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Fantasy Baseball in the Wall Street Journal?

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Fantasy Baseball in the Wall Street Journal?

Postby Smee » Wed Mar 29, 2006 4:55 pm

A couple of days ago there was an article in the Wall Street Journal that caught my eye, it essentially was an exerpt from the book Fantasyland. It was an interesting read as it turned me on to the uber competitive Tout Wars rotisserie league, where seven current or former participants in the league have been hired by MLB teams as scouts.

Unsurprisingly, sabermetrics is the weapon of choice for this league and the article referenced the Baseball Forecaster by Ron Shandler which is a book of projections that is apparently freakishly accurate. Rather than subjective musings ("Edwin Encarnacion is looking good in Spring Training") a player's value is determined by their projected stats. These projections are essentially regressions run through an Excel spreadsheet and in a league like Tout Wars, the managers are competing more in a mathematical sense than anything else. If you take it to an extreme, you probably don't even need to SEE a player, you merely have to assemble his data and analyze it.

Anyone out there use the Baseball Forecaster? Anyone have their own Excel spreadsheets? How about competitive leagues? For me this is recreational, thanks to this place I crush my friends every year, but I'm sure some of you guys are in more competitve leagues. Are they all based on this style of play? I guess my question is what is necassary to compete in a serious league like Tout Wars?

Also, how and why Brandon Funston is employed?
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Re: Fantasy Baseball in the Wall Street Journal?

Postby suppasonic » Wed Mar 29, 2006 4:59 pm

Smee wrote:
Also, how and why Brandon Funston is employed?


He owns the souls of the Yahoo executives. Its the only reasonable explanation.


Also, Fantasyland is a good read. I just finished it recently.

I dont have my own Excell spreadsheets or anything, but who knows what the future holds. I may venture into it as the years pass on. The leagues I'm in arent highly competitive and none are for a cash prize, so I dont really have much desire to do TOO much work as its just bragging rights with friends.
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Postby Roberto21 » Wed Mar 29, 2006 5:46 pm

Nothing has shown that stat heads are better than scouts at predicting what a player will do. Everybody will remember the predictions that are right, but somehow forget the ones that are wrong.

For predicting real baseball performance, I don't think there is anything in the world that can be better than watching a player in person. A person can go 0-4, with two of them being line shots that the third baseman catches or loses his head on, another that the centerfielder climbs the wall to bring back, and the fourth that the left fielder dives and comes up with. The scout sees that and notes the swing and the ability. The stathead just sees the 0fer.
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Postby AcidRock23 » Wed Mar 29, 2006 6:01 pm

ah, but Forecaster notes line drive, fly and ground ball %ages as indicators for all the players they rate. I just got that for the first time this year but some of their insights are intriguing, eg 'Sexson hit more flies but less HR so he is weaker' (as 10% of FB are homers, another insight...). I like forecaster a lot but we'll see how it plays out. Mostly it's entertainment value though as I don't really have the patience or see the need to make up my own projections.
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Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Wed Mar 29, 2006 6:02 pm

Roberto21 wrote:Nothing has shown that stat heads are better than scouts at predicting what a player will do. Everybody will remember the predictions that are right, but somehow forget the ones that are wrong.


And nothing has shown that scouts are any good at all at predicting what a player will do.

In the long run, stats will win this, because stats actually test the success of their predictions, and then modify their approach to improve. In 100 years of baseball, scouts have made no attempt to test whether they are any good at what they do....and never will.
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Postby thedude » Wed Mar 29, 2006 6:19 pm

Roberto21 wrote: The scout sees that and notes the swing and the ability. The stathead just sees the 0fer.


Because of the law of large numbers, a player will more linedrives get more hits than a player who hits weak ground balls or fly balls. Stats can then use that data to make predictions.


It is probably best to use a combination of scouting and statistical formulas if teams want to be succesful. Theo epstein is classified as a moneyball guy, but he went to the scouting school in California.
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Postby AcidRock23 » Wed Mar 29, 2006 6:21 pm

GotowarMissAgnes wrote: And nothing has shown that scouts are any good at all at predicting what a player will do.

In the long run, stats will win this, because stats actually test the success of their predictions, and then modify their approach to improve. In 100 years of baseball, scouts have made no attempt to test whether they are any good at what they do....and never will.


Hey, c'mon now, they found Mickey Mantle! LOL... :-D

I can see both approaches as having some value but, in terms of COST (particularly for fantasy players who don't do baseball 'full time'), it's got to be more reasonable to look at the stats first and then scout guys and, if you happen to see something else 'promising', having some stats at your fingertips would also be handy. Predicting the future is pretty tricky but it is fun as heck when it's about baseball.
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Postby thedude » Wed Mar 29, 2006 6:27 pm

AcidRock23 wrote:
GotowarMissAgnes wrote: And nothing has shown that scouts are any good at all at predicting what a player will do.

In the long run, stats will win this, because stats actually test the success of their predictions, and then modify their approach to improve. In 100 years of baseball, scouts have made no attempt to test whether they are any good at what they do....and never will.


Hey, c'mon now, they found Mickey Mantle! LOL... :-D


And Walter Johnson (off the farm) And Jimie Foxx (while he was plowing a field or so legend goes) And Wafe Boggs And A-Rod And Manny Ramirez/David Oritz/Vlad And every member of the hall of fame.

Without scouts there wouldn't be any foreign born players in MLB. It think they serve there purpose.



Maybe they can't prove what they do but is correct but they sure find some pretty good players
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Postby teddyballgamemvp » Wed Mar 29, 2006 6:33 pm

SABR-based projections predicted EE's emergence this year. Also Granderson's and Jason Vargas' and David Bush's and others-- including Howard's power surge.
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Postby Smee » Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:26 pm

thedude wrote:
Without scouts there wouldn't be any foreign born players in MLB. It think they serve there purpose.

Maybe they can't prove what they do but is correct but they sure find some pretty good players


I hadn't thought of that. I suppose the most effective method would be some sort of hybrid. Sabermetrics may be most useful when evaluating players already in the Major League system while scouting may prove to be more valuable for discovering new talant.

The cool thing, to me, about baseball is that it really is a statistition's dream. Nearly every meaningful action is documented and recorded, and unlike other sports, baseball is highly individual. I think that's why the idea of sabermetrics applies so easily to baseball and not so much to football. In football there's so much going on in each play...lineman blocking, wide recievers running routes, runningbacks making cuts...it's hard to pinpoint what made the play a success or failure. In baseball one player is batting against one pitcher and we know who made the play and who screwed up.
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