We're No.1 (or maybe No. 2)!

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This is very exciting news, though the results are far from official.
As I’ve mentioned in this spot previously, I’m participating in Tom Tango’s Forecasters Challenge, which has 22 forecasters and projection systems playing out 1,000 runs of the season using teams of preranked players. I gave a rundown of what my teams looked like back in June.
I had just about given up on seeing an in-season update of how things were progressing, but Tom had the following to say Wednesday:

If the season were to end today, it would be a 2-man race between Rotoworld and John Eric Hanson. Together, they have 542 wins out of 1000 drafts! The other 20 combine to win less than these two. What a thrashing!

Many of the big names are taking part, so it’d be quite a thrill to come in first or even second. Looking at his draft run, I think Mr. Hanson may well have the edge, as the key players he’s relying on seem to be healthy and producing. It’s remarkable just how similar his rankings were to mine in some cases. We battled on many of the same players over the course of the 1,000 drafts.
Player – My team – Hanson – Total
Carlos Silva – 667 – 333 – 1,000
Brad Penny – 435 – 565 – 1,000
Brandon McCarthy – 311 – 689 – 1,000
Glen Perkins – 341 – 659 – 1,000
Pedro Martinez – 108 – 892 – 1,000
Tom Glavine – 16 – 984 – 1,000
Hank Blalock – 9 – 991 – 1,000
Brian Bannister – 1 – 999 – 1,000
Justin Upton – 630 – 368 – 998
Ian Snell – 513 – 465 – 978
Rick Ankiel – 387 – 582 – 969
Anibal Sanchez – 372 – 594 – 966
J.A. Happ – 263 – 700 – 963
Billy Butler – 210 – 711 – 921
Coco Crisp – 648 – 219 – 867
Tom Gorzelanny – 131 – 730 – 861
Robinson Cano – 50 – 766 – 816
Adam Jones – 522 – 234 – 756
Jorge De La Rosa – 76 – 658 – 734
Todd Helton – 430 – 225 – 655
Nick Markakis – 498 – 110 – 608
Alexei Ramirez – 84 – 462 – 546
B.J. Upton – 301 – 229 – 530
Carl Crawford – 346 – 96 – 442
With 22 teams drafting 25 players apiece, there’s no way we could have gone head to head like that so often strictly as a coincidence. All of those similarities are likely arising because Mr. Hanson borrowed from my playing time projections to complement his performance projections. Computers are a lot better at projecting OPS than at-bats, so those systems tend to use a mix of non-computer projections to account for playing time. That’s perfectly fine with me, if that’s all it is. Finishing first and having a hand in No. 2’s success would be pretty sweet.

Brett Lawrie will take a pay cut to avoid arbitration with White Sox

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 12: Brett Lawrie #15 of the Chicago White Sox fields a ground ball during batting practice before the start of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 12, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.

The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.

Cubs sign LHP Brian Duensing to a one-year, $2 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Brian Duensing #50 of the Baltimore Orioles throws a pitch in the eleventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.

The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.