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Note: If you don’t want the story, just scroll down to the bottom to see the statistical markers on how to tell the difference between Hot/Cold streaks or a real improvement or eroding of skills. But Santa is watching. And so am I. All the time. 

Welcome friends and family! Actually, you’re right. Hi Mom. Thanks for being my only reader. I’m not sure if you remember who Chris Shelton is, but I certainly do. A week or so ago, I was actually thinking back to the best hot streaks to open the season, and if any of them were produced by players that I had owned. After all, the season is only a week old. Hope springs eternal and what not. So, of course I’m expecting Mike Morse to hit 489 homeruns. And yes, Yu Darvish will finish the season with 56,284 strike-outs. Stop looking at me like that. Thinking back and reminiscing all those seasons I’ve been playing fantasy baseball, which is 16 years if you needed to know. And since I deemed it necessary that you know that, I also, while somewhat ego driven, deem it necessary that you know I am not an old fogey. I’m actually only 30. Which to me feels old, but in fact, really is not that old. If you need proof, ask anyone over the age of 30 how they feel. I assume they will say they feel older than me. And then roll their eyes in disgust. And also, while we’re on this tangent, I’m not fat either. My OkCupid profile says I’m ‘average’, so therefore, it is the truth. And no, you’re not getting a link. Unless you are a hot female that resides in the greater metro area.

But back to reminiscing and stuff, before all of you get lost in the swooning over myself, the stuff of legends. This thought process immediately brought me to the aforementioned Chris Shelton. I bring him up because the second year I owned him, 2006, ended up being the season where I learned that there is more to fantasy baseball than meets the eye. Yeah, you got the Transformers theme stuck in your head now. Thank me later. As much as I believed that I was always one of the smartest in the room (secretly, I’m actually quite humble on the outside), with Shelton, I found out that there was always more to learn.

During the first month of the 2006 season, Shelton was all over the headlines, being talked about by the baseball punditry over and over again. Why, might you ask? In that first month of play, he led the league in homeruns with 10. Ryan Howard, who eventually finished the year with the most homeruns at 58, only had half that total in the same span.

This is where I got in trouble. I picked him off of waivers, as touched upon earlier, the year before. He had catcher eligibility, and scouting reports showed a player that could have power and took a walk every once and a while. I grabbed him in a sneaky-ninja like fashion, and enjoyed a 299/360/510 season, albeit, in only limited action. Based on what he had done, and what I already knew about him, I simply assumed that he would get better. To me, at the time, player curves were static. Basically, I had the mindset that if you were this young, had this much success, you were only going to go up. I didn’t understand things like regression, or that curves fluctuate, or anything about sample sizes. My static ‘bell-curve’ was science, it was law, it was set in stone from whatever process I used at the time. We actually saw this exact line of thinking after Mike Trout had that unparalleled 2012 season. Many out there were touting that this was only the beginning, he could only get better. But it doesn’t work like that. Regression is a cruel beast, and is not to be used as a blunt tool. It has to be used thoughtfully and carefully. In terms of Trout, there simply must be regression to the mean. And before you say, well, we don’t know Trout’s mean yet. Sure we don’t. But we know what a MLB player’s mean is, and that illuminates a lot. I always say, in baseball, like most things, context is everything. Now, don’t take this the wrong way, like I think Trout suxorz and derped his way through it all. He didn’t. But that type of season just doesn’t improve upon itself. Everything we know about the game at this point tells us that the season we saw was historic, and the chances of repeating are so low, that it’s statistically impossible to fathom a season that is better.

What does that have to do with Shelton? Good question! We left off at the point in the story where he was living in the same spotlight as the top sluggers of that year, and at that moment, everyone was wildly describing him as the next Cecil Fielder. Heck, I was busy fastening my smarty pants to strut with, spouting to my league mates and anyone who would listen that I nabbed a guy that would hit 50+ homeruns, all from one uncontested waiver claim. The impetuousness of youth.

Do you know how many homeruns he hit over the course of the next five months? Six. He only hit six more homeruns for the rest of the year. And out of the total of 16 homeruns he hit, zero came in the second half of the season. What did I not understand? What did I miss? I still remember, everyday, looking at his 0’fer box scores and saying, “Well, he’ll snap out of it.” Let me tell you, that’s exhausting to do for 84 straight games. 145 MLB plate appearances and 3 years later, he was out of baseball.

It’s funny, because the things we take for granted now, like HR/FB, K%, BABIP, and all the other advanced stats that are now so easily accessible, could have told me an entire different story. And so that brings us to the point of this post. After thinking back to the fall of Chris Shelton, I began to wonder, is there a way to know if what we are seeing is an illusion or real? It might have been easy to say what Jason Hammel did last year was a fluke, until he produced an entire season outside what was expected. And then you find real evidence for the change. How could you have seen Jose Bautista coming? Or Edwin Encarnacion for that matter? This line of thinking was intriguing. What if we could find out the booms and busts before everyone else did? Or, at the very least, pinpoint markers so we can at least have a starting point for data that could tell us such a thing? So I sought out any information I could on the subject. And now, I bring to you, the Razzball readership, the Holy Grail of my work.

The answer is yes, you can figure it out. Well, at least with a 0.70 correlation. What, you didn’t take AP Stats? Get more Asian in you son! Basically, 1.0 correlation is perfection for multiple data sets, but highly unlikely. It is widely concluded that a 0.70 correlation of data is the ultimate benchmark when doing numbers work such as this. Did that make any sense to you at all? No? Good! That’s why you need me! Or so I say every night before I go to bed…

Anyhow, let’s just get to it. How can you tell what’s real and what isn’t? Make sure you put this in your favorites bar, you’ll want to reference this material throughout the year. Reading the chart is easy. No, seriously, it is. Once a player reaches a certain benchmark (Plate Appearances or Batters Faced), that statistical production stabilizes, and you can say, with some measure of confidence, that any change the player shows is real or not real.

Batter Benchmarks
STAT Contact% K% BB% HR/FB OBP SLG OPS ISO
#PA 100 150 200 300 500 500 500 550

Pitcher Benchmarks

STAT K/PA GB/FB K/BB BB/PA
#BF 150 200 500 550

 

A couple of things to quickly go over. While not as useful indicators as the offensive benchmarks above, Swing% stabilizes at 50 PA, while GB/FB rates have a magic number of 250 PA.

Now, how do you use these benchmarks? Well, simply mosey on over to your favorite stat provider, and take a look at the what the player’s career norm’s are, and then take note of any changes. In the case of Mike Morse, we already know he has power, but does he have this much power? Is this a pace that can continue? Obviously, we are still in small sample size territory, so I would recommend waiting more than a week or two before doing this. But to help the sample size, simply go back to last year to fill in the PA gap. After all, Jose Bautista’s offensive 2010 doesn’t seem as surprising when you implement this analysis with results of the 2009 season. In the case of Morse, look over his Swing%. Is he swinging at more pitches? This could mean he’s changed the approach he uses. What about his HR/FB rate? Are they above his career norms? If they are, maybe this new approach is working. Check his K% and BB%. Are they trending upwards? Then maybe his ‘MOAR’ power is here to stay.

As you can see, there is much less data on the pitching side of things. This is to be expected, as all things pitching are usually volatile. It’s just the nature of the hairy beast. Yes, I have added hair to the beast. So I said, so it shall be done. And yes, there is a bit of mixing and matching to do here with your own research. But hopefully, this tool allows you to make a better judgement on what a player is actually doing and perhaps give you an edge.

I can’t take most of the credit here. When researching this topic, I came across data goes all the way to the last five years, but all of it was still very relevant. Unless you are a huge math geek, you’re probably better off reading a Dan Brown novel than this. But for those who like this kind of scientific endeavor, I want to make sure to give credit where credit is due. Please check out where my research led me to if you want to take the same path. (Here, here, here and here. There are many other places where I gathered information, but these are the main instigators of this post.)

From Around The Web

  1. Sky

    Sky says:
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    ‘Get more Asian in you son!’

    Are you offering?

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Sky: Obviously…

  2. Jack Full of Hate says:
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    Is this regression thing like when you go out to a poorly lit bar and see a 4, drink alot and now she’s an 8 and when I wake up next to her the next day she’s a 2?

    Hi mama wrong

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Jack Full of Hate: Wait, who’s the mother in this relationship?

      I don’t believe in child support, fwiw.

      • Jack Full of Hate says:
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        @jaywrong: how did you pull that response from that response, is this a case of wrong way jay?

        • Jay

          jaywrong says:
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          @Jack Full of Hate: I rarely know what’s going on in any of our conversations.

          • Jack Full of Hate says:
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            @jaywrong: keep them confused, my style.

            I was saying hi to your mom, cause she reads your articles and she should be proud you have an underground following up in here.

            The first part was a bad analogy for the smoke and mirrors of temporarily hot hitters

            And we have had some understanding, you have lived in Pasadena and San Diego and you really miss the brown of the Padres, which i agree, when was the last time you saw a monk in a blue robe?

            • Jay

              jaywrong says:
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              @Jack Full of Hate: I know, I got most of it. But now you’ve thrown me a curve ball with the blue robe. I think the last time I saw a monk in that attire… actually, I’ll take the 5th here.

              • Jack Full of Hate says:
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                @jaywrong: I figured you knew, oh and great podcast yesterday, you’re getting better

                Blue robe, pleading the 5th, I’m thinking something that has to do with some role playing gone bad

                • Jay

                  jaywrong says:
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                  @Jack Full of Hate: Thanks. In the beginning, we all had a consensus that going off a script was the way to go. We soon realized the approach didn’t work so well, so now we just shoot from the hip. And, of course, it takes a great host to banter with. But yeah, I have a lot more fun with it.

                  And no role playing. Just super young and at a rave. It was… interesting.

                  • Jack Full of Hate says:
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                    @jaywrong: HAHAHA, been there, had a buddy that use to DJ raves, talk about an eye opening experience when you are at those not on drugs.

                    Always from the hip is the only way to go

                    • Jay

                      jaywrong says:
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                      @Jack Full of Hate: Well, it was eye opening on the flip side of what you said. But I’m being sly.

                  • Jack Full of Hate says:
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                    @jaywrong: so was grey’s singing of better man a scripted or non scripted thing?

                    • Jay

                      jaywrong says:
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                      @Jack Full of Hate: You’ll have to ask him. Nick and I prepare in our own way, which might be unique only to us.

                      I certainly hope that wasn’t planned or else I would have liked some beats to it.

                  • Jack Full of Hate says:
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                    @jaywrong: I’ve been to those frying balls too, but I have forgotten alot of that. I’ll probably have some flashback when i’m 60 and remember

                    • Jay

                      jaywrong says:
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                      @Jack Full of Hate: We should meet up at that point then.

                  • Jack Full of Hate says:
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                    @jaywrong: the beats might have helped out the tone deafness

  3. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:
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    Wait I skipped to the end to see the list of players who will absolutely keep up their hot starts vs. those who won’t. What good are all yer fancy statistics if I can’t skip over them and go straight to the free advice on what to do?

    • Jack Full of Hate says:
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      @Baron Von Vulturewins: Razzball has made me lazy, i use to do all this on my own, and now I got someone else to do it for my….. like my gardner

      • Jay

        jaywrong says:
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        @Jack Full of Hate: Maybe we should have subscription fee’s…

        • Jack Full of Hate says:
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          @jaywrong: I’d pay, you can’t put a price on lazyness. I’ll tell you the same as i told sky, if you guys come to LA, I’ll buy the tickets and parking for a game

          • Jay

            jaywrong says:
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            @Jack Full of Hate: The only time I’m in LA is when its my layover to Maui. One day I might try to fit something in. But that’s prolly the day you’ll find me as Roscoe’s and then In-N-Out.

            • Jack Full of Hate says:
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              @jaywrong: really Roscoe’s,its cool and good but not great. The uniqueness is what I always liked.

              Glad to see I’m off the hook for tickets and parking. It’s also good you don’t have to do any face to mustache time with Grey. I hear he can get a bit unruly

              • Jay

                jaywrong says:
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                @Jack Full of Hate: I loved it. But I was usually black out drunk when there. There is no other way to not feel skirred, because of the area. Not sure if that’s changed at all.

                But In-N-Out is my long lost love. I miss it so much. My last layover to Maui, I hoped they had put one in LAX. WTF wouldn’t they? Asshats…

                Grey is always unruly.

                • Jack Full of Hate says:
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                  @jaywrong: My grandparents house was around the corner from the original In n Out so I’ve been eating those since birth and have never waivered my love. Oh animal style, I love you so.

                  Its still Altadena where people still get shot up and cops kill citizens

                  • JoeC says:
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                    @Jack Full of Hate: But their fries suck so bad. I even did the secret order, double handshake thing, asking for them to be “twice-fried” (or whatever the term was) and still… just can’t compare with the frozen fry perfection of Mickey D’s! Not to mention the recently improved Wendy’s fries (now with sea salt! I like it cause it tastes good and makes me feel like a foodie cause I’m eating SALT FROM THE OCEAN unlike you schleps who only use table salt!).

                    So in summation, love In-N-Out’s burgers, but their fries leave me feeling like a Josh Beckett start… unfulfilled.

                    • Jay

                      jaywrong says:
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                      @JoeC: It might be a personal thing, but I love their fries. I mean, I love MickeyD’s too, but… you know, I’m actually pretty sure I love all fries everywhere.

                      Honestly, its hard to mess them up.

                    • Jack Full of Hate says:
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                      @JoeC: you have to order them extra crispy, but the best way is to eat inside for the fries, they don’t travel well because they are real. Jay wrong may know this, but if you are in so cal the fries at tops in pasadena are like what in n out wishes they could do

  4. Alex says:
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    Jay,

    What do you think of this deal? I am in need of SPs.

    Getting: Morrow, Ian Kennedy, Victorino
    Giving: Bruce, Beckett

    I REALLY don’t want to move Bruce but if the price is right (adequate SPs), I may have no choice. Am I selling Bruce too low here?

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Alex: Well, you are giving up the best player in the deal. I like Morrow, but he’s a bit risky… I see where you’re going with this, but I’d hold and see if I could get something better.

  5. BigR says:
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    Do I take this trade?

    I give: Pujols and Gio
    I get: Verlander and Bautista

    My other 1B’s are A. Gonzalez, C. Davis, Frazier and M. Carpenter
    My other SP’s are Sherzer, Moore, Anibal Sanchez, Homer Bailey, Cobb, Lynn, Iwakuma

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @BigR: Yes, I love this deal for you.

  6. Greg Nettles says:
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    @Baron Von Vulturewins:

    Me too.

    I was going to write:

    Uh, so who do I drop and who do I add. In fact, let me just give y’all my user name and password.

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Greg Nettles: If that’s the case, make sure your bank information is there as well.

  7. Prezii says:
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    Whattt…. I thought you were talking about “steaks” over here… Thats disappointing.. im out…

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Prezii: Now I’m hungry for steaks. Thanks buddy…

      • Prezii says:
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        @jaywrong: :D

        • Jack Full of Hate says:
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          @Prezii: hey, now i want a steak! damn you razzball, you make me hungry

        • Jay

          jaywrong says:
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          @Prezii: its funny, because of this, I just threw a couple of tbones on the grill. Great idea. I should seriously consider a post on steaks now. Steaks and blow jobs.

          • Jack Full of Hate says:
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            @jaywrong: streaming steaks and blow job saves

          • Jack Full of Hate says:
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            @jaywrong: *BLOWn

  8. Mike says:
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    would u drop any of these SPs for Chris Tillman? Wei Yin Chen, Bud Norris or Josh Beckett?

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Mike: No. Maybe Beckett, but not right now.

  9. Jacob says:
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    Hi jay, love your articles. Could you detail how the research you did deviates from similar research at fangraphs and other sites? Are they perhaps, wrong? (Pinky to mouth)

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Jacob: Thanks Jacob. My research probably lines right up with theirs. I actually used a lot of FG stuff, went over a bunch of BP articles, and some random blogs. The biggest contributors are linked above in the article. This was obviously a fact finding mission for selfish reasons, and I enjoyed everything I found.

      I wanted to focus more on the application for the fantasy baseball aspect of it all as well. I think a lot of us saw what JoeyBats did a couple years back and was like, darn, I wish I could have seen that coming. Hopefully, these markers can help us figure it out earlier than our peers. At least that’s how I’m going to try and use these markers.

      • Grilled Cheese Please says:
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        @jaywrong: What if all of our peers are reading Razzball as well? Hmmm…..

        • Jay

          jaywrong says:
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          @Grilled Cheese Please: Well, seeing as how I tried to attribute credit where it is due, and my approach is more fantasy related… well, you could say I would welcome more readers.

  10. The Guru

    The Guru says:
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    Good stuff Jay. Head just exploded.

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @The Guru: Thanks! You are lucky you are wearing that hat. Its like when sharks eat a person, but the person stays intact because of their wet suits.

      Is it Shark Week yet?

  11. KCC26 says:
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    ive been holding Cashner in a 12 team mixer thinking he might bring big things down the road. Was just offered J. Henderson for Cashner.

    My current staff:
    Wainwright
    Scherzer
    B. Anderson
    Estrada
    AJ Griffin
    Jo-Fer
    Doubront
    Cashner
    Teheran

    Kimbrel
    Perkins
    K. Herrera

    also, colby lewis and luebke are stashable on waivers. Do you hold cashner? or deal him for the SAGNOF and then try to get the starting pitching value around that time with one of the injured guys returning? Thanks!

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @KCC26: I’d hold unless you are desperate for saves. I like what Nick said about him on the podcast, in that, if he does take over for closer, he’s not long for that position. And since you already have Herrera, a better hedge in my opinion, I’d be fine standing pat.

      I’d stash Luebke.

      • KCC26 says:
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        @jaywrong: Thanks! DL spots are full until ortiz comes back (hopefully next week). would you drop one of those arms to hold luebke for a week until he can occupy a DL slot?

        • Jay

          jaywrong says:
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          @KCC26: Hmm. I actually think you’ll be okay waiting a week. Are you getting any signals that someone might try to sneak claim him soon?

          • KCC26 says:
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            @jaywrong: nope…just being a paranoid fantasy owner. I’ll cop to frequently having a guy “on my radar” and then picking him up when it doesn’t make the most sense because he hits a homer and I feel like that one bomb made everyone else in the league suddenly believe that he was roster-worthy :-)

            • Jay

              jaywrong says:
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              @KCC26: Hah, I hear ya.

              I have Luebke stashed in our 12 team writers RCL, and I’m pretty sure no one cares.

  12. G Money says:
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    Jayworng,
    Let me preface I can be a serial trader always trying to upgrade and sharpen the tool…We’ve been going back and forth about my team past few days and I just did a blockbuster. Now I know you said trade Agon or Davis offer an OF but I traded away some depth but I feel upgraded. I love AGon and expect big things even though you say Lyle Overbay comparison ewwww. But I dont want him for Power in my 8×8 league with TB Hits Avg as categories. Also I plan on starting C Hart when he comes back from injury of course along with Headley and I guess McCann too but JP is hitting great Power right now. Anyways here’s the deal…..Cliff Lee, Encarnacion, C Davis, Estrada for A Jones, Verlander, B Belt, J Mcdonald. I couldn’t resist Jones I love him and feel like Verlander and Lee are splitting hairs with Verlander getting more CG’s (which is a category) and K’s than Lee. Here is my lineup now :

    C- Arencibia Tor, C,
    1B- Billy Butler, KC 1B K
    2B- Jedd Gyorko, SD 2B
    SS- Alcides Escobar, KC SS
    3B- Chase Headley*, SD 3B
    CI- Adrian Gonzalez, LAD 1B
    OF- Josh Hamilton, LAA OF
    OF- Andrew McCutchen, Pit OF
    OF- Brett Gardner, NYY OF
    OF – Adam Jones, BAL OF
    UT- Chris Shelton, (joke gonna pick someone up maybe Chris Carter Rasmus, Pena??)

    SP- Justin Verlander, DET SP
    SP- Zack Greinke, LAD SP
    SP- Jonathon Niese, NYM SP
    SP- Tim Hudson, Atl SP
    SP- Trevor Cahill, Ari SP
    RP- Huston Street, SD RP
    RP- Tom Wilhelmsen, Sea RP

    Bench – Corey Hart*, Mil 1B/OF
    Bench- C-Brian McCann*, Atl C
    Bench – Jeff Keppinger 3B
    Bench – Phil Hughes, NYY SP
    Bench Brandon McCarthy, Ari SP
    Bench – James McDonald, PIT, SP
    Bench- Daniel Hudson*, Ari SP
    Bench- Brandon Beachy*, Atl SP

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @G Money: Well, I don’t I ever compared him to Lyle Overbay, that’s a special territory reserved for the likes of, you know, Adam Lind and what not. I just don’t think he’ll hit more than 25 HR’s.

      That being said, the trade looks fair. I don’t like giving up E5, but getting Jones and Verlander back is a great thing. Selling high on Davis was wise as well. And there isn’t a huge gap between the other pieces that I’m seeing. Looks okay.

      Rotation looks good, offense is still somewhat dynamic.

      And hah! I’d go Rasmus, Carter, then Pena. I really see Rasmus as a clone of Josh Reddick at this point. And people seem to gravitate to the latter for some reason.

  13. Steve says:
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    This is brilliant. Trying to figure out when a guy is getting hot, or is cooling down is maybe the thing that’s bugged me more than anything else in 10 years of playing FBB. Thanks for all the hard work.

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Steve: Thanks Steve!

  14. Nate Spurs says:
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    Drop Hudson or Hammel to pick up Billingsley?

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Nate Spurs: Hudson, and its not close.

      • Nate Spurs says:
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        @jaywrong: Thanks Jay, I’m a little reluctant due to Hudson’s last performance, turner field being on the pitcher’s side, and strong offensive support.

        • Jay

          jaywrong says:
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          @Nate Spurs: Hah, I actually thought you were talking about Dan Hudson. Crazy me, right?

          I agree with you, and I’d stick with -Tim- Hudson for a while.

  15. Duncan says:
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    Great post. Thanks for the hard work.

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Duncan: Thanks for reading Duncan!

    • Duncan says:
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      @Duncan: It took me far too long to realize that the numbers in the chart are the number of PA (Plate Appearances) where the selected statistic “stabilizes” and therefore becomes a reliable indicator that the stats are for real. Just wanted to say that as I understood for other math challenged knuckleheads out there.

      Is there a site to show a players last, say 100 AB stats, while going into last seasons numbers?

      • Duncan says:
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        @Duncan: And is HR% and HR/FB the same?

        • Jay

          jaywrong says:
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          @Duncan: And yes, you are correct, they are the same. Not sure what happened there. I’ll be sure to send a note to the editor. I brain fart sometimes…

      • Jay

        jaywrong says:
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        @Duncan: I usually use FanGraphs player pages for research. I only really read Cameron’s and Sullivan’s stuff (mostly because I used to live in Seattle for quite some time), but their options for viewing player history is pretty darn awesome.

        • Tim says:
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          @jaywrong:
          Go Sonics! I really think they are coming back. Sure would beat watching the Mariners lose to the Astros night after night.

          • Jay

            jaywrong says:
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            @Tim: Yeah, what Stern did is shameful.

  16. Snake Hips says:
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    Should I grab Maholm? I would have to drop one of my My bottom starters of Teheren, Parker, Halladay, Hammel.

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Snake Hips: I’d hold for now.

      Boy, Halladay is such a clusterf*ck case right now, is he not?

      • Snake Hips says:
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        @jaywrong: ya he is. He fell super far, i had to take the gamble at a bounce back at the price.

        • Jay

          jaywrong says:
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          @Snake Hips: No doubt. I own in him in a few leagues. How quickly things can turn for elite players…

  17. Fratstar says:
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    I’m playing in a 10 team mixed league, 5 sp, 4 rp/sp slots. My dad just dropped Scherzer and Jordan Zimmerman to pick up Beckett and Westbrook because they have 2 starts.

    My current rotation is Cain, Wainwright, Scherzer, Samaradzija, and Gallardo/Estrada. Is it worth picking him up? Or should I consistently try streaming my 5th starter?

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Fratstar: Well, first, I’d prolly file for emancipation.

      Second, I might consider Zimm for Gallardo, but I don’t get the Scherzer thing. Is he on your team already or a FA?

      If your league is friendly to it, streaming isn’t the worst option with your 5 guy. But it looks like you have the pieces to avoid that.

      • Fratstar says:
        (link)

        @jaywrong:

        I picked up Scherzer off of waivers, so small victory there. I’m happy with the top 4 of my rotation and am left with the following for the 5th spot:

        Gallardo
        Bailey
        Estrada

        Who should I drop if I can pick up Zimmerman? And would you say that having that rotation (zim included) would be a better option than streaming? Most people in my league stream a metric f ton

        • Jay

          jaywrong says:
          (link)

          @Fratstar: Yeah, it sure looks like it.

          Its interesting, because Gallardo/Bailey/Estrada/Zimm are completely different pitchers, but could net you similar results. If you think there are plenty of stream options, I might just play match-ups.

          • Fratstar says:
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            @jaywrong:

            I’m saying there really aren’t that many streaming options. Just this week I got stuck with Parker and I think we both know how that ended up…

            I like Estrada and Gallardo over Bailey….so Bailey for Zimmerman?

            • Jay

              jaywrong says:
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              @Fratstar: Oh, totally misread that.

              Yeah, Zimm for Bailey is where I would go with that.

  18. lumbo says:
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    1) The first time I found Pizza Cutter’s work I saved it as a word doc so no server shut down would cause me to lose the info forever. Lucky me, Fangraphs posted Pizza’s original article published in 2007 (linked above). Does this work add more to Pizza’s analysis? Different years of data? Different sample sizes?

    2) To your point about small sample sizes and how to use the variance information, one way is to do what Tango recommends and calculate a players true talent level by regression to the mean i.e. if your correlation coefficient = 0.7 you can explain 50% (r^2 = 0.49) of the sample variance, and you need to add in 50% of a major league average player to get something close to true talent.

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
      (link)

      @lumbo: 1) Yeah, I wish I could find more of Pizza Cutter’s stuff. Most of the links are broken, and it sounds like you and I have traveled the same path. The work in itself doesn’t add anything new. As someone who took AP Stats, his material was spot on. I only wished to share it with this specific community and wanted to streamline it so as not to induce a seizure. And talk about Chris Shelton, Heh.

      2) I know of Tangotiger’s method, which is kind of what I wanted to touch upon, and generally spoke about with my Mike Trout aside. I’m sure you understand that there is rampant use of the term ‘regression’, and sometimes it is misused. I really like the work he did with UZR, although, using it on a year to year basis can produce some wild results.

      • lumbo says:
        (link)

        @jaywrong: Agreed on “regression.” Not trying to dog you on the article, moreso I just wanted to know if I needed rethink what I learned from reading the background previously, e.g. you looked at data from 2007 – 2012 and found either higher correlation or different cutoffs for stability. A story about how you approached the information and bringing it to the attention of your readers is a great thing.

        Pizza and Tango disagree vehemently about how useful his “regression” method is, so it is very much a use at your own risk (a.k.a. understand what you are calculating) situation.

        • Jay

          jaywrong says:
          (link)

          @lumbo: I didn’t take it like that at all. I enjoy the endeavor in all of this.

          And yeah, from what I’ve read, Tango is a brilliant troll at times. Which is fine. But, what Pizza cutter wrote seemed like a great resource to base upon.

          I see issues with everything and everyone, since numbers and methods can be so wildly misconstrued or even arbitrary. And of course, there’s plenty of easy ways to cherry pick and provide confirmation bias…

          For instance, when Bill James said that all ground ball pitchers are more likely to be injured. While the premise may be true, I’m not sure the evidence supports that. And on top of that, anecdotal evidence, when used, is usually the first sign you’ve lost the argument.

  19. Matt says:
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    11 teamer. Can I drop Pedro Alvarez for Evan Gattis. Have moustakas at 3B and avila at C (Gattis is C elig). non keeper, obp and slg 7×7.

    Thanks

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
      (link)

      @Matt: Yeah, I’d be okay with that.

  20. Alex says:
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    Who you want for holds to replace marshall?

    Doolittle or Mike Adams?

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Alex: Adams.

  21. Mike says:
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    Thoughts on Barry Zito? Guy has been pitching pretty well dating back to the tail end of last year. Drop Beckett for him?

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Mike: I think Zito’s been a bit lucky. I’d hold for now.

      • VinWins

        VinWins says:
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        @jaywrong: So, are you saying I was lucky today and not brilliant streaming him?

        • Jay

          jaywrong says:
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          @VinWins: Vin, you are always brilliant. Zito is the lucky one. You are the smart one. Heh.

  22. Rabbit says:
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    So Jay, about your avatar: that looks to me like Mr. Scott holding something, but I can’t get the resolution to figure out what it is. What is he holding?

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
      (link)

      @Rabbit: Like all things in life, the answer is always whiskey.

  23. JoeC says:
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    “When is a streak not a streak anymore?”
    Answer: When you wash your underpants?

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @JoeC: Hah. Maybe I should have just done that for my post. I’d have so much of my day left…

  24. George says:
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    The PA guidelines you posted for each individual category – do they apply for players in the current season only or can they apply to a future difference in player performance?

    In case that’s not clear, here’s a hypothetical: Let’s say Choo reaches 100PA appearances and has a 82% contract rate when his career average has been 76% – not a massive difference but a significant increase nonetheless. Would you confidently assert that Choo has retooled his game to get more contact OR believe he’ll regress to his mean by looking at the other 3000ish PA he’s accumulated?

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
      (link)

      @George: I get what you are saying, and if you are analyzing data, obviously you want to work with a bigger data set. But skills aren’t static, so in your scenario, I would probably want to also look at Swing% along with BB% and K% to determine if there was, indeed, a real change in his approach.

      But using the methodology in this post, yes, I could say with an above average confidence, that his contact rate has changed.

  25. Jef says:
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    Sorry I’m a little late to this party, but Chris Shelton hits home with me, too, and has become part of my 10-year-old league’s lore. I STILL defend this trade at the time, but only half-heartedly because I’m happy to contribute to our mythology. I traded a sore hamstringed Carlos Beltran and Carlos Zambrano for (first-round draft pick) Jake Peavy and Chris Shelton. Historically bad trade. I try to defend myself because I was sure Peavy was destined for the Cy Young, but to this day my league mates only remember “hey how about when you traded Beltran and Zambrano for Shelton?” jerks…

    Enjoying your work, keep it up!

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
      (link)

      @Jef: Blast from the past. But Jake Peavy was pretty darn good for a long time. At least until he got traded. I watched him live a lot when in San Diego. Good stuff, violent motion. I’m somewhat glad he regained some of that lately, but still a huge injury risk.

      And thanks!

  26. Clint says:
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    Will you be doing a follow up post with these methods once the season gets enough underway you can give us some break out names to target in trades/free agency?

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
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      @Clint: Definitely thought about it. We’ll see how my writing schedule lines up as the year progresses, but this won’t be the last time these markers will be seen. That’s for sure.

  27. Paddyman says:
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    I think this is a great piece to discuss. I have little experience with doing background stats work on guys but these guidelines seem workable and for that you are to be applauded. I find it really cheap when there are postings that don’t reference the article or body of work at all. I think that stuff should be asked during a round up post. But that’s just a pet peeve.

    I still think there is so much to be learned from just watching a guy play. That “why can’t we be friends tune ” is starting up in my head from that MLB show with Reynolds and the other dude. But would it be fair to say that when a guy changes his approach at the plate, his plate appearances should be reset? Take Morse for example. Completely different stance now. Saw him against the sox this past weekend and he swing definitely looked like it had some holes in it. I’m no expert, but he starts his swing with his hands real high, waits for the pitch and loses some momentum as he has to swing back before he wings forward and it looks quite strange. Youkilis is another with a new approach (haven’t seen it yet) but it seems to be working for now.

    Another question: Since Trout has met most of those benchmarks shouldn’t we have a pretty good idea who he is?

    Of course past stats can’t be relied upon or account for future adjustments pitchers make to hitters. With that in mind it would seem a larger track record/sample size is more reliable. Now I’m officially circular in arguments. Nice work man. Really enjoy these pieces.

    • Jay

      jaywrong says:
      (link)

      @Paddyman: Great stuff.

      First, yes, the ones who actually ran and crunched the numbers should get the credit. I simply found the information, vetted it, then regurgitated it for the readership here. Full disclosure is always a personal preference.

      I randomly chose Morse, simply because of what he’s doing right now. You are right. If he continues to meet these markers with new mechanics, we can say with, not with complete certainty, but a pretty fair shot that these changes are real. It’s like with Jason Hammel, since he developed a new pitch, and that new pitch is effective, he met these markers at some point last season and normal regression need not apply. A new mean was created by real improvements.

      Trout is a tad bit different, only because I would hate to base any conclusions on one single season. However, what you say is true. Because he’s met these markers, we can safely assume that his talent level is around last season’s level. I only stated that it would be hard to justify any improvement on those numbers. The bar is just so high. Just because he went 30/40 last year doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s going to go 40/50 this year because he’s so young. That’s the only point I was making.

      Though, since I own him in a lot of leagues, I want 40/50. Never going to happen though. 25/40 is a good place to settle with him.

      And thanks for the kind words good sir!

      • Paddyman says:
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        @jaywrong: Thanks for the response. What you say about Trout makes sense. One last thing: What do you make of Coco Crisps hot start?. He hit 10 hrs in the second half last year and is boppin like nobody’s business this year. Could he hit 25hrs this year or am I just dreaming?

        • Jay

          jaywrong says:
          (link)

          Paddyman: Heh, that would be quite a dream. If you’ve seen the homeruns he’s hit this year, they have been questionable. In that, they have just barely made it over the fence. That being said, the ones he’s hit are already banked, so yes, based on what he’s capable of, he *could* reach 20. Any more seems unlikely. I’d still set the high range as 15 though.

        • George says:
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          @Paddyman:

          Just to add to the idea of Mike Trout reaching those benchmarks…

          I looked up Joey Votto for a rookie comparison point on fangraphs since they have all these bench mark categories easily accessible. By all accounts, he had a great rookie season in 2008 and the numbers he posted in these categories were indicative of the player who would become – 589PA 77.6 % Contact; 17.3% K-rate, 10.0% BB-rate, 18.5% HR/FB, .368 OBP, .506 SLG, .874 OPS, .209 ISO. In every category except K-rate, Votto’s career averages improved in these areas meaning that his subsequent seasons posted numbers greater than those of his rookie year.

          While he’s improved on those numbers for his career, that doesn’t mean growth was linear as his stats from his second year varied – Improvements in BB%, OPB, SLG, OPS, & ISO but a “step back” in Contact %, K%, HR/FB. It just goes to show (in this mere example) why substantial improvement cannot be expected for Trout. Will there be growth over the course of his career? Sure, but that won’t necessarily come in Year 2.

          • Jay

            jaywrong says:
            (link)

            @George: Exactly. I love what you said here.

            Also, maybe I should have mentioned it in the post, but I was referring to the complete player, in that, I was including defense, which add’s an entirely different dynamic.

            • George says:
              (link)

              @jaywrong:

              Copyrights are for sale to the highest bidder…

              Okay, I’ll settle for a can of Milwaukee’s Best.

              • Jay

                jaywrong says:
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                @George: Hah. What about PBR?

                • George says:
                  (link)

                  @jaywrong:

                  I didn’t want to be overly greedy.

                  • Jay

                    jaywrong says:
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                    @George: you can! This is fantasy themed everything!

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