A commentary about sports, media, and interpersonal relationships encountered throughout everyday life.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

First Basemen: 2010 Fantasy Projections

Last year, I professed my unabashed man-crush on Pablo Sandoval. So it's only fitting that he's my "value pick" at first base according to my points-per-plate appearance calibration (using statistical projections from the 2010 Bill James Handbook). Displayed in the previous link is the point breakdown in a standard points league. My approach to deciphering value is based on draft position, depth, and potential for at-bats.

Last year, for example, Joey Votto's projected .91 fantasy points per plate-appearance put him above annual stars like Justin Morneau (.86), Kevin Youkilis (.85), and Carlos Pena (.87). However, as we all discovered, Joey Votto didn't live up to his potential due to injury (for more on this projection, see last year's article).

2010's central difference is the influx of .90 pts/pa first base-eligible batters. Last year, only 7 players satisfied this requirement: Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Miguel Cabrera, Lance Berkman, Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder, and Votto. This year, however, 13 players surpass this threshold, nearly doubling the list of "effective" first base options.

Joining the seven players from 2009 in this group are Mark Reynolds (.99), Pablo Sandoval (.90), David Ortiz (.90), Adam Dunn (.90), Justin Morneau (.90), and *surprise* Chris Davis (.90).

Of the 13 players projected to average the most points per plate-appearance, I'd absolutely stay away from Chris Davis. Last year he was hyped to an ADP between the 5th and 7th rounds, an atmosphere WAY too high for a rookie... I don't care how much he looked like Shane Spencer in his initial September call-up. In points-based-leagues, the value at this position is coming by way of Pablo Sandoval, Joey Votto, and Adam Dunn (in leagues that do not penalize strikeouts!). Pujols, Howard, Cabrera, Teixeira, and Fielder will all be gone before round two is complete in most drafts (under-statement of the century) and Berkman's name, Morneau's ability, and Mark Reynolds' 2009 will be the next 1B off the board. At this point, in a standard 12-team league, four teams will be without first basemen, leaving fantasy favorites Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, Kendry Morales, and Carlos Pena available.

My advice? Let them go. Fill in the rest of your roster while the other members of your league fill up on the position. While they grab 1B, fill in your OF or pitching staff. Some will value Votto a bit more than players like Pena and Morales, but unless your peers view Sandoval as a solid 3B option, he should slip into the later rounds. Other than a brief stint on the bench with a sore back in 2009, Sandoval was one of the most reliable 1B options available.

Now comes the bad news: players to avoid based on pts/pa. I think this is the point were everyone stops expecting anything from James Loney (.76/pa). Essentially, the calibration equates him to Lyle Overbay (.75/pa)... aka, he's useless in a points league. If he's a singles-hitter, he needs more RBI opportunities, and with Manny Ramirez, Andre Ethier, and Matt Kemp on his team... he's not going to get many.

The same can be said for Nick Swisher (.82), Russell Branyan (.82), and Michael Cuddyer (.82). Rather than spend mid-round picks on each of these streaky batters, grab a younger potential-laden player like Garrett Jones (.85) in the later rounds... especially due to his multi-position eligibility (OF/1B).

In the end, if you take anything from this 2010 first base projection, let it be that you can wait this year. In 2009, if you didn't grab an early 1B, you were in a bad place to start the year. In 2010, you can afford to wait. As always, let your opponents make your decisions for you, it's easier that way.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jackass Much? Media Ethics Come into Question

I'm sure we're all up to speed on President Obama's "off-the-record" comments about Kanye West's antics at the MTV Video Music Awards. For those who have no clue what I'm talking about, here's a link that will get you up to speed.

Today, CNN released the video aid to the President's comment...

After the words left President Obama's mouth you could see his eyebrows shoot off his face. He could tell he may have made a boo-boo and frantically tried to eye everyone in the room as he begged that it be off the record and that the President be given "some slack."

The reason for Obama's frantic nature was not unwarranted... before a minute could pass, the following message hit more than a handful of "newsfeeds" on Twitter.com:

First of all, thanks Terry Moran! I hope you ethical obligations as a journalist flying out the window were worth the thousands of "followers" you picked up over the last few days! Though ABC's Moran attempted to remove the "tweet," he failed miserably.

I originally read Moran's tweet on Tuesday afternoon via the Drudge Report, which didn't surprise me. Matt Drudge never met a salacious story he didn't like... especially with a Democratic President involved. BUT, I didn't think much of it. I thought it was awesome that Obama watched the MTV Movie Awards and, like everyone else, was shocked by the Kanye outburst.

Later that evening, as I drove in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Sunrise Highway, 1010 WINS' (1010 AM, New York) evening anchor broke the story as "something we shouldn't know... but we do... so we're telling you." I nearly veered off the road when I heard this. Was this "off-the-record" comment really making drive time news casts? More so, what are the ethical implications of breeching an "off-the-record" comment?

Obviously, Terry Moran was in the wrong here. The video clearly shows President Obama frantically attempt to quell the cantor throughout the room before it even began. Moran, however, completed his witty tweet...


Is it okay that CNN, and the other major players in the network news realm took this breech and ran with it? The video above was obviously just scrap that was meant to be cut for the evening news... not something that would hit national news coverage by this evening!

I've personally experienced comments like this while covering MLB, NBA, and NHL games. Sure, sometimes athletes say funny things between "on-the-record" comments. But, does that mean I try to make a name for myself by telling the Internet what David Ortiz really thinks about Manny Ramirez? No. I don't have a relationship with Ortiz, but I still respect his privacy in an "off-the-record" basis. It's just something I thought was journalism 101...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

AOL... Too Little, Too Late

This afternoon, I read through an New York Times article by Miguel Helft (linked here) about America Online's (AOL) attempt to 'fix' itself. The company is bringing in former Yahoo! Executive, Brad Garlinghouse, to straight-shoot the higher-ups and tell them what exactly is wrong with the former Internet juggernaut.

In his article, Helft describes Garlinghouse's new role with America Online:
"In his new role, Mr. Garlinghouse will lead the effort to expand the reach of AOL’s popular e-mail and instant-messaging services. He will also head the company’s Silicon Valley operations, which AOL plans to expand, and lead the West Coast arm of AOL Ventures, a unit in charge of investing in start-ups and spinning off businesses."
This description brought me back to my high school years, when everyone and their brother (literally) was on AOL's Instant Messenger (AIM). Yahoo! attempted to replicate this (Yahoo! Messenger) in the early new millennium, but failed to capture the momentum and, virtual, monopoly that AIM possessed. Essentially, AOL had something that everyone wanted in its AIM product.

When I went to college, AIM was replaced by face-to-face interaction. Afterall, the people with whom I "messaged" lived within a 3 minute walk of my bedroom... and I much preferred to talk to people in person while soaking in the sun than reading their text in my dim, cold dorm room. But this is not more than an isolated case. For me, AIM died when I went to college.

Once college ended and I came back home to Long Island, I considered myself a "messaging" free agent. There were a variety of tools at my disposal. AIM was still waiting for me... but I felt I had outgrown this "adolescent" utility. I looked ahead to the possibilities of Google's "gchat" and Facebook's Instant Messenger. It appears I am not alone, though. Helft continues as he mentions commentary of AOL Chairperson, Tim Armstrong:
"In an interview on Monday, Mr. Armstrong said that communications products, which include e-mail and instant-messaging services, remained one of AOL’s most important assets, keeping customers engaged and helping drive traffic to other AOL properties. But in that area too, AOL faces challenges. Its e-mail service was recently overtaken by Google’s Gmail, which became the No. 3 e-mail service in the United States, behind Yahoo Mail and Hotmail, owned by Microsoft."
I believe that Gmail did what AOL was afraid to do: they took off the training wheels. For years I've been trying to convince my mother to get rid of AOL because it was everything that's wrong with the Internet: it charged you for something that should be free and it over-simplified the Internet.

Not only does Gmail offer (free) e-mail service, but the iGoogle interface allows you to make
your homepage whatever you want. It's RSS Feed friendly and does whatever YOU want it to do. Want a video of goldfish eating to greet you everytime you sign on? Done. Want to see that kid singing "Chocolate Rain" when you turn on your browser? Done. Do you want your e-mail server to identify "work mail" and "family mail" before you even open it? Done.

Most of all... do you want all these options for free?

This is what AOL needs to grasp. Actually, this is what they needed to grasp, because they've begun a downward spiral. There will be some people who continue to use AIM and AOL, but this article's note that Google's Gmail has displaced AOL on the e-mail popularity list notes the beginning of the end of AIM's stranglehold on Instant Messaging utilities.

To conclude, it will be interesting to see what Mr. Garlinghouse brings forth to retrieve AOL from it's current rut. To be certain, it will have to be a somewhat novel idea because Google has essentially taken what AOL birthed... and made it better.