Keepers ‘on the margins’

With the 2010 fantasy season in the rear view mirror, it’s time to focus in on the keeper market. The scale and scope of publicly available keeper information can be difficult to swallow at times. Often, experts will make “keep” or “cut” recommendations for some kind of generic one-size-fits-all league. If several different writers are consulted, it quickly becomes clear that these generic leagues can vary in subtle but important ways. The advice often amounts to “I like this player” or “I don’t like this player.”

The problem with this is immediately clear: only a certain subset of the readership is targeted with the recommendation. What’s more, there are many players who fall into some kind of gray area—under certain formats they’re prime keepers and in others they are either mediocre assets or clear cuts. The goal of the On The Margins series will be to highlight key players in this gray area in order to determine what type of leagues they should be kept in.

The execution, as planned, is straight forward. Players who are highlighted in the series will be analyzed. A key portion of this will fall to Brian Cartwright’s Oliver projection system, which is available to THT Forecasts subscribers. Since this is fantasy baseball and few leagues are based on linear weights, other factors like strength of lineup or team defense will be considered.

After the analysis, conclusions will be made as to what types of leagues the player should be kept in. This is where the reader’s input would be helpful. As it’s currently envisioned, the advice will be presented in a table with keeper cost type as the columns and league size as the rows. Basically, there will be six rows with options for 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20 teams. A similar matrix can be provided upon request for those in NL/AL only leagues. The columns are the tricky part. They should cover a wide swathe of keeper systems without being tediously detailed. Below are some tentative categories.

-3 keeps, no cost
-5 keeps, no cost
-10 keeps, no cost
-cost: draft round – 2
-cost: Y! rank 2010
-cost: Y! rank 2011
-cost: auction cost +$5

Including a category for contracts seems difficult under this simple framework, but suggestions are encouraged. Like AL/NL only, the simplest way to treat for this is to make this available upon reader request.

That leaves one final detail: the quality of the recommendation. Because every team has its own unique set of circumstances, a simple keep or cut designation is probably not the best way to go. Instead five options will be used: Definitely Keep, Probably Keep, Neutral, Probably Cut, Definitely Cut.

Now that the basic project is detailed, here’s how you can help. First, has any ‘common’ format been ignored entirely? Additionally, is there a way to improve the proposed presentation? Do you think a different recommendation system is more appropriate, perhaps a 1-10 rating with 10 equaling Definitely Keep? This series is for you so don’t be shy about commenting.

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  1. Brian said...

    Could you consider including leagues where there is no limit to the number of keepers you can bring forward?  Obviously in this type of leagues, escalating contracts make it impossible to keep everyone and many leagues would have different escalators.  In our league for instance player salaries tend to increase at a blanket 10% rate each year.  Perhaps as a base you could use what the market rate would likely have been at the beginning of the 2010 season?


  2. Bob said...

    How about showing the max dollar amount at which the player should be kept, assuming the typical $260 auction day limit?  This number will vary depending on the number of teams in the league.  If we have the player rostered for less, then we know he’s more of a “probably keep”, while if his salary is higher, we’ll know he’s more of a “probably cut”.

  3. Alan said...

    I am not sure if this would have entered as a variable in one of your formats, but in the keep X players at no cost, if you Keep X-1, you get a pick at the top of the draft from the remaining players before your first round pick.  That would decrease the opportunity cost of letting a keeper go.

  4. Brad Johnson said...

    Good stuff guys, keep it coming.


    My main concern is how to implement that. Because contract leagues tend to have wildly varying rules, it makes it difficult. I think the best way to address that is for anyone in a contracts league to leave a comment or email me with their league specific information.


    Yes, the auction format stuff should (and will) definitely be expressed as a “keep at this price and under.” In fact, rather than use multiple snake draft columns, I can simplify things by making it a “keep at this round or later.”


    Good point, I will address that when relevant.

  5. Kevin said...

    Great concept, however, how will this factor in any inflation heading into the auction?  As we all know, player x who has a salary of $20 could be neutral until an inflation of 30% is factored in and he becomes a probably to definitely keep player.

    Also, what about position scarcity?  Could/should that be factored in?

  6. Brad Johnson said...

    Positional scarcity is my #1 concern in fantasy baseball. Trust me, that will get factored in.

    I’m not quite sure how I’m going to handle inflation yet. I’d like to leave that mostly up to the reader.

    I’ll be sure people are aware that it’s not factored in.

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