Speaking of Projections: do read this.
Once a player becomes unavailable, rather than delete
his line, change the color of his entire line to a light gray. That way you don’t lose sight of your player’s
relative value. If you are working with a hard copy, draw a single line through his name. Here is the upper half of my shortstop
list for 2008:
Fla Ramirez, Hanle
24-b ss 90-37 155
cjhRB Hou Tejada
31-r 86-37 150 ss 475
32-r 85-39 155 ss 467
Guillen, Carlos 32-b 86-37
Cle Peralta, Jhonny 26-r
Tex Young, Mike 33-r
28-r 72-34 140 ss 484
cjh Det Renteria
32-r 75-35 140 ss 471
cjw Bos Lugo, Julio
32-r 72-33 145
CW Cabrera, Orlando 33-r
CW Uribe, Juan
28-r 72-30 140 ss-2b 482
Tor Eckstein, David
33-r bb 72-35
Sea Betancourt, Yun
26-r 73-31 145 ss 473
TB Brignac, Reid
22-l 68-30 40 ss 475
Oak Crosby, Bobby
27-r ip bi 70-31
LAa Aybar, Eric
24-b 65-30 100 ss-2b 473-426
cjhw Min Everett, Adam 31-r ip 64-29 125 ss
KC Pena, Tony
27-r 65-29 140 ss 481
cjh Bal Hernandez, Luis 23-b
Those are the shortstops who provide considerably more value than part-timers due to the fact
that they are starting off the season as their team’s regular shortstop (or are prospects most would consider worth
protecting for next year and beyond). The rest of the shortstops are listed on the right hand column of the same paper or
web screen, so I can easily see what the back-up shortstops are up against towards winning a job if not more playing time.
Don’t forget players get traded, so do not be overly enthused for a weak shortstop just because he has no competition
on his team for the job. Besides, there might even be a shortstop in house you have missed. Last season in 2008 after supposed
starter Tony Pena, I found three other viable options to supplant him at shortstop. However, I still missed their 27 year
old AAA man Mike Aviles who hit a respectable .796 in 2007 at Omaha.
After 51 hot hitting games there in ’08, he came up and locked down the Royals’ shortstop job. The year before
I overlooked listing Brendan Harris who didn’t take long leap frog over Ben Zobrist as the starting Tampa Bay shortstop.
cjhw KC Callaspo,
90 if 472-
cjhw KC Berroa, Angel
30-r 68-31 60 ss
KC Sanchez, Angel
24-r 64-31 70 ss 475
Tor Scutaro, Marcos
31-r 72-34 90 ss-2b 472-427
Tor McDonald, John
33-r 60-28 60 ss 484
Bos Cora, Alex h/j 31-r
80 ss-2b 481-426
Bos Lowrie, Jed
23-b 74-33 70 ss 475
Oak Murphy, Donnie
25-r 71-30 90 ss 474
Bal Bynum, Freddie
30-l 70-30 80 ss-of 468-211
Bal Fahey, Brandon 27-l
80 ss-3b 469-265
Tex Arias, Joaquin
23-r 65-30 60 ss 475
Tex Andus, Elvis
19-r p1 65-31
TB Cannizaro, Andy
29-r 66-32 60 ss-2b?
26-r 72-34 60 ss 472
LAa Rodriguez, Sean
23-r 67-31 50 ss 475
Min Punto, Nicky
30-b 64-32 90 ss-2-3b 476-426-269
Min Basak, Chris
28-r 71-32 60 ss
Min Plouffe, Trevor
21-r 62-29 40 ss 475-
Miguel 33-r 65-31
70 ss-3-1b 464-262-185
Sea Moustakas, Mike
19-l hs 2nd
overall pick ss-if
Sea Truinfel, Carlos
18-r 59-28 LA-hA ss-if
NY Gonzalez, Alberto
25-r 65-31 60 ss 475
28-l 64-31 80 ss 475
Is my color coding not beautiful?
Light blue (“aqua”) are prospects worth noting who will not likely
contribute this year.
Blue-green (“teal”) are under 25 prospects who could earn a starting
spot during the season.
This hazier blue-green (sea green) are under 26 prospects probably hoping for
a back-up job.
Pure green are players age 26-31 fighting just to get out of the minors.
Blue-gray are MLB bench players under 28.
Dark gray are bench players over 27, but still in their peak plateau.
Lavender are bench players past their prime or still trying for a job.
“Rose” players are bench players in danger of getting suddenly much
Bright blue are regulars under 25, generally expecting more improvement.
Dark blue are regulars aged 25-27.
Black signifies the regulars over 27, but still seemingly in their peak plateau.
Dark red are regulars who could be starting to slide downhill. Note to self:
automatically color 32 year old SS dark red (see Jeter, Guillen, Renteria, and Lugo).
Bright red are regulars in danger of steeply going down hill – or sharply
increasing their injury risk.
1st column: Projections Used &
The first column on my player list indicates which sources were used to project his season.
Described below are the projections I used 4 years ago. CHONE and ZIPS are no longer free on Fangraphs. This year 2012, I
used Bill James and to some degree hedged his projections with the others provided plus my own common sense. I look at BABiP
to see if the player had a lucky year. I look at his minor league performance to see if it was being overly ignored. I might
go back over them with PECOTA, but I don’t want to waste too much time on players I am probably not going to be interested
in drafting in the first place.
c - “Carter” – during the winter of 2007/2008 I decided to take the time to
make my own projections. The year before I updated player projections started with an “x”. This year they start
with a “c”. That way I know which year’s rating it is. Whether I make a projection or not, occasionally
I will fudge the numbers, because I know something about that player which is probably ignored in the other projections. These
could be scouting reports, injury history, or personal problems.
j – Bill James projections as obtained from FanGraphs. This site has replaced Hardball Times and The [Toronto] Star’s Player Index as my starting points for player evaluation. Fan Graphs includes BA/BiP, their recent years of Minor League stats, and for
pitchers: K/9, K/BB, HR/9, LOB%, as well as BA/BiP. Of course, it gives their age, too, which is about all you need to know
statistically. James came out a close second in a comparison of hitter projections in a 2005 report in Fantasy Café.
h – CHONE (by Chone Smith) – also taken
from FanGraphs. In a 2007 Baseball Prospectus study on projections, CHONE came in a strong 3rd for hitters and 2nd for pitchers. James was not rated. Marcels are also on here. Since these were the first projections available, last year, I averaged CHONE
and James, then only looked at Marcels to decide which way to round the number.
z – ZiPS by Dan Szymborski of Baseball Think Factory came out well behind James in hitters in the 2005 Fantasy Café study, but came out one of the highest in the more recent
BP study. Ironically, they were the top ERA projections in the FC study, while finishing further down the list in the BP study.
ZiPS does have more players rated, so some ratings are based almost completely on ZiPS (until I add in Warren and PECOTA ratings).
ZiPS is the one system which is by team. This is more difficult for looking up individual players, but much easier for finding
minor leaguers who have demonstrated a pitching or hitting ability worthy of a Major League trial. That niche makes them more
valuable. Unfortunately, due to that method, some players switch teams in-between their team’s assessments and therefore
fall through the cracks un-projected or are projected in a separate Baseball Think Factory article such as this one for Jon Garland. Eventually, they do make it into FanGraphs.
w - Ken Warren’s SWARP is obtainable through the contact info on the home page here. In a January 2004 BP comparison of projection systems, Ken’s beat out ZiPS and many other more notable projections in the market. I have
not seen any comparison using his projections since, but I have seen recent high praise for them. The convenient thing about Ken’s projections is that he gives you a spreadsheet
with the players ranked within each position just as I recommend for your draft guide. Hence, you could use his spreadsheet
and not even bother setting one up for yourself as I am describing in this article. If you know the basics of using Excel,
you can add in any of these other projections next to his.
p – PECOTA – Baseball Prospectus’s projections by Nate Silver. According to not just his own studies, but the Fantasy Café study as well, this is the
best all around projection system. However, the studies did not show it was hugely more accurate than the others listed here.
You see no “p”s in the samples, because the 2008 PECOTAs hadn’t come out by
the time I wrote this. This year, I will probably skip the James, Chone, and my own full blown projections in order to speed
up the process. Probably ZiPS/4 + SWARP/4 + PECOTA/2 is as good as you can do anyway. PECOTA rates twice as valuable because
it is as strongest while at the same time takes the most unique approach. Rather than picking the most indicative statistics
of skill and massaging them based on age and skill sets towards the player’s mean, the league mean, all the while factoring
out luck, PECOTA bases their projections on grouping the player with the players in the past who had the most similar skills/stats
at the same age and projecting based on what those similar players did in their future.
What none of these projection systems do as well as any good Scoresheet player is that key consideration
of playing time. The only way to project that is to keep constantly on top of the news.
Two shortstops have a capital “R” after their name
and one of them (Tejada) has a “B” as well. These are active cross-leaguers in my Robinson and Brett Leagues.
Sometimes after the team, name, age, and handedness
are a few more little color codes in a shade of red. These are injury flags. If the injury is career threatening, I would make the entire listing some
shade of red. Otherwise, the little red letters are just an injury concern. If that
concern is fading, I use dark red. The codes used in this sample are:
ss – should surgery
bb – bad back
ip – generally injury prone
bi – bicep injury
Here is a sample of pitchers showing more injury examples:
ch Bos Buchholz, Clay 23-r
95mc 120 85 23 44 100
ch Bos Lester,
Jon 24-l 6’3 p293sc 160 70
16 49 110
x Min Liriano, Francis 23-l
6’2 93tj11-06120 110 45 33
cRB SF Zito
29-l 6’4 88
m 205 65 17 40 100
czhj Tex Millwood (j/h)
33-r 6’4aihs92stc 185 65 21
ch Tor Burnett, AJ 31-r 6’4 ip97h
165 84 24 40 93
c LAa Santana,
Ervin 25-r 6’2 ip 95s 160 70 22 44 118
ch NY Hughes,
Philip 22-r e p1 94sh 130 75 22 42 135
ch NY Chamberlain,
J 22-r huge 98shc 120 99 30 38 95
ch NY Kennedy,
Ian 23-r 6’0 91cms 150 80 19
x KC Hochevar, Luke 23-r p1.1 (col) 94hcs
- Tommy John surgery Nov. ’06
ai - arm injury
hs - hip surgery
huge – sometimes a player’s physique leads to a greater chance of injuries
Types of Pitches
The pitchers have a column for the speed of their fast ball and yet another code for the type
of pitch they throw. If their primary fastball is a two-seamer, then I have a “2” in front of the number. If they
pitch both a 2 seamer and a 4 seamer, the letter “t” comes after the speed or whatever order it belongs as I try
to list the pitches in order of their effectiveness. The letter codes are taken from the Neyer/James
Guide to Pitchers. The other most common pitches are:
m – sweeping curve
h – hard curve
c – change up
s – slider
l – splitter
u – slicing cutter
v – hooking cutter
86-37 is Tejada’s projected O+S and OBA x 100.
150 is his projected number of games.
ss 475 is obviously his position and range factor.
120 is Buchholz’s projected number of Innings.
85 is his K/9 Innings x 10.
23 is his K/BB x 10.
44 is his projected ERA x 10.
100 is Buchholz’s HR/9 innings x 100.
You may notice Liriano has only 11 on that last column. Notice he has an x instead
of a c in the first column. I haven’t finished working on the pitchers, yet, and you are looking at last year’s
projection for Liriano. Back then, I used Isolated Power Against x 100 for the last column. I still have a slight preference
for Isolated Power over HR/9, because there is a greater N, hence there is less year-to-year fluctuation and therefore plausibly
a more reliable skill measure. However, there is more fielding noise in ISOP, so it is not enough better to ignore the extra
convenience of using the more widely available HR/9. If you are interested, ESPN carries Slugging Average against and Batting Average against for pitchers (ISOP = SA – BA). I may change yet again to Groundball to Fly ball ratio. Although, GB:FB may be an even more accurate compliment
to K:BB as a measure of a pitcher’s ability, in Scoresheet park effects are not neutralized. Hence, I would rather see
a home run rate, if it were nearly as reliable.
Keep in mind that the projected O+S and ERA on your draft guides together with
playing time are only projecting the up coming season. That is fine for veterans you draft to fill a need. However, if you
are hoping to draft a future keeper or if you want to make trades involving keepers, you should look more at the long run.
That is why the list is color coordinated, because values are three dimensional
– they have a time frame (Ability / Playing Time / Development). That is
why I like having the youngest starters in bright blue. For pitchers bright blue
has different implications. Such young starting pitchers are not over the alleged injury nexus and they are likely not established
enough in the majors to be relied upon for continued success. For pitchers, strikeout rate is probably a better indicator
of expected longevity than age.
Another minor danger that I may fall pray to by mixing projections systems is
that some systems might be project a bias towards hitting or pitching. It matters more getting good relative ratings than accurate ratings. If you do not get a projection from one of the systems you are averaging
together, then you have to take into consideration its bias and compensate for it. In a small sample, PECOTA’s projections
for hitters were a little less optimistic than the other projections.
lists have prospects grouped by position, but the ones you draft on speculation
rather than helping your team out in the coming season should be listed
separately. The projections systems mentioned above do a far better job than I
could of translating the various minor leagues, park effects, and skills sets
into Major League production. However, for the blue chip prospects low in the
minors that you want to draft and hold for a couple years and to a lesser
degree all prospects, you have to pay for respectable scouting reports to know
whether they are worth drafting and protecting and how early in the draft they
are worth bagging. Players who have only had a year or less of professional
experience often have not demonstrated their potential in statistics. Some
players may do well in the minors but do not possess the physical or skill
types which typically continue such success into the Majors. To get a good
handle on their relative worth, you need to spend a little money. If you have
already spent a few tens of dollars on Baseball Prospectus, then you have
access to their and
Jason Parks' well researched prospect reports – and he will not steer you
too far wrong. If want to go to the ultimate source, then pay $66 to Baseball
America and subscribe to them
on-line. I’m not sure if Baseball America outperforms all the others in the
public prospect projecting business, but they have been doing it the longest
and are still regarded as the industry standard. If you want the most reliable
handy reference book on each team’s top 40 or 50 prospects – good for looking
over players who get called up mid-season for your supplementary drafts – order
The Baseball Prospect Book. Sickels’s
150 prospects and Top
20 per team can be found on the internet. Finally, legendary Scoresheet web content contributor Jay-Dell Mah used to make
weekly prospect reports of his own, which many of us greatly miss. He is still
around, though, and throws us a few bones such as a link to multiple prospect
rankings. He only asked for donations. Too bad we did not better support him.
let real life interfere
Oh yeah, this
a fourth requirement for optimal draft preparation: time.
You can try to plan your vacations at Scoresheet’s more down
times, but, alas, some things cannot be helped. I have tried to pare the
process down here to just the most important preparations.
most fun part of the players lists comes after you have made all your
projections and notations. That’s when you
rank within each position. However, it can be overwhelming. It’s best not to consider your rankings as fixed
when your draft comes up. As players get protected and drafted, you should
review the remaining players closest to being ready for selection and recheck
their health news, their spring training stats (with a huge grain of salt), and
any transactions their team has made that might affect their playing time (i.e.
up-to-date Depth Chart). Look for echelon
breaks. If there is only one guy left in the top remaining echelon at one
position and three guys left at the top echelon of another, of course, take the
last guy of the echelon.
I attempt to
explain how I rate players for Scoresheet impact in Rating Hitters and Rating Pitchers.
Perhaps, it sounds overwhelming to be adequately prepared for a Scoresheet
draft, but the efforts I suggest here add only a marginal advantage to those
knowledgeable baseball fans who just wing their draft – especially in the early
rounds. You can draft very well for several rounds with just general knowledge.
Obviously these are the players who will gnerally have the most impact.
However, my experience has demonstrated that the better prepared Scoresheet
managers will outperform their colleagues the most when they are deepest in the