Mar 17, 2015

How You Should Value Players in 2015 Fantasy Baseball Points Leagues

Rotisserie may be the most popular version of fantasy baseball leagues but points-based formats continue to not only exist but also grow in popularity. You wouldn't know that though if you read fantasy baseball websites or look up rankings because most of the fantasy baseball information on the internet is catered to those dang roto leagues. If you happen to find yourself in a points league, you should probably know how to adjust your strategy and rankings while the rest of your league is left staring at roto rankings and figuring out what to do with them.

While roto leagues only look at a few key stats, points leagues come from the fantasy football style of awarding points for nearly all stats. So, unlike standard roto leagues, a hitter gets properly awarded for hitting a double or triple and they get properly penalized for striking out or getting caught stealing. These are all important parts of being a hitter in actual baseball but they are meaningless stats to standard roto players.

Points leagues are a bit trickier to write about because there is not a standard scoring system used across the fantasy baseball universe. In this article, I've done some comparisons between points and roto leagues using the default CBS Sports scoring system:

  • Hitters: 1B (1 pt), 2B (2 pt), 3B (3 pt), HR (4 pt), RBI (1 pt), Run (1 pt), SB (2 pt), CS (-1 pt), KO (-0.5 pt), BB (1 pt)
  • Pitchers: Win (7 pt), Loss (-5 pt), IP (3 pt), HA (-1 pt), BB (-1 pt), KO (0.5 pt), ER (-1 pt), Sv (7 pt), QS (3 pt)
Ultimately, your scoring system will dictate player value so be aware of it. In this case though (and in the case of most points leagues), we see that there are quite a few stats that are accounted for that are not typically accounted for in valuing roto players. In trying to determine which players should change value in points leagues, I created a crude little stat called Point League Rating Score that simply calculated the point totals for the stats that are unique to points leagues for hitters (2B, 3B, CS, BB, KO) and for pitchers (IP & Losses are the main ones but I also included Ks and SVs because I've found a strong correlation with these stats to a change in points league values).

In my years of looking at points leagues versus roto leagues, I've come up with the following four tenets to keep in mind:
  • Health plays an important role in point leagues. If you have a great player, you need him to play in order to accrue points. Rate-based stats like ERA/WHIP/AVG don't mean as much as net production.
  • Strikeouts are important in two ways. You want to be cautious of hitters with high strikeout rates while you give bonus points to hitters who can avoid strikeouts. In addition, you want to target pitchers who can accumulate strikeouts even if their ERA/WHIP may be a bit higher.
  • Extra-base hits are much more important for point leagues. Hitters who can hit doubles and triples provide great value that moves them up in the point rankings.
  • Hitters who draw a lot of walks also have more value so look towards OBP rates over AVG when comparing players.
With all of that in mind, I came up with the following spreadsheet that shows how the values change from roto to points leagues (which you can view and download here):

Key Hitters To Move Up In Points Leagues

  • Carlos Santana (40th ranked hitter in Roto to 17th in Points Leagues)
  • Matt Carpenter (69 in Roto / 34 in Pts)
  • Ben Zobrist (81 in Roto / 37 in Pts)
  • Joey Votto (74 in Roto / 52 in Pts)
  • Denard Span (86 in Roto / 58 in Pts)
For Carlos Santana and Joey Votto, they strike a nice balance of being able to hit a good amount of doubles while racking up a huge amount of walks. These are two wonderful hidden factors in points leagues. Carpenter also is a extra-base hits machine and he's not as affected in points leagues by his lack of HR and SB ability. Zobrist and Span meanwhile have such good value because they mix extra-base hits with an ability to not strike out a ton, which is also valuable here.

Key Hitters To Move Down In Points Leagues

  • Adam Jones (11 in Roto / 23 in Points)
  • Ian Desmond (28 in Roto / 50 in Points)
  • Chris Davis (32 in Roto / 61 in Points)
  • Carlos Gonzalez (47 in Roto / 82 in Points)
  • J.D. Martinez (54 in Roto / 86 in Points)
The same story with pretty much all of these guys is this: they don't walk much and they strike out a lot. The biggest sin for a player in points leagues is not being able to draw walks. Hitters who strike out a lot also can be a huge drain to your roster (especially in leagues that penalize you more than the settings I used above) so try to avoid players who hit on both marks. Even a player like Corey Dickerson can be hurt by these two factors despite being projected among the league leaders in extra-base hits.

Key Pitchers To Move Up In Points Leagues

  • Justin Verlander (37 in Roto / 18 in Points)
  • Zach Britton (84 in Roto / 23 in Points)
  • Jeff Samardzija (54 in Roto / 24 in Points)
  • Ian Kennedy (41 in Roto / 32 in Points)
  • R.A. Dickey (95 in Roto / 35 in Points)
These particular movements in rankings are pretty heavily reliant on the projections so take them with a grain of salt if you think Dickey and Verlander won't live up to their projections. The idea here though is that Dickey and Verlander are still both projected to pitch over 200 IP and innings are valuable in points leagues because they're a major source of points that can overcome their slightly higher ERA's and WHIP's (which are generally more important in roto leagues).

For Samardzija and Kennedy, their high strikeout totals can offset some of their other weaknesses in roto leagues to move them up the rankings (especially true in leagues that aware even more points for strikeouts than the settings I used above).

For Britton, he's a mediocre RP by most standards but even a mediocre RP is valuable in points leagues because Saves are more important than any other stat to an RP so as long as they're getting Saves then they're valuable.

Key Pitchers To Move Down In Points Leagues

This list could include any number of players because the main thing that hurts a projected point value is a projected lack of innings pitched. So, players coming off injury like Masahiro Tanaka or Matt Harvey are projected for lower inning totals which would mean less points for them to accrue (even though their rate stats like ERA and WHIP would still be great for roto leagues). Aside from that, looking at top pitchers with slightly lower strikeout rates (like Jordan Zimmermann) is another way to gauge who might have a drop in value.


Your scoring system is everything. The rankings you see above likely will differ in your own league. Stolen bases or strikeouts are often valued a bit differently so pay attention to how your scoring system might over or undervalue those. For points leagues, I think it is essential to generate your own custom projections based on your scoring settings because there won't be any rankings out there that are a perfect match for your own settings. Check out my customizable Excel cheatsheets to input your league settings and generate your own league projected values.

Mar 15, 2015

2015 Fantasy Baseball Draft Cheatsheets (Roto, Auction, Points) Update #2

We've come into the homestretch of draft season. There are major injuries popping up and Spring Training is pretty far along and we have pretty much all the data we're going to need at this point for our drafts. So, it's time for one last major update to the cheatsheets for this year. Let's get all that data in there for you to drool over so you can kick some major butt on draft day.

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 in this version of the cheatsheets, these are mainly data-driven updates. The projections have all been updated where updates were available. The rankings have been updated to reflect the latest info. The ADP and Aucton Value data has all been updated as well. In some projections, there weren't updates to reflect major injuries such as Yu Darvish being out for the season so pay special attention to the Player Notes column as I updated that with as much injury information as I could.

With all of that being said, go ahead and download your cheatsheets and start customizing and having fun! 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). 

Some of the basic features of these cheatsheets include:
  • Choose from countless roto categories options and have the cheatsheets calculate estimated roto WERTH values for your draft pool
  • Or, choose from a variety of scoring options for points leagues to generate your projected values
  • Choose from a large number of projection sources (like Steamer, ZiPS and more) or import your own or come up with a weighted custom projection system of your own
  • Choose from a variety of ADP or Auction Value sources (like from your league sites at ESPN or CBS or Yahoo) so you know what to expect out of your leaguemates on draft day (or input your own!)
  • Look at tiered positions for your league and see who is still available
  • Compare players and see how each player could increase your team's projected place in the standings
  • See live league standings throughout the draft to know your areas of weakness or strength
  • See draft odds to know how likely it is a player may be available if you decide to wait on them
  • And, really, a ton of other little minor bells and whistles that you're welcome to play around with!
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.

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.

I plan for this to be the last major update to the cheatsheets for this draft season. If there are bugs or weird behavior you find within the cheatsheet, I'll get those resolved. But, beyond that, this should be what you're using for your drafts this year so enjoy it! If you want to find out about any minor updates that are released for the cheatsheet from this point forward, follow me on Twitter where I'll post them there.

Happy drafting!

Updates since this was first published:
v1.31 on 3/18: Fixed the Save/Load Settings so that it would save drafted players (that were being hidden) and your player notes. Also, fixed some weirdness with importing projections and some weirdness with the BAA stat in Roto Auction sheets.

Mar 13, 2015

2015 Printable Cheatsheet – Tiered Rankings Using ADP & Projected Value

It's easy to get overloaded with fantasy baseball information. There are so many projections and rankings and stats and sleepers and ADP data to keep track of that it can be a bit overwhelming. The Excel cheatsheets that you find on this site try to pull in all of that info into one nice place but there's something to be said for simplicity as opposed to information overload.

For those that are looking for a more simple view of their options on draft day, I present my printable PDF cheatsheets (though you can just as easily use these on your computer if you want to save a tree and not print them). Within the cheatsheet, you'll see players broken down by position and ordered by their average draft position (ADP) at each site. However, they are broken into tiers at that position based on where there are projected drops in value at that position. You'll quickly get a glance at where the value lies at each position and who you might want to target before a tier is all used up.

You can also gauge each player's value within that tier as I put each player's projected WERTH value (based on my Special Blend projections) next to their name. The values are position-adjusted which account for position scarcity with a value of zero representing a replacement level player at that position and anything below zero representing a projected bench player or a starter who will deliver negative value. You may notice that a player who is eligible at multiple positions may have very different values at each position as a result of the position adjustment. I tried to account for multi-position eligibility as best as I could according to the position rules at each site (Yahoo's being the most lenient in that regard). Most of the cheatsheets are two pages in case you want to also have another page for the later rounds of the draft too.

How To Use

You have a few ways to utilize these cheatsheets during your draft. Of course, you could print these out and cross off names with a pen or pencil during the draft but that may be too old school for you. If so, you can always use a PDF editor on your computer to cross off names as they get drafted during your draft.

To accomplish this, I recommend using PDF-XChange Editor which offers a free version and a good alternative to Adobe Acrobat (which you could also use). If you do, you can use the Cross Out Text tool under Comment & Markup Tools. It's a nice way to still have your computer in front of you (and hide your cheatsheet) but keep up to date about who is available at each position.

And, as always, if you want a cheatsheet with a lot more bells and whistles then you could download my customizable Excel cheatsheets.

Mar 10, 2015

Which 2015 Starting Pitchers Should You Target After The Early Rounds?

Of the top 25 starting pitchers at the end of last season, 10 of them came from later points in the draft. Corey Kluber, Tyson Ross and Johnny Cueto were middle round picks. Phil Hughes and Garrett Richards were available in the later rounds while Jake Arrieta, Tanner Roark and Collin McHugh were largely undrafted. There were also pitchers on the fringe of that top 25 like Alex Wood and Scott Kazmir that were late round picks. If you had thought that you need to pay a high price for an elite pitching staff, think again.

Just because there a lot of possible successful pitchers found after the early rounds does not mean there aren't duds too. There were over a hundred starting pitchers drafted outside of the top 25 so you have to know where to look to find those wonderful little needles in the haystick.

Earlier this offseason, I highlighted pitchers that I think have the capability to be elite hurlers this year despite not being drafted in the early rounds. You don't always need "elite" pitchers though. Sometimes it's a matter of finding above average pitchers deep in your draft. Using a modified version of my benchmarks that were used to find sleepers, we can find good pitcher options all the way to the last rounds of your draft. Those benchmarks are:

  • Swinging Strike % above 8.5
  • Contact % under 80%
  • Strikes to Balls Ratio above 1.70
  • K-BB Differential above 12.5%
More information about those statistics are found in my previous sleeper article linked above. I've found that pitchers who meet these benchmarks have a better chance of success because of their ability to create swinging strikes, avoid batter contact and throw lots more strikes than balls. These pitchers don't rely on luck or defense as much because of their strike zone dominance.

Within the 2015 draft pool, there are 154 starting pitchers potentially on draft boards this year by my estimation and only 30% of those meet the above criteria. Those who met the criteria had a 3.12 ERA, 1.15 WHIP with a 8.9 K/9 on average last year. The 70% of players who did not meet that criteria meanwhile had a 4.12 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 6.8 K/9. Pitchers with this skill set are clearly more successful and, no surprise, they are mainly found in the early rounds of drafts. The beauty of using these benchmarks is that we can find pitchers who meet them at any point in the draft though.

1-75 ADP 76-125 ADP 126-225 ADP 226-300 ADP 300+ ADP
# SP Drafted 18 12 33 23 68
# Meeting MC Criteria 16 9 10 5 6
% Meeting MC Criteria 89% 75% 30% 22% 9%

You can see that a large majority of pitchers in the early rounds meet this criteria. Once we cross into the middle rounds, the numbers flip and a large majority of pitchers do not meet this criteria instead. Let's look at those pitchers that meet the criteria starting in the 126-225 ADP tier:

126-225 ADP Range

  • Michael Wacha
  • Ian Kennedy
  • Michael Pineda
  • Matt Shoemaker
  • Jose Fernandez
  • Mike Fiers
  • Collin McHugh
  • Drew Smyly
  • Homer Bailey
  • Danny Salazar

226-300 ADP Range

  • Jenrry Mejia
  • Jake Odorizzi
  • Ervin Santana
  • Drew Hutchison
  • Carlos Martinez

300+ ADP Range

  • Jason Hammel
  • Shane Greene
  • T.J. House
  • Chase Anderson
  • Marco Estrada
  • Chase Whitley
You may have noticed that there were five pitchers who did not make the cut despite having an ADP better than 125. In case you were curious, those five pitchers were Adam Wainwright, Sonny Gray, Hisashi Iwakuma, Tyson Ross and Lance Lynn. Feel free to adjust them on your draft boards however you see fit.

If you're looking to fill out your rotation after the top pitchers go off the board, the players above represent good ones to target. It would be risky to attempt but, heck, you might even be able to build your entire staff with these names if you choose to bypass pitchers early on.

Mar 8, 2015

Mookie Betts | 2015 Fantasy Baseball Sleeper

Coming up with a list of potential sleepers each year can be done in a number of ways but I choose to use statistical benchmarks that I've set based on my research to generate my list of Narco sleepers each year. Those benchmarks highlight a player as a potential sleeper but it still requires a bit of extra analysis to see whether those players will truly be worth the investment. The benchmarks are merely the first step. The first player we'll analyze for 2015 to see how truly "sleepy" they are is Mookie Betts (BOS, OF).

Why He's Here

Mookie Betts was drafted in the 5th round out of high school back in 2011. While he wasn't initially at the top of many prospect lists, he started proving his worth with a breakout year in 2013 and shooting up those rankings. Mostly in Single-A ball that year, he hit .324 with 16 HR and 44 SB. Proving that it wasn't a fluke, he continued that trend in 2014 in both Double-A and Triple-A ball. Those strong performances at every level quickly led to his MLB promotion at the young age of 21. When all was said and done, he hit .328 with 16 HR and 39 SB during his various stints in 2014.

Age'15 ADP'14 AB'14 AVG'14 xAVG'14 HR'14 SB'14 R'14 RBI
Betts is the type of player who has a high ceiling of potential as a leadoff hitter. In such a role, you could easily see him eclipse 100 Runs with 30+ SB plus a decent mix of power and average too. What's not to like about that? For that reason, he's on sleeper lists such as this. 

Why He Might Fail

The biggest reason why he might not be worth a draft pick in the middle rounds of your drafts this year is because, well, he might not make the field. While it seemed like he would be in the Boston outfield in 2015, they then made moves to acquire Hanley Ramirez and Allen Craig and Rusney Castillo (while already having Shane Victorino) so it's suddenly no longer a sure thing that Betts will be getting playing time this year in the majors. At 22, they don't need to rush him so maybe they'll let their new outfield pieces work their magic for a year or two while Betts gets more seasoning in the minors. If that's the case then you're sitting there with an expensive waste of a draft pick.

The other worry is that he does earn a starting job but slumps for a couple of weeks. If that's the case, they have so much depth that they can easily just pull the plug on that experiment and demote him. They aren't forced to stick with him.

Aside from playing time, there are a few other concerns. His batting average was pretty amazing in both the minors and the majors but his xAVG indicates that he might be due for a bit of drop there. Also, in the majors, we saw his success rate for stolen bases drop a bit (70% versus 85% in the minors) so there could be a chance that he's held back a bit in the majors and won't get the chance to steal 40+ bases at this level (the Red Sox had among the least amount of SB attempts in the league last year so stealing a lot may not be in their gameplan).

Why He Might Come Through

Projection systems can be somewhat pessimistic about younger players sometimes but even ZiPS projects Betts for 13 HR, 30 SB and 88 Runs in 2015 which certainly seems legitimate and achievable for Mookie. He's a young player that had a quick ascent to the majors and is seemingly getting better every year very quickly.

The main concern noted above was playing time but there's reason to be optimistic here. First, he's already been getting a taste of batting leadoff in Spring Training games this year and that's a good sign. If he can maintain that spot then he's due for a huge number of plate appearances and that's great for his counting stats. Secondly, beyond the stats related to fantasy baseball, he's shown great plate discipline and defensive skills and those are huge factors for someone fighting to get a starting spot on a team. Even if he may struggle offensively, he's shown he can earn his keep with his defense and his eye. The Red Sox will value that and find a way to get him in the lineup.

From a fantasy point of view, Betts could give you numbers like a young Carl Crawford if he gets a full year of leadoff plate appearances. There was a reason why Crawford used to be a top fantasy pick and that's because you don't find many guys who can give you respectable power, top speed and good batting average in one package. The fact that Betts even maybe possibly could give you that sort of value makes him worth a risk in the middle rounds.

Oh, and outside of his physical gifts, there's even reason to like Mookie's brain. He apparently scores sky-high on these neuroscouting tests that the Red Sox use. Really, to me, that's just evidence that the Red Sox must like hm a lot and will want to find a way to utilize him this year.


His value is evident for roto leagues given that he could be a five category contributor in 5x5 leagues but he also has great value point scoring leagues (or roto leagues that use Doubles as a stat) because he's shown the ability to rack up 2B's as well.

The main thing you need to gauge is whether you are comfortable gambling on his playing time. If you're drafting this weekend, there's still more questions than answers but the early signs are pointing towards the fact that he will be starting for Boston this season. If you're drafting later in the month, you'll have an even better idea of how Boston has used him in Spring Training. Regardless, at the 120th pick, you're not risking a ton and the potential is very high here for Betts.

There's a good possibility that you might be seeing him as an early round draft pick in 2016 so take advantage of him being available in the middle rounds while you can.

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: 03/15/2015

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

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


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.


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.


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
  • Oliver
  • Marcel
  • Clay Davenport
  • 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:

Special Blend
6 6 3.75
Clay 4 3 7
8 5 4
Marcel 8 5 3 4 5
Oliver 11 8
ZiPS 10 6 5 3 6
RotoChamp 3 9 4 8 6
Steamer 5 4 10 9 7
Guru 9 10
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:

5 3.75
ZiPS 6 3 7
8 5 3 4.5
Special Blend 8
4 6 4.75
Oliver 10 6
4 5.25
Guru 4 11 3 7 6.25
CAIRO 5 4 10 9 7
Clay 9 9 9
Steamer 11
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.


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.


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:

Clay Davenport