May 23, 2013
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012
It’s the middle of February, and by this point in the draft season we are starting to get a much clearer picture of how things will shake out at the end of March. Most high-stakes fantasy players have already dabbled in a slow draft or three, testing out the waters and getting their own feel for the flow of the player inventory.
Let me preface this by saying that all players have their own strategies, preferences and levels of risk tolerance when approaching a draft. I come from the belief that you should avoid unnecessary risk, especially in the foundation rounds of a draft. I lean toward consistent and proven production when assembling the core of my teams, avoiding players that have huge injury concerns or are unproven producers. I’ll slant toward players with more potential and higher upside later in the draft.
When I look over the most recent ADP list, a few names stand out to me as players I believe are being drafted too high. This isn’t to say that they’re going to fall flat on their faces or won’t return a profit at their particular draft slot. They are just players who I believe carry too much risk where they are being taken.
So you can peruse the list yourself, Shawn Childs has graciously posted a copy of the most recent ADP report at Sportsdraftdaily.com.(http://sportsdraftdaily.com/2012/02/nfbc-15-team-league-adps/)
Curtis Granderson (ADP 14): Granderson put together an absolutely dynamic season in 2011, and helped lead many a team to league titles. He did show a marked improvement against left-handed pitching, but before we praise him for figuring out how to hit lefties, realize that there could be some small-sample-size bias in only 191 at-bats against them last year.
Granderson hit 41 homers, towering over his previous career high of 30 in 2009. His HR/FB rate jumped to 20.5 percent last year, well over his career rate of 13.9 percent. This signals that he is due for a regression in the homer run category. He also drove home 119 runs, after not driving in more than 74 in any previous season. I think expecting him to finish with more than 80-85 RBI is probably wishful thinking.
In addition, he’s a huge threat to be a drain on your team’s batting average. In the early rounds of a draft, I try to establish a solid average base for my team. A player with 600 at-bats of .260-.265 can weigh down your total team average.
Another red flag is that Granderson had his worst stolen base success rate of his career in 2011 (25/35, 71.5 percent). It’s generally accepted that anything under a 75 percent success rate is actually hurting the team, and could lead to decreased opportunities in the future. If there is an actual decline in speed that has led to the lower rate, he loses more of his value.
I have Granderson finishing with something close to .264 average/107 runs/ 27 homers/ 84 RBI/23 steals. While the numbers do look relatively solid across the board (minus the average), I think that there are many better options on the board at pick 14.
Josh Hamilton (ADP 27): Hamilton has all the talent in the world, and is capable of putting up monstrous offensive numbers. I’m not disputing that at all. He simply doesn’t fit into the plan of someone like me who's trying to avoid risk early on.
In Hamilton’s four years in Texas, he has averaged only 125 games played. That number drops to 114 games if you look at just the previous three seasons. He’s the type of guy who, if he manages to stay on the field for 150 games, can finish with first-round production. In all likelihood though, you’re looking at him missing nearly a quarter of the season.
In addition, how do you weigh his recent public relapse? Some don’t think it should change his draft position at all, but it’s obviously a factor that has to be considered. I have Hamilton finishing around .310 average/83 runs/27 homers/100 RBI /eight stolen bases provided that he gets 500 at-bats. He’s too risky for my taste in round two, but could gain some consideration if he falls further down the board.
Asdrubal Cabrera (ADP 53): Asdrubal finally made good on some of his promise and delivered massive returns for owners who took a chance on him in rounds 15-18 last year. After never hitting more than 11 homers in any professional season (major or minor leagues), he belted 25 long balls in 2011. His HR/FB rate was 13.3 percent last season, after never being higher than 6.7 percent before.
He’ll be only 26 this season, and the power was consistent over the two halves of 2011, but I still expect some regression. His average dropped as the season progressed; he hit only .246 after July 1. He may also see a decline in RBI opportunities, since he'll probably hit second the entire season with Shin-Soo Choo back in the lineup. I expect roughly .278 average/85 runs/18 homers/77 RBI/14 steals from Cabrera in 2011. While those are above-average numbers at a relatively weak position, I’m hesitant to pull the trigger in the fourth round.
Michael Pineda (ADP 89): Let me start by saying that I like Pineda. I’m grateful to him for pitching so well last year: I got him in the 19th round of the NFBC Main and he was a big part of leading my team to a league title. I just think that getting pushed up into the sixth round after the trade to the Yankees (and even the fifth in some drafts) is too high.
Yes, he will see a big increase in run support, and in wins, by joining the Yanks. Conversely though, he’s leaving the safe haven of Safeco Park and heading to one of the worst pitcher’s parks in the league. Pineda is a flyball pitcher (44.8 percent) whose HR/FB rate (9.0 percent last year) is sure to rise in New York. I think the addition in wins will be balanced out by his increase in ratios, putting his value to me as eighth or ninth round as a second or third starting pitcher.
Pushing him into the fifth or sixth round, he has to perform as an ace or high end second starter to return profit, and I just can’t place a high level of confidence in that happening. I have Pineda at 15 wins/3.60 ERA/1.15 WHIP/185 strikeouts. I also tend to be somewhat leery of young pitchers who rely so heavily on the slider (31.5 percent).
While it’s entirely possible that these players exceed my expectations and return profit even at their current picks, it’s not something that I will bet on. If you disagree with my assumptions or believe strongly in any of these players, leave your arguments here. I’d love to hear them.
Posted by Dave Shovein at 12:49am (9) Comments
Phew. Position players are taken care of. What's next? Logically, starting pitchers, so below, we present the top 35 (more to come tomorrow).
The following writers have ranked their top 70: Josh Shepardson, Ben Pritchett, Brad Johnson and yours truly. We used FantasyPros.com to create our composite rankings, and if you follow the link provided in our rankings, you can see how ours compared with a slew of other experts'. Assume a 12-team, mixed league with standard 5x5 settings. Click on the links with our names to get to our Twitter accounts, where we'll happily answer your baseball and fantasy questions year-round.
Fantasy Baseball Rankings powered by FantasyPros, the leading aggregator of expert fantasy advice.
Tomorrow... Starting pitchers, part two
Posted by Nick Fleder at 2:07am (44) Comments
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
We promised more starting pitchers, and below we follow through with our rankings of starting pitchers, 35-70. The following writers have ranked their top 70: Josh Shepardson, Ben Pritchett, Brad Johnson, and yours truly.
We used FantasyPros.com to create our composite rankings, and if you follow the link provided in our rankings, you can see how ours compared with a slew of other experts'. I speak for at least Josh Shepardson and myself when I say that we will continue to update our rankings on FantasyPros and Twitter, perhaps, throughout Spring Training and the coming month (and change). Keep on the lookout for updates, and, as always, assume a 12-team, mixed league with standard 5x5 settings. Click on the links with our names to get to our Twitter accounts, where we'll happily answer your baseball and fantasy questions year-round.
Fantasy Baseball Rankings powered by FantasyPros, the leading aggregator of expert fantasy advice.
Posted by Nick Fleder at 5:09am (28) Comments
Thursday, February 23, 2012
The staff rankings by position end with our top 35 relief pitchers for the 2012 season. Don't fret, though! A top 200 will come soon (hint, starting tomorrow). The following writers have ranked their top 35 relievers: Josh Shepardson, Ben Pritchett, Brad Johnson, and yours truly.
We used FantasyPros.com to create our composite rankings, and if you follow the link provided in our rankings, you can see how ours compared with a slew of other experts'. Assume a 12-team, mixed league with standard 5x5 settings.
Click on the links with our names to get to our Twitter accounts, where we'll happily answer your baseball and fantasy questions year-round.
Fantasy Baseball Rankings powered by FantasyPros, the leading aggregator of expert fantasy advice.
Tomorrow... Top 200
Posted by Nick Fleder at 5:15am (24) Comments
Friday, February 24, 2012
The following writers have ranked their top 200: Josh Shepardson, Ben Pritchett, Brad Johnson, and yours truly.
We used FantasyPros.com to create our composite rankings, and if you follow the link provided in our rankings, you can see how ours compared with a slew of other experts'. I speak for at least Josh Shepardson and me when I say that we will continue to update our rankings on FantasyPros and Twitter, perhaps, throughout spring training and the coming month (and change).
Keep on the lookout for updates, and, as always, assume a 12-team, mixed league with standard 5x5 settings. Click on the links with our names to get to our Twitter accounts, where we'll happily answer your baseball and fantasy questions year-round. Our apologies for having to split up the top 200 into two articles.
Fantasy Baseball Rankings powered by FantasyPros, the leading aggregator of expert fantasy advice.
Posted by Nick Fleder at 2:01am (17) Comments
See part one, published earlier today, for 100-200.
Fantasy Baseball Rankings powered by FantasyPros, the leading aggregator of expert fantasy advice.
Posted by Nick Fleder at 5:24am (2) Comments
Monday, February 27, 2012
Since we started the THT rankings process, I’ve learned two things. Rankings don’t mean anything because they don’t take into context roster formation, inflation/deflation, or any other variables that render themselves during the draft process. You should only use rankings as a frame of reference. I wouldn’t even recommend using them as a base for drafting because everything changes at the draft table, even down to a silly list.
For example, I wouldn’t draft Johan Santana based on my rankings, but if my team conditions favor an ERA upside play, then there may not be a better, cheaper option than Santana. I obviously would pull the trigger no matter my previous feelings or, more importantly, my rankings.
The other thing I learned is that I am fascinated by standard deviation in “expert” rankings. I will spend the most time on this topic because I think it has a real use for you as well as my mindless musings.
Basically, for all you non-mathletes out there, standard deviation is the movement from the mean (average). Thanks to Fantasy Pros , we can actually look at how the greatest minds in the industry feel about a player, even if it’s in an arbitrary ranking. I firmly believe the standard deviation table may be of more use than the overall rankings list itself.
One of the biggest question marks I have when I go into a draft is how other managers truly value players. Obviously, I feel pretty confident about the players I want and how I’m going to go about getting them. The unknown is how the other managers feel about those same players.
By looking at the standard deviation, we are able to understand draft volatility a little bit better than we may have ever before. If a player has an extreme movement from the "expert" consensus thought, then there’s a chance that somebody in your league may share the positive/negative feelings surrounding the player.
Understanding a player with extreme volatility could be a huge bonus for a manager that knows how to use this information properly. I like using a volatile player early in the nomination process of an auction draft. The idea is that the draft room will either overspend or underspend. Either way, that benefits you. People, this is good stuff. I hope you are paying attention.
Here is what I’m going to call the “Kipnis Effect”. Another benefit of using standard deviation as a draft tool may be the way it can enhance your strategy towards certain players that you feel favorably about. For example, take a look at Jason Kipnis. He ranges from 62 overall all the way to 250 with a deviation from the mean of 50.4.
Looking a little further into who has him ranked where, Kipnis becomes an even more interesting case. His ranking amongst individual experts is down at 163 at its lowest. The 174 and 250 rankings are that of CBS Sports and ESPN’s site rankings, respectively. I take this to mean that Kipnis will inherently be cheaper on these sites.
There have been studies, I believe performed by Rotoauthority or Baseball HQ, that confirm draft prices are dictated by site rankings. So if you like Kipnis at 62 overall, you won’t have to spend nearly that much to get him. This is all assuming you aren’t drafting with Kipnis himself or someone related to Kipnis or someone that’s crushing on Kipnis. Here are some other players I found experiencing the Kipnis Effect: Alejandro De Aza, Seth Smith, and J.P. Arencibia.
Just like extreme deviation is important, I think no deviation at all has equal value. Assuming multiple sources provide the same rating, you can have a better idea of what the room is willing to pay for that particular player. I don’t think there would be a more valuable tool than to know nearly every move my opponents are going to make before they make it.
It’s not as easy to garner useful information off non-deviating rankings since most of the pertaining players are the earlier-round selections where consensus thought tends to reign supreme, or they are found in the last three hundred where the expert rankings become fewer. If you focus on the guys in the forty-and-beyond range, you might find a little more useful consistency.
For example, David Price has the lowest deviation of 8.5 with a consensus ranking of 47. I think that you can expect Price to stay in this general area of drafts. For me, a guy that likes Price as a fantasy ace this year, this information is priceless. I can safely assume I will be able to draft him as the 40th player and still find value without much risk of losing him to other owners.
Now, this practice may be reserved more towards snake drafts, but the principle can be used in auction, as well, if you focus your attention on the positional rankings.
Put a pen to paper and map out the players you want on your fantasy team. Winning fantasy baseball isn’t necessarily how much you know, it’s how much work you are willing to put into winning. I believe there’s less pre-work that needs to be done in a snake draft than an auction draft. So, using standard deviation in these postional rankings should help with designing tiers more efficiently in auction leagues. Effective use of tiers is all up to a particular manager’s roster-building strategy.
I actually learned through this exercise with rankings deviation that there is a strong chance I will draft Carlos Gonzalez. Upon looking at where I have him ranked in contrast with my colleagues, I apparently like him more, and he will baseline a tier I fully expect to draft early in all leagues, including my snake and auction leagues.
I must close with my final thoughts about the whole THT rankings process. I always loved my own personal rankings as a basis for thought and have never had to be held accountable for their accuracy. So this whole exercise was new and different. However, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be.
I spend an average of two hours a day totally dedicated to reading, analyzing, and researching fantasy baseball. For these rankings I spent at least six to eight hours of concentrated thinking. Even with that effort, I don’t think they are anywhere near where they should be. I pride myself on the knowledge base I’ve built, which is why I began writing for THT in the first place.
The ranking of players made me realize that any one person’s personal rankings are fatally flawed. We are influenced by the baseline rankings provided by Fantasy Pros. We are slaves to our own bias. I found myself driven to the point of frustration over whether Colby Rasmus should be higher than Brandon Belt when it really doesn’t matter.
Furthermore, I know that my fellow writers would agree that rankings do not and will never account for shifts in draft momentum, nor do they adapt themselves to the fluidity of your lineup. Rankings are cold and dead. Tiers are better, but I don’t think that being constrained by making sure a specific tier is targeted is that much better, though I like the idea of building talent tiers. I figure the name of the game in fantasy baseball is all about accruing stats in the most efficient manner.
Obviously, the most efficient manner to accrue stats is to draft the perfect team and never have to manage or do anything. Now, that wouldn’t be fun, but I started thinking about all the talent monikers we bestow on different types of fantasy players. Now, this is just in the early stages of my thought process, but shouldn’t it be smarter, especially in deeper leagues, to draft based on a specific type of talent rather than a blank name ranking?
Take the famed “five-tool” fantasy player. You could easily tier that out with Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez, Justin Upton, and Jacoby Ellsbury in the first tier. Follow that up with an Ian Kinsler, Hanley Ramirez, Curtis Granderson, David Wright, and Andrew McCutchen tier. Then you have the likes of Brett Lawrie, Hunter Pence, and such. You get the idea.
This exercise can be repeated with power, speed, average/contact, RBI (batting order placement), prospects, wins (good teams), strikeouts, ERA/WHIP, and even five-tool pitchers (do-everything talents). I believe that I have always done this type of rationalization in drafts before now, but it was always done in my head as I was making quick decisions. All this list-making made me really feel like some lists are more beneficial than others.
Do these kinds of rankings rather than the ones we did. The Baseball Forecaster by Ron Shandler does a decent job of presenting data in previous stats-based tables that mimic the kind of tiers I’m talking about. However, you have to build these talent tiers yourself.
No one can account for the future, and no one can account for the daily changes in fantasy. Nailing down where to put which player in which talent tier can only come with research. I hope over the month of March to focus on building some of these talent tiers for you guys. Until then, happy spring training to all.
Posted by Ben Pritchett at 5:10am (7) Comments
It’s hard enough following one’s own fantasy team without having to keep track of an entire sport’s daily transactions. To assist you, here’s a column dedicated to recapping the most notable trades, signings, promotions, demotions and role changes across the majors over the past week as they relate to fantasy. We'll do this on a regular basis. If you feel I've missed anything important, please don't hesitate to keep the conversation going in the comments below.
Ryan Braun is back
Who knew that a late delivery to the FedEx man could have such significant fantasy implications? As red-faced major league officials scramble to revisit the sport’s methods of policing performance enhancing drug usage, fantasy owners celebrate the exoneration of Ryan Braun, who instantly returns to the first round of every mixed-league draft this season.
Braun last year was a five-category demon, as he compiled career highs in steals (33), RBIs (111) and batting average (.332) while slugging 33 home runs and 111 RBIs. He’ll likely miss Prince Fielder’s protection, but hopefully Aramis Ramirez can provide some semblance of continuity out of the Milwaukee cleanup spot.
Baseball might be a sport where even the best hitters bat only once every nine times, and yet, a presence like Braun is felt throughout an entire game. For guys like Ramirez, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart and Mat Gamel, Braun’s gravitational pull at the center of the order will keep their stats inflated and help bring run support to the starting rotation.
Braun will, of course, have to deal with a summer of people calling him a cheater, so we’ll see how thick his skin is. But assuming the 28-year-old has stayed in shape during the offseason, it doesn’t appear he’ll miss any spring training time and will be in his MVP form to start the 2012 season.
Less thrilled about Braun’s return are probably Norichika Aoki, a three-time Japanese league batting champ acquired by Milwaukee over the offseason, and Carlos Gomez, both of whom stood to benefit from the extra playing time offered by Braun’s absence. Neither necessarily promised much in the way of fantasy aside from one-category production, but they’re definitely going to be relegated for use in only deeper leagues now, assuming Nyjer Morgan holds down the center field starting gig.
Chris Perez likely to miss start of season
The Indians’ closer hurt his left oblique last week and now will miss four to six weeks. There’s an outside chance he could return by Opening Day, but it’s probably safe to go ahead and start looking for backup options.
Perez’s most likely replacement is Vinnie Pestano, who put together a 2.32 ERA, 1.048 WHIP and an eye-popping 12.2 K/9 in 62 innings last year, his first full season. Pestano, 27, closed games throughout his minor-league career, so he should be a dependable option in deeper mixed leagues.
The better question is whether Pestano can acclimate himself to the role well enough to steal the job from Perez. Despite making the All-Star team and saving 90 percent of his opportunities last year, Perez compiled a mediocre 5.9 K/9, and both his FIP (4.27) and xFIP (5.01) were well above his 3.32 ERA. When healthy, Perez is a decent option, but Pestano certainly offers more upside if he can earn the full-time gig.
Raul Ibanez to round out Yankees' DH platoon
At 39, Raul Ibanez might not be getting any younger, but he was still fit enough last year to crush 20 home runs and collect 84 RBIs. His .245 average, the lowest full-season mark of his career, is a reasonable cause for concern, but it was also diminished by a .268 BABIP, more than 30 points below his career average.
Ibanez’s impact will be blunted by the amount of playing time he receives, as he’ll join Andruw Jones in a DH platoon in New York. But he’s coming to a place that, according to Stat Corner, boosts left-handed home runs by nearly 30 percent more than Citizens Bank Park. For a guy who’s a dead pull-hitter, he could be someone worth using in deeper leagues as a platoon man. Let’s just hope he stays healthy.
Manny Ramirez, A's agree to minor-league deal
Manny might not be the fantasy stud he was in his heyday, but he could have an impact in deeper leagues once he returns from his 50-game suspension. But he’s 39 years old, and would likely have to siphon off at-bats from Seth Smith or Chris Carter at the DH spot for playing time. Still, it’s hard to turn your back on one of the best hitters of the past 20 years, and plenty of faded stars, from Frank Thomas to Mike Piazza, have found playing time and ways to make a fantasy impact in Oakland.
Other odds and ends from around MLB
• Joel Zumuya's faulty right elbow is acting up again, as an MRI revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament. That means he'll be gone for the rest of this season, which is too bad, since had he been healthy, he might have been a dark-horse candidate to pick up saves for the Twins.
• Speaking of injury-prone players, Grady Sizemore strained his lower back earlier this month, and we learned this week he'll miss Opening Day and does not have a firm return date. Of course, you have only yourself to blame if this comes as a surprise, as Sizemore has appeared in only 210 games from 2009-11. He's still only 29, so there's hope he'll return sooner rather than later as he works to find the magic that once made him one of fantasy's best players.
• Trying to rehab from a shoulder injury, Jon Garland did not take his physical examination last week, thus voiding his minor-league deal with Cleveland.
Posted by Karl de Vries at 5:11am (0) Comments
There was some discussion among the four staffers who compiled, over the last two weeks, the THT consensus rankings that top-200 lists and similar endeavors are pretty much dumb. Besides being wickedly tedious to put together, they don't do much by way of providing context or personal preference in draft strategy, and—we're guilty of this too—are thrown at readers among a mess of other top 200 lists.
So I set the THT staff out to discuss such rankings and share our opinions on the matter. For better transparency, and for better drafting, we do discuss.
Nick Fleder: I admit this may come across as slightly hypocritical, but during the compilation of our staff rankings, I recognized that there wasn't a lot of love for top-200 lists, or even top-250 and top-300 lists, for that matter. Point being: the number is mostly arbitrary and requires a great deal of context that isn't provided.
For example, my top 200 list may cater to how I play as a fantasy baller (never heard that one before, have you?): I may go pitching-heavy in my ranks, have shortstops top-heavy, and have relievers all in the 150-plus range because I simply don't pay for saves.
Whatever my mindset may be, it's certainly not supported by seemingly random rankings. It requires an in-depth, comprehensive write-up that would be not only tiresome to this author, but worthless to many readers who may then have to struggle with 15 different write-ups from 15 different sources that actually provide no consensus whatsoever but rather a vast jumbling of data to sift through.
Josh Shepardson: My biggest problem with the top-200 is the lack of context it comes with. A top-200 list is going to look much different for a two-catcher, corner-infielder, middle-infielder, five-outfielder league than one that starts one catcher, no backup infielders and only three outfielders (Yahoo! default).
It is also inherently silly. If I take my 12th-best player, and he's a starting pitcher, and I come up on the clock again, and hey look, another starting pitcher tops my list, am I really going to go SP/SP in the first two rounds? Maybe, if it is some kind of strategy I've already planned on, but likely no.
Jeff Gross: Oh, boy. I could never rank my top 200. I have issues ranking 60 outfielders, and 100 starters is pushing it, too. THT Forecasts has a "more perfect" system that has billions of iterations and positional value adjustment, but here's the quick and dirty Z-Score weighting system known as EYES.
Brad Johnson: I don't really do snake drafts anymore, so rankings have very little impact on my approach to fantasy. I consider position rankings to be a basic sorting feature and will occasionally draft a guy who is two or more spots from the top at a specific position based on my team needs.
Given that I put little stock in positional rankings, it follows that I think big boards are nonsense. Your first couple of picks should come from the big board and your personal preferences. After that, you really ought to be building by team-specific needs such as position and category rather than whether or not Player X is 43rd-ranked and Player Y is 68th-ranked. If Player Y is better for your team, and you're not very confident he'll be available for your next pick, then select Player Y.
Mark Himmelstein: In previous years, have you noticed you have a penchant for finding anything in particular on the waiver wire? Saves, perhaps? Or maybe outfielders who steal bases? Or pitchers with a good ERA but modest strikeout rate? Then focus on other areas in the draft, even if you think Brian Wilson, Brett Gardner, or Doug Fister is the best player left on the board.
The converse of this is true, as well. If you've found yourself repeatedly struggling to patch a particular type of hole using the waiver wire, that may be an area you should give extra priority on draft day, even in spite of your own rankings.
Jeff Gross: I think the problem with rankings if they don't indicate tiers. I internalize my valuations of players by tiers. There are "guys" who in my head are essentially fungible. That's how I view them. I like the rankings simply because it requires you to organize your thoughts some. Being a rankings slave, however, is silly.
Nick Fleder: I would urge readers to ask their trusted experts—if you want to call us that—to explain their mindsets in their specific rankings rather than blindly trusting. If my style fits yours, then you may want to take my top 200 to heart and use it as a cheat-sheet of sorts, but don't, by any means, trust any list over your gut.
This extends to a whole other side of drafting, one that Brad explained with the Player X and Player Y analogy: Do you feel comfortable taking someone way ahead of his Average Draft Position or rankings (the former often a byproduct of the latter, to a certain extent) if you really love 'em? Would you dare make Dee Gordon a seventh-round pick if he goes, on average, in the 10th?
There's a lot of strategy involved, and sometimes it takes a gutsy call—and don't forget that if everyone is playing from the same field, you may actually use that fallacy to your advantage by saying, "Hell, if everyone's gonna wait on a seventh-round player till the 10th, I can get some value in rounds seven to nine"—but as a general rule, cater to your gut rather than these rankings. Whew.
Brad Johnson: Then again, rankings were never meant for me. I have values for more than 500 players internalized. I can look at a sorted short list of names and pick the best one for my team without pause (okay, sometimes I need the full minute and a half to introspect). Rankings are for those who know the top 100 players and the guys on their favorite team but don't pay attention to an entire league.
So your choice to put stock in any rankings comes down to this: How many player values have you internalized? Is it 100? 200? 500? The more players you can analyze in detail without consulting a stats page, the less you should worry about rankings.
Mark Himmelstein: While these lists can be enlightening to discuss, we are not simply betting on which players are going to perform the best in a vacuum. We are playing a dynamic game based on the outcomes of another dynamic game. We are making decisions that are based on previous decisions and which in turn will influence future decisions, all of which are mixing and mingling with 11 other people's decisions.
That means strategy, tactics, creativity, self evaluation, evaluation of opponents and all that other fun stuff that's really what makes fantasy baseball such a fascinating game. It also means too much precision can be a sin. Adaptivity and good judgment will trump precision nine times out of 10.
Posted by Nick Fleder at 5:12am (8) Comments
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
There truly is no offseason in baseball - both real and fantasy. Many keeper leagues allow trades after the conclusion of the previous season and prior to the start of the next one. Given the nature of keeper leagues, trades do not always involve packages of absolute equivalent value. But when analyzing whether a trade should be permitted, it is necessary to evaluate other factors such as the salary cap implications, length of contracts, and the long-term effect on both teams. This is why there is a distinction between trades in keeper and non-keeper leagues.
The general standard is that trades should be allowed so long as there is no evidence of collusive conduct between teams, both teams agree to the terms, and a discernible benefit can be derived on both sides. Sometimes that benefit may not manifest itself in present-day statistics or performance. But in a keeper league, there is inherent value in acquiring young prospects who cost very little while gaining salary cap flexibility. Below is a recent case submitted to the Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment involving a disputed trade in a very large keeper league.
SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT
Grave Diggers v. Chilidogs
ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM THE WESTERN NY ROTISSERIE BASEBALL LEAGUE
Decided January 26, 2012
Cite as 4 F.J. 5 (January 2012)
A fantasy baseball league called the Western NY Rotisserie Baseball League (hereinafter referred to as “Roto league” or “WNYRBL”) is comprised of 22 teams and has been in existence since 1987. The WNYRBL, hosted on CBSSports.com, utilizes an auction format for its annual draft and bidding on free agents when making transactions. Each team has a draft budget of $260 and an after-auction salary cap of $325. It is a mixed AL/NL keeper league where each team may keep a minimum of five (5) players and a maximum of fifteen (15) players from one season to the next within its 23-man roster.
As with many rotisserie leagues, the WNYRBL uses the standard 5×5 scoring categories to determine the standings and prize money. For offensive players, the five categories are: (1) batting average; (2) homeruns; (3) runs batted in; (4) runs scored; and (5) stolen bases. For pitchers, the five categories are: (1) wins; (2) earned run average; (3) WHIP (walks+hits/innings pitched); (4) strikeouts; and (5) saves. Statistics are cumulative throughout the course of the season and there are no head to head games contained within the Roto league.
Because this is a keeper league, players may be signed to contracts as part of their retention from year to year. The rules regarding players’ contracts is as follows:
XV. LONG TERM CONTRACTS
Trades are permitted during the offseason. According to Section XI of the WNYRBL’s rules, trades are permissible after the last day of the season until rosters are frozen, which is two weeks prior to the draft.
The Grave Diggers have made a trade with the Chilidogs. The Grave Diggers traded Mitch Moreland (1B-TEX, $3.00 with one year of eligibility at this salary remaining) and Brent Morel (3B-CHW, $3.00 with one year of eligibility at this salary remaining) to the Chilidogs in exchange for Jose Reyes (SS-MIA, $38.00 with one year of eligibility at this salary remaining) and Javy Guerra (RP-LAD, $14.00 and in the first year of his short-term contract).
(1) Should the trade between the Grave Diggers and the Chilidogs be upheld and approved?
The Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment typically favors individual fantasy sports participants and teams’ ability to make moves, transactions, and trades. People pay money participate in fantasy leagues, and generally they should be afforded the freedom to manage their team accordingly. Whether success is bred from that individual’s decision-making is purely left to skill, luck, dedication, and savviness. See 4 Ponies v. Carson City Cocks, 3 F.J. 13 (May 2011).
The Court also acknowledges that the analysis for evaluating trades is much different in a keeper league than a non-keeper league. A trade that may look uneven or lopsided on its face may receive a different opinion when it is involved in a keeper league. The reasons for this are obvious, but must be restated.
In a keeper league, teams that are having unsuccessful seasons are more likely to continue to pay attention and make moves that will set themselves up for better success in the following season. They can do this by acquiring young talent that is not under contract within the league, or by dumping salary (assuming it is an auction league) and allowing greater financial flexibility to sign key players in the next season’s draft. In non-keeper leagues, there is no rationale for thinking ahead, nor is there any need to stockpile young, inexpensive talent. See Smittydogs v. Moneyball, 1 F.J. 32, 33 (June 2010).
Another factor that the Court must always consider is whether there is any collusion or illicit dealings going on between teams. The Court has not been presented with any evidence of such malfeasance, so no analysis of potential collusive activity will be conducted.
At first glance, the trade of Mitch Moreland and Brent Morel in exchange for Jose Reyes and Javy Guerra looks imbalanced. Reyes is clearly the best player involved in this trade and has exponentially more fantasy value than both Moreland and Morel. The fact that he is being traded for players with far less value precipitates the need to analyze the merits of the trade beyond mere statistics.
The scope of the Court’s authority is to govern and advise when there is a dispute as to the validity of trades, rulings, decisions or other issues that arise within the league. See Silveramo v. Nation, 2 F.J. 38, 41 (October 2010) (holding that making a judgment on whether an individual did something stupid falls outside of the Court’s jurisdiction). It is not up to the Court to make a determination on what is considered intelligent.
Unwise decisions should not be scrutinized or vetoed merely because they are unwise. See Road Runners v. Urban Achievers, 3 F.J. 47, 50 (June 2011) (holding that the main criteria for evaluating a trade is its inherent fairness, not whether it was an intelligent decision by a league member to make the deal). Rather, the Court’s role in this jurisdiction is to evaluate the objective merits of a deal and ensure that the integrity of the league is maintained. See Victoria’s Secret v. C-Train, 2 F.J. 32, 35 (October 2010).
A player’s value is not necessarily equivalent to the accumulation of several other less valuable players’ statistics. See Team Sabo v. Nub Vader, 3 F.J. 55, 56 (July 2011). The Court has no issues with the idea of trading superstar players, such as Reyes, so long as the package in return is equitable and makes sense given the needs of both teams. See 4 Ponies v. Beaver Hunters, 3 F.J. 26, 29 (June 2011). Here, it is empirically evident that Reyes and Guerra have better statistics and value than Moreland and Morel. As such, there is no need to break down each player’s individual statistics for comparison. Rather, the Court must look at other intangible factors to determine whether this trade should be upheld.
The approval or rejection of a trade should be based on whether the deal is fair, free from collusion, and in the best interests of the league. Whether a trade is intelligent or popular will not be part of the analysis. See 4 Ponies v. Beaver Hunters, 3 F.J. 26, 27 (June 2011). The virtue of a trade is measured in both quantifiable criteria and subjective needs of the teams involved. See Carson City Cocks v. Stud Muffins, 3 F.J. 23, 24 (May 2011).
The Court will consider each team’s individual needs to assess whether the trade subjectively made sense from both perspectives. See Cajon Crawdads vs. Carson City Cocks, 1 F.J. 41, 42 (June 2010) (upholding a trade for Jason Bay because of the Carson City Cocks’ desperate need for a starting outfielder due to the demotion of Cameron Maybin). A trade will be rejected when the Court cannot objectively ascertain any benefit to one of the teams and the net result in no way makes a team better now or in the future. See Los Pollos Hermanos v. Little Stumps, 3 F.J. 192, 195 (October 2011).
The record is devoid of the current rosters for both the Grave Diggers and Chilidogs. However, we can still determine certain needs and priorities of both teams based on the information provided. The Grave Diggers finished in last place in 2011 and clearly want to improve this season.
By acquiring Reyes and Guerra, the Grave Diggers will unquestionably improve their rankings in several rotisserie categories based on the players’ past performances and projected statistics. On the other hand, the Chilidogs finished in 4th place in 2011 and appear to desire younger players with upside, and to have more salary cap flexibility for the auction draft. For the 2012 season, the Chilidogs will save $46 by making this trade. This is a significant amount considering it represents approximately 17% of the draft budget allotted.
This trade, as with any other, is not free from risk for the team acquiring the established talent. Reyes, 28, is anything but a lock to stay healthy and produce for the entire season. He will be playing for a new team with a lot of pressure on him to justify his six year/$106 million contract. He is coming off a season where he went on the disabled list twice with hamstring injuries. His stolen base totals have not come anywhere near his totals from 2005-2008, which is due to many factors including age and injuries. Additionally, Guerra may not be the closer again for the Dodgers as Kenley Jansen may get an opportunity to seize the job.
The dichotomy between the Grave Diggers and the Chilidogs motivations is precisely why the Court must look at trades in keeper leagues differently than non-keeper leagues. See Smittydogs v. Moneyball, 1 F.J. 32, 34 (June 2010). Team owners in keeper leagues must make critical roster management decisions with respect to trading off established talent in exchange for unknown and less expensive commodities to help build for the future. See Winners v. Seven Shades of Shite, 3 F.J. 97, 102 (July 2011). Had this trade been made in a non-keeper league, the Court would ardently reject it.
Based on the foregoing, the Court approves the subject trade between the Grave Diggers and the Chilidogs. It is understandable why a trade such as this would receive opposition because there is a dramatic difference in the present day value of both respective packages. See Cowboys vs. Knights, 3 F.J. 147, 150 (August 2011).
However, there are other factors to consider when determining whether a trade should be approved besides the actual statistics on the back of a baseball card. Here, a trade was proposed and agreed to between two teams with differing priorities. While the trade is comprised of two packages that cannot be considered completely equivalent, it is free from collusion and has discernible benefits for both parties. See Specialists vs. Knights, 3 F.J. 151, 154 (August 2011). As such, the trade should be approved as it comports with the best interests of the league.
IT IS SO ORDERED.