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The ESPN Fantasy Forecaster is a comprehensive weekly post chocked full of information to help fantasy baseballers in weekly leagues.  It is penned (typed?) by FSWA Hall of Famer Tristan Cockcroft who, incidentally, is our favorite ESPN fantasy baseball writer and someone very well-liked and respected among experts.

Each week, the ESPN Fantasy Forecaster estimates the value of every start with a ‘Game Score‘ – a metric devised by Bill James. It is unclear whether Tristan calculates the estimated Game Scores or this comes from someone else at ESPN.

This post is a head-to-head test of our Streamonator vs the ESPN Fantasy Forecaster to see which is better at predicting pitcher starts/stream values.

Note:  To see how well Streamonator predicts on a stat by stat basis, please see our Ombotsman.

Overview

ESPN Fantasy Forecaster Razzball Streamonator
Update Frequency Weekly (before the week starts), updated occasionally prior to the start of Monday’s games Daily
Metric For Valuing Start Bill James’ Game Score Auction $ (based on 12-team 5×5- $260/team)
Other Stats Projected For Starts n/a IP, W, L, QS, K, H, BB, HR ERA, WHIP
Notes Provided Yes, a lot of useful notes on pitchers/matchups. None (just stats)
% of Starts Where Correct Starter Is Projected* 80% 98%
* Based on a test of May 1 through June 29 starts (1,646 total MLB pitcher starts). Note that the Streamonator is updating probable pitchers daily so it should be projecting the correct pitcher more often than ESPN.  ESPN also publish Game Score projections in their ‘Daily Notes’.  I assume the Daily Notes project the correct SP at a similar rate as Streamonator.

Test Methodology

  • Identify all starts where ESPN Fantasy Forecaster and Razzball Streamonator both projected the correct pitcher (1,332 starts out of 1,646 starts)
  • Run correlation tests for the ESPN and Razzball values against actual Game Scores and our $ estimates

Test Results

  • The Razzball Streamonator is a better predictor of pitcher start values than ESPN Fantasy Forecaster.  This is seen using either Game Score or our $ estimates and is true for each month individually and the two months combined.
Correlation To ESPN Fantasy Forecaster Razzball Streamonator
Actual Game Score (May/June/Both) 13.9% / 20.0% / 17.2% 23.0% / 25.5% / 24.3%
Actual Game $ Estimate (May/June/Both) 15.8% / 19.8% / 18.0% 24.5% / 24.1% / 24.3%

Notes

  • Click here to see the Google Doc with the 1,332 matched starts.
  • While it may appear odd that our $ estimates are better predictors of Game Score than ESPN Fantasy Forecaster’s Game Score projections, it should be noted that Game Score and our 5×5 $ estimates are quite similar – correlating at 94%.  They both credit/measure Hits, BB, ER, K’s and IP.  Game Score also factors in unearned runs while our $ estimates credit Wins (the biggest difference between the two metrics)
  • The Fantasy Forecaster’ accuracy jumps between May and June where the Streamonator is relatively steady.  It could be that Fantasy Forecaster is putting a greater weight on season-to-date performance where Streamonator – with considerable help from Steamer – is weighting in-season performance proportionally with past performance.
  • I did a smaller test (148 starts between June 24th to June 29th) comparing ESPN’s Daily Notes Game Score projections to ESPN Fantasy Forecaster and Streamonator.  Surprisingly, the Daily Notes (7.4% for $, 7.1% for Game Score) did much worse than the Forecaster (20.5%/20.2%) for the 6 days.  Streamonator came in at 27.2%/28.4%.  I have no idea why the ‘day of’ projections perform so much worse than those estimated before the week starts.

From Around The Web

  1. Wade Ortega says:
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    Rudy, I love the streamonator. Using the “daily” view of the streamonator is a massive help. The Hittertron needs a similar view that doesn’t make us look day by day by day for the batty call. Build THAT and I’d never go view ESPN again!!

    • @Wade Ortega: Thanks! Well, I don’t want you to abandon ESPN. I do like their site. Just wouldn’t use them to estimate the value of pitcher starts :)

      We had the ‘Daily’ view for hitters and it just proved too massive to load. Note that if you click on a player, you’ll see his full daily projections.

      • james says:
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        @Rudy Gamble:

        ESPN also moved their funniest writer off of baseball, Without Berry to laugh at, who is worth reading (or in his case, so bad that it became funny).

        with that, yahoo is replacing espn for quick updates for me. they focus more on baseball than fantasy at espn. they also avoid advanced metrics to the point they look as dated as Amaro.

  2. Dan Pants

    Dan Pants says:
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    This is cool, very helpful! I tend to always check all three: forecaster, daily notes and streamonator before making the final call on a starter. Next time I am torn I’ll know to lean my decision towards RB’s very own SoN. Thanks!

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Rudy Gamble: dont we all, In Head of the Class she was my first inner racial crush on TV

        • Kid A says:
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          @J-FOH: More inner racial than a black man wearing a Kenny Chesney body suit?

  3. Kid A says:
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    woah woah woah, are you trying to tell me that ESPN offers shoddy analysis?!?!

    Stephen A. Smith might find this “provocative”.

    • I didn’t say shoddy – just not as good as ours :). Razzball First Take in pre-production with Nick Capozzi and Mel Hall

    • JeF With 1 F says:
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      @Kid A: Ha

  4. fausto says:
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    Preempted Stroking……I don’t read anything on espn I cant trust a company that employs a man who’s parents couldn’t decide on a name so they went with a hybrid of favorite snack cracker/ favorite religion hence Tristian…. quintana@det SON hates it, but hes been rolling. For ratios and k’s are you starting him? He’s -1 or around there on SON…. sorry for asking this on a post where you are jocking the SON, that boys good, but drastic times after last night.

    • Maybe he was named after Tris Speaker? Not touching JQ against Tigers.

      • fausto says:
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        @Rudy Gamble: excellent analysis on both….i have a extra rp for ratios maybe a wade davis vulture w. Thanks.

  5. KK says:
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    Pick four: yordano kuechel Alvarez hahn Odorizzi Hendricks

    • kyle kendrick says:
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      @KK: also drop yordano in one league for wheeler or odorizzi

      • Yes for either. Ventura hasn’t shown Ks like those guys

    • For rest of season or this week?

    • @KK: Odorizzi, Kuechel, Hahn, Yordano,

  6. JeF With 1 F says:
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    Good Stuff Rudy….SON is a BEAST

  7. Stephen says:
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    I use the ESPN one because I can see all of the matchups for the week on one page. That has A LOT of value to me.

    • @Stephen: It is a nice layout. Maybe I can replicate it w/ Streamonator data.

      • Stephen says:
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        @Rudy Gamble: That would be awesome.

      • @Rudy Gamble: We get 8 SP’s per week, but the day u hit 8, you can go over, so ideally u can run up to 11 or 12 SP’s, so I do map out my starts using the ESPN weekly drid, but when it comes time to stream, I’m checking SON. It would be great if Razzball developed a weekly starting projection, in addition to SON.

        • There is a ‘next week’ streamonator that sums the stats for each pitcher. There is also ‘next 7 days’

  8. Mike

    Mike says:
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    Nice! This is really cool stuff.

  9. Kevin S says:
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    Over the years, I have used the ESPN Forecaster and SN’s Fantasy Source and BHQ’s Matchup Rating among others to decide on streamers. That was until I found Razzball and the Streamonator last year. I keep a running record of my streamers for the year and there has definitely been a quality increase when I made the switch to the streamonator!

    Thank you for all your very helpful tools that you keep pumping out and refining!!!

    • @Kevin S: Nice. I’m aware of SN’s fantasy source but had never seen it. BHQ has an amazing reputation – never subscribed but high praise to say that Streamonator performed better for you!

  10. Steve says:
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    Awesome, thanks for backing up what I already suspected. Their (espn) daily ranks seem to have a bias towards established pitchers, even if they have tough matchups or are on a bad streak.

    What do you think of Leake ROS? Streamer or back of the order SP?

  11. Charles says:
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    Huge fan of SON and it us my primary source for starting pitching. I do cross reference with Roto Ballers weekly start/sit list. Do you know how they attain their data? Sometimes they are way off with who they think should start compared to SON. I default to SON whenever there is a discrepancy.

    • @Charles: Thanks! I have a friend at Rotoballer. Will see if he’ll respond to the Rotoballer portion of the question.

      • One of our writers/analysts does this analysis every week manually. The weekly piece considers all of the pitching performances thus far this season, the pitcher’s opponents, their career stats against the opponent, some ballpark factors and historical splits. With all of this information, we then provide our start/sit recommendations for each starting pitcher matchup for the approaching week of fantasy baseball. It’s not an algorithm or computer program. But of course, like any prediction, we’ll be hit n miss (hopefully more hits!).

  12. One of our writers/analysts does this analysis every week manually. The weekly piece considers all of the pitching performances thus far this season, the pitcher’s opponents, their career stats against the opponent, some ballpark factors and historical splits. With all of this information, we then provide our start/sit recommendations for each starting pitcher matchup for the approaching week of fantasy baseball. It’s not an algorithm or computer program. But of course, like any prediction, we’ll be hit n miss (hopefully more hits!).

  13. u can't get HR and average! says:
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    for R.O.Y. in a 5×5 need hr and average

    have chisenhall—
    think any of these would be better ?

    Francisco
    Solarte
    Lind
    Harrison
    Gillaspe
    Castellanos
    freese

  14. nick the dick says:
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    Rudy, you’re the shizz and Razzball is alllll, I neeeed, to get byyyyyy

  15. BadProfessor says:
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    Hey Rudy,

    Question for you. Standard 5×5. I have an overflow of OFs: Adam Jones, Bruce, Hamilton, Span, Stubbs, Calhoun, Cain. Was offered Rondon for Cain. Worth it?

    • @BadProfessor: Yes, Cain’s value is limited unless he’s hitting leadoff and he’s fighting w/ Aoki and Dyson for that privilege. I’d take Rondon (assuming Hector and not Bruce)

  16. Ante GALIC says:
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    Dear Rudy!

    Fantastic work, really appreciate the in-depth objective analysis. I also take a look elsewhere, do some of my own research but give SON at least a 70% weight in my decision. I should probably up that weight given this information. Have a gr8 day.

    Cheers,
    Ante

  17. Tio says:
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    Rudy.

    SON has been a great source of pitching information this year… plus the machine sex references Grey uses are priceless.

    SON goes to such a greater level of detail than Tristan’s forecaster. I am in a points league where Wins are king and it helps when I can sort by win/loss ratio in SON to find starters with a high probability to win. The other thing I like is that the SON is regularly updated as MLB staffs can shift between Friday when Tristan publishes the article and the following week’s actual games especially when rainouts are in the conversation.

    Keep up the good work! It has been my secret weapon this year. 2 leagues… first place in both.

  18. slicke5 says:
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    Hey Rudy, curious what $ value you would be starting pitchers at within my 16 teamer?

    K, QS, W, ERA, WHIP, K/9, K/BB. Worth noting there is a 3 add per week cap so streaming is tough. I more often than not throw every start given it’s not a “Correia @ COL” type of matchup. Thank you!

    • @slicke5: In deep league formats, I prefer to max my starts for max W/K and cross fingers on ERA/WHIP. My threshold is similar to your Correia @ COL one. It’s biting me this year in an AL-only (bottom 4 in ERA/WHIP) but my W/K are solid. Better that than be too cute and suck at all four :)

  19. Joe says:
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    generally speaking, what cut off level do i want to use for the $ value for a 12 team and 10 team mixed league? Is that even the best way to use SON? Not new to fantasy baseball, but am new to Razzball this season. Thanks.

    • @Joe: Generally, I’d say $8 for 12-team and $10 for 10 team for Roto. For H2H, I’d go with just about any start that’s $1 or more. If you are not desperate for starts (i.e,. on or above pace for GS or IP), I suggest being pickier. If you need starts, you can be a little more relaxed. In our 12-team RCL, I find that I’ve been able to find a handful of $10+ a week and am choosy for ones I really like.

      • Joe says:
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        @Rudy Gamble: thanks for the reply. Appreciate the insight and all the great work from the Razzball staff.

  20. Adam Jonesin says:
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    I’m looking for the emoticon that bows down. The bots are easily the best predictive tools I’ve found. Major props.

    • @Adam Jonesin: Thanks!. I think an emoticon that bows down might be ripe for misinterpretation.

      • Falesi says:
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        @Rudy Gamble:

        All the more reason.

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