2016 Auction Review – The Wilfred Brimley Fighting Diabeetuses

The Wilfred Brimley Fighting Diabeetuses

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Typing The Wilfred Brimley Fighting Diabeetuses is a fun experience. I do not¬†know where people come up with these names. However, little of that creativity was used during the draft here. What’s seen here is a bastardization of the classic stars and scrubs spread of allocations with some curious choices sprinkled in.

Hitting – Whoops

I mean, how in the hell is Addison Russell your highest paid hitter? Sure, he’s young, sure he could be great. But, I’m not expecting him to finish top ten at either shortstop or second base, and nor is any FanGraphs/Fantrax projection. I think it’s just okay at catcher with Yan Gomes, first with Ryan Zimmerman, Kolten Wong at second, they’re slightly better than scrubs. I like Stephen Piscotty and Khris Davis, and Kevin Kiermaier is okay.¬†I can see the crazy logic going on here, the bench is deep and long, but was the blood sugar too low here and during the Addi auction? Reaching.

Pitching – Outstanding

If you could just mash this team with TBD you would have a super super team! Jake Arrieta is awesome. Jose Fernandez is awesome. Madison Bumgarner is awesome. Just a fantastic top three. Carlos Martinez is a 2 in the 4th spot. Nate Karns and Alex Cobb as your 5 and 6 is just gravy. Vincent Velasquez, Tanner Roark and Roenis Elias could all surprise or be nothing and not affect the outcome here much. The bullpen is sneaky good too. Dellin Betances was the best reliever last year without the closer role, should do well.

Depth – Alright

Well, the bench exists, but when you’re already questioning the starters ability to be a starter, there’s issues. There’s good coverage for each roster spot. The players like Jedd Gyorko, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr, Matt Adams and Chase Headley are all capable of being surprisingly average. Hard to knock with those guys. Plus I like Kelvin Herrera as a bullpen stash at the end of the draft.

Why 2016 would be bad…¬†

If Arrieta, Jose and Bummy¬†don’t crack 2,500 fantasy points, this season is over. Hard and fast. I think the floor here with many of the hitters is too low and the ceilings are just not high enough. Odds are good the highest paid hitter is a easy non-tender candidate at the end of the season. Just where do you go with those hitters?

Why 2016 would be¬†good…¬†

I have seen some things. Amazing pitching can carry you week in and week out, even if they don’t start twice. If there’s 3,300 points between those three starters, it does not really take much to make up the rest from the rest of the roster. Consistency could be made up for by clever roster management.¬†The plan is here and it is in place. One of the most fun watches this year especially if the three starters work out well, will be the roller coaster of a season this team is running.

The Best of What’s Left

We have all agreed that Fantrax projections are not very good. ¬†That being said, it’s probably pretty important to follow along with the FanGraphs Auction Calculator considering we are basing future prices off of it. ¬†So why not compare the two sites? ¬†Let’s see just how bad Fantrax projections really are!

Both sites project undrafted starting pitchers to have the most fantasy points, but only Tom Koehler and Jered Weaver are on both top five lists.

Koehler tops the Fantrax projections while he is second on FanGraphs – a difference of 66 projected fantasy points.

Ignoring the most recent Weaver injury, he ranks fourth on both lists, with a similar split in projected fantasy points at 64.

The three free agent starters that Fantrax projects to have a good year are Colby Lewis, Danny Duffy and Matt Shoemaker.  Lewis has the largest projected point differential between the sites at 341.  Shoemaker is just under 300 points at 295 while Duffy is just over 150 at 152 points.

Joe Kelly is projected by FanGraphs to be the top undrafted starting pitcher Р356 points better than Fantrax projects.  Yovani Gallardo slides in at third and both sides are within 30 points of Gallardo projection.  That differential slides Gallardo down to 9th on Fantrax.  Matt Garza is the fifth best free agent starter projected by FanGraphs and is actually slotted two spots ahead of Gallardo on Fantrax.

James McCann tops both sites as the top free agent catcher.  Clearly he is the the top target should you not feel comfortable with your depth chart or your team suffers an injury.  Fantrax also like Angels catcher Carlos Perez while FanGraphs prefers veterans A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Avila.

The recent announcement of Adam LaRoche‘s retirement will leave a hole in the middle of the White Sox lineup. ¬†Until we find out how the Sox plan on filling that hole, teams looking for a potential future 1B can turn to Ryan Howard, as both sites agree he is the one of the top three best options. ¬†Fantrax likes¬†Justin Morneau, despite not being on a MLB roster, while FanGraphs suggests Logan Morrison. ¬†Fantrax will then point you towards James Loney while FanGraphs will say give Darin Ruf a go.

It’s going to be tough to find replacements at first base moving forward, that’s for sure. ¬†Better hope your 1B minor leaguer makes the big league roster ASAP!

David Freese is the only player at the other CI position that both sites agree on.  Fantrax likes Cody Asche and Tyler Saladino while FanGraphs prefers Aaron Hill and Derek Dietrich.

Much like 1B there is so little left at 3B and I hope you drafted some depth at the position or have a minor leaguer that is near MLB-ready.

Both Johnny Giavotella and Jace Peterson make the top three 2B on both sites.  Jace Pederson jumps in between them on Fantrax while veteran Aaron Hill is the third best remaining option according to FanGraphs.

There is a general consensus at the SS position

SS Fantrax Pts FanGraphs Pts DIFF
Jose Iglesias 504.4 490.5 -13.9
Adeiny Hechavarria 494.6 440.8 -53.8
Jimmy Rollins 456.9 433.2 -23.7

Both sites agree that Austin Jackson is the top CF available but Fantrax prefers Angel Pagan after him while FanGraphs likes Leonys Martin next.  They return in agreement on Anthony Gose being the third best CF available.

Austin Jackson is RF eligible as well and is the top target there. Fantrax likes Alex Rios while Brandon Guyer is the next best thing on FanGraphs, despite a crowded OF in Tampa Bay.

I was very excited to see Adam Duvall get traded by the Giants last year as I have been tracking him for a while in the Minors and he was stuck there unless dealt. ¬†Now with the Reds, they have no reason not to play him¬†at 3B/LF a couple times a week. ¬†Dude can mash and FanGraphs thinks he can put up nearly 500 points this year! ¬†He doesn’t currently have 3B eligibility though, so he is strictly a LF/UTIL at this point.

Fantrax believes Cody Asche is 200 points better than FanGraphs and he can play LF as well as 3B. ¬†He won’t beat out Maikel Franco to be the Phillies starting 3B, but Peter Bourjos is little competition in LF.

Where was the value at?

Immediately within the first hour of the auction¬†draft it was clear that value was not easy to find.¬†Prices of players were not¬†excruciatingly high or overspent. But, these prices were high enough to ensure that there was not large values at the top either. Shrewd drafting made Saturday’s event an interesting battle of attrition as the player pool continued to shrink. As the pool shrank there was a¬†seemingly never ending pile of teams with money looming over each auction.

Immediately, it looks like the teams that left money on the table are the most hurt. 50% of the league, 8-teams spent 100% of their budget. Leaving zero dollars left on the table. Of the remaining teams:

The Foundation – $1
Beach Bum – $5
Senior Squids – $6
TBD – $10
Preseason Favorite – $10
We Talk Fantasy Sports – $14
Capital City Ironmen – $21
The Wilfred Brimley Fighting Diabeetuses – $28

In some cases that unspent auction money being left on the table is not terribly frightening. But, at the bottom of that list, I can only imagine the day after regret. Good fantasy baseball talent auctioned off in that $10-$20 range. Even if you did not need a particular player, at least that drafted player has value. These extra auction dollars left unspent, are lost. They have no value.

Moving on to the auction money that got spent. More importantly how that money got spent. We can see how efficient teams were compared to this setting of the FanGraphs Auction Calculator. Keep in mind this calculator does not factor in our dynasty format (the hidden and unknown value of opportunity cost for keeping guys), nor does it fully understand our relievers scoring. But, for this exercise, and based on the results of the draft, it was quite accurate.

value

 

What you see above is the chart of how each of the teams did. Teams with positive values, overspent according to the FanGraphs calculator and the teams with negative values found bargains. The rank is from 1 “most efficient” to 16 “least efficient”.

Now before you go and say well done and patting yourself on the back, this is removing a lot of context away from the story. I believe you are sitting in a great place if you were most efficient with value, and you spent all of your auction budget. My team The Foundation finds itself there, so take that bias for what it is worth.

If you did not spend all of your auction money and you were not efficient in how you spent the money either, well you may have some extra work to do. Maybe your projections and targets are valued differently than how FanGraphs did and if so you’re probably okay! FanGraphs and projections are¬†wrong more often than not.

Going a step further, let us take a look at everyone’s “best value”. What you should see below is a table¬†that has the FanGraphs calculator value, how much they were paid for in the auction, and then the difference.

 

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The best value of the day was projections wonder-boy Wei-Yin Chen who was bought for $17, and had been projected to be worth $48. Chen’s¬†transition to the National¬†League, to the Marlins ballpark and being away from the American League East is likely positive.

It does seems like pitchers stole the value show:¬†Alex Wood, CJ Wilson, James Shields, Jeff Samardzija and Jimmy Nelson were their representative team’s best value and created over $20 in value per player. Outfielders might be the next undervalued commodity in the draft as you see Alex Gordon, Nick Markakis, Melky Cabrera, Josh Reddick and Khris Davis on the list above.

Finally, we also have a look at each team’s “worst” value. Now, I must warn you. If you’re the kind of guy who’s into the hot young star and cannot stand to see them in any negative light, please look away.

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Corey Seager, Addison Russell, Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton. Phew these¬†boys cost a pretty penny to claim. Trea Turner, Noah Syndergaard, Randal Grichuk¬†and¬†Jurickson Profar were all also coveted prospects¬†on draft day. None of those guys are terribly far off in lost value, they’re all capable of being worth what they’re paid. Plus we have discussed before about the opportunity cost of getting said players. There is value in these overspends. But, how much?

A couple of “greed” allocation strategies…

Before I start spewing ideas, I should probably reiterate what “greed” is in our league.

Greed is kind of¬†a surrogate for arbitration. It’s a way of letting the market — our stable of owners — adjust the value of players league wide. Every offseason, each owner is given $1 to blindly add to a player from every other¬†roster. (This is in addition to a natural raise of $2 every major leaguer will receive.) The only players protected from this allocation process are minor league players who have cost control status and major leaguers whose salaries place them in the top-30 of the league ledger. (Read the official rules here.)

Now that that’s out of the way, how might¬†greed be applied?

The first, most obvious way to apply greed, is to slap it onto each opposing roster’s most underpaid player. Take AJ Pollock, for example. Coming into 2015, Pollock’s statistics suggested a break out may have been imminent, but he dealt with injuries and had no previous track record of sustained success. The Diamondbacks’ outfield appeared crowded. Hypothetically speaking, he may have been rostered for $5 as a reserve outfielder.

Obviously, he outplayed that number in a big way in 2015.

Based on our league settings and taking into account his monster 2015 campaign, the FanGraphs auction calculator projects him for $28 of value next season. Frankly, that’s conservative. The calculator doesn’t account for marketplace or the dynasty aspect of our league. But we’re dealing in examples here, so it’s fine.

Now, if Pollock cost $5 heading into 2015, he would by default cost $7 heading into 2016. He gets that $2 raise, y’know. At this point, he’s still projected to provide $21 of surplus value.

You fundamentally do not want your competing owners to have surplus value. So it makes sense that when applying your greed, you slap $1 on Pollock. Maybe other teams follow. For the sake of argument, let’s say nine¬†other owners see what a bargain Pollock is and hit him with their dollar as well. Suddenly, Pollock’s contract is $17.

He’s still a bargain at this price and you’re definitely keeping him, but let’s say he replicates his 2015 in 2016 and is again projected to produce $28 of value heading into 2017. A two dollar raise puts him at $19, and let’s say this year 12 total owners slap greed on him. Now he’s contracted at $31. Suddenly, the tide has shifted. If the projections hit exactly (and they pretty much never do, of course), in two offseasons your AJ Pollock has gone from a surplus boon to a -$3 valuation. He’s still a great player, so maybe that $3 isn’t a big deal and you hang onto him*, but you have a decision on your hands at this point.

* I’ve never played in an Ottoneu league but I’ve read up on it¬†and one strategy I see a lot is this: if a player is not providing surplus, he’s a cut. It seems simple enough, but I’m not sure how hard and fast a rule it should be. If you’re paying Clayton Kershaw $100 and he’s only providing you $95 of value, is he not still Clayton Kershaw? I understand cutting him and hoping to win him back at auction for less, but I can’t imagine every time the surplus scale tips even the teeniest bit dumping players is always the right answer.

I think in terms of options for placing greed, the Pollock scenario is the easiest to arrive at. But how about another example?

Let’s say first base was a black hole for you in 2015. Heading into 2016, you’d probably like to avoid¬†navigating¬†the same problem, but you’ve exhausted the trade market. You either need to hit on a free agent pick-up in-season, or you need your opponents to cut players that you can bid on at auction. That last part, you can sort of help.

Let’s say¬†you scour the league and find three guys on different teams — let’s just go with Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Lind, and Mark Teixeira — who after their $2 raises are teetering between providing surplus value and being a cut. Well, you can tip that scale. You can add your dollar to each of these guys and while, sure, a dollar isn’t a lot, it could be enough to¬†make another owner’s decision for them. Maybe they were torn between a $12 Zimmerman and a — I don’t know — $7 Yonder Alonso or something as their reserve 1B, and Zimmerman suddenly jumping to $13 seals the deal. If you force even one of these guys into the free agent pool, you’ve given yourself an additional option at a position of need.

If you really hated your 1B situation from a year prior, you could put your $1 towards a 1B on every team and hope it pushes more than one guy out.

There are all kinds of ways you could go with your greed allocations. We touched on them in one of our podcasts and I’m sure we’ll go down that road again, particularly 10-11 months from now when greed allocation is upon us. But you may want to start churning those gears in your head now.

What is Billy Hamilton worth?

When debating value of fantasy baseball players there is always going to be some discrepancy between one league to another. There’s even a difference when you look at different daily fantasy sites. They all have slightly different scoring or valuation of each player, causing some need for adjustments on the user end. This is more true with Billy Hamilton than almost any other player. Standard Roto fantasy baseball has Hamilton as a quite valuable outfielder. Stolen bases are 20% of hitting value and Hamilton whether or not a good ballplayer, is amazing at stealing bases.

Stolen bases in Dynasty Grinders here have value, but it is no where near 20%. Much like in real life, stolen bases lack value. They are sexy, they are exciting, but even in the post-steroid era where smallball is making a comeback, their value is capped off well below 20%. Dynasty Grinders gives you 2.5 points for every stolen base. A hitter getting on base and stealing a bag is worth a bit less than a hitter who just gets a double. Why? Well the run scoring valuation of a double is higher than a single and stolen base. Doubles score runs more often. Simple as that.

Last year, Billy Hamilton the hitter was quite awful on all accounts. .251 wOBA, 52 wRC+, his offense was worth -12.2 runs according to FanGraphs.com. That being said Hamilton the baseball player does add value, his base running made up that difference adding 13.4 runs, plus his defense in center field by all accounts is quite good. In standard Roto you can eat the bad hitting and make it up elsewhere, but last year he stole 57 bags, and that’s hard to find these days. Billy Hamiltion’s potential for 70+ steals is category winning for Roto. His potential for Dynasty Grinders is not winning you much of anything.

Yet that does not make him worthless. In, 2014, Hamilton would have added some value. If Billy Hamilton is more like 2014 than 2015, he’s certainly worth a flier in DG. If you think he’s better in 2016 than he’s ever been (low bar to jump over), he starts making some serious sense. Last year his OBP was .274. His BABIP was .264. Adjusting that to 2014 levels using regression is easy enough. Hamilton’s walk rate did slightly improve last year and he struck out less. What little power he did feature before 2015 disappeared. Maybe that comes back? It’s quite possible.

What makes Hamilton so intriguing, is that you hear about him in the mainstream fantasy media all the time, he’s a top 20 OF. In Dynasty Grinders he’s not likely a top 20 CF. But for him to jump into the top 10 he only needs to be a little bit better. If he improves his walk rate a little. Improves his luck on BABIP (if you’re so damn fast get on base more often, pop up less!). Gets some of his power back. Plays everyday. If he can do all of that. Well then we’re talking. He’s 25 years old. If he somehow slashed a .250/.310/.360 slash line with 70 stolen bases (again not as valuable but they do count). It gets interesting.

All that wishing and hoping aside, there is just a good of a case that in a 16 team league with 30 man major league rosters, for Hamilton to go undrafted in the initial draft. He probably will get drafted. The stark difference between Dynasty Grinders and traditional fantasy is crystal clear when evaluating Hamilton.

Pre-auction valuation of players, an introduction.

It is fairly commonplace now days to have a multitude of resources that help you compete in fantasy sports. Whether you use magazines, subscription websites or various crowd sourcing tools, there is usually little problem in drawing what a player’s value will be in any fantasy league.

Dynasty Grinders is not different enough to make those types of tools useless. Quite the opposite, I believe in having more information to gather to draw my conclusions. The crowd definitely has information for you to draw from.

That being said, there are differences. Dynasty Grinders is a head to head, points based scoring, dynasty fantasy baseball league. It is similar to FanGraphs‘s version of Ottoneu, but different. We have a larger budget, draft different positions, more players. It is similar to standard dynasty leagues, but different, mostly because we are not roto.

That being said they all offer a synopsis of sorts about how the crowds are assuming players are going to perform from year to year. They are just projections, but these projections offer a baseline. This baseline is necessary to judge assumed value of any given player. The trick here for Dynasty Grinders is how to calibrate various projections or draft utilities to Dynasty Grinders’ settings.

FanGraphs does offer a nice auction calculator utility. It actually works quite nicely. But, alas, it also has its short comings. Take for instance the values of these top 5’s using Steamer Projections and with standard roster construction:

FanGraphs Auction Calc – Standard Hitters

Name Team POS PA rPTS Dollars
Mike Trout LAA OF 671 1256.1 $89.8
Bryce Harper WAS OF 647 1174.0 $78.5
Giancarlo Stanton MIA OF 647 1127.2 $72.0
Paul Goldschmidt ARI 1B 658 1123.7 $69.7
Miguel Cabrera DET 1B 649 1091.9 $65.3

Phew, $90 for Mike Trout? Hot damn. That’s a hefty price for the guy who’s won four¬†one MVPs. But, in a sixteen team league, and with the projection of 1256 points, he has a value that it would take several players to make up at other positions. Let’s take a look at pitchers.

FanGraphs Auction Calc – Standard Pitchers

Name Team POS IP rPTS Dollars
Clayton Kershaw LAD SP 217 1430.3 $118.4
Max Scherzer WAS SP 212 1264.2 $95.6
Chris Sale CHW SP 210 1251.9 $93.9
Jake Arrieta CHC SP 208 1189.3 $85.3
Corey Kluber CLE SP 211 1183.4 $84.4

And there you have it. Starting pitchers! Now, nobody is arguing who is on the list. Those guys are studs, and in weeks that they start twice, your team is sitting in the clear driver seat.

Why the higher values? Well the context matters. First, this auction calculator is not considering that we’re a dynasty league, so while Max Scherzer is quite good, it might be better to throw the extra dollars on Corey Kluber who should be fairly easy to keep for the next half decade.

Secondly, Three of these guys are projected to outscore Mike Trout for the season. Now, any rational betting man would probably put their money on Trout to meet projections more than any other player. Pitchers are volatile, perform a job that biomechanically impacts their ability to stay healthy, and their statistical floors are just lower.

Finally, FanGraphs is tied to OttoNeu which doesn’t do head to head. They’re doing roto. This makes a difference too. Dynasty Grinders allows 7 starts per week. The guys listed above are going to get every chance to start no matter what. However, our league is likely to be prone to people not carrying 7 man staffs and streaming starts like FanGraphs assumes.

No, more likely you’ll be carrying a 9 or even 10 man starting pitcher staff. Why? Because, after the third or forth tier of starting pitcher, match-ups start to matter quite a bit. So while most teams will have their first four or five starts each week pigeon holed, those last ones often leave tactical match-up decisions.

Being able to keep 30 active players, it makes sense to grab more starters to have more choices, and also limit the streaming ability for other teams in a way. If you could pick 6 good starters who won’t get hurt, you could just do that. For those of us who can’t predict the future, we will be hedging.

So what does that change? Well let’s tweak the auction calculator, instead of letting it use the bench spots wherever, lets tell it that all 16 teams are carrying the following roster:

2 C, 1 1B, 1 2B, 1 SS, 1 3B, 1 CI, 1 MI, 6 OF, 2 UT, 10 SP, 4 RP

Yes, while we’re not able to capitalize on all these players as full-time starters, these guys who we will be bidding on backups, do offer coverage on a week to week basis. Each week offers an extremely limited opportunity in getting starts at each position. If Mike Trout is only playing 5 games one week, you’d rather have a backup play the other two days if possible, rather than leaving the spot open. You’d also rather have a starting capable player over the replacement level one. We’re all trying to win here…so what does the FanGraphs Auction Calculator say now?

FanGraphs Auction Calc – Adjusted Roster Hitters

Name Team POS PA rPTS Dollars
Mike Trout LAA OF 671 1256.1 $55.3
Bryce Harper WAS OF 647 1174.0 $49.7
Giancarlo Stanton MIA OF 647 1127.2 $46.5
Paul Goldschmidt ARI 1B 658 1123.7 $44.0
Miguel Cabrera DET 1B 649 1091.9 $41.9

Well, that’s quite a difference… Let’s see those pitchers again…

FanGraphs Auction Calc РAdjusted Roster Pitchers

Name Team POS IP rPTS Dollars
Clayton Kershaw Dodgers SP 217 1430.3 $71.1
Max Scherzer Nationals SP 212 1264.2 $59.7
Chris Sale White Sox SP 210 1251.9 $58.9
Jake Arrieta Cubs SP 208 1189.3 $54.6
Corey Kluber Indians SP 211 1183.4 $54.2

Now these prices almost seem too low. They probably are. The truth is that the prices are most likely in between these two values of sorts. If you click on the links that I provided. You’ll see the difference more so.

In the original list, FanGraph’s AC is setting the replacement level ($1) for players ranked 16th, 17th, 18th. That’s certainly low. Addison Russell, Erick Aybar, and Brandon Crawford are all in that “zone”, and they’re all going for at least a few dollars, if not even more.

In the second list, where the replacement level for SS is being set much lower, those three guys are all being rated around $7. Low or high? Who knows. In the case of Russell, a rookie last year, perhaps its low, as the young guys attract value in dynasty leagues.

But, when you tell the calculator that there will be money spent on the bottom of the roster, that lowers how much can be spent on the top players. Over the next two and a half months leading up to the draft, I will be going over these valuations much more. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Oh, Happy New Year!