Archive for January 31, 2013

Draft Day Decision: Where Does Ben Zobrist Rank Among Shorstops?

The flexibility of Ben Zobrist has always been appealing to fantasy owners, though it has been more beneficial in season as opposed to preseason. While he routinely spends time all across the diamond, it often isn’t enough to bring eligibility at the start of the next season.

While 2B and OF eligibility should be enough, this season things have been dialed up another notch. Zobrist will open the year with shortstop eligibility, and the potential value just got enhanced even further.

Last season Zobrist hit .270 with 20 HR, 74 RBI, 88 R and 14 SB. Among Major League shortstops who qualified for the batting title there were:

  • Five who hit 20+ HR (but only two who did it while hitting at least .270)
  • Six who scored at least 85 R (but only one who paired it with at least 70 RBI)
  • Five with at least 70 RBI

We know that Zobrist isn’t going to be the elite shortstop in any category. We also can assume that at least one or two others will be able to hot 20+ home runs with a .270+ average (like Hanley Ramirez), or go 85/70 (again, like Ramirez or maybe even Starling Castro). That said, it is obvious that Zobrist brings ability across the board, something that is rare at the position. Read more

Rotoprofessor Turns 5 Years Old Today + Rankings Professor Officially Relaunches!

Has it really been that long?!?!  It really doesn’t feel like it, but five years ago today I officially launched Rotoprofessor (just to show you how things have changed, the first article discussed who should be the #2 pick in the draft, including David Wright & Jose Reyes).

I really can’t thank everyone who has visited and contributed to the site in anyway over the past five years (whether it was writing, commenting or just reading the articles) enough.  With out you none of this would’ve been possible.

We have come a long ways over the years, and hopefully things just continue to grow.  Along those lines, I have officially relaunched www.rankingsprofessor.com!  While Rotoprofessor focuses simply on Fantasy Sports, Rankings Professor will feature all sports and all topics.

The first post is up, looking at the 2013 Composite Prospect Rankings for the Houston Astros.  The rankings take eight of the best prospect rankings on the internet and combine them for a “composite” ranking.  Make sure you check that out by clicking here.

(Please keep in mind that there is still some work going on behind the scenes, so there may be changes to the themese as the day goes on.  I expect everything to be finaliazed by tomorrow, so please be patient.)

Later today we will have our first weekly Power Rankings, taking a look at the NHL, so make sure to check back for that as well!

Once again, I want to thank everyone for all their support over the years.  I couldn’t have done this without any of you.  Here’s to another great five years and more!!

2013 Rankings: Top 15 Relief Pitchers

Relief pitchers are an inconsistent group in general, but closers are even tougher to trust.  We had a nearly unprecedented turnover in 2012, making it that much tougher for fantasy owners to gauge their draft value.  Who should we trust?  Who should we ignore?  Let’s take a look at the Top 15 options for 2013:

  1. Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves
  2. Aroldis Chapman – Cincinnati Reds
  3. Jason Motte – St. Louis Cardinals
  4. Jonathan Papelbon – Philadelphia Phillies
  5. Mariano Rivera – New York Yankees
  6. Sergio Romo – San Francisco Giants
  7. Joe Nathan – Texas Rangers
  8. Greg Holland – Kansas City Royals
  9. Addison Reed – Chicago White Sox
  10. Grant Balfour – Oakland Athletics Read more

Veteran “Sleeper”: Has Justin Morneau Returned To Fantasy Relevance?

This is going to be a new series of articles, as we breakdown some of the elder statesman around the league to try and determine if they hold fantasy appeal or are too big of a risk. While many fantasy owners want to focus on the next “up-and-coming superstar” (and the performance of Mike Trout certainly didn’t help stop that) when looking for a late round “sleeper”, the savvy owner is left with potentially productive options at a discount, mainly because of their age.

Lets kick things off with Justin Morneau…

With all the new shiny toys emerging among 1B it is easy for fantasy owners to completely disregard Morneau at this stage of his career. He will turn 32 in May and has been hampered by injuries in recent years. Most notably, he lost the bulk of 2011 due to concussions, leaving us to wonder just how well he would produce in 2012 (if he was even capable of playing).

The latter proved to be a non-issue as he appeared in 134 games (505 AB), his most since 2009. While he may not have been quite as impressive as the player we once knew, Morneau did hit .267 with 19 HR and 77 RBI. His average also improved in the second half, as he hit .289 (compared to .246 in the first half). Part of the reason was an improved BABIP (.319 vs. .268). Considering he hit the ball equally hard (22.4% vs. 21.2%), that’s something we have to take as real. Read more

Searching for Saves: Milwaukee Brewers: Can John Axford Do The Job In 2013?

One of the biggest issues facing the Brewers in 2012 was that when John Axford imploded, they were ill equipped to replace him (Francisco Rodriguez was just as bad). While Axford appears primed to open the season in the closers role once again, this is a team with a little more depth in 2013. Lets take a look at their options for saves, especially if John Axford struggles once again:

The Likely Closer – John Axford
Obviously 2012 was a nightmare as he posted a 4.67 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and blew nine saves (in 2011 he posted a 1.95 ERA and 1.14 WHIP). Axford’s regression can be broken down into three distinct areas:

1) Home Runs – While he didn’t give up many fly balls (29.7%), he allowed 10 HR thanks to a 19.2% HR/FB. However, this had never been an issue for Axford before, as he posted a HR/9 of 0.49 in 2011 and 0.45 over his minor league career. Look for this issue to be rectified.

2) Line Drive Rate – Opposing hitters teed off on him last season to the tune of a 24.0% line drive rate (15.2% the year before). We want to believe that this is easily fixed, but he did not post a single month below 20% last season. Could he have been tipping his pitches? Could there have been a mechanical flaw? Maybe, but the fact is the league adjusted to him last season. If he doesn’t make a correction, he is going to continue to be hit hard.

3) Control – After posting a BB/9 of 3.05 in 2011 he ballooned to 5.06 last season. While that big of a regression may have been extreme, he posted a 6.04 mark in the minors and 4.79 at Triple-A. Well, maybe it wasn’t extreme after all… Read more

Draft Day Strategy: How Big Of An Impact Can Your Closer’s ERA Actually Make?

by Ken Balderston

As fantasy owners begin to put together their rankings for another year, the debate of how valuable a closer can be on draft day commonly begins.  There are enormous risks, rewards and strategies that turn relievers into one of the most variable set of positional rankings in the game.  In the end, most owners’ closer rankings are going to be top heavy on players who have held the roll for several years and have strong ratio stats, while the bottom third will be closers who are not believed to be capable of holding the job for a full six months.

However, last year there was an unprecedented amount of turnover at the Major League level.  Nobody was safe, as even Mariano Rivera owners were forced to worry about where they’d get their saves.  With that in mind, it is fair to wonder how important is a strong ERA from your closer?  What effect can it have on your team?

To answer this I decided to review 2 players with similar vanilla 5×5 fantasy stats from last year, except ERA, Rafael Soriano and Chris Perez:

IP            W            SV           K             K/9         ERA       WHIP
Rafael Soriano   67.2        2              42           69           9.17        2.26        1.17
Chris Perez        57.2        0              39           59           9.20        3.59        1.13 Read more