Official 2011 Keepers Announcement

The moment that you’ve undoubtedly been pining for is finally here, the announcement of the official SLB Keepers for the 2011 season.

These will be the players on your roster heading into the draft. Changes to your 2011 Keepers between now and the day of the draft are only permitted in the case of a significant injury to one of your selected Keepers.

Levi and Zac/Travis will be selecting their Keepers on draft day in a mini two-man, three-round expansion draft. The selection order for these two will be determined randomly on draft day by a coin toss.

The two will then be given the 13th and 14th spots for draft priority in the overall draft. Whichever one received the first pick in the expansion round will get the 14th priority and whichever one had the second pick in the expansion round will get the 13th priority.

Without any further ado, here are the final 2011 Keepers. See y’all on Saturday!!

Dome Dog
Draft Priority – 12
Troy Tulowitzki – SS – COL
Josh Hamilton – OF – TEX
Justin Verlander – SP – DET

The Commissioner’s Take: No real surprises here. Tulowitzki is a no-brainer here, despite the injury risk. Hamilton is another injury risk, but the Rangers seem committed to him in a corner outfield position rather than CF in an attempt to keep him healthy. Verlander over David Price is a decision some may balk at, but going with the proven track record was probably the right idea in this situation.

The Dominators
Draft Priority – 11
Robinson Cano – 2B – NYY
Ryan Zimmerman – 3B – WAS
Felix Hernandez – SP – SEA

The Commissioner’s Take: These might be my favorite keepers of the bunch. Steven’s got three guys I’m a very big fan and three guys who have been on my roster at some point in recent years. They’re all young and they’re all getting better. Steven is set for years to come with a strong core that figures to be rivaled by few others in the short-term.

Genies in a Bottle
Draft Priority – 10
Hanley Ramirez – SS – FLA
David Wright – 3B – NYM
Jered Weaver – SP – LAA

The Commissioner’s Take: No shock with Hanley, he’s one of the few constants in fantasy baseball. Wright over CarGo was a very tough call—albeit one that probably surprises very few people given my affinity for position scarcity—but one that I feel confident about. The numbers indicate CarGo could be in a sizeable regression with BABIP and home/road splits that are not trending well. He’s a legit talent, but figures to produce nearly the same numbers as Wright, but at a much deeper position. Weaver over Oswalt wasn’t much of a stretch after Weaver’s breakout season.

money grubbers
Draft Priority – 9
Joey Votto – 1B – CIN
Evan Longoria – 3B – TB
Yovani Gallardo – SP – MIL

The Commissioner’s Take: Votto and Longoria shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, as Mike has been very, very vocal about his man-love for both clubbers. They’re both young and they’re both just scratching the surface of what they can do in the bigs. Mike isn’t afraid to play for upside over known value, luckily in this case, he’s getting both in each of these players. Gallardo over Jimenez may surprise a few, but a look at park factors and rotation stability makes an otherwise tough decision a little easier.

cracker jack
Draft Priority – 8
Buster Posey – C/1B – SF
Matt Kemp – OF – LAD
Jon Lester – SP – BOS

The Commissioner’s Take: Interesting pick here as Justin went with Buster Posey—officially the third catcher to serve as a keeper in the last two years—over the likes of borderline keeper-types Adrian Beltre, Brandon Phillips or Jimmy Rollins. Justin was forced to go with the upside potential of Posey following the season-ending injury to Adam Wainwright, so I certainly don’t envy this decision. A solid follow-up to his rookie campaign from Posey and a return to his 2009-form from Kemp will make this seemingly underwhelming set of keepers surprisingly potent. Also Jon Lester is going to win the AL Cy Young. That is all.

j’s team
Draft Priority – 7
Alex Rodriguez – 3B – NYY
Ryan Braun – OF – MIL
Roy Halladay – SP – PHI

The Commissioner’s Take: Much like some of the other guys we’ve already touched on, there was no real surprise here. The only other guy I could have seen Jay hanging onto was Jose Reyes playing in a contract year at age 27, but it’s hard to argue with the production he’s received from Braun and A-Rod over the years. Halladay was a pretty easy slam-dunk choice as well. A very good, but aging set of keepers right here.

S.L. Disappointment
Draft Priority – 6
Ryan Howard – 1B – PHI
Dustin Pedroia – 2B – BOS
Cliff Lee – SP – PHI

The Commissioner’s Take: Another set of keepers with no surprises. I’d actually penciled these three in long before I received Johnny’s patented two phone calls and text at roughly 4:53pm (CST) today. Howard is a power machine, Dusty is coming off an injury-riddled year, but figures to produce like gangbusters atop the Red Sox juggernaut of a lineup. Cliff Lee is, well, Cliff Lee. Solid crew, not the most intimidating, but very consistent.

Draft Priority – 5
Miguel Cabrera – 1B – DET
CC Sabathia – SP – NYY
Cole Hamels – SP – PHI

The Commissioner’s Take: Ladies and gentlemen, we have finally come to the day where someone keeps two pitchers! Granted, if it hadn’t been for the aforementioned injury to Wainwright this would be the second-time in the same year. Nonetheless it was probably the right choice. G-Doggy is now set-up with two aces and one of fantasy baseball’s best sluggers. He’s got an enviable draft position and could make some real noise with this crew.

Radioactive Rush
Draft Priority – 4
Joe Mauer – C – MIN
Adrian Gonzalez – 1B – BOS
Tim Lincecum – SP – SF

The Commissioner’s Take: Grant is now a year-removed from destroying Travis’ dynasty and has a solid set of keepers. He’s got the one of the best catchers in baseball who—if healthy—can post an OBP north of .400 without a problem. He’s got a slugger that I’m predicting to win the AL MVP moving from spacious Petco Park to the cozy confines of Fenway Park and he’s got “The Freak” who will anchor this rotation all year long.

Draft Priority – 3
Albert Pujols – 1B – STL
Prince Fielder – 1B – MIL
Clayton Kershaw – SP – LAD

The Commissioner’s Take: At first glance, you gotta wonder why he’s got two first basemen, then you realize he’ll probably beat everyone in R/HR/RBI/OBP every week and you suddenly get a feel for where his head is at on this one. If nothing else, he’s carrying some serious trade bait. Kershaw is one of the least talked about aces in the game, but figures to do what he does every year…dominate.

38 MPH Heaters
Draft Priority – 2
Ian Kinsler – 2B – TEX
Jason Heyward – OF – ATL
Francisco Liriano – SP – MIN

The Commissioner’s Take: I’m not gonna lie, the Heyward over Matt Holliday pick caught me off-guard. It’s another example of a forward-thinking general manager going with upside over track-record. The scary thing is that all three of these guys are “technically” injury risks and could miss significant time. If/when healthy, they figure to be a very solid, very young group of keepers that could put this team on their backs for much of the year.

Sea Bass v6.0
Draft Priority – 1
Mark Teixeira – 1B – NYY
Kevin Youkilis – 1B – BOS
Tommy Hanson – SP – ATL

The Commissioner’s Take: Craiggers must be wondering why Chase Utley chose this season to finally have a full-on meltdown. After years of powering through nagging injuries, Utley finally looks to be at risk of missing significant time this year and Craiggers had to pass on the shrewdly acquired second-sacker and roll with two first basemen. Youk will gain third base eligibility in a week or so and both figure to produce OBPs near .400 as they each anchor explosive lineups. Hanson is a youngster with ace potential who may finally reach his ceiling this year. Craiggers’ draft priority makes him very, very scary in the early goings.

Keeper Predictions for Expansion Clubs

Last year, I didn’t make any Keeper predictions for the new teams after the official Keepers were announced. At the time it was to avoid swaying the expansion clubs toward any players, but given that we live in an era where sleepers no longer exist and every one of us should be well-aware of every player in the top 400 or so, I’ll go ahead and make some predictions.

I’m basing them off of a randomly chosen (thanks Google!) set of player ranks and I avoided doubling up on two players at the same position, for the sake of realism as I have a hard time imagining any team would want two outfielder keepers (note: although any combination of Matt Holliday, Carl Crawford and Carlos Gonzalez does make for a pretty sexy lineup).

Also for the sake of realism, I flipped a coin to determine which team would get the first pick in the expansion draft—just like we’ll do on draft day—and High Cheese won the coin toss.

High Cheese
Draft Priority – 14
Carlos Gonzalez – OF – COL
Justin Morneau – 1B – MIN
Josh Johnson – SP – FLA

Kato Ball Slappers
Draft Priority – 13
Matt Holliday – OF – STL
Jose Reyes – SS – NYM
Ubaldo Jimenez – SP – COL

Final Results: Mike vs Graves: Bets 2010

No doubt, y’all are well-aware that Mike and I talk A LOT of baseball.

This is the case all four seasons of the year because we’re constantly looking to dig up everything we can on every player to ensure success in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship.

Over the course of the winter, we’ll drop names left and right, some as random as Eric Chavez or Chad Cordero and some as timely and pertinent as Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain.

In the end, we usually develop a pretty solid game-plan for the NFBC and go from there.

While preparing for the NFBC drafts, however, and enjoying an adult beverage or two, we get to the point of mild arguments—often over completely innocuous players and/or projections—and these usually lead to the two of us hedging our respective bets in the form of a $1 gentleman’s wager.

In 2010, we made a total of five bets.

These are the final results:

Jason Heyward’s 2010 batting average will be .272
Mike has the over, Graves has the under
Result: Heyward’s 2010 Average = .277
Mike Wins

Fausto Carmona will win 12 games in 2010
Mike has the over, Graves has the under
Result: Carmona’s 2010 Win Total = 13
Mike Wins

Francisco Liriano will win 12 games in 2010
Graves has the over, Mike has the under
Result: Liriano’s 2010 Win Total = 14
Graves Wins

David Wright will hit 20 home runs in 2010
Graves has the over, Mike has the under
Result: Wright’s 2010 HR Total = 29
Graves Wins

Alfonso Soriano will steal 20 bases in 2010
Graves has the over, Mike has the under
Result: Soriano’s 2010 SB Total = 5
Mike Wins

So there you have it, folks.

Mike wins…3-2.

My ill-advised Alfonso Soriano bet was the big blow here. I feel content with the Carmona and Heyward guesses blowing up in my face as they were both very, very close predictions.

To this day, I still don’t understand Mike’s completely unfounded hatred for David Wright. We were talking about a dude who had hit 26 or more home runs in four of his first five big league seasons and was on a 31-homer pace in 69 games as a rookie back in 2004. Yet, Mike somehow didn’t anticipate him to clear 20 long balls last year.

This still befuddles me. As such, it should surprise no one that the first best of 2011 involves Mike’s favorite punching bag, David Wright, yet again.

Check the new bets page to monitor the progress as we start making our list of bets for 2011.

Family Feud: SLB Dominance Edition

In what can only be a sign of good things to come, the Salmon League Baseball message board over at Yahoo! absolutely blew up this week.

Trash talk is coming from all angles, one of the newbies showed a little bravado and, well, everyone who usually won’t shut up won’t shut up. As is often the case there wasn’t so much as a blip on the proverbial radar from the likes of Morgan, Craiggers, John, Jay or SLB newcomer, Zac.

One topic that I found particularly intriguing, however, was kicked into high-gear when Steven—coming off his first season of fantasy baseball relevance since 2006—mentioned the following fact:

“Since the development of the Salmon League’s head-to-head format, a Kunkel has been in the Championship game 5 out of 6 years.”

Steven was, of course, correct as you can see by taking a quick peek at all six of the SLB Championship Game matchups that have taken place since the league moved to the head-to-head format.

2005: Justin defeats Jeremiah
2006: Steven defeats Jeremiah
2007: Mike defeats Craiggers
2008: Jay defeats Paulsen
2009: Travis defeats Mike
2010: Henning defeats Steven

You’ll note that only a few names show up multiple times, but that’s a point we’ll hit on later.

What I want to get at next is the one line from Steven’s post that really stuck in my craw.

He wrapped up his little history lesson with just a bit more braggadocio than I was willing to let pass:

“This type of clear dominance by a family is shocking and cruel to all other participants.

I wonder which Kunkel will make the Championship this year?”

Mike followed up that comment as only Mike can.

He first made it seem as though he was going to use basic logic to cut the legs out from under Steven’s original assertion and—although he technically did do so—then he came back around and backed Steven’s original claim regarding the Kunkel dominance.

“It should probably be noted that since there are 4 Kunkels in the salmon league it isn’t really that hard to believe that we might be disproportionally represented in the championship game. Granted considering that the Kunkels do have 7 of the 11 total trophies at this point it should be noted that the Graves family has none and the Morfitt family only has one. Just shows the family zeal for the sport. Plus a casual disinterest from the other members in years past. really the salmon league didn’t actually start until head to head format began. and we have been in that game alot haven’t we!

Given my inability to handle this much ego, I’m now forced to prove that these tales of Kunkel dominance are nothing more than a myth.

I’ll be using the two families that were drug into the equation by Mike, the Graves and Morfitts.

First things first, let’s focus on Steven’s original statement regarding appearances in a championship game.

I could simplify the entirety of this rant with the old axiom “the playoffs are a crapshoot and based more on luck than skill,” but that would really take the wind outta my sails and would require far fewer graphics.

As such, we’ll move forward with historical analysis.

It’s easy to run roughshod on a league and appear in the playoffs every year when anywhere from 50% to 75% of the league has qualified for postseason player, after getting into the big dance, the aforementioned axiom is once again in effect.

Here’s the percentage of the league that has been occupied by Kunkels since the move to H2H in 2005:

Dominance is always a tad easier in numbers, although it is amusing to note that in 2005, when 50% of the league was occupied by Kunkels and only two teams didn’t make the playoffs, only Justin finished with a winning record en route to winning his second consecutive SLB Championship.

The Kunkels as a whole finished the 2005 season with a paltry .482 winning percentage. The Graves boys, whom the Kunkels supposedly lord over, finished with a slightly more impressive .539 winning percentage on the year.

We’re not here to focus on a single year, however, because the point we’re focusing on today is which family—Kunkel/Graves/Morfitt—is the most dominant of all-time.

One way to figure the level of dominance is by looking at individual achievements in the H2H-era.

Steven mentioned championship game appearances, Mike mentioned total trophies and I’ll mention the one sign of success that is a greater tell-all of a team’s dominance than any other, regular season championships.

Winning in the playoffs always reverts back to the axiom. Winning in the regular season proves season-long dominance and incredible acumen to be at the top of the heap when the regular season comes to a close.

The Kunkels have won three of the six trophies awarded during the H2H-era, all the while serving as 40% of the league. There’s no discrediting the fact that they lay claim to 50% of the H2H-era championships, but in that same time the Kunkels have claimed just one regular season pennant (Steven – 2010), the Morfitts (Travis – 2008) have claimed one and the Graves boys (Me – 2005/2006/2007/2009) have notched four of ‘em.

In fact, in the entirety of the H2H format, the Kunkels have entered the playoffs as a top one or two seed just a scant three times. Steven entered as a two-seed in 2006 before winning the whole thing and entered as the number one seed last season before falling to Adam in the championship game. The only other Kunkel finish in the top two belongs to Mike, also last year when he slipped from the top spot into the two-seed late in the season.

The Morfitt clan—in four years in the league—has qualified for the playoffs three times once each as a one, two and three-seed. Grant’s seventh place finish in the regular season last year tarnished the Morfitt streak of never missing the playoffs, although it should be noted that Grant was edged out by a mere half-game from making it into the big dance as a six-seed.

Rather than dwell on words, let’s get a graphic up to show everyone’s average regular season finishes.

Obviously I lead the pack in a rather large way followed by Travis, Mike, Justin, Steven, G-Doggy, Grant and John.

I narrowly nudge Travis for the all-time individual lead by an average finish of 1.8 to 2.0.

The family rankings, however, are as follows:

Morfitt = 3.25
Graves = 4.30
Kunkel = 6.14

Knowing that we’re likely to hear some “John doesn’t count scenarios,” here is the Kunkel average finish without John included: 5.05, still soundly in last place.

It only makes sense that we look at the flipside of the coin and compare each family’s postseason average finish as well, this figures to bode well for a Kunkel clan that claims to dominate, especially given their abundance of postseason hardware.

Once again, I lead the pack followed by Travis, Mike, Justin, Steven, Johnny, G-Doggy and Grant. Just like in the regular season, I narrowly edged out Travis by an average postseason finish of 2.67 to 3.00.

If nothing else, this is showing that Travis had a pretty damned impressive three-year run.

The family rankings are as follows:

Morfitt = 4.75
Graves = 5.44
Kunkel = 5.53

Yet again the dominant Kunkel clan comes in last.

Thus far we’ve taken a look at the accomplishments, regular season average finishes and postseason average finishes.

Let’s go ahead and take a peek at the overall winning percentages. If anything is going to give us a clear view of “dominance,” this ought to do the trick. Dominant teams win, right?!

Yet again, I lead by a fairly comfortable margin. The Morfitt numbers are inflated by Travis’ impressive .548 winning percentage (which I matched blow-for-blow) from 2007-2009.

The family averages are:

Morfitt = .533
Graves = .512
Kunkel = .487

Yet again, the dominant Kunkels finish in dead last and under .500 as well.

We’ll take John out of the equation given that last year was historically bad and the other Kunkels finish with a .506 winning percentage, still good enough for third place in this three-way battle.

The Kunkels, however, still claim that their dominance is born from the postseason.

Well let’s take a quick look at the postseason to see just how dominant the Kunkels have been. The following chart shows each team’s score differential in the history of the H2H playoffs and consolation playoffs. Obviously one big blowout loss could skew these numbers, but we’re talking about the super dominant Kunkel brothers here, I’m sure there will be ZERO issues with their scores here.

Wow. Simply wow.

Is there anyone out there who would have expected that G-Doggy would be the guy who lays the smack down the hardest in the playoffs?

So the Kunkels dominate, but do they dominate more than the Graves or Morfitts? Let’s look at the average +/- score differential for each family.

Graves = +9.5
Morfitt = -6
Kunkel = -8

In a fun change of pace, I’m dragging G-Doggy down this time, but it’s still more than enough to quite handedly give this round to the Graves boys.

Now call me crazy, but I’m having a really, really hard time seeing where the Kunkels dominate in any aspect of this league beyond ego and running-their-damn-mouths.

It seems pretty evident that the Graves or Morfitt clans have put up much better numbers. The knock on the Morfitt run of dominance is that it is all largely on the shoulders of Travis and his three-year run reign of terror over everyone (except me, that is).

Over the long haul, I’d say the numbers certainly skew in the favor of the Graves boys, again, with much of the heavy lifting being done by one brother over another, but still the numbers don’t lie.

The Kunkels have won three of six trophies in the H2H-era while accounting for roughly 40% of the league. It’s impressive, but it sure as hell ain’t dominant.

If anything, it shows that the Kunkels have been the luckiest team in the Salmon League, doubly so come playoff time.