Monday, April 25, 2011

Playing the Name Game

We've all seen the fantasy baseball articles where the writer will compare one nameless player's statistics to another nameless player's statistics and then hit you with a ton of reasons why you should be looking past simple name recognition if you want to be winning your fantasy baseball league. And do you know why you see articles of this type all over the fantasy baseball blogosphere? Because they're very helpful when evaluating your roster and the "who's who" out there on waivers.

I'll run through a few of my own comparisons (using standard 5x5 categories) for your fantasy baseball viewing pleasure and hopefully give you something to mull over as you assess your roster(s).
  • Player A: .321 BA (17/53), 15 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB
  • Player B: .255 BA (24/94), 15 R, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB
Simple comparisons show that Player A has only gotten roughly half the at-bats that Player B has received so far but has been able to score the same amount of runs, hit the same number of home runs and steal the same amount of bases, all with a higher batting average and just four less RBI. A deeper look into another statistic shows Player A has an .956 OPS while Player B's is .691. Any guesses yet? Well, Player A is Casey Blake and Player B is Martin Prado. Blake is owned in 12.4% of ESPN leagues and Prado is 100% owned, as he should be.

My fantasy perspective: Blake has settled in as the Dodgers' number two hitting and should get plenty of opportunities to continue scoring runs with the likes of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier tearing it up behind him, as long as he keeps getting on base. His value comes in deeper mixed leagues that utilize an extra CI and/or IF roster spot or in the much shallower NL-only format. Prado owners shouldn't be concerned.
  • Player A: .282 BA (22/78), 11 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 SB
  • Player B: .311 BA (28/90), 10 R, 0 HR, 8 RBI, 3 SB
Not a ton of difference here other than the fact that Player B hasn't shown the ability to hit a home run yet. A deeper look into their player profiles shows that Player A has walked 15 times compared to Player B's six times. Both players qualify at 2B, while Player B also qualifies at SS. Player B leads all 2B-eligible players with 28 hits this season. Any guesses? Player A is 100% owned Dustin Pedroia while Player B is 54.6% owned Ryan Theriot.

My fantasy perspective: Theriot is another of those players manager Tony LaRussa loves to pencil in at the top of his lineup card night after night. His value comes in the runs and stolen base categories while not hurting you in batting average (career .285 average). He won't help you much in home runs or RBI. His 2B/SS eligibility could help you in those deeper mixed leagues with an MI position or the shallow NL-only leagues. Pedroia owners should start to see even more benefits to their investment now that the Red Sox offense seems to be firing on all cylinders.
  • Player A: 0-2, 26 K, 3.90 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
  • Player B: 3-2, 29 K, 2.64 ERA, 1.17 WHIP
To start off, each of these pitchers have started five games this season and recorded four quality starts. Player A has allowed two runs or less in four starts and had his bullpen blow three chances for a win. Player B has allowed just one earned run and nine hits in his last three starts (20.2 innings pitched). Any guesses who these pitchers are yet? Player A is 100% owned Chris Carpenter while Player B is 39.1% owned Randy Wolf.

My fantasy perspective: Carpenter has been a tough luck recipient of a bullpen in flux but should benefit now that Mitchell Boggs has been named the closer and acting like one (3-for-3 in save opportunities). Wins aren't an easy stat to predict but he'll give you the the ERA, WHIP and K's we've come to expect from him. Wolf is in a groove and should be streamed, if not owned, for his next start against the Astros.
  • Player A: .283 BA (28/99), 13 R, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB
  • Player B: .216 BA (16/74), 10 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5 SB
This is the classic case of owners drafting a player based on potential and hanging on to him longer than warranted. Player A was virtually undrafted while Player B cost owners an ADP of 67.7. So what's an owner to do when saddled with Player B, one that's cost them such a high pick? Sell low? Cut and run? There aren't many options for owners (such as myself) who thought this could be a bounce-back season for B.J. Upton other than to either keep running him out there and taking the good (5 SB) with the bad (.216 BA) or keeping him on the bench to limit the damage and hope he turns it around soon. Oh, Player A is Melky Cabrera and he's only 19.5% owned. Nothing sexy about throwing his name around fantasy baseball circles but he's currently playing with a renewed fire and has value in leagues using lots of outfield roster spots.

Doing exercises such as these regularly will help you not fall in love with a player's name recognition or your personal investment you have in him. And it is even easy to do if you're in a one-and-done league rather than a keeper or dynasty format. Just make wise decisions when it comes to the waiver wire because in no world am I suggesting you ever drop Upton to pick up Melky. But dropping Julio Borbon (.214/3/0/4/2) for Cabrera wouldn't be a difficult move to make at this point. Just be ready to do the opposite should Borbon turn things around.

What types of fantasy baseball articles are you finding most valuable to your teams on the web these days? Player projections? Injury updates? Waiver wire gems? Hot players being added or why others are being dropped? Let me know so I can continue to tailor the content COSFBA has to offer the competitive fantasy baseball player in this, just year two, of a site that continues to find its place in the blogosphere.

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