Mar 5, 2015

Mr. Cheatsheet's 2015 Fantasy Baseball Player Rankings


The nice folks at Fantasy Pros recently released their analysis of the 2014 rankings and I was happy to see that I finished within their top 10 expert rankings for last season. While that's a nice little honor, I'm hoping to build upon that success with this year's iteration of my fantasy baseball rankings and push Mr. Cheatsheet to the top of the heap!

I've already outlined some of items that I pay attention to in player valuation this offseason. One factor I look at is xAVG and I also take a look at the impact of Just Enough HR's on the hitter side and I have my methods for finding Narco sleeper picks on the pitcher side. And, of course, I have my own Special Blend projections that drive a bit of my ranking research as well. As a reader it's a lot of information to take in and try to quantify for your drafts so it is for that reason that I publish my player rankings each preseason. Instead of having to break all of that down and think about how high to rank one of my sleepers, you've got this handy list of my own personal rankings at your disposal.

These rankings are particularly for standard roto leagues. In looking at how my rankings stack up against the rest of the expert rankings, there's a few highlights that I should touch upon:

  • On the pitcher side, I have more faith than others in the return of two Yankees pitchers (Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka). Banking on the health of players is always a bit of a gamble but these two pitchers have very high ceilings if they are able to stay healthy and I think they have both have the potential to be top pitchers in the league so I'm willing to gamble on that (in the middle rounds).
  • I have Ian Desmond higher than most. He has proven his consistency over a few years now, which is valuable. He has proven his durability as well, which is valuable. He plays at one of the most scarce positions, which is also valuable. And, finally, I think he has room to improve despite three consecutive 20/20 seasons and so I'm feeling pretty good about him in 2015 as an early round pick.
  • Year after year, I tend to rank Pablo Sandoval higher than most and he delivers on that value. That's fine. He's not flashy and he's not a cornerstone player for fantasy teams but he's a great later round value, especially in leagues that use a Corner Infielder spot. He's fairly consistent as a 15 HR and .280 AVG hitter and there's value in that.
  • I'm down on Anthony Rendon compared to other experts. There are too many red flags and not enough of a track record here to justify a top draft pick. His power hasn't been proven yet (and the HR Tracker data for him raises concerns) and he doesn't have a track record to support his 17 SB from last season. While he's young and very well could have a great season, the fact that he's just as likely (in my eyes) to have a 15 HR, 5 SB season just makes me want to stay away in the first two rounds.
  • Also, you may notice that I generally rank RP's lower than other experts and this is just my own general preference of waiting on RP's from a strategic perspective.
Take a look through the rankings (provided in partnership with the fine folks at FantasyPros) and post any questions you may have in the comments below.


Fantasy Baseball Rankings powered by FantasyPros

Mar 3, 2015

2015 Fantasy Baseball Draft Cheatsheets (Roto, Auction, Points) Update #1


The first version of my fantasy baseball cheatsheets were released a few weeks back and it's time for an update, my friends. There has been more projections, ADP, auction and rankings data released and it needed to get added in for you to drool over. In addition, I was feeling ambitious and made a number of requested tweaks and changes to the sheets.

Before touching upon all of the updates, for those who are finding these cheatsheets for the first time, here is some background for you:

The cheatsheets are interactive spreadsheets that are can be tuned to your personal league settings and preferences. You will be able to use these sheets to see how valuable each player is specifically for your league. The spreadsheets also update throughout the draft so you can easily know when you need to adapt your draft strategy based on how a draft is going. For the data nerds, you get a ton of available projections and draft data right at your fingertips in one easy place.

As for the changes that I made in this latest version, a brief summary of the major changes:

  • Added IF (Infield) as a new roster spot that you can choose. This roster spot is similar to CI and MI but covers 1B, 2B, 3B and SS.
  • Added a whole lot of new roto batting categories: Net SB, Singles, Combo (BB+SB-KO), Caught Stealing, Fielding Errors
  • Added a whole lot of new roto pitching categories: Earned Runs, Games Started, Complete Games, Shutouts
  • Added new stats for points league calculations: Fielding Errors and GIDP for hitters and Games Started for pitchers
  • Added my Special Blend projections as a selection projection
  • Opened the ability to do Combined projections and select how you'd like to weight each source
  • Added ZiPS and MORPS projections
  • Added new rankings sources (such as Rotographs and ESPN Points League rankings)
  • Added CBS and ESPN ADP data
  • Added ESPN auction data
  • Updated projections, ADP data, Auction Value data and Rankings that had updates available
  • And, there's a whole lot of minor little tweaks and fixes that I made that aren't major but had either been requested or were things I noticed

With that being said, it's time to download your cheatsheets! There are three types of cheatsheets. For rotisserie league owners (whether it's H2H or traditional), you can use the standard draft or the auction draft cheatsheet depending on your draft type. If you're not in a roto league, there's also a cheatsheet for point scoring leagues too.


To better understand all of the features of these special little cheatsheets, skim through this post here that explains each area of the spreadsheets. 

Please note that these sheets are designed for Microsoft Excel and utilize macros which will make them unable to be used on Mac versions of Excel (it sucks, I know). 

Once downloading the sheets, you'll be prompted with two messages to enable content and then you'll be able to use them fully after that. Once again, if you are a bit confused upon opening the cheatsheets, refer to the how-to post here.

For this round of updates, I made a lot of changes that may not be evident and I did my own testing but there very well may be things you notice that aren't acting as you'd expect. If that's the case then drop me a line in the comments and I'll get it fixed. Also, if you had used the previous version of the sheets and entered keepers or data in, feel free to click Save Settings there then come over to the new version and click Load Settings to bring in that old data.

Enjoy and happy fantasy baseball draft season!

Mar 2, 2015

The 2015 Mr. Cheatsheet Special Blend Projections


As a reader of this site, you may be familiar with my analysis of how well the various baseball projection systems performed each year for fantasy baseball purposes. I came to the conclusion early in my time of doing that analysis that simply averaging together the various projections can yield great results. That revelation eventually lead me down the path of trying to find the optimal weighting of the projections to achieve even better results. That work has led to the creation of my Special Blend of projections and the 2015 version of those projections are now available.

I analyzed each statistic and the how well the projections performed in each of those statistics so that I could average the projections together but weight them differently for each statistic. This Special Blend has performed better than any of the projections that are involved within it. For 2015, I tweaked the weightings a little bit more now that I have last year's projections added to my dataset to research. Those tweaks should make this year's special blend of projections even more special.

The projection sources that go into the Special Blend are:
For each statistic in the projections, a combination of some of those projections is used and weighted based on how well those projections have performed in the past. Without the hard work of all of those involved in making those initial projections, this special blend would cease to exist. Many kudos to them.

The projections for 2015 are listed below with a column for a calculated WERTH roto value for a standard 5x5 roto league. You can also access them through a Google Doc here and you are able to download them from there.

Updated: 03/02/2014

While these projections have most of the big names for fantasy baseball this year, it's possible you may see some names missing from this list. This will happen if one of the projection sources did not provide a projection for a player. That is often the case with rookies or debuting international players. All sources involved here must have a projection for a player in order for this special blending to work.

Enjoy browsing and utilizing these projections! I will be adding them to my fantasy baseball cheatsheets in the next release.

Mar 1, 2015

How Does Fantasy Baseball's Position Scarcity Look For 2015?


Your goal at your fantasy baseball draft is to maximize the value at each of your starting positions. You have to start somebody at each position so your decision in each round isn't only about which player you want to draft but what position you want to draft. That decision about which position to draft should be mainly driven by how many options you may have at those positions in the following rounds.

This post is going to specifically look at player value throughout a traditional 12 team roto league draft so draft rounds are referring to a player's current average draft position (using the Fantasy Pros ADP data) and what round that falls in for a 12 team league. Despite references to draft rounds, the findings about which positions are most scarce can be applied to all league types.

First, let's look at the average roto total WERTH values by draft position throughout the first 20 rounds of a draft. This will give us some indication of when there's potential dropoffs in value at a position.

Draft Round
1-2 3-4 5-6 7-8 9-10 11-12 13-14 15-16 17-18 19-20
C
1
-3
0
-4
-2
-5
-4
-6
1B
7
3
0
0
-1
1
1
-2
2B
4
0
0
-3
-1
-2
-2
-2
-3
3B
3
-1
1
0
0
-3
-3
-1
SS
6
2
-1
-1
-2
-3
-3
-3
OF
6
2
2
1
-1
-1
-1
-3
-3
-2
SP
7
4
1
0
0
-1
-1
-1
-3
-3
RP
3
1
-1
-1
-2
-1
-2
-3
-4

Looking at the data above, you can see how the value flows throughout a draft at each position. But, beyond that, the question remains about how you should adjust your draft strategy this year as a result of potential position scarcity. A closer look at each position is needed.

Target 1B Early


First Baseman

There are five great options in the first two rounds for 1B and then a huge drop in value afterwards. While there's still some decent options that follow in the next two rounds, it's still a far cry from the top five here. After the first nine 1B are drafted, there's a significant drop in value throughout the rest of the draft but, at that point, it's best to just wait because there's not a huge value difference between grabbing a Joey Votto in the 6th round or drafting a Justin Morneau or Eric Hosmer in the 16th round. The drop in value here from the early rounds is significant though so targeting 1B early is key.

Either Gamble Or Wait On These Positions


Catcher

This position has some major scarcity issues as there's a pretty big dropoff after Buster Posey is off the board but there's still some decent options at each stage in the draft. Evan Gattis is projected to be a good value at around the 100th pick and Brian McCann is still projected to be a viable player 50 picks later. Aside from that, there's really not any great values at the catcher position if you miss on those guys so it's best to just pick up someone like a Travis d'Arnaud at the tail end of the draft. Regardless, you have options.

Second Baseman

While there's some scarcity here, you can find 2B value at all points in the draft. Jose Altuve and Robinson Cano will be the first names off the board then Ian Kinsler should be a decent value in the 5th round and Dustin Pedroia in the 8th round. If you miss on those then Ben Zobrist or Javier Baez are both solid values in the later rounds. While it's nice to get one of the top two here, I wouldn't worry too much if you don't because there's good value at many points.

Shortstop

There's a lot of value to be had at the top here if you're willing to gamble on the health of Troy Tulowitzki or Hanley Ramirez. Aside from gambling on those two, there's not a ton of value at SS. Jose Reyes is a nice value in the 4th round and then Elvis Andrus is a decent value in the 10th round but it's a bunch of slop after that. If you miss out on one of those SS, I'd gamble on the potential of a Xander Bogaerts in the 14th round or settle for the consistency of an Erick Aybar even later on.

Relief Pitcher

RP's are notably hard to project because their value can be changed by a finicky manager who determines who is filling in the closer role and there's always a lot of movement throughout the league there. The first four options at RP (Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, Greg Holland, Kenley Jansen) represent the safest options and should all deliver great value but they will cost you an early round pick. You can possibly get similar value later but you have to rely on things like whether Jake McGee can get healthy or Andrew Miller can secure the closer role in New York. If you're not a fan of risk then spending an early pick may be worth it. RP is so volatile that I'm not a fan of using an early pick on it because you can always find closers on the waiver wire if you're active enough (especially if you're using Closer Monkey to get notified of closer changes).

Don't Wait Too Long On These Positions


Third Baseman

Much like 2B, this is a position that has some value at the top and then some stagnancy afterwards but there's value to be had at 3B afterwards. I'd try to ensure that you have your 3B by the end of the 10th round because there's a huge dropoff after that though. In the 5th or 6th rounds, Evan Longoria and Nolan Arenado are nice players to target but Pablo Sandoval and Manny Machado both represent the a source of great value later on. I'd keep my eye on one of them instead of stressing about an early round option.

Outfield

There's some serious elite value in the first round here and then it's a pretty gradual decline without any huge notable drops in value. However, your options become more and more limited after the 10th round so I'd ensure you have at least most of your OF spots filled by this point. Afterwards, there's some decent veteran options like Shin-Soo Choo, Jayson Werth and Denard Span and some higher potential options such as Joc Pederson, Lorenzo Cain and Oswaldo Arcia. Targeting an elite OF option is certainly a good idea but making sure you continue to find value options through the first 10 rounds is important here too.

Starting Pitcher

There's Clayton Kershaw and then there's everyone else. There's probably not a single pitcher from the earlier rounds that doesn't have at least some questions surrounding them (such as "how will Max Scherzer react to a new team and league?" or "will his playoff workload affect Madison Bumgarner?" and so on). While there's certainly many talented options at all points in the draft, I feel that you can grab one or two elite arms early but then find some serious gems later in the draft if you know where to look. In the later rounds, there are guys that I've projected as possible sleepers such as Collin McHugh, Matt Shoemaker or Danny Sanatana who may very well end up being just as valuable as the early draft picks. In my opinion, SP represents the best chance at finding value in the late rounds and I'd invest in some sure things but then load up my bench with a lot of high upside pitchers and hope that a few of them hit as low-risk but high-reward options.

Feb 20, 2015

Who Had The Best Fantasy Baseball Pitcher Projections in 2014?


After I analyzed the hitter projections this week, you were left wondering how those same projection systems did for the pitchers of the baseball world in 2014. Have no fear, my fantasy baseball friends, because the time has come to see who did the best when it came to pitching now.

In the years that I've been looking at this, Steamer has always done an admirable job at projecting pitchers while the Fangraphs Fans have always shared the spotlight with strong performances too. They both have their separate strengths with one being a scientific system and the other being crowdsourced human opinions. History may not be the best indicator of 2014 success though because we saw that the previously great Steamer had a rough year with hitter projections already. Will we see things change here with the pitchers too?

For a profile of the main projection systems, you can read my linked post from last year about them (broken into the categories of Age Regression systems, Comparable Player systems and the Human Element systems). As with the hitter analysis, I'm including Guru and RotoChamp projections this time around. However, the CBS projections did not have all the data that I needed for this analysis so I could not include them as well in this study.

To reiterate what I mentioned in the hitter post, I'm doing this analysis for fantasy baseball draft purposes. I'm not trying to analyze the projections for any purpose beyond trying to see who gave the best projections for last year's pool of draftable pitchers. Yes, other pitchers emerged during this season but this is about your draft day.

The Projection Sources

In addition to the sources that I already listed above, I'll be analyzing some of our usual competitors (which you can read about in my previous projection introduction post):

  • Steamer
  • ZiPS
  • CAIRO
  • Oliver
  • Marcel
  • Clay Davenport
  • MORPS
  • Fangraphs
  • Mr. Cheatsheet's Special Blend - For those unfamiliar, this is where I combine the projections into a master projection but I apply different weighting of the combinations for each individual stat to try to come up with the best possible combination of available projections.

The Method

This method follows a similar process to the hitter analysis. The first thing I attempt to do is I take all of the main stats that we want to analyze in the projections and then I standardize it so that we're comparing the projected z-score (how many standard deviations above/below average the projection is for that universe) as opposed to comparing the actual projection to the actual result. This is because we want to know how that individual projection rates within that universe of projections. We're really trying to know who was projected as above average or below average in those stats and testing to see if that ended up being true.

For pitchers, I only used four stats for this analysis. Though there are five standard rotisserie categories, projecting Saves is really a fool's errand and not something that all projections do. The stats that were compared were wins, strikeouts, ERA and WHIP. I did adjust ERA and WHIP for fantasy purposes to basically weight them by innings pitched (low or high ERA/WHIP over more innings has a more positive or negative impact).

So with my projected and actual z-scores in those four stats, I used Mean Absolute Error (MAE) to compare the results. This averages the difference between the projected z-score and actual z-score in each stat.

Since this is specifically analyzing how valuable the projections were on draft day, I only included players in this analysis that were actually drafted in most leagues last year and were also shared among all of these analyzed projection systems. If a player played in an extremely limited capacity last year, I removed them as well so they didn't skew the results too much. After this was done, I was left with a pool of 131 pitchers to compare.

The Initial Results

Knowing how well Steamer had done at projecting pitchers in the past with pitcher projections, my assumption was that we'd see more of the same but, as we saw in the hitter results, the story changed a little bit this year for pitchers. Here are how the systems ranked in each of the statistics that I analyzed:

W K ERA WHIP Avg Rank
Special Blend
1
2
6 6 3.75
Clay 4 3 7
1
3.75
Fangraphs
2
1
8 5 4
Marcel 8 5 3 4 5
Oliver 11 8
1
2
5.5
ZiPS 10 6 5 3 6
RotoChamp 3 9 4 8 6
Steamer 5 4 10 9 7
Guru 9 10
2
7 7
CAIRO 7 7 9 10 8.25
MORPS 6 11 11 11 9.75

I was happy to see that my Special Blend of projections tied for first because it finished in the middle of the pack last year and that wasn't a good sign for how I was weighting the various pitching projections. That being said, it still could have done better, especially in the vital ERA and WHIP categories.

The systems that actually did the best in the ERA and WHIP categories were the basic Age Regression systems of Marcel, Oliver and Guru. While they struggled at predicting strikeout and wins, they were the best systems for predicting the rate-based stats of ERA and WHIP.

The system that did best at predicted those strikeouts and wins was the human-based Fangraphs system. Those two stats are a bit reliant on playing time and usually the systems that rely on people to project playing time do the best in that regard so it's not a total surprise to see Fangraphs do well there. This was true in last year's analysis too where Steamer had the best projections but struggled with Wins and K's while Fangraphs did quite well.

To see just how high or low each system ranked in those categories, check out the chart below.



We can see that Clay Davenport actually had the best projections overall but, that being said, there's not a huge margin of victory here as it's very close between all of the top projections.

The Results Per IP

When I did my hitter analysis, I also looked at how the projections broke down when playing time was essentially eliminated from the projections. I wanted to do the same for pitchers but it's a bit tricky to get exactly right. The best way to do it would be if I could get projections for Wins per Games and K% but, of course, not all projections get that deep. I opted to work with what I had available and I broke it down to wins and strikeouts per inning pitched and removed any playing time related weights from ERA and WHIP that I used above. If nothing else, it will at least give a slight look into seeing how the systems performed without playing time projections being such a big factor.

Here are how the systems ranked in this version of the analysis:

W K ERA WHIP Avg Rank
Fangraphs
1
7
2
5 3.75
ZiPS 6 3 7
2
4.5
RotoChamp
2
8 5 3 4.5
Special Blend 8
1
4 6 4.75
Oliver 10 6
1
4 5.25
Guru 4 11 3 7 6.25
CAIRO 5 4 10 9 7
Clay 9 9 9
1
7
Steamer 11
2
6 10 7.25
MORPS 3 5 11 11 7.5
Marcel 7 10 8 8 8.25

Fangraphs was able to find their way on top with their crowdsourced projections and we saw a shifting in the other systems with ZiPS benefiting the most from this change. My Special Blend of projections took a slight hit and so did Clay Davenport here.

When we look at the chart below to see exactly how these systems rated out, there's still not a ton of separation between the top few systems. While there's winners and losers, it's a pretty close race here.



Conclusions

It jumps out to me just how there really wasn't any system that differentiated themselves from the others here. In the past, it's usually pretty clear to see who had the best or worst system and that wasn't the case this year. 

Some conclusions that we can draw are that the basic systems like Marcel do a fine job when it comes to ERA and WHIP while the systems that allow human intervention to help with playing time projections (Fangraphs) do well with wins and strikeouts. With that in mind, I'm going to work on tweaking my Special Blend of projections to try to find a better system for next season. I'll publish my findings in the near future.

Winners

I'd like to give out an award for the top three systems but this was just too damn close and there really wasn't a clear-cut winner, let alone three. I'd say Fangraphs did the best job in both variations of the analysis while Clay Davenport kicked butt when it came to his WHIP projections. Beyond that, it's hard to say anyone really stood out from the pack this year. With all of that in mind, I'll say the top two projections from last season were:

Fangraphs
Clay Davenport

Feb 17, 2015

Who Had The Best Fantasy Baseball Hitter Projections in 2014?


Given that a big part of using these fantasy baseball cheatsheets is making sure you have good projections within them, I've made a habit of doing an analysis of the projections each season. In the past three years, Steamer has swept the field by being named my best projection system for hitters every year. I still found that combining projection systems (or, like with my Special Blend projections, combining while using appropriate weights for each stat) is often even more accurate though. When looking back at 2014, will anybody be able to catch up to Steamer this time around and will the combined projections still work best?

Last year, I profiled the main projection systems (broken into the categories of Age Regression systems, Comparable Player systems and the Human Element systems). I've opted to include RotoChamp, Guru and CBS Sportsline as new sources for the analysis this year though. I can't find information on RotoChamp's methodology but Guru is an age regression model. On the other hand, CBS Sportsline represents your standard "expert" projections that are more human-based. I haven't analyzed a system like CBS in the past to compare to the more scientific-minded models so I am interested to see how it does.

In this particular analysis, the goal isn't to find which system most accurately predicted the entire baseball world nor is it to see who predicted which teams would do best. No, the goal here is simply to find out which one of these systems did the best job at projecting our fantasy baseball hitters last year.

Before we get started, I want to note that the Baseball Projection Project is a great resource if you ever want to gather up this old information and do your own analysis too. All it takes is a bit of drive, passion and tons of free time.

The Projection Sources

In addition to the sources that I already listed above, I'll be analyzing some of our usual competitors (which you can read about in my previous projection introduction post):

  • Steamer
  • ZiPS
  • CAIRO
  • Oliver
  • Marcel
  • Clay Davenport
  • MORPS
  • Fangraphs
  • Mr. Cheatsheet's Special Blend - For those unfamiliar, this is where I combine the projections into a master projection but I apply different weighting of the combinations for each individual stat to try to come up with the best possible combination of available projections.

The Method

If you're using a single projection system for your fantasy baseball draft then you're not exactly worried about whether a projection comes close to the actual end-of-year total. Sounds crazy, right? What I mean is that you actually want to the system to be accurate in telling you how far above or below average each player is within those projections. One system might award home runs more generously than another but all you really want to know is who has the best projected stats in that universe because that helps you determine who you should draft on draft day.

Keeping that fact in mind, I standardize all of the projections for each statistic so that I look at the predicted z-score in that stat for each player (z-score being how many standard deviations above/below the mean that projection was). At that point, I choose to use Mean Absolute Error (MAE) to compare the results. It basically averages out the difference between the projected z-score and the z-score from the actual 2014 stats among our pool of comparable players.

This isn't about who predicted the waiver wire wonders. This is about draft day. So I only included players in this analysis that were showing up in drafts last pre-season and were shared among all of these analyzed projection systems. I also removed players who ended up not playing last season or played in an extremely limited capacity. This left 228 hitters in my pool of players from last season.

The Initial Results

My analysis focused on the five main rotisserie categories to see how well the systems did in projecting the actual results there. All of these results were dependent on playing time in my analysis, including batting average (which I had weighted by number of plate appearances for rotisserie purposes). After crunching the numbers, I expected to see Steamer rise to the top again but was surprised to see some different results for 2014.

HR AVG R RBI SB Avg Rank
Special Blend
1
1
3
2
3 2
CBS 4 6
1
1
2
2.8
RotoChamp 6 12
2
3
1
4.8
Fangraphs
2
4 8 4 7 5
Steamer 3
2
7 5 9 5.2
ZiPS 5 3 6 9 6 5.8
CAIRO 7 9 5 6 4 6.2
MORPS 10 7 4 7 5 6.6
Clay 8 10 10 8 12 9.6
Oliver 11 8 12 11 8 10
Marcel 9 11 9 10 11 10
Guru 12 5 11 12 10 10

My Special Blend of projections finished first, which did not shock me, but the CBS Sportsline projections actually finished in second place and even the Fangraphs Fans finished above Steamer. Perhaps it shouldn't be a shock that two systems that rely on humans to project playing time finished at the top in this type of analysis. As stated above, I'm not sure of RotoChamp's methods but they might also use human intervention for determining playing time instead of using a scientific projection.

To see just how high or low each system ranked in those categories, check out the chart below.


Notably, the projections that relied most heavily on age regression (Marcel, Guru, Oliver) were the ones that performed the worst in this type of analysis.

Seeing that the "human systems" did so well in this analysis, it begs the question of whether they would do as well when playing time was not a factor in their projections so let's analyze that.

The Results Per AB

I couldn't break down the results to look at each stat per plate appearance (which in my mind would have been the best method) because I didn't have projected PA's for all of my data. However, I did have projected AB's for all of my data so I used that instead to see how well the projections did when looking at HR's per AB, R's per AB and such. These results looked a bit more familiar but, still, with some strange twists.

HR AVG R RBI SB Avg Rank
Special Blend
2
1
1
2
1
1.4
ZiPS 3 3
2
5 4 3.4
Steamer
1
2
10
1
6 4
Fangraphs 4 6 12 3 5 6
CBS 7 5 8 8
2
6
Oliver 11 7 4 4 7 6.6
CAIRO 8 10 5 6 8 7.4
Marcel 6 9 3 7 12 7.4
Clay 5 8 9 11 11 8.8
RotoChamp 9 11 11 10 3 8.8
Guru 12 4 7 12 9 8.8
MORPS 10 12 6 9 10 9.4

The first thing to note is that ZiPS and Steamer benefited the most from taking away playing time projections as a factor. In fact, both systems performed better than any other method when simply projecting raw production per at bat.

The human systems still fared fairly well with Fangraphs and CBS both being close to the top. RotoChamp, however, fell drastically in this version of the projections so it seems that their playing time projection was a big part of their success from the first analysis.

The age regression systems of Marcel, Oliver and CAIRO all saw a boost here without playing time dragging them down as well.

When looking at the chart below breaking down just how far well each system performed in each category, we see that Steamer and ZiPS were pretty far above the rest of the pack (with Steamer actually finishing second despite what you see above). On top of that, we also see that the Special Blend of projections fared the best of all.



Conclusions

The first conclusion to draw is that playing time projections have a huge influence on the accuracy of projections. The scientific models struggle at projecting playing time because it really isn't something that predictable. Humans have a better idea of who is projected to start or just get playing time. This is likely the reason that Steamer has tried out a few variations of their methodology over the years like taking playing time projections from the Fans at Fangraphs (I think they stopped doing this though) or just doing a flat projection of 600 PA's for everyone so that playing time isn't a factor.

With playing time removed, Steamer and ZiPS do a great job at projecting how well the players will do for you. And, in either case of using playing time or not, the CBS Sportsline expert projections actually did a damn fine job.

However, as in the past, the power of combining projections still wins out. Even when playing time is a factor, a combination of projections still is the best method for your fantasy success.

Winners

I struggle to determine first place, second place or third place prizes this year because of the variety of results that we saw. There just isn't a clear-cut winner (outside of combining projections) so I'll award my top three, in no special order, instead. Without further ado, the 2014 best projections were:

CBS Sportsline
Steamer
ZiPS

Feb 11, 2015

2015 Fantasy Baseball Draft Cheatsheets (Roto, Auction, Points) Released


There's a pretty good reason that this site is called Mr. Cheatsheet and that's because I specialize in creating powerful, customizable and (most importantly) free Excel spreadsheets that you can use to dominate your fantasy baseball drafts. I am releasing the first version of the 2015 draft cheatsheets to the world today but there will be more updates to come over the weeks ahead.

The cheatsheets are interactive spreadsheets that are can be tuned to your personal league settings and preferences. You will be able to use these sheets to see how valuable each player is specifically for your league. The spreadsheets also update throughout the draft so you can easily know when you need to adapt your draft strategy based on how a draft is going. For the data nerds, you get a ton of available projections and draft data right at your fingertips in one easy place.

There are three types of cheatsheets. For rotisserie league owners, you can use the standard draft or the auction draft cheatsheet depending on your draft type. If you're not in a roto league, there's also a cheatsheet for point scoring leagues too.


To better understand all of the features of these special little cheatsheets, skim through this post here that explains each area of the spreadsheets. 

Please note that these sheets are designed for Microsoft Excel and utilize macros which will make them unable to be used on Mac versions of Excel (it sucks, I know). 

Once downloading the sheets, you'll be prompted with two messages to enable content and then you'll be able to use them fully after that. Once again, if you are a bit confused upon opening the cheatsheets, refer to the how-to post here.

Within this release, there are a number of data sources available for projections, rankings and average draft position. There will be many more sources of data coming in the releases between now and April and there will be updates to the current data as well.

Enjoy the cheatsheets and let me know if you have any issues so I can make sure to get them fixed before your draft rolls around!

How To Use Your Fantasy Baseball Cheatsheets To Win Your League


So, you've got a cheatsheet on your computer and, well, you don't know what to do next. It seems cool but what the hell do you do with it? Maybe you are sitting there and you are overwhelmed by the myriad of options and, frankly, you may be a little scared. Don't fret though! Get out of the fetal position, stop sucking your thumb and read through this little guide here to understand everything that is going on in the cheatsheets.

This is going to be a lengthy explanation of everything within the sheets. If you're just looking for an answer about one thing in particular, browse the headers and you may find what you're looking for. This is basically a big ol' instruction manual for those who need more info about these cheatsheets. Feel free to post questions in the comments below though to help clear anything up.

Setting Up Your Cheatsheets

A big part of using these cheatsheets is making them custom for you. You'll be given a ton of options to choose from that will make the sheet unique to your league and your preferences. Before we get started with looking at the cheatsheet, you need to customize it first.

Before You Get Started

When you open the cheatsheet, most will be presented with two messages from Microsoft. The first is about the cheatsheet coming from an internet source and they're just making sure you're cool with that. The second message will be about whether you want to allow macros to be able to run on this cheatsheet. You do want that because the macros are basically some code that I've put behind the scenes of the spreadsheet for it to do all of this fun automated stuff for you.

The two messages that you'll likely see when you open up the cheatsheets.
After enabling these two messages, we're ready to start customizing.

Loading/Saving Settings

A settings pop-up should now appear. On this screen, you have the option to load previous settings you may have saved. This is helpful for when there are later releases of the cheatsheets and you may have already set up your league, your team names and put in the keepers for your league. In that case, all you'll need to do is click Save Settings in your old cheatsheet (and choose a location to save the settings) then come into the updated cheatsheet and click Load Settings then find that file and all of your league options and keepers will get loaded in automatically. (Note: If you click those buttons and then click Cancel without loading or saving a file then it will cause your cheatsheet to act up. Just close the sheet and start again if you do that.)

If you're not loading or saving then you can just cruise past this page by clicking the Proceed to Step 1 button.

Your League Rules

The next screen in the initial setup is where you'll put in the information about your league's rules. In roto leagues, this is where you'll choose the categories used in your league scoring. In point scoring leagues, this is where you'll set your scoring settings. In auction leagues, you'll also be able to set information about your salary cap and bidding. And, finally, you'll set the number of starters required at each position because this helps the cheatsheet calculate who the projected starters are and that drives some of the calculations for replacement level players and more.

In addition, you have a button at the bottom that allows you to select Alternate Player Pools. For those in AL or NL Only leagues, this is where you will want to set that (or, if you're in some strange hybrid league that only uses certain teams, feel free to choose whatever teams you'd like).

Finally, there's a button that allows you to input the team names for your league. This is helpful for when the draft is actually happening because you can track who got drafted by whom and you'll be able to see live Standings updated throughout the draft.

Your Data Sources

Now that you've told the cheatsheet about your league so it knows how to calculate the player values for you, you need to tell the cheatsheet what data you want to use. For standard drafts, there's many options for different Average Draft Position sources. I typically recommend choosing the ADP source from the website that your league uses (CBS data for CBS leagues) since everyone's drafts are influenced by their site's rankings. For auctions, you can choose from a variety of auction value sources.

If you have a favorite expert ranking that you want to use then feel free to select it so that you can be presented with that data during the draft.

Then, lastly, you'll want to select what projections you want to use. This is important because these projections will drive the projected player values that you see in the sheet. If you are unfamiliar with the options you have, you can read this post but Steamer is a good choice to default to given their track record (or, when available, using my Special Blend projections).

Using Imported Data

Despite there being quite a few ADP, Auction Values and Projections options to choose from, you may have a different source you'd like to use there. If so, download the template for importing your own data and then click on the appropriate option on this part of the setup and then follow the steps for uploading your data.

Browsing Your Cheatsheet

Now you've got your league rules set and your sources chosen so you are ready to browse through all sorts of fun fantasy baseball data. You have five tabs that are part of the spreadsheet (at the bottom) but you'll be starting in the Draft Central sheet initially.

Basic Player Data

When your cheatsheet opens, you'll see a listing of all available players and a number of columns with data on them. The first column you see is where you can select which team drafted a player during the draft. After that, you see the player's name and same basic info about their position, team and age. If you are not satisfied with the position listed for a player, you can click on the position and change it. This may make your team summaries and lineups more accurate.

After that data, you see some information based on the sources you chose. For standard drafts, you'll see the ADP here and the ADP Round. For auctions, you'd see the projected auction value (based on the projections) and the average auction value for the source you chose (showing the initial value and how the value changes throughout the draft based on the bidding during the draft).

WERTH Values (for Roto players)

For roto players, you get presented with some WERTH values for each player. In non-technical terms, these are basically showing you how valuable the player is in each roto category that your league uses. You can kind of think of it as a way to show you how many places in the standings that they'll help you for that category.

In more technical terms, the value for a player in each category is how many standard deviations from the league average they are in that category. League average being the average of all projected starters (based on league settings). So, if the league average for stolen bases is 11 per starting player and the standard deviation among starters is also 11 then a player who is projected to have 22 stolen bases would be one standard deviation above average (thus, a WERTH value of 1.0). You are shown a WERTH value that is not position-adjusted but you can also see what their WERTH is if you adjust for the position that they player (giving bonuses to players at more scarce positions).

Point League Stats (for Points players)

For points scoring leagues, you don't get a WERTH value but you get something similar by being able to see how many standard deviations above average that a player is at his position. This will give you a good way of knowing how valuable a player regardless of position. In addition, you can view a players projected points per plate appearance or inning pitched. This way, you can see how valuable a player might be regardless of projected playing time.

Odds Currently Available (for standard drafts)

When you're considering whether to reach for a player or try to let them slip another round, you may be wondering how likely it is that they will still be available next round. These fields on the cheatsheet estimate how likely it is that the player will still be available based on the highest points and lowest points that they've been drafted.

Viewing Options

In looking at your Draft Central tab here, you may decide that you want to hide certain columns that aren't relevant to you. You can do so by clicking on the Show/Hide button. From there, you can also control whether to show or hide players who have already been drafted as your draft is going on.

You'll also be able to sort the data in a variety of ways so you can help narrow down your draft choice during your draft.

Also, if you want to search for a specific player then you may find that the typical Ctrl+F shortcut doesn't work well here so you'll have to click on the Search button and search for the player that you're looking for.

Positional Worksheet


During your draft, you may want a click glance at the entire draft pool by position to be able to see who is still available. As a result, you can jump over to the Positional Worksheet tab to see who is available at each position (previously drafted players are crossed off). You can also see their projected value and projected draft spot. This updates live throughout the draft.

Player Profile and Comparisons


When you're thinking about drafting a particular player, you may want to see more than just one projection, ranking or piece of data about them. In that case, skip on over to the Player Profile tab. This is where you can pull up a player and see all of the projections and data there is about them. Also, if you wanted to compare them at a glance to another player you are considering then you can select a second player here to view at the same time.

Standings Change


As another neat little feature on the Player Profile tab, you can also see how drafting this player would affect a certain team's place in the standings for Roto leagues. Despite one player having a higher overall value, he may not be a good fit for a particular team because of players they already drafted. By looking at the Standings Change section here, you can see how they'll affect your own particular team at any point.

Live Standings

The key to having a good roto draft is to know what areas you need to address during your draft. By clicking on the Live Standings tab, you'll be able to see what categories you are currently struggling in or dominating at any time. This is very valuable information to be able to adapt your draft strategy at any time. The standings will only be affected by players who are currently projected to be a team's starter.

Team Summary

The final tab to look would be the Team Summary tab. This can remind you about who you have already drafted and what their projected value is. Since the live standings are affected by your team's starters, you can view who is projected to be a starter here. If you want to change a player's position because of how they're projected here then you can go back to the Draft Central tab to change that.

Using Your Cheatsheets During The Draft

These cheatsheets are most valuable early on in the draft. As the draft gets going, it's important to update the Draft Central tab by choosing the team who drafted a player. This will allow your standings to get updated and keep your sheet showing only available players. As the draft gets later on, it sometimes gets harder to keep track of everyone so you may not be as picky about getting all of the picks in but you can still see projected player values at that point. It's up to you how to use these cheatsheets really but one of the most powerful aspects of them is the fact that they change throughout your draft so that makes it pretty important to mark players off as they get drafted.

Also, keep in mind that you can always change Settings to see other projections or rankings to get more opinions. You have a lot of data here so take advantage of it! Don't make any of your draft decisions without being properly informed.

That wraps up the lengthy cheatsheet rundown here! Post any questions or comments below and happy drafting in the meantime.