Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fantasy Funkhouser: Fantasy Baseball 2013 Ranks - Round 6


Mike Trout gets a lot of  fantasy title kudos, but I'd bet Kris Medlen did his fair share as well. (cleveland.com)
Fantasy Funkhouser will review all things Fantasy Baseball. After all, life is a small sample size.

One of many fantastic scenes in the underrated movie (500) Days of Summer is a scene in which our main character Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) attends a party thrown by the ex who has broken his woeful-emo-skinny-tie wearing heart - that would be Summer of the movie title (Zooey Deschanel).

Upon arriving at the party, the screen splits in two showing the viewer the events as they play out in reality vs. how Tom expected things to go. Needless to say, the two scenarios did not match up. His expectation fell far below the reality of the situation. To anyone else other than him, this isn't surprising. But to Tom? This was a crushing shock to his Alt-J system. He wasn't able to see beyond his emotional feelings towards Summer leaving anything other than a monumental success.

Reality bites.

Unless you are able to match up reality with your expectation.

So now that you're roughly 150 words into a fantasy baseball article that has only mentioned a quality rom-com from 2009, you can probably see where this is going. It is important to not get carried away with personal feelings and emotions when evaluating players for fantasy.

Now, it is ironic in an Alanis Morissette kind of way that in a game with FANTASY in the title, I'm telling you to be more grounded, but it matters.

One of the best things about getting into baseball analytics and sabermetrics is that it forces you to look at the cold hard numbers. Feelings and emotions and those gut instincts will always be there and need to be played every once in a while, but embracing the numbers will allow you to make more correct decisions than not. It's the difference between when I was 11 and thought Darren Dreifort was one of the nastiest pitchers out there (because I felt it) as compared to last year when I willfully allowed Angel Pagan to be one of my regular OF for the last couple months of the season (because the numbers told me I needed his stats) as I won my keeper league title.

Aligning your expectations with reality will put you in the best place to succeed not only in your draft, but also as the season progresses.

The dichotomy of this situation came to my attention a couple of weeks ago when I was on a Fangraphs page and came across a comment that  was comparing overall draft ranks and mentioned the typical numbers for Robinson Cano and Miguel Cabrera. It read as follows:
Cano is a Cabrera type bat. .300 hitter, 30 HR, 100 R, 100 RBI. I mean Cabrera is slightly better and that is why he goes higher but they put up some pretty comparable stats most years.
I scrolled about a quarter of the way past the comment, when it hit me. That's not right at all. In my head at the time, and maybe yours right now, you might say, yeah .300/30/100/100 is about right for an average Cano season. This is where expectation is not matching the reality of the situation.

Digging up some of the more baseline numbers, would you believe that Cano has only 2 seasons with 100 or more RBI? Also, since Cabrera became a full time player 10 years ago, he's hit 30 or more homers in 9 out of 10 seasons? Cano has only hit 30 or more homers one time. Uno.

If you compare their average stats over 162 game average, you get a dramatic year to year difference.

Cano's 162 game average over 8 years: 
.308AVG, 96R, 24HR, 95RBI, .894OPS

Cabrera's 162 game average over 10 years: 
.318AVG, 103R, 34HR, 120RBI, .956OPS

This doesn't make Cano the horse meat in your IKEA meatball. Nor may it matter that much in redraft leagues, but there are fantasy players out there who will gloss over details like this. Make assumptions about players that aren't nearly true, or even worse begin lumping players in together. Cano v. Cabrera is an easy assessment to make, but as we dig deeper into Round 6 of my ranks, those differences are the ones that may uncover the value in players your letting your expectations get in the way of reality. 

Funny how things work out in my rankings. Round 5 was all about the breakout stars we know are on their way to stardom. As we look at #61-#72, we come across many a player that has us asking, "Can they do it again?" It's one question that is being asked in two different ways. For vets like Roy Halladay, Jimmy Rollins, CC Sabathia, and Aramis Ramirez we are asking to see if we can trust them to bounce back from injury or if age will finally take a bit out of their production.

The guy I'd like to single out in this group is Halladay. He's coming off the most severe injury and had the worst season in 2012. Bottom line is that I'm not worried about Doc. He's had to reinvent himself as a pitcher in the past, and he's done it again. He changed his off season training to better focus on what was ailing him, and in his first spring training start he looked good and was hitting 88-91 on the gun. In general, pitchers ease their velocity up during spring, so the fact Halladay was already hitting 91 is a great sign. His dominant pitching style fits perfectly for a 36 year old. Movement, working both sides of the plate, and just the knowledge that comes along with pitching all those years. There might be some challenges (the team behind him for one) and maybe he gets his pitch count watched a bit more, so making him your SP1 isn't the worst thing in the world, but I'd be more than happy with him as my SP2 for 2013.

For younger guys like Aroldis Chapman, Austin Jackson, Kris Medlen, and Chase Headley we are asking to see if they can build upon a small track record of success.

A lot of the press for the group above has been for Chapman and his conversion to starter. Arguably the most devastating closer in baseball last year, Chapman is being pushed to the starting rotation and there's any number of ways this could go great or go wrong. But for the next couple sentences, I want to focus on Kris Medlen. Medlen was subject to reverse Stephen Strasburg treatment coming off of Tommy John surgery. He started the season easing his way into games through the bullpen, then tore apart the league in the second half. In 95 IP he had a K/9 of 8.97 and a WHIP of 0.82.

I mentioned him last August in my post-deadline column, and while I slightly favored Mike Minor at the time (who did great as well) you best be sure I was monitoring Medlen and added him early and often.

Of course, everyone wants to alert the regression police for Medlen. Sure, he won't be Bob Gibson, and he'll regress in the way Mike Trout will regress (megastar to superstar) but he'll still be a top #2 or #3 starter for your fantasy squad.

RANK NAME POSITION
61 YADIER MOLINA C
62 CC SABATHIA SP
63 AROLDIS CHAPMAN SP/RP
64 JOHNNY CUETO SP
65 JASON KIPNIS  2B
66 ARAMIS RAMIREZ 3B
67 AUSTIN JACKSON OF
68 KRIS MEDLEN SP
69 DESMOND JENNINGS OF
70 ROY HALLADAY SP
71 CHASE HEADLEY 3B
72 JIMMY ROLLINS SS

On Deck: Matt Moore, Anthony Rizzo, Mark Teixiera, Chris Sale


OVERALL RANKINGS THUS FAR

Obviously the larges shift took place as a result of Curtis Granderson taking a J.A. Happ fastball of his wrist in his first spring training game. He'll be out 10 weeks with the injury and thus taking up your DL spot. I'm all for utilizing the DL spot early on, but the difference with Granderson is that even though he is out for a while, he'll still be highly O-ranked. Utilizing that DL spot and getting zero out of a 5th or 6th round pick is tough to stomach. 

There are a lot of ways to approach this Granderson injury. What's his value + the replacement player you add? Will he come back healthy and within the 10 weeks? Will he be ready to go or need some minor league at bats? You even have to ask, what if he just has an off year or regresses - which many people think he will? Remember he couldn't hit anything in the playoffs last year, and if this was a normal Yankees line-up with top to bottom talent, I could see him getting buried. Of course, this is not your normal Yankees line-up, so a prime spot in the batting order will be waiting for him upon his return.

I dropped him down to 101 in my rankings, but if you want him you'll probably have to take him around 2 rounds earlier. Not worth it for me.

Also, in sticking with my reality v. expectation theme, I scaled my blessed ignorance towards Starlin Castro a bit. His strides from 2011 to 2012 weren't all that great. His OPS actually dropped by .020 along with his average and runs scored. He's young, can clearly hit, and entering his age 22 season is probably a year or two away from starting his superstar path, but that's not this year. He has more red flags than China, and the whole mental lapse/low energy argument against players is a real thing. Attitude matters. So, sigh, I'm bumping Troy Tulowitzki up a couple of rungs. 

Finally, a quick adjustment in my top 10. A lot of projections I've seen peg Albert Pujols to have a Pujolsian type year. He may not approach his 14-16 steal mark in his prime, but a healthy and productive Pujols is better than Carlos Gonzalez.


RANK NAME POSITION CHANGE PREVIOUSLY
1 MIGUEL CABRERA 3B
2 RYAN BRAUN OF
3 MIKE TROUT OF
4 JOEY VOTTO 1B
5 ANDREW MCCUTCHEN OF
6 MATT KEMP OF
7 ROBINSON CANO 2B
8 ALBERT PUJOLS 1B 9
9 CARLOS GONZALEZ OF 8
10 JUSTIN VERLANDER SP
11 PRINCE FIELDER 1B
12 CLAYTON KERSHAW SP
13 JASON HEYWARD OF
14 GIANCARLO STANTON OF
15 DAVID WRIGHT 3B
16 FELIX HERNANDEZ SP
17 JUSTIN UPTON OF
18 JOSE BAUTISTA OF
19 EVAN LONGORIA 3B
20 STEPHEN STRASBURG SP
21 BUSTER POSEY C/1B
22 ADRIAN BELTRE 3B
23 JOSH HAMILTON OF
24 HANLEY RAMIREZ 3B/SS
25 ADAM JONES OF
26 DAVID PRICE SP
27 TROY TULOWITZKI SP 32
28 MATT CAIN SS 27
29 IAN KINSLER 2B
30 EDWIN ENCARNACION 1B/DH
31 COLE HAMELS SP
32 STARLIN CASTRO SS 28
33 DUSTIN PEDROIA 2B
34 JAY BRUCE OF
35 JOSE REYES SS
36 CLIFF LEE SP
37 ADRIAN GONZALEZ 1B/OF
38 MATT HOLLIDAY OF
39 RYAN ZIMMERMAN 3B
40 JACOBY ELLSBURY OF
41 ADAM WAINWRIGHT SP
42 MADISON BUMGARNER SP
43 ZACK GREINKE SP
44 BRYCE HARPER OF
45 JERED WEAVER SP
46 BRANDON PHILLIPS 2B
47 ALLEN CRAIG 1B/OF
48 YU DARVISH SP
49 YOENIS CESPEDES OF
50 BILLY BUTLER 1B
51 BEN ZOBRIST 2B/SS/OF
52 PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT 1B
53 GIO GONZALEZ SP
54 PABLO SANDOVAL 3B
55 BRETT LAWRIE 3B
56 R.A. DICKEY SP
57 CRAIG KIMBREL RP
58 MAT LATOS SP
59 B.J. UPTON OF
60 IAN DESMOND SS 52
61 YADIER MOLINA C
62 CC SABATHIA SP
63 AROLDIS CHAPMAN SP/RP
64 JOHNNY CUETO SP
65 JASON KIPNIS  2B
66 ARAMIS RAMIREZ 3B
67 AUSTIN JACKSON OF
68 KRIS MEDLEN SP
69 DESMOND JENNINGS OF
70 ROY HALLADAY SP
71 CHASE HEADLEY 3B
72 JIMMY ROLLINS SS


The Funkman says: "They said I was washed up after Super Dave."