Sunday, March 01, 2009

Potpourri: On Experts and Fantasy Baseball

More than a few readers - including Eric - have taken the Sportsline auctions to task for not being worthy of the "expert" mantle.
Your explanation makes a lot of sense. CBS Sports calling it an "expert" league doesn't jibe with your explanation.

It is the "expert" tag that throws the entire thing off IMO. One wouldn't expect non-keeper leagues to see long-time keeper league draft values.
To be fair to the Sportsline panel, Eric Mack actually calls the league the "annual AL-only Analysts League auction". So, technically, they're not calling it an "expert" league.

But Eric is correct - a number of owners likely do use participation in this league to tout their credentials.

Eugene makes a good point:
Some of these people are Rotisserie experts. Others are guys who write about baseball for a living. That may or may not make them experts on baseball.
I'd agree with that as well. A lot of this has to do with the market that these experts are catering to. I have no idea how many leagues are head-to-head versus Rotisserie, or how many are old style one-league only deep leagues where your ignorance about Emmanuel Burriss will hurt you. If you troll the comments section of the Sportsline fantasy advice boards, though, you'll see the a majority of owners play in mixed leagues and are wondering if they should take Ryan Howard over Ryan Braun in the second round of their draft.

This doesn't mean that traditional Roto formats are going the way of the dinosaur, but it does mean that your seasoned Rotisserie players is far less likely to post a message on a novice message board asking for advice. As a result, it's less likely that this advice will be out there for one-league Rotisserie owner. This cycle perpetuates itself.

I started this blog for this very reason. I couldn't believe how even at web sites devoted to fantasy sports there was such a lack of advice and help for owners in deep leagues. And I'm happy with the audience I've developed; Roto Think Tank is showing a 30% increase in readership from this time last year. But I'm not under any illusions. The market will continue to cater to more rudimentary formats because this is where a vast majority of its audience is coming from.

Eugene also made another good point.
...some of the touts' goal is not necessarily to win these leagues. It's to get certain players- so they can tout that they were the one who bought player x because that's who they're selling in their mag or website.
Toz and I noticed that the first time we played in Sportsline, in 2004. This was the first year the league existed - in a 10-team draft format for both N.L.-only and A.L.-only. As the windshield wiper went around toward the middle and end of the draft, I couldn't believe how many everyday pluggers I was getting at the middle and end of the draft. David Bell, the Phillies everyday 3B that year, was sitting there in the 24th round because other owners were drafting sexier players. Even with the weak pitching draft I had, I finished with 48 out of a possible 50 hitting points and won fairly easily.

I think the goal isn't even selling a magazine, but saying that "I bought Player A and he broke out in 2008." David Bell v.2004 elicits yawns when it comes to this type of exercise. But, as Eugene points out, guys like this win Rotisserie leagues if they're drafted at the right time or purchased at the right price.

IMHO closes the subject - and, hopefully, we all do as well - with this point.
there is some career opportunity in fantasy sports. However, the "expertness" of many of the participants seems to be a result of factors other than knowledge of fantasy gaming.
I'd agree that there is a lack of credentialing in this business. But whose responsibility is that? Who should be blamed? I don't have an issue with writers or web sites that don't claim expertise in Rotisserie. I'm only bothered when a site claims Rotisserie expertise and then gives me a mid-level $15 player as this year's "sleeper".

The nice thing about the Internet is that it's free for me to do this, niche markets can thrive here, and hopefully a few of these blogs will thrive and grow as we attempt to dispense knowledge and improve the game. Whether or not you guys think I'm an expert or not isn't as important to me as making sure that we all continue to push forward in the quest to improve in Rotisserie, all other formats be damned.


Anonymous said...

Well, I keep coming back here, so you must be doing something right.

Gypsy Soul said...

Hi Mike, I havent posted here before mainly because I somehow missed your blog until a few days ago. Rotoman never told me, haha. I have been doing rotisserie since the early 90s but there is always so much more to learn. I enjoy reading the posts at alex's site re players but I havent really found anything like your site. I wish you good luck with it and I totally I agree with you that the more shallow drafts and even roto leagues dont know what they are missing. BTW, I am also involved with the Rotoman Regs league, I mean I have a team there, as well as with Mike Fenger's league, just to give you a little background on myself. Good luck this year. One more thing, I have always found most or all of your postings at Alex's site as one of the ones I pay special attention to.

Tom Kephart said...

Since some of the readers here were asking about various strategies employed by Owners in the CBS AL Analyst League Auction in which Mike and I participated on 2/12 I have posted a response to Mike's 2/26 review of my team which details my strategy. Thanks for everyone's interest.

Donald said...

Mike. I wanted to post here about the CBSSports AL Auction since you have written a lot about it. I wanted to post my thoughts on a few of the issues as a member of the league (

1. My credentials

Am I an "expert"? I don't know how to answer that. I've been playing in exclusively AL leagues since 1991. I have written for many sites over the years providing advice on a variety of players (mostly focused on playing time and managerial tendencies). I take data generated from a lot of sources (BBHQ, BP, Hardball Times, FanGraphs, etc.) and try to integrate that with knowledge of what managers tend to do, who's available on the bench to replace that player, etc. I do this to make assessments based on playing time and performance...and go from there. Does that make me an expert? I don't know. However, I can promise you this: I know what I am doing.

2. My team

My strategy is always "you can't acquire stats if you don't get at bats" (you have to say that like Johnnie Cochran). Thus, I pay extra for guys who hit up in the lineup (re: more at bats) and have little chance of losing their jobs. In a 12-team league, this is a HUGE issue since the waiver pool is virtually empty of any hitters during the season. If you have a guy on your team who goes from starting to the bench (or the Minors), that's a big problem. In a 12-team league, you really want to limit your risk exposure.

How did I do this year? I banked a lot of power bats (Wells, Vlad, Konerko, M. Cabrera, Beltre) plus solid contributors (Jeter, Hill, Ellsbury, Betancourt, Overbay). Those are 10 players destined to get a lot of at bats (except for injuries...). The other four players are two catchers (both starters in Barajas and Navarro) and two guys I got that I didn't want. I nominated Thames for a $1, then went to the bathroom since I assumed he'd go for more. I was surprised he was on my team when I got back. Byrd was nominated as best available player by the AI when I could not find Morales quickly enough from the search box.

Since pitching is easier to find (even during the season), I won't ever spend much on pitching. I was price enforcing when I landed Carmona, but the rest of the guys were a mix of starters and closers-in-waiting. The starters are Davies, Hochevar, Porcello, Millwood and Padilla. Several of those guys are fungible with waiver pool guys (though I was happy to land Braden in the reserve draft) and I'll see how the rest of the spring works out before making a move. My closers-in-waiting are Lowe, Delcarmen and J. Lewis. I like all three of those guys, especially the last two, and I am happy to have them.

Overall, my offense will likely be near the top of the league, but my pitching is always suspect. However, I know how to deal with that as I've been using this approach for many years.

3. The Patton & Co team

I just don't see where this team will finish 20% ahead of the rest of the league. Too many things have to go right and there are several offensive players who can easily find themselves not in the lineup regularly for whatever reason (injury, farmed out, bench player, etc.): Betemit, Rolen, Branyan, Punto, Span, Sweeney, Buck). Certainly Matsui is a risk coming off surgery and Mauer is already hurt.

On the pitching front, there's much more to like with top tier arms in Lee, Beckett, Lackey and Santana (plus Rivera as a closer). However, those five players cost $108. Having four rotation aces is overkill with so much at bat uncertainty on the offensive side of the ball.

4. This league, in general

I was invited into this league two years ago and won it that first year...and finished 4th last year. I have played in several other "experts" leagues in the past, normally with a very competitive finish. This league is like most other leagues in that teams who are out of the race early are not sensitive to roster management. This makes for easier pickings than should be for free agents. I am often surprised at the players I can get in the free agent pool (normally on-the-brink minor leaguers).

At any rate, those are my comments. I like your site here and have read some of your analysis. However, I don't think this league (and this draft year, in particular) is really authentic. The AI we used to run the draft was beta and all of this happened prior to any exhibition games being played. I think this was almost an exhibition auction for a lot of owners. Certainly it got crazy near the end when no one had any money. That really isn't an authentic situation since I think several players went for much higher than they would normally go for (Markakis at $35? Chris Davis at $29? Choo at $21? Sizemore at $51 in a 12-team league?) just to name a few.

Good luck this year.