A look at the Forecasters Challenge

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This is as much for my benefit as anyone else’s, but I wanted to check in on how my players in the Forecasters Challenge are doing now that the season is almost half over. We’re not getting status updates, so it’s all guesswork at this point.

For those not following along, Tom Tango’s Forecasters Challenge
includes 22 teams, most generated by rankings provided by experts. The
draft was run 1,000 times with random draft orders to hopefully mix
things up a bit, though it didn’t really work out. 71 players were
drafted by the same team 1,000 times and 185 were drafted by the same
team at least 900 times.

So there isn’t going to be a whole lot of variety outside of the elite
players. Hanley Ramirez, my No. 1 player, was drafted by 18 of the 22
teams and no more than 115 times by any of them. If everyone had ranked
Hanley first, he would have been on every team 45 or 46 times.

My team has a bit more variety than most, suggesting that I didn’t have as many extreme rankings as some.

Here are the players I drafted the most frequently and the position at which I had them ranked on my overall list:

Jordan Zimmermann – 1,000 – 264th
James McDonald – 1,000 – 353rd
Tom Glavine – 984 – 397th
Johnny Cueto – 793 – 149th
Carlos Silva – 667 – 400th
Ian Snell – 513 – 270th
Francisco Liriano – 499 – 69th
Josh Johnson – 467 – 146th
Tommy Hanson – 447 – 425th
Brad Penny – 435 – 325th
Jon Lester – 423 – 68th
Anibal Sanchez – 372 – 306th
Glen Perkins – 341 – 357th
Brandon McCarthy – 311 – 418th

Relievers did have value in the scoring system, but not as much as starters and I ended up with starters almost exclusively.

Unfortunately, that’s mostly it for pitchers. I got Johan Santana 45
times, Chris Carpenter 36 times and Matt Garza 234 times. No one else
drafted more than a handful of times figures to make a big
contribution. It looks like I’m receiving big points from Cueto and
Johnson, who rank third and fourth respectively in the NL in ERA, but
they’re my aces and the lower-ranked guys aren’t doing much.

There’s more to like about the hitters:

Victor Martinez – 999 – 47th
Khalil Greene – 969 – 177th
Coco Crisp – 648 – 91st
Justin Upton – 630 – 73rd
Martin Prado – 629 – 408th
Asdrubal Cabrera – 626 – 228th
Erick Aybar -589 – 286th
Adam Jones – 522 – 92nd
Hunter Pence – 500 – 60th
Nick Markakis – 498 – 14th
Eric Chavez – 494 – 362nd
Joe Mauer – 474 – 53rd
Curtis Granderson – 452 – 31st
Todd Helton – 430 – 147th
Jim Thome – 406 – 136th
Bobby Crosby – 397 – 461st
Rick Ankiel – 387 – 121st
Nick Johnson – 362 – 268th
Conor Jackson – 352 – 83rd
Carl Crawford – 341 – 8th
Yunel Escobar – 338 – 148th
B.J. Upton – 301 – 11th

Everyone knows what Victor and Mauer are doing, and also included
are some of this year’s top breakthrough players in Justin Upton, Jones
and Pence. Khalil is showing signs of becoming useful, and Prado is
providing nice value for who was drafted in the 500s. Unfortunately,
Crisp will go down as a bust because of his shoulder problems. I was
quite surprised to see how often I ended up with Chavez despite what I
thought was a pretty safe ranking.

A couple of more lists before I wrap this up.

Here are the top players I never ended up with, along with where they were picked on average and where I had them on my list:

CC Sabathia – 7th – 29th
Grady Sizemore – 8th – 12th
Roy Halladay – 11th – 25th
Matt Holliday – 12th – 22nd
Tim Lincecum – 14th – 17th
Ryan Howard – 17th – 23rd
Lance Berkman – 17th – 30th
Alfonso Soriano – 20th – 21st
Jake Peavy – 21st – 44th
Cole Hamels – 22nd – 37th
Chase Utley – 23rd – 16th
Carlos Lee – 23rd – 28th
Dustin Pedroia – 23rd – 41st
Brandon Webb – 24th – 26th
Prince Fielder – 25th – 27th

It’s pretty bizarre that I never got Utley or Beltran, considering I
had them ahead of where they went on average. But I guess B.J. Upton
and Markakis were still available in those spots and I was getting them
instead.

Here are the best players to go 1,000 times and their average pick:

Rafael Furcal – 52nd
Justin Verlander – 58th
Francisco Rodriguez – 66th
Zack Greinke – 74th
Ty Wigginton – 75th
Aubrey Huff – 77th
Mike Aviles – 79th
Carlos Zambrano – 83rd
Willy Taveras – 87th
Matt Cain – 92nd
John Lackey – 93rd
Edwin Encarnacion – 108th
Denard Span – 114th
Jose Lopez – 126th
Milton Bradley – 128th
Mike Jacobs – 131st
Erik Bedard – 131st

Greinke and Cain are set to work out really well. Of the low ranked
guys to go 1,000 times to the same owner, Trevor Cahill, drafted 369th,
appears to be offering the most value.

Justin Verlander: “I’d like to see the AL and NL have the same rules… I vote NL rules.”

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 10:  Starting pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning at Safeco Field on August 10, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
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On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”

Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:

To that, Archer said:

For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.

Rusney Castillo disappoints again by not running out a routine grounder

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 18:  Rusney Castillo #38 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after he was caught off third base for the third out of the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 18, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.