Thursday, June 20, 2013
The Roto Grotto: format-sensitive playersPosted by Scott Spratt at 3:54am
One of the bigger challenges for fantasy players—especially those who play in several leagues with different scoring rules—is allowing the scoring of a specific league to change your opinion on the value of a player. There is so much information and advice out there that it is easy to strip down all the things we hear into Player X is underrated. In general, that is not a mindset that will kill you, but some players see a dramatic difference in fantasy value with specific scoring rules.
Now that I can rank players from 2012 in roto scoring based on their total Z-scores, I wanted to see which players had the biggest discrepancies in their rankings in that format compared to a typical total points league. For the latter, I awarded hitters one point per total base, one point per run, RBI, walk, and stolen base, and I subtracted one point per caught stealing. For pitchers, I awarded three points per inning pitched, one point per strikeout, five points per win, and I subtracted one point per walk or hit allowed and two points per earned run allowed.
Since I built my Z-scores on per-game totals, I also added a qualifier that hitters must have played in 130 games and pitchers must have pitched in 27 games. I did so to avoid returning a list of players like Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria who are elite when healthy but missed significant time last season. Because of that, these player rankings are only of the qualified players.
First, here are the players who benefited most from roto scoring in 2012:
|Player||Roto Rk||Points Rk||Rk Diff||Wins||K||Saves||ERA||WHIP|
It is not a huge to surprise to see a top-10 half full of closers. After all, roto leagues give one-fifth of total weight to saves, a category that means much less in a league designed to attempt to mirror actual production and value.
For me, the other names are more interesting. There really are two archetypes of pitchers. There is the Stephen Strasburg, Jeff Samardzija, and Felix Doubront variety. They are all elite strikeout pitchers that suffered from some other limitation. For Strasburg, it was his innings cap. For Samadzija, it was his inability to record wins on a poor team. For Doubront, it was his elevated walk rate.
The other archetype is the Tim Hudson, Ivan Nova, and Gavin Floyd variety. They all won a high rate of their total games played. There will be a handful of pitchers each season that manage that feat, but they are far less predictable than strikeout-heavy guys.
Overall, pitchers are far more valuable relative to hitters in roto scoring compared to points leagues. Carlos Gomez is the lone hitter in the top-10, and you have to continue several more rounds to reach the next one (Ian Desmond). Gomez is more of an anomaly than anything. He managed to contribute heavily in home runs and stolen bases—19 and 37, respectively—but was held to 137 games played because of a DL-stint. He also sported a .260 average, which is higher than the power-speed guys that see the bigger boost in points leagues. If he provides any instruction, it’s look for guys with power and speed but reduced runs and RBI because of missed time, as those numbers will be there with an increase in playing time.
Next, here are the players who benefited most from total points scoring in 2012:
|Player||Roto Rk||Points Rk||Rk Diff||HR||SB||RBI||Runs||Average|
In contrast to the roto list, the top-10 of the total points list is all hitters. Because these players are all in the 70-150 range—which, remember, is only of hitters who played 130 or more games, so their actual rankings would be lower—none are stand-out players.
For the most part, they all follow the same formula, which is to produce a lot of runs and RBI relative to their power and speed. And, really, it seems to me that it is more about batting order than player quality. Players like Alonso, Pena, Lee, and Ackley all hit in the middle of their lineups, which they could do because of the lack of elite options on those teams. Meanwhile, players like Jhonny Peralta, Michael Young, and Daniel Murphy all benefitted from their presence in elite lineups.
Scott was named Newcomer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for his fantasy football writing at Pro Football Focus. In addition, he contributes to ESPN Insider as a research associate for Baseball Info Solutions. You can reach him on Twitter.