Assessing your own team

by on June 2, 2010 @ 12:00:00 PDT


You don't have to look much beyond your league's category standings to know where your team needs help, but this can be deceptive. Why? Because those standings only record what has already happened, and you cannot assume that the numbers that are in the books are indicative of what is yet to come. If we could make that assumption, then there would be no need for us to play this game after Draft Day.

The process of self-assessment begins with a real look at the strengths and weaknesses of your team. That means you have to look beyond raw HR totals and ERA, and focus on the skills beneath those stats, and the environment in which each player is performing. Some general tips can be found here. It may be gratifying to see your team ride a 15-HR first half performance from your $1 catcher, but if there is little justification for those levels, it might be time to sell high.

Leading Indicators

Power: Beyond raw home run totals are more comprehensive gauges, like slugging average, isolated power and linear weighted power. Two batters, one with 15 HRs and another with 22 HRs might have identical power skills; their HR variance could be caused by a variety of factors, from playing time lost to injury, to a random redistribution of extra base hits. These other gauges will flesh out those discrepancies. Evaluate your power sources with an eye towards whether their current level of production is for real.

Speed: Look beyond raw stolen base totals and focus on a gauge like Bill James' speed scores. Look at managerial tendencies. Some managers like to run. Others don't. If you have a great speedster, but he's playing for a manager that does not like a running game, you are not going to get stolen bases, no matter how much you cuss and throw beer cans at the television.

Batting average: Look at each player's historical levels. Batters will always tend toward their career norms. Also look at their Batting Eye Ratio (BB/K). Do not look at small data sets and pass judgment. If your backup infielder only has 100 AB in June, is batting only .240 but has a history of better and solid support ratios, consider sitting tight.

RBIs and runs: These are team-dependent categories (you can't drive in runs if there's nobody on base). Look at team context. A No. 8 batter on the Rockies is more likely to accumulate more RBIs than a No. 8 batter on the Padres just by virtue of the team he is on, without any regard to his own skill. List your batters with their respective MLB lineup position to see if you're in good RBI and run positions.

Pitching wins: Another team dependent category. Look for clubs with strong offenses before you look at anything else. If you're falling behind in wins and your best pitcher is the No. 1 guy on the Twins or Phillies, you're not going to have an easy time making up ground. For years, Curt Schilling toiled in Philly, pitching as well as any other pitcher, but his roto values were always behind the leaders. Think context.

Saves: Better teams don't necessarily save more games. Look for clubs with mediocre starters, and a manager who likes a "go-to" guy as opposed to a committee approach. If your relief stud has 15 saves in June, but is walking batters at a rate of seven per nine innings, the bottom may fall out before you know it.

ERA and WHIP: Forget these fickle gauges. Look at a pitcher's command ratio (K/BB), strikeout rate (K/9 IP), home run rate (HR/9 IP) and opposition on base average. Look for pitchers with good ERAs but poor support gauges as potential trade bait; arms with poor ERAs but good support stats as potential trade targets.

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Ron Shandler began publishing statistical reports for baseball analysts and fantasy leaguers in 1986. Since then, his enterprise has grown into one of the largest information providers in the industry, producing quality products continuously and over a longer period than any other fantasy baseball company.

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