Deadlines. We all have them. I am no exception. In fact, I have a very important assignment for work that is due in approximately 15 hours. 

No matter what else is going on around me though, I always find myself thinking about fantasy baseball. It truly is an addiction. If Rachel Uchitel had to go on Celebrity Rehab for being addicted to love, then surely Dr. Drew would have something to tell me as well.  But they always say addiction can only be cured if the user really wants to be cured. I do not. 

As of this writing, Opening Day is in 7 days, 17 hours, and 18 minutes. Thus, you are on a deadline as well. You have one week left to complete your drafts for the 2011 season. (Yes, I know some people draft after the season begins, but I’m choosing to believe that these people do not exist).

It’s a long 162 game season, but your draft is obviously the most important aspect. The old adage is that you can’t win your league on draft day, but you can definitely lose it.  Truer words have never been spoken.

To help make draft day a little easier, I am once again here to give you a hitter and a pitcher whose underlying numbers predict future success in the 2011 season. Just remember, everyone regresses to the mean eventually.

Don’t forget to check out The Fantasy Fix 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!

Our hitter this week is Matt Kemp. Wow Corey, you’re really going out on a limb talking about someone being drafted in the top 30?

I’m choosing to highlight Kemp because there are some places (cough-CBS-cough) that are in no way giving Kemp the respect he deserves.

His average draft position on cbs.com right now is 64. Just let that number sink in for a second. They are basically saying there are 63 better players in fantasy than a guy who had 28 homers and 19 steals in a down year.  If any of you out there are in an upcoming CBS draft (and why you would be using CBS is beyond me) make sure you draft Kemp before the fourth round.

His ADP on ESPN right now is 27 and I even think he is top 20. This is a guy who is absolutely capable of going 30-30. Although he has never accomplished this feat as of yet, he has had a season of 26-34. 

When you look at last year, the first thing you notice is his ugly .249 average.  his is what we call an outlier. 

Generally, in every case of analysis on just about any topic, there are variables that completely stick out. It’s called “noise.”

Find the mean here: .342 .290 .297 .249. Those are his last 3.5 seasons of batting averages (the .342 was in half a season.) When you average those together you get close to a .288 hitter.  That is what Matt Kemp is, a .285-.290 hitter with great power and speed. Oh, and he’s only 26.

So why did he suffer so badly last year in the batting average department? He was unlucky.

Compare the above numbers to these: .411 .361 .345 .295.  Do you see a pattern? These, of course, are his BABIPs over the same 3.5 seasons. Higher BABIPs = higher averages and vice-versa. 

My Prediction for 2011 Matt Kemp:.290, 30 HR, 25 SB, 85 R, 100 RBI

This week’s pitcher is another Matt, however this Matt only has one T in his name,
Mat Latos

In this case, it is somewhat hard to find the mean in Latos’ numbers since he is only 23 and the sample size is so small. 
So instead, let us focus on how truly dominant Mat Latos was last season. 

The following is where Latos ranked last season amongst starting pitchers:

ERA: 13th

WHIP: 8th

Ks: 19th

FIP: 6th

xFIP: 9th

K/BB: 8th

BA Against: 6th

This week I am going to introduce you to a new Sabermetric number, tERA. From Fangraphs: “True Runs Allowed (tERA) is a defense-independent metric built by Graham MacAree from StatCorner that is meant to improve upon FIP and xFIP.

The most common complaint about FIP and xFIP is that they completely ignore performance on balls in play, while batted balls can still tell us something about a pitcher’s skill level.

Groundballs are good (since they normally result in outs), flyballs have a higher probability of resulting in extra basehits, pop-ups are almost guaranteed outs, and line drives are the most likely type to end up as a hit. tERA includes all of these variables and is based on the same scale as ERA, FIP, and xFIP.”

Mat Latos had the best tERA in baseball last season, 2.53.

If there is one downside to Latos this season, it is the possibility of injury due to innings increases. He threw 56 innings in 2008, 123 in 2009, and 184 last year. That is quite a workload increase for such a young guy. However, if he stays healthy, Mat Latos will be a truly dominant pitcher in an extreme pitcher’s park.

My Prediction for 2011 Mat Latos:15-12, 3.00 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 200 Ks

***Editor’s Note: The day after this writing, news broke that Latos will probably start the season on the DL. Adjust drafts accordingly.

Corey Herron is an Oil & Gas Landman who probably won’t make his deadline because of this. You can find him on Twitter @coherron.

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(March 3, 2011 – Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)


Tags: The Fantasy Fix, Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy, 2011 Fantasy Baseball, Fantasy Baseball Advice, 2011 Fantasy Baseball Auction Values, 2011 Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Corey Herron, Matt Kemp, Mat Latos, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres
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2011 Fantasy Baseball Projections: "Finding the Mean" in Matt Kemp & Mat Latos