Feb 28, 2010

Using High Draft Picks on Starting Pitchers, A Study (Part 3)

You probably thought our series that studied high investment in starting pitchers was over!  Well, so did I.  But, we're forced to revisit it to a glaring omission.  We examined the myths around highly drafted starters being riskier or more injury prone than highly drafted batters.  Those both proved to be false.  But, those aren't the only reasons that experts avoid starting pitching early on.  One other main reason is that the drop-off at other positions is more severe, forcing you to wisely secure those positions before thinking about taking a starting pitcher.  That's the claim, at least.  So, let's examine it.

Avg. Positional Value by Draft Round (Chone)

Above is a chart that takes a look at the trend in average WERTH values by position each round.  With the starting pitcher trend highlighted in red, you can see that they do maintain value over the other positions throughout most of the draft.  Let's examine this further.  Here is a glance at the data behind that chart:


Much like the chart showed, you can see that the starting pitchers are not only valuable in Round 2 but also the most valuable pick in much later rounds.  So, if you kept drafting for value, you'd end up filling up your entire pitching staff right off the bat then left scrambling.  To show exactly how these positional values stack up each round, here's the rankings from the above data:


For the entire first 14 rounds, either starting or relief pitchers represent the most or second most value of the round.

So, for those who argue that drafting starting pitchers early is a fool's errand, there is certainly strong logic behind that.  Why use a 4th round pick on a starter when they're still extremely valuable compared to the rest of the board in Rounds 9, 10 and 11?  Though, I would argue that even if you start drafting pitchers later than most, you'll want to finish up your pitching staff early because the best values after Round 14 lies in filling in your bench with hitters.

Feb 27, 2010

ESPN's Pierre Rankings are Ridiculous

In a recent ESPN column by AJ Mass, he explains his logic behind a fantasy valuing system called the Pierre Rankings.  As I announced in the title of this post, it's ridiculous.  He takes the world of statistical information that ESPN has to offer and turns it into a bunch of garbled junk.

He starts off by listing his basic premise of trying to figure out what value we should apply to players who excel in one statistic.  That sounds fine and dandy.  He dives into ESPN's world of hidden fantasy baseball statistics that the public will never see and tells us that the average statistical output of a fantasy baseball player.  I'm following him very clearly up to this point as this is what our cheatsheets simulate here at this website.  In my system, I determine the average fantasy baseball player output and compare that to each player to determine value.  AJ Mass leads us to believe he's doing the same thing up to this point.

But, then he gets crazy.  He uses that data to assign a value to each statistic, saying that stolen bases are worth seven-fourths more than a home run because there were seven total home runs for every four stolen bases according to league totals.  So, with that crazy logic, he determines the value for each rotisserie statistic and uses that to give each player a score.  It sounds reasonable but it's really just crazy and ends up making Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and Michael Bourn the three most valuable players in fantasy baseball.

Then, he realizes he's crazy and backtracks.  But, by doing so, he backtracks into an even crazier place.

In order to try to make sense of his poor ranking list, he decides the solution is to make separate "mini-rankings" by removing a category from the standard roto categories and seeing how the players would rank if that category didn't exist.  What?

Then, using those crazy mini-rankings, he averages those out and comes up with some ridiculous final list of rankings.  It, truly, is one of the most nonsensical use of statistics I've ever seen.  Somehow, he claims that those rankings represent some sort of ranked value list.  I don't get it and don't think any casual ESPN reader will either.

Granted, I don't claim that our value rankings here are perfect by any means but I do think that simplicity is better than unnecessarily complicated.  Our WERTH system simply looks at a player's projection for a statistic and makes a comparison by crunching a few numbers to determine how many roto points that player earns or loses versus the league average in that category.  This guy from ESPN goes down the same path but falls into a hole, tries to fill the hole with water to float his way out of it then tries to vacuum up that water but breaks his vacuum cleaner in the process and then passes out from dehydration while trying to fix the vacuum cleaner.

Feb 26, 2010

Brett Gardner, Deep Sleeper Candidate

The following is a profile of Brett Gardner, one of my 2010 fantasy baseball deep sleeper candidates (affectionately called narcos).  For more information on the thought process behind the narcos, please visit the introductory post on this topic.


Average Draft Position: 330.41
Others drafted around that time: Delmon Young, Travis Hafner, Mat Latos
2010 Role: Undetermined; Possible Starter
2009 Production: .270, 3 HR, 26 SB, 48 R, 23 RBI in 248 ABs as platoon player
My 2010 Prediction: .280, 2 HR, 40 SB, 85 R, 35 RBI if he gets to start

He's got legs and he knows how to use them.  Wait, what?  I mean, Brett Gardner stole 26 bases last year in a limited role (only 248 ABs).  It is still unsure whether he will officially be starting in 2010 or not but there are many things that seem to point to that idea.  He's gotten the chance in the past and squandered the opportunity but hopefully he's a little more mature now and ready to live up to his promise.  What promise is that, you ask?

In the minors, he was typically a guy who could bat around .290 and steal a chunk of bases without getting caught very often.  He wasn't an RBI machine by any means.  Mainly, he was a standard but very productive speedster.  On the plus side of things, he also has a knack for drawing walks which leads to more opportunities to steal those bases and score those runs.  If he's a starter, you gotta love his potential for getting gobs of runs in that lineup.

Basically, pay close attention to the position battle out in NY this spring.  If you can draft Gardner for next-to-nothing before the winner of the outfield spot is announced, you could be doing cartwheels.  It's a typical risk-reward situation... but without the risk.  If he starts, you're going to find yourself with a guy who can contribute very nicely in Runs and SBs while not hurting you in AVG.

Feb 24, 2010

Joe Mauer: Is He Worth It?

Catchers have always been a subject of debate in fantasy baseball. Most experts will tell you to stay far away from catchers early. Many young fantasy players just see a scarce position and assume the smart pick is to grab what value they can. Is the expert right or is the young gun? Words or opinions don't do it justice so let's look at the scenarios for Joe Mauer versus the most valuable catcher in the end rounds or mid-rounds (using Chone's projections)…

Best case scenario when drafting Joe Mauer at 2.13 ADP instead of waiting until Round 20 for A.J. Pierzynski:
Catcher
WERTH
Pos. Drafted
Round 20 Player
Round 20 WERTH
Total WERTH
Joe Mauer
4.37
1B
Nick Swisher
-0.62
3.75
Joe Mauer
4.37
2B
Placido Polanco
-0.30
4.07
Joe Mauer
4.37
3B
Jhonny Peralta
-1.70
2.67
Joe Mauer
4.37
SS
Ryan Theriot
-1.98
2.39
Joe Mauer
4.37
OF
Chris Coghlan
-0.47
3.90
Joe Mauer
4.37
SP
Erik Bedard
-0.36
4.01
Joe Mauer
4.37
RP
Kerry Wood
-0.97
3.40
 
Best case scenario when drafting Joe Mauer at 2.13 ADP instead of waiting until Round 12 for Russell Martin:
Catcher
WERTH
Pos. Drafted
Round 12 Player
Round 12 WERTH
Total WERTH
Joe Mauer
4.37
1B
Garrett Jones
-0.02
4.35
Joe Mauer
4.37
2B
Asdrubal Cabrera
-0.55
3.82
Joe Mauer
4.37
3B
Chipper Jones
0.04
4.41
Joe Mauer
4.37
SS
Miguel Tejada
0.26
4.63
Joe Mauer
4.37
OF
Denard Span
0.08
4.45
Joe Mauer
4.37
SP
Jered Weaver
0.16
4.53
Joe Mauer
4.37
RP
Huston Street
1.10
5.47

Now, here are those same scenarios but taking the catcher in the later round instead of Joe Mauer…

Best case scenario when drafting other positions at 2.13 ADP and waiting until Round 20 for A.J. Pierzynski:
Catcher
WERTH
Pos. Drafted
Round 2 Player
Round 2 WERTH
Total WERTH
A.J. Pierzynski
-3.93
1B
Mark Reynolds
1.92
-2.01
A.J. Pierzynski
-3.93
2B
Ian Kinsler
3.04
-0.89
A.J. Pierzynski
-3.93
3B
David Wright
6.08
2.15
A.J. Pierzynski
-3.93
SS
Troy Tulowitzki
3.12
-0.81
A.J. Pierzynski
-3.93
OF
Matt Holliday
5.94
2.01
A.J. Pierzynski
-3.93
SP
Tim Lincecum
7.93
4.00
A.J. Pierzynski
-3.93
RP
N/A
 
Best case scenario when drafting other positions at 2.13 ADP and waiting until Round 12 for Russell Martin:
Catcher
WERTH
Pos. Drafted
Round 2 Player
Round 2 WERTH
Total WERTH
Russell Martin
-0.87
1B
Mark Reynolds
1.92
1.05
Russell Martin
-0.87
2B
Ian Kinsler
3.04
2.17
Russell Martin
-0.87
3B
David Wright
6.08
5.21
Russell Martin
-0.87
SS
Troy Tulowitzki
3.12
2.25
Russell Martin
-0.87
OF
Matt Holliday
5.94
5.07
Russell Martin
-0.87
SP
Tim Lincecum
7.93
7.06
Russell Martin
-0.87
RP
N/A

Well, there you have it. Using these particular scenarios, drafting Joe Mauer does make logical sense. However, this whole scenario is slightly skewed because it's assuming that you draft the most valuable guys in Round 12 or Round 20 and it's assuming those guys actually live up to their value, which is no sure thing. This is also based on Joe Mauer living up to his projection of .332, 18 HR, 88 R, 91 RBI, 3 SB (which really isn't outlandish for him). But, let's do our best to try to confirm the myth by looking at the worst case scenarios for when you draft Joe Mauer with your 2nd round pick…

Worst case scenario when drafting Joe Mauer at 2.13 ADP instead of waiting until Round 20 for A.J. Pierzynski:
Catcher
WERTH
Pos. Drafted
Round 20 Player
Round 20 WERTH
Total WERTH
Joe Mauer
3.69
1B
Carlos Delgado
-5.50
-1.81
Joe Mauer
3.69
2B
Casey McGehee
-2.73
0.96
Joe Mauer
3.69
3B
Alex Gordon
-6.09
-2.40
Joe Mauer
3.69
SS
Alcides Escobar
-6.59
-2.90
Joe Mauer
3.69
OF
Carlos Gomez
-4.32
-0.63
Joe Mauer
3.69
SP
Francisco Liriano
-5.77
-2.08
Joe Mauer
3.69
RP
Brad Lidge
-2.84
0.85

We used Marcel's projections here to lower the Joe Mauer projection and better represent a worst case scenario. But, the worst case scenario for this situation actually ends up looking similar to the best case scenario of drafting A.J. Pierzynski instead. There are a couple chances for positive value mixed with a couple chances for negative value overall. Granted, the best of the best case scenarios for the Pierzynski case still are better than the best of the best cases here. Regardless, it seems that there is some nice logic behind using your 2nd round pick on Mauer.

Mauer certainly represents a special case though and his value does not mean that other catchers in the early rounds like Brian McCann and Victor Martinez are necessarily worth it. In fact, we'll answer the question about the value of those other elite catchers in the near future…

Feb 23, 2010

A Quick Look at 2010 Positional Value

Based on our posts on fantasy baseball value trends at the various positions, here's a handy little chart on where to find the value throughout the draft…


The first five rounds, you could really do whatever you want and it'll be fine. Unfortunately, you can't draft all 7 positions in the first five rounds though. Depending on what positions you choose to pass on, refer to the above chart for how to approach the next five rounds. 

As you can see, the middle rounds are not primed for value but the 2B, 3B, RP, OF and SP positions should be your main focus in that Round 6-15 range. 

After that time passes, shortstops present value along with starting pitchers but there's not much other than that so it might be time to reach for sleepers in Rounds 16-20. Then, from Round 20 on, you can grab a starting catcher, a nice backup 1B and some good outfielders.

That, my friends, is how the standard fantasy baseball draft is looking for this year. Make of it what you will.

Feb 22, 2010

2010 AL-Only Cheatsheets Released!


All the citizens throughout the land rejoiced! Well, at least all of the citizens who play in AL-Only leagues and are looking for super awesome cheatsheets for their drafts… they rejoiced.

You know the story. You get all sorts of cool features to choose from like various ADP data, various rankings and projections. You update it during the draft, get live results, embarrass your unprepared draftmates and then get a free sandwich. Totally awesome.

The AL-Only cheatsheet will be getting tweaked leading up to draft day. We currently only have MockDraftCentral ADP data for AL-Only leagues and we did have two AL-Only rankings to choose from (but modified CBS mixed league rankings for another choice). We'll add more to these sheets as the data becomes available.

Next up: NL-Only cheatsheets. Get ready for the boom!


2010 AL-Only Roto Sheet:
Excel 2007 or Earlier Excel

2010 AL-Only Point-Based Sheet:
Excel 2007 or Earlier Excel

Feb 21, 2010

2010 Roto and Points Cheatsheets Updated (2/21/10)


The latest and greatest versions of our mixed league fantasy baseball cheatsheets are officially released.  In this update, we've added in ADP data from CBS and added Fox rankings into the mix.  Beyond that, we've updated Mockdraftcentral's ADP with the latest data from there and updated any rankings that had newer versions released.  Once we get the official final projections from ZiPS, those will be added too but that might not be until later this week.

Also, in cheatsheet news, we're nearly finished with the AL-Only cheatsheets and expect those to be released in the near future.  Then we'll start work on the NL-Only cheatsheets and have them released soon afterwards.

When downloading the cheatsheets, open the latest version (Excel 2007) in all cases unless you're still using an old version of Excel.  It is a much faster and powerful version of the sheet though, if you can use it.

2010 Mixed League Roto Sheet:
Excel 2007
or Earlier Excel

2010 Mixed League Point-Based Sheet:
Excel 2007 
or Earlier Excel

Feb 20, 2010

Ryan Raburn Gets No Respect


The Detroit Tigers have signed Johnny Damon to a one-year contract.  And, that person you see falling down from the sky is Ryan Raburn.  He went from gold-plated super sleeper to, well, just Ryan Raburn.  Without a chance at a starting gig, despite his ridiculous stats, he's just a semi-valuable spot starter unless there is an injury that opens up a spot for him.  The Tigers seem to love the idea of platooning him so that's how it shall be.  Update your draft sheets accordingly but Ryan Raburn is no longer a viable narco candidate.

Feb 19, 2010

Marcel's Hidden Value: Projected to Outperform their ADP

In looking at the 2010 average draft positions thus far, it would be foolish to expect that each player will perform exactly as they should from that draft position.  In fact, our projection systems project quite a few outliers and we'll highlight those in this series.  In this installment, we'll look at the players that Marcel has projected to grossly outperform their ADP in 2010.

RoundWERTHVariance
Ross, CodyOF26.70.34.4
Ordonez, MagglioOF26.10.44.3
Wells, RandySP28.0-0.63.8
Holliday, MattOF3.06.43.7
Loney, James1B21.50.73.2
Harden, RichSP19.01.43.2
Jurrjens, JairSP11.93.33.2
Polanco, Placido2B23.1-0.42.6
Gutierrez, FranklinOF23.9-0.72.6
Ludwick, RyanOF17.51.22.6
LaRoche, Adam1B23.2-0.62.5
Ortiz, DavidDH17.31.12.5

In conducting this analysis, I find that nearly any starting pitcher drafted in the first five rounds comes up but I don't include them in these results here.  Hitters like Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez also pop up but that's not noteworthy.  However, Matt Holliday is a player I thought that was worth mentioning as he popped up here and actually in the Chone projections too though I failed to mention it.  According to the projections, he's going to provide some nice value from the position he's currently at, provided that his draft value doesn't skyrocket.

Of note, a couple of veterans pop up again such as David Ortiz and Magglio Ordonez.  Then there are some guys who don't have tremendous upside so they are dropping down draft sheets, such as Cody Ross, Ryan Ludwick or James Loney.

And, like Chone, these projections find some nice mid-round values in a couple of starting pitchers such as Jair Jurrjens and Rich Harden.

All in all, it's not the sexiest list in the world (that's two posts in a row where I used a form of the word sexy).  But, regardless, these are some names to keep in mind if you get really deep into the draft.

Feb 18, 2010

Chone's Hidden Value: Projected to Outperform their ADP


In looking at the 2010 average draft positions thus far, it would be foolish to expect that each player will perform exactly as they should from that draft position.  In fact, our projection systems project quite a few outliers and we'll highlight those in this series.  In our first installment, we'll look at the players that Chone has projected to grossly outperform their ADP in 2010.

RoundWERTHVariance
Young, Eric
2B
28.9
0.6
5.1
Francoeur, Jeff
OF
28.5
0.1
4.5
Harang, Aaron
SP
27.3
0.3
4.4
Young, Delmon
OF
28.2
-0.3
4
Blanton, Joe
SP
25.4
0.2
3.7
Ordonez, Magglio
OF
26.1
-0.1
3.6
Shields, James
SP
11.8
3.2
3
Hamels, Cole
SP
9.6
3.6
2.7
Ortiz, David
DH
17.3
1.3
2.6
Polanco, Placido
2B
23.1
-0.3
2.6
Qualls, Chad
RP
23.1
-0.5
2.4
Borbon, Julio
OF
18.3
0.7
2.3
Loney, James
1B
21.5
-0.2
2.3
Swisher, Nick
OF,1B
22.5
-0.6
2.1
Baker, Scott
SP
14.1
1.7
2.1

In looking at the trendline for the draft, these were the players that had the most variance in relation to their current draft position, based on Chone's projections.  Earlier, I touched upon their love for Eric Young, Jr. who they have projected for 38 SB's and 99 R's. Simply put, Chone is crazy for him but drafters haven't been lured in yet as his role with the team is not set in stone.

Beyond that, most of these guys on the list are producing around average value but are being drafted so late that they provide value from their draft spots.  The exceptions to that would be three SPs listed here (Scott Baker, Cole Hamels and James Shields) who are projected to provide very nice value in the middle rounds while greatly outperforming their ADP.

Julio Borbon is another interesting name on the list and he's been mentioned several times on this site.  I would not be surprised if the sleeper label is completely removed from him as he continues to shoot up draft charts.

Beyond that, Chone favors some veterans here who are jealous of the amount of respect given to Rodney Dangerfield (David Ortiz, Placido Polanco, Magglio Ordonez, Jeff Francouer, and Joe Blanton among others).  These guys will still give production to fantasy owners according to Chone but are ignored for the guys that have flashy potential.  You'd be wise to bank on their unsexiness late in the draft if you believe in the power of Chone.

We will conduct the same analysis for the other projections in the near future.