Players Who Benefited Most With A Change In Scenery

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Players Who Benefited Most With A Change In Scenery

Posted on 14 January 2013 by Guest Writer

Fantasy baseball value can fluctuate depending on the situation that a player is in. Pitchers have a better chance to pick up wins on a good team, while hitters have a better chance of racking up runs and/or RBI when they have talent surrounding them. With so many changes already this offseason, which three players will benefit the most?

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Ryan Madson
After spending his entire career in Philadelphia, Ryan Madson headed to Cincinnati last offseason. He went down with an arm injury before Spring Training ended though, causing him to undergo Tommy John surgery. Now healthy, Madson has signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels who just happen to need a closer.

Before his injury, Madson was emerging as one of the best ninth-inning guys in fantasy baseball. If he can hold onto the job for the Angels, he will get a ton of opportunities to close games as they figure to be pretty good this year.

Shin-Soo Choo
He might just be going down I-71 in Ohio, but Shin-Soo Choo will be going from one of the worst offenses in 2012 to one of the best in 2013. The Reds play in a hitter-friendly ballpark, and he will be flanked with a number of solid hitters to make life easy for him. If Choo stays healthy, he will get a chance to play every day and improve his already impressive all-around numbers.

R.A. Dickey
Dickey won the National League Cy Young Award last season, but is there a chance that he could be even better in 2013? It might seem unrealistic, but several factors could play into things.

For starters, Dickey will be on a team that should win quite a few more games than the Mets. The Toronto Blue Jays are built for 2013, and he will have an offensive squad behind him that could possibly help him pick up a few more wins.

Another thing working in Dickey’s favor is the element of surprise. In the National League, most hitters have seen the knuckleballer quite a bit. In the American League, many will be seeing it for the first time. This should give Dickey a strong advantage against even the most powerful lineups.

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Guest Post: Retrosheet is Still Retro Cool

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Guest Post: Retrosheet is Still Retro Cool

Posted on 31 July 2012 by Guest Writer

By Jeff Polman

Take a trip back to July 18, 1958. It’s a Friday night in Los Angeles, and 10-year-old David Smith is at the Memorial Coliseum to attend his very first game, between the Phillies and Dodgers. His hero is Sandy Koufax, years before he became a great pitcher, and this is far from Sandy’s best performance. In the first inning, he strikes out two but walks four and gets yanked from the action.  Maybe he is just under the weather, because he starts the next night and goes seven and a third innings.

The Dodgers won that Friday night 8-6, lost the next night, and for a long time, David Smith thirsted for the actual accounts of those games.

It was undoubtedly his inspiration for the birth of Retrosheet.

Fifty-four years later, Dave Smith’s non-profit Web site has researched and catalogued over 120,000 major league baseball games for our pleasure and historical use. In some cases you’ll just find box scores, in many others, detailed play-by-play. Because of Retrosheet, in less than a minute you can learn that the first batter Smith saw Koufax face was Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn; that there were 24, 532 other people at the Coliseum and the game took two hours and fifty-five minutes; that Chico Fernandez’s fifth inning homer off Johnny Klippstein went over the short left field screen; and that Shag Crawford and Jocko Conlan were two of the umpires.

Sean Forman’s staggeringly enormous Baseball Reference site can also get you this information, though as Smith relates, a lot of their game data comes from Retrosheet.  A little over a month ago, Retrosheet released box scores for the 1916 and 1917 seasons, and play-by-play details for 1927 and 1947. Although their research is done on a volunteer basis, they have between fifteen and twenty people working on various projects at a given time, so you can expect a constant stream of discoveries ahead.

The first time a friend shared the Retrosheet link with me, I was immediately taken by the site’s lack of visual pizzazz—to be honest, it has no pizzazz whatsoever—but also by the easy-to-navigate passage into Retrosheet’s historical fact library. That the old school TextEdit look of the thing absolutely never changes is part of its charm. As Smith puts it: “Once we found a form that we thought was easy to navigate, we decided not to fiddle with it just for the sake of novelty.”

As a place to instantly find countless baseball facts, it is also one of the greatest Internet time sucks ever created. Dead of winter and you’re stuck at your desk on lunch break and feel like taking in a game? No problem. I’ll do it right now. Let’s see…going to their “link-block” of years, shutting my eyes and clicking my mouse on…1936.  Dropping down to the yearly calendar to hit Saturday August 8th…Okay, the Browns and Tigers split a twinbill in Detroit, with St. Louis scoring seven in the 8th and two in the 9th to take the nightcap, with Jim Bottomley driving in four and Moose Solters three! That was easy.

How about just a quick check of the American Association standings on July 25, 1884? Ah yes, the Columbus Buckeyes are still in second place with a .684 winning percentage and a +114 run differential, but just a half game behind the second place Louisville Eclipse!

Naturally, the first thing I did when I discovered Retrosheet was locate the box score and play-by-play of the first game I attended, 1963 at Fenway Park with the Yankees. (As an aside, framed copies of first game box scores make great gifts for friends and family members.) Retrosheet doesn’t have play-by-plays for every season, but some of the earlier accounts from say, 1921, are a joy to read.  Just so you know, on Saturday April 30 at the Polo Grounds, Giants catcher Earl Smith was ejected in the 6th inning after a called ball for “throwing his glove down.”

Of course, digging up minutiae like this is incredibly time consuming for the Retrosheet team. As Smith says, “The release of play-by-play accounts takes longer than I would like, but it is essential that files not be posted for the public until they have been rigorously proofed. I do not want to be in the position of making retractions.”

Retrosheet formally began in 1989 and was incorporated as a non-profit in 1994, one year after the site was launched. They have five board members and a “webmaster”, and hold their annual meeting at the SABR conference, a group that values the findings of Retrosheet like no other.

When I attended the recent SABR event in Minneapolis, I wandered by the small open room where Retrosheet was starting its meeting. I had heard Dave Smith’s lively presentation two days earlier on the dramatic rise and fall between leagues of stolen base attempts from 1947 to the present, and now he was chairing the modest gathering of Retrosheeters, dressed in his signature Dodgers jersey, his Santa Clausian features lighting up another room. But I wasn’t a Retrosheet member, didn’t really want to hear a “report from the treasurer,” and wandered away.

An hour later during a panel discussion, I was visiting them again—but back on my phone to look up a box score. For me, Retrosheet remains not just a great resource tool, but a trusty digital baseball Wonderland, a place to happily tumble into at any time. Thanks, David.

Jeff Polman writes fictionalized baseball replay blogs, his current endeavor being Mystery Ball ’58. His first such blog, “1924 and You Are There!” has been published by Grassy Gutter Press and is available on Amazon.

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