2014 Fantasy Baseball: Breakout Players — Left Fielders

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Source: Ed Zurga/Getty Images North America

When we get to the outfield, we get to the meat of most people’s fantasy teams. As I’ve said before, 100 runs created has been the standard for excellence in the past, and that is certainly true with the development of better pitching over the past few years. Still, there have been some incredibly good left fielders in the game this season. Some of them have almost seemingly come out of nowhere.

The funny thing is that their traditional numbers are not as stellar as we have seen from the positional leaders of the past. Perhaps, this is a down time for corner outfielders. It could also be a changing of the guard and that is when breakout players shine. Again, we are not looking for the best left fielder in the game. We are looking for the player that was unheralded on draft day, but has moved forward to become one of the best six outfielders.

In addition to runs created, we will look at the traditional fantasy categories and a sixth category called runs produced. Runs produced is calculated by adding runs and RBI and subtracting home runs. Typically, 150 runs produced is a pretty good number for someone that plays everyday. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Breakout Player of the Year– Shortstops

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Source: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images North America

As the calendar flips to September we notice two things in fantasy baseball. First, most full season fantasy leagues are moving into the playoff portion of their seasons. By definition, this will eliminate most teams. So, in parlance, most fantasy owners are ready to go fishing. This brings us to the second thing we notice this time of year. Most fantasy players have moved onto fantasy football. Luckily for you, I haven’t played fantasy football in years. I simply focus on the great game that is baseball.

That being said, it is high time we continue the process of looking at which players have successfully broken out at each position. Today, we focus on shortstops. Again, this isn’t about who the best shortstop in the game. Coming into the season, Troy Tulowitzki went either first or second among shortstops, so it is not a surprise to see him on the top of the list. We are looking for the guys that were overlooked on draft day.

The primary statistic we are using to rank these guys is runs created. Nearly every site uses it even if they call it something different. Baseball-reference.com calls it runs created (RC). Fangraphs calls it wRC, but it is essentially the same thing. It is an advanced statistic that estimates the number of runs a player actually creates for his team based on everything he does offensively. If a player creates 100 runs in a season, then he has had a very good season. With a month left, you will see that none of the shortstops have a chance to get there.

The rest of the numbers are familiar to you. Runs produced is a number I’ve used before in some of my other articles. It is simply the combination of runs and RBI minus home runs. We will look at the top 20 percent of shortstops (top six) and from there determine which of the shortstops is the breakout player of the year at the position. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball Daily Fix: August 27th

Welcome to another edition of the daily fix. This week represents the last week of what we might call normal baseball. After August 31st, rosters will expand to as many as forty and trades will no longer happen for most contenders. More importantly for most of you, football season will commence and many fans will shift their attention almost completely to baseball. That means it is a perfect time to sign up at Draftkings. When people shift their attention away from a sport, you can take advantage if you are still paying attention.

Today, I will be playing the $1 MLB 50/50 challenge. There are going to be over 400 players, so the top 200 or so bring home $1.90. Draftkings uses a salary cap system for you to pick your roster. You choose one regular at each position and two pitchers for $50,000. Salaries are based on player’s fantasy points per game and who they happen to be matching up with. So, we will include both of those figures on both of our tables.

Our first table will be the lineup I will be using during the contest. The second lineup will be a reasonable alternative at each position. Obviously, the first lineup will conform with the salary cap rules (all the way to max this time around) while the second one might not necessarily conform with those rules. As always, you should check the weather and lineups up to game time so that you can make some last second changes if needed. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Breakout Player of the Year — Third Base

As we continue through the breakout series, we must keep in mind one guiding principle. What constitutes a breakout player? You might be tempted to think it is the best player at a particular position, but that’s not the case. This is a player that was not highly thought of at the beginning of the season for one reason or another. In order to find that guy, we are going to look at the top six players at each position according to runs created.

Runs created is an advanced statistic that incorporates everything a player does offensively to estimate how many runs he is actually worth to his team. It’s always interesting to compare those totals with the number of runs a player actually produces. That can be calculated by adding runs and RBI and then subtracting home runs. Since we are looking at breakout fantasy players, we will focus on the standard fantasy categories.

Once we identify the top six guys, we will whittle that down to the top three break out guys at the position. Again, it’s not necessarily about who is the best player, but who is the biggest surprise. Third base likely won’t have many outrageous surprises like we have seen at other positions, but there are one or two guys that have been pleasant surprises on the season. First, let’s take a look at the top six guys. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: The Daily Fix– August 21st, 2014

It’s déjà vu all over again. I was just here yesterday giving you a lineup. Here I am again giving you another one. Thursdays are always a tough day to play, but you should always remember that you are playing with the same rules as everyone else. Today, I am playing a MLB 50/50 challenge. If you haven’t already, make sure you register at Draftkings right now. There are eight games on the total schedule (an additional suspended game is also being played), but Draftkings usually splits the competition between the early games and the later games. Anything that starts before six is considered an early game. That leaves four games in both the regular and early bird contests.

Essentially, that means you have eight regulars to choose from at each position (24 outfielders). Picking starting pitchers is challenging in those conditions, so I usually spare no expense in picking my starters on days like this. On a full slate of games, you can sometimes scrimp on pitchers if you play good matchups, but on days like today you can’t afford to be too cute.

I will give you two lineups. The first one will be the one I am using and the second one is a reasonable alternative. Draftkings gives you $50,000 to play with. The first lineup will always conform with the salary cap rules. The second lineup doesn’t necessarily conform with those rules, but is more to give you individual alternatives. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball Daily Fix: August 20th

There are approximately two weeks left until football season begins. As much as those of us that love baseball want to say baseball is king, we know better. However, those of you that haven’t gotten your Draftkings account up and running go ahead and get it going now. Play a few baseball contests before the football season gets going. If anything, it will get you familiar with the site and the sheer number of contest combinations that are possible.

Today, I am playing in a 50/50 MLB challenge. I love the double up challenges because they give you the best odds of winning. Draftkings has begun to assert themselves in the market with some radio spots on sports radio stations. Like every other daily fantasy site, they want you to hear about the people that have won thousands and millions. I suppose there is some excitement and adrenaline that comes with entering yourself into one of those contests. Personally, I’m one of those guys that feels content playing on the penny machines in the casino.

Draftkings gives you a salary cap to work with, so you have the same opportunity to win as everyone else playing. A 50,000 salary cap is spread across ten players. In the tables below, you will see the salaries, average fantasy points per game (FPPG), and the opposing pitchers. The first table will be the lineup I am running with. The second will be a reasonable alternative at each position. As always, check lineups and weather conditions so if you need to make any last minute changes you can.



Opposing SP Comments
C Devin Mesoraco



Lance Lynn He might be the best offensive catcher in baseball
1B Freddie Freeman



Gerrit Cole He seems to have plateaued, but he’s still solid.
2B Matt Carpenter



Johnny Cueto People focus on what he isn’t. He’s still pretty darn good.
3B Brock Holt



Garrett Richards He’s becoming a folk hero in Boston.
SS Danny Santana



T.J. House One of the better rookies in the American League.
OF Alex Gordon



Jorge De La Rosa He’s not as good as people say, but this is in Coors Field.
OF Adam Jones



Hector Noesi He is not quite elite, but this is still very good value at the   price.
OF Dexter Fowler



Michael Pineda He is the second best offensive player in Houston.
SP Alex Wood



Pittsburgh Pirates His FPPG is artificially low because of his time as a reliever.
SP Roberto Hernandez



San Diego Padres He’s been better as a Dodger.






Opposing SP Comments
C Russell Martin



Alex Wood He’s performing like when he was a Dodger.
1B Jose Abreu



Wei Yen Chen He is the odds on favorite for Rookie of the Year.
2B Javier Baez



Jake Peavy He is just one of many exciting young Cubs prospects.
3B Carlos Santana



Ricky Nolasco He is still one of the more dynamic offensive performers in the league.
SS Starlin Castro



Jake Peavy He is already at his career high in home runs.
OF Billy Hamilton



Lance Lynn He’s not brilliant, but he’s been steady as a rookie
OF Jay Bruce



Lance Lynn It’s been a disappointing year, but he’s just beginning to hit.
SP Danny Duffy



Colorado Rockies The Royals are on a roll, so you can ride the wave.
SP Tanner Roark



Arizona Diamondbacks He is one of the candidates for Rookie of the Year in the NL.

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Breakout Players — Second Basemen

Every position goes through ebs and flows just like pitchers and hitters do in general. Second base is going through a down period at the moment. Most of the big time stars from the previous decade are either out of the game or are no longer elite players. Robinson Cano is the last big name we will see among the top six guys. Guys like Brian Roberts, Dustin Pedroia, and Ben Zobrist are no longer elite players. Time marches on and stands undefeated against mankind. On a long enough timeline, the survival rate drops to zero.

As always, a new generation must take over and that is where the breakout series really gets its fuel. The fun part of fantasy sports is always seeing which players will emerge to be the elite performers that season. Sometimes it’s only for that season, but sometimes a star shines out of nowhere and stays in the limelight. Of course, the tough part is always telling the difference between the flash of the pans and the stars of the future.

This time, we will include stolen bases in the profiles because stolen bases are huge for second basemen. Of the top six second basemen, only the aforementioned Cano does not have ten stolen bases and he seems like a good bet to get there by the end of the season. Meanwhile, one player already has more than 50 and one other will likely get there before the end of the season. We will focus our attention on runs produced and runs created yet again. [Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Breakout Players – First Basemen

First base is by far the deepest position and that doesn’t even count the fact that most designated hitters are classified as first basemen. So, most fantasy players use first basemen to fill their utility slot. Add in the occasional first basemen on the bench (or as a first baseman/third baseman in some leagues) and you can see that virtually every player in the top six at the position was drafted. In point of fact, most of these guys were selected within the first half of the draft.

[Read more...]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: The Daily Fix– August 13th, 2014

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. I started writing this daily fix last night as is usually my pattern, but then a series of unfortunate events seemed to follow. To make a long story short, my primary computer crashed and will not turn on. I suppose these things happened. I planned to wake up early this morning and publish the piece on time, but the primary machine still was not working. So, I dusted off the moth balls and brought out the backup computer.

So, we will consider this the no frills edition of the daily fix. I am playing in the MLB $1 50/50 competition with the games beginning at 7:05 EST. That will cut out a few early games today, so if there are some big names missing from the lineup you will see why. Please remember to shift your balance from Draftstreet.com if you have not already and go over to our new partner Draftkings.com.  Football season is coming up soon, so now is as good as a time as any to get that done.

Like with Draftstreet, Draftkings gives you a salary cap to fit in all of your players. Salaries are based on average fantasy points per game (FPPG) and on the opposing pitcher (or team). They have mathematicians and statisticians that do this stuff for them, but there are occasional points of inefficiency that we can exploit. As usual, I will give you my lineup and a reasonable alternative.



Opposing SP


C Wilson Ramos


Bartolo Colon


1B Ryan Howard


Jered Weaver


2B Anthony Rendon


Bartolo Colon


3B Carlos Santana


Vidal Nuno


SS Jhonny Peralta


Nathan Eovaldi


OF Mike Trout


A.J. Burnett


OF Giancarlo Stanton


Justin Masterson


OF Michael Brantley


Vidal Nuno


P Jason Vargas


Oakland Athletics


P Bartolo Colon


Washington Nationals





Opposing SP


C Caleb Joseph


Michael Pineda


1B Anthony Rizzo


Kyle Lohse


2B Ian Kinsler


Vance Worley


3B Aramis Ramirez


Tsuyoshi Wada


SS Jimmy Rollins


Jered Weaver


OF Carlos Gomez


Tsuyoshi Wada


OF Ryan Braun


Tsuyoshi Wada


P Kyle Lohse


Chicago Cubs


P Jered Weaver


Philadelphia Phillies


2014 Fantasy Baseball: Breakout Players — Catchers

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Source: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America

For most fantasy baseball players, the season is winding down. It is one of the few peculiarities in fantasy sports. The season still has a couple of months to go, but most fantasy leagues have a playoff system that lasts the full month of September. So, we are down to the last three and a half weeks of the regular season. For many of us, the season is already over. While there is a lot of time left in the season for the real players, for us there is only about three weeks to go.

All that being said, when your season is circling the drain it is never too early to take a look back at what may have gone wrong. What we discover is that most of the important decisions that went right or wrong happened after the draft and not during the draft. Unlike the real offensive value series, we are going to take a look the basic fantasy numbers for the top six players at each position. You will be amazed at how many were undrafted.

We choose the top six players because most people play in twelve man leagues. Six players represent the top half of each position. We are taking the top six players based on runs created at each position and comparing it with their pre-draft rating according to Yahoo. If most standard leagues have twelve players and 24 rounds then only 288 players get drafted. As we go through the series, notice how many guys fall below 288. [Read more...]