Tagged: Jim Johnson

What did and didn’t work this year

A part of me feels like I need to provide some credentials if I’m dishing out fantasy advice. I’ve been waiting all year just to see if following my own advice would pay off. I played in four leagues, and the results are in:

1st place – 10-team roto, auction (League of Women Voters)
1st place – 10-team H2H roto, snake
2nd place – 10-team H2H points, snake
3rd place – 10-team H2H points, snake

The most important victory to me is the first one, in the League of Women Voters, a league in which a bunch of my dad’s friends have been playing for decades. I want to look back and 1) try to remember my exact draft strategy; 2) see how well I adhered to it; and 3) see where I went wrong.

I went into the draft knowing I would target a very specific and short list of players. This did not allow a lot of room for flexibility, although I did leave a couple of outfield spots open that I would fill on the fly. I can tell you right away I wish I was stricter on those last two outfield spots. I also did not target any specific category, although I did punt saves for the most part. Although I simultaneously led every offensive category except for stolen bases for most of the summer, it became obvious to me that I accidentally loaded up on batting average and undervalued steals.

What I did right:

  • $1 for Yan Gomes. I guaranteed Gomes would be a top-10 catcher with the chance to break the top 5; he finished No. 4 on ESPN’s player rater. (I also drafted Victor Martinez, and once he gained catcher eligibility, I dropped Gomes. It happened early in the season — too early for me to know better — but I wish I hadn’t.)
  • $16 for Jose Abreu. There’s no way I knew he’d be this good, but after snatching up Yoenis Cespedes off of free agency in the first week of 2012 and drafting Yasiel Puig to my bench in 2013, I pledged to gamble as much as $20, maybe more, on the MLB’s most recent Cuban import.
  • $13 for Martinez. I think he’s perpetually underrated, but I can tell you that not a single person in the world knew V-Mart would hit 30 home runs, let alone 20. I won’t pat my back on this one. I normally wouldn’t keep him, but I may have to in the off-chance he’s pulling a late-career Marlon Byrd on us (in terms of power, that is).
  • $1 for Corey Kluber. My love for Kluber is well-documented. I tempered my expectations and slotted him as my No. 32 starting pitcher, but I vastly underestimated his innings total (45 more innings than I projected), his wins (17 to 10) and, of course, his strikeouts (10.3 K/9 to 8.4 K/9). But I’m glad I took a conservative approach; the most important takeaway is that Kluber clearly exhibited the talent to be at least a middle-tier fantasy starter with upside. And boy, did everyone underestimate that upside.
  • $11 for Cole Hamels. I liked this play at the time, and I still do: I waited maybe a month to get a potential top-10 starter at about half-price. He’s a possible keeper next year ($14 on a $260 budget), but the Phillies’ inability to help him reach double-digit wins is troubling.
  • $2 for LaTroy Hawkins. He’s terrible, but at least I wasn’t the idiot who overspent on the perpetually inept Jim Johnson. How he lucked into more than 100 wins in two seasons is beyond me.

What I did wrong:

  • $51 for Miguel Cabrera. It was the most a player had ever gone for in the league, at least since the Rickey Henderson days. It was hard to predict such a massive drop-off in power — maybe 30 home runs was understandable, but only 25? — and I didn’t leave myself any room for savings. That is, I paid full price instead of looking for bargains, the latter of which was my game plan from the start.
  • $37 for Ryan Braun. An even worse bid, in hindsight, and another instance of paying full price instead of finding the bargain.
  • $10 for Everth Cabrera. Cabrera was a keeper, and he may have gone for more at auction. But wow, what a bust. Again, tough to see something like that coming, especially such a steep decline in on-base percentage.
  • $10 for Brad Miller. I made a bold prediction about Miller before the season started. I think the only thing more amazing than his plate discipline completely vanishing is how much owners in my league were willing to spend on a largely unknown quantity. I really thought I was being sneaky on this one, especially so late in the draft. This was a case in which I was too sold on a guy to budge and take a different name — especially when Dee Gordon and Brian Dozier were still on the board.
  • $12 for Shane Victorino. Was 2013 a flash in the pan or what? I don’t know if this guy’s legs will ever be the same again.

I’m excited to start preparing my projections for next year. I have made some revisions, tweaked some formulas… I’m looking forward to how the projections turn out.

And now I have a concrete idea in my head of how I should approach my ideal draft.

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Time to panic? Pitcher edition, week 1

Should I panic? How can I even tackle this question right now? The breadth of pitchers who performed poorly so far is astonishing, so it’s understandable why you might want to not start the Philadelphia Phillies’ Cliff Lee in his next start or cut ties with Chicago White Sox closer Nate Jones all together. There are times you should panic, and there are times you should remain calm. I’m here to help you tell the difference.

Disclaimer: I get kind of annoyed when analysts waffle with guys, like, “well, I know he’s going to fall apart, but I’ll give him one more chance”. NO! You know he’s going to fall apart, but you’re giving yourself an out! I’m drawing a line in the sand, across this line YOU DO NOT — also, Dude, Chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature. … Wait, where was I? Anyway, I’m not letting myself off the hook. I am here to make the impulse decisions with (and maybe for) you, because sometimes, these impulse decisions make or break a season. Unfortunately, making them really early in the season is an absolutely horrifying experience.

Alex Cobb, SP (TB)
Dilemma: He was less than sharp, and although he gave up only five hits in five innings, he managed to walk more batters than he struck out (four to three). This is highly unlike Cobb, and that’s why I’m more inclined to think it was a case of first-start jitters rather than the beginning of a depressing trend.
Verdict: Don’t panic.

Homer Bailey, SP (CIN)
Dilemma: Lots of hits with as many walks as strikeouts. It was ugly, but he did face the Cardinals, which is no easy task. It’s hard to cut Bailey loose with how much you invested in him on draft day (outside of keeper leagues), but his breakout last year didn’t come out of nowhere, to which his second-half-of-2012 owners can attest. Unfortunately, he faces the Cardinals again in his next start. I’m not one to sit a guy early in the season, and I think it’s Bailey who will make adjustments the second time around, not the Cardinals.
Verdict: Don’t panic.

Stephen Strasburg, SP (WAS)
Dilemma: A 6.00 ERA?! Yeah, but 10 strikeouts in six innings and only a 1.167 WHIP. He got pretty unlucky, and that will happen from time to time. I would be more amped about the other batters he humiliated.
Verdict: Don’t panic.

CC Sabathia, SP (NYY)
Dilemma: Well, uh, he looked horrible. Against the Astros. It’s fine and dandy that he struck out a batter per innings and only walked one, but his fastball has become too hittable with that diminished velocity. I expect the trend to continue, and I think the solid strikeout total is the result of a free-swinging, hapless Astros offense. Remember, I said these are impulse decisions I’m making here. With a bevy of young pitching talent on waivers, I say…
Verdict: Panic.

C.J. Wilson, SP (LAA)
Dilemma: Kind of the same as Strasburg’s. High strikeouts and lots of hits sounds like an old wives’ tale about bad luck on balls in play that I’ve heard many a time. Wilson is not a second-tier starter anymore like he used to be, but he’s solid, and there’s no reason to fret.
Verdict: Don’t panic.

R.A. Dickey, SP (TOR)
Dilemma: Wow… Wow. Six walks. That hurts. I don’t know the first thing about throwing a knuckleball, and I’m sure if you have a bad day, it can be really be bad. But six walks? At least the strikeouts are there, but if your league is anything like any of mine, you probably got Dickey on the cheap. If I saw enticing performances by Seattle’s James Paxton or Toronto’s Drew Hutchison, I may cut ties, too. Surely no one else will touch him with a 10-foot pole until after his next start.
Verdict: Panic.

Corey Kluber, SP (CLE)
Dilemma: If you follow this website, you know how much I love Kluber, and how I preemptively purchased a five-year membership to the Society. Everything about the start is concerning, but I’m too proud to cut him loose. If you got him cheap, you can let him go and try your luck later. And I truly think he will break out; his peripherals were simply too good last year, and I don’t think you can fluke your way into talent like that. But perhaps I’m wrong…
Verdict: Don’t panic.

Cliff Lee, SP (PHI)
Dilemma: Wait, is this a serious question? Look, I know that sucked, but he’s freakin’ Cliff Lee. Calm down.
Verdict: Don’t panic.

Jonathan Papelbon, RP (PHI)
Dilemma: Dude, if you wanted to know what the end of the world would look like, this is it. Except in the form of a metaphor called Jonathan Papelbon.
Verdict: Panic.

Jim Johnson, RP (OAK)
Dilemma: I’ve expressed my distaste for Johnson before. He’s simply not good, and fantasy owners are blinded by two straight seasons of 50-plus saves. He would be lucky to save 35 this year without trouble; it looks like he may not get he chance to save 20 by the end of the week.
Verdict: Panic.

Nate Jones, RP (CHW)
Dilemma: The closer role was never a lock for him to keep. It looks like he agrees. Two hits, three walks and four earned runs without recording an out. Making Casper Wells look like a Cy Young candidate.
Verdict: Panic.

Updated closers rankings

New standings reflect Aroldis Chapman’s injury and Joakim Soria’s victory over Neftali Feliz for the Texas 9th-inning job.

Based on standard 10-team 5×5 rotisserie format.
Updated 3/25/14.

Name – Saves / ERA / WHIP / K’s

  1. Craig Kimbrel – 47 / 2.32 / 0.65 / 106
  2. Kenley Jansen – 39 / 2.48 / 0.87 / 103
  3. Greg Holland – 42 / 2.21 / 0.99 / 97
  4. Trevor Rosenthal – 39 / 2.41 / 1.00 / 90
  5. Koji Uehara – 34 / 2.42 / 0.69 / 81
  6. Aroldis Chapman – 30 / 2.42 / 0.83 / 81 … down 4 spots (CIN committee: J.J. Hoover, Sam LeCure, Logan Ondrusek)
  7. Joe Nathan – 40 / 3.15 / 0.95 / 72
  8. David Robertson – 38 / 3.13 / 1.05 / 82
  9. Jason Grilli – 34 / 2.80 / 1.14 / 78
  10. Sergio Romo – 36 / 2.93 / 0.99 / 67
  11. Grant Balfour – 43 / 3.46 / 1.11 / 74
  12. Glen Perkins – 34 / 2.93 / 0.98 / 68
  13. Ernesto Frieri – 36 / 3.74 / 1.14 / 91
  14. Steve Cishek – 31 / 2.92 / 1.14 / 70
  15. Casey Janssen – 34 / 2.91 / 1.01 / 54
  16. Addison Reed – 32 / 3.19 / 1.18 / 71
  17. Jonathan Papelbon – 33 / 3.30 / 1.14 / 66
  18. Jim Henderson – 32 / 3.76 / 1.18 / 80
  19. Fernando Rodney – 32 / 3.26 / 1.32 / 74
  20. Bobby Parnell – 32 / 2.76 / 1.16 / 48
  21. Nate Jones – 30 / 2.64 / 1.22 / 52
  22. Jose Veras – 33 / 3.62 / 1.22 / 69 … up 1 spot
  23. Huston Street – 29 / 2.52 / 1.15 / 47
  24. Rafael Soriano – 43 / 3.85 / 1.25 / 52
  25. Joakim Soria – 32 / 3.55 / 1.12 / 54 … up 3 spots; won closer role from Neftali Feliz
  26. John Axford – 35 / 4.36 / 1.33 / 80
  27. Jim Johnson – 36 / 3.42 / 1.17 / 41 … down 1 spot
  28. Tommy Hunter – 30 / 3.85 / 1.10 / 43
  29. COL time bomb: LaTroy Hawkins or Rex Brothers
  30. HOU committee: Chad QuallsMatt AlbersJosh Fields … Jesse Crain injured

2014 Rankings: Closers

Rankings based on standard 5×5 rotisserie format.

Name – Saves / ERA / WHIP / K’s

  1. Craig Kimbrel – 47 / 2.32 / 0.65 / 106
  2. Aroldis Chapman – 41 / 2.42 / 0.83 / 114
  3. Kenley Jansen – 39 / 2.48 / 0.87 / 103
  4. Greg Holland – 42 / 2.21 / 0.99 / 97
  5. Trevor Rosenthal – 39 / 2.41 / 1.00 / 90
  6. Koji Uehara – 34 / 2.42 / 0.69 / 81
  7. Joe Nathan – 40 / 3.15 / 0.95 / 72
  8. David Robertson – 38 / 3.13 / 1.05 / 82
  9. Jason Grilli – 34 / 2.80 / 1.14 / 78
  10. Sergio Romo – 36 / 2.93 / 0.99 / 67
  11. Grant Balfour – 43 / 3.46 / 1.11 / 74
  12. Glen Perkins – 34 / 2.93 / 0.98 / 68
  13. Ernesto Frieri – 36 / 3.74 / 1.14 / 91
  14. Steve Cishek – 31 / 2.92 / 1.14 / 70
  15. Casey Janssen – 34 / 2.91 / 1.01 / 54
  16. Addison Reed – 32 / 3.19 / 1.18 / 71
  17. Jonathan Papelbon – 33 / 3.30 / 1.14 / 66
  18. Jim Henderson – 32 / 3.76 / 1.18 / 80
  19. Fernando Rodney – 32 / 3.26 / 1.32 / 74
  20. Bobby Parnell – 32 / 2.76 / 1.16 / 48
  21. Nate Jones – 30 / 2.64 / 1.22 / 52
  22. Jesse Crain – 27 / 3.13 / 1.09 / 61
  23. Huston Street – 29 / 2.52 / 1.15 / 47
  24. Jose Veras – 33 / 3.62 / 1.22 / 69
  25. Rafael Soriano – 43 / 3.85 / 1.25 / 52
  26. Jim Johnson – 36 / 3.42 / 1.17 / 41
  27. John Axford – 35 / 4.36 / 1.33 / 80
  28. Neftali Feliz – 29 / 4.13 / 1.19 / 43
  29. Rex Brothers or LaTroy Hawkins
  30. Chad Qualls – pending

Thoughts:

  • All ERAs are inflated a little bit. Closers (and relievers in general) tend to strand more runners than starters and, thus, prevent runs from scoring as often. My model fails to capture this nuance, but the difference isn’t a huge one, as a 2.32 ERA from Kimbrel is still really, really good. But for a guy with a career 1.38 ERA, it makes sense to expect even better from him.
  • The top 5 are pretty much consensus picks. I think Uehara is worth considering as part of a potential “Top 6” elite tier of closers, and he is absolutely better than Nathan. Are you aware that Uehara has posted a 0.702 WHIP in 219-1/3 innings since 2009? Are you serious? And he still strikes out double-digit batters per nine innings.
  • Johnson is absolutely overrated. The Baltimore Orioles generated 113 save situations the past two years. The Oakland Athletics, Johnson’s new employer, generated only 83. That’s two-thirds the opportunities he used to get. If you’re expecting 50 saves again, you’re crazy. He also strikes almost no one out. Try to catch lightning in a bottle if you want, but I think he is one of the worst investments in the game for saves.
  • Henderson and Crain are really underrated (compared to ESPN), but they also don’t have the job security. That leaves Frieri as the last true bargain. He walks too many batters, but at least he strikes out twice as many as Johnson does. Also, if the Angels bounce back in a big way, he will be the beneficiary of greater workload.
  • Sorry, I was too lazy to project Brothers or Hawkins. I just don’t think Hawkins will last long, but it’s tough to say exactly how long, and it’s not worth guessing. Just get him on the cheap, handcuff Brothers to him and be ready to jump ship.

Choo, Ibanez, Johnson, Balfour, NOT Balfour… and more

I am so far behind, guys. I’m sorry. Really. But hey! Happy holidays! Spend it with the people you love, and if you can’t, be sure to think about them, for they are probably thinking about you, too.

Anyway, yeah, I’m way behind. I’m going to list a handful moves that have been made, in case you were not aware of them, and I will elaborate on the ones that are most intriguing.

Angels sign OF Raul Ibanez
I mean, they needed someone to fill the role of Old Left Fielder once Vernon Wells left. This deal isn’t that bad, though, because the Angels signed the aging outfielder to a one-year contract rather than for two or three years. He won’t hit 29 home runs again, but the power isn’t a fluke, either considering he has surpassed 30 home runs twice since his age-33 season. I expect something more like 19 home runs, but I think he has mid-20s upside as well, as long as he can stay healthy. Ibanez seems like he’s got some Duracell in him, though. He’s the Energizer Bunny.

Preseason rank: Low-tier or backup OF

Astros sign SP Scott Feldman
Feldman is even more irrelevant in fantasy than he used to be.

Twins re-sign SP Mike Pelfrey

Athletics sign RP Jim Johnson
Orioles sign RP Grant Balfour… but fails his physical
This was an interesting pair of moves, considering each player was signed independently of the other for roughly the same price. Balfour is the better pitcher, though, as evidenced by Johnson’s volatile percentage of converted saves. (Balfour, however, does walk a batter too many for my taste.) It was recently announced, though, that Balfour failed his physical and was thus not signed by the Orioles. I don’t know much more about it, but I’m guessing it has to do with his age, considering I heard little (if nothing) about any ailments Balfour experienced in 2013. I have a feeling this will turn into a Mike Napoli type of situation, where a team will get him for a bargain and cash in. In the meantime, he’s teamless. But I wouldn’t let the size of his next contract influence my ranking of him.

Johnson’s preseason rank: Mid-tier RP
Balfour’s preseason rank: Mid-tier RP

Athletics receive SP Drew Pomeranz and RP Chris Jensen, Rockies receive SP Brett Anderson
Say goodbye to any chance of Anderson living up to his potential ever again. Meanwhile, Pomeranz just went from lost-cause prospect to fringe starter-slash-fantasy sleeper. Pomeranz put up great numbers in the minors because being banished to the pitchers’ hell that is Coors Field and has always had good stuff: 10.0 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9. See that? Pomeranz used to be great at limiting home runs. And the high walk rate is negligible with a strikeout rate like his minor league rate. Pomeranz has underwhelmed since getting the call in 2011, though, let alone being humiliated last year in 16 starts. I won’t be surprised if he garners little credence in preseason ranks for 2014. But if the Athletics give him a legitimate shot at the No. 5 spot in the rotation, things could get interesting. I’m not saying he’s worth drafting, because he doesn’t look anything like the pitcher he once was in the minors. But a change of scenery, especially away from Colorado, could be exactly what Pomeranz needs

Pomeranz’s reseason rank: Barely a top-100 starter
Anderson’s preseason rank: Barely a top-100 starter

In other news…

Merry Christmas!