On Thursday evening, Analytics Anonymous held a special meeting to evaluate how our lessons are being implemented. Specifically, I, and 11 of my new AA friends, took part in the Razzball Commenter League (RCL) #4 on Thursday evening. These RCL leagues are 12-team Rotisserie scoring leagues hosted on Fantrax and free for all (JOIN HERE). There are drafts almost every day this month so grab a spot before they fill up. Grey is putting up his own cash to the overall winner so don’t be shy, come take his money.
Before we get into the RCL #4 results, let’s understand the rules. Whenever you join a league, the “Rules Summary” page should be the first stop. It always surprises me when league mates tell me they haven’t studied the rules. Sure, most are straightforward and don’t change, but every now and then there’s a nuance you need to know about BEFORE the draft.
How are these rosters constructed? Is this a one catcher or two catcher league? How many outfielders? Does it include middle infield/corner infield positions? How many pitchers do I need? All answered here:
Alright, this is standard stuff for Fantrax Roto leagues, no real surprises here. What about position eligibility?
Again, no real surprises here either, although this is important to understand beforehand. I mean, how long will it take Jazz Chisholm Jr. to gain OF eligibility? I can promise you this, the team that drafted @j_chisholm3 knew the answer to this question.
Next, look at scoring categories.
This is another important one to understand before the draft. AVE or OBP? W or QS? All very important questions.
Here’s one that is a little less common:
Pitching minimums and maximums not only drive in-season strategy but draft strategy as well. I’ve been in drafts where a team starts pocket Aces or even go three stud SPs in a row. We all want that 200-inning pitcher but is it wise to load up on them and risk maxing out? Conversely, for those who focus on hitters and fade early pitching, they’ll need to be sure to hit the minimums. Many of us probably don’t spend much time thinking in March about how many innings their squad will have logged by Labor Day…but you should.
Other important settings to understand:
Daily or Weekly lineup changes? Answer: Daily
Does the league allow trades? Answer: Yes
Is there a trade deadline? Answer: Yes (August 9)
Waivers use FAAB? Answer: No, managers perform their own claims & drops
Waiver Wire claim processing time: Answer: 3:00 am EST
Max # of claims per week? Answer: Unlimited
Max # of claims per season? Answer: 500
Now that we know the rules and roster composition needs, let’s move to the draft itself. This live draft consisted of 25 rounds and each team had 90 seconds per pick. For RCL #4, that put the total draft time at just over 2 hours. Not a bad way to spend a Thursday evening!
To break down this draft, I will evaluate a few of the analytical metrics I’ve been writing about recently to see who may have the edge in particular categories. Hey, let’s not forget this is a highly technical Analytics Anonymous meeting here. We strive to understand how it all works and become better fantasy players, not just look at the pretty pictures.
As with any study, it’ll be interesting to see if the suggestions made by the analytics translate to success in the respective categories. Maybe I’ll revisit this during the All-Star Break.
In the meantime, let the analytics begin with…
Last week, AA met to discuss ISO. ISO refers to “Isolated Power” and is used as a measure of the raw power of a hitter. Feel free to dive more into ISO at your leisure (ISO Article HERE).
Recall we learned that a league-average ISO is 0.140 but for fantasy baseball, we really want power hitters above 0.200.
So, how did our drafters do?
PTBNL leads the way after drafting Aaron Judge, Bo Bichette, Luis Robert Jr., Matt Chapman, Byron Buxton and Cal Raleigh.
Other ISO players of note drafted include, Shohei Ohtani, Matt Olson, Hunter Renfroe and Daulton Varsho (Lake Titicaca Bungholes); Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Mookie Betts, Oneil Cruz, and Nolan Arenado (Silver9147); Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rizzo, and Andrew Vaughn (Dougfinkelstein); and Mike Trout, Eloy Jimenez, Corey Seager, and Manny Machado (Byrdette).
Overall, isolated power was distributed fairly evenly throughout most of the teams so we’ll see if PTBNL’s strategy of loading up on raw power translates to dominance in the HR category.
Next, let’s look at speed. With the new rules in place, there is a lot of debate in the industry on what stolen base numbers will look like this season. Because of this, SB projections are all over the map. Rather than just adding up projected SBs filled with uncertainty, let’s apply some analytics and discuss SBO (Stolen Base Opportunity) instead.
You can read up on the AA meeting discussing SBO (HERE).
From that AA session, we learned that SBO is calculated as: (SB+CS)/(1B+BB) and we want to target players with an SBO of 20% (0.20) or more. Again, we’re not just adding SB projections, we’re targeting players who analytically will have a higher OPPORTUNITY to capture SBs. So, let’s see how our drafters did:
Lake Titicaca Bungholes (Is this Grey’s team?) is heads and shoulders above the competition in SBO. My analysis of projections found 87 players with an SBO > 0.20 and almost 10% of those drafted by LTB (not to be confused with TLB – me!). Looking at his roster, he may have overdone it a bit in this category, with the likes of Randy Arozarena, Andres Gimenez, CJ Abrams, Tyler O’Neill, Leody Taveras, Jorge Mateo and…wait for it…Adalberto Mondesi. I hope Mr. Bungholes is open to trades after he jumps out to a huge lead on the field. I’m sure those lacking speed will be knocking on his doors at some point during the season.
For hitters, we looked at two offensive categories that tend to drive most of the counting stats – raw power (ISO) and SB opportunity (SBO). Three teams (Lake Titicaca Bungholes, Silver9147 and yours truly) score in both categories. Will this translate to success for these three proud franchises?
Let’s switch over to pitching. For this analysis, I looked specifically at SIERA (Skill-Interactive ERA) and K-BB%. Why SIERA and K-BB? Great question, my young Padawan! Some respected fantasy number crunchers out there identify these two analytics as directly related to pitching success. In fact, recall this quote from my SIERA article, “The top fantasy pitchers almost always have top 10 finishes in Innings Pitched, K-BB% and SIERA rates.” For more on both of these two important analytics, take a moment to read my article (SIERA and K-BB% Article HERE) and enjoy the pretty pictures I threw in there for you as well.
Like the FIP (Field Independent Pitching) and xFIP, SIERA attempts to determine the underlying skill level of the pitcher. Unlike the FIP, SIERA attempts to more accurately model what makes a pitcher successful. As FanGraphs puts it, “SIERA tells us more about the how and why of pitching.” Here’s how pitchers have been rated in this category:
Sure, we can strive at being “Above Average” but that doesn’t win Championships. No, we want to be “Great” or “Excellent” here. Using Rudy’s pitching projections as my source, I calculated SIERA rates for all pitchers and found only 24 are considered “Great” or better with SIERA. Where did those 24 pitchers land in our draft, you ask? Let’s find out:
Apparently, Stephen Curry and Tony Romo aren’t the only Subway fans out there. Pitchers are frequenting the joint as well. Our resident foodie, Ducks Eat Free at Subway, tops the list of SIERA pitchers drafted. In fact, by drafting the likes of Max Scherzer, Carlos Rodon, Ryan Helsley and Jhoan Duran, he locked in more than 20% of the top SIERA pitchers. As you can see from the table, no one else was able to pull this off.
Lastly, I’ll look at K-BB%. K-BB% is not one of the projected stats in Rudy’s data. However, with the magic of the spreadsheet, we can easily calculate both the K% and BB%, then the K-BB% for all 800+ pitchers with just a few keystrokes.
When evaluating K% or BB% alone for pitchers, we have target percentages to help us evaluate. For instance, the league-wide BB% last season was slightly over 8% so the general recommendation is to target pitchers with a rate lower than 6%. Likewise, the league wide average K% is about 22%, which is generally a good target for starting pitchers, but I like to also target relief pitchers with a K% > 27%.
When evaluating K-BB% though, I take a different angle. After calculating K-BB%, I then determine each pitchers respective ranking as compared to the other 800+ pitchers in the projections. This results in a ranking (1-800+) that allows the cream to rise to the top.
For this analysis, I selected the top 50 ranked pitchers in K-BB% and determined where they landed in our draft.
Wouldn’t you know it, our pitchers are still hanging out at Subway. Perhaps our foodie is more a culinary savant as he cornered the market on pitchers with top 50 K-BB% projections. In addition to the pitchers listed previously, Ducks drafted Devin Williams who ranked 33rd in this category.
As you might expect, K-BB% is an analytic dominated by top shelf relief pitchers. In fact, more than half of the top 50 are relief pitchers (keep that in mind on draft day). Of the top 10 ranked, the split is equal. Unfortunately for me and my league mates here, Ducks has 3 of the 10 (I only have 1).
Remember the quote from earlier, “The top fantasy pitchers almost always have top 10 finishes in Innings Pitched, K-BB% and SIERA rates.” Ducks is cornering the market on two of the three, and Innings Pitched is somewhat normalized with the minimum/maximum requirement. On paper, it doesn’t look good for the rest of us.
There you have it, an analytical review of RCL #4. By all measures, we should have a competitive group. I’m generally happy with my squad, as indicated by the fact that I was able to land in each of the 4 tables above, but I know I have plenty of work to do in season before I win this league. Yes, I said it!
Let’s fire up those trade talks, boys!
Special thanks to Matt Truss (@MattTruss) and Grey (@Razzball) for putting this competition together and sponsoring the prizes.
Remember, you too can take on @Razzball staff in an upcoming RCL (RCL Registration Here). You’ll next find me in RCL #37 on March 19 but who knows, I may pop into another one between now and then.
Also, don’t forget to visit the Razzball rankings page (https://razzball.com/2023-fantasy-baseball-rankings/) for everything you need to prepare for upcoming fantasy baseball drafts.
Lastly, follow me on Twitter: @Derek_Favret.
This AA meeting is now dismissed!