BY ROB SHAW
With more than 20 of the Major League Baseball teams turning to Bloomberg Sports as a business solution, fantasy managers can rest assured that their fantasy teams are in good hands.
In a previous article, we focused on ballpark, durability, age, and contract status. Now the focus is on the remaining five Fantasy Factors.
In fantasy baseball, career trends are an important aspect to be considered when evaluating players. In essence, fantasy managers like investors have to know what’s a growing stock and what’s a mature stock. A player on the rise would be a growing stock and two examples are Baltimore Orioles rising stars Adam Jones and Matt Wieters. Both players are in their mid-20s and have been improving their statistics consistently over the last few seasons.
On the other hand, Yankees veteran Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are far from their prime and have recently suffered their worst seasons of their legendary careers. It’s perfectly fine to invest in a player on the decline, as long as you are realistic about what they can produce in the upcoming season.
Next, luck is a Fantasy Factor that can help forecast performance. Using an advanced statistic: BABIP, it is possible for baseball fans to find out if a player had luck on their side or if it worked against him over a given period.
BABIP is the batting average for balls in play and takes into account whether a player enjoyed a higher percentage than usual of balls in play falling for hits. For instance, if a player offers a BABIP that is significantly higher than their career norm, it is often a safe bet that in the following period his performance will regress to the previous rate.
On the other hand, if the BABIP is abnormally low, it is safe to assume the player will have better luck ahead and his batting average and other statistics will improve. The statistic can also be used for pitchers when looking at BABIP against the opposition.
Next, team support is an important fantasy factor for hitters and pitchers. For hitters, it is a matter of whether they have players around them in the lineup that they can drive in and players who will drive them in. In other words, team support has a direct impact with RBI and runs. For pitchers, it’s a matter of having run support to earn wins, plus a solid defense behind them to keep runs off the board.
Strength of schedule is the next factor, and this is all about what ballparks and teams an opponent faces. Pitching in the AL East is no easy task for pitchers who have to deal with the Red Sox offense in Fenway Park, the Yankees offense in Yankees Stadium, and additional hitters parks in Toronto and Baltimore. On the other hand, the NL West calls home to several pitcher parks and limited offenses including in San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles.
Consistency is a fantasy factor, as fantasy managers have to decide whether to gamble on a player who has great potential, but also great volatility. A player like Geovany Soto seems to alternate between good years, while Torii Hunter and Yadier Molina are examples of players who seem to produce consistent numbers every given season.
To see the Fantasy Factors in action visit BloombergSports.com.
By Eno Sarris
Because of the volatility of the position
and the sheer number of available starters, it’s usually a good idea to
wait to draft your pitching in the middle rounds. Finding a 13th-round starter that cam match Randy Wolf‘s 2009 performance is the goal. Let’s look at one starter who could match Wolf’s ’09 numbers this season: Wolf, again.
33-year-old left-handler owns a B-Rank (Bloomberg’s proprietary ranking
of all players) of 160. That’s slightly ahead of his 174.70 average
draft position as supplied by the Bloomberg Fantasy Sports Engine.
That means Wolf he figures to come reasonably cheap despite posting
strong numbers in 2009: a 3.23 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 11 wins and 160
strikeouts. Compare those numbers to Gavin Floyd, who owns a 136
B-Rank on the heels of his 4.06 ERA and 1.23 WHIP last season, and you would be
forgiven for thinking that Wolf is a value pick.
You’d be forgiven, but you’d probably be wrong.
are plenty of warning signs emanating from this Wolf in wolf’s
clothing. The first should be obvious from his injury history. Take a
look at Corey Dawkin’s Pitch f/x Injury Tool,
you’ll see an extensive list of elbow problems (seven separate
trips to the DL over his 11-year career, 453 days lost to the DL,
and three arm and shoulder surgeries, including Tommy John surgery in
2005). Per his Bloomberg player card, you can also see that Wolf threw
the second-most pitches of his career last year (3,286); the last time
he threw that many pitches in a season, he lost 40 innings to injury
The warning signs are not only injury-related. There are plenty of
worrisome numbers too. Check out this chart from the Bloomberg’s Fantasy
engine, which shows Wolf’s strikeouts and ERA versus the top ten NL
you can see, Wolf sports a decent, but not great strikeout rate: 6.72
strikeouts per 9 IP, vs. the major-league average of 6.99 in 2009.
MLB’s average batting average on balls
in play (BABIP) usually comes in around .300 – it was .303 in 2009. Wolf’s career number in that category is
.294. Last year? Wolf posted a career-best .257 BABIP, tied for the lowest in baseball among qualified starting pitchers with Jarrod Washburn. That’s likely an unsustainable figure.
it gets worse – Wolf is moving
from a park with a .876 park factor for home runs (meaning Dodger
Stadium suppressed home runs by 12.4%) to a park with a 1.069 park
factor for home runs (hitters gain a 6.9% edge with the long ball).
That means that just based on park factor alone,
Wolf is likely to yield several more home runs in 2010. When you
consider that Wolf’s home run rate last year (1.01 HR/9) was better
than his career mark (1.13 HR/9), you’ll see how he benefited from
pitching in Dodger
Stadium. Lastly, Wolf stranded 77.5% of base runners
last year, which was much better than the league average (71.9%).
Wolf’s strand rate was 16th-highest in the majors, and much higher than
number (73.5% LOB).
So, once you take a harder look at Randy
Wolf, you realize that much of his success last year was
context-specific. He had a great defense behind him in a great
pitcher’s park last year, and had
some good luck on balls in play. Look somewhere else for your mid-round
pitcher in 2010.
For more information on pitchers that are better values than Randy Wolf, and hundreds of other players, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy application.