Fantasy Baseball Roundtable: First impressions of the new rules in action

With spring training games now well underway, we get a chance to see a bunch of baseball played with a new pitch clock, larger base sizes and a very noticeable lack of infielder traffic jams between first and second. have been found. So, what’s our first impression of the “new normal” in MLB? Now that we’ve seen things in action, what do we think the impact will be on fantasy baseball?

As more and more leagues get ready to hold their drafts, we asked these questions to Tristan H. Placed opposite the intrepid duo of Cockcroft and Eric Karabel. Read on to know what he had to say about it.

About two weeks into the spring training schedule, what are your takeaways?,

Tristan H. Cockcroft: The new rules are great Great, Great!!!!!

Sorry for the emphasis, but it certainly feels like there has been a distinct “rah-rah” posture among broadcasters, writers and the like about how the new rules are going to improve the game. No, I’m not here to feed you this “that’s a plate of perfection” rule change package. I passionately appreciate how the pitch clock is driving the pace of these games, though I clearly felt that way in every single one of the many minor-league games last year, so this is a big one for me. There is no unrecognizable change. Plus, we’re still talking about spring games that don’t count, and there’s still an awkwardness to the amount of rule-violation calls that I hope players get more comfortable with them. as we get closer to opening day.

(On the one hand, I still to hate “Ghost Runners” rule in extras, especially with fast paced games. I still want the possibility of attending a 20-inning game that gets me back home and going to bed at 3:30, I’m not even kidding! But, hey, maybe now I would have been home by 2)

First, fantasy-wise, the rule that surprised me most was the irony of the rules on the pitcher’s delivery, something you can clearly see with the historic “toe tap” Rock the Baby” such as Kevin Gausman, Luis Garcia and Kenley Johnson. All three have been relatively dominant in exhibition games so far, but Anything This qualifies as a significant change in a pitcher’s approach raises a flag, so I’m watching them all closely – though I’m not changing their rankings right now. Along with Gaussman, he was the poster boy for my Kings of Command this year, so there’s a lot of potential movement for him in my ranks.

As fantasy managers, we are always looking for a change towards the positive, usually a pitch tweak, velocity bump or some other adjustment that makes a previously poor performing pitcher profitable, but a pitcher with very good initial velocity. Changes may be uncertain.

All those p… Now I’m pooping.

Eric Carabelle: you seem tired! I’ve always wanted to see that word in a fictional article. I can retire now.

While most people would point to the expansion of bases adding prolific stolen base totals as the most important adjustment to fantasy baseball, I still think it’s about nailing down the change. Kyle Schwarber hit a bouncer into the second base hole the year before and was out. He can’t get out now. I doubt Anthony Rizzo can win a batting title anytime soon, but I see him and myriad other left-handed pull hitters (which are most) raising their collective batting averages.

I acknowledge that when choosing among hitters in some of my drafts I have considered the possibility of a slight batting average adjustment affecting pre-envisioned value, and made my choices based on that. Maybe not in the early going — and not with Joey Gallo suddenly hitting his weight — but dare to dream.

With the pitchers you mentioned, I think Any The seasoned athlete is skilled, talented and smart enough, and receives enough support and instruction from teammates and coaches, to make necessary adjustments to the pitch clock rule. In fact it is the same with hitters. Everyone will be fine and most of these tweaks (or, at least, I’m not really framing pitchers or stolen base threats differently) will result in no statistical adjustments.

Cockcroft: You know I’m a numbers person, so I’ll share a few so far.

Using Statcast data (and granted, only a few spring stadiums are equipped to collect it), the league-wide batting average is .262, up three points from last spring training and up 19 points from the 2022 regular season. . The lefty is batting .270, up 16 points from last spring training and up 34 from the regular season. Lefties are batting while drawing the ball. 358, up 24 points from last spring training and 57 points higher than the regular season. I don’t think any of us – or most of the fantasy biz as a whole – are that far off from those statistical expectations, at least as far as specifically adjusting for change goes.

However, the stolen base change this spring has been striking. we’re talking about data All games so far, and teams are seeing 0.92 successful steals and 1.13 stolen-base attempts per game this spring — substantial jumps from both 0.56 and 0.77 rates during last spring training and 0.51 and 0.68 in the 2022 regular season. True, while some of them are certainly more aggressive as they adjust to the new rules, which are sure to return to an extent during the regular season, I wonder if we Are Underestimating the impact of the rule change on that specific sector? Todd Zola, our resident projections guru, baked in the projected growth in the category, and I love how those numbers appear on our pages, but I wonder if we’re underestimating the league-wide impact, too. .

Here’s a funny thing: The Cincinnati Reds were a bottom-10 team in both steals and attempts in 2021 and 2022, but they’re already 19-of-20 stolen bases through 12 games, including 10 different Players are taking action. , If it’s an indication that manager David Bell considers stolen bases a big part of his overall game plan, then I think there are buying opportunities out there. I’ll be watching over the next 10 days to three weeks to see if the team’s rate keeps up. I mean, Jonathan India has two steals, one of his entire 2022 totals!

I’ll add the Colorado Rockies (potentially Zack Wien has seven steals!) and the Chicago White Sox (remember, they have a new manager) in the group of teams that seem to have more running backs, now that I’m looking more closely. I’ve been watching for these trends.

Karabel: Fair points, all. However, I feel compelled to point out that the talented, speedy Wien is hardly the only stolen base compiler this spring who is unlikely to snuff out a big league roster later this month. Many young runners are out to prove something, which is great. Where’s the next Robbie Grossman? You know, that shocking veteran who just “decides” all of a sudden he’ll be running this season? Do they bother to practice this art in March?

I wonder if we have to wait a year or three for meaningful changes in stolen base attempts before adjusting fantasy angles. Also, I think it’s a bad idea to fill a roster spot – especially with our small rosters – with no one providing at least a modicum of power. My stolen base options have to hit home runs as well. Wien and the other runners can’t be Billy Hamilton. They should do more. So I guess I’m saying that I still don’t think that adding more steals to the game justifies my draft/auction strategy.

Frankly, the biggest rule change I’m paying attention to in preparation for the ESPN draft isn’t an MLB rule change at all. It’s ESPN changing its standard game.

Cockcroft: True, true, that too is an adjustment. So far — and this is me talking about a points-based ranker — I’m seeing that second base is a lot shallower than I anticipated, while the outfield is a lot deeper than I expected. How are you?

Karabel: The outfield is definitely deeper when one only needs to play three at a time, but the big adjustment for me is losing the corner’s infield spot. Also, I used to take care of multiple eligibility options. Now, not so much. ESPN drafters should really practice before their big events because roster building is so different now!

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