Scouring the Sabermetrics: BABIP Bloopers

By Jonathan Vandersluis (@Jonathan_TTF)

Two weeks into the 2014 Fantasy Baseball season, and panic is starting to set in with a lot of fantasy owners. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably heard this plenty of times, but two weeks into the year isn’t time to change your perspectives on players. First of all, baseball is a six month sport, so with not even 10% of the season completed, you are going to see a lot of variance in a players stats. Second of all, baseball as opposed some of the other popular fantasy sports is inherently unpredictable. In a given game, hitting the ball right at someone or through a hole can be the difference between an 0 for 4 night and a 4 for 4 one.

That’s why we look at stats like BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play). If you aren’t familiar with BABIP, please do yourself a favor and through this glossary on Fangraphs. In fact, I would assume that you are very new to Sabermetrics in which I would recommend you go and read their entire glossary. Trust me, it will make you a better fantasy baseball player. Sabermetrics are used to understand the numbers beneath the numbers. While you may get one picture from stats like batting average, RBI, HR etc.., the picture when looking at the underlying stats may be completely different.

In this article, I’m going to look at some players that have been struggling early in this baseball season (or at least appearing to based on their batting averages) but their BABIP suggests a very different story. Thanks to Fangraphs for all of the data discussed in this article.

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Field of Streams: Week 3 Starting Pitcher Streamers

By Will Emerson (@WillieMoe)

That’s right folks, the wait is over! Field of Streams is finally here! Need to know who to stream in the upcoming week? Well, boom, I got you covered! Below you will find some pitchers who could be possible stream dreams in the upcoming week, but I will tell you whether or not I think they are worth a shot.

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Hot Corner Hurting: Beltre and Zimmerman Down

By Jonathan Vandersluis (@Jonathan_TTF)

As you’re reading this, the news of Adrian Beltre‘s quadriceps injury and Ryan Zimmerman‘s thumb injury is likely old hat. Beltre has already been out since April 9th and will likely be placed on the DL shortly, and Zimmerman was quickly placed on the DL this morning and should be sidelined 4-6 weeks as he lets his thumb heal. As fantasy baseball, owners this leaves us in a bit of a pickle. Third base was already a little shallow after break out star Manny Machado still hasn’t been able to return from his knee injury at the end of last season and Will Middlebrooks is also nursing a calf injury. But now, the Beltre and Zimmerman injuries leave a gaping hole at the position.

Beltre was the 2nd third basemen off the board in most drafts, largely considered one of the safest offensive players in the game after 4 straight seasons with at least 28 HRs, 82 runs and 92 RBI with a .296 average. That is particularly impressive when you consider that one of those seasons he only played in 124 games. Due to the Rangers hesitation to place Beltre on the DL, it seems like he will be returning sooner than later so at least the news isn’t all bad for him. I fully expect him to still have another 30 HR season and finish with an average in the .300 range once again.

The 7th third basemen off the board in 2014 drafts, Ryan Zimmerman, is a much more of a concern to me. The thumb injury will likely keep him out until close to June, but he’s already battled shoulder issues and has built up quite the reputation for not being able to stay healthy. For his career, Zimmerman has averaged less than 140 games over his 8 full seasons, something that has been getting worse over the last four. He has averaged only 134 games since 2010 and hasn’t played more than 147 games in any of the four. At this point, owners need to wait out the injury, as trying to sell him now would return pennies on the dollar of his 7th round ADP, but as soon as Zimmerman gets healthy, I’d be selling. That .900 OPS player that was a fantasy stud in 2009 and 2010 is gone and as the injuries continue, the numbers will continue to decline.

So what are us fantasy baseball owners to do while many of us are missing our top third basemen?

Zimmerman’s replacement at 3B and budding star Anthony Rendon is owned in 100% of ESPN leagues so he won’t be discussed here, but if he’s available he should be the #1 pickup. However, there are lots of other good options to be picked up. Keep in mind that replacing top 10 3B is not an easy task. Most of the guys mentioned will not sustain value for the whole time you will need a replacement (particularly in Zimmerman’s case). So make sure you are watching their numbers and getting ready to pounce on someone else when their times come to an end.

That being said, here are my top suggestions in order of preference (ownerships listed is from ESPN leagues):

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Diamonds in the Rough – Week 2 Pickups

By A.J. Weinberg (@Fantasy_AJ)

Early in the season, it’s really important to identify the true breakouts from the hot streaks. The guys I’ve identified here have shown some reason to believe that their hot starts are more than just an aberration, and they could produce throughout the season. In this article, I highlight two hitters who warrant consideration in leagues of all sizes, a young starter picking up where he left off in 2013, and a catcher shaking off a horrendous 2013 season.

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Find Your Niche: IDP Fantasy Football Strategy Guide

By Joe Redemann (@JayArr_FF)

One of the most impressive qualities in a player in the early years of the NFL was not his ability to specialize in one specific position; rather, players were lauded for their stamina, their ability to be versatile, and their flat-out toughness on the gridiron. Before specialist “slot wide receiver” and “move tight end” roles became common, players filled in wherever needed on the field, including playing as “two-way” players, both on offense and defense. The last great player of this ilk was Philadelphia Eagles offensive center and linebacker Chuck Bednarik. Bednarik was regarded as a complete iron man for football, not only being the game’s last remaining “sixty-minute man”, but he also played for fourteen years in one of the most violent and aggressive periods in NFL history. How many games did he miss in that span of time? Three.

He’s got spirit, yes he do… Is that guy okay?

As fantasy football players, we sometimes lack the versatility and tenacity (the “killer spirit”, as Chuck called it) that Bednarik displayed. We grow too comfortable and complacent in our 10-team standard ESPN leagues with one QB, two RB, and no PPR, and even more egregious is our reliance on team defense. When I discovered the Individual Defensive Player (IDP) format, my heart soared. Instead of blindly hoping on 11 faceless men on a team I (usually) don’t care about, I could hand-pick my favorite defensive players and cheer for a vicious J.J. Watt sack, a stunning Brandon Boykin interception, or a merciless ten-tackle game from Luke Kuechly. With IDP, the defensive heroics are not that of a unit, they are the individual heroics of a number of defensive playmakers that push your fantasy team to victory.

Chuck Bednarik would be proud.

The IDP format is very odd to some people, but it gives a versatility and immersion in the game that team defense just cannot match. It’s completely compatible with any offensive league format, redraft, keeper, or dynasty leagues (in fact, I recommend it highly in dynasty formats). This format gives you the chance to enjoy great defensive performances and become a more versatile player of fantasy and watcher of football in general. In this article, we’ll look at some IDP basics, some strategy, and other benefits of playing this engaging and advanced kind of format.

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Casey at the Bat: Can Marlins’ McGehee be Mighty?

By Russell Shaffer (@RussellShaffer)

Without asking Google or Siri, can you tell me who was leading MLB in RBI entering play on Saturday? Okay, so the headline of this article probably gave it away. It was Casey McGehee.

And even though McGehee has since been passed by the desert-lovin’ Mark Trumbo, teammate Giancarlo Stanton and fellow feel good story Chris Colabello, it’s still clear the Miami 3B has posted an opening week stat line worth our attention.

.375 AVG, 1.092 OPS, 2 R, 10 RBI in 24 AB entering Tuesday’s action.

So the real question is – is McGehee’s hot start legit?

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Diamond in the Rough – Week 1 Pickups

By A.J. Weinberg (@Fantasy_AJ)

The task of any good fantasy baseball player, at least early in the season, is to identify which players off to a hot start are true breakout candidates. It seems like every season at least one player gets incredibly hot to start the season only to quickly fizzle out. Anyone remember Chris Shelton’s torrid start to the 2006 season? He hit 10 home runs in the month of April only to hit 6 the rest of the way. This is not to suggest that all hot starts should be ignored, as guys such as Jean Segura last season can back up their fast starts with solid production on the season. This is the first installment in a weekly waiver wire article where I’ll recommend a few guys owned in fewer than 50% of leagues who would make good additions to your squad.

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2014 NFL Draft Scouting: Quarterbacks

By Joe Redemann (@JayArr_FF)

Last month, I broke down the top ten fantasy football options at wide receiver and tight end in this year’s NFL Draft class. This week, we’ll be looking at the top options for quarterback-needy fantasy teams. Redraft or dynasty, these are the young names you’ll need to know when your drafts roll around in 2014!

This quarterback class was supposed to be the deepest one in a long time, featuring seasoned veterans from major conferences, like LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, and Georgia’s Aaron Murray, along with electric young players whose athleticism would change the NFL landscape, like Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and UCLA’s Brett Hundley. Well, two of those SEC vets suffered major injuries in 2013, plummeting their draft stock. Boyd and Alabama’s A.J. McCarron came under tougher scrutiny, as the former’s play stuttered at points and evaluators realized the latter may only be a “game manager” as an NFL QB. As for the young guns from out west, both decided (probably very responsibly) to return to school for their junior years of college in order to earn a degree and continue to improve the caliber of their play. So, what are we left with in 2014? It’s not pretty, and there’s no true consensus as to who should be the first QB off the board. But I can tell you who I think will be the top fantasy options at the position for your teams in 2014 and beyond.

Since the beginning of these articles, we’ve gained a little more knowledge about these prospects thanks to the NFL Combine, but any grades are still solely based on game tape watching. For each player, I will list their raw grades by my scouting system, not factoring in a player’s measurables or college production. These grades are on a scale of 0.0 to 9.0, a rule of thumb being 9 means a certain future Hall-of-Famer, 5 being league average, and 6 being an NFL starter. I’ll also list and consider their projected NFL team according to analyst Dan Kadar’s mock draft on SB Nation’s Mocking The Draft. Which will be the most worthwhile for you to take in your league?

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NBA Daily Fantasy Plays – March 31, 2014

By Adam Cook (@Fantasy_Schnerd)

Oh how I have missed everyone. I apologize for being off the grid for a few weeks, but I have experienced a few lifestyle changes recently. We are in our busy season at work, so working overtime on the weekends has become common. I have also been very lucky to find a new significant other and we have been busy enjoying our time together and traveling to meet family. I was allotted “Opening Day” off work, so I want to get some statistics out to you today to try and help you with your daily NBA lineups.

For each position, I will discuss my favorite play at each position and a mid-level value play. For cheap value options, check my timeline for injuries that may pop up closer to game time. The salary for each player listed is their current price on DraftKings. I hope you enjoy these picks and good luck to all!

If you have yet to play on DraftKings, there is no time like the present to start. It’s the same amazing fantasy sports experience without the pain of drafting a team and having to deal with your star player being out for the year. Each night you get to make your lineup fresh and take on players from all around the world. Many TopTeamFantasy writers (including myself) play there on a nightly basis. Think you can take us on? Sign up here and see what all the rage is about (use the promo code TopTeam for a bonus!). My username is acook313 if you are looking to play!

If you are interested in some more DFS and DraftKings isn’t your thing (or if you just want to expand to another site), check out DraftStreet (and use the promo code TTF)

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2014 Fantasy Baseball Predictions

By Jonathan Vandersluis (@Jonathan_TTF)

It’s finally spring time, and with spring brings baseball! As we are starting up the MLB season, the TopTeamFantasy team got together and made some predictions. The participating members are Adam Cook (@Fantasy_Schnerd), AJ Weinberg (@Fantasy_AJ), Jimmy Burger (@Jimmy_Burger21), Joe Redemann (@JayArr_FF), myself (@Jonathan_TTF) and Russell Shaffer (@RussellShaffer). For more information about any one of them feel free to check out our About Us page. Feel free to follow them all and let them know what you think they got right and where they are totally out to lunch!

At the end of the year, we can take a look back and determine who is TopTeamFantasy’s best analyst! Now let’s get to it!

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