2020 Draft Kit

For many stuck at home during this health crisis, we have suddenly been given the responsibility of “home schooling” our children. For some I know this has been quite a challenge, especially those with more than one child. Fortunately for me I only have one, a first grade girl that enjoys math and reading. Also fortunately for me, I work from home 99 percent of the time, so I’m used to the environment and routine. As for having a kid constantly looking to play, it just feels like the summer to me. Although it did snow here yesterday.

One of the math worksheets I gave my daughter this morning required her to determine which way the alligator mouth opens to. For those not in tune with first grade math lingo, this is referring to the greater than/less than sign. The alligator mouth opens to the bigger number. I can almost see light bulbs going on in some of your heads. Chomp! Chomp! Anyway, I figured I’d play a little game of greater than with points league players for the supposed 2020 season.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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“It’s day 127 of the quarantine and all pitchers have already had Tommy John surgery. Now our first manager is going under the knife.”

“I was reaching for a toothpick and I heard something pop,” said Dusty Baker.

For those who have resorted to wiping their butts with baseball news for lack of toilet paper, Noah Syndergaard has a torn UCL and is kaput for 16-ish months. If only someone told you to avoid Noah Syndergaard, huh? What’s that, Voice In My Head? I told everyone to avoid Noah Syndergaard? Aw, jeez, I think you’re right. Voice In My Head, can I ever be as smart as you? Voice In My Head, “No. Shut up.” Wow, graciousness has left the chat. In my top 40 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball, I had a tier of guys to avoid, that tier had in it Noah Syndergaard, Luis Severino and Chris Sale. Gosh darn it, fellas, I might be as smart as the Voice In My Head. Can you even imagine it? This Syndergaard news is terrible. Dot dot dot. For all the people who wanted to draft him but got off easy because their drafts were delayed until MLB stops washing its hands of the season. Seriously, the only thing that sucks in all of my absolute genie-ness psychic ability is everyone not getting a chance to draft these pitchers before it’s too late. People tend to hate when people take victory laps over injuries, but I have on my Fitbit and I’m going for a jog! I’ve been saying to avoid Syndergaard for so long (two years), due to funky things going on in his peripherals. Maybe I didn’t know 100% he was injured, but I 100% knew something was wrong with him, and have been saying it. Not sure why people are thinking he tore his UCL just this week. This is the Mets and their doctors. Syndergaard was likely injured for the last two years. Okay, I’m out of shape from too much quarantining, so pulling the victory lap into the depot to freshen up with some hand sanitizer. On a side note, all of these guys going for Tommy John surgery might be signaling something else. No, not that they have no porch that needs repair like you during the Corona timeline. It means we might have more baseball this year than next year. If there’s a lockout to start the 2021 season, and baseball returns in June for the 2nd year in a row, how many starts do these guys miss? Not to answer, but to ruminate until our next full season in 2022. Anyway, here’s what else I saw for 2020 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

In these dystopian times, my mind can only wonder if Mad Max could ambush and/or eradicate COVID-19. Probably not since the Rona is invisible, but Max Rockatansky could do unimaginable things when mad, so I’m not completely dismissing the possibility. There is another Max, though, who may ease the pain that COVID-19 has brought into our fantasy baseball universe, and that’s Max Kepler of the Minnesota Twins (Max Scherzer is too old and happy from winning the World Series). And this Max is mad as well because he’s being drafted as the 136th overall player in NFBC drafts from 2/1 – 3/23. Is it warranted for this Max to be mad, and can he bring a ray of sunshine into these gloomy days?

Kepler was signed at the age of 16 back in 2009 for the largest signing bonus ($800k) ever given to a European-born player. He then spent three years in rookie ball, where he hit for a high average, showed good plate discipline, had a high BABIP, and produced 10 home runs and 7 stolen bases in 269 plate appearances during the 2012 season. As he moved up the ranks, the walk rate continued to improve (from 10% to 13%), while the strikeout rate remained very low (13% to 15% range). The BABIP also remained above .300 while Kepler continued to hit for a good average. When he finally received consistent playing time with the big club in 2016, the batting average and BABIP both plummeted, while the walk rate went down to 9% and strikeout rate went to 20%. Not uncommon when making the leap to the majors. He was a 18 home run and 6 stolen base player the first two seasons in the majors. Then in 2018, things started to improve. The walk rate went back to above 11% while the strikeout rate cratered to 15.7%. The batting average and BABIP continued to trend lower, though. He ended the season with 20 home runs and 4 stolen bases. Last season, Kepler broke out with 36 home runs but only stole 1 base. The walk and strikeout rates were similar to 2018, but the ISO spiked while the batting average increased to .252 with a BABIP of .244.

Kepler ended last season as the 107th offensive player for fantasy, so the NFBC ADP seems fair. Is there room for improvement?

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

So, I’ve agreed to draft another fantasy baseball team this weekend.  I honestly can’t tell you how many that makes for me in 2020, and I don’t really care at this point.  At first I was worried about how I could possibly manage juggling so many rosters should baseball ever return (PLEASE, PLEASE return sometime this summer, baseball!) Now, though, I’ve decided that I’m just going to carry on, figuring that having a “problem” like having 20 or 30 lineups to set come July would be the greatest problem I can possibly imagine right now.

Since I’m still drafting and I know many of you are too — either joining public online leagues as a therapeutic way to pass the time, or participating in drafts for leagues you’ve been in for years and have had planned all off-season — I thought I’d look at the current state of players outside the top 250, and which names I have my eye on as being a potential value that late.  I’m basing these ADP numbers on MattTruss’s Monday post in which he included a beautiful spreadsheet unveiling weeks worth of RCL ADP, so theoretically this is data that many of you have actually contributed to.  Some of these players’ values got a slight VHB* bump, others I’m valuing exactly the way I would during a normal season.  This is an extra tough week for me, as I try to keep what would normally be the sunshine-y giddiness of Opening Day from being permanently replaced by an ugly cloud of darkness… but to that end, let’s try to be safe, stay positive, and think about how insanely exciting it will be to finally have baseball to watch, whenever that may be.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

As quickly as the baseball season was approaching it came to a screeching halt even faster. With no baseball on the docket for seemingly a few months at minimum, Grey and myself dug into our Tout Wars auction results. We talk high level strategy in each format and how we executed our pre-draft game plans. It’s not the show you deserve but it’s the show you need! Join us for the latest episode of the Razzball podcast. Oh BTW, wash your hands!

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

You ever draft, like, twelve teams and have eleven teams that are all very similar and one team that is nothing like the other teams? This, here, is that other team. In theory, this team could be my one good team and the other eleven could be garbage, but I sure hope that’s not the case. I started this draft like every other league this offseason — by taking Pete Alonso in the 2nd round. At that point, this team veered into a different direction to never return. For those not in the know, it’s a weekly, 15-team, 5×5, two-catcher league that lasts for 50 rounds and there’s no waivers. NFBC has decided to cut off new slow draft leagues like this one, so I don’t think we’re doing another one this year. Sorry, I wanted to do one more league too. I will now put on The Knack and change the words in my head to My Corona. Anyway, here’s my NFBC draft recap:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Luke Weaver was the perceived center piece in a trade for an MVP candidate, Paul Goldschmidt, only 15 months ago. It feels much longer than that as these days we are stuck inside roll by without baseball, but it’s true. You can look it up! Weaver went on to have a brief, but dynamic 2019 season with a 9.65 K/9 and 1.96 BB/9. There were only 5 qualifying pitchers in baseball from a season ago with a higher K/9 and lower BB/9! Why then am I here to write about my disinterest in Luke Weaver for the 2020 season? Is it the inability to grow luscious facial hair like our illustrious Razzball leader? No. I wish it were that simple. I could save myself 1000 words. Instead sit up and enjoy a few paragraphs on why you shouldn’t waste a top 200 pick on Luke Weaver.

The first strike against Weaver is that he hasn’t shown the ability to break the ceiling on 140 innings pitched in a professional season. This downfall can be alleviated by a condensed season and we have all come to the realization that pitchers with less total innings can have fantasy baseball value if they are dynamic enough. This is where the fork in the road comes in for me and Weaver. For him to be a roster worthy fantasy player you must believe in one of two things. He has the capacity to be an accumulator, or he is so dynamic that a lower innings pitched total can be offset by the per innings numbers he provides. The former, even in a condensed season, seems unlikely based on history. We cannot forget that Weaver is coming off a season in which he missed 4 months with a sprained UCL. The Diamondbacks had already made public that they will be monitoring his innings. That may change, but I ask to you the reader, have we learned nothing from Chris Sale? I know I have. There are only so many Masahiro Tanaka’s in the world who can go multiple seasons with a UCL hanging on by a thread. Since this is the case Weaver must be elite in his per inning numbers in order to be fantasy relevant. There will be owners who believe he can do it, as he did it in 2019. I will not be one of those owners.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

How is everyone hanging in there?  Hopefully you are doing well, maintaining proper social distancing, washing well and catching up on all those shows you’ve been meaning to binge.  I’ll admit, I’m at a bit of a loss without baseball on the horizon, but what else is a fantasy baseballer to do but draft? You know, we prepare for weeks leading up to draft day and I’ve found drafting to be a bit therapeutic in this time of turmoil.  Many of my bigger money leagues have moved their drafts to a later date to be determined, but I’ve been enjoying drafting RCLs aplenty. We went ahead and moved a couple handfuls of RCLs all through the month of April. Now, you all will be able to draft to your heart’s content while under quarantine.  Go ahead and pop down below and take a gander at the spreadsheet to pick a league to join. We’ll also be looking at how this delay in the start of the season has affected some player’s ADPs.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

The BBC announced during the shutdown that when the season returns they will keep airing reruns of Fawlty Davis, delaying Mountcastle for the foreseeable future. The BBC’s head of programming Peter Angelos, noted spendthrift and lover of reality shows, said, “We should air a full season of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here starring Richie Martin trying to unsuccessfully cross the River Ruiz.” Filling their lineup:  Hanser & Renato, a BBC surprise hit, will be returning, and generating some underground enthusiasm is Austin “Martin” Hays, a David Tennant-led vehicle, where he’s a mechanic by day and detective by night, and Dwight Smith Jr. & Jose Iglesias starring in AB Unfab, where they just get gross at-bats. Okay, seriously, what on the earth that is in total lockdown is going on with the Orioles? They announced Ryan Mountcastle was optioned to the minors. THERE’S NOT EVEN ANY MINORS?! There’s no freakin’ baseball, Orioles, you giant nimrods! How can they be so dense? Trey Mancini, which I still pronounce like fettuccini, but hoping he gets healthy, needs some time, I’d imagine. Doesn’t cancer lead to chemo which leads to a lower immune system? That makes me think Mancini won’t be back this year, and I removed him from my top 20 1st basemen for 2020 fantasy baseball, while also moving down Mountcastle. Now all we have to look forward to is the new season of Luther starting Idris Alberto. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this week for 2020 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Dude, what does mine say? Sweet. What about mine? Dude. What does mine say. It says “hey malamoney dude, where is that spreadsheet you’ve promised us”? It’s tattooed right here on my upper back. Unfortunately today is not the day. This whole virus thing we’ve got going on has really put a monkey wrench in my plans. The problem is that my spreadsheet is driven by projections. The problem with my projections is that with the length of the season up in limbo, my projections are kinda in a holding pattern. I highly doubt we are going to see a full season, and am expecting a shortened season. But how short. No clue. There’s even a chance of no season. Say it ain’t so.

So why can’t I just share the spreadsheet with whatever projections I currently have and then adjust once the season is better understood. The short answer is that it would be a boat load of work. Unfortunately the way I created that thing it’s not so simple to just replace the projections, at least not for more than a few players. I have no desire to go through the motions twice once they announce the official plans for the season. A lot of the work I have been doing to the spreadsheet these past few weeks has been to remedy this problem for the future.

Please, blog, may I have some more?