January 2010

Adjusting for position scarcity

Well folks, what I thought would be a weekly series has
turned out to be a little bit less frequent than that, but I’m back to pick up
the discussion on how to value and rank players on draft day. First, to shake
off the rust, here’s a quick review of what we’ve covered so far:


1. Player Value and Context


2. Player Valuation and SGP


3. Building Better Player Projections:


Or, to recap it all in a sentence, projections are important
to establish basic expectations for players, which we can then use to measure
them against other players in context to obtain relative values. This is done
by developing projections and the resultant Standings Gain Points (SGP) for
each player, then adjusting the raw SGP values based on position scarcity to determine
the relative value of a 30-steal shortstop compared to a 30-homer outfielder or
a 30-save closer.


To illustrate this, let’s use NFBC, since that’s the main
league I focus on in my draft prep; it’s a 15-team mixed with a 30-round draft,
although I only base my player valuations on the 23-man active rosters, or 345
total players… everyone beyond that is essentially replacement level by


To illustrate how player stats have different values at
different positions, let’s look at two positions with very different offensive
standards, first base and catcher. Here is a pair of players from each position
with the projected stats and raw SGP (that is, ranked against all players, not
by position) that I used to prepare for my NFBC draft last season:

NAME                     AVG     R          HR        RBI       SB        SGP (raw)

Albert           .337      119       38         125       6          11.80

Ryan            .281      59         16         65         1          0.49


NAME                     AVG     R          HR        RBI       SB        SGP (raw)

Russell        .293      89         16         73         14         4.60

Taylor    .250      37         11         39         1          -3.10



it was a lousy projection on Martin, but a lot of people were wrong about him!
Anyway, Pujols (right) is clearly far ahead of Martin by any objective measure, as well
he should be. But a 15-team league only requires somewhere between 15-25 first
basemen to be drafted, depending on how many corner picks are first basemen,
whereas a minimum of 30 catchers must be selected in a two-catcher format such
as this. You need more catchers, and they generally provide less offense than first basemen, so you need to adjust for this scarcity.

adjust for position scarcity, use the replacement-level player at each position
as “0” and then adjust each higher-ranked player’s SGP accordingly. That’s where Garko and Teagarden come in; Garko was the lowest-ranked (by raw SGP) first baseman who made the
cut in the top 345, while Teagarden was my 30th-ranked catcher.

replacement level should be determined based on the highest-ranked undrafted
player, but as you get lower on each position list, players become more
interchangeable, so using these guys for this demonstration won’t significantly
adjust the math.)


After doing this math, Pujols’
weighted SGP becomes his raw value (11.80) minus the replacement value (0.49),
while the same holds true for the catchers. Let’s look at the same pair of
players with those positional SGP adjustments made:


NAME                     AVG     R          HR        RBI       SB        SGP (weighted)

Albert           .337      119       38         125       6          11.31

Ryan            .281      59         16         65         1          0.00


NAME                     AVG     R          HR        RBI       SB        SGP (weighted)

Russell        .293      89         16         73         14         7.70

Taylor    .250      37         11         39         1          0.00



is of course still ahead of Martin (right), but the gap has closed from 7.40 SGP to
3.61 SGP… in fact, Pujols actually lost a few fractions off his raw SGP because
the replacement level player at his position was still above the overall
replacement level for the entire 345 player universe. Pujols remains near the
top of the pack, but instead of Martin being a mid-round player based on these
projections, he moves up into the mid single-digit rounds.


this exercise for all of the 345 players projected to be drafted, then re-rank
by these weighted SGP values, and you have a player rankings list that adjusts
for position scarcity.


further step you can consider is tweaking the SGP adjustments to try and tease
out how your league values saves, steals or other categories… for instance, I
weight my rankings against average draft position (ADP) data from other sources
to try and determine which players will be overvalued or undervalued. Certainly
the results of any real draft may vary greatly from ADP, but given that the
exercise of draft prep is less about figuring out the best players than trying
to figure out when is the right time to pick them, it’s another valuable step
of the process.


week we’ll focus a little more on closers, because getting a couple of the
top-shelf is a big part of the basic 411 strategy…





411 Blog Checklist (1/25)

Hey guys,

The Slow Mock Draft is moving along…at a snail’s pace. Check out the latest results and commentary here as Round 16 nears completion.

On to the rest of the recent blog links:

411 Question of the Week: Which position is the weakest in fantasy this year?

Siano analyzes the very latest transactions

Cory on building better player projections

2010 List of 12

And the 411 podcast pages on iTunes:

Fantasy 411 Audio Podcast

Fantasy 411 Video Podcast

Lastly, be sure to catch today’s podcast. The audio version is already out.  Mike and Cory discussed the Rick Ankiel and Octavio Dotel signings while touching on the mock draft.


***Follow the 411 on Twitter @fantasy411, @schwartzstops, @fantasymlb

Fantasy Magazine Alert and 411 Question of the Week

Rotoman’s The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2010 is hitting the streets. Look for it at Barnes and Noble, Walmart and other newsstands and grocery stores. Check out the How I Won pieces by Lawr Michaels (oh the pain!), Rotowire’s Chris Liss, Masterball’s Brian Walton, Hardball Times’ Derek Carty and others. And my Picks and Pans join those of Cory Schwartz, Ron Shandler, Alex Patton, and whole bunch of other names you know, and some you don’t, along with 1,400 profiles, Rotoman’s cheat sheets, rookies, and an expert-laden mock draft. It will be the only magazine with Derek Jeter on the cover.

coverbb_2010.jpgnow on to our question of the week…………

Which position do you think is most important to address early on draft day? 


The fantasy situation at second base is just ugly this year. There are a handful of proven, reliable top-shelf options – Utley, Kinsler, Pedroia, Roberts, Phillips – but a litany of question marks after that. Which Robinson Cano will we see this season? Is Aaron Hill a 36-homer guy or a 17-homer guy? Can Ben Zobrist do it again? Will Dan Uggla kill the value of his power numbers by hitting .243? Is Howie Kendrick ever going to truly break through? Just two or three years ago there were several intriguing and inexpensive options at the position, but now the list of questions is far longer than the selection of trustworthy answers, so I’m going to try and grab one of the top tier early this year if I can.




Since Cory did so well with second base I’ll say catcher. At least second base has Utley and Kinsler. Catcher is Mauer and Martinez? A position that seemed to be coming back to glory a few years back and had a top 5 of Mauer, Martin, McCann, Soto and Posada now is an army of three with Mauer going as high as third overall and only as low as 22nd according to mockdraftcentral.com. Martinez and McCann average out to 22nd and 42nd overall respectively. After that, start scrolling. If Martin and Soto can bounce back and Posada can stay fresh with some days at DH we could see a revival. Don’t forget about Montero, Suzuki, Iannetta and Wieters, but overall this is weak.






I’m not at all comfortable with the choices at shortstop this year.  The list of risky picks begins with Jose Reyes, who as recently as last season was a legitimate top 5 overall selection. Since most of his value lies in his speed, a lingering hamstring injury that sidelined him for the majority of ’09 is flat out scary.   Jimmy Rollins rebounded nicely in the second half last year but let’s not forget about that miserable first half. Were his early struggles an aberration or should we expect similar inconsistencies in 2010? We all know Jason Bartlett can swipe 30-plus bags and post a solid average, but can he reach the 14 home run mark again after hitting a combined eight homers from 2006 through 2008? The questions go on and on. Stephen Drew and, to a lesser degree, Alexei Ramirez were huge disappointments in 2009. Miguel Tejada is old. Asdrubal Cabrera and Elvis Andrus aren’t proven enough. If I can’t get Hanley or Tulo, I’m prepared to overpay for Jeter or even Rollins. At least I know that when all is said in done I’ll be getting quality numbers. Let someone else take a chance on those other guys.





Quick Hit Analysis Of Latest Transactions

Here are my thoughts on the latest moves made in MLB. If you missed my last two posts on moves click here and here.

Joel Pineiro signs with Angels: Doesn’t walk anyone but doesn’t strike anyone out either. Sweet WHIP and Wins last year but look at the previous five seasons. Turned down NL for AL. Smells like a trap to me. I’m passing unless on wire.

Octavio Dotel signs with Pirates: He brings the heat no doubt about it. Would love him as my #3 but could earn as a #2. He’ll start rocketing in ADP ASAP.


dotelbow.jpgBengie Molina signs with Giants: 20 HR and 80 RBI seems like a safe bet again. Too bad for those with Posey in keeper leagues. Giants need to stay in the West or Wild Card hunt for him to finish year in SF.


Jose Valverde signs with Tigers: What Tigers team are we getting in 2010? If it’s the good one he can have a big year. Solid #2 CL but will probably end up a #1 for a lot of owners due to lack of depth at the position.


Vladimir Guerrero signs with Rangers: Doesn’t qualify for the OF in most leagues so he immediately is off my radar, but people will not be able to resist the idea of him staying healthy with 81 games in Texas.


Aroldis Chapman signs with Reds: So many questions. A must draft in NL only. In mixed it’s a potential albatross sucking up a spot on your bench.


Adam LaRoche signs with D-Backs: Guess Brandon Allen isn’t ready. LaRoche is perfect for those looking to get .275-25-85 out of CI slot.


Vincente Padilla signs with Dodgers: If getting into fights with teammates were a stat he’d be a first rounder. No doubt he has NL only value, mixed value TBD.


Doug Davis signs with Brewers: Easy guy to root for but the quintessential fantasy spot starter.


Brett Myers signs with Astros: They say he’s proven he can pitch in a hitters park. What games were they watching? YPNM.


Aubrey Huff signs with Giants: People will roll dice he repeats his 08′ year. May be worth the risk since his price could be very low, but I’m shying away. Giants have a weird looking offense.


Kevin Kouzmanoff traded to A’s for Scott Hairston and others: lateral move for Kouzmanoff he’s just not attractive to me in fantasy baseball. Hairston I like due to double digit homer and steals potential. Will be low cost medium reward type guy.


Casey Kotchman traded to Mariners for Bill Hall: Ummmmm nevermind.


Ryan Church signs with Pirates: Sleeper value since he’ll be drafted as a backup but could get FT play should Clement or Jones falter. Nice $1 player in an NL only. Monday/Thursday in a mixed for now.


Scott Podsednik signs with Royals: He was huge for me in AL Tout last year so he has a special place in my heart. May be pricey even though one dimensional because he looks good for at least 30 SB.


Jack Cust signs with A’s: He is who we thought he is.


Eric Byrnes designated for assignment: If healthy he can be a huge sleeper this year. The guy had 50 SB and 100+ runs in 07′. Seems long ago but it isn’t. Monitor him.


Ramon Castro signs with White Sox: Saw him eat chicken wings once.


Brendan Donnelly signs with Pirates: Was a tiny tiny sleeper in Pittsburgh until Dotel signed.


Jerry Hairston Jr. signs with Padres: Played over 10 but under 20 games at 3B, SS and OF. Has $1 value in NL only, but not a good Monday/Thursday guy vs. a lefty if he’s only backing up righties. 



Daniel Cabrera signs with White Sox: if there was one guy that I could get for $1 and he would blossom into a star it would be this amazingly frustrating gentleman.


Eric Hinske signs with Braves: Start printing the WS tickets, Hinske is the title magnet. Waiver wire guy at best.


Jason Botts signs with White Sox/ Dan Johnson signs with Rays: “nickel” (crickets)


Khalil Greene signs with Rangers: There is this little voice in me saying $1 guy on draft day but why? Because he’ll get two weeks at 3B when Young gets hurt and another two at 2B when Kinsler does? 


411 Blog Recap (1/19)

Hey everyone,

Hope you all enjoyed your long weekend.  Just a reminder to check out the ongoing mock draft that Mike and Cory are participating in, complete with comments from many of the “league” members.  They’re currently in Round 14.

And here’s a rundown of the latest blog content:

Tout thoughts from Siano

411 Question of the Week: Overrated closers

Cory on building better player projections

2010 List of 12

And the 411 podcast pages on iTunes:

Fantasy 411 Audio Podcast

Fantasy 411 Video Podcast

The next podcast will be coming your way Thursday.


***Follow the 411 on Twitter @fantasy411, @schwartzstops, @fantasymlb

411 Question of the Week (1/14)


Who do you think is the most overrated closer heading into the 2010

It’s hard to pick on the all-time single-season saves record holder, who
has saved at least 35 games in each of the past five seasons, but the fact is
that K-Rod has been in decline for the past four seasons. Last year, he posted
career-worst marks in ERA, strikeout rate and walk rate, and while he held
opposing hitters to a .203 mark, that too was above his career average. He’s
still tough enough to hit that he’s unlikely to implode this year, but he’s
being drafted as high as the fifth closer off the board when in reality, on
skills, he barely cracks the top 10 at this stage.



Let me get this
straight. You leave Colorado
and go to LA and your numbers get considerably worse? Yes, I know he saved 18
more games than he did in Colorado,
but at what cost? Brian Fuentes went from 82 Ks in  62.2 IP in ’08 to 46 Ks in
55 IP in ’09. That is 36 less Ks in just over 7 less innings! His ERA went up
1.20 (2.73 to 3.93) and his WHIP .30 (1.10 to 1.40). With Rodney, Shields and
Bulger on board in LA for ’09, Fuentes is hands down the most overrated closer
in baseball.


Some might say the numbers don’t lie, but I personally have
a hard time viewing Ryan Franklin as a legitimate top shelf stopper. I know he
improved his ERA from 3.55 in 2008 to 1.92 in 2009 and lowered his WHIP from
1.47 to 1.20, but let’s not forget about the awful September (three blown saves
and 7.56 ERA) and his lack of overpowering stuff.  The fact that the Cards were ready to hand
the closer job to Jason Motte at the start of last season should tell you
something. On average, Franklin’s
being taken 14th among relievers on mockdraftcentral.com (ahead of
Wagner, Aardsma, Soriano and Street) and is ranked in the top 10-12 on many
other websites. Would I draft him as my #1 closer? Not a chance.


411 Blog Recap (1/11)

We’re back,

Here’s a look at the latest results of the mock draft set up by Bob in Cleveland.  Last week’s question of the week focused on value picks and I can already see some nice choices in Round 11, particularly Billingsley, Bailey and Garza.  Webb is also well worth monitoring in Spring Training.  If healthy, he could deliver a monster year as he’ll be playing for a new contract.  I’m not at all afraid to take a gamble on the former Cy Young award winner at this stage of the draft.  Stay tuned for further updates.  Now let’s get to the most recent blog content:

411 Question of the Week: Mock Draft value picks

Siano analyzes the latest signings and trades

Cory on building better player projections

2010 List of 12

And the 411 podcast pages on iTunes:

Fantasy 411 Audio Podcast

Fantasy 411 Video Podcast

That’s all for now.  Today’s podcast will cover the Vlad, Huff and Chapman signings, among other topics.


***Follow the 411 on Twitter @fantasy411, @schwartzstops, @fantasymlb

411 Question of the Week (1/7)


Who do
you think was the best value pick so far in the ongoing
Fantasy Baseball Trade Market Expert Mock Draft?

Maybe it was the
switch back to the AL,
but for whatever reason Cliff Lee went with the 8th pick of the 8th
round. If I was a weaker man I could have taken him with the 7th
pick but I stuck to my guns on no SP until the 10th or later. It’s
not like he is going to Texas,
but the popular knock was the lack of strikeouts. Honorable mention goes to me
getting Sizemore in the 2nd.


Value is a relative term; plenty of top starters went later than would
typically be expected, but once they started going off the board they went in roughly
the order that would be expected, other than Cliff Lee as my compadre Siano
noted. Real value comes early in the draft, when an elite or All-Star caliber
player falls even a round or two, which is a much more critical distinction
early on than it is when deciding to take a player in the 12th or 13th round.
Consequently I think Kevin Youkilis was a very undervalued selection in the
early fifth round, especially considering that, with third base eligibility, he
matches up very favorably with earlier picks like Ryan Zimmerman, Pablo
Sandoval, Joey Votto, Justin Morneau and Kendry Morales. While Youkilis’ 2008
season may have been viewed as something of a fluke (yes, even by me), all he
did in 2009 was go out and duplicate it, and at the age of 31, he just might do
it again in 2010.


I really like Bob’s Joakim Soria selection with the 10th
pick of the 9th round. The guy holds a career 2.09 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 9.98 K/9
rate. He should definitely be drafted ahead of Marmol, who is far less proven
in the stopper role. Yeah, Joakim is on a bad team, but with high-end relievers
I always value the ratio stats over a saves total that fluctuates from year to
year. Soria is dropping in a lot of mocks and I’m already targeting him as a
great #1 closer option should I decide to load up on hitters early.


Quick Hit Analysis of Latest Transactions.

Happy New Year everybody. Below is my short thoughts (Cory is reading this and saying all of your thoughts are short Siano) on moves made in MLB since I last did a post on 12/10.

-Matt Holliday signs with Cardinals: Value doesn’t change in a mixed his ADP is 26 and he’s already a top 10 OF. He will cost $$$$$ in auction leagues.


-Jason Bay signs with Mets: Boston was his best bet to keep a very high fantasy value but people seem convinced he will succeed at Citi where Wright could not. I like him don’t love him. I stayed away in a mock draft.


-Kelvim Escobar signs with Mets: Frustrating is the best word I can come up with. $1 in an NL only and eye on him in a mixed for POD and maybe just maybe he graduates. Crazier things have happened.


-Marlon Byrd signs with Cubs: Loved Byrd last year in AL only and think he has NL only value as long is it’s in the $4-$6 range. If drafted in a mixed it has to be late and at best your #4. One of these in between sleepers now that he got a 3 yr deal.


-Javier Vazquez traded to Yankees for Melky Cabrera and
prospects Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino: Vazquez’s value gets killed by his past transgressions in NY and the move back to AL East, but you cannot ignore the K potential. As long as you are not paying for the uniform and 09 stats I like him. Melky = YPNM.


-Nick Johnson signs with Yankees: AL only for a buck or two with Monday Thursday value in mixed. Could graduate to CI or UT if healthy and poking the porch.


-Roy Halladay traded to Phillies along with Phillippe
Aumont, JC Ramirez and Tyson Gillies., Cliff Lee to Mariners, Kyle Drabek,
Michael Taylor and Travis D’Arnaud to Blue Jays: Hallday value is the same as is Cliff Lee to me. they are too good. Drabek is a must in AL only keepers. other players TBD or non factors for now. Brett Wallace isn’t mentioned here but he should be on AL only radar in case Gaston loses patience with former 411 darling Eddy Encarnacion.


-John Lackey signs with Red Sox: I’m avoiding Lackey even though he has value. Injuries and wrong division. This could be like Beckett’s first year in Boston.(5.01 ERA only 158 Ks)


-Mike Cameron signs with Red Sox: Power and speed combo will get him drafted in AL only leagues and most if not all mixed but very late. Worth a flier if price is right.


-Adrian Beltre signs with Red Sox: Love this move for his value. Becomes an instant value because the uniform won’t creep him up as much as the stadium should.


-Mark DeRosa signs with Giants: 3B only in most leagues so I’m luke warm in a mixed.


-Juan Uribe re-signs with Giants: 12 homers in 2nd half made him a hero to some. YPNM.


-Hideki Matsui to Angels: Maybe my best value pick in AL Tout 09′. Problem now is DH only when in 09′ I could move him to OF so sayonara Hideki what we had was special.


-Fernando Rodney signs with Angels: My out of LF prediction is that at some point Rodney closes in LAA and it’s due to Fuentes performance not injury. In an AL only if you invest in Fuentes you are almost forced to get Rodney. I’m staying away from Fuentes and will cash in on Rodney if possible.


-Milton Bradley to Seattle for Carlos Silva: YPNM YPNM


-Mike Gonzalez to Orioles: Must in an AL only but wrong division. I stay away. #3 in a mixed I can live with.


-Brandon Lyon to Astros: Must in an NL only and great flier in a mixed if job isn’t decided yet. Very similar to situation he was in in Detroit in 09′. I play that game with my 3rd closer in a mixed by hoping I get the right one. Would rather have Billy Wagner.


-Matt Capps signs with Nats: I’m on the fence. Does he bounce back or is he done? Only a one year deal so if he does well but Nats are out of it they could flip him and make Bruney the closer. No guarantee Capps closes in new uni but I still like him as a #3 in a mixed.


-Jason Marquis to Nats: ADP is 378. Good arm for an NL only and late filler for SP in a mixed. Could be on the shuttle between POD and graduate.


-Ivan Rodriguez signs with Nats: Only has value if Flores gets hurt and you are desperate.


-Kelly Johnson to D-Backs: Big sleeper pick. If he can show the glove you can feel the love. Should be a low risk bargain.


-Bob Howry signs with D-Backs: next.


-Garrett Atkins to Orioles: I’m willing to gamble he can get back to 20-85-85 baseline with sleeper year a decent possibility. I’m usually a fan in change of scenery. He fits to me for 2009.


-Juan Pierre to White Sox: He’ll get drafted b/c of steals and may fill in nicely for a stretch like he did for Manny, but I’d rather have Podsednik.


-Brandon Morrow to Blue Jays for Brandon League: Great news for Aardsma. Both guys have the stuff but they don’t have the health. This is a big TBD worth keeping an eye on for Morrow.


-Troy Glaus signs with Braves: With Hinske in two it’s a nice platoon that doesn’t help fantasy.


-LaTroy Hawkins to Brewers: Worth a buck in NL only in case Hoffman goes down I mean he’s 60 years old! I know Coffee is closer but Coffey may not be. I’ll be here all week tip your bartender and arrive alive.


-Miguel Olivo signs with Rockies: backup city. He’ll get hot for a week or two.


-Coco Crisp to A’s: I’d take the chance you can get 07 or 08 value at an 09 price.


-Justin Duchscherer re-signs with A’s: YPNM


411 Blog Recap (1/4)

Hey guys,

It’s been awhile so let’s just get up to date with the most recent blog content.

First and foremost, here are the latest results of the slow mock draft organized by Bob in Cleveland.  Mike and Cory & Co. are nearing the end of Round 9.

And on to the blog links:

Cory on building better player projections

411 Question of the Week: Overvalued All-Surprise Team members

Cory on player valuation from a fantasy perspective

2010 List of 12

Finally, the 411 podcast pages on iTunes:

Fantasy 411 Audio Podcast

Fantasy 411 Video Podcast

The new year means we’ve officially entered draft prep season!


***Follow the 411 on Twitter @fantasy411, @schwartzstops, @fantasymlb