Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Don't Want A Player To Be Named Later!?!?

Ever seen across the ESPN bottom line the following, "Cubs trade Rich Hill to the Marlins for a player to be named later"

If your a Cubs fan your probably screaming at the television saying, "Did we even get anything back for him!?" And if your a Marlins fan then your saying, "Sweet! we got Rich Hill and didn't even give up anyone to get him!"

This year when the Padres traded Jack Cust to the A's for a player to be named later and Cust immediately made an impact with 7 homeruns in his first 10 games, I wondered, who did the A's give up to get this guy?

I thought of all kinds of crazy theories like: 1)the Padres just wanted to rid themselves of Cust, so agreed to give him away before actually agreeing on who they get back. 2) The Padres wanted to see him perform but didn't want to waste the at-bats, so A's agreed to give him the at-bats, and would either return him or give them a player who performed the same as Cust. This obviously got me worried that my A's would have to give away some good player for Cust.

So, being the solutions oriented guy that I am, got down to the bottom of this. The details are pretty complicated, as are all MLB transaction rules, but I'll try to make it as clear and straightfoward as possible.

The most important thing to know is that while one team receives the one player (the Jack Cust) the other team does receive one player later, specifically within 6 months. Now, what goes down is that, and I'll use the Jack Cust example, the Pads agree to give Cust away, and the A's give a list of players to the Padres of which they will choose one within six months to keep.

Over these six months the Padres will intensely scout the "listed" players, and eventually choose one to keep.

The six month rule comes from a 1987 trade between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs, in which the Tigers gave the Cubs a player, I do not know his name, in exchange for a player to be named later. The two teams could never agree on the player to be named later, and so after the season, the Cubs simply gave the Tiger's player back. The MLB considered this unacceptable and put in the 6 month rule.

Unfortunately there have not been too many exciting "player to be named later deals" as they are usually side add-ons where premier players are not swapped. However, there was a pretty big one back in 2002 between the A's (of course) and the Tigers. The A's gave Carlos Pena (don't worry, he didn't hit 46 home runs that year) and Franklyn German, and a player to be named later for Jeff Weaver. The Tigers decided between several prospects until a couple of months later they chose Jeremy Bonderman. This appeared huge a year ago, until in 2007 Bonderman fell apart in the second half, although hopes are still pretty high on the young pitcher.

Well now you know everything there is to know about the player to be named later rule. Hopefully you won't flip out at your television next time you see this type of deal.



Thursday, November 22, 2007

An Interesting Drafting Strategy

Today I'm going to talk about an interesting draft strategy I've conceived. It has nothing to do with when you should draft pitchers, in fact it has very little to do with the draft at all. It has everything to do with dealing after the draft.

The strategy is simple: Draft known first-half performers, and avoid known second-half performers. Now, there are only a few of these types of players that continually do this, and I'm sure correlation from year to year is pretty weak. I do not feel like running the numbers right now, maybe another day, but I'm positive we'd find a group of players that have a habit at starting slow and heating up, and others that do the opposite.

Well who wants players that you know are gonna fall apart when it matters most, playoff time. The key to this as I mentioned before is trading.

Hopefully before the draft you made a list of 1st-half performers and 2nd-half performers. You drafted some of the 1st-halfers, and avoided the second-halfers. Come mid-season, and your probably riding pretty high considering the players you hopefully drafted. However, you are aware of an imminent drop off in production from your team. So, you start taking a look-see at that 2nd-half player list, and you make offers.

The people who own those players, who hopefully did bad as you expected, are most-likely disgruntled by that players performance and is eager to make a trade, especially with someone whose having a great season. (so far. . .)

The two of you make a trade, and you receive a player whose stats look much worse than you player you gave. Not a reason to be upset, even if your league-mates jeer you about it. You'll be the happy one when the player you got, say Mark Teixeira, heats up as the weather does, and the player you gave, say Justin Morneau, does horrible the second half. This example would be a realistic example of a solid trade to make with the playoffs in mind, and after all that's what you are after.

This example was overall very peachy and most-likely will not happen. However, let's say you trade for 3 players that were on your 2nd-halfers list, and only 1 of them turns out to have an amazing second half, usually it is worth it. The trick is finding players with strong year-to-year correlations, since they are the most-likely to do as you expect.

This strategy is very small in terms that only a few players are being targeted/avoided. But I always employ one major overall strategy with many little side ones implemented. . on the side. I advise you not to focus your entire draft around it, but use dome middle-to-late round selections on early birds that you hope to trade in a couple of months.

E-mail me if you have any questions or comments for me, or leave comment.



Sunday, November 18, 2007

Deception Detection: Trade Advice

First I'd like to say I'm sorry I haven't been posting as often as usual, this will probably be the frequency of my posting: twice during the week, and one or two over the weekend.

Onto the article! Now I'm gonna tell you another way to act deceitfully to help you get an edge on the competition.

Hopefully you are in an active league, where trade offers are constantly flying around. Plenty of people are not confident in their abilities to judge trades, so they will ask fellow league memebers advice on trades.

The correct thing to do in if a league-mate asks you advice on a trade, is to analyze the deal, see how the players fit into their respective teams, and then give an honest answer. However, fantasy sports are not for people who stay inside the lines. . . lying, acting deceitful, and bending the rules are all within limit. I mean, if a person is unable to judge a deal themselves, that means they do not have enough confidence to judge a deal themselves, and who doesn't enjoy screwing with people with low confidence? I do not endorse straight-out cheating by the way, because then victory will not taste as sweet, however bending the rules is certainly within limit.

So here's the example: It's a couple days after draft, season has not started yet. You feel pretty good about your team (because you prepared) but you noticed that John Johnson has a very decent team, which you are afraid to play. Well, the next day John Johnson asks for your advice on a trade completely horrible for him. Normally you'd say that the trade is horrible reject it immediately. You are in a deceitful mood however, and since you would not mind seeing John Johnson's team get a little worse, you recommend he do the trade. Well, he ends up doing the horrible trade, and at the end of the season you finish 3 points ahead of him. Seems worth it to me doesn't it?

That's a bit of an extreme example, and its very unlikely the person you give fake advice to finished just behind you, making it worth it. But hey, you never know, I've been in some extremely close league's before, and this one simple move can make all of the difference.

Of course, be aware of anyone else doing this to you, although I would doubt anyone else knows about this strategy. . . unless they read my blog as well. (wouldn't that be something?) That's it for today, check back soon for more insght.



Monday, November 12, 2007

The Hardest Thing In Fantasy Sports

Today I'm going to talk about the part of fantasy sports that every fantasy player struggles with. It is not forming opinions on players early in the season.

Too often a player struggles in April and we are ready to cut him or trade him away for nothing. Even though for the past several years this player has proven himself as a dependable fantasy starter, after one month we consider him valueless.

On the flip side, too often a player who has never performed at the major league level kicks off the season with a bang and that annoying Yahoo! banner appears, "3950 people have added Overa Cheiver."

Don't be that guy. Understand that sample size is key to all statistics. The larger the sample size, the closer the results will be to the "actual".

Knowing this and acting upon this are very different. It is very, very, incredibly difficult to have confidence in a struggling player, and understand that an overacheiving player will not keep it up.

Think of Mark Hendrickson this year. His era through the 21.2 innings he pitched in the month of April - 1.66. Boy that didn't last. By just the end of may it was up to 4.17, and his end-of-season era was a lovely 5.21. You might be thinking to yourself, "what idiot would believe Mark Hendrickson could keep that up?" Well you'd be surprised how many people added him in leagues, and the quality players people gave up to get him.

Batters can also make turnarounds. Colorado Rockies 3rd baseman Garrett Atkins had the "good" type of them. Through the first two months of the season he was batting just .223 with 3 homers, 21 rbi, and a .632 OPS. Then magically the weather got hot, and so did he. In June Atkins batted .305 with 8 homers - almost tripling his total from the first two months. And he never slowed down from there, never batting under .300 in any other month. His end of season line was .301, (helped by that extra regular season game) 25 homers, and 111 rbi's. A very respectable season for someone who looked like the living dead the first two months of the season.

Unfortunately, it is not that easy. There are players who start out slowly. . . and end slowly. Some players also begin quickly. . . and end quickly. Such players as Travis Hafner, Jason Bay, and Ervin Santana all had great 2006 seasons, underperformed greatly at the outset of the 2007 season, and continued to ruin expectations. Players like Carlos Pena, Brandon Phillips, and Curtis Granderson started hot, and ended so. I'd consider these players outcasts, phenomena, wonders of the universe or whatever you want to call it. The majority of players who under/over perform expectations will most often return to their career norms.

Of course, we have certain stats to explain why players aren't producing normally, e.g. BABIP, LD%, LOB%, etc. Sometimes, however, you just have to attribute it to being too early in the season.



Saturday, November 10, 2007

Deception Detection: False Compliments

"Those who compliment you on what you do not have, are trying to take from you what you do have."

I've forgotten who said this quote, so if you are the person who said it, I'm sorry; and if you know who did say it, please thank them.

Anyway, onto its fantasy baseball relevance. I can't really explain it without giving an example; so here's the example. You have a starting pitching corp with one ace, let's say Johan Santana, and a bunch of embarrassing pitchers to own, let's say Chris Capuano, Braden Looper, and Jarrod Washburn. With Johan I guess it can be considered formidable, (it's a deep league) however without Santana, it becomes a disgraceful excuse of a pitching staff.

Now, another owner in your league is asking about acquiring Johan. You, as a knowledgeable fantasy participant say, "No way! without Santana I have nothing!" Well he (or she I guess), as a prudent fantasy player, will try to convince you that that your "other" pitchers are good enough, so that you are willing to part with your beloved Venezuelan ace.

You must not listen to his (or her) garbage that compliments your terrible pitchers. If you do, you might be convinced you can part with Johan, and have your fantasy season ruined.

Now on the other side of things, consider complimenting other people's players. Remember, you are never praising the abilities of players that you want to have on your team, but players you do not want to get. This can allow you to pay less for players, as the other manager no long feels he needs sed players as much.

Even if you are not planning on acquiring a player on someone's team, still praise players you do not like. . . . you'd be surprised what people remember down the road and how if affects their opinions. (especially if you are in first, which hopefully you are)

Fantasy baseball is not a fair man's game, acting deceitful can help you get an edge on the opposition --- most likely a small edge, but an edge nonetheless.



Free Agent Frenzy has a very fun contest going on now called Free Agent Frenzy. I suggest everyone does this because well you have nothing to lose, and if you happen to win you get opening day tickets. You have only until 5:00 today (eastern time) to enter so I'd hurry up. You can enter here:

I have yet to find out how to get tables up on this article, so they best i can do it publish the table on the Internet and give you the link to it, which is:

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Lucky "Luck Stat"?

As promised I'm doing the follow-up to the BABIP article. In that previous article ( I explained that if someone's BABIP is above .300, then you can expect a regression in their stats, and vice versa. However today I am here to tell you that it is not that simple. Some players deserve to have higher BABIP's. How is that possible you ask? Well it all goes back to when you were wee-old and your dad was yelling at you to try hit a Line Drive.

Think about it, line drives fall for hits more than any other "type of hit". I'll give you the exact percentages in a second. Remember that BABIP in essence is the percentage of balls in play that fall for hits. So if you hit more line drives than Joe-Schmo, your BABIP should be higher than his.

Line Drives fall for a hit 75% of the time.
Ground balls roll for a hit 24% of the time.
Outfield fly balls fall for a hit 9% of the time.
Infield fly balls fall for a hit .29% of the time.

So a player who only hits line drives would have a BABIP of .750, and I think you can figure out the rest. A player who hits more line drives gets a stronger pull towards that .750 mark.

Let's look at some of the LD% leaders from 2007 and see what their BABIP's were:

1) Michael Young: 27.2 .366
2) Chone Figgins: 26.4 .391
3) Placido Polanco: 23.9 .346

Obviously these three players BABIP's were above the league average, and they deserved to be. Chone Figgins higher .391 BABIP can be attributed to his speed, which allows him to beat out a few more ground balls than the average major leaguer.

Similarly let's take a look at those who couldn't hit a line drive if the fate of the universe depended on it:

1) Gary Matthews Jr.: 12.9% .279
2) Torii Hunter: 14.0 .303
3) Nick Punto: 14.6 .255

Well Torii Hunter is ruining my argument here, but we can let him slide as a phenomenon. Matthews Jr. and Punto both display BABIP's well below the league average, and deservedly so.

You now know all there is to know about BABIP. Use it when evaluating players, see whose in for a big regression, or a big "gression". All up-to-date LD%, GB%, and BABIP numbers are available at the Hardball Times. I'd also like to acknowledge them for providing the statistics used in this article.

Please visit back soon, and feel free to comment.



Thursday, November 8, 2007

Live and Die By the Deal

Expert Leagues are boring, mainly because no exciting deals happen. Now if you are like most of us, your fantasy leagues feature exciting blockbuster deals where teams trade half their rosters as often as Woody Paige makes absolutely no sense on Around The Horn.

That is why in most fantasy leagues, trading is much more important. Experts have their stuck up opinions, which remain true to them from draft day, through the end of the season. Experts live and die by the draft.

As common folk, we are more irrational beings, our opinions constantly changing. You can be so high on Mark Teixeira on draft day, pick him in the second round, but then two weeks into the season, willing to trade him for let's say Paul Konerko.

That is why trading is so important in (our) fantasy leagues. It is plausible to draft the worst team and still come out victorious - if you follow certain trading rules:

1) Do not trade for the sake of trading - Every deal you make, should have a purpose; whether you wished to bolster you Sp's, or add that 50 steals guy, do not just trade for the sake of change. Even if you are in last, do not make deals just to bring in some fresh faces.

2) Think over each trade thoroughly - Hopefully you did your homework before draft day, and are reasonably satisfied with your team. This should allow you to be very selective in the types of deals you do. When you finally come to the point of deciding between ultimately accepting or rejecting a trade, you should allow yourself at least two nights to think the trade over. Consult every known rankings/projections on the Internet, even ones you do not necessarily like, just to get the most opinions. After all of that, make your final decision. If the person you are dealing with is not a patient as you, and even threatens to cancel the trade if you wait that long, simply say, "Okay, you can cancel it then." Most likely this was a false threat, and the person will then allot you as much time as you need. Remember, you are not desperate since you are reasonably satisfied with your team, no deal is so important to you. Of course, there is the exception, that you person your dealing with is a complete moron/idiot/imbecile, and offers you a ridiculous trade you just know to accept. One last note, make sure no players you are receiving or dealing recently got injured without the other party aware.

3) Do not Deal to Deal - What I mean by that is this: do not complete a trade, simply to have to later trade one of the players you are receiving. Of course, if you already set up and agree to that second deal, then you can do the first. In that situation, make sure to analyze total players given up vs. total players received, not each deal individually.

So for example, Team A (you) wants to trade Posada for Brian McCann. Team B says, "I won't give you McCann, but I also have Russell Martin, who I know Team C really likes. . .I know you can get a lot out of Team C for Martin." You then do either two things. Either you set up a trade with Team C, in which you do give them Martin and get back enough, or you say to Team B, "Either McCann or no deal." Do not accept Posada for Martin before finalizing a deal with Team C. That's a good way to get ripped off.

4) Avoid uneven deals - By this I mean do not make 2 for 1 deals, try to stay 1 for 1, 2 for 2, etc. Especially avoid uneven deals if you are the side receiving the two players. Since you are getting the same production from 2 players you are used to from 1, your team is now more inefficient. Of course there are exceptions, like if you have major depth issues. In 2 for 1 deals, however, being on the "1 side" can be very beneficial. Consider it a 2 for 2 deal, since you can usually add a player after. This works great in shallow leagues where there is an abundance of talent in the free agent pool. Trade two or even three decent players for one super star, and then get some high-risk-high-reward guys that are available.

5) Never come across as desperate - In effect, you are "selling" your product, or players, to the other team. Make them seem as hard to get, as this will increase their value, and eventually increase what you can get in return for them. When talking about your players try to highlight their strengths, while avoiding their weaknesses.

Now let's say you are dealing with another team, and at one point in the negotiations an offer comes floating around that seems appealing to you at first glance. Do not stop there! Tell the other player that deal is just alright, and try to get whatever more you can out of them. Now if after lets say twenty minutes or so, the other player refuses to give in, and you still like the original deal, accept it. Make sure to realize that the other player did well themselves, as they did not act desperate and throw more at you.

Those are just some basic trading tips, the most important thing is actually knowing a player's worth, which is where stats come in. But still, being a successful dealer is not all knowing stats, you must also know how to become a businessman and make the best deal.



Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Superbowl? - Or 16-0

I'd like to start off by saying, that this is the only football related post you will see on the Baseball Aspect for a while. Anyway, this post is about the New England Patriots, currently 9-0, who face the dilemma of going for 16-0, over saving their players for the Superbowl.

So far this season the Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick, has been keeping his starters late in games, even ones they are winning by more than 30 points. (which is often) So it seems, Belichick is willing to risk injury to "run up the score".

Popular opinion is that Belichick should bench Brady, Moss, and Maroney when such beat downs occur because winning the Superbowl is more important than going 16-0 --- something only the '72 Dolphins have done.

Well what do I have to say in all of this? Simply, going 16-0 may be more important than wining the Superbowl. Does anyone remember who won the 1987 Superbowl? No. But people know the '72 Dolphins for going 16-0.

So I feel Belichick should be handling this differently than how he is now, and how most people think he should be. First of all, if the Patriots ever find themselves winning substantially, by all means bench Brady. Risking injury, is not worth in games your guaranteed to get the W in. However, if the Patriots are ever in a close game, do not bench Brady to save him for the Superbowl, keep him in to prevent getting a loss.

There is a Superbowl champion every year, but in 40 years of NFL seasons only 1 team has gone undefeated. When you also factor in that the Patriots recently won 3 Superbowls in a span of 4 years (2002, -04, -05), you have to wonder if one more Superbowl is more important than "tying" an NFL record.

Technically, the Patriots would not even be tying an NFL record, since in 1972 they only played 14 regular season games - meaning the Dolphins only went 14-0. If the Patriots remain perfect throughout the entire season, they would finish 16-0. So it's definitely worth it for the Patriots to go for it.

Recently, the coach of the '72 Dolphins, Don Shula, has said that if the Pats go 16-0, an asterisk should be placed next to that record. (Barry Bonds-esque?) This is because earlier this season, Belichick was caught illegally filming the other team's sideline.

There has been much speculation as to how the Patriots could have used this. Many feel he couldn't utilize this quickly enough to help him in a game, but rather for future use. I feel he definitely could have seen the coordinators signs, and signalled to Tom Brady the type of play before the snap. The NFL just wanted this issue to go away so they fined Belichick and the Pats, and confiscated all the tapes.

Now, in Barry Bonds' case, technically it has never been proven he has taken steroids. Trust me, I'm no believer that he never took steroids, but I believe that its not a bad as people think, considering that this era was riddled with people using performance enhancers. So we want to place an asterisk next to a player's record, in a case where he has never been proven guilty, and was doing something that many other players of his time were doing? Meanwhile Belichick has been proven guilty, and as far as we know, is the only man to commit this illegality? That doesn't sound fair to me.

Baseball has a double-standard when it comes to performance enhancers. Plenty of football players, including such stars as Shawne Merriman, have been caught cheating, yet their reputation has not been tarnished (recently was in a popular Nike commercial). Whereas if any significant baseball players gets caught, they are viewed as despicable in the public eye.

I say, if Barry gets a asterisk, Belichick must. Shula was 100% correct in his statement, and the "Spygate Scandal" has been blown under the radar too quickly.



Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Look At Luck: BABIP

Since the beginning of baseball, people have been trying to quantify a player's contributions to wining games. Traditional stats were batting average, runs, rbi's, and home runs. Today, more in depth statistics are being created, those mostly fall under the umbrella of sabermetric stats.

I have found, that there are two basic ways to categorize all hitting stats - both traditional and sabermetric. There are stats that attempt to quantify a players performance, simple ones are runs and rbi's. And then there are stats which try to determine if a player deserves their performance stats, which I call "luck stats." BABIP is an example of a luck stat.

So there are performance and luck stats. When comparing two players, the most basic way to compare them is by their performance stats, who has more runs, home runs, runs batted in - very basic stuff.

But here at the Baseball Aspect, we are more complex. We know that sometimes a players performance stats do not tell the whole story, so we must look deeper, into their luck stats. And today we will look deeper into one luck stat, BABIP.

BABIP stands for batting average on balls in play. It is the average of balls hit in play that fall for hits. The formula I use for it is (H-HR)/(AB-K-HR+SF). The SF stands for sacrifice flies.

This is a very basic measurement, but who said there's anything wrong with simple? The league average for BABIP is .300, so if a player's BABIP is .410, you can expect a regression in his performance stats.

This elevates your knowledge over someone who only pays attention to performance stats. So, for example:

Player A - .330 batting average
Player B - . 280 batting average

A person only looking at performance stats would say, Player A is clearly superior to Player B, however if i were to include that Player A's BABIP was .425, and Player B's was .275, then most-likely Player B would see their batting average go up, and Player A's go down. Small reductions in a players' BABIP can dramatically influence a players batting average. In fact, if I adjusted both players' BABIP to the league average .300, Player B's batting average would surpass Player A's.

This a very basic example, but that is exactly how you would go about finding players who have gotten lucky so far, and those who are bound to get better. Once you increase the amount of balls in play that fall for hits, a players runs, rbi's, steals - all those fantasy stats we love - will go up.

So now there is no more guessing whether a player is just plain bad, or whether he's simply been getting unlucky. This is great for trading in fantasy, because you can trade overachievers for underachievers, and get great production from those underachievers the rest of the season.

Unfortunately, BABIP is not that simple. This may be mind boggling, but a player's BABIP can be lucky. Think about that. . .a "luck stat" can be lucky. I'm not gonna go into that today, but I will surely talk about that soon.

All up-to-date BABIP numbers can be found at, of course, The Hardball Times.

I advise my readers to apply this when they evaluate a player. Apply what you learn!



Sunday, November 4, 2007

Free Agency Strategy

Most people think of free agency as a way for high-powered teams to over-spend on mediocre players. Yes, it is that, but it also can be very beneficial, even to smaller teams if they play the market right. Throughout the offseason I'll post a number of free agency rules, right now I'll just start with my first. It is very simple; it follows the basic law of supply and demand.

It is, buy players from positions that are deep that particular year. If there are several good 3rd basemen available one year, a team most-likely will get a better deal pursuing one of them, rather than a pitcher in a thin market.

Which brings us to pitchers: THERE IS ALMOST ALWAYS A THIN FREE AGENT MARKET FOR PITCHERS. That is why you constantly see teams overpaying for free agnet pitchers, because there is never a deep class. Does Barry Zito, Jaret Wright, Jeff Suppan, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and many many more ring any bells?

Teams looking to spend wisely on the f/a market do not get pitchers that way. Drafting and raising is the only way to go.

As for hitters that is another story. In a deep class, there can be an abundance of steals. Frank Thomas and Aaron Rowand should set some good examples.

Obvioulsy there are always some bad deals made, although much less than with pitching.

So advice for your favorite teams, buy when the supply is high, and the demand is low.



Saturday, November 3, 2007

Best (and Worst) of 2007 Part II

Finally! Part II's awaited arrival has come. This part will include the pitchers of 2007, and their performance will be based on win shares. I'd like to note that no rookies were included, because well, they have no other season to base 2007 off of. All complete 2007 win share totals were provided by The Hardball Times. Their site is great, i recommend you check it out if you are a baseball fan. Anyway, onto the awards, starting with those players who brought you a year of glory and bragging rights:

1) Dan Haren: +4 win shares: Had a large role to fill with the departure of Zito, and more than filled it. This prospect, most notably known for being traded for Mark Mulder, improved greatly on his promising 2006 campaign, pitching a solid 223 innings with a microscopic 3.07 era. He was virtually unhittable in the beginning of the season, and became more human as the season went on, but still finished with great numbers. He enters the 2008 season considered an elite pitcher in the league.

2) Ian Snell: +6 win shares - Considered a fantasy impact player at the beginning of the season simply because of his impressive k rate, Snell proved he can be valuable as an all-around pitcher. He finished 2007 with a 3.76 era, and of course his impressive 177 strikeouts. Also a guy who started the season strong, and kind of tapered off at the end. Still, he is now considered a strong pitcher in the MLB.

3) Rick Hill: +8 win shares - His win shares difference is inflated a little because he pitched just under 100 more innings this year than in 2006, but a stark improvement is still evident. He lowered his era under the 4.00 plateau for the first time by posting an era of 3.92. That number is inflated a little because of his most-deadly pitch, his curveball. Although it can correlate into tons of outs and strikeouts, a small mistake of leaving it up can lead to a homerun very easily, evidenced by his high 27 homeruns given up. Besides that, he gets a lot of batters out, and has a bright future ahead of him.

4) Erik Bedard: +3 win shares - Do not be fooled by the small win shares difference, as it is not the result of pitching, but rather that he sat out the last month of the season. Bedard was arguably the best pitcher in the mlb this year. After posting a decent 3.76 era in 2006, Bedard blasted his way into the pitching elite with a 3.16 era, and an incredible 221 k's. Expect another great season in 2008 from this Canadian.

5) Joe Blanton: +5 win shares - A former first round pick, had a great rookie year in 2005. he had a bad case of "sophomore slumpitis" in 2006, increasing his era an entire 1.29 points. Its amazing how quickly people forgot his rookie campaign, nobody ranked him anywhere. But in 2007 Blanton did bounce back, lowering his era back down to a respectable 3.95, although it was lower than that mark most of the year. Blanton is a very steady pitcher, and no one expects a 4th year slump from him.

Honorable mention: C.C. Sabathia, Tom Gorzelanny, Ted Lilly, Jeff Francis.

Now onto the players who did what pitchers are good at, disappointing you:

1) Jeremy Bonderman: -7 win shares - This 2001 first rounder looked bright coming into the season, lowering his era in each of his first 3 seasons. His first have was respectable, finishing with a 3.90 era, but it went downhill from there. He finished July with an era of 4.33, August at 4.72, and got rocked his last start, highering it to a season-high mark of 5.01.Just an utterly disappointing year, hopefully for the Tigers, he can bounce back in 2008.

2) Ervin Santana: -10 win shares - Wow. Ervin Santana was a solid pitcher, ending 2006 with a 4.28 era. Most people thought that number would, if anything, go down. Unfortunately for his wallet, it did not. In fact, it skyrocketed to 5.76. It got so bad for this Dominican native, that he had to be sent down to the minors. I'm not sure where he will be at in 2008, but I don't think his era can go up any higher.

3) Barry Zito: -8 win shares - This once laid-back, carefree, surfin, west-coast native quickly became considered overpaid, overrated, and money-hungry with his ridiculous 126 million dollar deal. His basic stats indicated a regression, most notably his high walk rate of 4.0 in 2007. With his velocity regressing, he got hit more, and the combination of walks, hits, and home runs equaled a 4.53 era. Unacceptable for the highest paid pitcher in the major leagues.

4) Cliff Lee: -9 win shares - A bounce-back candidate coming into 2007, did nothing except bounce himself out of the league, getting sent down to the minor mid-way through the season for his disappointing performances. The 6.29 era explains enough, could be a draft day steal if he can regroup int he offseason.

5) Jason Schmidt: -16 win shares - Schmidt was injured for most of the year, and normally I would not include him, but the combination of a 6.31 era in the 25 innings he did pitch, and his ridiculous free-agent contract he received, brought him upon this list of shame. Just an utter disappointment all year, showing that its best not to buy into pitchers, when there aren't that many.

Unhonorable mention: Tom Glavine, Chris Carpenter (inj), Daisuke Matsuzaka, Rich Harden (inj), Mike Mussina

That wraps it up for today. Please comment if you feel I left someone out (which is entirely possible). New articles will continue throughout the off-season, so look forward to that.