FNTSY FIGHTNETWORK ROTOEXPERTS

Assessing Victor Martinez, Curtis Granderson, Hunter Pence And Arrested Development

DISAGREE TO AGREE

Frequenters of the site know that “The King” Scott Engel – He is the King, He is Fantasy – and I have two radically differing methods to winning in Fantasy Baseball. Scott prefers the classic approach – The ol’ eye test. He’s a big believer in using a players’ psychology to predict future outcomes. This is why a thing like “closer’s mentality” creates such a divide between us. I think it’s unquantifiable hogwash, he asserts it has merit. But I’m not in the locker room talking to the guys, Scott is. So it’s entirely possible he’s able to sense these things – emotions have a tough time seeping through the TV set, even in 1080p. But, I just don’t buy it. If a player is truly affected by the pressure of the ninth inning – over an equally high leverage situation at any other point of the game – there’s a case to be made that he probably doesn’t belong in the majors.

This is just one of the many issues we bicker about in the office.

The others? Well, they range from his, insane, belief that Ike Davis is not Carlos Pena v2.0 despite every bit of evidence indicating he is, to whether my off-color jokes are appropriate for the work place – He’s right, they’re not. But the one area where Scott’s a Bolshevik and I’m a Menshevik is on the topic of analytics. I’m afur it, he agin it. The crazy part, however, is that we’re both very successful in the one thing that’s actually significant: Winning Fantasy leagues.

It really doesn’t matter how you do your evaluations, if you end up with the proper players, who cares? One set of tactics isn’t superior to another if it’s successful. Part of this speaks to the unpredictable nature of Fantasy Sports. While I believe that success in Fantasy Baseball far more research and knowledge based than say, oh, Fantasy Football, there still is an element of luck needed to emerge victorious. Prime example: Coming out of the draft, you’d assume a team built around a core of Jose Reyes, Giancarlo Stanton, Zack Greinke, Jered Weaver, Albert Pujols and Matt Kemp wouldn’t be in last place a six weeks into the season. But here we are, with a terrific view from the base of the standings. The hours of preparation are rendered useless at this point, bad luck happens. And that’s something no methodology can accurately anticipate.

But a strange thing happened the other day: Scott and I came to an understanding about advanced metrics. While I was unable to convert him to the dark side, we agreed that a fundamental comprehension of sabermetrics is essential to Fantasy prosperity whether you want to believe them or not. Weird, right? Think of it this way: You’re going to buy a house and, presumably – unless you’re a detestable silver-spooner – you’ll be forced to take out a mortgage. Now, there’s an option of locking into a fixed or variable loan – unless I’m using Señor Cardgage as my broker that is, then it’s “No Probalo”. Would it make sense just to say “I’m going fixed,” without even looking into the variable rate? Of course not. Gathering as much information as possible is the essential part of the process. Without the full scope of intelligence it’s impossible to make an erudite decision. And the same thing applies to Fantasy. Let’s say you think advanced are just double-talk for the Devil, but another member of your league worships at the alter of Bill James, how can making a trade with him be possible? It would be like Pakistan and India agreeing to peace negations but refusing to speak the same language: We have two millennia of results proving that’s ineffective. But an understanding of advanced stats can help you rid yourself of a player you genuinely hate, just by making the statistical case to your competitor.

Let’s say you want to deal Victor Martinez. Completely understandable: He’s coming of major injury, currently batting .221, getting on base fewer than 28 percent of the time and seems to have developed a paranoia of hitting balls over the fence; and you believe his crappiness is going to persist all year long. That’s a very reasonable side to take. But that’s not the case you want to make if you’re trying to pawn him off on someone else. That’s like saying, “I know just being seen sitting in one magnifies your supreme lack of coolness, but you should really buy this Mustang”.

No, what you want to tell your statistically minded friend, is that Martinez is just experiencing a bout of extreme bad luck. His batting average of balls in play (BABIP) is a ridiculously low .231, over 70 points south of his career mark, that’s going come up. His home run to fly ball rate (HR/FB) is a league worst 3.7%, a number that will climb back to around league average, meaning a power binge is looming. And, most importantly, these stats would all make sense if there was something fishy about how he’s performing at the plate, but there’s not. In fact, V-Mart’s outcomes actually mirror his ultra-productive 2010 Boston campaign when he hit .302, with 20 HRs, 64 R and 72 RBI in just 124 games. Actually, he’s managed to up his line drive rate (LD%) to 20% from 17% and slashed his pop outs to infielders (IFFB%) in half – 3.8% from 8.6%. Using a very rudimentary set of sabermetrics I’ve allowed you to ship Martinez off to another owner and probably got almost full value on him too.

Be as critical as you want towards the advanced numbers. Say they’re for morons – although their empirical nature strongly suggests the opposite – but don’t parade around in blissful ignorance to their meaning. Like them or not, they can help your team.

Also, Victor Martinez is a great buy-low right now!

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

The long awaited Arrested Development season four trailer finally hit the web, and while I’m predisposed to liking it regardless of its quality, upon my 435th viewing I noticed it features a series of the same jokes we’ve seen before.

Whatever. The reruns are still the funniest thing on TV anyway.

GOB! Jucie Boxes! Lupus!!!!

HUNTER PENCE NONE THE RICHER

Every year, certain players get passed over because of their perceived lack of upside. In Fantasy Football it’s called the Marvin Harrison Corollary. For each of his final five seasons, you’d arrive at a point in the draft where you could nab Harrison and his safe baseline stats, or go with the new hot thing. Inevitably, you ended up drafting Michael Clayton or Kenny Britt as Harrison continued his plunge down the board, eventually becoming a tremendous value for someone in the sixth round. Same thing happened with Hunter Pence this year.

Like Harrison, there was just something unsexy about Pence entering the season, and it wasn’t entirely a sartorially based indictment. His stats had seemingly plateaued, he was too much of a known commodity – it’s no fun drafting reliability. Sure, he would still deliver 20+ home runs, knock in around 100 and come close to the same number of runs, but he was coming off a year where hit 30 points below his career average and watched his steals total slip for the third straight season. Who would want that guy? Turns out, everyone should have.

Usually, I don’t buy much into the “change of scenery” angle in sports, mainly because it varies so much for each individual. There’s no way to accurately judge how great an impact, if any, it has on a player. I will concede however, suiting up for three different franchises in the course of a year may have a detrimental impact on a player’s performance. And that appears exactly what happened to Pence. Now firmly entrenched in the Giants lineup, Pence looks a whole lot more like the Fantasy superstar from his Astros days than the vagabond that has been drifting from coast-to-coast.

A bit of regression in his power numbers should be expected. I’m not saying his current pace of watching one of every five fly balls he smacks leave the yard (20% HR/FB) is unsustainable, but – you know what – that is exactly what I’m saying that. Pence’s isolated power has jumped almost 20 points over his career rate as well (.209 ISO from .190 ISO), not a gigantic difference, but it’s a number that is directly tied to that gaudy home run rate.

Don’t take that as a condemnation of his Fantasy value, though; just don’t bank on him sustaining his current power pace and finishing with 40 HR. Somewhere around 30 is probably a more reasonable projection. Nonetheless, he’s still a wildly underrated Fantasy commodity. Pence has a legitimate chance to finish in the 30/30 club while being a plus-contributor in the three remaining categories, and I assure you, he’s not being valued that way right now. He’s a borderline Top 10 outfielder the rest of the season and you can acquire his services for significantly less than that. Even after his scorching past eight days, he’s been swapped straight up for players like Hanley Ramirez, Mark Reynolds, A.J. Burnett and Jason Grilli, just to name a few. So start spamming the Pence owner in your league with trade offers, pronto.

AND THE WINNER IS… EXACTLY WHO WE SAID IT WOULD BE

In case you missed it – who am I kidding – of course you missed it; Malaysia held an election earlier this week. Here are the five things you need to know about the election, and the Southeast Asian country in general – well, make that six (or seven), since you just learned not only is Malaysia in Asia – although you’d think the “aysia” part would be a giveaway – but it’s in the Southeast, due South of Indochina. I suppose that probably doesn’t help. Everyone has a globe, use it.

5. The capital, Kuala Lumpa is home to the Petronas Towers. Best known for being those really tall buildings you thought were in Dubai. I’d say you may remember them from the climax of Entrapment, but there’s only one thing etched into our memories from that farce – the last instance of Catherine Zeta-Jones being super sexy.

4. Its flag looks like what I assume Saudi Arabia’s would be if their royal family expressed its true intentions.

3. Its official form of government is a parliamentary system, but it’s actually an elective monarchy. Two words that have no business being in the same sentence – so you can bet the elections aren’t, what’s the word, legitimate.

2. Oh, if you were still on the fence on whether the final results were lawful, here’s what appeared on the North Korean news feed moments after the “polls” closed.

DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju Wednesday sent a congratulatory message to Datuk Seri Mohamad Najib Bin Tun Haji Abudul Razak on his reelection as prime minister of Malaysia.

Pak in the message wished the prime minister success in his work, expressing the conviction that the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries would grow stronger in various fields.”

- Korean Central News Agency of DPRK

When Kim Jong-un is the first person to give you a shout out, you clearly have questionable practices. Also, if that site is up your alley, you may want to peruse the DPRK gift shop, maybe order yourself the complete box set of North Korean cinema – from O Youth! to A Family Basketball Team. Complete with English subtitles!

1. The freshly reelected Prime Minister’s full name is Dato’ Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, but goes by Najib Razak, how he whittled down to those two names, I’ll never know. Fun Razak facts: He’s Malaysia’s sixth Prime Minister since 2009, and Zoolander has never made an attempt on his life. Although, don’t expect that same courtesy for any of these people.

STAR WARS: RISE OF THE DISABLED LIST

There are a slew of big names creeping closer to full health over the next three weeks: Zack Greinke, Jason Heyward, Jered Weaver, Giancarlo Stanton, Brett Anderson, Johnny Cueto; but there’s three you need to be targeting before they start blowing up the stat sheet…

Me too. Curtis Granderson made his season debut Tuesday after smashing the hell out of the ball Monday afternoon during his rehab stint at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Expect the Grandyman to essentially be the player you expected him to be pre-injury – terrible average, tons of power, counting stat suffer, moderate speed. While broken bones are obviously never desirable, give me some dispersed ossein over detached ligaments any day. It tends heal far more consistently.

Coco Crisp is expected to return later this week from his hamstring issues. He may struggle in his first few games back, as hamstring problems affect speedsters much more than power hitters. But a few 0-for performances could create a tiny buying window. Crisp was a Top 20 player before the injury and over the past three years is one of Fantasy’s top per-game performers. You just need to the patience to deal with his cavalcade of DL visits. His production in between his extended bits of time off will be well worth it, though.

Oh, and send out a feeler offer to the Michael Cuddyer owner in your league. Cuddy won’t be able to return until at least May 24 because of neck stiffness, but had evolved into an impact bat through a month and a half. Recovery time from neck injuries is far from predictable, but the two weeks of rest should be enough to get him back to full strength. Much like Hunter Pence, Cuddyer is perpetually undervalued solely for simply being Michael Cuddyer. But the reality is, he qualifies at multiple positions and has enough of a power stroke to generate a passel of runs and RBIs in a pretty formidable Rockies lineup. You should treat him as a Top 75 overall player, and Top 20 outfielder; others won’t.

EASILY ACCESSED MEMEORIES

They teased us with “Get Lucky” over a month ago and now, almost two weeks before its actual release date, Daft Punk has stayed one step ahead of those dastardly internet pirates, leaking “Random Access Memories” on iTunes, for free! I’ve been grooving all day, and you can too. Enjoy.

The new RotoExperts Daily Clubhouse has all you need to win big every night in Daily Fantasy Baseball – expert picks, tools to identify hot and bargain players, plus official lineups and podcasts/radio shows just prior to game time! Don’t set your lineups without visiting the Daily Clubhouse first. Then set your winning rosters on DraftKings.

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