I’m going to try something a little different this week, and discuss my daily contest strategy for Wednesday’s games in detail. I think that should give those who haven’t tried the games yet a better feel for what’s involved in them, and prove useful for those who are trying to plan their Wednesday contest lineups. If feedback is positive, this is something I could do on a regular basis.
At each position, I’ll list the top five healthy players according to my ratings, along with their prices in Draftbug. Snapdraft’s scoring is VERY similar, so the same ratings should apply, although the pricing varies enough that you could end up with a very different lineup using the same ratings. In any case, the thought process for making selections would be the same regardless of what daily contest format you’re playing.
A few people have asked whether I’d be willing to share the “guts” of my ratings spreadsheet here. This is probably about as close as I’m willing to get right now. However, if people email me at
I’m happy to discuss specific issues in statistical modeling for daily contests.
For each position, I’ll list my ratings for the top five players, as well as any others that I seriously considered putting in my lineup for the day. Depending on the size of the contest and the buy-in, the salary cap varies between contests at Draftbug (unlike Snapdraft, which always uses the same salary cap), so I’m going to use a cap of 1500 points, which is more or less in the middle of the range. Keep in mind that the ratings listed are specifically for Wednesday’s games, based on factors such as park, opponents, platoon advantage, and home field advantage.
1 Lee 13.8 279 2 Nolasco 13.1 209 3 Pettitte 12.3 100 4 Lilly 12.2 189 5 Outman 10.8 10
For pitchers, the points projection listed is for the game as a whole. In general, starting pitchers have the widest spread in projected points, so I often spend the salary on my top-rated pitcher. I can find other places to save salary that won’t have as much impact. This is an unusually weak day for starting pitchers, and Cliff Lee (at home) against Buehrle and the White Sox is my top-rated pitcher. He may actually be even better than my rating suggests, because good control pitchers aren’t currently given the favorable innings pitched projections they deserve in my statistical model. Despite the high price, and the unlucky start he had to his season, he’s a pretty easy choice for me.
1 Rivera 3.9 186 2 Wood 3.6 126 3 Papelbon 3.5 210 4 Broxton 3.5 138 5 Hanrahan 3.3 78
I’m going to go with Wood for my relief pitcher. An argument could also be made for Rivera (who has the highest rating) or Hanrahan (who is substantially cheaper). One thing to note here is that Broxton’s price will probably need revising (upwards) the next time prices are adjusted, which happens every few weeks. At his current price, he’s a pretty big bargain, since he’s often my top-rated reliever. He’s one of the few players who tends to get picked by a high percentage of players at his current price level.
1 Mauer .78 174 2 Soto .71 162 3 McCann .68 186 4 Iannetta .67 120 5 Martin .67 174
For hitters, my ratings are listed per at-bat. Ideally, my model would incorporate average batting order position, and the team's on-base percentage. For now, I'm simply assuming about five plate appearances per game for all players, and keeping in mind that players who bat higher in the order are likely to outperform those who don't. The two reasonable choices at catcher today look like Mauer and Iannetta. I’ll go with Mauer, but if I was in a contest with a cap lower than 1500, I’d probably save some of my salary room by using Iannetta. At catcher, there’s always a risk that your players will take a day off, so the real key is figuring out who isn’t going to skip the game and score no points at all.
1 Pujols .93 324 2 Morneau .81 240 3 Hoffpauir .78 28 4 Helton .72 78 5 Pena .72 174
Today is a fairly typical day for first basemen, with Pujols rated the highest by a lot. However, his high price makes him an impractical choice on many days. Hoffpauir is treated very favorably by the ZIPS projections that I’m basing my daily calculations on. However, he’s the type of player (young and without much major league experience) where the various ratings systems tend to disagree, and where ZIPS may not be as good as some of the others. More importantly, he’s not usually in the starting lineup, so he’s not a good option unless you can check the lineup before your picks "lock" for the day. Helton, on the other hand, is often a great cheap value, as his strengths are a good fit for the points scoring system, and he benefits from playing in Colorado half of the time.
1 Kinsler .81 246 2 Pedroia .78 234 3 Utley .77 252 4 Roberts .72 210 5 Matsui .71 96
Many days, one of the top three second basemen has such an edge that it’s not worth looking for cheaper alternatives. That’s because they’re not only good, but each plays in an extremely favorable home park. However, today Kaz Matsui is a good, cheap alternative. He benefits from playing at Coors field against a bad pitcher (Jason Marquis). Marquis is a particularly good opponent for players with some speed, because he’s very easy to steal bases against.
1 Wright .81 306 2 Jones .80 210 3 Figgins .79 156 4 Atkins .76 168 5 Rodriguez .75 300
With a number of relatively evenly matched choices at third base today, Figgins looks like the best value. One caveat here is that I’m still using the park factors for Shea Stadium and the old Yankee Stadium. I know that the early results seem to indicate that Yankee Stadium is now a much better hitters’ park, but I’m going to wait until there’s a little larger sample size before I make the changes in my model. So I may be cheating Wright, and especially Rodriguez.
1 Reyes .82 318 2 Ramirez .74 324 3 Theriot .73 126 4 Rollins .72 288 5 Tejada .71 144 M. Izturis .71 16
Theriot is a great value at shortstop today. He’s at home in a hitters park, which helps his rating. But the real kicker is that he’s up against Chris Young, who has been one of the very worst pitchers at preventing steals for years. This is one of the cases where using analysis of component statistics really helps. Instead of rating Young as a "good pitcher" across the board, the ratings reflect the fact that he’s a "good pitcher" against many hitters, but an "awful" one against good base stealers. I listed Izturis as an interesting bargain, but like Hoffpauir at first base, you should only use him if you'll be able to confirm that he’s in the lineup for the day.
1 Soriano .88 234 2 Lee .84 228 3 Crawford .80 222 4 Cruz .80 155 5 Beltran .79 234 Bradley .76 126 Hunter .75 150 Abreu .73 150 Spilborghs .71 36
With three outfield slots in the standard roster configuration, I find choosing outfielders to be more of an art than a science. Spilborghs is probably due for a price increase, as his low price reflects the lack of playing time he received last year. Cruz was one of the players adjusted upward in the last round of price changes, but he remains a good bargain when he’s home against weak pitchers. Bradley is also worth considering, as long as he’s not nursing a new injury or facing a suspension for anything.
I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts either via email or in the comments section, both about the specific picks for today's games, and about whether this type of article is useful or interesting.