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February 20, 3:00 PM ET
Fantasy Sports with Tristan Cockcroft

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:01 PM)

Good afternoon everyone! Let's get right to your questions...

Jeff (Portland, ME)

Good afternoon, Tristan. I know it's too early to tell, but can you speculate on how Ryan Braun's year will be effected by the most recent PED scandal. Should owners expect a possible suspension? Thank you.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:04 PM)

That's a very fair question, Jeff, and one I've heard from a few worried potential owners. At this stage I'd say the Braun situation bears watching, but we should not react, not with lowered rankings or an out-and-out fear of a 50-game suspension. I'm not saying there's a zero percent chance he's suspended, nor that this situation could be a distraction that adversely impacts his numbers, but I see nothing to believe I need to lower him from my No. 1 overall spot right now.Frankly, to those who question Braun or other players with alleged PED links, I'd reply: How can you be so sure <i>everyone</i> isn't on something? At this point I've heard so many names, it's difficult to react without anything concrete.

Andrew (Berkeley)

What's your take on Alcides Escobar this year? I worry that his "breakout" season was mainly babip fueled, and he'll be in line for some pretty serious regression.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:06 PM)

Well -- and I'll preface this by saying I've got a BABIP Primer due out in the very near future -- keep in mind that speedy players can drive BABIP, and with it batting average, simply by their ability to leg out infield grounders. So I disagree that Escobar's regression will be "pretty serious"; you can see our projection which I'm in line with as a 2013 expectation.

Tim (St Paul)

Which rookie has the higher ceiling - Myers or Taveras?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:08 PM)

For what, 2013? Long-term? Specific categorical targets? I think the answer is Myers, primarily because he should make his big-league debut sooner of the two, but I'd argue that if we knew both players were to reach the bigs as everyday players around May 1 -- as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper did in 2012 -- I'll take Taveras, thank you very much. I think he'll rake right from the start.

Chad (San Jose)

Do you think Salty will get enough at bats to give me his 25 homers?...I can live with the average if I can get that homer production at catcher.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:09 PM)

No, I really don't. David Ross is vastly superior defender who covers Saltalamacchia's weak side, and I cannot see how the Red Sox can justify a breakdown much different from 400/250 in PAs (Salty gets the larger number).

Alex (Austin)

Chase Headley seems crazy underranked to me. Even with the park factors and lineup, isn't he a tier or two above the Aramis Ramirez type?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:10 PM)

His HR/FB%, especially at Petco and in the second half, was completely absurd. Obviously will regress. That said, the smaller dimensions at Petco are a plus, so I don't see him going completely in the tank. I think he's in the tier right above Aramis.

avey (oregon)

Tristan, tell me why Billy Butler CAN'T hold a top-5 spot at 1B for the season? Or why he WILL?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:14 PM)

Whether he fits the classification of "top five" depends upon whether you count Buster Posey, who almost everyone will use at catcher instead of first base, at the position. If you exclude Posey, Butler's in my top five.The reason is that Butler is one of the most stable .300-hitting, 25-homer candidates in baseball, formerly a doubles-hitting machine who bumped up the power last year fueled by a HR/FB% increase (and into a fair-to-repeat range at that).

Mike D (Lawn Gisland)

dynasty league question: should I give up Tommy Hanson and Addison Reed to acquire Victor Martinez?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:15 PM)

Yes, unless for some reason closers have enhanced value in your format.

Zack (New York)

Will Johnny Cueto finally regress to his underlying numbers, or is he now just an outlier who will continue to defy logic and reason?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:17 PM)

I'm not sure how I see his underlying numbers making Cueto a total fluke. He has made tremendous strides in terms of his command -- and let's point out that his walk rate has dropped in every big-league year -- and even gained a bit of K potential, too. I just don't see him regressing. I think it's an unfair characterization, and think he's a borderline top-20 SP, though top-20 is still very, very good.

El Gorgo (Pitt)

Somehow this crazy Atlanta rotation is going to be really good again. Is Maholm a big part of why? 1.24 whip, 15 wins?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:19 PM)

I'm pro-Maholm because of what he has done to narrow his righty/lefty splits. He's a 50-plus-percent ground-baller, too, and couple those skills and I'd call him a nice, late-round roster filler in mixed, and certainly a mid-rounder in NL-only.

Chuck (PA)

In my league, VMart is not C eligible. He has to catch 5 games this season in order to get C elgibility. When do you think he will gain eligibility?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:19 PM)

He won't.

Joel (Stanwood, WA)

What round is the earliest that a pitcher should be drafted?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:20 PM)

Second.

Tim (Boston)

Am I the only one that doesn't understand why Trumbo is going crazy low? Granted, he's tailed off in the second half of the past two seasons dramatically, but he's so good in the first half and you have to think his second halves will only get better. I'm all in.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:22 PM)

I'm not sure why he is; he's right about at 100th overall for me, which is quite good yet accounts for some of his late-season struggles as well as the batting-average risk. I see Trumbo as 30 homers in the bank, and in that lineup that might mean 100 RBIs easy.

Jon (Bozeman, MT)

Tristan, do you think that Ruggiano is a good speculative final draft pick? What do you expect from him this year?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:23 PM)

As a "speculative final draft pick," yes, absolutely. I'm also on board with his being a nice single-digit dollar buy in NL-only, based on his prospects of double-double homers/steals. Ruggiano is in his 30s, so don't expect any huge breakthroughs, but I think that, given the at-bats, he might belt 20 homers and swipe 12 bags.

Tom (Bath)

21 round draft....12 team league....is Zunino a reasonable 21st round reach?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:26 PM)

In an AL-only league? Sure. Mike Zunino -- Seattle catching prospect nabbed in the 2012 first round, for those unfamiliar with the name -- is in camp and could, with a strong spring, move his way into the midseason call-up class for 2013. But let's not forget how long catchers usually take to adapt at the big-league level -- Jesus Montero, one man ahead of him on his own team, as good an example as any -- so Zunino is smarter left to in-season waivers, tracked closely in the high minors early in the year, in standard mixed.

Alex (Philly)

Tristan, which starting pitchers (outside of your top 30 pitcher rankings) do you think will be on many of your own personal fantasy rosters?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:29 PM)

The minute I answer this question, I'll be guaranteed not to get a single one of these guys. Not that I'd dodge it! Guys I know I'll have on a good share of teams: Brandon Morrow, Anibal Sanchez, Jonathon Niese, Jeff Samardzija, Phil Hughes, Homer Bailey, Jason Vargas, Paul Maholm.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:30 PM)

And, yay, then I just see now on Baseball Tonight that Hughes has a bulging disc in his back. I'll check into that, not about to panic or remove him from that list, but it shows how this stuff is going to change every second until Opening Night on March 31.

Brown (TX)

In a roto league with large teams, what's the best way to figure out a good number for innings cap for starting pitchers? Is there a good rule of thumb?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:31 PM)

I don't care for innings cap in the slightest, but I understand the desire for commissioners to have them if they're in leagues where streaming is a valid strategy. I'd advise not capping any team at beneath between 180-200 frames per active pitching slot. Frankly, I say 200. That's an entire staff of only starters, yet not affording the flexibility to stream every day.

Anton (Wellington, Fl)

Do you think Arizona gave up on Bauer too soon? I've been picking him up with my last round pick in 12 team mixed...thanks

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:34 PM)

Yes. Certainly there are valid questions about his command and his approach to the game, but the kid's just so young with so much talent, it's absurd for people to be running for the hills after only a couple of big-league starts. I'd be happy to stash him on the cheap in AL-only, maybe even in deep mixed.

JOHNSON (LA)

Is a league with QS and BB a decent 6x6, or is your 6x6 better?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:36 PM)

I paid careful attention to categorical balance with my 6x6, so I'm going to stick by it, but I don't have a problem with walks being added as the sixth hitter category. I <i>do</i>, however, question the need for both wins and quality starts in a Rotisserie league. I'd say "that's redundant," except it's not; it's a category that rewards quality starting pitcher and another that rewards it less and has a "crapshoot" factor for relievers. Go QS and Holds, if you're going to do that.

Phil (Ottawa)

Hector Santiago: does he make it into the rotation this year? He finished well as a starter last year. Shouldn't he jump over Quintana, or ill CWS trade Floyd?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:37 PM)

I think he should be given a chance to, yes, and if I'm speculating late in AL-only, I'm taking Santiago over Quintana.

Luc (Arkansas)

So to clarify from earlier, Victor Martinez has catching eligibility in ESPN leagues right?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:38 PM)

Correct.

Jeremy (NJ)

Is it possible to put a projection on Melky Cabrera, or does the PED suspension make it impossible to know what 2013 will bring for him? Would you keep him for $5 in a $275 cap keeper league?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:40 PM)

I think you effectively have to project him as the player he was before the suspension, but if you prepare your own projections using a regression calculator on batted balls (as my system does), feel free to lean on the regression factors a little harder. I had a lot to do with Melky's projection; ours is about dead-on to how I feel about him.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:41 PM)

Also, $5 in a $275 cap is a keep for me.

Barney (St Louis)

What is your opinion on replacing SV with SVHD (Saves + Holds) to give middle relievers more value?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:41 PM)

I'm fine with that but I prefer simplicity wherever possible. It needs to be easily tracked with live scoring capability.

Jon (Seattle)

How do you value Javier Baez in a dynasty league? As a owner whose team is about to hit its stride, do I dish him for upgrades now or hold tight with the idea that he may be the next top 10 prospect?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:42 PM)

I don't think he's close enough to afford patience if you can win in 2013. Shop him now for the rental pieces to put you over the top.

Will (Long Beach)

14 Team Keeper League - Pick 1: Wil Myers, Billy Hamilton, or Adam Eaton? Who will have the best 2013?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:43 PM)

Best <i>2013</i>? Eaton. Can't see how he doesn't make the team, he can hit for a respectable average and he'll contribute a solid steals total.

Rob (Frankfort, IL )

I see you listed Homer Bailey as one of the pitchers you are targeting...Can he have a big time break out season and finally live up to the talent scouts were drooling over years ago???

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:45 PM)

I'll say no, because I think scouts were raving that he was a future Cy Young award winner, but I see him topping out as something between a 2/3 big-league starter. Bailey has the slider to get K's and he's becoming more and more ground-ball oriented, so I see his arrow trending up, but his ballpark is almost assuredly going to keep him out of the top 25 starters even if he has a breakthrough year. I just think he's on the rise, so of those outside my top 30, I'd be very happy to get him.

JOHNSON (LA)

Interesting take Tristan. Ever thought about posting top 300 ranks yearly for your 6x6 setup?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:47 PM)

I hadn't, but a couple people in the chat have asked that. I think I'd want to see that it's a sustainable format -- as in a sizable number of people play it -- before doing that. Formulating a detailed top 300 -- I refuse to short-cut it -- takes time.

Brandon (Cincinnati)

late round SPs? beyond those that you are listed...

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:49 PM)

OK, here we go:Marco Estrada, Shelby Miller, Alex Cobb, Chris Tillman, Wily Peralta, Dillon Gee.

Rob (Philly)

Most homers in 2013: Beltran, Willingham, or Reddick?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:50 PM)

I say it's Willingham. Best mix of skills and the ballpark that plays to his power. (Yes, Target Field is actually good for right-handed power to left and left-center.)

Chad (Maine)

How do you come up with your rankings?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:52 PM)

Projections using a three-year weight as well as batted-ball regression, then any manual tweaks as I see fit. I also change them fairly regularly as I gain new information about each player.

Bill (Kentucky)

What do you think of Dan Straily?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:52 PM)

I think he probably needs a bit more time in Triple-A but the Athletics can't exactly afford him that much; I prefer him to A.J. Griffin but fantasy owners for 2013 are speculating almost entirely on Straily's strikeout ability. Think AL-only late-rounder.

Brandon (St Louis)

You worried at all about King Felix elbow? Or more thinking its just team-based protection for a long contract?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:55 PM)

I'm about equally worried about Felix Hernandez as I was about CC Sabathia at this time a year ago; remember that Sabathia had contract language added to his extension regarding injuries a winter ago. I ranked Sabathia my No. 12 starting pitcher for 2012, and I'll stress that I think Felix Hernandez is a noticeably more valuable fantasy pitcher today than Sabathia was one calendar year ago.

Roy Hobbs (New York Knights)

H2H Keeper ?-- Need to pick 2 of 5. My Options = Holliday (keep @ 4th Rd value), Machado (26th Rd value), Ellsbury (7th Rd value), Chapman (25th) OR Yadier Molina (17th Rd)? Thoughts? Thanks THC!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:57 PM)

I think Molina and Machado are pretty much no-brainers, much as I hate to lose Chapman for that price.

Bob (STL)

What are your feeling on Darin Ruf? Will he get 400 abs this year?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:59 PM)

I wish the Phillies would give him a chance, but Delmon Young's arrival probably prevents Ruf from getting as many as 400 at-bats. Ruf might have to bide his time in the minors, but I'd say based upon raw power potential he's well worth targeting in the late rounds in NL-only. Think 250 PAs and still with 10-HR potential.

joe (nyc)

Keeper Help!! Keep Bautisa or J Upton. H2H points league, no limit on keepers.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (3:59 PM)

Upton for me. The safer of the two, for one.

Adam (Tenn)

Billy Hamilton fantasy impact this year? Yes or no?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (4:00 PM)

I say anyone who drafts Hamilton this season has no right expecting anything more than two months' action or contributions <i>only</i> in the stolen base department. I'm not targeting him, but I sure will be in 2014.

Ben Hamm (Boston)

Would you be OK with Matt Moore being your 2nd-drafted SP in a mixed league if you were confident that your offense was strong?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (4:00 PM)

Yes, absolutely.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (4:01 PM)

OK, time to wrap things up for today. Thanks for all your questions, and sorry if I couldn't get to yours. Take care everyone!