From The Fantasy Oracle 2016 MLB Draft Guide Is Here! 

Oracle Report: What Really Matters

Ray Flowers breaks down what really matters, i.e. what you should be looking at when you're trying to assess player performances in the month of April.

Slide 1 of 2 Oracle Report: What Matters | Slide - 1

Lots to get to here. This is basically going to be a review of what matters, or more accurately what should matter to you, as you attempt to assess a player's early season performance. Which numbers matter? Which don't? What are the indicators you should be looking at? Basically this is going to be a refresher course in the way you should evaluate players. So sit down, strap in, and prepare yourself to be bombarded with the knowledge you will need to work through the morass of early season data in fantasy baseball.


I wrote a two page article on this very topic in March. Here is a link to that piece. It will help you understand how I think of players. How many at-bats do we need or how many innings should a hurler throw before we can start to get a solid feeling about what he will have to offer over the course of the season?


I'm not talking about the first place you lived on your own in, and I'm certainly not referring to your flea infested college dorm room that always had a burning lava lamp and a 12 pack of Natural Light in the fridge. By “Remember Your Place” I'm referring to where we are in the season. It's the second week of the regular season. That means we're about a week an a half from when this whole shebang got a going (sorry Australian trip doesn't count). Remember the Player Rankings that I spent months setting up for you all to draft with? You know, the 600+ players I ranked. If you read the sample size piece I linked to above you will know that I do not believe in radically adjusting any player (other than relievers) this early in the season. Do yourself a favor and refer back to those rankings. If a guy was ranked 23rd at his position 10 days ago why are you thinking he's a top-10 player now? If you don't trust my evaluations that's one thing, but if you didn't would you be reading this?

Refer to the Player Rankings page. It's still plenty early enough that they should be able to help guide you when trying to determine players worth (note the rankings are no longer updated on a daily basis. There will likely be a re-release of the updated rankings at mid-season).


Don't be swayed by the raw numbers, up or down. It's been less than two weeks. Everything is amplified in April. Everyone starts off with a zero next to their name on day one. If the player starts well the numbers look great. If the guy starts off a wee bit slow his numbers look horrible. Remember that is merely an artifact of where we are at in terms of the season.

We all tend to pay too much attention to the start of the season like that will determine the outcome of a players total effort (I touched on this a bit in Do Early Numbers Matter?). We all overemphasize strong/putrid performances because it's all we have to work off of. Consider the following efforts from 2013 to illustrate what I'm talking about.

Miguel Cabrera went .348-44-137 last season in a massive performance that led to him being taken 1st or 2nd in nearly every draft this season. We can agree = superstar. However, did you know that he hit .278 with one homer and seven RBIs in September last season? How nervous would you have been if that was his April? Be honest. You would have been very nervous.

Max Scherzer had a blah 4.02 ERA last April. Nervous were you? We all know how well he finished.

What a Gio Gonzalez and that 5.34 ERA... did you drop him cause of his April struggles?

Justin Upton hit 12 homers in April. Everyone thought he would win the MVP. He hit only 15 homers the rest of the season and people thought he stunk. If he had hit 15 homers the first five months and then 12 in the month of September, would you feel differently about him this season? Sure you would.

The point is this. If Player X hits .412 for two weeks in August you may not even notice. If Player Y loses 3-straight starts and is sporting a 6.00 ERA for the month of July you may or may not notice. Now if either of those performances happen in April... you get the point by now, right?

Slide 2 of 2 Oracle Report: What Matters | Slide - 2

What's next is basically a review of the information that was in the 2014 Draft Guide. It's important to remember how we evaluate players. Don't be seduced by batting average or ERA, especially this early in the season when those numbers are even more apt to be screwed up by, well, something screwy. So let's take each side of the game – hitting and pitching – and set those baselines.


Here are some league average numbers to note.

Line drive rate: 19 percent
Ground ball rate: 44 percent
Fly ball rate: 37 percent
HR/F: 9-10 percent
GB/FB ratio: 1.10
BABIP: .290-.300
BB/K: 0.45

Given those numbers, I really shouldn't have to tell you just how absurd some of the following numbers are.

.625 BABIP – Josh Hamilton
.583 BABIP – Emilio Bonifacio
.571 BABIP – Jayson Werth
.533 BABIP – Salvador Perez, Jason Kubel
.500 BABIP – Chris Colabello, Aramis Ramirez, Khris Davis, Junior Lake, Jarrod Saltalamacchia

You get the point. All those guys will be party to a massive downturn soon. Massive (an elite number is .350).

Here are some HR/F ratios.

100.0 – Raul Ibanez
66.7 – Josh Hamilton
55.6 – Mark Trumbo
50.0 – Melky Cabrera, Elvis Andrus, Brandon Belt

Pretty sure Trumbo isn't going deep 80 times this season. Pretty sure Belt isn't going to hit 60 either.


* These are some target numbers for you to look for.

The Strikeout

Starters: At least a K/9 of 6.50
Relievers: At least a K/9 of 7.50
2013 Major League average: 7.57

The Walk

Starters: A BB/9 mark below 3.20
Relievers: A BB/9 mark below 3.00
2013 Major League average: 3.02

Strikeout to Walk Ratio

Starters: A K/BB mark above 2.30
Relievers: A K/BB mark above 2.50
2013 Major League average: 2.51

Ground Ball/Fly Ball Ratios

Starters: A GB/FB mark better than 1.25
Relievers: A GB/FB mark better than 1.50

Given those numbers, I really shouldn't have to tell you just how absurd some of the following numbers are.

13.94 K/9 – Stephen Strasburg
12.08 K/9 – Jose Fernandez
12.00 K/9 – Jenrry Mejia
11.57 K/9 – James Paxton

Or how about some insane numbers in the K/BB column. Brace yourself.

14.00 – Nathan Eovaldi
12.00 – David Price, CC Sabathia
11.00 – Mark Buehrle

Check out these bonkers GB/FB ratios.

5.50 – Rick Porcello
4.00 – Jenrry Mejia

Those aren't going to continue.

How about some HR/F numbers.

37.5 – Zack Greinke
36.4 – Brandon McCarthy
33.3 – Jorge De La Rosa


.438 – Madison Bumgarner
.432 – Tanner Scheppers
.429 – Stephen Strasburg
.417 – Cliff Lee
.405 – Felipe Paulino

.056 – Matt Garza
.105 – Aaron Harang
.118 – Jason Hammel
.122 – Scott Feldman
.150 – Tim Hudson

At the end of the day you need to be smart about all of this. Don't be swayed by a week an a half of action since tt's simply not enough data to go on. Also, don't forget what you thought about players two weeks ago. Have things really changed that much the last 14 days? Finally, make sure you are looking at the right type of things when you are analyzing a player. Be honest with the players skills and not merely swayed by the numbers you keep seeing popping up on SportsCenter. Does anyone watch that anymore or did I just make myself sound old?

Don't forget to listen to my show Monday through Friday from 7-10 PM EDT on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). You can also hear me hosting my own show Sunday nights in the same time slot, 7-10 PM EDT.


  • 64x64

    Rob Johnson 12 Apr 12:22 / Reply

    The point of the story is,stick the plan you had going in to the season until further notice

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