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No Pepper Games - A Fantasy Baseball Blog

Sunday, April 29, 2018






Matt Connor


Wednesday, May 25, 2011


No side effects! Only good result!.. http://www.clubmedian.hu/friends_links.php?wCID=69e2

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fantasy Baseball: Who Needs Another League?

I'm having a little trouble rounding some of my real life friends together to join a league. It's just a very standard 5x5 roto league, with on-base percentage swapped out with batting average. Everything else is Yahoo default. E-mail nopeppergames@gmail.com if you'd like to join.

New Fantasy Concept: Draftbug

Fellow blogger Alex Zelvin has started up a new fantasy website, called Draftbug.com. Draftbug offers daily fantasy sports contests for real money or play money.

Last week, Draftbug opened its first baseball contest of the season. It's a $100 freeroll contest, open to the first 200 entrants (116 spots are filled so far). The top 20 places will win cash prizes, with 1st place getting $24. Registration for the site and the contest are free! Unlike most Draftbug contests, which only last one day, the freeroll involves picking a team of 10 hitters within a salary cap prior to the start of the season. Points will be scored based on how many home runs your team hits during the month of April. More baseball contests will be opened later this week.

At the starting price of free, I don't see how you could pass this up. I've tooled around the site a bit, and everything seems very straight forward and intuitive to use. I love having an alternative to standard fantasy leagues, especially ones where it's you versus the world. See you at Draftbug.com!


Friday, April 13, 2007

Fantasy Baseball: The Moonlight Gram

I also want to draw quick attention over to my list of other baseball blogs, as there is a new addition - The Moonlight Gram. They're good at updating their site, contributing regularly and having fun at the same time (all three things I could take a lesson from). So when you faithfully come here to No Pepper Games, are disappointed that I've failed once again to provide you with the funny, click on over to these guys - they aren't nearly as disappointing as I am.

Fantasy Baseball: Daily Prospect Updates

Keeping up with the daily happenings in Major League Baseball is a tall order for a fantasy owner. And for those who are in deeper keeper leagues, you may be called upon to peer into the strange occurrences in that place known as "minor league baseball". It can be incredibly hard to even keep track of a few names, and remember where to look to find out information about them (unless you subscribe to Baseball America - and even then it's hard).

However, I just received an e-mail from Ben Lipson of TopProspectAlert.com, informing me that he is now providing a free, daily update of all notable performances in the minors. I have no idea how he has the time to do this, nor any clue as to how much he spends annually on energy drinks. Regardless, his sleepless nights are our benefit. You can find his DAILY updated article here: http://www.topprospectalert.com/prospectstats.htm.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Fantasy Baseball: Why We Watch

I will admit that I don't watch nearly as many games that I can. But I do make it a point to pay attention to ESPN's ticker, I have Yahoo scores at the top of my homepage, and obsess fairly regularly like a good fantasy owner should. I also don't have a huge case of Dice-K fever.

But I did tune in last night to the Seattle-Boston game to see Felix Hernandez dominate the Boston lineup, as well as watch Daisuke Matsuzaka in his first home start. What an incredible game. The media this morning kept using language that would suggest that Dice-K's performance was somehow disappointing, but someone is going to have to speak pretty slowly to get me to understand how giving up 3 runs and 9 baserunners over 7 innings is disappointing. Dice-K had absolutely no control over how feebly Boston's lineup fared against King Felix's 1-hit shutout.

My biggest disappointment is that in none of my leagues was I in a position to draft Hernandez. One of my leaguemates was nice enough to draft him just a few slots before my pick and say, "Yeah, I've been reading your blog." You know who you are.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Fantasy Baseball: Play Ball!

The long winter is over, and spring has begun.

The 2007 Major League Baseball season began with Jose Reyes grounding out to first, and the first hit was grittily recorded by a tenaciously hustling David Eckstein as the Mets went on to pound Chris Carpenter for the win last night.

I can't tell you how excited about this season I am. I've drastically reduced the number of leagues I'm in this year, and I feel good about all of them. (Last year I was drawn entirely too thin, and suffered a bit of burnout by August.)

I've also become a bit of a stock-watcher over at RotoHog. The prices are fascinating to me. Who would have thought that Albert Pujols would have skyrocketed that much overnight? Why haven't people caught on to the fact that SP-eligible Jonathon Papelbon is the most valuable player in the league (it's a points league, folks - you want to maximize the number of points per inning pitched, and with the scoring setup, closers dominate from the mound. You want as many relief innings pitched as you can possibly get, and Papelbon gets you an extra arm to do so. This is why I creamed the opposition back when Danny Graves was an SP-eligible closer.).

Friday, March 16, 2007

Fantasy Baseball: S-Words for $500

Set your VCRs ... er ... Tivos, for you cool kids out there.

Date: Tuesday, March 27
Time: 12:00pm (noon) EDT
Where: ESPN

What: The Baseball Tonight crew is going to hold their fantasy draft. And this is bound to be hilarious. Remember when John Kruk predicted Randy Johnson would win 30 games in 2005? Yeah, those were special times. And it's bound to happen again.

Here's what's going to happen: The first round is going to be absolutely ridiculous, as Kruk, Ravech and Gammons are going to display absolutely no insight into how fantasy baseball works, but basing this episode on fantasy ball knowing that the concept should get some exposure.

  • Peter Gammons is going to kill all of them (if there is an actual draft). I doubt he plays any fantasy baseball, but I imagine he understands the concept of "scarcity", "upside" and "math". He also has an encyclopedic understanding of every aspect of the game, a trait held by all sports-loving cyborgs that walk this Earth.
  • John Kruk will take Joe Mauer with his first pick. If they don't draft, he'll say that "Mauer is a no-brain first round pick. He will then name about 7 more catchers that would be solid players to have on your team, citing this as evidence for "scarcity".
  • Karl Ravech will do a decent job, as he's the most likely to have been in a league before and done well. He will look disdainfully towards Kruky after all of Kruk's inexplicable picks.
  • Someone will name David Eckstein as a sleeper, as his grit and determination are important characteristics to have in a fantasy bench player.
  • Someone else will pick Gary Matthews, Jr. under the false understanding that making one incredible catch a year somehow contributes to your fantasy standings.
I cannot wait. And the best part is that at no point will they actually take advantage of the resources of ESPN and call on Funston or Karabell to join in. Listen, this didn't have to be an episode devoted to fantasy baseball - but it is. There are a lot of discussions that can be had comparing fantasy production and actual production, projections, position battles in spring training, etc. I can hope, but I have my doubts.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Fantasy Baseball: It's Good To Be The...


Sorry, but there is no more apt picture to use when talking about King Felix. After giving up the Whoppers and reporting to camp much slimmer than his previous self, Felix Hernandez is poised this year. And since Nando di Fino recently took him #9 overall (his take on the draft) in the mock draft I took part in, I've been giving it some thought, and have given him a second look.

Felix is currently being taken 92nd overall in ESPN drafts, 15th among SPs. That's Round 8 territory for a 12-team league. Is it justified? Last year's numbers indicate that might be about right, if you look only at ERA (4.52) and WHIP (1.34). He's a Mariner, so you know his Win-Loss record isn't great, and that's not going to change much. But let's look deeper:

K:BB - 176:60 - WOW! Over 3:1 K:BB rate is amazing for a starting pitcher.
Groundball Rate: 58.9% - This isn't a well-known stat, so many don't realize how kick-ass this number is. Mid-40s is pretty good. High-40s is awesome. Breaking into the 50s turns a lot of heads. 58.9%?!? This will go down a bit - but not greatly. PECOTA predicts a slight drop to 57.0%.
Age - 21 - I find it hard to hold a lower-than average ERA/WHIP against a 20 year old in the majors. He's clearly worked hard over the post-season, and has excellent peripherals. Is this a reason to take him as a Top 10 SP? No, not really.

Now, I'm not taking him in the first five rounds. There are plenty of better value picks before then. But with the way that SPs have been dropping the last few years (I took Carpenter in the FOURTH round in that mock draft), I'd make back-to-back SP picks in Rounds 5-6 and make Felix one of them. If Felix is averaging 92nd at ESPN, I'll push him way up to #60 and take a chance.

Here's the deal - you're reading this article because you do your homework. You already have an edge going into the draft. A few calculated risks focused around a research-based approach is going to help you dominate your league. If there isn't anyone glaringly obvious on your draft board remaining and Felix Hernandez remains, go with the pure unadulterated talent and have it your way.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Fantasy Baseball: RotoHog Fantasy Baseball

There's a brand new form of fantasy baseball out there, and I'm really excited about it. RotoHog.com is offering something fresh to challenge and stimulate our baseball brains - cash money. They're offering $100,000 to the top performing owner. It's a global-market based system, where a player's value is derived from market supply and demand. And the league is FREE.

"But those leagues have been around forever!" Yes, yes they have. But this is different - those other leagues (like Sporting News fantasy baseball) allowed everyone to have the same players, just so long as you were willing to pay the price. RotoHog limits the amount of players available - the key "supply" side of the equation.

How it works: You no longer have to worry about organizing you and your 11 friends together in a specific time and place. You draft when YOU are available to draft. Each draft is compromised of 12 team owners, regardless of which league they are in. Each draft has a full complement of players to draft. If the players you want to draft are taken by other owners, you can purchase those players on the open market from other owners. You then compete on a number of levels - against your league (and you can join as many leagues as you like), and against everyone else in RotoHog. It's a points-based league, so all team performance is easily comparable across the entire site.

Again, it's free. Take some time to check out the FAQ, the instructional video, and definitely make sure you do a mock draft simulation to familiarize yourself with the controls.

RotoHog.com leagues are open, and begin drafting next week. Feel free to use the referral code of "NoPepperGames" (no spaces).

NoPepperGames: Franchise Owners Needed

A casual franchise league I'm in is in need of a few owners (five). It's a 6x6 Head-to-Head league with 16 teams. Each team is assigned to a particular MLB team, and you have the rights to all the players that were within that system at the beginning of the 2006 season. There is a supplemental draft before each season. There are a few other miscellaneous rules that we can fill you in on if you're interested.

Further league information can be found in this thread.

The teams available are: Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, and the Philadelphia Phillies. Their current rosters can be found in the linked thread above.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Fantasy Baseball: Mock Draft Analysis (Rds 11-24)

Round 11
I'm a very big fan of Cole Hamels this year, and that pick really threw me off. I scrambled a bit, had a hole at 2B, and went with Kendrick. I definitely could have waited a round, because everyone after me passed on Kinsler, and he was a great pick in Rd. 12. I like the Papelbon pick here very much - if he doesn't excel as a starter (and if he does, this is a steal), the Sox may likely move him to closer (and if he does, this is a steal). Uncertainty in Papelbon's case is an illogical drop in his fantasy value. Take note. Best Pick: Cole Hamels Worst Pick: Howie Kendrick

Round 12
Man this was a great round. A lot of people targeting players they seem to have their eye on, and are willing to take a chance on. Three really stand out - Encarncion, Kinsler and Hill. These are all players I'd love to have on my team - but I went with Lidge, who I really like for a return to greatness (Albert's HR is two years removed - get it out of your head, Brad). Best Pick: Ian Kinsler/Cole Hamels Worst Pick: Michael Cuddyer

Round 13
Look at the injury histories here! I'm not injury adverse, but it's interesting to see how these picks clump together. Piazza is in a perfect situation to excel, and a reason why we should think about passing on the top 3 catchers - they go too soon, and the next tier gets taken MUCH later. Best Pick: Mike Piazza Worst Pick: Eric Gagne (I'm just not sold on his 15 IP in the last 2 years) My Pick: Coco Crisp - more balance, and an underrated OF option

Round 14
At this point in the draft, I started getting nervous - my "no 1B until everything is filled" strategy relies on going with Adrian Gonzalez or Conor Jackson (or other late options). I'm not sure how well that translates in H2H. It also prevents you from grabbing a top corner option for your Util spot. I think Gonzalez is a great player, but is a bit more of a Roto specialist. Best Pick: Eric Byrnes (I love this guy, and he's always a late option in the OF) Worst Pick: Freddy Sanchez (he's an H2H non-entity) My Pick: Adrian Gonzalez

Round 15
Say, that reminds me... Felipe Lopez is scheduled to start at 2B, and is an excellent option there. With everyone grabbing SSs so soon in drafts, Lopez is typically left on the table and sits there. Keep that in mind if your league is going 2B-heavy. This round is also a good example of how many position players there are this year, and that reaching for a few SPs early doesn't short you badly on offense - we see excellent picks here for C, 1B, 2B and OF. Best Pick: Kenji Johjima Worst Pick: Adam LaRoche My Pick: Adam LaRoche - not that it was a terrible pick, it's just that there weren't any other options for worst.

Round 16
People are starting to fill holes. I like the Wainwright pick - there's a lot of potential there. However, I'm not sold on Willingham. People loved him as a Catcher last year, and he did put up very good numbers. You can count on close to 25 HRs and 85 RBIs. But I'm not sitting with a hole at OF counting on him to be there. Best Pick: Jonny Gomes (he's the perfect pick for Nando's H2H strategy here) Worst Pick: Mike Cameron My Pick: Rich Harden

Round 17
I have been loading up on youth players - and it could either bite me in the ass or pay off very big. Chris Young (Ari-OF) is going to make a solid run for NL ROY, and Rd. 17 is not that big of a risk with all my starters in place. There are still some good closer options taken, but I'm not biting. One bad outing can ruin a week in H2H. It's better to punt saves than to jeopardize ERA and WHIP. Best Pick: AJ Burnett Worst Pick: Joe Borowski My Pick: Chris B. Young

Round 18
Another sleeper round - every 3 rounds since Rd. 9 it looks like. I was all sleepered out, and went for pure power - Frank Thomas. He surprises every year, and he's devalued every year. However, I wavered between him and Kei Igawa, and Igawa was taken in the next round - I think Frank would have still been available. There is no reason to wait on Igawa - I think people are just seeing how far he'll fall nowadays, and you should be the one to elicit the "Dammit!"s, not the one who's shouting them. Best Pick: Alex Gordon Worst Pick: Morgan Ensberg (not with Gordon on the board) My Pick: Frank Thomas

Round 19
This round is 50/50 on good/bad options. Igawa was robbery in Round 19, and so is Russell Martin. He's not going to put up numbers like McCann, but he's a similar comparison to where McCann was being taken last year. The Otsuka pick is odd, but it's a hancuff, and a smart one at that. Best Pick: Kei Igawa Worst Pick: Ted Lilly My Pick: Kelvim Escobar

Rounds 20-24
Mark Prior (Rd. 20), Salomon Torres (Rd. 21), Ivan Rodriquez (Rd. 22), Curtis Granderson (Rd. 22), Akinori Iwamura (Rd. 24)
General Thoughts: There are still players available that will work in a roster to fill in for injuries or off days. There are some stat-specialists like Podsednik and Shields.
Surprises: No one took a flier on either Homer Bailey or Philip Hughes. I'm not sure in a 10 team league whether that should be expected or not.

My Final Picks:

Anthony Reyes: The Cardinals are going to win a lot of games, and Reyes is currently in line to chalk up a number of those. His peripherals are on the upswing, but I'm not tied to Anthony.
John Patterson: There is no risk in the 21st Round, only upside.
Taylor Tankersley: The potential to close, and has excellent support ERA and WHIP numbers.
Ray Durham: Are you kidding me? If I need to compete in HR at any time, he's an excellent option to back up Kendrick.
Pedro Martinez: His recovery seems to be a bit ahead of schedule, but I'm not holding my breath. He's going straight on my DL, opening a roster slot. When/If he gets back, he's going to continue putting up excellent WHIP/ERA numbers, and decent Ks.

All in all, I'm quite pleased with my team. I think I got out-drafted, but there were people getting paid a lot more than I in this league. That's not exactly a strong excuse, but it works for me! There were a few of my picks that I thought were really good that didn't get a reaction, a few that I didn't that did. The only real surprises came from ESPN/TMR, but those were based more purely off of projections rather than taking into account average draft positions. I feel that my team is more strongly suited for a H2H league, while some of the better rosters may not.

Either way, I had a great time drafting this team and being involved in this. I want to thank everyone involved

Friday, March 02, 2007

Fantasy Baseball: Mock Draft Analysis (Rds 1-10)

I was recently asked to participate in an experts' mock draft this evening, sponsored by FantasyInsiderOnline.com. Not only was this my first major draft of the year, it was certainly my first expert draft of my career. I want to quickly thank FIO.com for organizing this and inviting me, and everyone that participated. It was a wonderfully competitive draft, and I'm interested to see how this turns out, even though we're not playing it out.

The Participants and Draft Order:

1 – Joe Ribando of Insider Baseball (www.insiderbaseball.com)

2 – Ted Kasten of Draft Dynamix (www.draftdynamix.com)

3 – Geoff Stein of Mock Draft Central (www.mockdraftcentral.com)

4 – Brad Stewart of MLB Front Office (www.mlbfo.blogspot.com)

5 – Tim Miller of Fantasy Insider Online (www.fantasyinsideronline.com)

6 – Me!

7 – Matt Hinzpeter of Fantasy Insider Online (www.fantasyinsideronline.com)

8 – Jason Pitts of Fantasy Baseball Mafia (www.fantasybaseballmafia.com)

9 – Nando Di Fino of Talented Mr. Roto/ESPN Fantasy Sports (www.talentedmrroto.com)

10 – Paul Greco of Fantasy Baseball Guy (www.fantasybaseballguy.com)

The results can be found here.

Round One
I'm as eager to hear about Nando's draft theory as you are, and I'll link to it once he posts (edit: Nando explains himself). He said in-draft that he came prepared with a specific plan, and if Felix Hernandez is at the top of that list, we'll see how that goes. Ryan Howard really dropped, and FB.com got an absolute steal. Best Pick: Ryan Howard Worst Pick: Felix Hernandez My Pick: Carl Crawford - My goal going into this draft was to strongly compete in Runs, Stolen Bases and Batting Average. Crawford gives me all of those, and the chance to steal HRs occassionally.

Round Two
I really debated taking Travis Hafner, but he just didn't fit my plan. Plus, Miggy is consistently ranked higher, including on my board. His superior batting is going to consistently win me AVG each week. No big surprises here. Best Pick: Vladimir Guerrero Worst Pick: Manny Ramirez My Pick: Miguel Cabrera

Round Three
And let the shortstop race begin! Half of the starting shortstops are gone by the end of this round, and that's mind-boggling. It's a 10 team league - SSs do not need to move this quickly. FB.com wins the day again with an incredibly big upside pick. Best Pick: Andruw Jones Worst Pick: Hanley Ramirez My Pick: Jason Bay - Jones or Wells may have been better, but again, I'm going for balance.

Round Four
He slid, and he slid and he slid. So I took Carpenter, and he was followed up by 7 more pitchers within the next 15 picks. People start fleshing out their particular draft strategies, as a few reaches are being made. Bobby Abreu is taken, while Coco Crisp and Eric Byrnes await their turn 9 rounds later, and Delmon and Damon 5 rounds later. Best Pick: Chris Carpenter Worst Pick: Bill Hall - Nando could have had Utley and Felix in Rds 1 and 4, instead of Felix and Bill Hall.

Round Five
I wanted Furcal - but Geoff at Mock Draft Central stole him (just like he ended up stealing about 8 of my picks - great draft, Geoff). However, Young's higher AVG should make up for his lack of SBs. Peavy and Webb here are bargains, even though Inside Baseball accidentally hit "draft" on Peavy. Best Pick: Brandon Webb Worst Pick: Aramis Ramirez - great player, maybe a round too early. My Pick: Michael Young

Round Six
4 closers - and I think they're all justified. Ray may have been a better pick than Victor, catchers really dropped in this draft. However, I don't have closers regarded that highly in H2H leagues (20 IP min.), so Victor won out. I have Sheets higher than Smoltz, but both are ranked around here. Best Pick: Ben Sheets Worst Pick: Nick Swisher - no offense to Nando, but Swisher could be had much later. It's certainly going to drive traffic to his site in the near future! My Pick: Victor Martinez

Round Seven
Cano and Roberts are on a small 2nd tier at 2B, and both lasted quite a while. I've advocated to wait even longer, but this is not a bad time to grab these guys. Now was the time for a reliever, but Kazmir is mocking me right after my Cordero pick. Best Pick: Hideki Matsui Worst Pick: Chad Cordero My Pick: Chad Cordero

Round Eight
The 10th SS off the board is Troy Glaus. He may not be eligible in every league, but damn that's a sexy pick. Interesting picks here - Draft Dynamix has forsaken AVG with his Dunn pick, but going back to look at his previous rounds, and he looks to have been in the perfect position to take him. Best Pick: Ryan Zimmerman Worst Pick: Rickie Weeks My Picks: Jeremy Bonderman

Round Nine
What an interesting round. 3 'toolsy' players in Rios, Damon and Young, 5 great pitchers with a lot to prove in 2007, along with Helton and Ordonez who may be on the decline, but can put up Round 5 numbers. Best Pick: Todd Helton Worst Pick: Todd Helton (see what I did there?) My Pick: Delmon Young - the kid has everything I need for this team - SBs, a great average, and some power

Round Ten
My Bonderman pick doesn't look as great as there are so many quality SPs left on the board. However, Jered Weaver in Rd. 10 is a fantastic bargain. But with all these choices, I think Verlander's huge increase in IPs last year is going to hurt that pick. Best Pick: Gary Sheffield Worst Pick: Justin Verlander My Pick: Jered Weaver

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Fantasy Baseball: AL Late Round Picks

In an effort to unite the clans...er...fantasy baseball blogosphere, Dom the Baseball Don over at Fantasy Baseball Island put together a list of Late Round NL picks, and I'm going to offer a few AL picks:

1. Kei Igawa (NYY-SP): I think that Philip Hughes is going to be a very popular pick this year, and will rise a few rounds earlier than he should. But in the few mock drafts I've done, Igawa has been available well into the late late rounds. Both Yankee hurlers are good options for wins, but Igawa may represent a bigger bargain.

2. Dustin Pedroia (Bos-2B): Someone has to play second base for the Red Sox, and all the platoons are usually dominated by the OF for them. He looks to be a Loretta-type player, much better suited for points leagues, but will provide a decent batting average boost. (For those set at 2B, maybe Kevin Youkilis at 3B is more up your alley.)

3. Ian Kinsler (Tex-2B): However nice Pedroia may be, Kinsler is a much surer bet. However, he's also much more likely to be taken in the mid-rounds, which is why I'm listing him later than Dustin. A very 'toolsey' player, Kinsler is poised to produce both power and speed for your roster.

4. Mark Teahen (KC-3B): Being out-hyped by future phenom Alex Gordon is not a bad thing for those looking for draft day bargains. Teahen showed considerable talent finishing off the season in '06, and will feature in an increasingly talented, underappreciated and overlooked Royals lineup. Offering a bit of speed and 20+ HR possibility to go with a smooth swing, here is yet another reason not to reach for a top 5 3B at the top of a draft.

5. Wily Mo Pena (Bos-OF): Still in a bit of a platoon situation, if he manages to get 500+ ABs could very well hit 35 HRs. He could also near .300 AVG, but look for something more around .280. (Strikes out WAY too much for points league consideration.)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fantasy Baseball: They May Not Be Real, But They're Spectacular

I've been over at FakeTeams.com lately, and they have an excellent group of contributors. Multiple articles per day, a strong viewership and active comments all make for a great site. It's a very good mix of daily advice, highlights of baseball articles from other sources, and original insight. Don't forget to tell 'em NoPepperGames sent ya!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Fantasy Baseball 101: Blood, Sweat and Tiers

Chase Utley (Phi-2B) went fourth overall in a recent expert mock draft. Joe Mauer (Min-C) then went 18th overall later in the next round. We all know the importance of these players, and how much they loom over the talent far below them at their respective positions. We also know that there were many players taken after these picks that will provide much better numbers, but at different, “deeper” positions. But at what point do you decide that the draft urgency between Joe Mauer and Victor Martinez is greater than that of the player at the top of your list (and the next guy at that player’s position that will be available when the draft comes back around), and how do you put yourself in a position to utilize this information?

The answer is simple – tier your rankings.

Having cut my fantasy teeth in fantasy football, and being in a long-running baseball points league, tiering my rankings is a necessity. However, it’s much tougher in a Rotisserie league, where the value of SB production must be directly compared to RBI production. Putting a direct numerical value to these figures would involve a great amount of effort – effort I simply don’t have.


That’s right – I’m not going to do it. Coming up with my own rankings is pointless, redundant, time-consuming and redundant. Why? Because people far smarter than I am have beaten me to it, and do it far better than I could possibly dream of. Go to a bookstore, go to amazon.com, run a search on “fantasy baseball rankings”, or go to the fantasy baseball website of your choice (but come back!), and get some rankings – any rankings will do, just so long as they’re relevant. If you find a set of rankings that includes auction values, even better. Now go through these rankings, and divide them by position (for multi-eligible players, assign them to the most scarce position (see Ranking Positional Depth for insight on this). Whenever there is a significant difference between players, draw a line between them.

“What’s your definition of ‘significant difference’?” This too is somewhat subjective. Everyone here in the blogosphere is working on that – do the same research you’ve been doing that found you here reading my ramblings. Check the mock drafts over at www.mockdraftcentral.com and see where the breaks are. Make notes as to how much of a gap this represents. The difference between Utley and Cano/Roberts is much larger than the difference between Mauer/Martinez/McCann and the rest of the catchers. Avoid making too many tiers – three is a good goal (4 or 5 for OF and SP).

When it comes draft day, trends emerge. Fantasy football veterans should be very familiar with the term “run on kickers” or “run on defense” or on tight ends. The same thing happens in baseball – especially with catchers and closers. But occasionally, you’ll witness runs on deeper positions. A more recent expert mock draft saw seven shortstops taken in the first two rounds (15 team league). This is absolutely insane. There are two good picks in these – Jose Reyes (the first taken) and Raphael Furcal (the last taken). “I've never seen a run in a draft that early in my nearly 12 years in fantasy,” remarked Brad Evans of Yahoo! Fantasy Sports. “Typically, I tend to avoid position runs and when shortstops flew off the draft board I tried to concentrate on who were the best available players regardless of position at the time. Usually, you can slip a golden puck pass the goalie in those situations. Travis Hafner with the 7th pick in the 2nd round was just that.”

Boiled down to its basics, your goal is to either recognize comparable talent further down your tier and wait on it, or to draft the final player on a tier. The tough part is realizing that you’ll be working with eight sets of tiers and having to juggle them within a time-limit. Evans succeeded in drafting one of the top teams in that draft because he avoided that ridiculous run on SSs (and a later run on closers).

Saturday, February 17, 2007

NoPepperGames: Chomping at the Bit

Here at NoPepperGames headquarters, the staff has been noticing a huge increase in the amount of traffic. This is due largely to a number of great fantasy baseball blogs out there that have added my link to their sites. I cannot thank Fantasy Baseball Guy, The Waiver Wire, and Fantasy Baseball Island (and soon Lenny Melnick) enough for their contributions.

However nice it is being linked to, and how much it leads viewership increases, all of this means very little if there isn't a product here for you to consume. I dropped off the map mid-season last year, but am positive that this new picture of Cal Ripken hanging next to my desk is all that's standing between me and a consistent level of bloggery. That, and the fact that I'm no longer free-basing horse tranquilizers.

Anyway, if there are any questions you'd like to submit (draft strategy, fantasy team analysis, draft analysis, sleeper suggestions, the color of my eyes) feel free to e-mail me (link on the right).

Friday, February 16, 2007

Fantasy Baseball: Gentlemen, Start Your (Web) Engines!

Today is the day Yahoo! opens up their fantasy baseball leagues. They've delayed it a day in order to install some new fancy accoutrements, so we'll see how those work out. With ESPN.com switching to free leagues, I hope the competition forces them to offer some of the nice features they've had in the PLUS leagues for free.

I noticed that ESPN is offering Head-to-Head points-based leagues, which is (in my opinion) the only way to play a H2H league (but is still a fair ways off from regular Rotisserie, which is the absolute way to be playing fantasy baseball).

Yahoo hasn't dropped the green flag yet, but here's hoping you get a dandy draft time.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Fantasy Baseball: Ranking Position Depth

My 2B rankings discussion of yesterday may be a bit surprising to people (if so, please comment - I'd love to hear some input). I was having a similar discussion regarding the depth and shallowness of the other positions for fantasy baseball, and did some number tinkering. For reference, I used numbers derived from last year's player statistics, projected into a standard points league (detailed at the bottom of this post).

Taking the top 300* hitters (sorry, no pitchers or DHs here - the pitching numbers don't marry well as a direct comparison in points leagues, and the DHs are too few), you get the following standard deviations within those positions. (For those unfamiliar with a standard deviation, it's a rough statistical calculation of how much members of a group vary amongst themselves. If a group all score very similar points, that group will have a very low standard deviation. If the difference between players is great, then their standard deviation will be larger.)

1B 149.0868
SS 144.6618
OF 125.9941
C 119.4956
3B 107.5955
2B 103.2491

*Note: There are 3 Utils of note here (Ortiz, Hafner and Thomas). To fit them in, I'm actually putting them into every category to raise each StDev even

Whoa, what are the Firstbasemen doing up so high?!? Well, when you factor in how unbelievably well Pujols, Howard and Ortiz performed, they really skew the numbers. Plus, once you get beyond the 20th 1B, things really spiral downward. And the high score for SSs seem to be in line with early expert mock drafts, where 8-9 SSs are being drafted before Round 7. So let's focus in a bit, and take just the starters (okay, top 15, 40 for OFs) for a 12 team league:

C 91.97971
2B 77.91002
OF 72.2821
1B 71.14352
3B 64.33469
SS 62.42214

Here's where putting the Utils starts to skew things a bit - take a look at those Catchers! Taking them out gets the following:

1B 69.7932
OF 69.03502
3B 64.33469
SS 53.29755
C 53.02394
2B 49.30079

So what does this mean - grab a 1B as soon as possible? Not necessarily - but it demonstrates a number of things:

1. 2B is a much more consistent category than thought. Utley is still king, and there's a big gap, but once you get beyond that, there's not much variation. (An Utley-free list drops 2B to 34.2.)
2. 1B has incredibly talent at the top. (Without Pujols and Howard, that number drops to 48.1.)
3. OF is consistently mislabelled as a "deep" position. Feel free to wait on your #3, but your #1 and #2 better be good to be competitive.
4. People are drafting SSs with a bit too much enthusiasm. If 8-9 SSs are going in the first 7 rounds, why would you reach for one? Spend your time upgrading your usual SP or OF, and wait for these shallower position players later in the draft.

And don't forget - if you're in a Roto league, these projections MUST be taken with a grain of salt. Keeping track of how you're doing in particular categories is imperative, and points-league rankings do not reflect these differences.

My Points League Setup:
Singles, Walks, RBIs and Runs: 1 pt
Double, Stolen Bases, Sacrifice: 2 pts
Triple: 3 pts
Home Run: 4 pts
Strikeout: -1 pt
Caught Stealing: -2 Pts

Friday, February 09, 2007

Fantasy Baseball: 2007 Second Basemen Draft Strategy

So it seems apparent to everyone that second base is the shallowest position on draft day. Experts have been saying, we've been saying, so it must be true, right? Certainly by looking at last year's numbers, it would certainly seem that way.

But let's take a look. A reputable online fantasy site is currently ranking them thusly (auction values deleted):

1. Chase Utley, Phillies
2. Brian Roberts, Orioles
3. Robinson Cano, Yankees
4. Brandon Phillips, Reds
5. Rickie Weeks, Brewers
6. Howie Kendrick, Angels
7. Dan Uggla, Marlins
8. Tadahito Iguchi, White Sox
9. Josh Barfield, Indians
10. Jeff Kent, Dodgers
11. Marcus Giles, Padres
12. Ray Durham, Giants
13. Ian Kinsler, Rangers
14. Jorge Cantu, Devil Rays
15. Luis Castillo, Twins
16. Orlando Hudson, Diamondbacks
17. Jose Lopez, Mariners
18. Jose Castillo, Pirates

Certainly, after Utley, everyone else paled in comparison. But after Utley, was there really all that much difference between these players? If I miss out on drafting Utley, am I hosed? No, I really don't think so. All of those players between #2-9 could put up nearly identical numbers. If Kent and Giles return healthy and play 140 games, they could put up similar numbers. If Kinsler is as good as they say, he could put up 20-20 numbers. (I have no idea why Durham is listed so highly.) I think Cantu is in for a better year than last year, and Castillo (the Luis flavor) is always a good source of SBs. Lopez is a potential to breakout as well.

So while none of those guys are going to put up Chase Utley numbers in '07, they all are going to be good go-to players. And in '08, we could be saying "Get your good 1B while you can, because the 2Bs are identical from #1-10."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

NoPepperGames: Buck O'Neil for HoF

Normally, Jeff Passan's Yahoo Sports column is an interesting read. Today, the article "Biking for Buck" is an essential read. I'll let Jeff's words regarding the four individuals biking from Seattle to Kansas City speak for themselves.

Actually, I'll go a bit further. I just donated a small $10 donation to their cause. It seems the four are running out of money, and have just 10 more days to get to Kansas City. Their website, www.ThanksBuck.com, accepts PayPal donations. Any extra funds will be directed to the Buck O'Neil Education and Research Center, a most worthy cause.

So I challenge my incredibly small (but loyal!) readership to match my commitment, and forward this on to the rest of your fantasy leagues. Having had met Buck O'Neil in person is an honor I will always remember - he's an incredible man, whose omission from last year's Hall of Fame inductions will forever be a mar on the game of baseball, at least until rectified.

Monday, July 03, 2006

NoPepperGames: What A-Rod Needs to Do

Yankees fans have continued to show what utter jerks they are and always have been. They boo Alex Rodriguez when he gets his Player of the Month award. They boo him when he hits homeruns. You know what, Alex? Screw them. You don't need to put up with fan behavior like that. But what to do? You have a $252 million contract, and the odds of any team not named "Yankees" or "Red Sox" will be able to take it on are slim to none. But I have a solution for you:

1. Take a page out of the Bill Gates/Warren Buffett notebook - establish a large foundation in your name to promote the cause of your choice. (Yes, I realize there is an Alex Rodriguez Foundation started by A-Rod in 1998 - but its based and operated solely in Miami, doesn't have a website, and has little to no media exposure (as per Google hits).) Make that cause anything - helping Hispanics graduate high school, saving the whales, curing AIDS, building affordable housing, whatever.

2. Make a short list of baseball markets that are most in need of what your newfound foundational mission focuses on. Take cities off the list that maybe don't need a shortstop or thirdbaseman all that much.

3. Tell those teams that the portion of your salary they can't pay, they can defer to your foundation with new philanthropic dollars (instead of just reshuffling already dedicated donational dollars). You'll receive your full $252 million (like you can spend that much all on yourself), the team will get a tax break on their donation, and you'll get to play shortstop again!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Not-So-In-Depth Analysis On How This Is the Year of the Free Agent Pickup Pitcher

The first Spice Rack Submission of the 2006 season is from loyal reader (when there's actually something to read) Josh:

Jonathan Papelbon, Tom Glavine, Bronson Arroyo, Kenny Rogers, Aaron Harang, Brad Penny, Chris Young, Jose Contreras, Justin Verlander, Josh Johnson, Ervin Santana, Wandy Rodriguez, Vicente Padilla, Tony Armas, Ian Snell, Jered Weaver, Jeff Francis, David Bush, Casey Janssen, Enrique Gonzalez, Jake Westbrook, Paul Byrd, Matt Cain, Aaron Cook, Jason Jennings, Ricky Nolasco, Mike O'Connor, Daniel Cabrera, Erik Bedard, Taylor Buchholz, John Rheinecker, Alay Soler, Cole Hamels, James Shields, Boof Bonser, Zach Miner...

Just 36 reasons why this year in fantasy baseball should be the season where drafting nothing but hitters and picking up the pitching scraps pays off the most. In this group are resurgent veterans, young guys breaking out, and rookies with more staying power than usual, and you have to wonder what the heck the deal is. It's also a particularly good year for keeper leagues with loose rookie pickup rules because guys like Verlander, Jered Weaver, Hamels and Bonser could end up being the staples of your rotation for years to come that you happened to get for free!

The most disturbing trend of this year in fantasy baseball is of course that there doesn't seem to be a single Colorado Rockie NOT worth owning! Is this bizarro land?! They have figured it out! I'm just glad I snapped up Jason Jennings and Jeff Francis while I could!

~Note from NoPepper: Excellent work, Josh. However, you get points deducted for mentioning Bonzer (Min-SP) without using "Boof" as many times as you possibly can. Also, no Liriano? Billingsley (who pitches this week)? But, there are some excellent large league names in there. Keep 'em coming!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Fantasy Baseball: Saved!

No, this will not be about the Colorado Rockies and their newly-announced hiring/scouting policy. I have some pretty strong feelings about this, but I'll let their 28-30 record speak for itself.

I will, however, keep it within the NL West. Last night, Eric Gagne earned his first save since last June. I don't believe he's available in many leagues. I recommend selling him as soon as you can. We've seen plenty of saves come out of the free agent pool in fantasy this year (like every year). Names like Kenny Ray, Tyler Walker, JJ Putz, Akinori Otsuka, and (most valuably) Jonathan Papelbon.

The name I suggest you target is Alex Rios. The kid is for real, has been picked up in most leagues from the FA pool as a 3rd or 4th OF (I have him as a Utility player in a few leagues), and quietly (very quietly) is putting together a great season.