GM's OFFICE: The In-Season Plan, 2018

Well, we made it.

Another offseason in the books, and like always, we’re all ready to get going with the games that count. And just like there are differences between spring training baseball and regular season baseball, our coverage at BaseballHQ.com gets a tweak, too. 

No longer are we in draft preparation mode (even though if, like me, you still have a draft this weekend), but now we have transitioned to in-season mode. It’s no longer selecting our players, it’s making the series of decisions to get that roster to be a contender and ultimately a champion come October. 

Before we dive in to how this transition will look, two important ground rules. First, all of these features have some overlap. Within any column, most authors try to balance both the near-present expectations with the future. The line between now and later isn’t black and white. Second—and perhaps more importantly—our goal throughout our content line is not to spoonfeed answers that nourish your fantasy championship. Instead, while we hope all of our content is clear, rational and actionable, it’s more important to us (and beneficial to you) to “teach you how to fish.” That’s why we put so much emphasis on process—so that you can utilize our tools and adapt them wisely to whatever fantasy baseball setting you are in. The flexible approach makes the journey of managing a competitive team all the more rewarding.

So both for subscribers (and potential subscribers) what follows is an in-season roadmap to the vast amount of content here at BaseballHQ.com, and how to make it work for you at various stages though the season. We’ll try to use some real-life examples in a Q-and-A format to show you were to look, and when to look, for all your team maintenance needs. Onward!


There’s more where this came from to help you win your fantasy league in 2018. Take the title home with a subscription to BaseballHQ.com.


Immediate Roster Help

Q: With J.T. Realmuto starting the season on the DL, who is going to scoop up his AB in Miami? 
A: All of our MLB transaction analysis happens daily under our PT TODAY column—under the "NEWS" menu. To be clear, PT stands for “Playing Time,” which forms the backbone of our projections here on the site. Each MLB team has a Playing Time Analyst, who is responsible for setting percentage projections for each position. Their work, updated as often as necessary, can be found on the Teamview pages (here is the Miami chart), so you can see just how much AB or IP (in percentages) we allot to a player. In addition, these Analysts are responsible for taking the relevant news of the day as it relates to playing time for their team(s), and annotating it for readers, showing their work. Each morning, the previous days’ notes are collected in the PT TODAY column. And here is Wednesday’s column that discusses Miami’s catching situation.

Two important corollaries: First, PT TODAY is not a replacement for a newswire. Here at BaseballHQ.com, we don’t break stories; there are other sites/services for that. What we do focus on is analysis of the news, and how it will affect a fantasy team. Second, we only write up stories that affect playing time. You probably won’t read about (in theory) Clayton Kershaw’s brilliant new pitch here, as that news would not affect how many innings he pitches this season. But PT TODAY is where you find that the Realmuto DL stint looks minor, and just downgrades his playing time over balance of the season by 5%. Conversely, Tomas Telis’ playing time is likely to increase by 5%. And by the time you read this PT TODAY column every morning, those PT% changes have been incorporated into our site-wide projections file. 

Q: What about Greg Bird's injury? How long will he be out?
A: Our thrice-weekly column THE BIG HURT (also under "NEWS" menu) provides the answers to questions as simple as these, as well as complex as describing an arthroscopic debridement (here's looking at you, Carlos Rodon), and gives realistic guidance on how long a player might miss, plus if and how the injury might affect him when he returns. It started this week, and it's where you can read about Bird, Rondon, and (soon) Sal Perez's luggage misfortunes. 

Q: I’m playing DFS or I’m in a daily transaction league. You guys have the daily lineups? How do I tell who the best starting pitcher plays are for today’s MLB games? 
A: For lineups, you'll want to frequent our DAILY DASHBOARD page (under the TEAMS menu), where batting orders are posted as they become available for that day's games. There's also links to pages with park factors, team indicators, our PlayerLink database, and that day's starting pitching report. The companion piece to the SP report is our revamped pitcher start ratings in our DAILY MATCHUPS column (see the Opening Day version here). You can find DAILY MATCHUPS under the NEWS menu. Now through the end of the season, all that day’s starting pitchers are ranked in our Pitcher Matchups Tool, which not only gives an overall rating for the start, but also a rating in terms of Wins, Ks, ERA and WHIP. This new method is a result of extensive research into those different components of a starter (you can find the original research linked off each DAILY MATCHUPS page). 

Q: But I’m in a weekly-transaction league, and pitchers with two-start weeks are valuable. Is there any tool to help us set our rosters at the beginning of the week? 
A: Indeed—starting in 2017, we debuted our DOUBLE DIPPIN' column, which does exactly that—gives recommendations for the best two-start pitchers of the week. It appears every Sunday (its debut is in three days) and like its DAILY brethren, leans heavily on our new Matchup scores. The column points to the tool, which has a rolling eight-day scan useful no matter when your scoring week starts. 

Q: Who the heck is Anthony Santander?
A: Any and all rookies that are placed on the 25-man roster who have rookie status get written up in our CALL-UPS column (NEWS menu, current column here). Several writers who cover the minor leagues give a quick scouting snapshot of each player, some relevant stats, and our player ratings, seven days a week. The reports are comprehensive enough on both their scouting details as well as some probability as to current and future role. This week’s column will be one of the season’s longest (September roster expansion week being the other). As of Wednesday evening, there were almost  reports on first-week rookies, and we populate that list throughout the first several days of the season. The writeups remain there for a week, and a new column gets created every Tuesday morning. The Callups profile also become a permanent part of each player’s PlayerLink page. Long-term readers rely on the CALL-UPS for all their rookie needs. As subscribers have stated in the past, “Callups columns are why I have a BaseballHQ subscription.” We’ll leave it at that.

 

Looking Ahead

Q: I don’t trust Derek Holland to remain in the Giants rotation, but had to roster him in the final round. Who is likely to be the next guy to move into that role when Holland falters? 
A: The stark reality of fantasy baseball is that the opportunity for player stats gets decided by the MLB manager. He stays with the veteran slugger who can’t hit lefties, gives the quick hook to the rookie hurler who comes out with first-game jitters, or refuses to use his closer in a tie game in the 8th because it’s not a save situation. All these decisions happen on an MLB-team level. 

So we address questions like the above with our PT TOMORROW column, where a staff member is dedicated to knowing one MLB division, inside and out. Six days a week, the purpose of the column is to look ahead on the team level, asking questions such as: If a certain starting player heads into a slump, how likely would he get replaced—and just who would replace him? Knowing this information ahead of time can be a fantasy goldmine, as you can be prepared if these situations happen. PT TOMORROW is a vitally underused resource.

Q: Who is the next minor leaguer to be promoted that can help my fantasy team? 
A: While PT TOMORROW might give you a clue, our weekly WATCHLIST column is made just for this question. WATCHLIST (SCOUTING menu) scours the high minor leagues for players who, by a strong performance or a shaky MLB player in front of them, could be just a few days or a week away from getting the call. Knowing who the candidates are give you time to consider rostering them now, depending on your league rules, rather than wait until they hit the majors. Every year, this is a coveted column and informative way to cover the minor leagues. Many of the subjects are not on top prospect lists, but have the ability to contribute. The WATCHLIST starts up again in mid-April.

Q: My starting pitching stinks. Who should be some names I should target for an upgrade?
A: This question is perfect for our BUYERS GUIDES, our skills-based columns that attempt to recognize trends and give you some actionable options. BUYERS GUIDES (under SKILLS menu) look at a player’s skills more than his current role to find those due for a performance spike or swoon. While you’ll be disappointed if your look at these columns exclusively as a free agent target list, these will give hints on who to target and who to keep. Some players could be available in your free agent pool, but some likely are not, but more importantly, the column gives you criteria to look for in doing your own analysis. You’ll become familiar with what skills and metrics BHQ writers use to identify players ready to take the next step up. Each of the three columns run weekly through the season, and because they are filtered by position, you can quickly find STARTERS, BATTERS and RELIEVERS. Current-year data will start very soon (with appropriate small-sample caveats).

Q: I’m at a place to take a longshot on a player, even if it’s risky. Do you have recommendations?
A: The SPECULATOR column (RESEARCH menu) is designed especially for this purpose. We call this our 20% plays—explorations with the “What if?” meter fully engaged. The weekly column runs on Wednesdays and is centered around a different theme each week. We try to strip away our preconceived notions, discard our blinders and ask “What could happen?” We’ve seen the “bold prediction” columns all over the internet this (and every) spring. This column takes that idea, but stretches it out all season long. It's a place to try and predict the surprises.

 

The Long View

Q: The date is May 1 and Brandon Belt has 7 HR. Is he for real?
A: This is where our popular FACTS & FLUKES column comes in. F/F (SKILLS menu) is our place for long-term performance evaluation. Sure, you can use these profiles for roster management, too—do I keep or dump Belt?—but the F/F focus is where the player’s stats are likely to settle by the end of the season. Each column examines five player’s individual skills history and takes into account a larger sample sizes than just about anywhere else on the site. Because small samples are our enemy, we don’t include 2018 stats in these analyses until after four weeks of play are completed, but F/F columns has been running since January with the 2018 in mind. But whatever the player has done to this point, the guide question is, “Is the current performance sustainable?” FACTS & FLUKES runs five days a week, and the special F/F SPOTLIGHT—where we take just one player and go even deeper—starts in the first week in May. 

Q: What minor leaguers are worth rostering in my farm system?
A: BaseballHQ.com’s team of scouts bring you coverage of the minor leagues, both on a larger scale, where we discuss statistical leaders, and a micro scale, where we dive into the strengths/weaknesses of several specific players. Our weekly EYES HAVE IT series (SCOUTING menu) give you the scoop on the youngsters in the rise, with detailed scouting reports that differ from other sites, since BaseballHQ.com always has fantasy baseball production in mind. Plus our rankings and ratings make that fantasy adjustment for you. EYES HAVE IT runs on Thursdays, and today’s article looks at Ronald Acuna and many more young Braves prospects. If your league has a farm system, BHQ will give you plenty of information to help strengthen it. 

Q: What about site news, broader fantasy baseball trends, or other non-player specific information that could be helpful to running my fantasy team?
A: This column, GM’s OFFICE, normally runs every Friday, with pieces from co-GMs of BaseballHQ.com Brent Hershey and Ray Murphy. Topics might include an industry league wrap-up, trade discussions, new features on the site, or any number of topics. And we’re excited to announce that veteran fantasy baseball writer Fred Zinkie (formerly of MLB.com) will have his FROM A TO ZINKIE column on site every Wednesday, following his debut on BHQ today. Both of these columns can be found under the RESEARCH menu.

Q: I love the numbers. What new metric I should be considering when doing my own player evaluation? 
A: New tools and metrics have been a hallmark of BaseballHQ.com for as long as we’ve been in existence (for more than 20 years!). That tradition continues with our weekly RESEARCH pieces, where writers present imaginative cutting-edge tools that aim to help us all get better at player evaluation. Many of these will have long-lasting impact and become a permanent part of the BaseballHQ toolbox. As with all other aspects of BHQ coverage, the fascination is not just the numbers themselves, but how these numbers and measures can help you win your fantasy leagues.

 

Armed with this in-season guide, our hope is that each BaseballHQ.com subscriber—both new and old—can utilize all of our great content to its fullest extent. As always, if you have comments/questions/suggestions, leave them below. Let’s Play Ball!


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.