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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.