Gem Mint - tales of cards & players

Hi, back after a long time with the first of a series of fantasy-sabermetrics stuff celebrating the fantasy season just gone (2 championships for me, but I’ll get to that) and the new one juuustt 5 and a half months away.
Let’s start with a topic you should have stumbled upon, if you are into baseball and stats: the power of platooning.

Platoon, not the movie

This is usually used with hitters: basically, you mix a guy who is good against right handed pitchers but can’t hit a lick against lefties and split his playing time with a guy who is his opposite, good against lefties, awful against righties. Believe it or not, sometimes you come up with a freak who is much more than your average batter, check this article on fangraphs, but there are many on the internet. And don’t think it is just fantasy stuff, the Oakland A’s, among others, use extensively platooning in the real world.

But today we are talking about pitchers: first, take a look at this line.


Not bad, uhm? Well, of course, this is the final summary for the 2013 season of the best pitcher in the Majors, Clayton Kershaw: he was so good that just 16 wins is way less than he deserved.
The only problem with Kershaw, you needed your second, in many cases your first pick to get him.

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Felix Hernandez has been a mess of lately, destroying my shining ERA and putting me in danger of losing a fantasy league I am in.
Still, in my opinion, he has also been victim of excessive zeal by the guys at Elias Sports Bureau and by Joe Torre and his office, resulting in an added 3 earned runs to his recent miscues.


On his bad outing versus the Blue Jays last august 6th, King Felix left the field after 5 innings, having allowed what he and the official scorer thought were 3 runs.
But a series of odd circumstances happened in the fourth inning: here they are, in the initial reconstruction of events:
- Adam Lind hit a grounder to Seattle’s third baseman Seager, who missed the throw at first, allowing Lind to reach base on an error;
- Colby Rasmus then followed with a ground ball to second base that hit Lind. Under Major league rules, Lind was called out and Rasmus was awarded a base hit. The key word here is "awarded".
- Brett Lawrie then hit a grounder between third and short that shortstop Brad Miller backhanded. Miller tried to force Rasmus at second but the throw went into right field, with Rasmus advancing to third.
Determining that the throw would not have beaten Rasmus anyway, the official scorer ruled it a hit and charged an error to Miller.
- Lawrie then stole second, and Josh Thole struck out.

Emilio Bonifacio followed suit with a double that scored Rasmus and Lawrie. Jose Reyes then singled home Bonifacio, but was thrown out trying to steal, ending the inning.

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I am learning new truths of life, from my journey in fantasy baseball, and one that struck me is this: some players hate you.
I mean, they have true feelings of loath and despise for your efforts to win your league, after you spent so many hours crafting your team together,piece by piece.
Case in point? Alfonso Soriano, so much so that I labeled the whole situation after the name of this motherf.. ahemm.. veteran player.
I got Soriano for a team of mine sometime at the beginning of july, and after a month of turmoil, I cut him for good last sunday.
Take a look at this graph I made (pretty cool, uh..?), it shows his batting average, his homerun rate per 100 at bats, and his rbis and runs scored, again normalized per 100 at bats, so I can compare different data samples:

So, this as.. asset to his team averaged .117 when he played for my team, as opposed to .277 when he either was not a player of mine or I benched him, out of desperation for one of his recurring batting slumps.
Also, note how his homeruns per 100 doubled from 2.60 to 5.31, and his runs scored and rbis peaked by more than 50% when he wasn’t playing for me.

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While searching cards for the difficult task of completing the 2010 Topps National Chicle product (short printed included), I noticed the chrome parallels of 50 of those cards, numbered to 499, and went for them.
It was not a tough assignment, I must say, and I got the bulk of them on ebay and, and from the latter came the last 2 cards, Jeter and Pujols.


Going into details:

Overall look (4 stars out of 5)

They are chrome, so they obviously shine, and that gives a nice touch to the painted base set cards. I also love, but this goes for the base set, too, that the back of the cards replicates the “words of wisdom” template so characteristic on the original Diamond stars set.


Completion hitches (1.5 stars out of 5)

Really no hassles, here, thanks to that great source for singles that is.

Final thoughts

I am really close to complete the base set of this product, with 2 of the 3 remaining cards on the way, and this was an easy, collateral
project to work on in the process. Really nice set, I’d like to see more of these ideas implemented.

"I truly believe in my heart and I would bet my life that this substance never entered my body at any point" (R.Braun)

Amidst the flurry of news, comments, analysis surfaced in the wake of the ignominious Ryan Braun’s suspension, I found this article by Jon Paul Morosi at to be the one that best describes the misery of the fraud perpetrated by Braun to the world of baseball.
Braun, writes Morosi, with his 65 games season-ending suspension “proved himself as one of the most cravenly selfish figures” in American professional sports. He betrayed the faith of his team, his teammates, his employer, the fans buying his shirts and the tickets to see him play. He accused of subterfuge, knowing to lie, the urine sample collector who had him busted a first time in an October 2011 drug test. He caused the firing of the arbitrator who ruled in his favor on a procedural technicality in February 2012.

As a final touch of “criminal mastermind”, he decided to take the suspension immediately, without a fight, for 2 reasons: a) he was presented with overwhelming evidence of his wrongdoing and understood there were no broken seals, this time; b) he used his calculator and figured out he could save 600k dollars taking the axe now.
Yes, because next year his salary will go from 8.5 million dollars to 10 million dollars: so, 65 games without pay in this season sums to 3,410,494 dollars, while next year, the total would be 4,012,346, or a 601,852 dollars more.
He will then proceed to take this forced vacation and come back to his millionaire life next april, the world a happy place to be.

When I had the chance, last march, I picked him with my first overall choice in 2 leagues: I could have gotten Miguel Cabrera with those
picks, but I trusted him and thought that, pound per pound, he could bring more value than Miggy. Turns out I was wrong, but he had such
a lousy season, with so many real and fabricated diseases, I won’t have many troubles finding a replacement for his bat. I just hope he will have troubles with his conscience, and I hope he’ll get the worst of times playing away from Miller park next year, not that the Brewers fans have any reason to cheer this clown at home.

"I have always taken tremendous pride in my image and my reputation in being a role model and handling myself the right way and doing things the right way" (R.Braun)

With that agony called “all star break” come and gone (but the last time of Mariano was really unforgettable), it’s time to get ready for the second half of the season (technically, it should be called the last 3/7th of the season, but I guess it wouldn’t stick).
So, where are you with your fantasy teams? Running ahead, in contention, or searching for that elusive bottle of wine in the cellar of your division?
Well, this is where I am, or at least where my 3 teams in Yahoo rotisserie leagues are (I also have 3 teams in head to head leagues, but really can’t get to be emotionally engaged in them, it’s a formula more suited for football, I think).

The team that wouldn’t die: Wallbangers

My first team drafted this year, so the one where I invested more in terms of analysis and excel sheets, playing in "The wax fantastic championship".  And boy, did this team behave poorly, at least ‘til July, with only Mauer, Longoria and the surprising Jean Segura (20th round pick, oh yeah..) having good numbers, while the pitching rotation was a complete mess. I found myself second to last with more than 30 points behind the leader.
Then.. this guy entered beast mode:


Jason Kipnis began tearing apart baseballs, becoming the best second baseman in the game, right when another guy, a cuban player named Yasiel Puig entered the stage: for a guy picked in the 21st round of the draft, he had a nice production, I should say.
And with my aces (Price, Sale, Jose Fernandez) finally enjoying a stretch of dominance, with Mauer still solid as a rock, Josh Donaldson having a career year, I found myself climbing up the rankings, and ended the first half in second place, just 2 points behind the first place.

Where I will be at the end of september

This team has solid numbers all across the board, with saves (6th place) and WHIP (5th place) needing improvements. But somehow, in the 62 moves I made on the free agents and waivers, I put together a terrific platoon of 5 relievers: Papelbon, Holland, Benoit, Kenley Jansen and Cishek. They should fill the gap with the 3rd place in the saves department, while lowering my WHIP and ERA. And IF (this is a big if, I know) Ryan Braun can finally produce like the third overall pick that he was in our draft and if Billy Butler regains some of his power, all while Puig doesn’t regress to .200 and Longoria stays relatively healthy, I can really picture this team winning this league.

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