Baseball Forecaster has been a yearly production by BaseballHQ since 1986. While Ron Shandler is still involved, he has considerable help from his disciples (notably Co-Editors Ray Murphy and Brent Hershey). I have played in a couple of expert leagues with BaseballHQers and – to date – it has not gone so well for ol’ Rudy. (If they played RCL, I’d like my chances…)

It had been a couple years since I last bought Ron Shandler’s Baseball Forecaster as my preseasons have been preoccupied with building our tools, running analyses, and optimizing our Steamer-based projections. But after gleaning some inspiration from Larry Schechter’s Winning Fantasy Baseball last January, it felt like a good time to jump back in. I went in knowing that, at the very least, the book should serve as a valuable second opinion to my projected rankings.

What Does The Book Cover?

Player projections/capsules, analytic research, fantasy strategy/advice, an overview of BaseballHQ’s proprietary metrics, major league equivalent stats for minor leaguers, cheat sheets

Who Should Read This Book?

Anyone who is serious about fantasy baseball and does not mind a bit of stat wonkiness. Think FanGraphs if everyone there saved their boners for fantasy baseball instead of WAR, contracts, and changeups (a lot of the awesome stats on FanGraphs like GB/LD/FB, Strand Rates, BABIP/Hit Rate, and HR/FB were first popularized by BaseballHQ).

Major Likes

  • The player capsules – particularly the hitter capsules. The BaseballHQ ethos can be boiled down into “skills over stats” and these capsules provide a unique and informed perspective. A 2015 projection plus 5 years of past data are provided but some of the great touches are: 1) 2014 broken out into 1H vs 2H, 2) All minor league data is converted into major league equivalent stats, and 3) The mix of standard and BaseballHQ-derived metrics are organized in sensible buckets around skills like power and speed. The player write-ups highlight each player’s statistical story.
  • The proprietary hitter metrics are more hit than miss for me. Examples are: 1) the HctX metric (an index based on ‘hard hit’ contact), 2) SBO% (percentage of Stolen Bases opportunities the runner attempted to steal) and 3) PX (a power metric that incorporates doubles and triples that is more predictive of future HR than past HR)
  • The Statistical Research Abstracts section has a number of interesting analyses like the relationship of pitch velocity to ERA, K/9, and GB%.
  • The 5 year injury log organized by player.

Kinda Likes

  • The insights regarding player health and consistency. They grade each player A-F based on straightforward criteria (see here for details). It has inspired me to do more research on missed games per year to see if I can come up with a comparable or better system.
  • The explanations of their draft methods (like their ‘Mayberry Method’) gave me some food for thought on how to balance risk in my drafting.
  • The DOM and DIS percentages for players – which show the percentage of weeks a player was DOMinant or a DISaster – is an interesting concept for H2H leagues. I just do not buy that ‘consistency’ or ‘streakiness’ is a skill.

Minor Dislikes

  • I wish they would just label it K/9, BB/9, and K/BB instead of ‘Dom’, ‘Ctl’, and ‘Cmd’. There are enough proprietary stat abbreviations in the book to make you feel like an 80-year old reading your grandchild’s texts.
  • The $ levels are way off from mine. Adam Eaton’s 2014 season of 76/1/35/15/.300 for an OF is $19 while Brian Dozier’s 112/23/71/21/.242 for a 2B is $24? (Our Player Rater had them -$3 and $23)? Is this based on R/SB/AVG/SB/AVG?

Would I Recommend It?

Yes. I plan on making this an annual tradition going forward. But be warned – there will be a learning curve to understanding their metrics.

 

 

 
  1. goodfold2 says:
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    i’m reading this right now, and have the last 3 years as well. I like the hilarity of trading in the nomenclature standard across industry just to have their own words, like H% in stead of BABIP. Or the DOM/COM/CTL over standards. The metrics aren’t as much of a problem as to (and book warns you) MAKE SURE YOU LOOK UP AS CLOSE TO THE SEASON AS POSSIBLE ABOUT PLAYING TIME. Those dollar values are sketchy though. This book was written in Nov, and you get a free update once by buying it, so save that time for as late as possible before your drafts, season starting etc.
    It’d probably be better just to use the Mayberry method to adjust some other site’s (like Razzball) already existing dollar values.
    Also, i wish they had some method of making Mayberry levels for OPS and holds, and being able to incorporate those into their system. I guess i could find out this myself, but i’d have to come up with some way to break the league up into 5 levels of players across OPS values, and 5 levels of value for holds.

    • goodfold2 says:
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      @goodfold2: oh wow, i didn’t know THEY are the ones to originally come up with these terms, not fangraphs or others, nice.

    • @goodfold2: My comments on the $ are based on the historical numbers. I agree with their recommendation to not consider the book’s 2015 $ to be gospel given playing time uncertainty.

      Hear you on Mayberry for alternate categories. I imagine ‘eye’ would have to be incorporated for 6×6 OPS and that Power and Speed ratios would need to be adjusted. Holds would just adjust the Saves score component.

      • goodfold2 says:
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        @Rudy Gamble: yeah, it appears from the dozier vs eaton example that theirs seriously overvalues average.

  2. Thanks for the recommendation, Rudy.
    This is the first year since 2011 I haven’t preordered the Forecaster as soon as it became available on Amazon. I’ve always liked it. I just wasn’t moved to pick it up this year until now.

    Be well. Best of luck in 2015.

  3. Mr. Han's Militant Vegans No More says:
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    Great synopsis, Rudy!

    I just downloaded the kindle version this past weekend. As you mentioned, I was interested in the Player Capsules too. Quick and to the point, they can lead you to further analysis if you’re so inclined.

    Also, I understand the fuzziness with the proprietary metrics, and especially how they tie into each roto category. Takes a while to fully understand but if I can do it, anyone can… especially all of you around here.

    Very interested in your Risk work. Please keep us updated on anything you come up with.

  4. UL's Toothpick says:
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    Hey Rudy, I started researching the NFBC this Fall and came back across your postings from the last several years. Good stuff. You are right, there is not much information out there.

    Here are my results from an NFBC draft Express last Friday night.

    Thoughts?

    C; Ruiz, Salty, Cervelli, Susac
    1B; Belt
    3B; Donaldson, Uribe, DJ Peterson
    CI; Arenado
    SS; A Escobar, Suarez
    2nd; Bonifacio, Panik
    MI; Schoop or Ev Cabrerra
    OF; Stanton, Puig, S Pearce, A Eaton, O Arcia, M Bourn, Marisnick, Maybin, B Brentz
    Util; Napoli

    Starters (1-7); Cobb, Arrietta, Carrasco, Shields, F Liriano, Pineda, Corbin
    Starters (8-17); Colome, Machi, Bundy, AJ Cole, Delgado, D Hale, C Rasmus, D Norris, R Montero, A Nola
    RPs; K Jansen, F Rodriguez, Motte, Hunter, Hochevar

    With multiple eligibility, I am 3 deep at each position and have 4 catchers for 2 spots.

    • @UL’s Toothpick: Drafting early, huh? I don’t have my $ values done so going on instinct and the team looks pretty good. Nothing jumping out as a major issue except maybe injury risk on the hitter side (seems like a lot of these guys were injured in 2013 or 2014)

      • UL's Toothpick says:
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        @Rudy Gamble:

        Thought it would be fun to compare early teams vs a traditional drafted teams. My best teams last season were my early ones. I used the War Room in all my drafts last year and it was a challenge tracking stats with Steamer and guestimating at-bats and stats.

        As far as injuries, it is crazy how many pitchers have had some form of a DL stint or surgery over the past 3 years. I tried to load up (per your Captain Hook linked post) on pitchers and back-end guys who were young.

        In terms of position players bounce-back guys tend to be valuable, although there is an inherent risk.

        • @UL’s Toothpick: Good luck. Yes, tons of pitcher injuries. Agreed on hitter injury bouncebacks (For the most part)

  5. BootsyBaby says:
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    At the moment I have every BP edition since 2004 sitting on the shelf over my shoulder.

    As far as the dollar values are considered, I would say this – they have since I can remember said “absolutely do not take these dollar values as gospel.” I believe that the dollar values represent a predicted Sabermetric worth for the upcoming season, assuming they are playing with the same team and in the same role (e.g. closer) as can best be determined at the time of publication.

    I only use the BP dollar values as a comparison between two players. In the example you cite, the only information I can glean from the Baseball Forecaster dollar values is that Baseball Forecaster believes a $24 Brian Dozier is going to be a better Sabermetric value in 2015 than a $19 Adam Eaton. I think it is impossible to read any more into those dollar values than that. Thus it can be useful in comparing two similarly situated players, for keeper or trading purposes.

    • @BootsyBaby: The $ values I provided are for 2014. So it has nothing to do w/ predictability – it should be a snapshot of their value for that year. It’s just surprising that their snapshot and my snapshot are so divergent (they have Eaton as a valuable player, i have him below replacement player for 12-team mixed).

      • Rufus T. Firefly says:
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        @Rudy Gamble: Rudy, any quick thoughts on why the split would be so huge? Or is that an upcoming article?

        • I am not sure but once i get the 2015 projections v1 out the door, i am going to test this in our RCL sandbox – e.g., what happens to 1000 teams if you remove an average or replacement player’s stats and add in a certain player.

  6. Ryan says:
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    Great review, Rudy!

    Which would you recommend if I only planned on purchasing one FB book this season to help me; The Baseball Forecaster or the Bill James Handbook (or something else?)?

    Thanks!

    • @Ryan: Baseball Forecaster, definitely. Got the Bill James Handbook last year and it has no articles on fantasy and the projections are notoriously bullish. I’m still waiting for my Baseball Prospectus 2015…

      • Ryan says:
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        @Rudy Gamble: Thanks! Ordering my copy now!

        • @Ryan: If you order via Amazon, please click on the link in the post!

          • goodfold2 says:
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            @Rudy Gamble: BP’s out soon i hear. it should be at my house soon as well.

  7. Bammers says:
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    Startup H2H points dynasty draft.. which would you rather have (pick 120ish)? Who would be your 2nd choice? Verlander, Smyly, Iwakuma, Shields, Latos, Fiers, Fister,Ian Kennedy, Cliff Lee.

  8. Brandon K says:
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    Hi Rudy, great review! Is Razzball planning on doing a review of the FSTA draft this upcoming Thursday night?

    • Too early man. I am gearing up for my LABR draft in early February.

  9. David Hinsdale says:
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    I have every BP since the early 90’s. But I go by their updated dollar values on the BaseballHQ website, which are updated daily through the entire season. There is no better information that I have found than BaseballHQ. Last year I had two firsts and two 3rds in my 4 leagues. Been playing since 1985.

    • David Hinsdale says:
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      @David Hinsdale: I should have said every Baseball Forecaster, not BP

  10. Tom says:
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    Funny thing…I have surgery scheduled for this Thursday and am going to be in the hospital for at least 3 days. Went out to Amazon to find a good book on Fantasy and this one one of the highest rated. Was still on the fence, but you pushed me over.

    On a separate note…

    I asked Grey the following yesterday. He did respond with a brief reply (do it with a manual list), but I was wondering if you could give me your thoughts:

    Question about draft strategy and using your Grey’s (or anyone else’s) pre-season ranks… Let’s say I want to draft using his ranks (not too far from the truth). Let’s also say that most of my league drafts according to how ESPN pre-draft ranking is (later in the draft they consider needs). I found out last year that ESPN allows you to substitute your ranking for their ranking for drafting purposes, so you can see who’s left on the draft board sorted according to you rankings. I did that last year and had a good draft but I found that I could have done a lot better.
    For example, Grey and I both thought Jose Bautista was going to be a lot better than ESPN thought. He had him 14. I had him 18. ESPN had him 46th! I ended up picking him with the 23rd overall pick (3.3 in a 10 team draft) when there was a decent chance I could have waited until my 43rd pick (again assuming my league mates go by ESPN ranking).

    So the question is how I should adjust the ranks I put in for drafting purposes so I am optimizing the value my picks (value in this case is the difference between when I pick a player and where I have him ranked).
    My first reaction was, if I value someone higher than ESPN does, take the player’s ESPN rank and subtract a certain number. If I value someone less than ESPN does, rank that player with the same ranking I have.

    Does that sound right? If so, what do you think that “certain number” is? Should I set the certain number as a percentage of the difference between the 2 ranks? So in Bautista’s case, maybe I subtract 30% of the difference, so I would rank him 41 instead as compared to ESPN’s 46. If so, what’s a best guess at a percentage? I unfortunately won’t know until 5 minutes before the draft what order, but if I did know my position I would probably make that percentage higher if I’m on either end of the snake (i.e. more aggressive since there will be a longer period between picks) and lower if I’m in the middle.

    If it doesn’t sound right, what would you suggest?

    Though I’d like to have both lists in front of me, after the first couple of rounds our draft tends to get a lot faster – the league manger moves the amount of time from 90 seconds to 30 seconds just to get it done. So….if I have my best guess ranking considering the above definition of value in the system it would make drafting a lot easier and “accurate.” I have tried to do it manually (have my rankings on paper in front of me and cross people off as they are picked) but our draft gets VERY quick starting the 4th or 5th round & failing to keep up can produce sub optimal results.

    • @Tom: I never adjust the ranks and maintain rankings in a Google doc. I just add a column and ‘x’ players when taken. Then I filter out the ‘x’s. If that’s too much, I’d try to keep ESPN ranks for as many rounds as you have 90 seconds/pick.

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