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Daily blurbs from the Guru
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8/31 - Atale of two pitchers:
At the end of May, Hideki Irabu led the American League with a 1.48 ERA (including one shutout), had a 4-1 W/L record, had accumulated 796 SWP, and was being mentioned as a possible starter for the A.L. All-Star team. Meanwhile, Roger Clemens sported an ERA of 3.50 and a 5-6 W/L record (with no complete games), trailed Irabu by more than 100 SWP with a total of 692.
What a difference three months makes!
Since that time, Irabu has been 7-6, posted an ERA of 5.48 (including only one complete game), and has accumulated an additional 399 SWP. Clemens has gone 12-0 with a 2.17 ERA, thrown 3 consecutive shutouts, and produced 2103 SWP - more than 5 times as many as Irabu over that time span!
Switching to the topic of Yankee leads again, yesterday marked only the second home game this season in which the Bronx Bombers failed to hold a lead at some point, with the first one being 54 games ago.
8/30 -Sterling Hitchcock had an interesting linescore yesterday, fanning 15 batters with no walks in 8 innings, but losing to the Expos - in part because he surrendered a home run to opposing pitcher Dustin Hermanson, who pitched a pretty good game himself.
Meanwhile, the Toronto outfield had a hot hitting afternoon as Shannon Stewart, Shawn Green, and Jose Cruz, Jr. were three of the top eight hitters of the day, as each homered and produced a combined 219 SWP.
8/29 - Iheard an interesting stat on the Yankee broadcast last night. Going into last night's game, New York had taken the lead and then lost it in seven straight games, which was the longest such streak by any Yankee team ever!. Last night's blowout of the Mariners stopped the streak, however.
Randy Johnson threw his third shutout as an Astro, and his fourth 200+ SWP game of the season, the most over 200 by any pitcher (Schilling has 3). En fuego! Next Wednesday, Randy pitches against Greg Maddux on Wednesday night, which will probably be the national game on ESPN.
And what's up with Andy Ashby? After being one of the season's most consistent pitchers, he butchered his 2nd consecutive negative 3-digit game, vs. the Expos!
8/28 - The Angels really played the Yankees tough in this week's 5-game series. The only two Yankees wins came after Anaheim tied the game in the 9th inning. A Yankee-Angel first round of the playoffs could be very interesting. And if the standings remain as they are today, that's what will happen. It may be that the most consequential race in the A.L. next month will be the battle between Anaheim (or Texas) and Cleveland to see who gets to play Boston in the first round - not that the Red Sox will be much easier.
8/27 - If you had either David Wells or Chan Ho Park last night, you have my condolences, as both pitched well enough to win. However, Mariano Rivera and Jeff Shaw each blew their respective save opportunities, only to go on to get the wins themselves. Fortunately for Kerry Wood, the Cubbies had a lead too big for Rod Beck to blow (although Beck pitched well anyway), and give credit to Bobby Valentine for letting Hideo Nomo finish what he started.
I've posted my preseason football thoughts in an article called Teeing it up. I hope this stimulates more thoughtful feedback.
8/26 - First, I was wrong about the rationale for rescheduling the Pittsburgh-St. Louis game (mentioned in yesterday's blurb). The make-up game will be played in St. Louis, so I doubt that Three Rivers will be sold out for it.
Second, I added several feedback letters yesterday, including a few on football. I'm also introducing the preliminary version of the Football Assimilator, which is just a pure conversion of the baseball program to handle the different roster and position configuration, loaded with 1997 full year stats. I'll do a bit more customizing once the season starts, but for those of you who wanted a tool to help you mix & match roster slots using last year's stats and this year's draft prices, you've got it.
I also posted a new baseball article this week which looks at relative performance since the All-Star break, called "But what have you done for me lately?". Worth a peek, if I do say so myself.
Roger Clemens sure seems to be cruising right now, with his 3-hit 18K shutout good enough for the 2nd best game of the season: 250 SWP. Somewhat surprisingly, this was Roger's first game north of the 200 SWP mark.
And finally, if you're an investor in the baseball MajorLeagueMarket, you ought to hurry on over and pick up some stock in the San Francisco Giants. There was a fire sale on that stock yesterday - quite possibly the result of collusion - and this morning, that team stock was being offered for less than a buck. It usually trades above $1,100. I think it's probably "money-good" at the current price!
8/25 - Pittsburgh and St. Louis played to a rare tie game yesterday, rained out in the seventh with the score tied. All stats from this game will count (although they weren't reflected in CBS Sportsline's table this morning, so I had to add them in by hand - grrrrrr!), but the teams will replay the game from scratch in September - a "do over". Originally, I read that the game would only be rescheduled if it had a bearing on the standings, but I'll bet Pittsburgh fought to get it replayed anyway, so they could cash in on another McGwire crowd.
Thanks to those of you who pointed out that I was missing Oakland in the Team Defense football listing yesterday. (I also got a lot of editorial comments about the appropriateness of that omission.) Actually, if you paid close attention, you would have noticed that I was missing the last line of every report. But that problem has been fixed now, and you can once again see Oakland's defense in all of its splendor.
Although the race between Eric Davis and Greg Vaughn in the RotoGuru Poll is very tight, I think we've had enough of this comeback marathon, and I'll declare the Davis the winner by a slight plurality. Time to move on to other topics.
8/24 - The next installment of preseason football information is now posted. Sortable summary stats tables using 1997 NFL full season stats are now posted. The mechanics will be very familiar if you are accustomed to working with the baseball tables. Have fun, and report any problems - technical or data - to me if/when you discover them. I noticed that Smallworld listed most returning players under their 1997 team name, but I tried to get the correct 1998 team name listed (for example, Chris Warren is on Dallas this year, not Seattle), using ESPN's player listing as my source. Again, let me know of needed corrections - I just noticed that Neil O'Donnell is still listed as a Jet, so that will have to be fixed. I'm sure there will be other changes as well.
The next item on my football agenda is to develop a football version of the Assimilator - due to popular demand. I hope the translation is straightforward. Perhaps by later in the week. I also want to put out an article with my early thoughts on strategy, given some of the rules changes from last year. It's going to be a busy week.
By the way, if you downloaded my stats files last week, you should get an updated version today. The original files were missing data on pass receptions.
On the baseball front, yesterday was a pretty big offensive day, as not only were there a lot of runs scored, but many of the popular players were productive - like McGwire, Sosa, Biggio, & Vaughn (sounds like a law firm!) - so I suspect a lot of SW teams had a good scoring day from their hitters. Of course, when the hitters giveth, the pitchers taketh away, and given the number of teams which have Maddux, El Duque, or Ashby, some pitching damage was inflicted.
8/22 - There were no big surprises (for me, at least) in yesterday's repricing. The hottest players of late, Moises Alou and Orlando Hernandez, were the two big winners. If you look at the summary stat table of all players sorted by 15-day SWP, you'll see those two names at the very top of the list.
My Perfect Rotation team, "We are Borg", has been steadily moving up the leaderboard, currently ranked 135th, with a current franchise value of $131.5 mil, and 20 trades remaining. I need to do some pitcher rotations over the next five weeks with this team - hopefully more productively than last week's debacle. I'm currently 600 SWP out of the top 50. Meanwhile, my "regular" Smallworld team, "Species 8472", is ranked 175th (although it has about 200 SWP more than the other team), but is down to 13 trades (thanks in part to last week's rotation "trade-burner"), has a franchise value of $126.2 million, and is a little more than 700 SWP out of the top 50. Getting into the top 50 will be much more difficult for this team, with fewer trades, less capital, and stiffer competition. All in all, though, I'm pretty pleased with my performance so far. I'm glad it's a marathon season, because it has taken a long time to "emerge".
8/21 - Story time. . . . .
This week, I embarked on my first pitcher rotation strategy with one of my teams. I had Kevin Brown on this team for his start on Sunday. My plan was to swap Brown for Randy Johnson (vs. Phila.) on Monday, then swap Johnson for Ashby (vs. Florida) on Tuesday, then pick up Glavine (vs. SF) on Wednesday, then Schilling (vs. Ariz.) yesterday, and then return back to Brown on day 5 for his next start. The matchups looked pretty favorable, all of the pitchers had been pitching well, and I would still have 15 trades remaining afterwards, so it seemed to be a good opportunity to convert some excess trades into some extra points.
Well, after the first three days, here's where I stood:
Then what? Brown jumped the gun and pitched last night on only four days rest! Argh! And he pitched well, producing +137 SWP. So today, I am 4 trades poorer and 8 SWP richer than I would be if I had done nothing. Doh! It's going to be tough to reach the top 100 if I can only pick up 2 SWP per trade from here on. Oh well, it's only a game,. . . so they say.
Scott Rolen had the monster day of the year yesterday, garnering 128 SWP over both games of a doubleheader. Technically, he doesn't qualify for my best games listing since he took two games to produce this, but if you owned him yesterday, I know you don't care. His combined linescore highlights: 4 runs, 2 singles, 3 doubles, a homer, and 9 RBIs. Not a bad day's work.
Mark McGwire's finally starting to crank it up again, with 4 dingers and 138 SWP in his last two days (including a doubleheader). He even stole a base yesterday! Just think about the record he could set if he really heated up during the last five weeks! He only needs to average 2 HRs per week to tie Maris.
8/20 - Iput up some preliminary files with last season's football stats on the server. You can download them from my 1997 Stats page. I'll have the usual sortable formats available in a few days, but if some of you want to get the jump, feel free to download either the Excel or text file versions.
I've noticed a few RotoGuru divisions have started to form. (The one named "RotoGuru" is mine.) If you're looking for a division to join, you might look for one with a RotoGuru name. And if they're all full, feel free to start a new one. You're probably more likely to get a competitive, involved group of managers this way than by joining a random Smallworld division.
Mike Stanley certainly seems to be enjoying his return to the Bosox, with 18 RBIs in the 17 games he's played since he was traded. Six of those ribbies came last night. Meanwhile, on the other coast, Jack McDowell looked good in his return from an extended run on the DL. It will be interesting to see how long he can stay active - and effective - this time around.
8/19 - First, a few housekeeping items. Today I've started the runoff poll for overall comback player of the year, with the four choices being the winners of the previous four polls. When I set up this latest poll, I noticed that the polling software now permits up to 8 choices per poll, so that will provide a bit more flexibility going forward.
Second, a note on site navigation. I occasionally have a technical problem uploading my daily blurb page (which is also the default rotoguru.com page). When this happens, the page is usually blank. I have developed a process to work around this problem when it occurs, but sometimes it may take awhile to get the fix implemented. So, if you don't already have a second rotoguru page bookmarked, it's a good idea to do so. This way, even if the default page is inoperable for a short while, you can still access the rest of the site.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, after having his hitting streak stopped at 30 games last Sunday night, Eric Davis started his next streak in style by banging out 2 home runs. Also, I guess I should mention Greg Maddux's 200th career win last night against the Giants, even if it was a very mediocre (for Maddux) 126 SWP outing.
Occasionally, I get emails from managers who just had a 700+ SWP day. Last night, I finally had my own - in fact, I had two of them. "Species 8472" produced 715 SWP, while "We are Borg" tallied 751! Of course, that means I had a lot of pitchers throwing yesterday, so the next few days will be lean. (And don't bother sending me your "I can top that" emails.)
8/18 - Today I begin to roll out fantasy football coverage. There are several new features:
Meanwhile, I'm busy collecting prior season statistical data to support your pre-season drafting. I hope to have this available within a week. That should still provide the better part of two weeks to evaluate your rosters before the opening games on September 6th. Collecting data is a bit of a chore - since different positions require different stats - but I'm well underway already.
8/17 - Isuppose the modern era translation of today's quote would be "Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for Microsoft."
I'm back home again. Thanks for all of your patience with me while I was vacationing. Aside from a busted (and replaced) modem and a fractured (but repaired) Assimilator, I managed through the vacation period pretty well, if I do say so myself. This week I'll be gearing up for football. I hope to have some preliminary football links posted within the next day, and some 1997 statistical data should be up by the end of this week (or early next week at the latest), still in plenty of time for your preseason drafting.
Meanwhile, Kevin Brown continued his hot hand (arm?) yesterday, tossing a 1-hitter at Milwaukee, which was good enough to tie for the 4th best game of the season at 219 SWP.
8/15 -Chris Hoiles had a pretty remarkable night at the Jake last night, with 2 grand slam HRs, good for 93 SWP. In fact, both of Baltimore's catchers (including Lenny Webster) have had a prodigious July/August, which has obviously contributed to the second-half surge for the Birds.
I'm on the road again today. I won't be back online until Sunday evening.
8/14 -El Duque just keeps rolling along, posting his first 200+ SWP game of the year last night. Tom Glavine is also on a tear, averaging 132 SWP per start over his last six starts. That's 33 SWP/start better than Maddux over the same period.
I got stuck using USA Today stats again today. So be on the lookout for anything that looks suspicious.
I see that Barry Bonds dropped his suspension appeal, which I presume means he'll sit out the 3-game series vs. the Marlins this weekend. I have him on both of my teams, which has been fortunate over the past two weeks, since he's been the second highest producing hitter in the game over that period (trailing only A. Rod by 15 SWP). I've decided to hang onto Bonds in spite of the suspension, since I'd want to pick him back up next week, and I don't think it makes sense to waste two trades to get a half-week's worth of someone else's production. I think I could use those trades to better advantage in a pitcher rotation. But you make your own decisions on that score.
Tomorrow I start heading east again, arriving home on Sunday afternoon. I'll try to get tonight's stats (incl. the Assimilator) updated tomorrow morning before I leave, but the summary stats pages won't be updated tomorrow. I'll get caught up again on Sunday evening. Then next week, I'll start getting prepared for football draft-related stats.
Alert! Smallworld announced today that there will be no price updates tomorrow.
8/13 -Randy Johnson outpointed Greg Maddux by a mere 205 SWP last night (in separate games). It was Randy's 3rd 200+ SWP game of the season, the most of any pitcher. It will be interesting to see what sort of price action he gets tomorrow, since his price is still pretty lofty - and Schilling had a shutout this week, too.
I posted my latest article yesterday, titled Draft Seer. It examines the most productive draft you could have assembled, based on points produced through the end of July.
Having been in northern Ohio for a couple of weeks, now, it's interesting to gauge the prevailing attitude on the Tribe. Everyone seems worried about Cleveland, in spite of their waltz into the post-season. Thome is out, Fryman is hurting, and Justice, Lofton, and Alomar are having sub-par years. The pitching has been solid, but there is concern about the wear and tear on the young arms of Wright and Colon, and whether they'll hold up through October. From my perspective, it's déjà vu all over again. I seem to recall the same malaise in Cleveland last year around this time. But when late September rolled around, things started to gel. So, I ain't panicking. Meanwhile, the Yankees just seem to be on cruise control. Could they be peaking too soon? Anything can happen in a short playoff series.
Enough of this wishful thinking. . . . . .
8/12 - Who would have guessed David Wells would be 15-2 in early August? With 3 shutouts, including a perfect game? Prior to this season, he had only thrown 3 shutouts in his entire career.
Colorado seems to have started scoring like Colorado is supposed to score, averaging more than 8 runs per game during their current homestand, bolstered by last night's 15 run outburst, which eclipsed their previous high for the season by three runs. Unfortunately for Rockies fans, it's "too little, too late" for this year. Well, OK, maybe it's not too little, but it's certainly too late.
We've got a good race going in the current Rotoguru poll. If you haven't voted yet, hurry up. I'll be posting the NL complement shortly.
8/11 - So Sosa caught the Big Mac! This will be interesting. And what has happened to Junior? Over the last 15 days (thru 8/9), he's ranked only 42nd among outfielders in total SWP, ranking behind such bashers as Johnny Damon, Marvin Benard, Randy Winn, and even Jose Cruz, Jr.! Perhaps he misses Randy Johnson! I guess I should point out that Griffey has done better over the past 15 days than some other big names, like McGwire, Juan Gonzalez (not quite fair, perhaps, since "Igor" was hurt for a few days), and Ivan Rodriguez.
And Schilling finally pitched like Schilling is supposed to. Of course, it probably didn't hurt that the opponents were the Diamondbacks.
8/10 - And it rained in North Central Ohio yesterday. In fact, a lightning/thunderstorm fried my laptop modem yesterday afternoon, only a few minutes after I had updated the site. I was able to buy a new modem this morning (after failing to find an open computer outlet on the Marblehead peninsula on a Sunday afternoon), but I've been cut off from the web for almost 24 hours. High anxiety! Consequently, today's updates will be delayed - hopefully no later than 2:00 EST. Nice way to start my last week of vacation!
Meanwhile, I used the down time to update my feedback page, with four new letters now posted. So if you're trying to avoid working, that's the place to go.
8/9 - San Diego and Florida have an off-day scheduled on a Saturday? What's up with that?
Have you noticed that Mark McGwire has now dropped to 4th best in total SWP, behind Griffey, Sosa, and A. Rod. It's tough to rack up those SWPs when walks only count for 3.
Today, I move on to hitters in the "comeback poll".
8/8 - Don't know whether the Brewers are hanging their heads high today or not, following a 17-0 pounding at the hands of the "struggling" Reds. Perhaps the most interesting individual linescore from that game belongs to newly acquired Joe Hudson, who debuted for his new team with -107 SWP in one-third of an inning in relief, good enough for a 162 ERA - and he didn't even get the loss! Actually, a lot of teams had their hitting shoes on last night, as three other winning teams posted at least 14 runs.
Meanwhile, in a much tamer game (from a run-scoring perspective, at least), my Indians suffered a major setback when Jim Thome sustained a broken hand when hit by a pitch. I had him on both my teams, so I had to do some Saturday morning trading to patch that hole. Fortunately, my two teams each have 20 trades remaining, so I have plenty of capacity to deal with injuries. But aside from my SW teams' ability to recover, this will be a major blow to the real Tribe. Doh!.
Randy Johnson seems to enjoy pitching in the friendly confines of the Astrodome. And for the last two nights, Maddux and Glavine have demonstrated why the Braves may not need a bullpen once the post-season rolls around, tossing back-to-back complete game shutouts. BTW, it was interesting to see Kerry Ligtenberg show up as the big price winner yesterday, presumably attributable to the Braves' inability to land another closer.
8/7 (evening) - All pages have been updated with new prices.
And the bar has been raised for my best draft roster - the best roster now totals 25,419 SWP.
8/7 - It would appear that Carlos Perez's former Expo teammates were paying attention when Carlos was in Montreal, because they roughed him up for -75 SWP yesterday in his first start vs. his old mates. Meanwhile, Greg Maddux kept on cruising with a 3-hit shutout over the struggling Reds. And before someone emails me to say I missed the points for Trevor Hoffman's loss yesterday, that's not true; Trevor's game just worked out to a net score of zero.
I'll update the Assimilator with new prices by late afternoon today. The sortable stats tables will probably not be updated until mid-evening.
For my next weekly article, I'm evaluating the best producing $50,000,000 roster which could have been initially drafted (based on total SWP through the end of July). If you want to try to improve upon the roster I've come up with, be my guest - my optimizer doesn't always converge to the best solution. Click here to download a text file with the raw data for salaries and SWP through 7/31. (Players with zero points or less are omitted from the file, as are all IPO players who were not available on opening day.) I was able to assemble a roster that produced 25,076 SWP. Can you beat that?
8/6 - The bad news is that I did drop Orlando Hernandez after his blow-up last week, and missed out on his good game this week. The good news is that I picked up Kevin Brown for him on one team, and so far I've gotten outings of 94 and 202, including last night's shutout vs. Curt Schilling. Remember when Curt Schilling looked like the runaway candidate for the best pitcher, earlier in the season? His average is now down to 19 SWP/G, after his last three starts have produced a grand total of 11 SWP.
Thanks to many of you for pointing out my scoring problem for Greg Maddux yesterday. For a better explanation of how this sort of thing occurs, see yesterday's letter in the feedback section.
8/5 - Last might produced several more additions to the list of best games, with Mike Mussina tossing a 2-hit shutout for 205 SWP, and Carlos Delgado bashing out 3 homers for 93 SWP. Darryl Kile's -149 SWP effort vs. the Buccos wasn't quite bad enough to land on the list of the ten worst games, so there was no trifecta.
I posted yet another follow-up article on the efficient rosters, titled "Underachievement".
Finally, let's try "take 2" on the N.L. comeback pitcher poll. Since the prior attempt was botched, I reset the tallies to zero, so even if you voted before, you'll have to vote again.
8/4 - Those of you who held on to "El Duque" after last week's debacle were rewarded, as he erased last week's entry with 9 SWP to spare. Meanwhile, his opponent, Mike Oquist, authored the worst outing of the season, eclipsing the previous low by 25 SWP! Nice job, Mike!
8/3 pm - Ithink the Assimilator has been fixed. Try it and let me know if you still have problems. (The problem for the Windows 3.1 users has not yet been addressed). I am also aware of some player stats that have to be corrected - these should be done by tomorrow's update.
I'm also aware that the poll is screwed up. I assume that the poll tracking service for some reason restored their files as of about 10 days ago. Don't know why. I'll have to reset everything back to zero and restart the current poll again. However, until then I'll just blank it out to avoid further confusion. Thanks for you patience through all of this.
8/3 - Aargh-h-h-h-h-!!!
CBS Sportsline stats are botched for the third day in a row. So daily stats will be delayed again.
I started receiving some non-AOL Assimilator problem reports, so I started to investigate. It works fine using Netscape, but I am able to reproduce the problem using MSIE 3. I cannot figure out why the problem is occurring, though, because I have not changed that part of the code, and the error message contains some undecipherable characters (rectangles and such) which do not appear in the source code. I'll continue to try to fiddle, but this is a real stumper. If you have Netscape, you can continue to use that. If you use the MSIE or AOL browsers, you'll just have to be patient while I try to figure this one out.
This is vacation?
8/2 - The National League has disappeared altogether, according to the stats from CBS Sportsline. This is the second consecutive day they have competely omitted all National Leaguers. So, I've used USA Today stats both days. Combine that with all of the trades and 5 new IPO's, and some glitches are inevitable. If you find a statistical error, please report it and I fix it.
Is everyone as happy as I am that the Yankees failed to get Randy Johnson? The best comment I heard about this was that it would be similar to Bill Gates winning the Powerball lottery.
There are only eight weeks left in the regular season!
8/1 (update) -Yesterday's points and the Assimilator have been updated. MLM ratios and Sortable Stats will be updated later today.
In the process of updating all of the trade information, I noticed a data error in the "eligible games" field of my player database. It was off for the last several days, and has underreported eligible games for all active players since Wednesday, as best I can tell. The updated Summary Stats report will correct that. Assimilator SWP/G averages are correct now, but may look slightly lower than what you have seen the past few days. Sorry for the glitch - but believe me, the process of correcting this was sufficient punishment for me to ensure I'll be more careful in the future.
I hate trade deadlines - especially all of the trade activity!
8/1 - It's taking awhile to get all the trades - and stats - unscrambled. I'm also going to add in this week's IPO players today. And with CBS Sposrtline not even listing any NL stats today, it's going to take awhile to get everything processed. So be patient today. Yesterday's stats will be up later in the afternoon.
As a side note, I've been getting a number of Assimilator problem reports in the last week, mostly from AOL users. I'm pretty sure these are attributable to garbled transmissions from the server. I'm not always sure of the best way to advise AOL users to fix the problem. Are there other AOL users who have found ways to work around these problems who could share some advice?
The more interesting Assimilator problem comes from a couple of Netscape users who are still operating under Windows 3.1. These users are only getting access to players A-C alphabetically. I'm still not quite sure what the problem is - and whether it is a feature of Windows 3.1. Are there other Windows 3.1 users who do not have this problem?
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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 toGuru<firstname.lastname@example.org>.