Tools

Tools to help make you a better and smarter fantasy baseball player. These may be created by Smart Fantasy Baseball or links to smart tools created by others.

Courtesy of MLB.com Gameday

Fantasy Baseball Tool Box – PITCH f/x

If you’re looking for another weapon to add to your fantasy arsenal, understanding and using PITCH f/x data is a great place to start.  This article will give you an overview of what PITCH f/x is, what information it provides, and how and where you can obtain PITCH f/x data on the web.

What Is Pitch F/X?

PITCH f/x is a system, developed by Sportvision, installed in all Major League Baseball stadiums to track the movement and velocity of pitches.  Even if you’ve never heard of PITCH f/x or analyzed PITCH f/x data, you’ve probably seen it in action via MLB.com’s Gameday system.  The pitch animations within Gameday attempt to model the actual velocity, break, and angle of pitches.

PITCH f/x animation from MLB.com’s MLB Gameday

While watching the Gameday animation, if you hover over the location of a pitch, you are presented with the pitch result, pitch type, speed, and movement.

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PITCH f/x information from MLB.com’s MLB Gameday

What Does Pitch f/x Tell Me?

It’s interesting to look at the data of individual pitches, but because pitch-after-pitch-after-pitch is recorded and logged, we have accumulated a massive amount of pitch data that can be analyzed.  With pitch type, pitch speed, pitch movement, and pitcher release point being available, we can answer questions like:

  • Has pitcher A altered his approach (pitch type frequency)?
  • Has pitcher B added a new pitch?
  • Has pitcher C added velocity from the prior year?
  • Has pitcher D lost velocity on his fastball?
  • Has pitcher E improved the movement on his pitches?
  • Has pitcher F changed his release point?
  • What percent of the time does pitcher G throw his curve ball for a strike?
  • What pitch type for pitcher H generates the most swinging strikes?

What Does This Have To Do With Fantasy Baseball?

There are some very obvious applications.  For one, higher fastball velocity is an indicator of higher strike out rates.  Decreasing velocity might indicate an injured or aging player losing effectiveness.

Other PITCH f/x information is more difficult to tie directly to fantasy performance, but knowing the information might help explain changes in a player’s performance.  Take the case of Edward Mujica, who became a different pitcher after being traded to St. Louis in 2012.  Turns out he developed a new pitch that he now throws over 60% of the time.  Adding a new pitch and then throwing it with a high frequency would help explain an increase in effectiveness.

Fantasy players are always trying to determine what is real and what performance increases will continue.  PITCH f/x data can help unearth the “real” changes in pitcher performance and separate them from a flukey “hot streak”.

Where Do I Find Pitch f/x Data?

There are a number of resources for PITCH f/x data, but my two favorite sources are BrooksBaseball.net and Fangraphs.  BrooksBaseball.net offers a ton of information if you’re looking to take a deep dive into an individual player, whereas Fangraphs offers the easiest access to downloadable PITCH f/x data.

Brooks Baseball

BrooksBaseball.net offers PITCH f/x analysis of individual games, of umpires, and of the strike zone, but the pitcher “Player Cards” are what I find most useful for fantasy baseball analysis.

To access a player card, simply type the player’s name into the search box on the main site.  Then click the search button.

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BrooksBaseball.Net Player Card Search

You’ll be presented with a lengthy table of contents showing just how much information is available on the site.

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BrooksBaseball.net PITCH f/x Player Card Table of Contents

We’ll dive deeper into certain segments in a future post.  But in the meantime, look around.  The information is awesome.

Fangraphs

As mentioned above, Fangraphs offers the best sortable and downloadable PITCH f/x information I’ve been able to find.  To access this information, go to the “Leaders” menu at Fangraphs and select the desired year under “Pitching Leaders”.

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Accessing Fangraphs.com Pitching Leaders

Middle of the way down on the ensuing page, you’ll see categories for all the pitching statistics available at Fangraphs.  Choose “PITCH f/x”, the rightmost option.

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Locating PITCH f/x data on Fangraphs.

After making that selection, you have further options to choose from:  Pitch Type, Velocity, Movement, and others.

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Categories of PITCH f/x data available on Fangraphs.

 

More To Come

Play around with the information at BrooksBaseball and Fangraphs.  Leave a comment below or let me know on Twitter if you have any questions.

In an upcoming post, we’ll dive deeper into the data and do some analysis.

Special Thanks

A big thank you is in order to BrooksBaseball.net and Fangraphs.com for offering such great information online and making it available to smart baseball fans.

If You Haven’t Already Done So

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Until next time, make smart choices.


The SFBB Twitter Lists

The SFBB Twitter Lists

Where were you the night of April 27th, 2012?

I won’t soon forget getting off the couch that night, letting my dog out, and checking Twitter while I waited for her to come back inside.  News had hit Twitter that Mike Trout was being called up (you may remember that Bryce Harper was called up just hours before Trout).

I quickly went to all my league sites and picked up Trout and Harper in any leagues in which they were still available.

The point of this story is that Twitter helped me win two of my leagues in 2012.  It’s a great tool for alerting you to important fantasy events (injuries, call ups, closer changes) and aggregating fantasy news and articles from around the web.

The web is full of A TON of great and free fantasy baseball content and Twitter is an invaluable tool for helping you locate that information.

Getting Started

If you need a primer on Twitter, Brien Bonneville over at thefakebaseball.com has a great introduction and some tips for new users.  As a technology lover, I especially like the suggestion to download and use a Twitter dashboard like TweetDeck.  Twitter’s interface is a little clunky.  Using a dashboard allows you to more efficiently access different features in Twitter, arrange and follow multiple streams, and access multiple Twitter accounts at once.

Who To Follow

For the last couple years, David Gonos has put out his list of 99 Fantasy Baseball Twitter Accounts You Should Follow.  There are probably thousands of fantasy baseball Twitter accounts out there and Gonos has done a great job of isolating some of the best.  You’ll see names like Matthew Berry, Jason Collette, Mike Gianella, Tristan Cockroft, and Ron Shandler on his top 99.

SFBB Tip – Twitter Lists

In my opinion, one of the most underutilized features on Twitter is “Lists”.  A Twitter “List” allows you to group and organize Twitter users.  You can subscribe to lists created by other Twitter users and others can subscribe to your own lists.  When you then visit a list, the Tweets from everyone in the list are displayed.

Subscribing to a list is different than following someone.  This is nice because you can easily segregate people you follow for personal reasons from others by using lists.  For example, if you subscribe to one of the lists below, you won’t have MLB injury news cluttering up your Twitter stream.  When you’re ready to do some fantasy baseball reading, you can then view the appropriate list.

Instead of you having to seek out fantasy baseball experts to follow, I’ve created created several Smart Fantasy Baseball Twitter lists you can follow.  You can see all the SFBB lists here, or visit the individual lists with the links below:

How To Subscribe To a List

  1. After clicking on one of the links above, locate and click on the “Subscribe” button in the top left corner of the page.
    TwitterList1
  2. Keep in mind that lists you have subscribed to do not hit your Twitter feed.  To view the contents of a list, after logging into Twitter, click on the “View my profile page” link.
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  3. Then click on the “Lists>” link, in the top left corner, to see all lists you are subscribed to.
    TwitterList3
  4. On the ensuing page you will see all of your lists.  The title of each list will be displayed along with who created it.
    TwitterList4
  5. Once you click to view a list, all the Tweets from members added to the list will appear in a feed for you to read.
    TwitterList5
  6. If you do make the jump to using a Twitter Dashboard, like Tweetdeck, you can add followed lists to the Dashboard and have them easily available (and avoid having to jump through these hoops above).
    TwitterList6

Who’s Missing?

Who are your favorite Twitter follows?  Is there anyone missing from the lists that you think should be added?  I don’t intend for the lists to be all encompassing, and I put a preference on quality over quantity.  There are also some fantasy baseball experts that don’t tweet much about fantasy baseball, so I excluded them (Gonos’ list of 99 had some that I left off my lists for that reason).

Stay Smart.  And thanks for reading.

Downloadable Tool - Calculate What It Takes To Win Your League

Downloadable Tool – Calculate What It Takes To Win Your League

I’ve developed a much more refined tool to help calculate the number of rotisserie points it will take to win your league, as well as the statistics necessary in each category to achieve a certain place.

You can download the file here:  What It Takes To Win Calculator.xlsx

You must have Microsoft Excel 2007 or greater to use the calculator.  To use the calculator:

  1. After downloading the file, fill out the information requested on the “Answer These Questions First” tab (genius naming convention, I know).
    Answer These Questions First
  2. The questions can be answered using the drop down menus provided.
    Drop Down Menus
  3. Then proceed to complete all of the yellow hitter and pitcher stat tabs.
    Complete Hitter and Pitcher Tabs
  4. Follow the bold red instructions on each tab.  Also be on the look out for warnings for areas saying “DO NOT ENTER DATA BELOW”.  These are just warnings to ensure formulas work correctly and to prevent you from entering unnecessary data.
  5. Follow Instructions on Each TabAfter you’ve completed all the data entry into the yellow tabs, return to the “Results” tab to see the stats necessary to win your league.
    Results Tab
  6. The end result should be printer friendly, if you’d like to print it out for future reference.  Click on the image below for a larger view of the finished results.
    Printer Friendly Results

Features

The tool can accommodate the following:

  • Up to 15 teams
  • Up to 10 years of historical standings and statistics data
  • Up to 6×6 rotisserie categories (6 hitting, 6 pitching)
  • Hitting categories of BA, R, HR, RBI, SB, OBP, H, BB
  • Pitching categories of W, K, SV, ERA, WHIP, QS

Suggestions or Ideas for Improvement?

Please shoot me a comment and let me know what you think.  Let me know if you’d like to see any additional features or categories added.

As always, make smart choices.