Donna's draft list for The Machine was developed using the players identified by BaseballMonster.com as the top free-agents available in Monday's draft. So it should be no surprise that an analysis of each team in our league by the computers at BaseballMonster.com has determined that The Machine is the strongest team in the league. Funny how projections work.
While analyzing fantasy baseball teams using statistical projections is certainly entertaining, it's by no means an exact science. The analysis of our league by BaseballMonster.com is better than some in that it does use our league settings in the projections but it still falls short.
Player values at BaseballMonster.com are based on the standard score statistic, where a value
of 0.0 is the league average. Anything positive is better than
the league average, negative worse. As a general guideline, a value of
2.0 and above for an individual category is very good, -2.0 and below,
really bad. If you want to understand the math, click here.
If you don't like how your team has been assessed, it's easy to find fault with the analysis. Your bench players are rated the same as your starters, even though they may see minimal playing time. I'll exclude bench players when I run weekly projections for each head-to-head series but, at this point, I'm not sure who you will be starting.
What this initial analysis does is provide a road map for improving your team. That has value. You can also compare your team with your division opponents. It's a form of advance scouting.
Like the weather, if you aren't fond of this projection just wait. I'll use Baseball Prospectus to forecast statistical projections for each team in my next blog entry. That will certainly provide a different perspective.
The chart above provides a projection for each team's hitting categories based on the standard score statistic where 0.00 is league average. The chart is sorted by the "hitting" category, which illustrates a team's overall offensive production. Think of the category ratings as a dashboard on your car. If you see warning lights flashing, there's probably something wrong. Here is a short synopsis for each team.
The Machine - It's no surprise that a team featuring Jose Bautista, David Ortiz, Carlos Lee and Shin-Soo Choo is strong in home runs, RBI and runs scored. What is surprising is the team's above average score in strikeouts. Lee and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes have great command of the strike zone. Despite Jacoby Ellsbury's presence in the lineup, Donna Hood's team is below average in base stealing.
Los Coche Bomba - Owner Jenni Kirk has made it a tradition to build strong offensive teams and this year's squad is no exception. The 2013 version of Los Coche Bomba will thrive offensively because of its speed more than its power. Combining Michael Bourn and Cameron Maybin with Andrew McCutchen will create the Fastest Show on Dirt. Unlike other base stealing teams, Los Coche Bomba will also have a high on base percentage, thanks to Miguel Cabrera.
Lower Haighters - Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun and Giancarlo Stanton drive in runs and the Lower Haighters are projected to lead the league in that category. Unlike Los Coche Bomba and the Machine, Robert Hood's team is not disciplined at the plate and will be far below league average in strikeouts. The team will need Alcides Escobar or Angel Pagan to steal bases if it hopes to rise above average in the category.
Bacon at Mile 11 - Bacon is above average thanks to the power numbers, home runs, RBI and on base percentage. Justin Upton, Dan Uggla and Troy Tulowitzki are largely responsible. The offensive weakness is the running game. Lorenzo Cain could exceed his projections in stolen bases in his first full year as a starter, which would make owner Eric Brown very happy.
Give it a Yankee - Brian Benzing's team doesn't strike out much, has good power but lacks scoring punch and a big-time base stealing threat to compliment Erick Aybar. It's also a walking MASH unit as Chase Utley, David Wright, and Corey Hart are all doubtful for the opening series due to injuries.
The Bulls - The Bulls are slightly below average offensively because they don't have a top-of-the-order hitter that can score 90+ runs and steal 30+ bases. But make no mistake, the margin of difference between average and good is very small and Matt Kemp, Carlos Gonzalz and Emilio Bonifacio could push Carolyn Greene's team into the latter category if they stay healthy.
HUMA - This team's offensive makeup has been consistent over three years - power, power, and more power. Joey Votto, Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton are all projected to hit close to 30 home runs but Peter Bourjos is the only player that can steal 25+ bases. David Kahn's team also lacks a second catcher, which could be an issue in weeks where the RBI race is tight.
High Cheese - Hanley Ramirez is the only player on this team projected to score 80+ runs, which is pushing this team below average offensively. Paul Goldschmidt, Mark Trumbo, Chris Iannetta, and Michael Young provide power for Matt Patchell's team, but not a lot of run scoring.
Vicious Fishes - BaseballMonster.com projects this team to be average in home runs but that's hard to believe for a team with Prince Fielder, Paul Konerko and Nelson Cruz. Rafael Furcal has to stay healthy and Dexer Fowler has to reach base if Nikhil Dinesh is going to generate a running game from this lineup.
Scully's Slammers - If Jose Altuve can steal bases and score runs, this team could rise above average offensively. If he bats second in the lineup, his chance of success increase. Despite the projections from BaseballMonster.com, this lineup has better than average power with Mark Teixeira, Matt Holliday and Carlos Peña all capable of 30+ home runs. Leslie King's team should exceed expectations.
Home Run 101 - With Coco Crisp and Brett Gardner in the lineup, this team has no trouble stealing bases. I can hear Baily Penzotti's phone ringing as I write this. This team has never had a consistent source of power and this year is no exception. A power hitter is needed.
Twinkle Toes - This is another team that is better than the projections. Ian Kinsler, Evan Longoria, Lance Berkman and Adam Lind all have 30+ home run power, so the home run ranking appears low. Sunni York needs to add another base stealing threat to go with Kinsler and Alejandro de Aza.
Marin Menehunes - The Menehunes have some work to do. Shane Victorino is the only player projected to steal 20+ bases and the team doesn't have a 30+ home run hitter. Josh Willingham, David DeJesus, Carlos Ruiz and Endy Chavez are replacement-level player and could hit the waiver wire if owner Elizabeth Gravely can catch lightning in a bottle early in the season.
The Cys - Carla King needs Brandon Belt and Justin Smoak to hit 20+ home runs for this team to exceed projections. The Giants and Mariners are doubling down on the same bet. The team has lots of speed and could be in the market to make a deal for a power hitter.
A-Rod's Mirrors - Sean McKenna has five great base stealers but few power hitters in the lineup. Having B.J. Upton, Dee Gordon, Eduardo Nuñez, Drew Stubbs and Ben Revere in the lineup may be a luxury the Mirrors can't afford.
Jersey Boys - It isn't as bad as it looks. If Austin Jackson cuts down his strikeouts he'll reach base more often, score more, and steal more bases. BaseballMosnter says he'll strikeout 170 times. The low RBI ranking is an aberration for a team that can hit home runs but the strikeout rate is out of whack. A team with Rickie Weeks, Jackson and Curtis Granderson will swing and miss quite a bit, which will frustrate owner Leigh-Ann Wendling over 162 games.
While the Jersey Boys have work to do offensively, the pitching staff can win games. In a league where a .500 record can make the playoffs, pitching can carry a team. The chart above provides a projection for each team's pitching categories
based on the standard score statistic where 0.00 is league average. The
chart is sorted by the "pitching" category, which illustrates a team's
overall offensive production. Think of the category ratings as a
dashboard on your car. If you see warning lights flashing, there's
probably something wrong. Here is a short synopsis for each team.
The Machine - The projections looked accurate - until closer Joakim Soria was diagnosed with a bum elbow that could require surgery. That turns a bullpen strength into a big question mark. Ryan Madson, the team's other closer, is also battling a sore elbow, but should be ready for opening day. Donna's team is average to well above average in nearly every pitching category but the 'pen has questions entering the season.
Jersey Boys - There's no reason to doubt the projections for this pitching staff. Led by a shutdown bullpen of Joel Hanrahan, Jonathan Papelbon, and Mariano Rivera, the hurlers will need to lead Leigh-Ann's team while the offense is fortified through the free-agent market or a blockbuster trade.
HUMA - As strange as it looks to see HUMA ranked highly in the pitching categories, the rankings may not be generous enough. Mat Latos, Jordan Zimmerman and the underrated Scott Baker form a solid nucleus of starters while Sean Marshall is one of the league's top setup men and Kenley Jansen is a closer in waiting. HUMA has always been competitive because of a strong offense but now David's team also has a good pitching staff.
Scully's Slammers - This is a good pitching staff and, finally, it has a complimentary offense. Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, and James Shields will be joined by workhorse Mark Buehrle to form one of the league's top starting staffs. Leslie may need to add another setup man to help Tyler Clippard.
Marin Menehunes - Elizabeth will count on above average pitching to keep the Menehunes competitive while she brings in reinforcements for the offense. The staff doesn't have a closer but it has a solid group of setup men in Matt Belisle, Kameron Loe, Javier Lopez, and Takashi Saito. Tim Lincecum and Johan Santana lead the starters.
The Bulls - Carolyn is in a good position, she is average in both pitching and offense. That's the kind of balance you want heading into the season. The pitching does have some health questions as both Shaun Marcum and Chris Carpenter are nursing injuries that could keep them out early in the season. Then there's the issue of Juan Carlos Oviedo or Leo Nuñez as he used to be known. Oh, you haven't heard this story? It's juicy.
A-Rod's Mirrors - This projection is too low for a team with a solid bullpen and decent starters. The ERA number is especially out of whack but it could depend on Max Scherzer, a player that is notoriously wild. Ask Jenni Kirk. It's clear Sean's team doesn't have enough men in the bullpen.
Give it a Yankee - This is another projection that seems a little low based on the strong starting staff but, like Sean's team, Brian's team is light on relief pitching. With Daniel Bard moving to the starting rotation, this team has no setup men. The team is basically punting holds but that strategy hurts the team ERA and WHIP. Brian is primed to trade some hitting for relief pitching.
The Cys - Carla has built an average pitching staff - which is good - but it could be a great pitching staff with the addition of a bullpen. Aroldis Chapman does not have an established bullpen role and Matt Moore is being converted to a starter. That leaves Andrew Bailey by himself. The starting staff is strong and could be stronger if Yu Darvish can command his fastball.
Vicious Fishes - The starters are underrated but Nikhil needs to build a bullpen. He has a shutdown closer in Rafael Betancourt but Chris Sale and Neftali Feliz are both being converted into starters and Javy Guerra is keeping the closer seat warm for Kenley Jansen. The starters can only take the ERA and WHIP so far before they need help from the 'pen.
Home Run 101 - The rating seems right but it's not far off average so a few tweaks could make this staff competitive. The back end of the bullpen needs one more closer to help Brian Wilson. Vinnie Pestano, Sergio Romo and David Hernandez are great setup men. The 'pen's success could hinge on Brian Fuentes, who lost his closer job to Grant Balfour. Bailey will need to watch that battle early in the season and cheer for a few Balfour implosions (at Matt's expense).
Lower Haighters - If this staff wants to be average Clay Buchholz and Brandon Morrow will need to excel. The bullpen is strong, especially the back end, but Robert needs young Addison Reed to step up as a setup man to help the inconsistent starters.
Twinkle Toes - The pitching analysis looks solid as the team has just two bullpen arms. There is no closer, which means Sunni will have to punt the category. Good setup men will be available through May, so she'll need to build her 'pen around eighth inning hurlers. Madison Bumgarner and Ian Kennedy are strong and if Ubaldo Jimenez returns to his 2010 form the starting staff will be exceptional.
Los Coche Bomba - This ranking is generous, given the shape of this staff. Jenni has some work to do. Roy Oswalt is not on an active roster and Matt Garza is the ace of the staff. Alexi Ogando is listed as a starter but he's being moved to the 'pen. It may take a few weeks to assess the starters.
High Cheese - Matt received good news when Grant Balfour was named Oakland's closer. That will give High Cheese a second closer with the possibility of Fernando Salas taking ownership of the closing job at some point in St. Louis. Adam Wainwright and Jared Weaver give the team two aces a the top of the starting rotation.
Bacon at Mile 11 - Not surprisingly, Eric will rely on youngsters to turn this staff around. Trevor Bauer and Drew Pomeranz, two rookies, will need to be slightly above average starters for the staff to succeed. The setup men are better than the projections, especially Jonny Venters and Jesse Crain.