Fantasy Baseball Round Table: Spring training performances

by Todd Zola, on March 6, 2013 @ 14:01:28 PDT


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Todd Zola

Pittsburgh Pirates 1B/OF Garrett Jones
Carpenter ready to build on 2012?

Let me toss this out there.

Does anyone take heed in John Dewan's claim that a SLG 200 points over a career average may portend a breakout season?

Lawr Michaels

I'm tracking my main interest, the Cardinals' Trevor Rosenthal, along with the Oakland infield and outfield, the Dodgers' infield and Gyorko.

Mostly I look at box scores for playing time, and well, I like being at spring training so I can see what guys are doing, what they look like and, most important, later in the spring, how they are being used.

But I also know most of the time managers will be conservative giving vets the nod most of the time as camp breaks just because that is what they tend to do.

Nick Minnix

I have interest in certain players or situations, sure. Most of the names involved are the same as anyone else's: Domonic Brown, Alexi Ogando, Bruce Rondon, etc., etc., etc.

I'm usually just as, if not more, interested in how players with major health questions are doing. That's not unusual, but I think most people don't evaluate these situations properly, and because of that, such players present real buying opportunities - or real bust potential. I'm incredibly encouraged by what I've read about and seen from Ryan Howard, Luke Scott and Stephen Drew. John Danks' outlook has become a little more promising, too. So far, I've seen nothing that makes me want any part of Derek Jeter. I'm still a little worried about David Ortiz.

Regarding the Dewan theory, I'll note players fitting the profile.

There's definitely a little something to glean from spring numbers. The quality of the competition is pretty important when evaluating them, though. I love this new feature from Baseball Reference - sortable batting stats and pitching stats with a quality-of-opponent (OppQual) measure. You can read the description by mousing over the column or reading about it in the B-R blog. Obviously, such a rating isn't the difference-maker when it comes to evaluating exhibition numbers, but it's one more piece of information - never a bad thing, even if you find out that it's useless or misleading.

Lord Zola's Wrap Up

Even though I brought it up, I don't pay too much attention to the Dewan theory other than to know who my competitors might be eyeing as end-game fodder. All things being equal, I may break a tie using it, but I don't alter my cheat sheets because of it.

One of my favorite ploys in deeper leagues is to target players expected to win the job but who were beaten out by an understudy with a hot spring. It's a little early to pinpoint particular situations, but more often than not, water finds its level and the player losing out usually regains his job and you get a starter for the price of a reserve.

Two position battles I am tracking are Matt Carpenter's audition at second for St. Louis and the shortstop battle in Houston. Carpenter can hit and reminds me a little of the effort to find a lineup spot for Allen Craig. Carpenter isn't quite the batsman Craig is, but he can be a nice late pickup. The Astros are being largely ignored, but either Tyler Greene or Marwin Gonzalez will lead off. Sure, the winner won't score as many runs as a lead-off hitter on a better team, but he won't cost as much either.

Another couple of situations I am following are David Ortiz in Boston and Lance Berkman in Texas. The price for Big Papi is already deflated since he qualifies as utility/DH only. If it falls much more, it could be worth tying up that roster spot assuming his heel cooperates. Berkman is intriguing due to the favorable park and lineup. Right now, I am leery but can be convinced to give him a shot if he is able to hit and run the bases cleanly.

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About Todd Zola,

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at and, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums. Fantasy Baseball

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