In this post I’m going to demonstrate why you can’t simply rely upon the rankings information you find online. Widely available rankings do not account for the intricacies of your league. These differences can lead to large swings in the valuations of players.
You should be calculating your own rankings specific to your own league format, especially if you play in a two-catcher league. There is a valuation problem waiting to be exploited in two-catcher leagues.
Please make sure you read to the end. I get a little carried away with examples below, but there are some important conclusions at the end.
This Is Not a Lie
When I run Steamer’s 2014 projections through my ranking system, Buster Posey and Wilin Rosario come out as top 10 players.
Let that sink in. In all the draft preparation and rankings articles you’ve read so far, have you seen any catcher crack the top ten?
You’re a Moron. Your Ranking System Must Be Wrong.
Before you dismiss this out of hand, let’s work through a little exercise. As with most scenarios I outline at this site, let’s assume a 12-team mixed league using standard 5×5 rotisserie categories, 14 hitters (2 C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, CI, MI, 5 OF, UTIL), 9 pitchers, and no bench. This would mean 24 catchers would be drafted, 60 OF, and 168 total hitters.
So as not to pick on any one analyst, I’ll be referring to the consensus fantasy baseball hitter rankings that FantasyPros.com puts out (if you don’t use this tool, it’s pretty neat. You can instantly average the rankings of your favorite analysts).
As of March 10th, Buster Posey comes in as the top catcher and 36th ranked hitter. Matt Holliday comes in as the 35th ranked hitter.
Let’s say Team A drafts Holliday and with the very next pick, Team B drafts Posey.
If a ranking system were really accurate, you would think the combined stats from Holliday (the 35th ranked player) and Team A’s final draft pick should be very similar to the combined stats of Posey (the 36th ranked player) and Team B’s final draft pick.
Let’s Take a Look
Because Team A passed on Posey, let’s assume they decide to wait until the last round of the draft to fill their second catcher slot by taking the 24th ranked catcher. In those same consensus rankings, the 24th catcher is Welington Castillo.
And because Team B wasn’t able to take Holliday with their pick, they decide to wait until the last round to draft their fifth outfielder. When the time comes, Team B selects the 60th ranked OF (12 teams * five OF per team). The consensus rankings tell us Kole Calhoun is that guy.
So Team A ends up with Holliday and Castillo. Team B ends up with Posey and Calhoun. Applying Steamer’s 2014 projections to these two teams we get:
|Total Team A||895||244||.273||34||119||126||6|
|Total Team B||1,086||306||.282||37||150||153||13|
Team B wins every category. The reason for this is the concept of the replacement level players. The 60th (last picked) OF is still pretty productive, whereas the last catcher selected is a problem.
Maybe Posey should be ranked higher if he gives you that big of an advantage.
You Cherry Picked This Example. No Way Does This Work Out Like This Every Time.
It is very possible Calhoun is also slanting the results. When I run his Steamer projection through my ranking system he comes out as the 41st OF (so the consensus rankings are underrating him by ranking him the 60th OF). I think he’s a terrific sleeper. So let’s drop twenty three more spots down to Gerardo Parra.
Why Parra, you ask? Well, he does come out as the 60th best OF when I run the 2014 Steamer projections through my ranking calculations. He’s ranked the #83 OF in the FantasyPros consensus ranks.
It would seem that dropping 23 spots further should affect things significantly. But let’s take a look:
|Total Team A||895||244||.273||34||119||126||6|
|Total Team B||1,047||299||.286||29||138||135||15|
I think Team B still wins! While Team A has an advantage of 5 HR, that is more than offset by the 13 point edge in BA, 19 R, 9 RBI, and 9 more SB.
So Posey and the 83rd OF combine to beat Holliday and the 24th C.
Stop Criticizing Others’ Ranks. Prove Posey Really has Top 10 Value.
Posey comes out as the 9th most valuable player in my rankings. What would happen if we ran a similar experiment by pitting Posey against the 10th most valuable hitter?
When I run Steamer’s 2014 rankings through my ranking calculations, Edwin Encarnacion comes out as the 10th ranked hitter.
With the 9th ranked player being a C and the 10th ranked player being a 1B, I scrolled through the rankings and looked for another point where a C and 1B came back-to-back in the hitter rankings. That brought me to Evan Gattis as the 72nd ranked hitter and Adam Lind as 73rd.
Combining the projections for these pairs:
|Total Team A||985||257||.261||54||144||164||8|
|Total Team B||1,090||305||.280||44||152||167||3|
The rankings obviously view these as equals (9th and 73rd, 10th and 72nd), and although it can be difficult to eyeball different types of players, it seems like the 19 point edge in BA should offset that 10 HR advantage.
Posey appears to be holding his own.
Let’s Push Further Down The Rankings.
Let’s pair Posey with the last 1B and Encarncacion with the last C. That’s Posey and Adam LaRoche (173rd ranked hitter, 23rd 1B based upon Steamer) and Encarnacion and A.J. Ellis (165th ranked hitter, 24th C).
|Total Team A||994||255||.257||43||139||147||8|
|Total Team B||981||272||.277||38||134||147||3|
Another draw, I’d say.
So I Should Draft Posey In The First Round?
No. I’m NOT saying that. But I do think he projects to earn first round value based on what you see here (in 2 catcher leagues!).
Of course, if he’s being ranked in the 35th best player by the rest of the universe, you don’t take him in the first round. You snag him in the 3rd or the 4th and you grin from ear-to-ear over your second top-10 player.
I Play In A One Catcher League.
Then Posey does not climb this high in the rankings. The replacement level catcher under this scenario does not grant Posey such a significant advantage.
This is a dramatic example, but the takeaway should be that you simply can’t just use expert or consensus rankings to build your team. If you’re seriously looking to build an edge over the rest of your league, calculate your own rankings based upon your league’s actual settings.
Do you start 6 OF? Use LF, CF, RF designations? Use non-traditional categories? Have 8 teams? Or 15 teams? These are the scenarios that affect the value of players. If you take the time to account for these subtleties, you will have a sizeable advantage on draft day.
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Thanks For Reading.