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Base Advances
Fantasy Strategy Ideas from the Guru

But what have you done for me lately?
August 24, 1998

We often look at the SWP rankings over the course of the season, and use them as a key determinant in making relative value assessments. The baseball season is extraordinarily long, however, and trends that were dominant in the first half of the season may no longer be valid. Recognizing this, our late-season trading decisions are probably based more on observations of "who's hot, and who's not". But when the number of remaining trades begins to dwindle, it is a bit risky to simply chase the "hot bat-or-arm of the week", since the players we now buy may be on our roster for the duration.

I thought it might be interesting to take a look at SWP performance since the All-Star break (from Thursday, July 9th through Sunday, August 23rd), and see how this compares with the first-half rankings. Some of the results were surprising.

Let's start with catcher. Here's the comparison:
(In the tables that follow, "SW Points" refers only to points produced since the All-Star break. "Rank" is the ranking of the post All-Star points by position, and "All-Star Rank" is the player's comparative ranking at the All-Star break.)

CatcherSW PointsRankAll-Star Rank
Jason Kendall74412
Mike Piazza68724
Chris Hoiles468326
Jorge Posada465416
Javy Lopez42753
Ivan Rodriguez41761

On the surface, the most striking change is Chris Hoiles. However, 93 of his points came in a single game, when he had 2 grand slams. That represents 20% of his post All-Star production. So I don't know how much credence you want to place on his recent ranking. I found it interesting that Ivan Rodriguez has fallen off so much, and that after the top two, the points drop off dramatically.

At first base, the table looks like this:

First BaseSW PointsRankAll-Star Rank
Mo Vaughn83719
Kevin Young829216
John Olerud807319
Mark McGwire79641
Rafael Palmiero78654
Jeff Bagwell74865
Andres Galarraga72673

Here the top guys since the break are quite different, although the SWP numbers are pretty close together. And McGwire would have been much further down the recent rankings if I had done this a week ago. Also, if you're wondering who #2 was at the break, it was Jim Thome, who has fallen off the chart due to his recent injury.

The rankings for Second, Third, and Shortstop have remained pretty similar throughout, so I won't take time on them. Outfield, however, has shown a lot of movement:

OutfieldSW PointsRankAll-Star Rank
Vladimir Guerrero1,044127
Albert Belle1,031215
Moises Alou96537
Ray Lankford949448
Sammy Sosa93152
Eric Davis924668
Dante Bichette807713
Brian Mcrae801852
Barry Bonds78195
Tim Salmon7401054
Greg Vaughn702134
Ken Griffey, Jr.637241
Juan Gonzalez616253

The hot bats of Guerrero, Belle, Alou, and Davis have been hard to miss, but Lankford has been quietly putting together a strong second half in the shadow of Big Mac. (In fact, note that Lankford has exceeded McGwire's second-half total by about 150 SWP!) Brian Mcrae has also shown some surprising consistency since the break. And look at the declines of Griffey and Gonzalez!

Now on to the pitchers:

PitchersSW PointsRankAll-Star Rank
Randy Johnson1,213144
Kevin Brown1,12425
Roger Clemens1,094324
Trevor Hoffman1,00346
Pedro Martinez88054
John Smoltz857699
Kerry Ligtenberg844766
Mike Mussina829854
Mike Jackson822937
Jeff Shaw8021015
Greg Maddux764161
Curt Schilling690223
Robb Nen425742

Again, the list may be more remarkable for who isn't near the top than for who is. Look at the relative declines of top three at the All-Star break: Maddux, Nen, and Schilling!

Will these recent trends continue through the second half? Not likely. The principal moral of this story is probably that reliance on full year stats to assess current value is bound to mislead. You really need to pay attention to what's happening, and not just what happened.

RotoGuru is produced by Dave Hall (a.k.a. the Guru), an avid fantasy sports player. He is not employed by any of the fantasy sports games discussed within this site, and all opinions expressed are solely his own. Questions or comments are welcome, and should be emailed to Guru<>.

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