2015 Fantasy Baseball: Where are they now? — Catchers

Draft day is the most fun day of the year. It’s a lot like Christmas because you never know what you are going to get. Many of us that play in multiple leagues carry the same cheat sheet into both drafts and still come up with vastly different teams. However, there are always some players that people are able to target in all of their drafts. Despite the best laid plans, some of these players don’t work out for one reason or another.

As we approach the All-Star break, we get to the point of the season where everyone has to regroup. It’s high time we take a look at the catchers that were ranked in the top 15 at their position according to Yahoo at the beginning of the season but have struggled for one reason or another. Some of these players are done for the season (Devin Mesoraco), but others are still active and available. Which one of these players should fantasy players roll the dice on and bank on a comeback in the second half?

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2015 Fantasy Baseball: Real Offensive Value — Right Fielders

It shouldn’t be any surprise that right field is the premier fantasy position according to real offensive value (ROV). After all, we’ve done other profiles of the positions in the past and right field usually comes out on top. Any good metric is going to reveal many of the same things as other commonly used metrics. After all, if I had a metric that said Jeff Francouer was the best outfielder that ever lived, I would be laughed out of the room and rightfully so.

I don’t need fancy numbers to tell me that Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton are having pretty good seasons. You don’t come to this site to read about how Harper and Stanton are pretty good at baseball. You want to see if you can get some good information on other players that will help you win your league. Hopefully, ROV can give you a nugget or two. If you’ve already been reading the series, I sincerely hope it helped you make one positive roster adjustment. If not, I suppose the pressure is on.

Real offensive value marries batting average and the combination of isolated power and isolated patience (ISO2). The league average has been .227 for the metric this season. I’ve been dividing each position into elite starters, fringe starters, and look away. Normally, the look away category is dedicated to players with a ROV under .200, but we can’t do that here. There are no qualifying right fielders with an ROV under .200. That’s remarkable. So, the look away crowd will be players under the league average.

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Fantasy Baseball Final: June 26th, 2015

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If you read only one thing…..

Friday saw another manager go down with the ship. By all reports, Ryne Sandberg had one of those “you can’t fire me, I quit” kind of conversations with management. It looks like management is about to change with Andy McPhail rumored to be taking over as team president in Philadelphia by the end of the month. Sandberg supposedly saw the handwriting on the wall and chose to step down.

Sandberg’s failures prove two things about managers. First, being a Hall of Fame player doesn’t necessarily qualify you to manage. There have certainly been their fair share of Hall of Fame players that have tried their hand at managing and have not succeeded. Secondly (and more importantly), managers in baseball probably have less of an effect on the quality of a team than any other head coach in professional sports. Some will say Sandberg was overmatched, but I can’t honestly tell you whether that was true or not. Everyone knew they were going to suck the last two years and they did.

Here in Houston, we’ve seen a huge turnaround with A.J. Hinch at the helm. Did that mean that Bo Porter was an idiot? There are some that would paint that picture, but it could also be the addition of several new relievers and new hitters to the everyday lineup. I’m sure Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers have also had an effect on that. Meanwhile, Hinch has gone from having a horrible managerial record to having the best record in the American League. Did he go from idiot to genius overnight? I think not.

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2015 Fantasy Baseball: Real Offensive Value — Center Fielders

The fantasy baseball world has been Mike Trout’s world for the past three plus seasons. Is someone else prepared to take center stage from Trout at his own position? Naturally, real offensive value may not be the ultimate judge of that particular question. However, it can give us some clues as to which center fielders are overrated and underrated. Of course, before we get there we should take a look at real offensive value.

Real offensive value (ROV) is the marriage between batting average and most of the components of Bill James’ secondary average. For our purposes, we are calling it isolated squared or ISO2 because it combines isolated power and isolated patience. ISO2 and batting averages are averaged together to get one number that looks like a batting average. Unfortunately, this is where things get tricky.

The league batting average has hovered a little over .250 throughout the series and the league ISO2 has hovered a shade over .200. For most of the series, the average ROV has been .227. Since ROV looks like batting average, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that it should be around .250 just like batting average. Players with a ROV over .300 are clearly all-star level players. At some positions that number has been as low as .270 or .280. We are dividing the qualifying center fielders into three categories: elite starters, fringe starters, and look away.

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2015 Fantasy Baseball: Real Offensive Value — Left Fielders

The outfield is an interesting thing when it comes to fantasy baseball. Some leagues consider outfielders generically while others have specific positions. Some have only three starting outfield slots while others have five. Even if we agree on the rules, what one person would consider a left fielder, others would consider right fielders or center fielders. So, before we even get to real offensive value we will get to the rules of our game. I looked up left fielders with at least 180 plate appearances on Fangraphs and came up with this list as of June 16.

Some of these guys have played more than one position and will qualify on more than one list. If we list a player in left, then we won’t list him anywhere else. That might make center and right field a little short, but those are the breaks. If you have been following us before now, you know that real offensive value is the midpoint between batting average and what I call ISO2. ISO2 is isolated power and isolated patience added together. The league average for this metric has been hovering between .225 and .230. Recent calculations have it at .227 as of this writing.

This is important to point out because ROV was designed to look like batting average. The problem is that when someone sees a .230 ROV, they see a below average player when technically they would be slightly above average. We will divide players into three categories: elite starters, fringe starters, and look away. Keep the average ROV in mind when you look at the numbers or you will come away underwhelmed.

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2015 Fantasy Baseball: Real Offensive Value — Shortstops

As we continue on with the real offensive value series, we reach another position where the numbers are more offensive. Shortstops make second baseman look like they are Charlie Gehringer and Rogers Hornsby. Of course, as usual we are getting ahead of ourselves. So, first, let me say a few words about real offensive value.

Real offensive value began as an attempt to blend the utility of batting average with most of the elements of secondary average (as invented by Bill James). His formula and my formula vary slightly because his includes a base running element. Since fantasy leagues count steals anyway, it seemed redundant to do it a second time. So, real offensive value takes the difference between batting average and isolated power + isolated patience. If we were to express it like a math equation if would appear like this

ROV= AVG + (ISOpower + ISOpatience)/2

I’ve gotten some feedback on the formula in other circles as some have suggested some additional multipliers and such. I’m always open to suggestions as my math skills often leave a lot to be desired. The desired result is to be able to split players into tiers by position. The top tier would be for elite starters that we might consider all-stars or borderline all-stars. The second tier would be for fringe regulars or top end fantasy bench players. The last tier is for guys that fantasy players should probably avoid.

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Fantasy Baseball Final: June 15th, 2015

If you read only one thing…

The big story is the fact that the Kansas City Royals now have seven players that would start for the American League all-star team. Mike Trout is the only non-Royal leading his position at the current time. Leading vote getters include the illustrious Omar Infante. Infante is hitting a robust .204/.213/.283. Folks, that’s a .496 OPS. UZR has him as a positive three runs defensively, but I don’t care if he’s the reincarnation of Bill Mazeroski. I’m not even sure if he should be allowed to buy a ticket to the game, much less be anywhere near that dugout.

Now, how does MLB handle this problem? It’s pretty clear that internet voting is a large part of the problem. Do they have the wherewithal to check IP addresses, run down phantom email addresses and all that jazz? Perhaps, they put it back in the hands of the fans at the ball park exclusively. That would take away some participation from folks that don’t live in a major metropolitan area. Perhaps, they go all 1958 on us and remove the fan vote entirely. This just might be the first major decision by the commissioner. Meanwhile, let’s see how good these Royals are.

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2015 Fantasy Baseball: Real Offensive Value — Third Basemen

Moving to third base from second, we see a return to normalcy in terms of offensive production. Mind you, the days are gone when every team seemingly had a superstar at every position. Fantasy players have to be more discriminating than they used to be, but at least every fantasy owner in a 12-team league can find a solid third baseman to call their own.

Real offensive value (ROV) is designed to look like batting average, but the results vary considerably. It is calculated by taking the difference between batting average (.252 league average) and isolated power plus isolated patience (ISO2). The league average for that statistic is .202. That means the league average ROV is .227. We saw that a number of second basemen did not meet that mark, but third base should be a different story. Like most other stats (real or imagined) no fantasy owner should base his or her entire fortunes on it. Every stat is a tool that can be used to find value where it is hidden.

For instance, ROV does not include any component for stolen bases. So, we will include those separately in case you want to cross-reference it. Furthermore, some players may do very well in ROV but not have the runs or RBI because their teams struggle to score runs. Obviously, the reverse may also be true. When add in those caveats, we find ourselves looking for specific overrated or underrated players. For our purposes, we have divided the qualifying third basemen (plus Alex Rodriguez) in three categories: elite starters, fringe starters, and look away.

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Fantasy Baseball Final: June 12th, 2015

If you read only one thing…..

One man’s competitive balance is another man’s parity. Depending on your mood, you may consider the tightness in the standings as a positive thing or a negative thing. Leaving play on Friday night, only one team (St. Louis) had a winning percentage better than .600. Two teams had winning percentages worse than .400 (Milwaukee and Philadelphia). The upshot is that a lot of teams still have hope left in the season. I would call that a good thing.

In fantasy terms, there seem to be a record number of players that are either huge disappointments or are injured. Of course, that could just be perception in a season of frustration for some of us. With injuries come opportunities for other guys to step up, and if you take advantage of that, you can be right back in business.

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Fantasy Baseball Final: June 11th, 2015

If you read only one thing…..

The Braves and Padres stories have been intertwined all season following the major trade before the season that saw Craig Kimbrel go to the Padres and Cameron Maybin go to the Braves. The rest of the parts are either gone or irrelevant at this point. This week saw the two teams battle it out in an epic series that has included a bench clearing brawl. According to video footage, an umpire even tackled Matt Kemp.

The Braves held the lead most of the game as Julio Teheran seemed in control through six innings of action. Things went south in the seventh inning and eventually the Padres took the game in extra innings. Kimbrel notched his 15th save in the thriller against his former band mates, but just to prove that closers aren’t always reliable, his ERA went down to a pedestrian 3.91. This was from the guy that was the best closer in the game the past three seasons. Go figure.

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