Thursday, March 31, 2011
Positional Rankings - 5x5
I am now down to less than 24 hours before the auction, and I am sitting in Midway unwilling to pay for internet in order to do any research, so I am going to do the next best thing – try to determine a clear strategy for the auction. But before diving into the strategy, though, let me lay out my top guys at each position (75 in the OF, 75 SP, 60 RP, and 15 everywhere else). However, I want to caveat these lists – these rankings are not 100% where I stand on each of these players, more of a starting point. A quick look at my methodology will make this clearer:
I start with a set of stat projections for the year (this year I used ZIPS, PECOTA, CAIRO, and OLIVER) and then I take a weighted average of those projections for every player. I then break these players into lists by position, putting each guy at his most valuable spot (so, for example, Martin Prado is listed under 2B but not under 3B – yes, I could use him at 3rd, but if I am playing him at 3rd there should be some team willing to move a better 3B for Prado, who that team would then use at 2B, where he provides more value).
I then rank all players at each position by each stat used in my league (so in this case, AVG, HR, R, RBI, SB or K, W, S, ERA, WHIP) take the average and standard deviation of the top X guys in each stat (where X=the number of guys at that position owned in my ottoneu league the year before), find z-scores for each player on each stat, add up the z-scores, and rank accordingly. Despite all the steps, this is actually an incredibly simplistic ranking – I don’t make many alterations to the inputs, I don’t do any detailed statistical analysis. So what you see below is an unaltered list for each position, with some notes below, explaining where I think these rankings err.
Make sense? Yeah, I know – that is a pretty significant caveat (effectively that I don’t really stand by these rankings), but these are what I start with as I prepare for the auction. So, without further ado:
First and foremost, I should note that my rankings almost always over-rate prospects. I think OLIVER is somewhat to blame for this, but suffice it to say that calling Montero the #4 catcher this year seems a tad aggressive – sure, it is POSSIBLE, but I wouldn’t bank on it. That said, the top two are no-brainers and a tier to themselves. I am surprised how low Soto falls (lack of runs seems to pull him down). The fact that Miguel Montero and Jorge Posada aren’t even in the top-15 seems silly to me. Assuming health, I am quite content to send one of those two out there every day. And the projection systems love Fox, but I am not sold – I just traded him in the original ottoneu for Brett Jackson. I’d drop J. Montero and Arencibia, probably Santana as well, and move up Posada and M. Montero. I’d also keep an eye on Hank Conger if he gets a shot (although Mike Napoli would probably warn him to get comfortable on the bench).
This list is kind of messy cause there are a lot of question marks – does Fenway outweigh Gonzalez’s shoulder surgery? Does Miggy’s off-season pull him down? Can Morneau be Morneau or is this just an extension of the weekly “We swear he’ll be back soon!” reports from 2010? Does Comiskey get Dunn 50 HR? When will Konerko turn old? And so on. But the fact is , winning without at least one top 1B is tough, and most past ottoneu winners have had two. Some young guys (Ike Davis, Freddie Freeman, Kila Ka’aihue) are awfully intriguing, and Carlos Lee and David Ortiz are both on my radar as well. Berkman, by the way, should probably be listed with OF, not 1B – his value is much higher once he gets that OF eligibility.
This is all pre-Utley’s knee (I moved Adam Dunn for Utley this off-season in original ottoneu, by the way – had Konerko, Morneau, Thome, and Dunn and a GLARING hole at all three MI spots, so I am just hoping he gets back by June or so). Obviously he is not #2 anymore. As for the rest, I hate Jose Lopez and have no idea why he gets to be so high. I think Neil Walker is probably too high. Brian Roberts may be done – I certainly won’t be paying for him. Ben Zobrist, Gordon Beckham, and Ryan Raburn should be on this list, too. I think Beckham will bounce back, and Zobrist has gone from surprising superstar to highly underrated considering he qualifies at 2B. Brad Emaus is also intriguing, now that he is starting. His minor league track record is pretty damn good.
These might be the worst of the rankings. Nishioka should not be that high (although I do think he will have some real value), Drew should not be that low, Gordon should not be on the list. Yunel Escobar and J.J. Hardy are bounce-back candidates and I am high on both. Not sure why Furcal gets no love, either. Although that may just be the result of RBI being added to HR as a power stat – I am not used to that. One other guy I am tracking is Brent Morel – he’ll be the starting 3B for the White Sox and while he won’t hit enough to play 3B in fantasy, he qualifies at SS in ottoneu.
I think A-Rod should probably be ahead of Wright, but really I have no issues with the top 4. Sandoval’s upside is around that crew, but his downside is pretty ugly, so I think there are guys I would rather have. But note how thin 3B is – what had been a power position for a while has really slipped this year. All in all, this list seems okay to me – Moustakas won’t play enough to really be a top 10 guy, I don’t think, nor will Michael Young. The patented Adrian Beltre Post-Contract Year Swoon could be coming on, although I think leaving Safeco benefited him more than a desire for a new contract.
I am not going to spend a ton of time on this list because it seems ridiculous to me. Speedsters are way over-rated, presumably because my system of analysis does a terrible job accounting for the scarcity of stolen bases. Beltran isn’t on here. J.D. Drew isn’t on here. David Dejesus, Alex Gordon – lots of guys I like. More importantly, guys like Bryan LaHair and Brian Cavazos-Galvez ARE on here and really really should not be. Basically, I need to reconsider how I mix projections and how I handle stats with high levels of scarcity, like stolen bases. This means I am going to have to be a lot less analytical and objective in the auction than I hoped - rather than just go off my lists and some price projections, I am going to have to be far more subjective in determining who is worth what, who falls where, etc. This will inevitably lead to me thinking I know more than I do and making poor decisions. Ugh.
This list I am generally happy with. A couple things it doesn't know - like that Strasburg and Wainwright are hurt or that Kevin Slowey doesn't have a rotation spot. But all in all, not a TON to argue with. Personally, I don't think King Felix is #1 (Probably Lincecum, Halladay, Hernandez) and I would move Josh Johnson up a bit. A few other quibbles here and there, but all in all, I think I can work with this.
So I seem to have a reverse SB issue here, where the highly scarce commodity (saves) is now way UNDER-valued. Great. But that is easily remedied by keeping a handy-dandy list of closers and closers-in-waiting nearby. The odd things with RP in ottoneu is that you get 5 of them each day. Under original ottoneu's 4x4 scoring, there were no saves, so the strategy here was just to get 5 guys each day who were likely to give you a solid inning or two. In this league, I will need saves which, I think, brings some football strategy into play: handcuffs! NFL RB and MLB closers have a lot in common - high injury rates, low job security, incredible value in traditional fantasy leagues - and just like you can't take Frank Gore without his backup du jour, bringing on Mariano Rivera without shelling out for Rafael Soriano is probably not a good strategy. Need to keep this in mind Thursday evening!
Ok, so those are my heavily caveated rankings (is caveated a word? I don't think it is...). Sometime in the coming weeks I will post my rankings for the 4x4 league - those are more heavily vetted and I am much more confident in them; these are just a rough draft to use as a guide tomorrow and I hope they serve that purpose.
Sometime pre-auction, I will try to add a post on my overall strategy (this post got away from me a bit, and so we'll leave it as is). Either way, I will likely be on twitter (@chadyoung) tomorrow during the auction. I may toss a couple updates up here during breaks, but it may be easier to live-tweet rather than live-blog since the auction will be fast-moving.