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Listenings & Readings – Week Ending January 27th, 2013


I’ve done more listening than reading lately, and have recently discovered the Baseball Prospectus “Towers of Power Fantasy Hour” with Jason Collette and Paul Sporer.  While the name sounds a bit goofy, it really is an all-business podcast.  I have long been listening to ESPN’s Fantasy Focus Baseball podcast, and while I find Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz entertaining, I find Collette and Sporer more insightful.  The weekly episodes are lengthy (average about two hours), but are packed with “smart” content.  Another bonus is that they have been releasing new podcasts all off-season.  So there is a lot of good listening available.

Collette writes for Baseball Prospectus and Rotowire.  You may be familiar with Sporer’s annual  “Starting Pitching Guide“.

I really liked episode 29(iTunes, other).  The guys were joined by Todd Zola of and talked about draft strategy, player valuation, and developing your own dollar values.


I’m dabbling with the idea of creating my own projections, and would at least like to improve my understanding of how others develop their projections.  Mastersball gives an overview of their process here.

I’m also perusing the Sporting News Fantasy Source Baseball 2013 magazine. Yes, I know. Using a static magazine that was written in December is not necessarily “smart”. But the values in the magazine are used as the player salaries in my favorite league.

What did you listen to or read this week?  Do tell.

Do You Know What It Takes To Win Your League?

Even a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut.  Do you really know what it takes to win your league?  Or are you just blindly drafting your team?

This may seem a little basic, but if I had to guess, I would say this is a simple exercise most fantasy owners don’t do.  Before the draft, do you know (or at least have an estimate of) what it’s going to take to win the league?  And I’m not talking generically.  I mean, do you know how many rotisserie points you’ll need to accumulate to win it all?  Do you have an idea of the total HRs or Ks you’ll need?

How Can Anyone Know That?

Maybe one can’t “know”.  Each season is unique.  But you can do some research to develop a strong estimate.  And once you have the end goal in mind, you can then use projections and average draft positions (ADPs)/auction dollar values to reverse engineer a winning team.

Instead of blindly drafting a team, you can strategically build a team to win.

It helps if you have a recurring league with some established history and preferably not a lot of manager turnover.  If you play in public leagues on large websites (Yahoo!, ESPN, etc.), you may be able to find estimates as well.

OK.  I Have a Recurring League.  HOW DO I START?

Access you historic league standings and start a spreadsheet to track what it has historically taken to win the league.  You can use my example here.

I track these two things:

  1. Final rotisserie points by year for each team
  2. Final statistics by team for each league roto category (e.g. final BA, HR, W, K)

The following example is for a 12-team league with 23 man rosters, using standard 5×5 rotisserie scoring and players from the AL and NL.

 1.  Final Rotisserie Points by Year for Each Team

This is the first 15 rows on the example spreadsheet.

This historical data is then used to create an average.  This calculation will yield the estimated total points needed to come in 1st place.  There are several ways you can calculate an average in Excel, but I use the following formula:

=AVERAGE(B4, F4, J4, N4, R4, V4, Z4, AD4)


xBABIP? Let’s Start Putting Random Letters in Front of Statistics!

In our discussion of BABIP, we mentioned that it’s frequently misused or misinterpreted.  An example of its misuse might be, “Miguel Cabrera’s BABIP was .331 in 2012.  He’s due for a drop in production as we expect his BABIP comes back down to the league average of about .300″.  That’s where the “x” comes into xBABIP, or Expected Batting Average on Balls in Play.

What Do We Use xbabip for?

xBABIP is a projection of what a given player’s BABIP will/should be.  It’s not a measure of past performance like BABIP.  So we can use it to project a player’s statistics for the year.

Should we expect all hitters to have a BABIP of around .300?

No.  As you know, there are many different types of hitters.  Even without statistics to support the argument, you would probably expect a hitter with power to have a different BABIP than a hitter with little power.  You’d expect a hitter that tends to hit more ground balls and line drives to have a greater BABIP than a fly ball hitter (a fly ball that stays in play has a low chance of being a hit).

How Is xbabip calculated?

This is a difficult question to answer.  As far as I can tell, because this is a projection, there is no definitive calculation.  This article at the Hardball Times may be the first to reference the phrase “xBABIP”.

The harder I look for an agreed upon calculation, the more variations I find.  In my not-so-expert opinion, I see two ways to calculate without needing a degree in statistics:

  1. Use a player’s historical BABIP to project future BABIP
  2. Break down batted ball data into categories of ground balls, line drives, and fly balls (some will then further break fly balls into infield fly balls and outfield fly balls). (more…)
Using the Site

Using the Site

One of the main goals of this site is to provide you with access to usable statistics and other data.  In order to do that, many posts will include embedded Microsoft Excel files.  These files are hosted in the cloud using Microsoft’s SkyDrive service.

You’re welcome to view any of the spreadsheets (if you can make sense of them outside the context of a post) using this link.

Alternatively, you will have several options to view, download, or interact with the spreadsheets within a given post.

Each embedded Excel file will have the Excel Web App footer shown below.  Clicking on the Excel icon will allow you to download the file to your computer for you to manipulate (you’ll likely need Microsoft Excel 2007 or greater installed for the file to open).  Clicking the rightmost icon will open the Excel file in the Excel Web App.  You don’t need Excel installed to use this, but please note that many features of Excel are not available in the Web App.


Additionally, if you see downward pointing triangles in a spreadsheet, you can sort that data by any column or apply a filter if you’d like to search for specific data (like a certain player or players with statistics over a certain criteria).


It’s my hope that having access to the data and being able to interact with it will help make you a smarter fantasy baseball player.  Leave a comment below or use the contact page if you have any ideas on how to make data more accessible or how to allow more interaction with statistics on the site.

Thanks for reading, and make smart choices.