Why HQ?

by Ron Shandler, Founder of BaseballHQ.com

Analysts have been trying forever to accurately project how several thousand ballplayers are going to perform each year. Elaborate systems have been designed to manipulate the minutia with amazing precision, yet come October, we still hear the ritual cries of "pitching is a crapshoot!" and "it's all luck!"

The reason analysts complain about the lack of predictability is that they are trying to project performance using gauges that are loaded with external noise. But many of the challenges we face in this effort can be overcome by taking a more "components-based approach" to player analysis.

That's what we do here at BaseballHQ.com. We break performance down into its component parts and reassemble those base skills into more projectable entities. Then we apply the process to win fantasy baseball leagues. And the best part -- it's simple, logical and intuitive. The credo is simple: Draft skills, not stats.

1. It's not about batting average, it's about seeing the ball and making contact. 
We target hitters based on elements such as their batting eye (walks to strikeouts ratio) and how often they make contact. We then combine these components into an "expected batting average." By comparing each hitter's actual batting average to how he should be performing, we can draw conclusions about the future.

2. It's not about home runs, it's about power. 
Home runs are not the only measure of power. A truer measure has to include doubles, triples and the tendency to hit fly balls, as well as the pure ability to hit the ball hard. Only then can we track real trends and see who might be primed for a breakout or letdown.

3. It's not about ERA, it's about getting the ball over the plate and keeping it in the park. 
Forget ERA. You want to draft pitchers who walk few batters (control), strike out many (dominance) and succeed at both in tandem (command). You also want pitchers who keep the ball on the ground (because home runs are bad). All of this translates into an "expected ERA" that you can use to compare to a pitcher's actual performance.

4. It's never about wins. 
Winning ballgames is less about pitching skill and more about offensive support. As such, projecting wins is nearly futile and valuing hurlers based on their gaudy win history is dangerous. Focus on skills and the wins will come.

5. It's not about saves, it's about skill and opportunity. 
While the highest skilled pitchers have the best potential to succeed as closers, they still have to be given the ball with the game on the line in the 9th inning... and that is a decision left to others. Over the past decade, about 40% of relievers drafted for saves failed to hold the role for the entire season. The lesson: Don't take chances. There will always be saves in the free agent pool.

6. Luck is no excuse. 
Research has shown that there are some elements of luck that can be measured. We'll show you how. And since luck tends to even out over time, it becomes a powerful tool to predict the future.

The process starts by looking at last year's numbers; those are a natural point of reference. Then, by creating a structure, sequence and organization to these component stats, we can paint a picture that can be used to validate our observations, analyze their relevance and project a likely future direction.

The final step is assimilating all this knowledge into a strategy for winning your fantasy games. Player projections are only half the story. Leveraging the marketplace at your draft table is the other half.

We've been doing this for nearly three decades. It works. Need more evidence? Check out our track record here and here, and decide for yourself.