The reasons I wanted to write my own guide are twofold.
First, evaluating prospects for real baseball and fantasy baseball are two very different things. For instance, Albert Almora rightly gets praised as a future star for the Chicago Cubs, and yet he has fairly little relevance to fantasy teams because his greatest strengths are in areas that aren't particularly relevant to our game. Meanwhile in the same system, Daniel Vogelbach's various weaknesses don't matter as much to us either. Thus, fantasy baseball really needs its own exhaustive source of evaluations.
Secondly, there are some things on which the great people at Baseball America and I will never agree. They and the scouts they talk to look at talents like Archie Bradley and Kyle Crick only to see admittedly huge potential. When I look at them, I see hugely talented players who are very unlikely to ever be above-average major league starters for reasons that are explained in their profiles.
And on the other side of the coin, when I look at Preston Tucker I see a consistently productive minor leaguer whose statistical profile suggests that he can handle the jump to the major leagues at some point, whereas he didn't even appear in Baseball America's Top 30 for the Astros organization. Or to use a different example, last year Mike Olt was listed as the No. 2 prospect in the Rangers' system and No. 22 overall. In the 2013 Fantasy Baseball Guide I questioned Mike Olt's future as a prospect given his worryingly low Z-Contact percentage. Sometimes Baseball America will be correct and sometimes I will, but there's value to be had in reading evaluations that use two very different sets of criteria.
JD Bolick began his career in 1998 with Mastersball.com, as the first columnist to provide regular analysis for shallow mixed league formats like those used by Yahoo! and ESPN. Over the last fourteen years he has contributed to the Fantasy Football Guide and Fantasy Baseball Guide, with a specialization for both sports in evaluating prospects making the leap from amateur to professional athletics.
He is a lifelong Baltimore fan, in part thanks to growing up near what was the Orioles' Double-A affiliate. J.D.'s only claim to fame involves his dad and he taking the 19 year old Sammy Sosa and 18 year old Juan Gonzalez to play golf for their very first times. Those experiences ultimately led to studying Cultural Anthropology as an undergraduate and in grad school, including a Masters thesis on how acculturation affects the performance of Latin American hitters.
A graduate of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, J.D. combines a love of statistics and quantitative analysis with traditional scouting knowledge imparted to him by his father, who has worked for the Major League Scouting Bureau.
You can reach him at email@example.com.
It’s the ultimate in fantasy baseball: You get to pick the roster, set the lineup, and decide on strategies -- with real players, in a real ballpark, in a real playoff race. That’s what baseball analysts Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller got to do when an independent minor-league team in California, the Sonoma Stompers, offered them the chance to run its baseball operations according to the most advanced statistics. Their story in The Only Rule is it Has to Work is unlike any other baseball tale you've ever read.
We tag along as Lindbergh and Miller apply their number-crunching insights to all aspects of assembling and running a team, following one cardinal rule for judging each innovation they try: it has to work. We meet colorful figures like general manager Theo Fightmaster and boundary-breakers like the first openly gay player in professional baseball. Even José Canseco makes a cameo appearance.
Will their knowledge of numbers help Lindbergh and Miller bring the Stompers a championship, or will they fall on their faces? Will the team have a competitive advantage or is the sport’s folk wisdom true after all? Will the players attract the attention of big-league scouts, or are they on a fast track to oblivion?
It’s a wild ride, by turns provocative and absurd, as Lindbergh and Miller tell a story that will speak to numbers geeks and traditionalists alike. And they prove that you don’t need a bat or a glove to make a genuine contribution to the game.