Fantasy Baseball Value Part 2: What Does it Mean?

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In Part I of this two-part series, I discussed the concept of coming up with a raw score for players in order to turn a set of projections into a list of rankings. I began by showing how I value home runs, runs and RBI. In Part II, I will discuss stolen bases and batting average and wrap it up with some examples of how the rankings are done, what they mean and how to apply them to your league/draft.

Long gone are the days when you could get lucky with the #1 overall pick, draft Rickey Henderson, and win the SB category. We often hear people say “he’s a one category player” when discussing the speedsters in the league. In looking at leagues, you’ll notice that depending on the depth of your league, you will likely see significantly less SBs than home runs. The ratio is probably as high as 1.5 to 1. That means 1.5 home runs for every 1 SB. When creating our “raw score” we need to adjust for that fact because 1 SB is going to make us more competitive in the SB category than 1 home run will there. Unfortunately, if we use the 1.5 number in our scoring system, the top of the list at every position will be nothing but the top base stealers. We need to find a happy medium and I think that place is determined by your personal thirst to compete in SB. I prefer to tone it down to 1.2. That means all else being equal, a player who steals 20 bases with zero homers is worth the same as a player who hits 24 homers and steals zero bases.

The final piece we are left with is batting average. When creating a plan for my league, I try to finish in 2nd or 3rd place in every category. For instance, let’s say a .280 batting average is usually good for 3rd place in your league. That becomes my baseline and any player who hits .280 is neutral. Guys above have positive value and guys below have negative value. Every 3 points of batting average is worth 1 point in my scoring system. A player who hits .300 gets an additional 6.66 points (300-280 divided by 3), just like a player who hits .260 will get negative 6.66 points. It’s a crude and easy way to differentiate players in a category that’s hard to quantify. Of course, we could take this many steps further. A player who hits .290 in 550 at-bats provides more batting average value than a player who hits .290 in 450 at-bats. As a result, a more complex ranking system would give some fractional boost for every 20, 25 or 50 at-bats. It really comes down to how complex you want to be. For purposes of this article, we’ll simply assume at-bats as a constant across all players.

Now that I’ve spelled out how the score is created, you can download projections from a site into excel, apply the formula in a column and voila, you’ve created a value based draft list. Once you’ve attained a score for every player, you now know what kind of “value” they will return if they meet their projections.

Early in the draft, you want to make sure you’re getting the most value. It’s not until you move past the first 5+ rounds where you start to analyze more deeply. For instance, if you draft Michael Bourn early (a player who will have a high value) you probably don’t need to draft Brett Gardner a few rounds later even though he might be the highest “value” player on your board. Look at all the players who are close in value and take the one player who’s best in the category you really need to catch up in. In addition, it’s extremely important to understand how the rest of your league values players. For instance, if your league drafts all the thumpers early and mocks the speedsters, you might be able to pass up Michael Bourn (even though he’s the highest ranked player on your list) in the current round knowing he’ll likely come back to you after the turn. The value list is meant to be applied with flexibility. Know your league, know their tendencies, use this “score” to crush them.