ESPN: Lineup Protection

Here’s a sample from my Fantasy Insider column the latest issue of ESPN Magazine.

IT WON’T BE LONG BEFORE THIS season’s bum teams concede that they’re out of the playoff hunt and try to move a proven vet hitter to a contender for prospects. And that’s got you thinking deep thoughts, fantasy vulture thoughts. As in: An unsuspecting rival might let a guy like Royals DH Mike Sweeney go for a bargain price, not realizing that if he’s traded to a more formidable lineup, he’ll see more fat pitches, which will result in an offensive surge.

Oh yes, you’re playing the lineup-protection card.

There’s just one problem with your sneaky machinations: They’re totally misguided.

4 Responses “ESPN: Lineup Protection”

  1. Jonathan says:

    I posted this below, but it kinda fits here as well.
    I was wondering if the study (mentioned below – as well as the information in this article) controlled for the skill level of the pitcher. Particularly the fact that in a tight game a good manager will often use his best reliever(s) against the best hitters, in a bid to preserve a lead/keep a deficit small.
    I really haven’t thought about this all the way through, but if it could be demonstrated that they (the good hitters) face better quality pitchers more often than weaker hitters, then that in itself may be a good reason for the lower walk rates.
    I don’t know if I spelled that out as well as I’m seeing it in my head, but just wanted to mention it as something to think about…
    My thinking being that if good hitters did indeed hit more often against significantly better pitching, it would skew the results somewhat. At some point it becomes a chicken & egg argument (are the hitters good/poor because the pitchers they face are good/poor, or vice versa) that I know several writers have tackled, but it’s something where it’s hard to pin down the exact effect.

  2. JC says:


    We did control for pitcher quality.

  3. Telnar says:

    Another factor to consider is that fantasy rankings are mainly based on counting stats. Being in a better hitting lineup with the extra at bats and RBI opportunities that entails would benefit a player’s fantasy value even if his OBP and SLG were unchanged after the move.

  4. JC says:

    That is relevant, and I do discuss this in the article.