Tag Archive | "Bench Players"

Point and Grunt Baseball: The Scrap Factor

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Point and Grunt Baseball: The Scrap Factor

Posted on 19 July 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Schumaker, Skip – Professional diver

With the continued growth of sabermetrics, baseball has a way of quantifying nearly everything that lends itself to being broken down to a single number.  UZR, TZR, total runs saved, dWAR, and even to a certain extent fielding percentage provide what some might consider empirical data-driven tools for evaluating a players performance in the field.  ISO, wOBA, oWAR, and OPS+ create a statistical image of a player’s performance on offense.  Finally, ERA+, xFIP, BAbip, game scores, and different split data sets tell us more than we ever need to know about what pitchers do when throwing a round ball at relatively high speeds.

None of these tools in the analytical tool box can tell you about the most important factor in baseball, and that just happens to be the “sCRAP” factor.  To fully understand and appreciate the sCRAP factor, you must be familiar with the qualitative, albeit subjective components which constitute sCRAP.

  • The basic component for sCRAP is the amount of dirt that appears on a player’s uniform.  Since the sCRAPpiest players on a team tend to be oft-injured or bench players, the percentage of the uniform covered in dirt is divided by the number of innings a player plays in a given game.  If a player has 90% of his uniform covered in dirt and plays exactly half the game, then the dirt component = .2.
  • So “dIRT” = (% of uniform covered / IP)/100.  The dIRT component is technically a cumulative one used later to help calculate sCRAP
  • E” equals the number of true errors made during a season.  This encompasses both errors scored by the official scorer as well as mistakes made in the field that should not be made by a sCRAPy player.  In this way the “true error” deviates from the traditional error in that the “true error” allows the assumption of the double play.
  • Another component for sCRAP is the “GRIT” component which is a “counting stat”.  This means that the final value is arrived at by adding the following together:  Unnecessary slides for any reason + running out a line drive all the way to 1st base despite the ball being caught by an infielder + headfirst slides + hit by pitch + collisions with another player + crotch grabs per at-bat.
  • As is the case with WAR, the sCRAP factor includes a poorly conceived and completely arbitrary position adjustment (POS).  If the number of games started is greater or equal to the number of pinch hit appearances, then the player’s position adjustment is set to “1″.  If the number of games started is less than the number of pinch hit appearances, then the player’s position adjustment is set to “1.000001″.
  • The final piece of the sCRAP puzzle is the “tough out” or “TO” component which is equal to the number of plate appearances in which the player fouls off 5 or more pitches.  Ideally, this would only count foul balls that an average hitter would be expected to put in play.  The problem most frequently associated with this ideal case primarily consists of a really detailed discussion about the concept of “BA+” which is loosely defined as the points below the league average that a player with a high sCRAP factor is hitting.  This necessarily must include both a park factor and a dynamic league factor value broken into slices based on position played.  The calculation of BA+ becomes quite tedious, so naturally the laborious process of putting random numbers together for a “TO” component in complex form becomes non-trivial.

In basic form:  sCRAP = dIRT * E * TO * GRIT * POS

While this relatively simplistic approach to evaluating sCRAP has not gained substantial traction with mainstream baseball people, it has several groups of regional supporters.  Eventually, sCRAP may gain widespread acceptance as a way of differentiating “sCRAP” from “CRAP” which post altogether.

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Drafting for Need

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Drafting for Need

Posted on 26 March 2012 by Dennis Lawson


So close, but so far away...

Congratulations!  You have reached that point in your draft where you have a full set of position players, several starting pitchers, and a couple of relievers.  That is great for you.  However, as the picture above suggests, you have not yet finished what you started.  You need to create some depth on your team.  So does pretty much everybody else in your league, though.  The last 6 or 7 rounds of a draft may consist of 10 different people each grabbing the guy ranked the highest by the experts at Full Spectrum Baseball (that is a shameless self-promotion right there, yep).  Of course, it is quite possible that more than a few of those team owners are simply ready to get out of the basement and outside into the sunlight thing that so many people are raving about these days.

Do not be that owner.  Stop for a moment and think.  Are you drafting the best player available just because he may or may not be the best player available?  More importantly, should you be drafting to fill needs in your team?  Maybe the needs are not immediately apparent, but it is your job to anticipate some of those needs anyway.  Good luck.

If you play in a league that allows you to keep bench players, then you pretty much ALWAYS need a second catcher.  If you pay close attention to when your primary catcher will be sitting out, then you can hopefully substitute that backup catcher for a game or two.  It would be an absolute shame to reach the end of the season with only 120 games played by your catcher.  Give serious thought to who you want backing up the top guy.

  • Jonathan Lucroy, John Buck, and Geovany Soto should all make the short list of 2nd catchers available in a 10 team draft.  All 3 topped the 50 rbi mark and have the potential to hit 15 hr or more a season.

What about anticipating need at first base?  Sure, a lot of those guys are like Prince Fielder and rarely take a day off.  That does not mean you should ignore first base as a position of need.  Personally, I usually opt to stack my “utility” positions with at least 1 guy who qualifies at first base.  Even the 2nd and 3rd tier at 1B can provide you with .775+ OPS and some run production.

  • Do not sleep on guys like Carlos Lee, Nick Swisher, and Howie Kendrick.  After Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, and Prince Fielder, there is still a substantial list of hot names to select from, and they will go fast.  Freddie Freeman, Eric Hosmer, Gaby Sanchez, Adrian Gonzalez, and Mark Teixeira will go quickly as well.  All is not necessarily lost, though.  Lee, Swisher, and Kendrick won’t necessarily last forever, but they aren’t the first names that come to mind, either.
  • If you have a really early pick in your draft, the “Miggy Switch Strategy” might be worth considering.  To employ the strategy, you draft Miguel Cabrera as a first basemen, knowing all along that he will be eligible at 3rd base very early on.  You then use a subsequent draft pick on a full time guy at first base.  Cabrera can cover when your guy at first is injured, or you may build some depth at the corner infield spots that allows you the luxury of making a big trade at some point during the season.

If your league makes use of a middle infield (MI) position, then there your draft could force you to look for guys outside the top 15 at both the SS and 2B positions.

A quick glance at the players available at third base should tell you that there is some reasonably good depth at the position.  Even so, team owners should keep in mind the reasons why so many players are ranked close together at the position.

  • Danny Valencia provides a bit of power, but he does so without providing much in the way of steals or OPS.
  • Chipper Jones was a top 15 guy at 3B last season, but his most recent injury puts him in the “do not draft this guy”  bucket.
  • Remember Chase Headley, because his numbers were a little low last year due to the fact he only played 113 games.  He still managed a respectable number of runs scored, rbi, steals, and OPS.  Headley can definitely fill the stat sheet, and he can play multiple positions.  If he qualifies at positions other than third base, then that is a potential bonus factor.

In need of a real bargain or steal for your 4th outfielder or “UTIL” position?  Cameron Maybin stole 40 bases last year.  Nick Markakis had a bit of an off year in which his production was well below his career average.  He managed only 73 rbi, but he has topped that mark 3 times in 5 years leading up to 2011.  Austin Jackson crossed the plate 90 times last season, even though he only hit .249 with a .317 OBP.  Both numbers are well below what he posted in his rookie season (2010), so he could also be a nice addition as a 4th outfielder.

While I will not argue the merits of having top tier players in as many positions as possible, I will also go on record stating that the extra production from unexpected sources is what makes fantasy baseball really interesting.  You do not earn credibility for drafting the obvious perennial Silver Slugger winner the same way you do by getting an extra 20 hr from a utility guy or 80 rbi from your backup middle infielder.


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team pirates

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DOs And DONTs: Pittsburgh Pirates

Posted on 18 February 2012 by Mark Sherrard

The Pirates surprised a lot of people by starting the 2011 season with a 56-50 record and contending for the NL Central crown.  However, a 16-40 finish ended any hopes of finishing above .500 for the first time in 19 seasons.

As a result, the Pirates have once again shaken up their roster, with only Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker the main holdovers from last season’s starting lineup.  Here’s a look at the DOs and DON’Ts as it relates to the Pirates revamped roster:

  • DO draft Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker.  Both are solid contributors at their respective positions.  McCutchen put together the first of what may be several 20/20 season last year, finishing with 23 homeruns and stolen bases.  While Walker hit 12 homeruns, drove in 83 and scored 76.  Not bad for a second baseman.  However, despite their abilities to help your fantasy team…
  • DON’T overdraft McCutchen or Walker.  McCutchen might be worth taking in the 4th or 5th round in mixed leagues and Walker should go in the teens.
  • DO draft Alex Presley as your 3rd or 4th outfielder.  He has some speed and some pop and could go for 15 homeruns and 20 stolen bases.  He also has the ability to hit for average and, at the top of the Pirates order, he should score some runs.
  • DON’T expect a return to his 2010 form from Casey McGehee.  While I don’t think he’ll be as bad as he was in 2011, when he hit .223/.280/.346, I also think his .285/.337/.464 season in 2010 was probably his career year.  The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
  • I DO like Jose Tabata, even though he has yet to display any of the power that was expected of him.  He is another outfielder who will not hurt your batting average and can give you 15-20 stolen bases.
  • I DON’T like anyone else in the Pirates starting lineup.  Garrett Jones (1B), Clint Barmes (SS) and Rod Barajas (C) do not do much for me and should be considered utility/bench players in NL only leagues and injury replacements, at best, in mixed leagues.
  • DO expect better things from James McDonald.  After a rough first half of 2011, when he posted a 4.42 ERA while walking 4.5 per 9 IP, he turned things around in the second half, posting a 3.93 ERA and only walking 3.6 per 9 IP.  If he can continue to make improvements with his command, he is a potential breakout candidate.
  • DON’T expect a repeat from Jeff Karstens.  Karstens surprised a lot of people by going 7-4 with a 2.55 ERA in the first half of 2011.  But with a hit rate around 24% and a strand rate of 87%, smart owners knew to sell high on him and he proved them right by finishing with a second half ERA of 4.66.  Expect more of the same in 2011 as, frankly, he just isn’t that good.
  • DO take Joel Hanrahan as your primary closer.  As far as closers go, he is about as solid as they come.  He had 40 saves last year to go with a 1.83 ERA.  While his ERA for 2012 might not be that low, he should still be able to rack up a good number of saves, as the Pirates do not have an explosive offense and thus will likely be involved in a lot of close games.
  • DON’T expect more than 140 innings out of Erik Bedard (and that might even be a bit generous).  Bedard has been hit with injuries each of the last 3 seasons, with his high water mark for innings pitched being 129 from last year.  While he has been pretty good, while healthy, he is not the kind of guy to build a staff around, i.e. make sure you have a backup plan for when, not if, he gets hurt.
  • DO avoid the other Pirates starters.  Neither Charlie Morton nor Kevin Correia is going to help your team much and should only be considered in deep NL only leagues.
  • DON’T forget about Pedro Alvarez.  After a horrible year in 2011, the former 2nd overall pick in the 2008 draft is trying to regain his confidence and that of the team.  The Pirates acquired Casey McGehee to give themselves another option at third, but Alvarez still has a ton of upside and the Pirates are hoping that he stakes his claim to the third base job this spring.

Finally, DO take a close look at recent addition A.J. Burnett. Although he hasn’t fared well the last couple years in the AL, he makes his return to the “weaker” NL, where he posted a 3.73 ERA in 7 seasons. He should improve over last year’s 5.15 ERA, if only because he will be facing a pitcher at least once a game.

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