The Fantasy Crystal Ball

Each year, a number of us who write about the game are fortunate enough to be included in the best Fantasy Baseball pre-season magazine. It is called “The Fantasy Baseball Guide – Professional Edition” and is edited by that Superhero, Rotoman. For many of us, the contribution is a list of “Picks and Pans” where we try to predict which players the readers should target or avoid.
Before attempting to objectively assign a grade to my own 2020 predictions, a few disclaimers are in order…
1) While the publication itself hits the shelves in anticipation of Spring Training, our lists need to be submitted well before the December holidays. At that point, numerous free agents haven’t signed and many MLB roster roles haven’t been determined.
2)  The Old Duck always attempts to focus on players that are more marginal than the obvious fantasy stars. You don’t need me to tell you that Mike Trout is a good player, you need me to find you a bargain or to steer you away from an over-rated player. Taking this approach is more fun but also more challenging.
3) One lesson to take away from this exercise is that being an “expert” has a price. Most of my opponents sitting around the Draft table (or on their laptop) have read the magazine and already know my thoughts about many players. Having your name in print is a reasonable excuse for sharing information, but for those of you in home leagues, make sure you keep your opinions to yourself in the company of your mortal enemies.
4) You don’t need to be reminded that 2020 was a unique year.
So, without pulling any punches, let’s see how the Quacker made out…first the prediction and then the post-season analysis.
> Sandy Alcantara, PICK – Led the NL in losses, but his 2nd half showed signs of improvement…you could do worse for a 3rd or 4th SP. Got seven starts with an impressive 3.00 ERA…Grade “A”
> Jose Altuve, PAN – Love the player, but he’ll be overpriced because the speed is gone…SB’s went from 32 to 17 to 6. Hit .219 with the lowest OPS (.629) of his career…Grade “A”
> Nick Anderson, PICK – The Rays bullpen is totally unpredictable, but he had 110 K’s in 65 IP. Had 6 Saves & 6 Holds with a ERA of 0.55…Grade “A”
> Archie Bradley, PICK – Looks like he’s finally the Closer at age 27. Never really took charge in AZ and was traded to the Reds in mid-season. Ended up with 6 Saves and a 2.95 ERA…Grade “C”
> Madison Bumgarner, PICK – Don’t let the injury plagued seasons of ’17 & ’18 cloud your vision…how many SP’s had 200 IP and 200 K’s last season? Injuries and diminished velocity spelled disaster. Had 1 Win and a 6.48 ERA…Grade “F”
> Lorenzo Cain, PAN – This is what happens when a team gives a player in his 30’s a long-term contract….813 OPS in ’18, .697 in ’19. And there are three years left on the deal. Only had 16 AB’s before opting out for the season…no Grade
> Victor Caratini, PICK – The Catching position is a Roto wasteland and he posted a .794 OPS. If Contreras gets dealt, the job is his. His OPS dropped to .661 but still a serviceable option in two-Catcher leagues…Grade “C”
> Matt Carpenter, PAN – Another 30+ player who got an extension….897 OPS at age 32, .726 at age 33 and there are two more years on the contract. Hit .186 with a .640 OPS…Grade “A”
> Emmanuel Clase, PICK – At age 22, he’s the Closer of the future in Texas
…but will it be in 2020? Didn’t pitch in ’20…no Grade
> Garrett Cooper, PICK – Not a prospect at age 29, but he should have an everyday job and the .281 BA & .344 OBP won’t hurt you in the end game. In and out of the line-up, he still managed 6 HR’s and .853 OPS…Grade “B”
> Ian Desmond, PAN – This may sound like a broken record, but don’t give long-term deals to guys in their 30’s…his SB’s went from 20 to 3. Opted out for ’20…no Grade
> Giovanny Gallegos, PICK – If Carlos Martinez goes to the rotation, this guy’s stuff will play as a Closer…93 K’s in 74 IP and a 1.66 ERC. 2 Wins, 4 Saves and a 3.60 ERA in limited appearances…Grade “B”
> Paul Goldschmidt, PAN – The type of player every fan should admire, but he won’t get better at age 32…OPS went down 100 points in St. Louis
. Rebounded to a .883 OPS but only had 6 HR’s…Grade “C”
> Niko Goodrum, PICK -Sneaky Roto asset who qualifies at three positions while providing double-digit HR’s & SB’s. Disappointed his Fantasy GM’s with a .184 BA…Grade “D”
> Garrett Hampson, PICK – Disappointing season but he had 15 SB’s in less than 300 AB’s…monitor playing time. 5 HR’s, 6 SB’s but only a .671 OPS…Grade “C”
> Keston Hiura, PICK – A .938 OPS as a rookie, he’s the real deal. Contributed 13 HR’s but led the NL in K’s and hit only .212…Grade “C”
> Eric Hosmer, PAN – Even without factoring in the huge contract, a .735 OPS isn’t what you need from a corner. The .851 OPS was his best in years but only played 38 games…Grade “C”
> Dakota Hudson, PAN – His ERC (real ERA) was almost a run higher than his actual ERA (4.32 / 3.35)…tread lightly. Got 8 starts with a 2.77 ERA…Grade “D”
> Carter Kieboom, PICK – Let others be fooled by his “cup of coffee” BA of .128…he should be in the line-up everyday at age 22. Your humble scribe was the fool as he hit .202 with one extra base hit in 99 AB’s…Grade “F”
> Dinelson Lamet, PICK – 105 K’s in 73 IP tells you he’s all the way back from TJS. 12 starts with a 2.09 ERA and 93 K’s in 69 IP…Grade “A”
> Nicky Lopez, PAN – A .601 OPS in 379 AB’s says he might one of those AAAA players. Hit .201 with a .552 OPS…Grade “A”
> Seth Lugo, PICK – Starter or reliever, his stuff is sensational…1.97 ERC in 80 IP with 104 K’s. Bouncing between starting and relieving didn’t work, as he had 3 Wins, 3 Saves and a 5.15 ERA…Grade “C”
> Manny Machado, PAN – Durable with good numbers, but he’ll be significantly overpriced in all formats…his lifetime OPS away from Camden Yards is less than .800. Found the Petco dimensions to his liking with 13 of his 16 HR’s coming at home. The .950 OPS made him worth the Roto $…Grade “D”
> Andres Munoz, PICK – If Kirby Yates gets traded, having this guy on your reserve list will make you look smart. Didn’t pitch in ’20…no Grade
> Joe Musgrove, PICK – Not a top-tier SP, but his ERC of 3.66 compared to his ERA of 4.44 tells you his performance was better than it seemed. Still battled minor injuries but the numbers are tantalizing with a 3.56 ERC and 55 K’s in 40 IP’s…Grade “B”
> Brandon Nimmo, PICK – ’19 was wiped out by injury, but his lifetime OBP of .387 is impressive and he’s only 27. A .404 OBP means that he belongs at the top of the Mets line-up…Grade “B”
> Marcell Ozuna, PAN – Last three seasons WAR rating…6.1, 2.9 & 2.2. My sincerest apologies…Grade “F”
> A.J. Pollock, PAN – Hasn’t played over 113 games since 2015. Looks like a short-season is just what he needed with 18 HR’s in 55 games…Grade “C”
> Touki Toussaint, PAN – This might turn out to be the only time Dave Stewart was right. 8.88 ERA…Grade “A”
> Julio Urias, PICK – If he’s set in the rotation when you draft, grab him…still only 23 years old. Did you watch the last game of the Fall Classic…Grade “A”
> Jesse Winker, PAN – When you hit .163 against LH, you go the way of Jake Lamb. Showed improvement with 12 HR’s and a .932 OPS…Grade “D”
> Brandon Woodruff, PICK – A non-arm injury took away a third of his starts, but a 3.13 ERC and 10.6 K/9 tells the tale. Didn’t miss a start with a 3.05 ERA and 91 K’s in 74 IP’s…Grade “A”
> Rougned Odor, PAN – Should be in his prime at age 26, but he has no plate discipline…struck out over 30% of the time. Hit .167…Grade “A”
> Franmil Reyes, PAN – The 37 HR’s get your attention, but look below the surface at a 28.5% K Rate and a 8.6% BB rate. Got a full-time gig and hit .275 with 9 HR’s but his K rate was 33%…Grade “C”
> Bryan Reynolds, PAN – His surprising rookie campaign was nice, but a .387 BABIP isn’t sustainable. Hit .189…Grade “A”
> Matt Barnes, PICK – If the BoSox haven’t signed a Closer by the time you read this, here’s an interesting stat…his 15.39 K Rate was second only to Josh Hader. Did capture 9 Saves but his ERA was 4.30…Grade “C”
> Nick Ahmed, PICK – The average fan wouldn’t know that he’s the best defensive SS in baseball…guys like that don’t lose their spot in the line-up and 19 HR’s, 8 SB’s & .753 OPS is middle infield gold. 5 HR’s, 4 SB’s & .729 OPS…Grade “B”
> Trevor Bauer, PAN – Amazing stuff, but it doesn’t always translate to success…in six full seasons, he’s only had an ERA under 4.18 once. Does the word “oops’ mean anything to you…Grade “F”
> Tom Murphy, PICK – At age 29, we had given up on him multiple times, but he seemed to figure things out in Seattle
with a .858 OPS…if Narvaez gets traded, he has a full-time job. Missed the campaign due to injury…no Grade
Statistics can be manipulated to reach a number of different conclusions, but the Quacker did manage “A” or “B” ratings on 16 of the 34 players. The overall GPA was about 2.44, which matches my blood alcohol level in college. The good news is that Alcantara, Woodruff, Cooper, Musgrove & Nimmo were helpful members on my fantasy squad…hope they helped you too.

5 thoughts on “The Fantasy Crystal Ball”

  1. Nice work. One question: how can predict a player will be significantly overpriced when you don’t what kind of draft, what kind of money, what kind of freezes, or where the player will come up in the draft?


    1. Those factors are certainly always in play, but a top-level player (like Machado for example) will never slip through to the end-game. There will always be multiple drafters targeting him and budgeting for him. The point was that “recency bias” without looking deep at the numbers will cause a player to be over-valued.


  2. Rotoman – you and your team are remarkable ! Using your statistics, could make a significant difference or at least an enhancement to every professional team. But alas, I may be prejudice .

    Liked by 1 person

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