Daily Blog for June 18


Originally published at DFSEdge.

If it seems like David Gonos has been limping around or walking a bit more gingerly than usual over the past couple days, it might be because Doug, Todd and I gave him a serious atomic wedgie for setting the bar so high with Saturdayís Daily Blog.† Or it might be because he stubbed his toe or something.† Iím not admitting to anything.† *cough*teacheríspet*cough*

In any case, itís my turn again, and Iíve decided to actually talk about baseball this week.† Lucky you.† A couple weeks ago, Doug talked about the symbiosis between stats and scouting.† If you know me, you know that a couple drinks of bourbon and a question in this vicinity will get me talking your ear off on the matter.† So with the bourbon already in the tank, Iíd like to give my thoughts on a subject that I find so fascinating.

While itís less common than it was even a couple years ago, youíll still occasionally find people who are strict observers of one school of player analysis while ignoring the either.† These people are childish and ignorant. †While I have a strong statistical background, having helmed the fantasy sections for two of the most prominent sabermetric websites out there (Baseball Prospectus and The Hardball Times), Iím also the only active fantasy analyst to have graduated from MLBís official Scout Development Program.† Neither is sufficient alone to fully evaluate a player.† Theo Epstein once described scouting and statistics as two lenses of the same pair of glasses: sabermetrics.† I like to describe statistics as the ďwhatĒ and scouting as the ďwhy.Ē† Stats tell us that a pitcher is striking out an extra batter per inning this year, and scouting explains that heís doing it because heís getting more velocity on his fastball and is throwing a harder, tighter curveball.

When I talk about scouting, though, I donít talk about the Harold Reynolds-perpetuated nonsense of hustle and grit and that innate, magical characteristic that bestows upon a pitcher an ability to ďknow how to win ballgames.Ē† Iím talking about actual scouting -- mechanics, bat speed, pitch movement, and the like.† Such things arenít always identifiable by an untrained observer watching on television, but I will concede there are benefits to watching games and sometimes you can see that a player clearly isnít right. And Iím not talking about witnessing a pitcher giving up a bunch of runs; Iím talking about noticing something wrong with the process (as for the results, we have stats for that).

I think itís the statistical side that is actually the more interesting topic, however, particularly when it comes to the daily side of fantasy.† Sabermetrics isnít just about looking up statistics and taking them at face value; itís also about deciphering which statistics are meaningful and in what ways.† In traditional fantasy, there is less room to make mistakes like this, but in the daily landscape there are endless pitfalls.† Batter/pitcher matchup data.† Hot and cold streaks.† Home/road splits.† Career in ballpark stats.† These are all topics that are worthy of their own articles, but the key takeaway is not to take anything at face value.† Weíll never have perfect data, and weíll always have to deal with a finite sample size.† Thatís not to say statistics are untrustworthy, but it is to say that we need to look at them within the proper context.† We need to know when our sample size is sufficient for making decisions and when it isnít.

(If any of this sounds familiar to you, you probably read a similar piece I wrote at Baseball Prospectus a couple years ago.† Thereís enough applicability to daily fantasy, though, that I thought it worthwhile to give my thoughts here as well.)

WHAT WAS
Max Scherzer won last night, raising his Win-Loss record to 10-0, which is historically significant for some reason or another.† Turn on ESPN or MLB Network if you care. †Otherwise, treat him like an elite pitching option.

Iíve mentioned it at Fantistics a couple times, but not here yet: Dillon Gee is an underrated strikeout option and an underrated pitching option in general.† He has 32 Ks in his last 29.1 innings spanning four starts, including last night.† Heís not a K per inning guy, but heís got above-average stuff for a guy who throws 89 mph.† Great option for favorable home starts.

Heís getting pricier on most sites now, but damn do I love me some Francisco Liriano, particularly when heís pitching at home in PNC Park.† He took the loss last night but still pitched a decent game with 2 ER, 6 K, and 2 BB in 6 IP.

I was looking forward to recapping Wil Myersí MLB debut, but apparently the Rays decided to take the day off.† Lazy asses.

Carlos Carrasco pitched 7.1 one-run innings last night with 4 K and 1 BB.† He has a seasonal ERA of 8.40 but is a much better pitcher than that and gets the Twins later in the week.† Could be a good cheap option.

D.J. LeMahieu batted second last night and went 1-for-3.† He doesnít always bat second, but when he does, heís sandwiched between some serious players and makes for a great value at second base with solid hitting skills and a little speed.

Jeff Kobernus went 0-for-3 last night, but he batted leadoff.† With Bryce Harper still sidelined and Kobernus starting against lefties, heís a guy to consider this week given that the Nats face three more lefties.† He can hit a little and run more than a little, so if he continues leading off, he may be a good cheap option on sites that put a premium on steals.

Steve Cishek picked up another save last night -- his fifth in a little over a week.† His slow pace to that point was an easily identifiable anomaly to a stat sophisticate like myself, and he gets my seal of approval as a cheap RP option.† Heís the cheapest closer on Draft Street and one of the cheapest on Fantasy Feud.

WHAT IS
I guested on FanGraphsí fantasy podcast, The Sleeper and The Bust, yesterday with one of my oldest friends in the fantasy industry, Mike Podhorzer -- though that may not be saying much considering Iím a baby in this industry and just had my Bar Mitzvah last month (though to be fair, Iím not Jewish and it was roughly a decade later than is traditional; honestly, I just wanted to be hoisted in that chair while everyone dances around me.)† We spent the first few minutes talking about daily fantasy, so itís worth a listen, if for no other reason to hear what I sound like when Iím given just a few minutes of preparation time and am in that awkward not-really-drunk-anymore-but-instead-just-tired-from-the-depressant-effects-of-alcohol phase.

Drew Dinkmeyer, a fellow writer over at Fantistics and a daily player himself, posted a series of tweets yesterday in regard to the new wave of daily analysts:


Hey, heís talking about me!† Or at least Iím pretending that he is.

And hereís your weekly reminder of your chance to play against me in Draft Streetís weekly $300 free roll (join with this link). It uses a Pick ĎEm format that is fun and easy to use.† Youíre given 8 tiers with a handful of players in each, and you just pick the guy you like best from each tier.† It takes as little as two minutes and has become one of my favorite formats for a quick endorphin rush.

WHAT WILL BE
Zach Wheeler makes his MLB debut today, although itís a road game against one of the NLís best offenses, the Braves.† On sites where he costs the minimum, like Draft Kings, you can take a shot if youíre a Mets homer (the secondary stipulation being ďif Mets homers still existĒ), but otherwise Iíd leave him be, especially on sites where heís already slightly pricey.

The Red Sox and Rays play a doubleheader today. Make sure you check your site-of-choiceís rules governing them.

Because I havenít gotten in nearly enough bragging in yet, Iíll point out that my top Strong Play from last Wednesday, Alfredo Figaro, went 7 shutout innings with 4 K, 0 BB, 3 H, and got the almighty Win.† Iím calling him a strong play today against the Astros.

And because Iím not above blatantly ripping off a fellow writer, here are my Gonos-inspired Top 34 pitchers for todayís games with potential value picks bolded:
  1. Matt Cain vs. SDP
  2. Adam Wainwright vs. CHC
  3. Justin Verlander vs. BAL
  4. Cliff Lee vs. WAS
  5. Mat Latos vs. PIT
  6. Andrew Cashner @ SFG
  7. Yu Darvish vs. OAK
  8. Matt Harvey @ ATL
  9. Jeff Samardzija @ STL
  10. Paul Maholm vs. NYM
  11. Ervin Santanta @ CLE
  12. Joe Blanton vs. SEA
  13. Alfredo Figaro @ HOU
  14. Phil Hughes vs. LAD
  15. Alex Wood vs. NYM
  16. Hyun-Jin Ryu @ NYY
  17. Felix Doubront vs. TB
  18. Jeff Francis @ TOR
  19. Zach Wheeler @ ATL
  20. Mike Pelfrey vs. CHW
  21. Randall Delgado vs. MIA
  22. Dylan Axelrod @ MIN
  23. Ubaldo Jimenez vs. KC
  24. Ross Detwiler @ PHI
  25. Jordan Lyles vs. MIL
  26. Chris Archer @ BOS
  27. Jake Odorizzi @ BOS
  28. Jarrod Parker @ TEX
  29. Alfredo Aceves vs. TB
  30. Esmil Rogers vs. COL
  31. Nate Eovaldi @ ARI
  32. Zach Britton @ DET
  33. Charlie Morton @ CIN
  34. Jeremy Bonderman @ LAA