2015 Predicted MLB Standings (Tue 4/7/15)

April 7th, 2015

The 2015 MLB season has begun, and we’re now 1/162 of the way through the regular-season marathon that will conclude in early October.  One of the great things about doing preseason projections is that by aggregating individual players’ stats you start to get a good feel of how each team will fare and whether or not they’ll be playing “meaningful September baseball”.

So, without further ado, here are my projected records for each of the 30 teams, as well as some (admittedly) wild guesses as to how things will shake out in the playoffs:

NL East

Washington 94-68

New York 83-79

Miami 81-81

Atlanta 76-86

Philadelphia 71-91

NL Central

St. Louis 88-74

Chicago 87-75 (wild card)

Cincinnati 84-78

Pittsburgh 83-79

Milwaukee 77-85

NL West

Los Angeles 92-70

San Francisco 85-77 (wild card)

San Diego 83-79

Arizona 79-83

Colorado 75-87

 

AL East

Tampa Bay 82-80

Baltimore 80-82

Boston 80-82

Toronto 79-83

New York 76-86

AL Central

Chicago 85-77

Detroit 83-79 (wild card)

Cleveland 80-82

Kansas City 76-86

Minnesota 72-90

AL West

Los Angeles 84-78

Seattle 83-79 (wild card)

Oakland 79-83

Texas 78-84

Houston 75-87

A few comments on some projections that surprised me:

Chicago Cubs - may not be the proverbial “year away”; if the youngsters produce, Back to the Future may prove to be prescient.

San Francisco - does losing Pablo Sandoval and Mike Morse plus a disabled Hunter Pence spell doom?  Maybe not.

San Diego - they’ve improved, but perhaps not as much as some pundits (and Padres’ fans) would like to think.

Tampa Bay - much of this depends on Stephen Souza living up to expectations; the entire division (excluding the Yankees) has a shot.

Chicago White Sox - their top 3 starters might be as good as Washington’s; the Tigers’ loss of Max Scherzer opens the door.

Oakland - Billy Beane has made a living by greatly exceeding others’ expectations, but I think the well will finally run dry this season.

Playoff Predictions

NL

Wild card:  San Francisco over Chicago

Division round:  Washington over San Francisco, Los Angeles over St. Louis (aka - Charlie Brown finally kicks the football)

League Championship Series:  Washington over Los Angeles (don’t screw it up this year, Matt Williams!)

AL

Wild card:  Seattle over Detroit

Division round:  Chicago over Seattle, Los Angeles over Tampa Bay (do you believe in miracles? no!)

League Championship Series:  Chicago over Los Angeles 

World Series:  Washington over Chicago

I realize I’m not breaking any new ground by predicting Washington to win the Series this year; in fact, I had them winning last year already (over Detroit), and that didn’t exactly happen (Aaron Barrett?!?  Really?!?).  Regardless, hopefully the season will be filled with breakout players, surprise teams, and a lot of close division races.

Enjoy!

-The Sherpa

2015 Tout Wars Mixed League Auction - Preseason Managers’ Poll (Sat 3/28/15)

March 28th, 2015

Last Saturday I participated in my fifth Tout Wars Mixed League auction in New York City - here are the results of the auction.  Thanks to mlb.tv, we also have a video that compresses the nearly 5-hour proceedings into an easier-to-digest 66-second snippet (I don’t believe any of us knew that this was being filmed).

While I accomplished the lofty goal of not embarrassing myself at the auction the way I did last year, I still didn’t have a good sense walking out of the auction of how competitive my team might be this season.  So, rather than go the traditional route of writing an entry recapping each of my purchases in mind-numbing detail and telling you why my team is going to be a contender this season, I decided to try something different.  College football and college basketball coaches are always surveyed before the season starts and asked to rank the top teams (excluding their own from consideration), so why not try something similar with my fellow Tout Wars owners?

I floated the idea to my fellow owners, and thankfully 8 of the 14 chose to participate in this survey.  The request was straightforward:  excluding your own team from consideration, how would you rank your fellow owners’ teams, with 1 being your favorite, and 14 being your least favorite?

Here are the results of the first annual (and, depending on the reaction it generates, perhaps the last annual) Tout Wars’ preseason poll (the numbers in parentheses after owner’s name indicate number of first-place votes their team received out of the 9 responses including my own):

Rank/Owner

1. Derek Van Riper (3)

2. Fred Zinkie (4)

3. Scott Pianowski

4. Scott Swanay

5. Cory Schwartz (1)

6. Tim Heaney

7. Joe Pisapia (1)

8. Zach Steinhorn

9. Ray Flowers

10. David Gonos

11. Nando DiFino

12. Patrick Davitt (tie)

12. Al Melchoir (tie)

14. Scott Engel

15. Paul Singman

Some random observations based on the results:

  • The top two are certainly no surprise, as Derek is the league’s defending champion, and Fred won the league in 2011 (his first year in the league) and 2013, while finishing second in 2012 and 2014 (quite an impressive 4-year run!)  Like the San Francisco Giants, Fred has established a pattern of winning every other year in years when the Giants don’t win the World Series, so if you’re into numerology, this certainly bodes well for Fred’s chances this year.
  •  The three teams people agreed on the most (as judged by the team rankings with the smallest standard deviations) were Derek Van Riper’s, Scott Pianowski’s, and Patrick Davitt’s
  • The three team’s people agreed on the least (as judged by the team rankings with the largest standard deviations) were Joe Pisapia’s, Tim Heaney’s, and Ray Flower’s

Now, I’m pretty sure that the owners near the top of this list will read this and have the reaction “that’s nice to know - I feel good about my team, but it doesn’t mean anything once the season starts”, and the owners near the bottom of this list will read this and have the reaction “this is complete b.s. - I feel good about my team, and it doesn’t mean anything once the season starts”.

We’ll see how things play out, and it will be interesting to look back on this poll at the end of the season and see how closely it mirrored the actual results.

Good luck to everyone this year, polls be damned!

-The Sherpa

Blogger Danny Blomster: Why Jimmy Rollins Isn’t a Hall-of-Famer (Mon 1/19/15)

January 19th, 2015

I was introduced last summer to Danny Blomster, a talented young writer and huge baseball fan - he’s written a very interesting piece on whether former Phillie/new Dodger Jimmy Rollins warrants induction into Cooperstown.  I’m sharing the piece with you with Danny’s kind permission.

Enjoy!

-The Sherpa

Week 2 FAAB Recommendations (Sun 4/6/14)

April 7th, 2014

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to let you know that my weekly FAAB post is now up on USAToday.com!

Thanks, as always, to USAToday’s Steve Gardner (@SteveAGardner on Twitter) for the opportunity!

Have a great week!

-The Sherpa

2014 Predicted MLB Standings (Tue 4/1/14)

April 1st, 2014

With the arrival of Opening Day it’s traditional for those who play with baseball stats (professionally or semi-professionally) to publish their predictions for the upcoming season.  Without further ado, here are my forecasted standings for the 2014 MLB season:

NL East

Washington 88-74

New York 85-77

Atlanta 82-80

Philadelphia 77-85

Miami 74-88

NL Central

Cincinnati 90-72

St. Louis 90-72

Milwaukee 84-78

Pittsburgh 80-82

Chicago 73-89

NL West

Los Angeles 89-73

San Francisco 84-78

Arizona 82-80

Colorado 80-82

San Diego 79-83

AL East

Tampa Bay 84-78

Boston 83-79

New York 81-81

Toronto 79-83

Baltimore 74-88

AL Central

Detroit 91-71

Chicago 78-84

Cleveland 75-87

Minnesota 72-90

Kansas City 72-90

AL West

Oakland 86-76

Los Angeles 84-78

Texas 85-77

Seattle 77-85

Houston 72-90

NL Playoff Teams

Division Winners: Washington, Cincinnati, Los Angeles

Wild Cards:  St. Louis, New York

AL  Playoff Teams

Division Winners: Tampa Bay, Detroit, Oakland

Wild Cards: Texas, Los Angeles

World Series Prediction:  Washington over Detroit

MVPs: Ryan Braun (NL) & Mike Trout (AL)

Cy Youngs:  Jose Fernandez (NL) & Chris Sale (AL)

Rookies of the Year:  Travis d’Arnaud (NL) & Xander Bogaerts (AL)

Happy Baseball Season!

The Sherpa

2014 Tout Wars Mixed League Recap - Leaving It All on the Table (Sun 3/23/14)

March 23rd, 2014

Yesterday I had the honor and pleasure of participating in the Tout Wars Mixed League Auction, which was held at the Sirius/XM Radio studio in midtown Manhattan.  It’s a 15-team league with $260 to spend on the standard 14 hitting spots and 9 pitching spots.  It’s a 5×5 league - we use the standard pitching categories, but switched over from AVG to OBP last year on the hitting side.

Assuming that you’re prepared for an auction, the two biggest auction-day faux pas are

  1. Purchasing players for significantly more than they’re worth
  2. Leaving money on the table at the end of the auction

The first item is somewhat subjective - if I think a player is worth $30, and you think he’s worth $35, we may be using markedly different projections for the same player, or we may be using similar projections and have different ideas on how to act on that information.

Unfortunately, the second item is objective - either you’ve spent all your money at the end of an auction, or you haven’t.  If it’s just a buck or two, you probably haven’t done an irreparable damage to either your roster or your chances of  a competitive squad.  However, if it’s more than that, then chances are good that you could have gone a dollar or two more on several players you lost out on, and ended the auction with a better roster than the one you wound up with.

I usually consider myself a pretty flexible thinker, able to adapt to challenging situations and new information and make the best of whatever predicament I find myself in.  Sadly, that was not the case yesterday at the Mixed Tout auction.  I was way too rigid in sticking to my predetermined values for the top players, and as a result, left a lot of money on the table.

Mind you, not just a dollar or two.  But $61.

I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself up off the floor, stop laughing, and regain your composure. 

“How on earth did you do that?”  ”What happened?”  ”Weren’t you aware of what was going on?”  Those were three of the more polite comments I received following the auction from fellow participants and others who heard about or witnessed my train-wreck.

I had prepared well (or so I thought) for the auction.  I’ve done numerous auctions, both in previous years and in the weeks leading up to this one.  Sure, I’ve left a few dollars on the table at the end of an auction before, but never anything even remotely close to this.  In fact, I’ve never heard of anyone, in any fantasy baseball auction, not even a total newbie, leaving even a third of that much on the table.

How exactly did this happen?  There were a handful of top players whom I thought I was willing to pay enough to land, but when the time came to go an extra dollar or two on the likes of Miguel Cabrera (the one I regret most), Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw (the other one I regret a lot), and Ryan Braun, I held back, figuring I’d be able to get better values later in the auction.  Once all of the top hitters and most of the closers were off the board, and my only purchases so far were Jose Fernandez, Matt Adams, and Rex Brothers, I knew I was in trouble.

I had a choice to make.  Either become more flexible in my willingness to deviate from my pre-auction values and go an extra dollar or two on second and third-tier players, or risk ending the auction with a ton of money left over and sub-optimal roster.  Unfortunately, I stubbornly refused to acknowledge what was obvious to everyone else in the room, and I plowed ahead with my inflexible mindset, damn the torpedoes.

By the time I finally pulled my head out of my sphincter, it was too late - the damage that I’d done was irreversible.  I wound up with quite a few “bargains” among my late-auction purchases, but I had left myself with way too much money for the final stages of the proceedings.

At this point I had another choice to make - should I throw out overbids on players who would otherwise go for a buck or two, just for the sake of appearances (see, I spent all my money!), or should I just play out the string and leave myself with a lot of unspent money when the auction was over?

It got so bad that during the auction’s final break I was invited to go on the air with Jeff Mans, Rick Wolff, and Glenn Colton (who were providing commentary on the auction for Sirius/XM) to discuss my sanity (or lack thereof).

Fortunately, something good did come out of that interview - Glenn Colton suggested that when it got down to my last player (I believe I had two left to buy at that point), I should spend all my remaining money on an injured player such as Patrick Corbin.

Why?  Because the Tout Wars’ rules state that if a player you purchase during the auction is subsequently placed on the DL before the All-Star break, you’re entitled to reclaim 100% of the amount you spent on him during the auction as Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) money.

So, after purchasing Mike Zunino as my second catcher for a mere $3, with my remaining $61 I decided to purchase Brandon Beachy, who has already had his Tommy John surgery, but hasn’t yet been placed on the DL (note:  I decided to eschew Corbin just in case he opts for rehab instead of surgery, even though the rehap option would almost certainly result in his being placed on the DL, which would have given me the opening needed to reclaim the money I’d spent on him).

The silver lining here, if there is one, is that I will have at least $60 more than my league-mates to spend improving my roster once the season starts.  However, unless three Yasiel Puig equivalents get called up during the season and aren’t already on a roster (that leaves out the obvious candidates like Oscar Taveras, Javy Baez, and Gregory Polanco), I’m likely out of luck.   I can always use some of my FAAB to sweeten the pot in trade talks with other owners, particularly those who may be starting the season with less than the full $100 due to a sub-par finish last season, but there’s no possible way to spin this situation as a good thing for Team Sherpa.

On the lighter side, who knows - perhaps my experience yesterday will result in a change to the Tout Wars rules - either a rule capping the amount of FAAB that can be reclaimed or a rule banning participants from acting on suggestions from radio hosts made during the auction.  If such a rule is passed, I would hope that it is dubbed “the Sherpa Rule”, although “the Beachy Rule” is a more likely candidate.

Of course, I’m doing my best to keep yesterday’s events in perspective - no one was hurt or killed, no job or home was lost, and no relationship was destroyed; and if screwing up a fantasy baseball auction is the worst thing that’s happened to me lately, then life is good.  Still, when you’re a competitive person and realize you didn’t do your best (or anything remotely close to your best) in a competition, that stings.

I could be pollyannaish and think that the extra FAAB dollars will allow my team to be competitive, but there’s just no way you can leave that much money on the table with that smart a group of fantasy baseball players and expect to have a shot at winning.  At this point, a more realistic/achievable goal would be to finish with enough standings points to avoid a FAAB hit for next season, but even that may be a stretch.

I’m never one to shy away from a challenge, but there’s something that seems less satisfying about overcoming a self-created challenge than an externally-imposed one.  Either way, I just have to pick myself up, dust myself off, and make the best of the situation.  Failing is never fun; failing so publicly is even less fun.  Still, failure is often the best teacher, and if that’s indeed true, I certainly learned a lot yesterday.

Okay, enough of the public hand-wringing - if you’re interested in seeing the results from the auction, here’s a link to the Tout Mixed Auction spreadsheet.

-The Sherpa 

Week 9 FAAB Recommendations (Sun 5/26/13)

May 26th, 2013

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to let you know that my weekly FAAB post is now up on USAToday.com!

Thanks, as always, to USAToday’s Steve Gardner (@SteveAGardner on Twitter) for the opportunity!

Have a great week!

-The Sherpa

Video: What Impact Will Jurickson Profar Have on Your Fantasy Baseball Team in 2013? (Mon 5/20/13)

May 21st, 2013

Week 8 FAAB Recommendations (Sun 5/19/13)

May 19th, 2013

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to let you know that my weekly FAAB post is now up on USAToday.com!

Thanks, as always, to USAToday’s Steve Gardner (@SteveAGardner on Twitter) for the opportunity!

Have a great week!

-The Sherpa

Week 7 FAAB Recommendations (Mon 5/13/13)

May 13th, 2013

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to let you know that my weekly FAAB post is now up on USAToday.com!

Thanks, as always, to USAToday’s Steve Gardner (@SteveAGardner on Twitter) for the opportunity!

Have a great week!

-The Sherpa