Friday, July 24, 2009

Baseball's Best TV Broadcast Team?

Although I am a Yankee fan, I wind up watching these guys at least 80 times a year.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

2nd Annual Draft Bug Blogger Invitational Results

The results are in for the 2nd Annual Draft Bug Blogger Invitational and I finished 5th of 10. [Or put another way, I beat 5 teams and lost to 4. A 5-4 record just sounds better to me.] Not so bad I guess considering I never played before. At least I did not embarass myself.

I had a solid pick with my starting pitcher -- Ubaldo Jiminez -- who racked up 31 of my 53 total points. Lester's Legends finished 1st with 68 points thanks to a bunch of his players hitting home runs (including Franklin Gutierrez). Congrats to Ryan of

My team results are here:

OF Nelson Cruz TEX
1 K -1pts

OF Melky Cabrera NYY
1 1B 1pts

OF Jermaine Dye CWS
1 2B, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K 5pts

1B Joey Votto CIN
1 R, 2 BB 3pts

2B Chase Utley PHI
1 1B, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 K 8pts

3B Pablo Sandoval SFG
2 1B 2pts

SS Marco Scutaro TOR
2 BB, 1 K 1pts

C Jorge Posada NYY
1 2B, 1 BB 3pts

SP Ubaldo Jimenez COL
1 W, 7 IP, 3 H, 10 K, 3 ER, 4 BB 31pts

This event had no entry fee, but offered some nominal prizes (credits for additional Draft Bug games). However Draft Bug participants can play for each day real money. If I could find an easier way to create a database of player stats and Draft Bug salaries in order to run my models, I would consider playing more games. If you like daily action, Draft Bug may be of interest to you. If it sounds like too much work, then Benchwarmer Baseball probably continues to be a better fit.

Thanks to Alex Zelvin at Draft Bug for the invite and I hope to participate more in the future.

For those who may be curious, all of the participants were as follows:

Alex -
Sean -
Dave H. -
Dave R. -
Charlie -
Josh -
Jay -
Ryan -
Mark -
Tim -
Troy -
Carl -

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

5 Differences between Draft Bug and Benchwarmer Baseball

I will be participating in the 2nd Draftbug Blogger Invitational on this Friday, July 17th. For those of you that may not be familiar with Draft Bug, I wanted to lay out the main differences between the play styles for that game versus the format generally discussed on this blog: Benchwarmer Baseball.

The styles are drastically different, with these aspects being the most significant:

1. Lineups: Daily v. Weekly

In Draft Bug, a manager purchases players for that day's games, and that's it. The focus is on maximizing expected points per salary dollar. In Benchwarmer, players are also purchased based on their salaries, but are kept for the whole year on a 40-man roster.

2. Scoring

Draftbug is scored using a point system as follows:

1B = 1 pt
2B = 2 pt
3B = 3 pt
HR = 4 pt
R = 1 pt
RBI = 1 pt
BB = 1 pt
SB = 2 pt
K = -1 pt
W = 10 pt
L = -3 pt
SV = 7 pt
IP = 3 pt
H = -1 pt
K = 1 pt
ER = -1 pt
BB = -1 pt

Benchwarmer is scored using a model that incorporates not only all of these same counting statistics for a team's players for a given game, but also those of the head-to-head opponent for that given game. Additionally, Benchwarmer lineups are built like in real baseball. The lineup order is critical in the scoring calculation as a Run scored in a MLB game will not count in the BWB game unless someone has an RBI lower down in the order.

3. Salaries

Draft Bug player salaries are driven off of supply and demand as in a secondary securities market, and change on a daily basis. This would be similar to having a daily auction draft in order to determine prices. Benchwarmer player salaries are generated once a year and are based on the past 2 years' performance.

4. Rosters

In Draft Bug, a team consists of 9 position players with 1 starting pitcher and 1 closer. In Benchwarmer, a team consists of a starting lineup, bench, full starting rotation, bullpen, and minor leagues.

5. Transactions

There are no add/drops or trades in Draft Bug as each team is dissolved after each day. Players can stay on teams for years in Benchwarmer Baseball as 28 keepers are allowed and transactions run during both during the season and in the off-season as well.


The biggest take-away from this is that over a whole season, a given MLB ballplayer will perform within a reasonable range of expectations. However, in one given day, the player will either: 1. not play at all (bad outcome), or 2. perform within a very wide range of potential outcomes (not very helpful). This means that luck is a much greater factor for any given daily contest. We can be fairly confident that Prince Fielder will hit more home runs than Mike Napoli over a full season, but for a daily match-up, confidence drops precipitously.

The strongest of the Draft Bug players utilize forecasting models in order to determine which daily match-ups in the MLB games for that day are the most attractive, and then build a team within the salary constraints. Given the large luck factor, the utility of these models is diminished over a one-game period, but should provide an edge over many games played during an entire season. Much like a game of poker, a player with skill has very little advantage in any one hand, but an increasingly larger advantage over longer and longer time periods. In order to play this many hands, a systematic approach becomes a necessity.

Since I am only playing one game, building a team using models is probably not completely necessary, as it probably cannot overcome the luck factor. However, I did go through the effort of building my own model as the information will provide me with a window into what the model-driven players' preferences. Armed with this intelligence, one can (hopefully) build a differentiated (and winning) team.

I will be posting my final lineup at 7:00pm Friday July 17th.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pittsburgh Baseball: Bad team, Great ballpark

Twelve voters have cast their ballots to date in the "Ballpark Poll" on this site, and PNC Park is the clear leader so far with 7 votes. As a lot of the visitors to this site hail from the east coast and lake region/midwest, it is not overly surprising that there have been more than a few visits to PNC. Over 50% of the voters chose PNC as one of their top three selections (me included).

I saw a game at PNC Park last year against the Mets in August with Pedro on the mound. The stadium was pretty near capacity and had a great atmosphere. My favorite things about PNC Park were:

1. Great bars outside. There are a few nice bars right outside the ball park entrance with outdoor seating. Compare this to Yankee Stadium (my local park), where all the bars are dark, dingy, and under the elevated subway train tracks, and Pittsburgh suddenly looks like Nirvana.

2. Souvenir ball chances. It is really easy at PNC to wander into the left field outfield stands during BP and maybe grab a fly ball. At Yankee Stadium, they have ticket-checkers at every possible junction and aisle to make sure your papers are in order and prevent seat-hopping. Phooey.

3. Great food. Primanti Brothers' Pittsburgh Style Pastrami Sandwich: fries right on your sandwich! A heart-attack special, but totally delicious. I understand you can also get some Polish specialties -- pierogies!, kielbasa! -- but I don't remember seeing them when I was there. (There's always next time...)

4. Local beers. Whether local beers are tasty or not does not really matter to me. I just drink them regardless to add to the local experience. There was plenty of Iron City Beer to be had, and a few other kinds that I didn't get to try last visit. Much better than places that sell primarily Budweiser and Bud Light. (Yes, I'm looking at you Yankee Stadium!)

5. It's not really crowded. The NYC ballparks are often times sold-out so seats are hard to come by, and they're really expensive anyways. Seats behind home plate in Pittsburgh are reasonably available and you don't need to sell a kidney to buy a pair.

6. PNC has great views. The city views over the outfield walls are fantastic with those terrific yellow bridges. Also, the open stairway connecting the lower and upper decks in left field makes for a great viewing vantage point from the outfield.

NEXT VISIT >> I am glad to see Citizens Bank Ballpark ranking high (3rd) in the poll, as that is my next planned out-of-town ballgame destination. Either this year or next, I hope to also visit Miller Park (no votes yet?!?) and Kauffman Stadium. Kauffman is 5th on the poll currently, so the stadium must be offering more than mediocre baseball (and I hope it's ribs!!).

Sunday, July 12, 2009

All-Star Break Baseball Recommended Reading

Here are some recent baseball articles I have come across that have been pretty fun reading:

Earl Weaver: A Mind For The Game
from Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated. Weaver was always fiery and I remember him getting tossed out of so many games against the Yankees. But he was money well before Moneyball.

This Rickey Henderson Sports Illustrated article isn't new, but it's another Tom Verducci classic. Also, Rickey wants to remind GM's to not forget about him just because he's going into the Hall of Fame this year.

Today marks the 30th year anniversary of Disco Demolition Night at the old Comiskey Park. Here is the New York Times retrospective and the old local news coverage (h/t for the video: 1980 Topps).

Good-bye Sister Disco.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Newbie School: Time to Cut Bait

An extremely important date is on the horizon for Benchwarmer Baseball: The Final Day for Salary Rebates. This year the deadline is July 15th -- a Wednesday, and just 10 days away.

Any player that you release by that day, you will receive back 40% of their salary. Release the player after that... you get stugots. It's like going to the Salvation Army with your old lava lamp, double-breasted suits, and Van Halen CD collection... and getting a tax receipt in return! It's junk you didn't want anyways, so why not monetize it?

I look through my roster and put to each player "The Questions": 1) is this player helping me this year to win a championship, and 2) will I keep this player for next year? If you have two "No" answers, either try to trade the dead-weight for a player that gives you a "Yes", or else just make an outright release. That's good money you can use to extend contracts or use in the off-season.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

1987 Giveaway

If there are any card collectors in the audience, the Collective Troll is giving away team sets from 1987 Donruss Opening Day. I took the Royals, but there still lots of teams left. Good luck!!