. There aren't a lot of ultra-reliable players and plenty of unreliable ones. If a player is pegged as being an unreliable player, draft him as such. Once you're a few levels in, you'll find a lot of bricks at the same level. And by bricks, I mean players...just in case you wanted that clarified.

Here's a question that may come up later: how can a player with really good stats be ranked so low? Consistency.

Example: One website has a player ranked 15th and another 40th. Their stats are listed below, specifically Runs, Home Runs, RBI's, Stolen Bases, and Batting Average.

15: 71 – 31 – 88 – 14 - .270
40: 74 – 22 – 81 – 8 - .271

Not terribly dissimilar numbers. The Home Run difference is noticeable, as are the 6 less Stolen Bases. That's quite a drop from #15 to #40. The players in question? Nelson Cruz and Torii Hunter. Yes, really. Cruz, oft injured but very productive when healthy, is ranked that much higher than the aging and still somewhat productive Hunter. The numbers aren't terribly different, but the consistent numbers and injury risk you'll get from Cruz outweigh the average output you'll get from Hunter. And remember, in most leagues, defense has nothing to do with Roto ball.

So, we've gotten into projected stats and how to read and interpret them, how you can't just line up the numbers and go by those. You need to know how likely a player is to follow through on those numbers. Keep in mind, you're not drafting their projected stats. You're drafting the likelihood that they'll meet, exceed, or fall short of those stats.

Next time, we'll talk about how you should set up your rankings. I don't recommend simply going with the rankings your site of choice is using. You probably have differing opinions to what they have, and we'll get into how to adjust your personal rankings accordingly.

David Bobke

Monday, March 26, 2012

NL King - Bryce Harper and Starling Marte Draft Day Strategy

I am going to go over two strategies for NL only keeper leagues involving Bryce Harper and Starling Marte. These are moves that can help you for this season and be HUGE for you for the next two or three seasons depending upon your league rules.
Bryce Harper:
In my league, due to many fights over rebuilding trades and how valuable a certain prospect is, we no longer carry a farm system. In fact, no one can draft a prospect.  When they get called up that player enters free agency and everyone bids accordingly. Therefore I cannot take advantage of these kind of strategies as I did in my league in past years to very great success with the following strategy.

Bryce Harper is a very unique player and situation and I think if I was in a league where I could draft him I would be loving the fact that Harper was sent down and start the year in the minors. My advice for all of you NL only keeper league owners that can draft minor leaguers is to spend up to $14 to land Bryce Harper in your draft. You might say this is crazy talk to spend $14 on a guy who is not on the opening day roster and no one knows for sure when Harper will arrive to DC. That's a good point but making a risky move at $14 that has the potential for a huge return is much different than spending $30 or more on a very injury plagued player. I believe Harper will be up with the Nats by early to mid June. That still gives you about 100 games for this season. I believe Harper this year will produce like a $20 power bat once he is up. If I take $20 times that by 2/3 of the season not that comes up to a value of $13.33 which I pushed up to $14. In addition depending upon your league rules regrading keepers for future years you could lock up Harper for the next couple of seasons at a way under valued deal. The guys at Baseball America are talking that it's a foregone conclusion Harper will be a 50HR guy. Find the $14 and land Bryce Harper in your draft.

Starling Marte:
A strategy I use to do before my league changed it's rules was I used to decide who is going to be my last hitter on my active roster. Who will be my 14th hitter? It use to be a good role player who ideally could give me roster flexibility, I felt that was good value. But back in 2007 for my draft I wanted to land my last hitter spot with a top prospect who has excellent chance of being up by early to mid June and get that player for $1 or $2. In 2007 I landed Hunter Pence who if memory serves correct was up in late April or early May. In 2009 I landed Andrew McCutchen who was up that year in late June. After that we changed the rules in my league but if your league allows you to draft prospects then I love this strategy and using it on Starling Marte of the Pirates. Marte has power, he has speed, he had an excellent spring training and he is very close to being ready. Alex Presley could be a nice player but I don't know if he is an everyday player, plus injuries do happen. I expect Marte to be with the Pirates by early to mid June. So wait everyone out in your draft room and either use your last outfield spot or UP on Starling Marte for $1. Marte will give you very good value for the summer and you will have one great keeper at $1. Oh, last point, in the reserve rounds in your draft land that role player as your 14 hitter and after the draft you can activate the role player and have Marte on your bench. I really believe this is an excellent strategy.

Do your homework for draft day.

Come and join my twitter army @ TheNLKing

NL King - C.Lizza

Sunday, March 25, 2012

David Bobke - Roto For Complete Freakin' Morons

Let me be clear here. I am not attempting to write “Roto For Dummies.” I am attempting to write “Roto For Complete Freakin' Morons.” My goal is to simplify some of these concepts so that even a novice baseball fan looking to play Fantasy Baseball for the first time can hold a sporting chance in a league of experts.


Concept #1: Roto Scoring

I'll start this by stating the obvious. In real baseball, you have Runs, Hits, and Errors on the scoreboard. You probably get player profiles during the game with Batting Averages, Home Run totals, Stolen Bases, and the like. None of these stats, except Runs, ultimately matter in real baseball. The other stats contribute to the Runs scored, but the Runs themselves decide the fate of the team, whether they win or lose.

If real baseball were run the way Rotisserie FB were, categories like Hits, HR's, SB's, and BA would all impact who won the game.

I'm warning you now...I'm inspired by Danica McKellar's “Kiss My Math,” and my examples may reflect that. This COULD get weird...

Let's say we have a Visitor team and a Home team playing a real baseball game. These numbers will show what you'd see in the newspaper's box scores, the teams with their Runs, Hits, and Errors.

Visitor: 5 10 1
Home: 3 11 0

In a real baseball game, the Visitor wins this game. The runs column is the only thing that matters. The runs and that one error play into how the runs came to be, but when you read that box score, you know only one column matters.

Got that? Let's take that real baseball game and expand on the stats. This next box score will tell us Runs, Hits, Home Runs, Stolen Bases, and team Batting Average for this game. Keep in mind, this is the same game, and in real baseball, we already know who won this game, but now we're going into Roto ball scoring.

Visitor: 5, 10, 1, 0, .270
Home: 3, 11, 0, 1, .297

In Roto FB, the Home team wins this 3-2. They won the Hits, Stolen Bases, and Average categories, while losing Runs and Home Runs.

This is a really simplified version of Roto ball, but (hopefully) it shows you how each category is important. Now in a Points FB league, you can compensate for a lack of Stolen Bases by having a lot of Home Runs. In Roto ball, you can't fall back on that. You need a little bit of everything.

Another example...in grade school, no matter how good I was in my English class, my strength there couldn't cover up my deficiency in another subject like Science. I could be a genius at Math too, but if I stunk at Science, no amount of Math awesomeness could bolster my Science grade. If I suck at Science, I suck at Science and that's all there is to it. I can't ask to do more English and Math assignments and drop the Science ones, like I might in a Points FB league...ya follow? Wink wink?

Another way of putting it...Points FB is like 2-D, Roto FB is like 3-D. Points is Super Mario Bros., Roto is Paper Mario. Roto is geekier, and I think it requires more know-how. There's more to keep up with, and if you're into that kinda thing, it's more fun. And more frustrating. But more fun too. I find more pride in doing well in Roto.

The box score example I gave earlier oversimplifies things a little. Roto scoring isn't just about offense; it's also about pitching.

Your standard 5x5 Roto league probably has the hitting categories I've listed earlier (probably RBI's instead of Hits), but pitching stats like Strikeouts, Earned Run Average (ERA), Wins, Saves, and Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched (WHIP) are probably in there as well. If you're in a 6x6 (so named because there are 6 offensive categories and 6 pitching categories) you have categories like On Base Percentage (where walks help your percentage) and Holds. There are other categories that could be used of course, but for sake of discussion, let's stick with the 5x5 for these discussions.

Next time, we'll get into how to know what to look for in your draft.

Side note: 5x5 is “Five by Five”, not “Five ex Five” or “Five times Five.” You will be made fun of if you call it by the wrong name.

Another side note: What do you mean you don't know who Danica McKellar is? She was Winnie on “The Wonder Years!” She's wicked smart!

David Bobke

Friday, March 23, 2012

NL King - Strategy Regarding Injuries in NL Only League

I felt compelled to write an article regarding injuries heading into your drafts.  Most injuries are slow healing and and with these crazy contracts, a lot of money is at stake so a cautious approach will be taken. Let's look at three situations in depth as an example on how to approach injured players and the information out there. These three players will undoubtedly have an affect on your draft.
Corey Hart - Recently had minor knee surgery (is there such a thing) and it went very well and already is feeling really good. Hart believes he has a real good shot at being ready on opening day. First off, setbacks do happen and therefore it could be late April or even early May when Hart returns. Again, the Milwaukee Brewers are going to look at the long haul on how to proceed with Hart. The baseball season is a marathon and not a sprint and when Hart does come back that want him feeling good and so that his injury is behind him. So in Corey Hart's case you could take advantage in your draft if he goes for a nice discount (20% less maybe) but just figure on late April and be cautiously optimistic that he can come back sooner.

Tim Hudson - Hudson had a back procedure back in November and the word was that most likely his 2012 season would start late. That has been confirmed as his target date is May 1st.  Back injuries are slow healing and due to Hudson's age, the injury itself and the amount of dollars the Braves are paying Hudson, they will take it slow. Am I saying that I know Tim Hudson won't be ready until Memorial Day? No of course not, but what I am saying is due to the nature of the injury setbacks are known to happen and are likely to happen. Hudson the last two years has been a top notch starter and so if you can get a really good discount come draft day taking advantage of that is not a bad strategy. Keep in mind, he may not be ready until late May and so we're talking about missing almost two months of the season which is significant. So there is signidficant risk with Hudson in my estimation.

Ryan Howard - When Ryan Howard made the last out of the NLDS and tore his achillies I knew he's be out for at least half of the 2012 season. Just a hunch. When Spring Training was about to start I was amazed how many places I read that Howard would be back in early May and just maybe opening day. This made no sense to me based on this severe injury. As it turns out, he had a major setback to a major injury. Situation like this you can trust no information because you have to see how he progresses each week. To me, just based on my years of following sports and doing fantasy baseball, I can't imagine Ryan Howard being back until at least mid June. In fact, if I was a betting man I would say it will take him until the All-Star break. But those are educated guesses based on the severity of the injury, his setback, how long those kind of injuries it takes for it to heal and the fact the Phillies have a lot of dollars invested in Ryan Howard over the next few years.

Point being on any injury, espeically big injuries, you always get a estimated time line such as 2 - 4 weeks as an example. Research the injury of this particular player and always estimate that it will take much longer for that injury to heal. If you follow Roto long enough I think you will find that in the vast majority of cases it takes players longer to come back as opposed to sooner. Final point, David Wright is dealing with a tear in his 6-Pack but says it's no big deal. Really, I wouldn't think a tear anywhere is no big deal but I am not a doctor but that does make me very leary of David Wright until I see him out on the field and playing with no issues.

Come and join my twitter army @ TheNLKing
NL King - C.Lizza

Thursday, March 22, 2012

NL King - Key Fantasy Baseball Questions in the NL West

Fantasy baseball questions regarding the NL West below. The questions will legit make you think twice about drafting players in your NL Only league. You need to be up to speed on these questions heading into your draft.  We can give you our thought and opinions, but of course, no answer is the right answer. Never take one man's opinion for granted. Take the advice, follow it up with your own research, and then solidify your own opinions and conclusions.  Good luck in 2012!

Arizona Diamondbacks:
- Will Justin Upton take it to the next level this year and be considered the top NL hitter?
- When will Stephen Drew be ready?
- Will Ian Kennedy repeat his 2011 performance?
- Does Paul Goldschmidt have a big power year?
- When does the top Arizona pitching prospets Bauer and Tyler Skaggs arrive on the scene?

Colorado Rockies:
- Does Dexter Fowler finally have a complete season?
- Does Carlos Gonzalez play 150 games and put up a year like 2010?
- Can Todd Helton play 120 games?
- Does Mike Cuddyer love the rocky mountain air?
- What is Jeremy Guthrie's transition like to Coors Field?
- Will Rafael Betancourt hold up as the closer?

Los Angeles Dodgers:
- Who takes hold of the left field job?
- Does Andre Ethier get traded?
- Does Dee Gordon get on base enough to be a stolen base stud?
- Does Javy Guerra hold on to the closers job?
- Does Matt Kemp repeat his 2011 season?

San Diego Padres:
- Will Carlos Quentin stay healthy enough and does he get traded backto the AL come mid summer?
- Does Yonder Alonso show he is the real deal?
- Can Chase Headley show he has enough power?
- Can Huston Street stay away from the DL and remain a Padre for the season
- Will Edison Volquez be able to throw strikes and get back to that great 2008 season?

San Francisco Giants:
- Is Brian Wilson past his elbow problems from last September?
- Will Brandon Belt emerge as a $20 player?
- Will Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera be close to $20 players?
- Can Pablo Sandoval stay healthy and effective for the whole season?
- Will Ryan Vogelsong be ready for the start of the season?

Come and join my twitter army @ TheNLKing
NL King - C.Lizza

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

NL King - Key Fantasy Baseball Questions in the NL Central

Fantasy baseball advice in NL Only leagues would be incomplete if you did not keep these NL Central questions in mind. If you are interested in these players, it's imperative to do the research. The outcome to these questions will make or break your fantasy team in 2012.

Chicago Cubs:
- Do the Cubs trade Alfonso Soriano? If they do, odds are it's an American League team.
- How long of a leash does Carlos Marmol have?
- Does Ian Stewart make a comeback?
- Bryan LaHair.... really?
- Will Ryan Dempster and Marlon Byrd be on different teams by the end of July?

Cincinnati Reds:
- Does Mat Latos show he can pitch outside Petco Park and in Great American ballpark?
- Does Jay Bruce break through with a huge power year?
- Does Votto challenge for the MVP?
- Is Zack Cozart over his injury?
- Can Scott Rolen play 125 games?
- What role will Aroldis Chapman play?

Houston Astros:
- Can anyone on this team be worth $20 in an NL Only league?
- Can Brett Myers get 30+ saves as a Closer?
- Will Wandy Rodriguez andCarlos Lee be traded during the season?

Milwaukee Brewers:
- How much time will Corey Hart miss in April?
- Will the off-season drama mess with Ryan Braun's head and hence his performance?
- Can Rickie Weeks play 150 games?
- Is Mat Gamel going to be a $15 player?
- Can Yovani Gallardo be consistent and therefore be a top tier starting pitcher?
- Is Shaun Marcum going to be ready for the start of the season?

Pittsburgh Pirates:
- Can Alex Presley be a contributing player?
- Will Andrew McCutchen have a break through season?
- Does Pedro Alvarez bounce back?
- How much will Casey McGehee play?
- Can Eric Bedard make at least 20 starts?

St. Louis Cardinals:
- Can Lance Berkman, Rafael Furcal and Carlos Beltran play at least 140 games each?
- Can David Freese play a full season and break out?
- What can we expect from Adam Wainwright after missing a year?
- Can Chris Carpentar hold up after a very taxing 2011?
- Will Jason Motte be able to hold the closers job?

Please come and join my twitter army @ TheNLKing

NL King - C.Lizza

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

NL King - Key Fantasy Baseball Questions in the NL East

Today's article starts a new series of NL Only fantasy baseball advice.  I will attempt to break down by division the key questions for NL Only leagues. If you know the answers to any or all of these questions, then you must be either a psychic or a genius. If that's true, then lucky you. If not, at least knowing these questions could help you decipher between bidding that extra buck in the auction or taking that late rounds sleeper.  As the legend Tone Loc once said, "Let's Do It!"

Atlanta Braves:
- Can Chipper Jones play 120 games?
- Can Tyler Pastornicky make a fantasy contribution?
- Can Jason Heyward bounce back and in a big way?
- Will Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens be Braves for the 2012 season, as they were trade bait this off-season?
- Will Tommy Hanson make 30 starts this season?
- Will Brandon Beachy suffer a sophomore slump?

Miami Marlins:
- Does Hanley Ramirez bounce back to be one of the top fantasy players in all of MLB?
- Can Jose Reyes' hamstrings hold up?
- Will Emilio Bonifacio show that 2011 was not a mirage?
- Does Giancarlo "Mike" Stanton and to a lesser extent Logan Morrison break out this year?
- Can Josh Johnson hold up for the majority of the season?

New York Mets:
- Does Jason Bay find his power swing from years past?
- Will Johan Santana make 25 starts??
- Is Lucas Duda a Dude or a Dud?
- Can Andres Torres make a fantasy contribution?
- Outside of Santana do any of the Mets other starters step up?

Philadelphia Phillies:
- When does Ryan Howard return? I am thinking earliest is mid-June, Fantasy Man says All-Star break.
- Is Chase Utley's glory years over?
- Does Vance Worley show last year was the real deal?
- Can John Mayberry Jr take advantage of his opportunity early on in the season?
- Can Jimmy Rollins play 140+ games?

Washington Nationals:
- Will Bryce Harper make the team?
- Will Jason Werth bounce back?
- Is Michael Morse a power stud in the NL for years to come?
- Will Ian Desmond take the next step?
- Will Danny Espinosa become a fantasy stud?
- Will Stephen Strasburg pitch more then 160 IP?

Please come and join my twitter army @TheNLKing

NL King - C.Lizza

Monday, March 19, 2012

David Bobke - Idiot's Intro to Roto or How I Learned To Love Being a Stat Freak

For the true fantasy baseball beginner.....

Last season was my first year of Fantasy Baseball (henceforth known as FB, because I love shorthand.) I joined a friend's points league and learned a lot of valuable lessons very quickly. For those of you familiar with my work on this site, I'll fill you in on how the season ended.

I wound up 3rd in my head-to-head points league. Thanks to guys like Mike Kuchera (Suck-up? Me? You bet!) and a steady supply of other well-discerned fantasy baseball advice, I won the postseason tournament in my very first go.

What I never told you about on this site...I actually played in a roto league as well. I joined that more for the experience than to actually win. I finished 7th in that 11 team league. Not bad considering I didn't pay close attention to it until the last month and a half of the season.

As it is my nature to start things and not necessarily finish them (i.e. why I disappeared in the 2nd half of last season!), I felt I should take a whack at explaining this concept of “roto” ball to those of you who don't get it. Maybe you asked someone to explain it before and it was just too weird or complex. I'm gonna take a shot at breaking this down in a simpler fashion.

For comparison's sakes, I'm going to explain Points Leagues for a second. Points Leagues are like Fantasy Football leagues, you can make up for a low number of rushing yards with a ton of receiving yards or a couple extra TD's. Thusly, you don't NEED to fill the rushing category in FF; you can get a couple pass-catching RB's. It is virtually the same thing in FB Points leagues, you hit on the home run hitters and strikeout-heavy pitchers, you can make up for deficits elsewhere because you're scoring so many points in other areas.

In Roto however, you can't cover a weak point by REALLY sticking it to opponents in another category (I will note though, when you become familiar with Roto-style FB, you actually can cover a weak point like this to some extent, but it's like I learned in English class, you can't break a rule of grammar until you fully understand it. When you know how and why you can get away with breaking the rule of “tossing” a category in Roto-ball, then you can do it; if you're just starting out, don't even think about it. Accept my rule. Trust me!)

Second thing, you should know what you're looking to draft. In line with my first point, you can't just try to load up on home run hitters and trust that you'll play the hot hands at the right time to get by. You need power, yes, but you need speed, you need batting average...bottom line, you need to know what you're doing.

When you do any draft, you know you need to fill certain positions. You have to get yourself a starting First, Second, and Third Baseman, Shortstop, and so on. It's the same thing with categories. You have to get yourself some guys who can get home runs, steals, hit for a high average, and so on. It's a two-dimensional thing, the draft is. You aren't just drafting a roster, you're drafting statistics.

You have to realize that certain players may off-set each other. A great home run hitter usually won't help you in stolen bases and vise versa. It's like going out with a celebrity like, oh say, Erin Andrews (yes, I will divulge into male piggishness to make a point here).

Ms. Andrews scores well in categories like “Looks” and “Sports Knowledge,” but if categories like “Being Around Every Friday Night” and “Not Being Followed by Paparazzi” are important to you, she will not score well in those. If you were crazy enough to have a second girlfriend, maybe she's weaker in the areas Erin is strong in, but she's solid in those where Erin is weaker.

I should mention at this time that I do not condone trying to date two women at the same time. It hurts. A lot. Not that I know from experience, but...let's just say I've watched enough crummy sitcoms to know that these situations never end well.

I trust my point is made though? Know not only where you're helping yourself when you draft a certain player, but know where you may be hurting yourself. I'll try to explain this further next time. Just remember, I'm trying to boil this down to the lowest common denominator of beginners. The examples might get stranger.

David Bobke

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

NL King Ranks NL Only Fantasy Baseball Closers

NL King Ranks NL Only Fantasy Baseball Closers

Tier 1 - The Elite
Jonathan Papelbon - He is on a top team, will get a lot of opportunities with Phillies big 3, he is strong in ERA, Ratio and K's. He's a proven commodity with at least a couple of big prime years ahead of him.

Craig Kimbrel - Was absolutly ridiculous last year especially 127K's in 77IP. The one red flag I am bringing up was in the minors Kimbrel had great stuff but did suffer from control problems. Kimbrel made a giant leap forward in that regard as he walked 32 in 77 innings last year. Kimbrel doesn't give up a lot of hits and only gave up 3 HR's last season. Those numbers are formula's for a big season. But remember Carlos Marmol had a monster 2010 very similar to Kimbrel and he was a guy who had control problems in the past and that problem reared it's ugly head last year. Outside of that Kimbrel will be a NL closer stud for years to come.

John Axford - Axford has had a similar career path as Kimbrel in terms of reaching his potential due to his control issues. Only really the last 2 years Axford has emerged. Same red flags for Axford as Kimbrel. If Axford keeps the walks down he will have a very big year.

Tier II - Solid
Ryan Madson - Last year was the first year Madson was a full blown closer but he showed he is more than capable of being a top closer. Leaves the Phillies and joins the Reds who should have a real good season. Can't go wrong here.

Health Bell - A lot of articles have been written predicting the demise of Heath Bell. They talk about his walks going up, his fly balls going up, leaving Petco, his weight etc etc. I know this that Heath Bell is a bulldog and still has real good stuff most importantly has the mentality a top closer has to have. If he slips in your draft - POUNCE.

Drew Storen - I loved his numbers last year the only thing I like to see different is see his HR's allowed come down (gave up 8 last year).

Joel Hanrahan - Another guy who in the past control problems killed him. He made huge strides last year as Pittsburgh closer by only allowing 16 walks in 68+ IP last year. If he can duplicate that control 2012 will be another big year.

Brian Wilson - This might be a great year to buy The Beard on Draft Day. Wilson didn't have his usual great season last year as he missed most of September so because of that he didn't hit 40 saves and Wilson had some awful outings which killed his ratio for the season (over 1.4). Provided Wilson elbow is 100% (follow that during his spring) I believe he will bounce back to the years he had in 2010 and 2009. Because of the elbow if you land Wilson as your closer it would be wise to get Casilla and Romo to your team as well. Plus those guys are very valuable even if they don;t get saves but that's my next article.

Tier III - Can be Top Notch
JJ Putz - The only thing stopping Putz from having another year like last year is injuries. Keep in mind Putz did turn 35 at the beginning of Spring training.

Jason Motte - He is finally getting his chance to be the Cards closer. Had a great season last year although most of it as a setup man. Was the Cardinals closer in the stretch run in September as well as throughout the playoffs. The only down side with Motte is it's a small sample as a closer.
Carlos Marmol - My advice is unless Marmol goes for a bargain in your draft let someone less draft him. If Marmol gets it together and has a season like 2010 good for the other owner. He has such control issues I would let someone else take the gamble.

Huston Street - I like Street but he always seems to land on the DL for a month during the season and come the summer if as expected the Padres are out of it he could be moved for young players.
Tier IV - Serching for Bargins
Frank Francisco - I like the low walks and the K's but don;t like the amount of HR's he gave up (7 in a little over 50IP). Goes from Toronto a hitters park and the AL to the NL and a pitchers park in Citi Field.

Rafael Betancourt - Was sensational last year but his whole career he has been a guy who is either red hot or ice cold. Throw in he is 36 and that combination worries me.

Javy Guerra - Had s strong summer as the Dodger closer but he better not slip up because highly talented Kanley Jansen is breathing down his neck.

Brett Myers - Hasn't been a closer since 2007 and the team is awful. Also 2007 was the only year Myers was a closer. he is capable of doing a good job but unless you get a draft day bargain than pass.
NL King - C.Lizza

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

NL King - The Secret Weapon to NL Only Pitching Staffs - The Middle Relievers

What would you say if I told you you could get an ace pitcher who could get you 15+ Wins, Killer ERA & Ratio numbers and let's say a K per inning in a little over 200 Innings pitched for merely between $6-$8? You would tell me that's impossible right? Well you would be wrong. Top middle relievers my friend, if you can have 3 of them in your daily lineup those numbers listed below can be yours for a song. These guys are the secret weapon to fantasy baseball. The list is in alphabetical order.

Jeremy Affeldt - SF - 3W, 3SV, 2.63 ERA, 1.15 Ratio, 54K in 61+ IP. Solid middle man.
Antonio Bastardo - PHI - 6W, 8SV, 2.64 ERA, 0.93 Ratio, 70K in 58 IP. Don't figure on saves this year.
Matt Belisle - COL - 10W, 0SV, 3.25 ERA, 1.26 Ratio, 58K in 72 IP. Has 17 wins the last 2 years.
Rex Brothers - COL - 1W, 1SV, 2.88 ERA, 1.30 Ratio, 59K in 40+IP. I wouldn't be surprsied if he is the Rockies closer sometime this season.
Santiago Casilla - SF - 2W, 6SV, 1.74 ERA, 1.12 Ratio, 45K in 51+ IP. If Wilson struggles health wise?
Tyler Clippard - WAS - 3W, 0SV, 1.83 ERA, 0.84 Ratio, 104K in 88+IP. 
Luke Gregerson - SD - 3W, 0SV, 2.75 ERA, 1.37 Ratio, 34K in 55+ IP. I am expecting a big bounce back year like he had in 2010 and by August I think he will be the Padres closer.
David Hernandez - ARI - 5W, 11SV, 3.38 ERA, 1.14 Ratio, 77K in 69+IP, came over in the Mark Reynolds trade and is the setup man for JJ Putz. He picked up a bunch of saves last July when Putz was on the shelf. Putz is injury prone and 35 and if something were to happen to him Hernandez would become the closer.
Kenley Jansen - LAD - 2W, 5SV, 2.85 ERA, 1.04 Ratio, 96K in 53+IP. In addition to being a great middle man, could take away the Dodgers closer job at one point this season.
Sean Marshall - CIN - 6W, 5SV, 2.26 ERA, 1.10 Ratio, 79K in 75+IP Now the 8th inning man for the Reds, expect the same numbers with a couple of more wins.
Edward Mujica - MIA - 9W, 0SV, 2.96 ERA, 1.03 Ratio, 63K in 76 IP. Well be a key member of the Marlins bullpen leading to Bell.
Ed O'Flaherty - ATL - 2W, 0SV, 0.98 ERA, 1.09 Ratio, 67K in 73+IP The 7th inning man for the Braves put up scary percentage category numbers.
Ramon Ramirez - NYM - 3W, 4SV, 2.62 ERA, 1.17 Ratio, 66K in 68+IP If Frank Francisco falters?
Sergio Romo - SF - 3W, 1SV, 1.50 ERA, 0.71 Ratio, 70K in 48 IP. Again if Wilson struggles health wise.
Fernando Salas - STL - 5W, 24SV, 2.28 ERA, 0.95 Ratio, 75K in 75 IP. If Motte slips.
Johnny Venters - ATL - 6W, 5SV, 1.84 ERA, 1.09 Ratio, 96K in 88IP. The setup man for the Braves is nasty. The only thing I worry about him is if Freddi Gonzalez over uses him which could lead to injury. In addition to these great stat players you should look at all the NL teams and if their closer were to get injured who would be first in line to take the job. For instance Fransico Rodriguez is not on this list because his ratio is to high BUT if John Axford were to get injured K-Rod would become the closer.

NL King - C.Lizza

Monday, March 12, 2012

NL King - NL Only League Auction Draft Tips and Strategies

Please join my twitter army @ TheNLKing.
Fantasy baseball advice these days is plentiful, but when it comes to your auction draft, trying to weed through the best strategies can be overwhelming. Below are thoughts that draftees should consider when preparing for their auction draft.

- Stick to your game plan. When you have needs at a position or category, and a player who fits that criteria is on the board for less than expected, you can deviate from your plan to purchase that value . However, if another player you like goes for less (let's say $5 to $7) but is not needed (position or category), let that player slide in the first half of the draft as it could interfere with your overall plan. So if you are strong in speed, I don't care if Michael Bourn goes for a few dollars less, that is not your area of need. Stick to your draft plan and get what you need.

- Remember the goal is to walk out of the draft as one of the top contending teams. The goal isn't to walk out saying wow I got great value on players X and Y.

- In the second half of the draft when teams have serious money restrictions that is when it's a good time to add to a strength when players go under value and only cost you a few dollars. So using the scenario above, if you are strong in speed and in the second half of the draft Nyjer Morgan comes up and goes for a song then that's a good time to pounce on a value and add to your strengths.

- Know your other owners tendencies and how that will impact your draft plan. Must size up the competition on who else in your league are possible suitors for your targeted players. In keeper leagues, you can e-mail owners and chat about trade offers which is a great way to collect information.

- You must monitor during the draft the other owners who needs the same kind of players as you and where they stand during the draft with their draft dollars.

- Remember steals and saves are like a game of musical chairs, don't be caught at the end of the draft without a chair. If you are chasing these categories late in the draft odds are you will be over paying for mediocre talent.

- At the end, if you need a player, aim for a hitter and not a pitcher. A lot more players come through the waiver wire that are at least decent hitters than guys who can help you're starting rotation or get you saves. Also a lot easier to trade for a hitter than a quality pitcher.

- Sometimes you have to overpay. If the guys on your draft board lists start dwindling down, you must make sure you secure the kind of players you need to win. If that means you have to overpay by $3 to $5 for that player so be it, much better than losing out on the talent.

- Do not put yourself in a position where there is an area of need and there is one guy left that you have to have. Reason being you could wind up in a bidding war and the result being is you way overpay.
- Attack the draft with your draft dollars. Most owners increase their bidding by $1 or $2 at a time. Do not be afraid to increase the bid by $7 or $8 or even more as long as you're getting the player you want at your estimated price. In any kind of auction there is a psychology to it. Also remember many owners get cautious as your break certain threshold numbers during the draft especially after the first couple of rounds. Take advantage of that. Threshold numbers would be $10, $15, $25, etc., so bid just beyond those thresholds.

- Do everything you can to save a few bucks for roughly your last 6 players so you have purchasing power for these slots on your roster. This will be huge as you will be able to get the better secondary players at the end of the draft. Very hard filling out the back end of your roster when you have $7 for the last 5 roster spots.

- Target a promising prospect who could be up in 2 months into the season as your 14th hitter for $1. The guy I like is Starling Marte the outfielder for the Pirates but follow spring training closely for other choices such as Anthony Rizzo.

- Don't take too many older players, or too many rookies, or too many injury risks or too many guys trying to bounce back from a bad season. Pick your spots wisely.

- Early on it's a good idea to bring up big players that you won't be bidding on to get some of the competition draft day dollars drained as soon as possible, especially a manager who could be in competition for your primary targets in the draft.

- Remember do not draft any player who kills you in the percentage categories - ERA, Ratio and batting average unless those players make strong contributions in the other categories, and keep those players to a minimum ( 1 or 2 players at the most).

- Finally you must be patient with your draft plan. Do not panic. As long as there are players on the board that fit the bill for your open core slots there is no reason to panic. As your lists start to dwindle like I said above you may have to spend a little bit more than you like to to secure the talent. Remember every draft is it's own animal.

NL King - C.Lizza

Sunday, March 11, 2012

NL King - NL Only Draft Preparation and Game Planning Strategies

I love playing in and writing about NL Only leagues.  Listed below are my fantasy baseball strategies and advice which I'd like to share to help you prepare for your draft day. Even though I'm all NL Only, these strategies can help with any type of league.

- You must have a basic draft plan, winging it does not work. I know Mike (The Fantasy Man), says he doesn't go into most drafts with a set game plan but he has core beliefs such as buying power, don't buy too much into position scarcity, you have to be savvy with your end game etc ., You need a basic plan or philosophy going into a draft. In an auction league, it's a must as there are just too many variables to contend with.

- Ask yourself, what are my team needs going into the draft? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the draft and how does this play into my team needs. You must list the various options you have for your team needs. If there are a lot of options it gives you great amount of flexibility on what players to acquire for the various categories. If need outweighs supply, then you must be more aggressive in securing these particular players.

- A contending team is a balanced team. You should never punt a category. Why start the season in a huge hole? If one other component of your team fails, you're sunk. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you'll be able to make trades during the year for certain categories because you're going to wind up short in these particular categories. Remember, it's not easy to make trades and if everyone knows you need to make a trade that will hurt you're bargaining position. Make sure you are not way short in any category after the draft. Must be within striking distance of all categories.

- Your draft plan must respect the percentage categories in Batting Average, ERA and Ratio. I wrote a whole article earlier this off-season about the percentage categories. Click the link on the right for The NL King.

- Do your homework on the late round non-hyped players because just maybe you can find a gem. Most teams in auction leagues have very little money left to spend on those last few players. This is your chance to strike gold and find huge value and potential returns. Try to anticipate which players who will be available at the end of your draft this year and do your homework on them. Last year the team that won my league, a big reason was because in the late rounds they landed Aaron Harang $5, Yuniesky Betancourt $4, Jonathan LuCroy $2, David Hernandez $2, Brandon Beachy $1 and Darwin Barney $1 in my NL only league. Remember the goal here is for your $1 to $4 complimentary players who can give you a $10 year. If you can accomplish this, it will be a big step into building a contending team.

- On your key draft day targets try to figure out who will be your chief competition for those players. What are these owners tendencies? Is there a way for you to get that other owner to spend on other players during the draft so when your targets come up those owners are less of a threat?

- Put together a work sheet of all 23 players that you have to get for your team. In a keeper league slot in your keepers and calculate how many draft dollars you have come draft day. Your first draft of your game plan should be "The Wish List Game Plan". Slot in all high end players you would love to get within reason under your various hitters, starting pitchers and relievers. Then from there see how many players you still need to get, and figure out how much money you could have left. If you still need 10 players and have $40 draft dollars the this plan will not work. The Wish List Game Plan on the first draft almost never works but it's a good starting point the you can start scaling back and be more realistic in filling out your potential roster. I believe it's an excellent tool to start with when putting together a draft plan.

NL King - C.Lizza

Saturday, March 10, 2012

NL King - MLB Prospects Who Can Impact the 2012 NL Only Fantasy Baseball Season

The following is a group of 2012 major league baseball prospects who can impact NL Only fantasy baseball leagues as well as mixed leagues this season. All of these players will most likely start the year in the minors. I am not including in this articles guys like Bryce Harper or Drew Pomeranz or even Wilin Rosario or Welington Castillo because they might make the big club out of spring training. If those players fail to make the Show out of Spring Training, they must be put on your prospect watch list. This list is in alphabetical order.....
Nolan Arenado - COL - 3B - Rockies 3B of the future, worst case is he will be the starting 3B come opening day next year. Potential number 3 hitter could be up with the Rocks by July 1st if Casey Blake and others struggle.
Trevor Bauer - ARI - SP - One of the top prospect starting pitchers in baseball and is very close to being ready for the big leagues. D-Backs are deep in the starting rotation but if there is an injury or if someone struggles such as Joe Saunders or Josh Collmenter, Bauer could be up quickly. Projects as a possible future ace.

Brett Jackson - CHI - OF - Projects as a 20-20 man and some scouts have compared him to Jim Edmunds. By early summer he should be at Wrigley with Marlon Byrd heading to another team.

Casey Kelly - SD - SP - Projects as a front of the rotation starter and you will see him up with the Padres no later than the all-star break.

Starling Marte - PIT - OF - Projects as a power/speed outfielder. If Alex Presley and Nate McLouth struggle first couple of months, Marte could get his chance by June. One of Bucs starting outfielders of the future and the future is mighty close.

Wily Peralta - MIL - SP - Very close to being ready for the Brew crew. Projects as a #2 or #3 starting pitcher. If there is an injury or if the Brewers get tired of Chris Narveson inconsistency you will see Peralta and maybe sooner rather than later.

Anthony Rizzo - CHI - 1B - The Cubs are saying he will spend most of the season in AAA getting his game together and his confidence. But how long can the Cubs go with Bryan LaHair and Jeff Baker at 1B? Strong start to the season he could be in Wrigley by Memorial Day.

Alfredo Silverio - LAD - OF - Could offer a real solid bat with some pop and speed for the Dodgers between the left field situation or if Andre Ethier is traded come July.

Tyler Skaggs - ARI - SP - See Bauer above and apply it to Skaggs. Probably projects as front of the rotation starter.

Julio Teheran - ATL - SP - Braves are so deep in starting pitching and that means they can take their time with Teheran. But Teheran is the best of their young bunch. Look for him come All-Star Break.

Josh Vitters - CHI - 3B - If he steps up the first half of this season and Ian Stewart falls on his face again, Vitters could get an opportunity in the second half.
NL King - C.Lizza

Thursday, March 08, 2012

NL King Ranks NL Only Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitchers Part 3

2012 NL Only Starting Pitchers Part 3

Bronson Arroyo - Coming off awful year. Might be worth a flier.
Homer Bailey - Needs to prove he can stay healthy.
Brandon Beachy - Loved what I saw last year, I expect a $15 year this year.
Erik Bedard - Can never stay healthy.
Chad Billingsley - Has the talent to be a front end starter but cannot be consistent enough.
Joe Blanton - Contract year, great reserve pick.
A.J. Burnett - Eye injury makes him a reserve pick.
Chris Capuano - Moves from Citi Field to Dodger Stadium. Will hurt your ratio.
Kevin Correia - Not a believer despite his 12 wins last year.
Randall Delgado - Great sleeper, should start the year in the rotation for Tim Hudson.
Ryan Dempster - Could be sleeper, solid '11 second half. Cubs will trade him in the summer.
R.A. Dickey - Solid depth starter.
Dillon Gee - Back end starter.
Jeremy Guthrie - How does he respond to Coors Field? Could be ugly adjustment early.
Aaron Harang - Dodger stadium still spacious, although I am not a believer.
Jeff Karstens - Loved what I saw last year but have to see it again before I buy in.
Mike Leake - Was great from late June on but I need to see a solid full season.
John Lannan - Could be odd man out in Washington.
Ted Lilly - Always been a fan, if you can get for a cheap price on draft day, go for it.
Kyle Lohse - Little girl with the curl, he's either really good or really bad. Don't overpay.
Corey Luebke - Sleeper Alert.
Jordan Lyles - Could be a good young pitcher but avoid, due to Houston and growing pains.
J.A. Happ - Astros weak offensively, Happ coming off terrible year.
Paul Maholm - I will pass.
James McDonald - Sleeper Alert.
Mike Minor -Eventually will be real good but will have a lot of growing pains this year with walks.
Dustin Moseley - Loves Petco. back end starter.
Charlie Morton - Ratio Killer.
Chris Narveson - Has talent but inconsistency kills his numbers.
Jon Niese - Needs to get the ratio down to be a viable player.
Ricky Nolasco - Like Billingsley, has a lot of talent but cannot be consistent.
Bud Norris - If he wasn't on such a bad team. Great depth starter.
Mike Pelfrey - Avoid.
Clayton Richard - Sleeper Alert.
Wandy Rodriguez - Team is awful and Houston wants to move his contract.
Anibal Sanchez - If he can stay healthy can be a $15 starter. He is playing for a contract.
Joe Saunders - Great 2nd half but I think 2011 was a mirage.
Tim Stauffer - Please don't overpay based on last year.
Ryan Vogelsong - Figure on a $10 year.
Chris Volstad - Ratio killer and no K's and bad team.
Edinson Volquez - He can pitch in any park including Yellow Stone but if you can't throw strikes....
Chien Ming Wang - Worth a $1 flyer.
Randy Wells - Pass.
Jake Westbrook - Ratio Killer.
Randy Wolf - Solid depth starter.
Vance Worley - Looks like a good young pitcher but don't overpay based on last year.
TravisWood - Cubs will give a chance sometime during this year. Reserve pick.
Carlos Zambrano - I don't know, Guillen & Zambrano in the same clubhouse.
Barry Zito - Moneyball no longer working with him.

NL King - C.Lizza

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Fantasy Man's 2012 Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitchers SP Rankings

2012 Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitchers SP Rankings

1. Roy Halladay - I like to go veteran over last years Cy Young winner
2. Justin Verlander - Same as Halladay, I just like a little more experience at the top spot
3. Clayton Kershaw - He's a beast, don't like a guy coming off Cy Young
4. Cliff Lee - Steady Eddie, can't lose here
5. C.C. Sabathia - Lock for 18+ wins and 200K
6. Jered Weaver - Real deal, could win 20 games this year
7. Zack Greinke - Contract year - BOOM!
8. Felix Hernandez - Ace numbers but will again lack the wins
9. Tim Lincecum - Innings last few years scare me but he'll be typical Lincecum at a value price
10. David Price - Still up and coming, I'm expecting increase in numbers
11. Matt Cain - Can't get anymore solid, reliable, and durable as this guy, contract year - BOOM!
12. Cole Hamels - Contract year - BOOM!
13. Dan Haren - The down 2010 haunts me but he will be a value in your draft
14. Jon Lester - Cy Young potential ranked waaaaaay to low by all other sites/mags
15. Yovani Gallardo - Another Cy Young potential candidate
16. James Shields - Complete game talent should continue, underrated, needs to do it again
17. Ian Kennedy - He's for real, WHIP is real, K's are real, hitters park scares you but not me
18. Josh Johnson - Back from injury, top talent ace in rounds 6-9 of your draft
19. Adam Wainwright - Back from injury, top talent ace in rounds 6-9 of your draft
20. C.J. Wilson - He's a 3rd or 4th starter now, I'm not as high on him as most
21. Madison Bumgarner - On the rise, should be steady, I see stats similar to 2011
22. Stephen Strasburg - Over hyped, yes, has the talent, but cant pick him top 5 just to get 160 IP
23. Michael Pineda - Love the move to NYY for more wins, expect ERA/WHIP to rise slightly
24. Tommy Hanson - High risk-high reward, has top 5 ace talent so could be a sweet value
25. Josh Beckett - Will be undervalued in your drafts and on fantasy sites, so I bumped him up
26. Ricky Romero - Could rank him above CJ Wilson, got a Johan Santana change up, nasty
27. Jaime Garcia - I like upside, 3rd year starter, seems durable, needs to go deeper in games
28. Matt Garza - Another guy I can rank a few spots higher I suppose but the Cubs wont win
29. Daniel Hudson - So far so good, haven't seen the growing pains yet though but future is bright
30. Mat Latos - Move from SD to CIN is scary, K's/Wins will be there but ERA/WHIP could suffer
31. Yu Darvish - I'm thinking Dice-K until I see a full season so I might pass this year
32. Brandon Beachy - Nice talent, on the rise but don't over draft, still unproven
33. Doug Fister - ERA/WHIP master, Wins will now come in DET, eats innings, not a ton of K's
34. Corey Luebke - Not buyin' yet, I need to see another year, minor league stats are solid though
35. Matt Moore - Super Hype, only pitched 9 IP - he's real but use caution, don't overdraft
36. Shaun Marcum - Good solid and reliable SP, not a 200K guy
37. Chris Carpenter - He's 37 so don't expect a super star season, expect more like 2011
38. Anibal Sanchez - 200K talent, underrated, but also a little shaky in my opinion
39. Neftali Feliz - Making the transition from reliever to starter, watch for an innings limit
40. Chris Sale - Making the transition from reliever to starter, watch for an innings limit
41. Daniel Bard - Making the transition from reliever to starter, watch for an innings limit
42. Johnny Cueto - ERA in '11 was insane, expect that to rise a little
43. Jordan Zimmerman - On the rise, grab anytime in or after round 10 for decent value
44. Gio Gonzalez - 200K potential but WHIP could be in the 1.30 range
45. Max Scherzer - This is the year this guy breaks through!
46. Brandon Morrow - 200+ K machine but could come with a 4.00 ERA/1.30WHIP
47. Ervin Santana - Good steady numbers later in the draft, not sexy but solid
48. Colby Lewis - I'd be happy with 13W/175K/3.90ERA/1.25WHIP
49. Jhouyls Chacin - He's a walk machine, lots of upside but WHIP may stink
50. Javier Vazquez - Ace like in the second half last season, still a reliable fantasy starter that gets no love

Dirt Cheap - These SP's pose a big opportunity for value and can be used to finish off the back end of your pitching staff. These are the SP's I'm looking for in round 15 or later as I'm filling in those last few slots on the roster....

51. Johan Santana - If he starts opening day, he won't be the old Johan but you'll certainly profit
52.Chad Billingsley - 2011 was so gaudy, too much talent to be that bad, dirt cheap
53. Clay Buchholz - Coming back from injury, should be solid, lighter weight, looks good
54. Mike Leake - Gets wins, can hold a solid WHIP late with a decent amount of K's
55. Chris Capuano - Came back strong from injury w/ Mets, now with Dodgers, solid all around
56. Erik Bedard - If he miraculously gets 150+IP, he'll be a steal in the NL
57. Jonathan Sanchez - Now with KC, has the talent, will be the ace, new scenery should help
58. A.J. Burnett - Out 8-12 weeks (hit in the eye), new scenery will help (Think Javier Vazquez)
59. Derek Holland - Tons of upside here but need to last 6+IP/game and lower walks
60. Rick Porcello - He's only 23, insane talent an upside, hoping he puts it together, nice flyer
62. Phil Hughes - If he wins the 5th spot, I see profit, probably available in last round
63. Bud Norris - 200K potential but wins and WHIP might be tough to come by
64. Trevor CaHill - We've seen him be successful, hitters park but no brainer as a flyer
65. Dustin McGowan - Super duper sleeper, no one talking about this guy coming back

Sunday, March 04, 2012

NL King Ranks NL Only Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitchers Part 2

NL King Ranks NL Only Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitchers Part 2

You most certainly can build an effective starting rotation by building around a number of these guys while giving yourself more depth to your team in other areas. Maybe you also get lucky and have one of these guys break through in 2012. Or, you can test your luck at TopBet.com.

Mark Buehrle - Should be solid play, going from AL to NL, numbers should help although the only downer is his K's are weak.

Trevor Cahill - Yes AL to NL, you would think would help but going from Oakland Coliseum to Arizona with 2010 being a special year, but two out of his three years his ratio was over 1.4.  Like the fact his K's have improved every year but I wouldn't spend that much on Cahill.

Chris Carpenter - Was healthy last year and had a good year but not a great year. In the past, if healthy, Carpenter would turn in a great year. He will be 37 in late April and has a whole variety of injuries in his career and he threw 273 innings last year including the post season. Warning.

Jhouyls Chacin - Enters Camp as one of the staff leaders unlike last year as he entered as a youngster with talent. How does Chacin handle being counted on as one of the rockies front end starters? If he can cut down on his walks can be a real nice pitcher.

Johnny Cueto - Was great last year when healthy. Doesn't seem like he will be a big strikeout guy but can be a $20 guy for you this year maybe even more if he can duplicate last year over 200 innings.

Jaime Garcia - Been a solid option his 1st two years in the big leagues. Solid $15 pitcher in NL only leagues.

Matt Garza - He might fly under the radar at your draft because he only won 10 games last year and is on a bad team. If he that happens then POUNCE because he is a strong ERA and Ratio guy with 200K's. Might only get you 12 or 13 wins though.

Gio Gonzalez - Moves from AL to NL but again leaves Oakland Coliseum which was a pitchers park. Still he is just 26 and will get you close to 200K's and probably 15 Wins with a real solid ERA with the Nats. The question with Gonzalez is can he make progress on getting those walks down so his ratio goes down?

Tommy Hanson - I like this kids stuff but remember he only made five starts after the all star break due to a partial tear of the rotator cuff and that was before his spring training concussion. He is a risk due to injuries so I would want a discount on draft day.

Daniel Hudson - Showed the summer of 2010 when he came over from the White Sox was no fluke. Looks like a solid $20 option for years to come.

Tim Hudson - Had back surgery in November and is probably going to miss all of April. Had a big time year in 2011 even had good amount of strikeouts but with his age and injury history a very big risk.

Jair Jurrjens - Had an All-Star first half last year but is potential trade bait and has had a number of injuries in his career (last two seasons has had 23 and 20 starts). I like Jurrjens but expect a $15 NL only starter who has risk.

Shaun Marcum - Was solid last year in Milwaukee but many people predicted better going from his success in the AL East to the NL Central. He is playing for a contract as he is a free agent after the season.

Johan Santana - Best case scenario is Santana makes 25 starts for the Mets and gives you a $15 to $18 year in NL only leagues. Need to get a huge discount.

Jordan Zimmerman - Was on an innings limit last year but when he pitched he was sensational. Need to show that last year was no fluke.  His W's and K's weren't high last year but should be a value in your draft.

NL King - C.Lizza

Friday, March 02, 2012

NL King Ranks NL Only Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitchers Part 1

NL King - NL Only Starting Pitchers Part 1
To have a top notch starter to lead your rotation is a tremendous commodity. The prices on these guys are usually very high so you need them to stay healthy and hit their numbers. If you blow this, you might as well kiss your season good bye...

The Elite

Roy Halladay - They say there are two things you can count and that's death and taxes. Well, to me it should be three things with the third being Doc Halladay. Figure on 20 Wins, ERA south of 2.50, Ratio barely over 1 and around 220 K's. It's a lock.

Cliff Lee - Figure on the same numbers as Doc Halladay. Another lock.

Clayton Kershaw - He had a better year than Halladay and Lee last year and going forward maybe the #1 pitcher in NL only leagues the next 5 or 6 years.


Tim Lincecum - Last couple of years his walks have gone up and unlike 2009 his ratio are in the 1.2 range. The Giants don't hit so wins are likely to be limited. I know a lot of people have written his K's have come down the last three years but he still had 220K's in '11 so I wouldn't worry about that. Is he an ace? Yes, but a step down from Halladay, Lee and Kershaw. One thing to consider is Lincecum is a free agent in two years so if "The Freak" can put up back to back big years he would hit free agency in a big way. That's a nice incentive.

Josh Johnson - It's all about health with the big guy. He did have a shoulder issue last year and was shut down from June through the rest of last season. Can we count on him for 32 starts this year? Even with a great spring Johnson is a risk and therefore you must try and get a nice discount on draft day.  Feeling lucky? Take the risk, pick Johnson, and win your league or go to pokerlistings, try the game for free, then test that luck at the real poker tables!

Knocking on the Door - alphabetical order

Madison Bumgarner - I was reading a lot last year that many felt Bumgarner was an injury risk for 2011 as he had a big jump in IP from '09 to '10. That was never a problem and Bumgarner rewarded his owners with a big year. The next step for him is landing on the Ace part of this list. Again keep in mind he is on the offensive challenged Giants so that will limit his wins.

Matt Cain - Sub 3 ERA, Ratio below 1.10, solid K's (close to 180) but wins are a challenge on the Giants but still when you add it all up a top of the rotation starter. Cain is a free agent after this season so he is playing for a big contract.

Yovanni Gallardo - Gallardo took a big step forward last year. He went deeper into games mainly because getting that pitch count in games by throwing more strikes and cutting down on his walks. What's scary is he just turned 26 in February. I remember reading about Gallardo three years ago that many baseball people felt Gallardo would win a Cy Young. One red flag is Gallardo is inconsistent. He's very mediocre before going on run last summer but there are still way too many bad outings for a guys with his stuff. That's the only thing stopping Gallardo from becoming an ace.

Zack Grienke - After missing the month of April last year and a slow start Grienke still finished with an impressive final stat line. However the slow start did cost him in terms of his ERA being at 3.83. Another player in his contract so looking to light up his stat sheet and score a mega contract.

Cole Hamels - Other than the wins last year Hamels had an ace year. If He can repeat last years performance he will be a proven ace. Another player playing for a huge contract as he is a free agent after this season.

Ian Kennedy - Saw some good things in 2010 from Kennedy in terms of his ratio and K's although last year was a big surprise. I felt Kennedy in 2010 was a guy who was a $15 pitcher and thought he could break through and become a low $20 pitcher last year. Instead he put up an ace like year. Pay him in your respective drafts as a front end starter but if he goes ace like prices then let another owner get him. I need to see it again in terms of production like last year.

Mat Latos - A lot of people thought 2011 Latos would become an ace. His numbers were good but not great thanks to a slow start. Latos is very capable of becoming an ace in the NL for years to come. He's now on a much better team and a team that can score so his wins will go way up. But how does Latos make the transition from Petco to the Great American Ballpark? Figure on a real good year from Latos (worth in the low 20's in NL only leagues) but don't count on an ace year just yet.

Stephen Strasburg - This guy as long as he can stay healthy will be an ace I believe but not in 2012. The Nats are going to be very cautious with Strasburg in terms of his pitch count, how far he goes in games and his innings pitched for the season ( I don't think he will pass 160 Innings). Having said that Strasburg can give you a strong 150 innings and be ready to become a full fledged ace in 2013.

Adam Wainwright - This guys is already an ace but remember he missed all of 2011 due to Tommy John Surgery. So expect 2012 to be a $20 year in NL only leagues and then next season for Wainwright to go back to his ace like ways as we last saw in 2010.

NL King - C.Lizza

NL King Ranks NL Only Fantasy Baseball Outfielders Part 4 of 4

NL King Ranks NL Only Fantasy Baseball Outfielders Part 4 of 4


2012 Fantasy Baseball Veteran outfielders in the NL who should get you at least 300 AB's for the coming season. These are not star players but they can help your team win a championship if you pick the right one's. The list is in alphabetical order.

Jason Bay - Bay has not been healthy since signing with the Mets. Citi Field is certainly playing games with his head. The fences are now moved in and the walls brought down, Citi Field is still a pitchers park but that should help Bay at the plate in 2012. If Bay can play 140 games this year can be $15 bat. The days of 30-100-100 are a thing of the past.

Marlon Byrd - Last year was a rough season for Byrd after getting hit in the face at the plate. Byrd will probably go towards the end of the draft for most NL only leagues and you can probably get him for a cheap price. Could be a great value to fill out your roster although the Cubs will probably trade him sometime in July.

Melky Cabrera - The Melk Man had one of the best years in all of fantasy last year. This coming off a very weak 2010 for the Braves. He is now back in the NL, do not expect last season especially in San Fran but $15 year is a strong possibility.

David DeJesus - Coming off a rough year in that footbal stadium in Oakland. Could provide nice depth numbers to round out your outfield for a small price on draft day.

Carlos Gomez - Not sure how many AB's he will get between Nyjer Morgan and Aoki. Should get starts against left handed pitching but at best a 5th OF for your squad who can provide some speed but with a poor batting average to go with it.

Aubrey Huff - Reality set in for Huff last season after a magical 2010. He can still provide a depth bat for you and he also qualifies for 1B. But more hitters now in SF so if Huff gets off to a bad start he could wind up seeing very little time this season. On the last year of his two year contract.

Garrett Jones - Also qualifies for 1B, more of the same for 2012 which is decent power and a poor average.

Jason Kubel - I like his power bat in Arizona. If he can play 130 games this season I think he gives you at least a $15 year and maybe even $20.

Ryan Ludwick - Probably only gets you 350 AB's but in that ballpark in Cincinnati with that lineup, I like those 350 AB's. If Ludwick can get close to 400 AB's I am thinking a he can have close to a $20 year.

Nyjer Morgan - Will platoon with Gomez, should provide good depth for your team and with Prince gone, I think he runs a bit more so I see steals between 20 and 25 this year.

Lance Nix - Good cheap power bat and should get time at both 1B and OF.

Angel Pagan - His stats look better than he played last year but he did finish strong and the early word is he will leadoff for SF. Pagan is also playing for a contract as he is a free agent after this season. Capable of a $20 year but figure on a $15 year.

Alfonso Soriano - Buyer beware Cubs would love to move him and at least some of that salary even if they have to pay some of it. While everyone is down on Soriano he did have 26HR and 88RBI last year. If he goes less than $15 in your draft take him.

Andres Torres - Gets a second chance in NY. Had a magical 2010 but the glass slippery came off last year. Look at him as a depth player.

Will Venable - Going into last season was looked at as a poor man's Chris Young. Instead he was just poor last season. Not bad to take a flyer on to fill out your roster on draft day.
NL King - C.Lizza