What We Learned From the 2017 Baseball Season
by Tony Mrozik, Buffalo Sports Page Fantasy Baseball Expert
Baseball is a game of constant changes and adapting. Batters change, pitchers and teams adapt and the cycle continues. Here are my thoughts on changes that have occurred during the 2017 season and how they factor into planning for the 2018 Fantasy Baseball season.
The Home Run is Back
The long ball is back! It seems everyone is now a power hitter. There are several theories regarding this including changes to the baseball. Let’s face it, everyone loves the long ball as it makes baseball more exciting. I believe the increase in power is due to batters adapting to both The Shift and pitchers increased pitch velocity. Batters and Teams are willing to sacrifice batting average and on base percentage while tolerating an increase in strike outs for the increase in Home Runs. Teams have also placed an emphasis on hitting and Batters are now more skilled. They have learned to improve their timing and launch angles.
When planning for the 2018 Fantasy Baseball season the increase in home runs devalues power and places a premium on batters who average .280 and higher and those who steal bases. You can now wait to the later rounds and devote less dollars in auction drafts to power. There are more batters who will compile a batting line of .250 average, 25 home runs and 80 runs batted in.
There are fewer .300 Batters
Fantasy baseball is based upon consistent statistics. With more batters selling out for the home run and the corresponding increase in strikeouts, those who consistently make contact and have a higher batting average are now at a premium.
Where are the stolen bases?
There are less pure base stealers than in previous years. I believe this can be attributed to teams not wanting to risk injuries to their players and to allow their batters to focus on power. I do believe there are more batters that will steal 10-15 bases per season and you can accumulate steals from multiple players who steal 10-15 bases each.
The Workhorse Ace Pitcher is becoming extinct
How many pitchers can you name who will provide 180-200 innings pitched, 200 strikeouts, low ERA and WHIP ratios with double digit wins? I say there are no more than 10 for the 2018 season. I believe with the amount of money pitchers earn and the increase in pitching injuries, teams will be cautious with their investments. I think we will see pitchers routinely pitching 5 innings per start and 6-man rotations. Getting one of the top pitchers can be a strong advantage.
Pitchers are now throwing fewer fastballs and I expect this trend to continue. To combat the increase in power and to reduce pitcher injuries, teams are having their pitchers throw fewer fastballs. Teams are also placing an emphasis on defense. There is an increase in ground balls when there is an increase in pitchers throwing off speed and breaking pitches. The teams who have strong defenses and pitchers who can throw multiple pitches will increase in 2018.