Tuesday, October 20, 2009
A question for discussion on rankingsPosted by Paul Singman at 5:00am
Everybody prepares for drafts differently in the offseason. On one extreme there are the people who go all-out, creating models to predict player performance or using some other mathematically involved method to create their rankings. And on the other extreme there are the people who do very little to prepare, at most maybe purchase a magazine and have it open next to them while they draft.
In the middle of those two extremes are the people who spend some time creating personal rankings, probably from looking at last year's stats—making adjustments based on age, playing time, and luck—and then creating a rough prediction for each player's stats for the upcoming season. Today, I have a question for those people in the middle about how they come up with their rankings.
Do you think that when making your rankings if you looked solely at the players' stats without any names attached, your rankings would look different than if you made them as you usually do, with names?
My feeling is that most people would answer yes to the above question. Some people at the beginning of 2009 just had this feeling about Matt Kemp and they knew that he would have a good year. Obviously these people were rewarded for bumping up Kemp in their rankings in this example, but had they felt the same way about Chris Iannetta then it would not have worked out so well. This leads me to my next question:
Do you think it is harmful to allow your instinctive feelings about certain players affect your player rankings?
Some will say "No, that is not such a bad thing" while others will argue vehemently against allowing irrational feelings on certain players take effect. Personally, I suggest that you use player names along with their stats to make rankings, despite knowing they would look different if the names were not attached.
Some people might call allowing a player's name to affect your opinion of him an irrational bias, but I do not believe it necessarily is. There are many subtleties that are unique to each player's situation—such as playing time or contract situation—that the numbers do not capture. By associating a player's name with his situation and then adjusting your projections slightly based on feelings, I do not believe you are hurting your team's chances of winning by any significant degree. You might even be helping.
So do not feel guilty about sliding James Loney up a few slots in your rankings if you feel he is in for a breakout 2010 campaign. For the most part you should have statistical backing to your rankings, but there is no problem in indulging in a few of those feelings of yours while making them.
Paul has been managing fantasy baseball teams for many seasons and writing for THT Fantasy over the past three years. He is currently a student at UPenn welcomes readers' thoughts at his email here or in the comments below.