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Daily blurbs from the Guru

If this is your first visit to this site, you should first stop by my home page to find out what this site is all about. And please support this site's advertisers. They make free sites like this one possible.

Go forward to more recent blurbs.

3/30 - T-minus 1and counting! Are we psyched? You bet! My Indians are even on ESPN tomorrow night. Even if it's Randy Johnson firing at 'em, I'm there!

Make sure you've got your rosters valid by 1:00 pm EST tomorrow. Then let's see who the early season phenoms turn out to be.

3/29 - I'll squeeze a late blurb in tonight. I was preoccupied for a few hours each of the last two days helping my sons with their live drafts for ESPN baseball teams. Both went reasonably well, in spite of occasional technical difficulties. I'm pretty content with my ESPN team's draft as well, at least for now. I'm sure after a few games I'll feel compelled to start shaking things up, but at this point, I don't see any compelling trades to offer, or free agents to grab.

In addition, we had 80 degree weather all weekend here in Connecticut. Summertime! I even got out the ball and glove and threw for a few minutes. And just a week ago, we had 5 inches of snow. Wild! We've now had winter and summer in the last week; how about some spring?

I got a number of responses to my blurb from yesterday, related to the mystery pitcher and whether he should be held or replaced. Interestingly, I got responses both ways. Those who thought he should be replaced cited the uncertainty of the %-ownership impact, the lack of point production, and the potential to have to waste a trade. Those in favor of holding cited the likely price increase, a hopefully short disability, and the ability to duck quickly if things turn sour, with little price at risk. I have my own opinion, but I think I'll just let you all do what you want to do without my suggestion this time.

3/28 - If you don't check RotoNews every morning, you're missing the boat. The morning routine page that I just linked to is essential reading if you're trying to stay up to date in a reasonable amount of time. And when you're there, make sure you go to the latest MLB news page.

When I was scanning the news this morning, I noted a pitcher who reportedly may start the season on the DL. It's a pitcher who's showing up on a fair number of rosters, too - including mine. That poses a dilemma. If the price adjustment for percentage ownership is significant, then it still might make sense to keep this pitcher, because I assume he'll stay on a lot of rosters even if he starts out on the DL. Most managers won't notice - at least, not until after the season starts. On the other hand, he will be subject to a lot of dumping once everyone catches on. So any early price rise will probably be short term. Hmmm.... Want a hint? He's a closer. Now, go find him, and figure out what to do for yourselves.

I suppose I should put together a page of useful baseball links. If any of you have favorite pages to suggest, shoot them in. I won't promise to post links to them all, but I will put up a collection of the best ones.

3/27 - This "fame" thing keeps on going. As a follow-up to yesterday's NY Times article, I'm going to be interviewed on a news radio station in Atlanta next Tuesday morning - Opening Day! I'll be on WCNN 680 AM - the Tom Hughes Show - at 9:45 AM, for about 5 minutes. If any of you live in the Atlanta area and would be able to tape the local broadcast for me, let me know.

I finally drafted my team last night. Of course, I may still second guess myself before Tuesday, but I think I've got a winner. A few of you have tried to guess my team name, but so far to no avail. I think I'll wait until I appear on the worldwide leader board (I hope) and then let you guess which team is mine. Although I suppose any copycat trading would actually benefit me, I kind of like staying hidden for the time being. Adds an element of intrigue.

3/26 - If you can track down a New York Times today, check out the "Circuits" Technology section. There's an article about online fantasy baseball, and it includes a few quotes from me, as well as a picture. You can also see the story and picture at the New York Times web site (you'll first have to register, but it's free).

3/25 - It's Draft Day for my ESPN baseball league. I'm anxious to see what I have to work with.

If you want a good chuckle, read The Top 10 Signs You're a Fantasy Baseball Addict, from ESPN's archives. Any of it ring true to you? If not, this must be your first year, rookie! If any of you have suggested additions to the list, send them in and I'll consolidate and publish the best ones.

3/24 - I've been peeking around a bit at other rosters (as I know many of you have, too), just to see if I can note any themes. There appear to be a few. In fact, I see one draftee who seems to be showing up on almost 50% of all rosters. If anyone will trigger the "percentage ownership" price adjustment, this guy will.

3/23 - The season starts one week from tomorrow. I just glanced at the schedule for opening day, and noted there are 12 games that day, including Detroit at Tampa Bay. Looks more like an NFL schedule to me! Ah, well. The NCAA championship game will be Monday night, with a seamless segue into baseball the following afternoon. So much for March going out like a lamb.

3/22 - Victor Davis, who is obviously keyed up about the pending baseball season, wrote a provocative and entertaining article on draft strategies called Draft Day Cometh, which is so good I have accorded it full Base Advances status. You shouldn't finish your draft until you've read this.

3/20 - It looks like I've been slacking off on daily blurbs. When we get baseball, Hoops, and March Madness all intersecting, it's turning out to be a lot to keep up with.

Victor Davis, who has been contributing some great analysis in the feedback section, suggested yesterday that I develop some sort of player price index which measures price inflation over the coming season. I think I'll take a crack at putting something together - probably a "blue chip index" comprised of the most expensive players at each position (i.e., the most expensive roster money can buy). I'm doing some experimentation using Hoops price data - which will probably also provide good fodder for a new Hoop Pointers essay. I may also put together something which tracks the average roster value progression for the top 50 worldwide teams. If anyone has other related ideas to suggest, shoot them in. Could be fun.

I noticed today that CII/SI is offering a clone of Smallworld Baseball as its fantasy baseball game this year. Way to go, Smallworld! Your format is much more interesting than the CNN/SI basketball format was. Plus, this broadens the base for my potential constituency as well.

3/18 - The baseball feedback pages have carried a good deal of discussion about the relative day-by-day point volatility of pitchers vs. hitters. In an attempt to illustrate the likely differences, I select several players and calculated their 1997 game-by-game SWP production. Players were chosen in three categories: hitters, starting pitchers, and closers. In each category, I tried to pick out (1) the best player in 1997, (2) a player with good production, and (3) a player with a disappointing or erratic year. I didn't use any scientific basis for picking these players - just my "top of the head" recall of last year. Here's who I picked for this unscientific exercise (click on the links to see the tables):

As expected, volatility increased as a percentage of the average as player perforance declined. On an absolute basis, though, a trend in volatility is not evident, at least not in this small sample. Pitchers do show more game by game volatility than do hitters. Notice the propensity for pitchers - even good ones - to have occasional "big negative" games. Hitters will have negative games more frequently, but they will be mild, since at bats are worth just -1 SWP. In my small sample, closers seem to have proportionately more volatility than starters, but this is quite possibly due to the guys I picked. However, since a save is worth 40 SWP, and closers tend not to face many batters per outing, blown saves really do induce significant point swings - especially if a loss also results.

That data is a bit unwieldy, but I thought it was at least illustrative of what we might expect this season. I'll leave it to you to suggest what the strategic implications might be.

3/17 - Someone noted in a recent feedback item that the total number of price changes for the full baseball season will be equivialent to the number of Hoops changes over a five week period. I realize that the comparison is probably not valid, but after five weeks of Hoops "2nd Chance League" activity, the average roster value of those teams had just "matured" at about $67,000,000 - where it remains today. After 26 pricing cycles, my Talaxian team was already worth a cool $127,000,000; it had reached the $100,000,000 mark on December 1st, after just 14 repricings. I'm not sure what the interpretation should be, because I expect the number of trades per cycle will be much greater for baseball, so that average price changes per cycle will also be higher. But, it didn't take long to amass a nice lode in Hoops, and I expect baseball roster values will find a way to increase faster than one might expect, in spite of the apparently smaller number of gain opportunities.

I put in some time last night on my baseball draft, the first time I've focused for more than a few moments. I'll have to say that there seem to be more opportunities than there are roster slots available. It's going to be tough to narrow down the list to only 14. Spring training stats may help me make some choices, although spring training performances are often deceiving. (No, I'm not going to post spring training stats - look 'em up yourselves!)

3/15 - One of my favorite sayings goes something like: "If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. But if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime." I think that epitomizes my approach to this web site in general, and to the baseball draft in particular. If I were to suggest cheap players, or post dream teams, or do anything that tells you which players you should draft, I might provide you with a good team to open the season, but you wouldn't necessarily know how to follow through. However, if I help you by pointing out ways to identify attractive players, but stopping short of "giving" away their names, then I've not only helped you by letting you figure out who to draft, but you probably also feel a lot better about it because your team is really YOUR team.

I hope you're following the chain of feedback letters that I've been posting over the last few days, because I think they will give you some helpful ideas on how to pick your initial roster. In a sense, they are a critical part of the "fishing lessons" offered at this site.

Meanwhile, while you're all working on your baseball drafts, I'm starting to redesign the layout of my website in anticipation of a move to a new server and new address. In particular, I will probably abandon the frames format in favor of a similar non-frames look. If you have seen any other site on the web that you thought was particularly well organized, please send me the URL so I can check it out.

3/13 - Some of you have asked whether I could set up some Smallworld divisions for Guru fans. Actually, I can't, but if you want to compete with other Guru-ites, let me suggest that you either set up a new division whose name starts with Guru (which will make it easy for others to find), or join an established Guru- division (if some have vacancies). I note that, without prompting, there is already one Guru division formed and filled. (No, I'm not in it!) There's also a second one started, but I see it's password protected, so unless the password is obvious (and it might be), you may be out of luck for that one. Once some new divisions have been started, those of you who have already joined an existing division can then switch to a Guru division if you wish. Bear in mind, though, that this is not going to be like the 2nd Chance League; I'm not offering any special tracking service, just providing a way for all of you to find each other and compete against the cream of the crop!

3/12 - Sorry to be AWOL yesterday. Processing and setting up the March Madness Contest has commanded center stage. If you've emailed me recently about baseball, I'll get to you within a few days. Be patient. It's Spring Training, after all.

3/10 - I posted several new feedback letters today, and I've still got more in the email hopper for later in the week. I'm still trying to assess the best way to report SWP averages during the season, and while several have suggested SWP/week as a good measure, I'm not yet convinced. I may need to fumble around a bit early in the year in search of something sensible. Of course, early season stats tend to lie, so it may take longer than a few weeks to figure out the best approach.

3/9 - The RotoNews server seems to be down as of this morning, so if you're having trouble accessing the preseason stat reports today, you're not alone. Hopefully, the situation will be cured before long.

My emailbox has been filling fast of late, with feedback on Smallworld Hoops, March Madness Contest Entries, and a lot of preseason baseball feedback. Please be patient this week - I'll get around to responding to all of it, and posting the best of it, but I'm swamped right now. There's plenty of time until baseball season begins, so that's the stuff to backburner. I will, however, try to quickly fix any errors you detect in the preseason stat reports.

Let me clarify my position on baseball recommendations. I will not post any material which promotes any specific player. Many of you have asked me specific questions about my thoughts on this player or that, and that's not what this site is about. This site tries to provide a statistical framework, and tips on strategic approach. It is not a forum for picking players. That's your jobs.

3/7 - The baseball portion of this site has only been up for about 12 hours, and already I've gotten some feedback. Must be that many of you have that "spring fever" virus that's going around these days.

Thanks to Victor Davis for voluntarily screening through my SWP totals based on 1997 stats, and catching a few glitches. Some of my data came from ESPN's site, where players were listed only by last name and first initial. This produced some confusion between players like Randy and Rodney Myers, or Shawn and Scarborough Green. I had caught most of these in advance, but Victor found a few more, for which I am grateful. If any of the rest of you notice other errors, please report them to me. Hopefully, the database will be fully scrubbed shortly.

And check the baseball feedback section, too, which is already starting to show life.

3/6 - Baseball is just around the corner. I know many of you have already started drafting your 1998 team. Smallworld reports that over 20,000 managers have registered so far!

Today marks the introduction of the baseball section of this site. I have a brief "Base Advances" article, A New Ballgame, discussing some of the changes in Smallworld Baseball format, along with some of the implications on strategy. Next, I've got preseason stats galore, where you can evaluate this year's draft prices in relation to Smallworld Points based on each player's 1997 stats. And, I've got a spot reserved for your feedback. As the season develops, you can expect the same type of stats and features that made my introductory foray into fantasy hoops strategy such a success.

You will note that I've provided direct links from each player's name to his corresponding page at RotoNews. In fact, Rotonews has graciously agreed to provide server space for my site beginning this month. While I haven't yet fully moved, I have started using some of their disk space. Later in the month, once I've got my site redesigned, I'll be announcing the movement of the site to brand new URL. Once that occurs, you'll no longer have to deal with that annoying pop-up screen from Tripod. Woohoo! Instead, my site will be "decorated" with banners and other advertising supplied by Rotonews. Even so, I will be remaining independent - that is, I am not being employed by Rotonews. In return for posting their supplied ads, though, I will be generating some modest revenue for RotoGuru, so once I've relocated, I'll be asking you to help support the advertisers on my pages.

In an attempt to avoid producing information which results in many managers drafting the same players, here are my preseason ground rules:

  • Although I will post lists which show SWP vs. price using last year's major league stats, I won't make any attempt to adjust for rookies or players who were active for less than a full season in 1997. The stats will be unadjusted. Managers will have to compensate with their own adjustments.
  • I will try to refrain from making comments about who looks rich or cheap. I may make a few comments to explain why apparent rich/cheap distortions are not necessarily as they appear (e.g., Fenway factor for Pedro, lack of thin air for Galarraga, etc.) My intent will be to avoid making any comments which would be construed as recommendations.
  • I'm going to keep my team name a secret until after the season starts. I want to avoid copycat drafting. I'll fill you in early in the season, but I want to draft in anonymity.

I've tried to test all the various links and pages to make sure everything's working properly. But if you find a goof, please report it to me.

That's it. Play Ball!

RotoGuru is produced by Dave Hall (a.k.a. the Guru), an avid fantasy sports player. He is neither employed by nor compensated 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<>.