CheeseIsGood's Million Dollar Musings: Monday, June 14th

Happy Monday! We’ll jump into the slate in a few minutes here, but I wanted to start off with a little Monday morning fireside chat.

The first thing is to let you know about my schedule this week. I have two weeks out of each summer where I teach at a summer music camp, helping teach kids how to write songs, learn some new instruments and concludes with a Friday night concert. I will be on my normal schedule every morning, and writing the Musings every day other than Tuesday. However, I will be tied up between 2-6 ET each afternoon, so if there are changes to the schedule, I will not get them updated here as quickly as usual. I’ll still come in and drop in notes on any big changes, but if you have a question, it may take me a little longer than normal to respond this week.

Next, while we touched on it briefly last week, I wanted to talk a bit more about the current pitching situation in the league. This is just stream of consciousness thought here, and it may or may not end up making any sense. I do not have in depth data here or any real actionable plan, but there is so much talk about the pitching situation that I just want to keep talking it through as it’s happening so that we’re all on the same page here and you know where I’m coming from in these articles.

Checking In On A Sticky Situation

Folks, I think it’s about to get really interesting around here. But I’m not primarily talking about spin rates, and I’m not talking about strikeouts. My opinion is that what’s about the get really interesting is the way people try to explain away small term sample size with nothing but “see, he is no good without the sticky stuff.” At this exact moment in time, we absolutely do not have enough information to make any definitive calls on changes to pitcher’s expectations. This does not mean that we aren’t seeing clear drops in spin rate. It means that we can’t just draw a straight line on a graph with spin rate and correlate it to foreign substances being used, or to how good/bad someone will be without it. There is zero question that many MLB pitchers that were cheating have stopped using these substances, and there already have been and will continue to be changes in spin rate and effectiveness. But my oh my, just in my opinion from listening to the chatter, my instinct is that the reality of the situation is not as drastic or as clear cut as most people are trying to make it. I’m not ready to make any big sweeping statements one way or the other, and I’m not trying to solve any puzzles today. I just want to point out a couple thoughts:

Point 1 – There is no date to point to as the definitive date when any or all pitchers started or stopped using sticky stuff.

Point 2 – Even while some examples are pretty clear from spin rates, there is no guarantee that all pitchers who saw or see a spin rate/effectiveness drop were cheating, or that pitchers who don’t see a spin rate/effectiveness were not cheating.

Point 3 – DFS is still more about strikeouts than anything else, and it’s not clear to me that the strikeouts are going anywhere. They can come down slightly and still be way ahead of past levels and still be the key to DFS.

Point 4 – It is possible that hard hits, and therefore ERA’s and home run rates are more effected than strikeouts.

Point 5 – Not every change in spin rate has anything to do with sticky stuff. Spin rates always move around, and will change with velocity, grips that have nothing to do with substances or the slightest change in arm angle or release point. I am not going to try and pretend to be a sudden expert on every nuance of spin rate, and I suggest that you do not either.

Point 6 – When I step back and take a big picture look at game logs, there is at least some semblance of a dividing line sometime in mid-late May where some of these elite pitchers went from being other-worldly elite to merely really good. But even there, it’s vague, and tough to make any blanket statements.

Point 7 – Pitchers who have not seen any drop-off, or even pitchers who have had their best starts of the season recently could have still been cheating, and could still end up being more affected than the guys who happened to have a bad start last week. This is really the big point I’m trying to make here. I see it as a mistake to take any one start, whether good or bad and just assume that’s what this guy is now.

Point 8 – If a pitcher has been using a substance for several years, they have gotten used to using it, and have learned how to pitch with it. Take it away, something will change. Maybe things get worse, maybe a little, maybe a lot. But then, that pitcher is going to start getting used to pitching without it. Maybe it takes a week, a month, maybe they slightly change their grip on certain pitches. But it’s not as if there are just two potential versions of every pitcher, the guy with the sticky stuff and the guy without it. I see a very real chance that we see pitchers adjust to the new normal and small drop offs get corrected. This is another reason I don’t want to overreact to one start.

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About the Author

  • Dave Potts (CheeseIsGood)

  • One of the preeminent baseball minds in all of fantasy, Dave Potts, aka CheeseIsGood, has won contests at the highest levels of both season-long and DFS. He is a two-time winner of a million dollar first place prize in DFS; having won the 2014 FanDuel baseball live final and following that up by taking down a DraftKings Millionare Maker Tournament in 2015. In addition, he’s won the Main Event championship in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship and the NFBC Platinum League, which is the highest buy-in entry league. His consistent success in the NFBC tournaments recently earned him a prestigious spot in their Hall of Fame. Dave can also strum a mean guitar while carrying a tune and if you’re lucky, you’ll see him do so on one of his GrindersLive appearances. Follow Dave on Twitter – @DavePotts2.

Comments

  • rhallone

    Glasnow releases his pitches about 53 feet from home plate cause hes lanky and throws his fastball on AVERAGE at 97 mph..I’m sure you played baseball Cheese. Spin rate is one aspect but velocity and location are the two that aid in the appearance of a ball to be out or in the strike zone and its much harder to make a decision to swing or not at those speeds. Pitchers who have been aided in SLIDERS THAT FALL OUT OF THE ZONE are going to be the ones that get targeted I think. I am sure MLB has been watching the replays and comparing past and present data. Nail file anyone??

  • okbosox26

    I agree with your points on pitching. First, it’s not like trying to gain an advantage is a new thing. So we can’t act like all of a sudden dfs is being affected in a new way. Second, is the MLB even really going to do anything substantial? Their track record says no. Just my thoughts.

  • CheeseIsGood

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    @rhallone said...

    Glasnow releases his pitches about 53 feet from home plate cause hes lanky and throws his fastball on AVERAGE at 97 mph..I’m sure you played baseball Cheese. Spin rate is one aspect but velocity and location are the two that aid in the appearance of a ball to be out or in the strike zone and its much harder to make a decision to swing or not at those speeds. Pitchers who have been aided in SLIDERS THAT FALL OUT OF THE ZONE are going to be the ones that get targeted I think. I am sure MLB has been watching the replays and comparing past and present data. Nail file anyone??

    yep, there are so many nuances to all of this, which is why i think we see a too big over-reaction and misunderstanding with everyone talking about spin rate as if it will explain everything. It will not. and oh yeah, my 42-mph fastball is just as strong with or without any added substance.

  • rhallone

    Still everyone can say that Bauer or anyone else isnt as good a pitcher without spider tack but the truth is these guys are the elite pitchers selected among thousands of players in A-Ball, high school and college there’s a reason they’re MLB pitchers and not just a substance that occasionally aids them as you stated.

  • rhallone

    Mine too brother flat footed at any county fair I could top out at 45 :)

  • Southie777

    Only read your sticky situation “ramblings” so far – but, as usual, I love it! I would just call them thoughts and you make a lot of great points.

  • jcottenttu

    I can confirm that at least one starting pitcher from yesterday’s slate used sticky stuff as usual, & acted as if that was standard at least for his team.

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    @jcottenttu said...

    I can confirm that at least one starting pitcher from yesterday’s slate used sticky stuff as usual, & acted as if that was standard at least for his team.

    Just adding to all this mystery. Absolutely some guys are still going to use something and hope it doesn’t end badly.

  • Joe1Coal

    @CheeseIsGood said...

    yep, there are so many nuances to all of this, which is why i think we see a too big over-reaction and misunderstanding with everyone talking about spin rate as if it will explain everything. It will not. and oh yeah, my 42-mph fastball is just as strong with or without any added substance.

    I think you could hit at least 45. C’mon.

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