Which of these doesn’t belong?

mookie_betts_on_april_242c_2015
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Mike Trout
By Keith Allison on Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Last year at this time there were debates throughout fantasy baseball about who should be the number one overall pick in drafts. Many analysts were hell bent on anointing Bryce Harper to that first overall pick over Mike Trout. We saw what happened with Harper last season after his “breakout” season in 2015. Now the question is, who in the top ten will be the Harper of 2017?

According to FantasyPros.com the consensus top ten books look like this:
1. Mike Trout
2. Mookie Betts
3. Jose Altuve
4. Kris Bryant
5. Nolan Arenado
6. Paul Goldschmidt
7. Clayton Kershaw
8. Manny Machado
9. Josh Donaldson
10. Bryce Harper

For us one time on this list sticks out more than any other as a possible bust. Can you guess who? Nope your wrong, or maybe you were right, its Mookie Betts.

In his first two seasons Mookie averaged 12 home runs, 48 RBIs, 63 runs and a slash line of .291/.348/.471 over 197 games, yes a very small sample size. In 2016 Betts is more home runs than in the previous two years combined with 31, had 113 RBIs, 122 runs and a triple slash of .318/.363/.534 over 158 games, and even smaller sample size. So, which small sample size are we supposed to believe?

For me, if I am have the second overall pick in a draft I want to make sure I am getting a top player that has consistently performed that way and Betts is not that guy. Do I believe that he could be the number two overall player come end of the season, absolutely, but I am not willing to bet on it. I don’t want to be the guy that last year took Harper number one overall and kick myself for trusting one breakout season. Betts is deserving of a top ten pick, but not a top five.

My top five picks are easy, Mike Trout, Jose Altuve, Josh Donaldson, Clayton Kershaw and Nolan Arenado. Pick Mookie Betts at your own risk and buyer beware.

Disagree? Great, let us hear about it and why.

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A Deeper Look at Deciding the MVP

 

Every season there is much debate about who should win the MVP award in the American and National Leagues. There are many out there who think that the award should go to a player on a contending team, while others say that is not the case. We decided to look a little deeper and share our opinion on the subject.

The official rules for voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for the MVP award look like this: (1) actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense; (2) number of games played; (3) general character, disposition, loyalty and effort; (4) former winners are eligible; and (5) members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team. As you can clearly read in no way does the strength of the player’s team come in to the rules of voting. There is no mention of games won, a team being in playoff contention or anything else regarding the team a player plays for. So, why is it that so many people in the media and around the water cooler feel that the MVP needs to be on a contending team?

Does a player on a contending team play harder than one who is not? Or do opposing teams not give their best against players on non-contending teams? Of course not, so why care what the team’s performance has been for an individual award.

With all that being said there really is no argument in my mind as to how the MVP should be chosen. It is simple, use Wins Above Replacement or WAR. By definition WAR is a measure of how many wins, or how much value, an individual player brings to a team over a replacement level player. Higher the WAR, the more valuable that player is to their team. It’s a measure that takes team record and performance out of the equation and is strictly based on the individual.

Now that we have established how he MVP awards should be decided it’s easy to see that the National League MVP is Kris Bryant with a WAR of 7.3 and the American League MVP is Mike Trout with an MLB leading WAR of 10.0. Neither of these players isn’t already in the discussion for MVP, which just adds more credibility to the argument that WAR is the measure of who should be MVP.

On a side note, if you don’t realize it Mike Trout’s WAR of 10.0 is somewhat historic.

If you need more proof, then just look at the runner-ups in the AL and NL; Mookie Betts and Corey Seager. Both of them are also in the MVP discussion. Or maybe we should look at last year’s MVPs and where they fell in WAR. Bryce Harper lead MLB in WAR and Josh Donaldson was 5th. Not convinced yet? Ok, 2014’s MVPs Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout were number one and two in MLB WAR.

Yes, there will be plenty who say I am oversimplifying the MVP award by using one stat as the deciding factor, but those people are just behind the times and don’t realize stats rule baseball.

Where Analysts Went Wrong in 2016

Clayton Kershaw
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Every year analyst put out their projections of where they see players finishing for that season in fantasy baseball. They use past history and their own thoughts on which players will improve and which will fall off. Some players like, Mike Trout or Madison Bumgarner, are somewhat easy to predict as they are very consistent. Others, however, can be extremely difficult. In this post we will look at three players that most if not all analyst got wrong. Players that for one reason or another did not live up to analyst expectations.

Bryce Harper, OF Nationals

After an amazing, MVP, season in 2015 everyone had high hopes for Bryce Harper. Many analysts had him as the top ranked player in baseball. After a season of 38 home runs, 97 RBIs, 112 runs, 125 walks and a .322 batting average it was no wonder we expected him to be such a high end player. As we wrote about earlier this season, to see that post click here, we may have over-hyped him. He had only had one season of those great numbers and we may have put too much in to that one season as this season has not compared to that one. Harper is hovering around the 20th ranked player in fantasy baseball this year, still a very good player, but nowhere near where we expected him to be. There have been rumors that he has been playing hurt and with a .255 batting average and only 23 home runs in 2016 we hope those rumors are true. At least that way we would have an explanation for why he is not what we thought he would be and would help us decide what to do in 2017.

Clayton Kershaw, SP Dodgers

Every season Clayton Kershaw is ranked at the top of all analyst rankings and that is well deserved. He never lets owners down as he has been consistently the best pitcher in baseball year after year. Even when he is not number one Kershaw is never far behind. 2016 was no exception as most every analyst had him ranked as the top pitcher and most had him in the top 5 of all players for fantasy baseball. He should have given owners wins, strikeouts, elite ERA and WHIP and just as many innings as any other pitcher out there, but then something went wrong. On June 30th he went on the disabled list, something that analyst could not predict, and has been out ever since. He is near a return now, but with so much of the season gone it is highly unlikely he will finish anywhere near where he was drafted. Even with the injury he still ranks 32 overall and 4th amongst pitchers. While playing he amassed a 1.79 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 145 Ks and 11 wins in 16 starts and 121.0 innings. He was on pace for what could have been his best season in his career, but will fall far short of that.

Andrew McCutchen, OF Pirates

Prior to the 2016 season when fantasy baseball owners heard the name Andrew McCutchen they thought elite outfielder and a player you would love to have on your team. That was not the case for this season. McCutchen has fallen and fallen far in rankings. As the season started the narrative was that he is just a slow starter and that he would turn it on and reward those owners who held on to him, but that has not happened. In 2015 McCutchen finished ranked 32nd overall, dropping 17 spots from where he finished in 2014. Maybe analyst should have looked at that drop in more depth, but we didn’t, we ignored it and he was a consensus top 10 player coming in to this year. Currently he has a .253/.331/.420 slash line which compared to his career line of .293/.382/.487 is a big disappointment. With only 19 home runs and a mere 6 stolen bases to go with his 58 RBIs and 68 runs he is ranked 101st overall in 2016. There is no explanation for why he has fallen so far from what he was and we still don’t know if this will be the norm for him moving forward. None of that matters to those who own him this season though as all they can do is wonder what could have been if he lived up to his expectations.

Others we could have included in this post; Prince Fielder, Carlos Correa, Shelby Miller, Jose Bautista or James Shields.

2017’s #1 Overall Pick

Recently I read an article on CBSSports.com written by Scott White (To read the article you can click here). It made me a bit frustrated. Not frustrated with White himself, since he says Mike Trout would be his top pick in 2017, but about the fact that this even has to be discussed.

I get as fantasy baseball owners we are always looking for the next big thing and we love chasing the hot hand, but when someone like Trout comes along and consistently performs at the level he does there is no reason to ever stray from him. Many owners did this with Bryce Harper this year after one great season and paid the price for it. Next season owners will be doing it again with Mookie Betts or Jose Altuve, but the reality is neither has done it as long or as good as Mike Trout.

My advice, trust the track record because the last thing you can afford to do is waste the first overall pick.

Did We Over-Hype Harper

Originally Posted July 27th, 2016

Bryce Harper
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At the beginning of the 2016 fantasy baseball draft season there were many analysts who had Bryce Harper as their number one ranked player, I was not one of them. Who could blame them though as he finished his MVP season in 2015 as the third ranked player in roto. Analysts fell in love with what the talented, young, outfielder did and said finally he had lived up to what we expected. By any measurement you use, if you thought he was number one, you would be disappointed with what Harper has done this year. It’s our own fault though.

Harper is currently the 46th ranked player in roto, far from the projections of number one he was projected as. He has a .240/.380/.458 slash line this year with 20 home runs, 55 RBIs, 53 runs and 75 walks. If you just look at those number and forget that you drafted him number one you would be happy with the production you have received, but in the context of being drafted number one you are let down.

But why did we let ourselves take one season and get fooled in to thinking that was the new norm. In 2014 Harper finished ranked 332. Yes, he was hurt and was still a kid at only 21 years old, but he never showed us that he could stay healthy or produce the numbers he did in 2015. Harper has taught us a valuable lesson, don’t let one season outweigh the broader numbers. Yes, you can expect players of Harper’s age and talent level to improve from season to season, but don’t put enormous expectations on a kid.

On behalf of fantasy analysts I want to say sorry to Harper, we put too much pressure on you and should not have done that.