Hello you beautiful readers of blurbs! We’re in the thick of it now, wave after delicious wave of player blurbs slamming into us from multiple sites. We’re the pier, baby, and we are loving every last frothy slap in the swimsuit area. Speaking of swimsuit areas, let’s get hot and heavy in the hizzy and talk bias, baby!
I thought it was important to you all recognize the part biases play in fantasy baseball, and it is NEVER as simple as, “Welp, I just like this player better than this other guy.” That’s an example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, a bias so powerful that it kills your curiosity about a subject because it feels better to be right than digging into data that proves you wrong. Any the how, I’ve listed types of biases and how they may appear in your fantasy baseball brain.
|Confirmation Bias||That bliss when a player you believe in, Nick Solak, hits a homer. Not only do you get the stats, but you were right! Being right is the one true love!|
|Recency Bias||The most recent save is the only save that matters|
|Self-Serving Bias||Players do well on your team b/c you drafted them, anyone sucking is the player’s/manager’s/stadium’s fault|
|In-Group Bias||This goes out to the Boyd Bois, or any group of FMLB managers who seek comfort in each other when a player they covet sucks. Anyone in the Yahoo player notes message boards hellscape saying, “Anyone dropping?”|
|Dunning-Kruger Effect||If the player has high exit velocity, the hits are definitely going to start coming (over-simplifies, ignores, LD/FB, barrels, etc)|
|Hindsight Bias||This is for every expert who has nailed a projection, even Grey! We have a tendency to assume nailing a projection guarantees future success in prediction. No! That’s not a thing!|
|Anchoring Bias||For all of those who refer to PECOTA projections from January rather than updated ROS data|
|Status Quo||Any change is regarded as a loss. This is for anyone still holding on to Eloy Jimenez. Holding on to him is still a loss, friends. He’s Jack in Titanic. Push him off the raft so he gets eaten by a narwhal already.|
Before we get to the blurbstomping, try to remember that your convictions are important. Biases will always be there, but you can use your knowledge of them to better evaluate waiver decisions and trade offers.
A Blurbstomp Reminder
We will analyze player blurbs from a given evening, knowing that 1-2 writers are usually responsible for all the player write ups posted within an hour of the game results. We will look at:
- Flowery Diction – how sites juice up descriptions of player performance
- Q/Q – Qualitative and quantitative look at how a site’s editorial vision colors the blurb “analysis”
- Double Takes – instances where successive player blurbs contradict each other
- Bob Nightengale Syndrome – instances of updates that don’t update anything
- Stephen A. Smith IMG_4346.jpeg Award – Given to the player blurb that promises the most and delivers the least.
The hope is that by season’s end, we’ll all feel more confident about our player evaluations when it comes to the waiver wire. We will read blurbs and not be swayed by excessive superlatives, faulty injury reporting, and micro-hype. I will know that I have done my job when Grey posts, and there isn’t a single question about catchers that he did not address in his post. Onward to Roto Wokeness!
The former Central Michigan University standout has taken the National League by storm so far this season, slashing .297/.325/.649 with three homers and 11 RBI in 40 plate appearances. With Cody Bellinger likely to be sidelined for longer than originally anticipated, perhaps there’s a chance for McKinstry to carve out some regular playing time over the next few weeks, which could make him interesting in deeper mixed leagues.
McKinstry’s done really well. Has he taken the National League by storm? Those are some strong words for a season in its infancy. The definition of this idiomatic expression is either to conquer something, or gain huge and widespread success or popularity. Ronald Acuna has absolutely taken this season by storm. He is killing the baseball, his triple slash is baseball pornography, and his star is shining hard.
McKinstry? He’s playing almost every day, but he’s on the Los Angeles Luxury Taxes. Saying he has a chance at regular at bats is like saying, “I should stop shopping at Amazon.” You say it out loud, it sounds like words, but there is no substance attached to them. You’d do better just breathing.
Q and Q
Nick Solak went 3-for-5 with a solo homer and two RBI on Thursday in the Rangers’ victory over the Rays in extra-innings.
Solak opened the scoring with a solo shot to left-center field — his second round-tripper of the season — off Rays’ left-hander Rich Hill. He also slapped a go-ahead, RBI single to center field off righty reliever Andrew Kittredge in the fifth inning. The 26-year-old got off to an icy start 9-for-43 (.209) start at the plate prior to notching his seventh career three-hit effort in this one. Given his defensive shortcomings, he needs to produce offensively in order to remain a permanent fixture in the Rangers’ everyday lineup.
One of these things is true: Rotoworld does not think highly of Nick Solak, or I am obsessed with Nick Solak updates. Never mind, both of those items are true. At this point, Solak homered again and he’s hitting .275 with 2 SB’s as well. That’s a great start for fantasy purposes, especially someone you snagged in the middle of the draft. They mention he’s ice cold, and then go right into the conversation about his defensive shortcomings.
I checked Fangraphs, and they’re not wrong. Solak has projected negative defensive WAR in multiple systems, so Rotoworld aint’ wrong. However, they state that Solak has to hit in order to keep his spot in the lineup. Who is behind Solak? Thought you would ask, so I will answer.
I guess they have Brock Holt, but why would they suddenly stop developing a player who’s hitting competently at the highest level to give Brock Holt at bats during a rebuild that is stuck in the planning stages of building? I can understand writing this sentence when a guy is trying to break out of a platoon role, or he’s one of the fifteen Cincinnati Reds outfielders trying to get consistent at bats. This is not that. This is someone trying to create a narrative that doesn’t exist in order to project their own feelings of unease regarding Solak.
Psychological projection is a thing in fantasy baseball! We attach our egos to certain players, and when they go through a dry spell, we blame them instead of remembering that we live in a chaos of numbers that will eventually balance themselves out. Just look at Grey’s obsession with Travis Shaw two years ago, or my current obsession with Nick Solak. If these guys fail, it feels bad. When I see another 0-4 performance from Austin Riley, I project raw feelings of desperate anger at a player who will never know or care about me. Or will he?
According to Carl Jung, “All projections provoke counter-projection when the object is unconscious of the quality projected upon it by the subject.” Austin Riley must have heard me, because he managed two singles today in a game that the Braves scored a bajillion runs. He got two hits, which soothed my ego, but he proved my projection of anguish correct by failing to drive in a single run or hit a dang homer! So I won, but I lost, and he won, and I truly hope I’m not inside his head like in Being John Malkovich. Lord. Imagine if every baseball player had all of his fantasy owners in his brain every at bat, looking out of his eyes, trying to coach him to a hit. I’d rather be drawn and quartered by four Trea Turners! It would be brutal, but his sprint speed would make it deliciously quick and satisfying.
I could go on about this, but the bottom line is that we should all follow the two rules of work emails: Don’t send the first draft, and leave your feelings out of it. Write the blurb, make a recommendation if there’s enough info to do so, then GTFO. This isn’t the Manchurian Candidate. You shouldn’t be trying to quietly influence owner confidence with falsehoods.
I complained about the dearth of Double Takes, and lo, what lurks upon my doorstep? Could it be, yes! A Lou Trivino Double Take!
On April 13th, we received this blurb:
Lou Trivino earned his first save of the season Tuesday against the Diamondbacks.
Trivino issued a one-out walk to Tim Locastro but promptly induced a game-ending double play grounder from Kole Calhoun to put the 7-5 victory on ice for the A’s. It appears that the 29-year-old right-hander could be the primary closer for Oakland with Trevor Rosenthal out indefinitely following thoracic outlet surgery.
On April 17th, we received a blurb regarding his most recent save:
Lou Trivino pitched a scoreless ninth inning with one hit allowed to record a save Friday against the Tigers.
Trivino allowed a leadoff single to Willi Castro before getting Renato Nunez to ground into a double-play. He’d get the next batter — Jaimer Candelario — to pop out to end the game. It was Trivino’s second save of the season — both this week — as it appears he’s taken over as the lead man for saves in Oakland.
A classic case of deja F U. You can’t just say it appears within four days of reporting on the same exact phenomenon. The editor in me says that this is lazy, and I’m going to agree with the editor in me. The editor in me is also struggling to read The Berenstain Bears to my kid. Run-on sentences, the author saying what the characters are going to do, and showing them do it, incorrect verb usage, ham-fisted idioms. It makes my blood boil, because I am deeply disturbed. Ahem.
The use of “appears” in back-to-back write-ups shows you just how terrified fantasy sites are at throwing down a take. I would’ve gone with, “Bob Melvin recently hinted that he would like Trivino to close, but he also mentioned using him in the 8th as well.”
Rotoworld loves to proclaim new closers with rhetorical hedges. They describe the save opportunity (sometimes with a beat writer’s attention to detail), and then anoint the pitcher with verbs whose purpose is to cloud any attempt to be definitive (Appears, seems, looks like, he just might). They then follow it up with the usual, “He should be scooped up in all leagues that he’s available.” Again, the blurbs that drive clicks have headlines like “Trivino closes out Astros, collects save.” If you own Sweet Lou, who I constantly mix up with golfer Lee Trevino (who I also mix up with CHIPS actor Eric Estrada), then you’re clicking on that blurb to feel the confirmation bias light up your nervous system like the goo in a freshly snapped glow stick.
Or you’re like me, and you’re hate-clicking, because you overspent on a possible closer candidate and thought that Trivino was already owned in all of your leagues.
Bob Nightengale Award
The hard-hitting backstop belted the second of what would be four home runs against Cubs’ starter Kyle Hendricks in the first inning. He also chipped in a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning that increased the Braves advantage to 7-3. He’s off to a bit of a slow start at the dish this season, slashing just .226/.250/.396 with a pair of long balls and nine RBI.
Catchers generally suck, so I try not to read their blurbs too much. If a catcher is being blurbed, he’s either had his one dope game of the week, or is injured/benched. However, at the tail end of this blurb, the blurbs threw in something that is just deeply wrong. “He’s off to a bit of a slow start at the dish this season….”
Dude has a 4/2/9/.226 line on April 18th. He hits two more homers this month and he’s on pace for 20+. Grey had him at 54/16/61/.252/2, and THE BAT X is the only system on Fangraphs matching the height of his homer projection. I would say beyond his batting average, which is not a guarantee with d’Arnaud based on his history, is the only laggard.
To complete this thought exercise, Steamer has him going 46/14/51 ROS, which would give him a 50/16/59/1/.249 for the year.
Grey’s D’Arnaud Projection: 54/16/61/.252/2
Steamer ROS+ Current Stats: 50/16/59/.249/1
This is not a slow start. This is a hitter doing exactly as advertised. I truly don’t understand the slow start rhetoric. Batting average in baseball is like taking the G.E.D. online: You answer a few question wrong at the beginning, you are statistically guaranteed to have a middling or subpar score. If a batter slumps terribly in the first few weeks, panic makes sense. I’m excited my team has more than four hits (as I try not to astrally project into Leodys Taveras and Ryan Mountcastles heads so I can convince them that hitting is fun and that they’re good at it) on a given day. It’s been that bad, so I try not panic and trade away/drop people before sample size takes hold. BUTT, I also know we’re slipping into the “Honeymoon Over” phase of the season, where teams might send a dude down or a platoon will begin if production doesn’t come from the fellow you picked in the 8th round.
Reading is important. If you were to skim this blurb, you might still read that last sentence, and then boom. It’s planted. That little doubt, that regret that did not live in your head regarding your choice of catcher. Is his start slow? Maybe I was wrong? Maybe I should’ve drafted a catcher earlier? Maybe Tobin Sprout was the superior melody writer for Guided By Voices? Every question besides the last one is owed to those two words towards the end of the blurb, “slow start.” He’s doing exactly what we thought he would, no more, no less.
Stephen A. Smith jpg Trophy
After a couple of days of hitting ninth in the lineup, with the pitcher hitting above him, Robles will hit before Max Scherzer on Friday night. That leaves the trio of Trea Turner, Juan Soto and Josh Bell as the first three hitters in the Nationals lineup. Robles, 23, is off to a slow start at the dish, slashing .182/.325/.242 with no RBI and a 12/5 K/BB ratio over 40 plate appearances. If the lineup starts to click with this new alignment, Robles may find himself relegated to the bottom of the order for an extended period of time, which would hurt his outlook for counting stats.
“That leaves the trio of Trea Turner, Juan Soto and Josh Bell as the first three hiters in the Nationals lineup.” So. That is true. However, the blurbs intimates that despite hitting ninth, Victor Robles was technically at the top of the lineup. This is a very weird and particular falsehood, like me insisting that Amy Adams is essentially unwatchable, despite the rest of the world loving her. This is a blurb that did not need any more context than his slashline, that the Nats are trying to kickstart him, and that his steals are going to be down as long as he’s batting eighth in front of the pitcher. Instead, we get the second sentence, which reads like a Wallace Stevens poem as written by Ernest Hemingway.
That’s it for this week’s attempt at freeing you from the bonds of your own mind! There will be a new blurbstomp feature regarding prospect blurbs, those absolutely fantastic player updates that include, “…he should be up by mid-April/end of May/sometime in June.” Thank you Foxman for the suggestion. Until next week, keep trying to find your way inside your players heads!