May 23, 2013
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Brent writes about a a head-to-head league:
“The categories are: (offense) runs, singles, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, walks, total bases, batting average, net stolen bases, (pitching) appearances, wins, losses, complete games, walks allowed, strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, quality starts, net saves.
There have been 30 trades made in the league to date. I was planning on shooting for very strong pitching, then trying to be competitive in runs, singles, triples, walks, batting average, and net stolen bases; winning 10-9 every week would be my goal. My trades include sending Jered Weaver for Pablo Sandoval and Rajai Davis (on May 15th), Ryan Howard for Joey Votto (May 23), Adrian Beltre and Gio Gonzalez for Ubaldo Jimenez and Jordan Walden (June 19) and Michael Pineda for Josh Johnson (June 19). I feel my offense is not constructed quite how I’d like.
C- J.P. Arencibia
1B- Joey Votto
2B- Gordon Beckham
3B- Pablo Sandoval
SS- Elvis Andrus
IF- Alex Gordon
LF- Rajai Davis
CF- Michael Bourn
RF- Domonic Brown
OF- Colby Rasmus
UTIL- Jason Bourgeois
Bench- Brett Lawrie
SP- Tim Lincecum
SP- Clayton Kershaw
RP- Joel Hanrahan
RP- Jordan Walden
P- Mike Adams
P- Tyler Clippard
P- Daniel Bard
Bench- Ubaldo Jimenez
Bench- Zack Greinke
Bench- Bud Norris
Bench- Ricky Nolasco
Bench- Carlos Villanueva
DL- Josh Johnson
DL- Johan Santana
Your league’s scoring system is crazy. In a typical 5x5 league, the home run is the only larded stat—the only stat the automatically counts for other stats even as it counts for its own stat.
Your league has tons of larded stats. Every hit counts for itself and in total bases (given their rarity, I’m guessing a triple is more valuable than a home run in your league). Complete games, quality starts and wins all have significant overlap.
A team could start a bunch of speedsters on offense and then a bunch of injured pitchers, produce nearly nothing for the week and still win seven categories (triples, net stolen bases, loses, walks allowed, ERA, WHIP, and net saves). So I see the temptation to go for a somewhat extreme strategy. Ultimately, I think you’ve missed a bit though.
The triples category is a teaser. Triples are so rare that it is tempting to think that you can lock away the category by ensuring that you get maybe just three per week. And indeed that’s probably the case. But you are giving up a lot to do it. Likewise for appearances.
Power hitters can be competitive with speedsters in the runs category, particularly when compared to an empty speedster like Davis. You’re handing your opponent home runs, RBI and probably total bases each week for only a near-guaranteed win in triples and net stolen bases (though lately some of your speedsters haven’t been playing much, so even there...).
The strategy of playing three great middle relievers is more interesting. You help yourself in appearances, ERA, WHIP and maybe strikeouts and walks allowed and very maybe losses. But you hurt yourself in wins, net saves (since these pitchers are more likely to ”blow a save” than get one), complete games, and quality starts.
Starting Grienke over, say, Clippard (or Walden, since he’s blowing plenty of saves these days as well) should improve almost all of your counting stats without necessarily harming your ERA or WHIP. I would also look to start Jimenez when match-ups are favorable.
Lastly, given your strategy, some of your trades “make sense.” You were going for speed and batting average and you also felt you had enough starting pitching since you were using middle relievers so widely. From a strategy-neutral perspective, most of these trades are disasters, though. Only getting Votto for Howard could be viewed as a really good trade for you.
I’m not trying to throw stones needlessly here, but this illustrates just how valuable it can be to other teams to find an owner who’s trying to play an extreme strategy and is willing to trade to do it.
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 7:20am (1) Comments
Thursday, June 30, 2011
All stats current through June 29.
Brand names are very powerful. Companies pay big money to develop them because they create loyalty and act as a shorthand signal for certain aspects and qualities. Brand-building is not a simple task; it is slow and costly.
However, once a brand-reputation is developed, it becomes "sticky." That is to say that once people have a certain perception of a brand, it is hard to shake that perception, even if the underlying realities no longer reflect the reputation.
This is why struggling companies (see Circuit City) are often able to sell off their brand name rights (and why other companies want to buy such), and it is also why once-popular or high-quality brand names often retain their "value" despite a drop in the quality of the signaled product (at least in the short, and often medium, term).
Because brand names are really social/commercial means, they are powerful communicative tools. They are also, however, a great source of inefficiency in buying value. It costs more money to get the information/do the research up front and in the short term, but in the long run the dollar cost on non-brand products tends to be substantially lower despite comparable value.
Take, for instance, batteries. It costs roughly $5.00 per four pack of AAA or AA Ultra Alkaline batteries by the brand names (Duracell, Enegergizer), while the generic Ultra Alkaline brand at Walgreens costs $2.99 for four of the same. Did you know, however, that Walgreens' batteries are made by one of the brand companies? Walgreens just pays to rebrand the batteries with its generic house label. Same production, different costs to consumer.
You need to do a little extra research to discover this, which itself is arguably a cost that offsets any short-term gains, but in the long run, this research pays off.
So what does this have to do with fantasy baseball? Like batteries, fantasy players build brand name reputations. We talk about certain players as being 20/20 guys, high-average hitters, etc.
These reputations usually reflect past production more than present/future production. How often do you hear someone say that player X has to bounce back? Sometimes that's are correct and current numbers are depressed by poor luck, but sometimes poor present production is also the byproduct of skill erosion or other declines in peripherals that are attributable to more than just random noise.
Particularly, once we cross the fantasy-relevant statistical thresholds (for hitters, see this article, while for pitchers, see this article), it is pertinent to re-evaluate our preconceived notions, particularly if you want to capture that "Extra 2 percent" in fantasy.
Long introductions aside, let's play blind resume. What follows are the statistics of an unnamed outfielder whose identity will not be revealed until the very end of this article. (Don't cheat!). His stats come from the entirety of his tenure on his present team (over 1,000 plate appearances). Let's dub him "Player X" for the purpose of this article.
First, Player X's aggregate statistics. Over his time on his present team, Player X has hit a cumulative .254/.302/.398 (.700 OPS) that has been good for a wOBA of .306, which is 16 percent below average (84 wRC+).
Scaled per 650 plate appearances, Player X's production rates per season come out to 18 home runs, 26.5 stolen bases, 82.5 runs, and 71 RBI. His fielding has been roughly league average over his career with his present team, during which he has amassed just under +1.50 WAR per 650 plate appearances.
Now, this player's BABIP with his current team is only a cumulative .272, compared to a career BABIP of .310 and a current-team xBABIP of .325, but he is no spring chicken, and on the tail end of his prime (no longer in his 20s) at best. This player does not walk very much (approximately 6.5 percent walk rate), but also does not strike out very much (14.3 percent strikeout clip).
Knowing just the above, what is the most you would pay for this player at auction? (Assume a $260 budget, 12-team mixed league, with two catchers, corner and middle infielder requirements, and five outfielders.)
Would you rather have this person than Vernon Wells (on a .219 batting average, 30 home run, five stolen base, 93 runs, 80 RBI pace this year) or Jason Bay (.234 batting average, 12 home run, 18 stolen base, 80 run, 62 RBI pace)?
How about Angel Pagan (.250 batting average, seven home run, 35 stolen base, 78 run, 60 RBI pace), Bobby Abreu (.250 batting average, seven home run, 35 stolen base, 78 run, 60 RBI pace) or Torii Hunter (.242 batting average, 18 home run, five stolen base, 70 run, 82 RBI pace)?
Would you take him over Nationals outfielders Roger Bernadina or Michael Morse? Or how about even Laynce Nix? Or Pirates wildcard Jose Tabata (if healthy)? Would you trade Adam Dunn for him? Or Charlie Blackmon? On par with whom would you value Player X, who has produced an approximate .255 batting average, 18 home runs, 26.5 stolen bases, 82.5 runs, and 71 RBI "per season" (rated to 650 plate appearances)?
Make note of your answers to the above, and let's dig a little deeper in to the month-by-month numbers. How do your value perceptions of Player X change, if at all, when I reveal his month-by-month production splits (NSB = Net Stolen Bases, or total steals minus caught stealing)?
Noting particularly that if you omit Months 03 and 04 from Player X's production totals, his "cumulative" triple-slash line plummets to .242/.285/.357 (.642 OPS) with home run and stolen base rates per 650 plate appearances of 14 and 21.5 (6.5 NSB), respectively, now what say you of this player?
Would you still roster this player? What is the most you would pay for him on draft day now?
Try to guess the player.
If you guessed Alex Rios, then you are correct. You just got #Rongeyed.
As always, leave the love/hate in the comments section below.
Posted by Jeffrey Gross at 5:09am (13) Comments
Some fantasy team owners like to have multiple players on the same team on their team, others don’t, and a third group is largely agnostic. Is there are any reason to have a preference? I don’t think so.
Agnosticism is my default position on this issue, but there are some instances in which I can see a reason to stack players on the same team. Let’s address the fundamental principles behind the question, which should give some broad insight as to the possible exceptions to my stance.
The idea of stacking players on the same team is one of consolidating assets, and therefore consolidating risk. By doing this, you are increasing the likelihood of stark short-term variance.
So, if maximizing variance over short scoring periods is to your advantage—say, in a daily contest where you compete against multiple teams for the highest score—– then I think there is merit to stacking as a gambler’s philosophy. In a full-season league, however, even a weekly scoring format, I assume the peaks and troughs will cancel each other out over time, leaving you with nothing more than the sum of individual value of each players’ production.
In a H2H league with weekly scoring periods, stacking players simply increases your team’s performance variance, including its vulnerability to the effects of inclimate weather. Building a team this way may cater to a player’s strategic preference and risk tolerance, but I’m skeptical it actually constitutes an advantage.
In a roto league, I don’t believe player stacking to have any significant impact whatsoever. That is to say that given two identical players, one of whom hits fourth for a team whose third hitter you also own, and the other player being the fourth hitter on a team from whom you own no players, I see no strategic advantage to pick one player over the other. Or, expressed slightly differently, I don’t see any reason to pick a lesser player ahead of a better player because you own other players on his team.
Now, that I’ve given my conclusion, I’ll briefly explain my reasoning.
Quite simply, in the game of baseball, one player does not directly take opportunities from another in a zero-sum sense. On a basketball team with a lot shooters, every shot Stephen Curry or Monta Ellis take is one fewer shot David Lee can take, so there is a form zero-sum dynamic at play.
However, in baseball, each player is going to get four or five plate appearances, and those are his opportunities to produce. Chase Utley only influences Ryan Howard’s number of opportunities to produce in the extremely general sense that a successful offense generates more PAs for the team as a whole, and to no greater degree than Placido Polanco does.
Some may think having two hitters on the same team helps because you can double up on stats by having an owned player drive in another owned player, but that is a myopic way to view things.
I want to own players who are going to have the best chance at being driven in the most often and who are driving in as many runs as possible. Who drives in my players and who my players drive in is inconsequential; stacking players does not increase or decrease the volume of opportunity.
One may argue that if I own Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz and Youk homers in front of Papi, this takes away the opportunity for Papi to produce. I disagree for two reasons. One, the opportunity is rooted in the PA, and the context of that PA is beyond the control of the player. Two, in this respect this is a zero-sum game. A player can only be driven in once, so if Youk drives all those runners in, then you’ve achieved all the production that can be squeezed from those players. How that production gets split between Youk and Ortiz is nothing more than cosmetic.
It should be emphasized that none of this implies that aren’t reasons to own players on certain teams, just that one shouldn’t feel dissuaded to own multiple players on the same team. The Boston Red Sox are a potent offensive force that puts runners on all over the place, scores tons of runs, and plays in a hitter-friendly ballpark. These are all reasons to value Red Sox hitters. But, these are all factors that should be taken into account when pricing players in the first place.
The team for which a player plays has profound impact on his value, but that player should be no more or less desirable to an owner because of the composition of his team’s individual player’s team affiliations.