What to expect here in 2018

It’s been an exciting few weeks in baseball, what with Giancarlo Stanton lining up his appearances on late night TV and Shohei Ohtani being fitted with mouse ears. Bum elbow? Ha!

Here at RonShandler.com, I’ve been spending a bunch of time with BABS, usually late nights over dinner with a bottle of fine wine. My wife, Sue, has been joining us on occasion as well, because she buys into the whole relationship thing. It’s not kinky. Much. But I digress.

BABS continues to evolve. This website will see some shifting of direction too. “Recalibration” is a good word to describe the changes to both. The following is what you can expect from BABS, and what your membership to this website will bring you, in 2018:

BABS Recalibration

In 2017, we saw the continuation of some extreme statistical trends in Major League Baseball. Left alone, we might have ended up with spring draft lists containing only (P+) batters and (K+) pitchers. The positioning of the bars has changed so BABS had to be adjusted. These tweaks (and they are just tweaks) have been applied to the final 2017 ratings and will be carried over to 2018.

Speaking of 2018 ratings, I expect to publish the first set on or around January 19.

The ranking of asset groups has also been reevaluated. There is plenty of playing time variability within the Full- and Mid-time PT designations; BABS already accounts for that. However, the escalating frequency of injuries turning full-timers into mid-timers, and the resulting new opportunities turning mid-timers into full-timers, create just as much variability between the two designations. So the rankings lists will now list the full-timers and mid-timers of a single asset group successively. This change has already been applied to the current database reports.

Note that the reports also now have a slightly different look. We’ve added some space between each asset group so they are easier to see. The reports are still being tweaked so you may notice additional changes in the coming weeks.

BABS in RotoLab

I know the BABS spreadsheets can be a bit cumbersome to use during your drafts and many of you have asked for a software application. I could have invested in the re-creation of the wheel, but developer Merv Pate offered to incorporate BABS into his amazing RotoLab product. It was an offer I could not refuse.

For those who have never experienced RotoLab at your draft, there is nothing like it. Read about it here. I started working with Merv back when I was at BaseballHQ.com about 15 years ago, and he has bought into the BABS concept with fervor. To be honest, the BABS reporting and functional capabilities he has incorporated into RotoLab far surpass what we have on this site. Check it out:


The best part? If you are a member of RonShandler.com and also own RotoLab, access to the BABS module is FREE. Members here get a free “unlock code” to access the module in RotoLab.

You can pre-order RotoLab on their site right now. The 2018 edition will be available sometime in January. You can also get RotoLab at a steep discount if you subscribe to BaseballHQ.com. Lots of ways to do this and save some cash. Yes, it may seem a bit confusing, and perhaps a bit incestuous, but for us, it’s just family.

Minor League BABS

Admittedly, one weakness of BABS is that she considers all low skilled, low-playing time players as equally replaceable, interchangeable, fungible and bad. For fantasy leaguers in deep-deep leagues, such as 50-round drafts and dynasty leagues, it is tough to tell one crappy player from another.

One way to ferret out possible value is to review each player’s minor league record, especially using major league equivalent statistics. Next month, I will be publishing two files – batters and pitchers – with complete BABS ratings for nearly all 2017 Double-A and Triple-A players. They’ll be presented both alphabetically as well as sorted by asset groups.


Last summer, I began a search for a new report card for BABS, essentially to find a way to measure her true value. Since the goal of the entire system is to help us better construct winning rosters, it seems to make sense that the litmus test should somehow be built around a specific game experience.

This winter I will introduce a possible format, one that measures the value of BABS within the context of our current game’s statistical environment. I will also be setting up some BABS Baseball Leagues – BABLs – and invite some of you to test out the concept. Look for an article on BABL sometime next month.

Membership to RonShandler.com

All of the above additions, enhancements and changes have something in common – they are all focused on your drafts. This is part of a deliberate effort to shift our focus to the time of year when BABS has the most intrinsic value. It makes sense. While some of you do find use in the updates during the season, BABS is really designed to be a long-view tool best used for your draft.

Another thing in common – all those items are free. And a one-year membership will remain at $19.95.

I’ve expanded, enhanced and front-loaded the content because I am going to be taking something away, unfortunately. I plan to reduce the amount of writing I do on the site during the season. My weekly ESPN articles will remain – you’ll continue to have access to my behind-the-wall Insider content from March through the All-Star Break – as will the monthly BABS database updates, but I will be cutting back on additional writing during that time.

Why? Two reasons.

  1. Most of what I have to say these days will be in my ESPN columns. They typically contain analyses driven by current events. I reserve more innovative stuff for this site, and for now, BABS is innovation enough.
  1. On Sunday, I mark the completion of six decades on this planet. I have already accomplished the first thing someone reaching this milestone is supposed to do – I’ve already moved to Florida. But before I am forcibly dragged into retirement, there are at least three books that I want to write. Freeing up my time during the season will help me push forward on that goal.

I don’t expect to disappear completely, though. If something strikes me but isn’t a fit for ESPN.com, I’ll post it to the site. And RonShandler.com won’t be completely devoid of new content, because…

Writers Wanted

…things still need to be said and ideas still need a platform.

I’d like to maintain an in-season schedule of two articles per week – my ESPN piece and one other – from April through the All-Star Break, and one weekly – or thereabouts – through the end of the season.

So I am offering the opportunity for two or three of you to write for RonShandler.com. For the most part, I am looking for BABS-related material. It could be some type of player analysis, strategy or conceptual, but there needs to be a BABS tie-in. In all, possibly 24 articles over six months – April to September. There may be a few sprinkled in before Opening Day. Maybe.

REQUIREMENTS: You absolutely have to be a solid writer. Good grammar is godly. You have to know where the Spell Check icon is. You need to be concise and cut to the chase because I’ll be giving you only 800-1,000 words to get your point across. (Note: this article is over 1,200 words to this point so anything you write has to be far shorter than this.) If I have to spend a bunch of time editing your work, I won’t.

I’m not a hardass; there are a handful of BaseballHQ.com writers I hired before the turn of the century who are still there (and I think they still like me). But I am a stickler for writing quality.

The compensation will be nominal – because I have not created an empire like at BaseballHQ.com – and include free membership to the site. But it’s a chance for a few of you to have an outlet for your ideas. Maybe it will lead to something bigger, but probably not here. If you’re a star, I’ll refer you. I know people.

If you are interested, send an email to baseball@ronshandler.com. Write 1-2 paragraphs that tell me why I should choose you and show off your writing style. One-to-two paragraphs. Make it good. Deadline is December 31. I’ll email my decisions some time in January.

I’m done now.

Merry Holidays!


37 thoughts on “What to expect here in 2018

  1. rob fleming

    BABS & RotoLab…Life is good!

  2. Tim McCarthy

    Merry Holidays indeed! I just got my first present. Peace to you and Sue and thanks for your work. Makes the season more fun for me.

  3. Tim Johns

    Great news, I have been hoping Merv would fancy BABS.

  4. Adin Miller

    The BABS / Rotolab video appears to show the Mac version. Yes? (Please say yes!!)

    1. shandler Post author

      I’m not sure what the video shows, but it doesn’t matter. RotoLab is available for both Windows and Mac.

      1. Adin Miller

        Yes. I ask because some features on the PC version were not available on the Mac one.

        1. Merv Pate

          Hi Adin, the video is from the new PC version (same code base as the Mac, and functionally identical). If you want to use BABS, you have to either use the Mac/PC version. The old classic PC version will be around for at least one more year, but it does not have BABS. I actually use the new PC version as my daily driver now, and with BABS added, even another reason. The Mac/PC version is pretty much caught up with the old Windows version, and there are some features that are not in the classic PC version. 2018 will be a bit of a transition year.

          1. Adin Miller

            Thanks as always, Merv!

  5. Patrick ONeill

    What an awesome Christmas present Ron. Thanks for the updates. I’m very excited about the RotoLab software, just preordered it now.

    Looking forward to 2018!

    Happy belated birthday as well.


  6. Brad Crenshaw

    Hi Ron—

    Your continued thoughts about BABS are, as always, interesting and provocative. I am particularly excited by the Minor League data, which may be an additional resource with which to cope with the train wreck of injuries over the course of the year. The BABL league is also attractive. I’m assuming there will be a limit to the number of teams, and/or the number of leagues. How might a person be invited to join a league?

    Happy Holidays!


    1. shandler Post author

      Not sure how I’ll do that just yet. Won’t start until next month anyway. Stay tuned.

  7. Patrick ONeill

    Ron, on the calibration I have a question about grouping the Full-Time and Mid-Time players in each asset group together. Easier to explain with an example. Is a Mid-Time players with say P+,AV more valuable than a FT player with p,a? Last year’s list would have had the Full-Timers p,a group just ahead of the Mid-Timer P+, AV group. Now it looks as if I should consider the Mid-Timer group more valuable as they have moved up towards the top of the list.

    1. shandler Post author

      Valid question. What the new rankings now do is increase the focus on skills at the expense of playing time. But I think that is what we need to do. By forcing the (F,p,a) asset group ahead of (M,P+,AV), we are saying that we are certain that a given player is going to get more playing time, and that additional playing time is going to make him more valuable, even with lesser skills. In terms of Runs and RBIs, perhaps that is true, but BABS 2.0 is not sold that we should be drawing those conclusions.

      The new asset group rankings are going to force us to use more critical thinking skills in the roster construction process. We are going to have to spend more effort considering how much to incorporate a player’s Liabilities into his playing time expectations. A (F,p,a) player should be drafted higher than a (M,p,a) player, but a (F,p,a | INJ, EX) player probably falls into more of a grey area. It’s possible that a comparable less-risky Mid-timer and perhaps even a player in a lesser asset group might be a better buy.

      I wish life was more black or white, but BABS loooooves the shades of grey.

  8. Chris Candido

    Love everything that is happening with BABS, but is there any chance that the tweaks that were applied to the final 2017 BABS ratings are not all correct? For example, looking back at 2016 I could sort all players by their PX rating and see the clear transition from P+ to PW to p skill groupings. When I sort the 2017 players by PX and look at their BABS ratings it is a mix of all three BABS ratings as you move down the PX column.

    A couple of examples:
    Two players very close in 2017 PX ratings are Brandon Belt (147) and Yasmany Tomas (146), but Belt has a P+ rating while Tomas has a p rating.

    Jose Abreu goes from a PX of 103 in 2016 to 140 in 2017 but has a p BABS rating in both years.

    1. shandler Post author

      The calculations used to create the ratings include several variables. PX is just one of them. The tweaks affected the benchmarks that separate p from PW from P+, so I would expect there to be shifts. And the tweaks were applied to 2017 onward, so I would expect there to be differences from 2016.

      1. Chris Candido

        Thank you!

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  10. Charles Miller

    Ron ,
    Can you define the (ex.) AV versus the AV*. I guess what I am saying is what is the * significance behind a rating?

    1. shandler Post author

      The asterisk indicates players who have high walk rates, and thus elevated on base averages.

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  15. Thomas Della Croce

    Ron, any idea when the BABS report with tiers (dark green, medium green, etc.) will be available? Great work, as always. Thanks.

    1. shandler Post author

      Trying to wait out more free agent signings so it has more relevance. Feb 16, maybe?

      1. Thomas Della Croce

        Makes perfect sense. I was just curious. Thanks for the great work, Ron.

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