Musing on positional scarcity and age…

I always feel compelled at the beginning of these posts to remind the rest of the league: I swear, I’m not trying to sway your personal valuations or opinions. I just want to riff on fantasy baseball. If I happen to use a player on your team as an example and view him unfavorably, oops. I would hope we’re all capable of coming to our own conclusions. It’d be pretty boring if we all had exactly the same valuations.

So, having said that…¬†how valuable are good-not-great¬†players at super top heavy positions? Or positions that aren’t even top heavy, but rather mediocre all throughout?

Two positions immediately jump to mind here, and that is catcher and shortstop. Let’s look at¬†shortstops.

Through nearly three full weeks, here are your top five overall scorers with the salary they went for at auction:

shortstops
Carlos Correa was our league’s highest paid shortstop at $81, so it’s nice that he’s pictured here. He was also the fourth highest paid hitter in the league, which means he’s being paid to be an absolutely, unquestioned transcendent talent and fantasy producer.

The obvious thing that jumps out is that four shortstops who were practically free either at auction or in our minor league draft currently sit atop the landscape at the position. In fact, Trevor Story, Jean Segura, Aledmys Diaz, and Eugenio Suarez cost just 11.1% of what Correa costs combined.

Granted, we’re only 19 days into our fantasy schedule. But our regular season is 148 days long, so we’re already over 12% of the way through the season. No one would be surprised if Correa ends up as his position’s best producer by the end of the season, but what we have so far shines an interesting¬†light on the shortstop group. It has paid to not pay for these guys.

Behind Correa in terms of salary at shortstop are Xander Bogaerts ($58), Corey Seager ($54), and Troy Tulowitzki ($46). Bogaerts ranks ninth in scoring, Seager ranks 28th, and Tulowitzki is 29th.

For the sake of argument, let’s just look at those three guys, whose average salary is $52.70, or $53 to simplify.¬†Of course, no one went for $53 at auction, but we did have¬†Francisco Liriano go for $54 and a couple¬†go for $52: Kyle Schwarber and Edwin Encarnacion. Some big names and reliable fantasy producers that cost in the mid-to-high¬†$40 range: Cole Hamels, Justin Upton, George Springer, Sonny Gray, Chris Davis, Jose Altuve.

Hypothetically, if that list of players played the same position as Bogaerts, Seager, and Tulowitzki, would they have gone for less? I’d argue not. There are pitchers mixed in, so the positional view is wonky, but what if the shortstops were left fielders instead? Is Seager getting $54 to play the outfield? Hell, right fielder Matt Kemp cost $11. If Seager played the same spot, are you really paying him $43 more? Go look at Kemp’s last two years worth of stats before answering, because they’re¬†likely to be better than you think.

In terms of having ever accomplished anything worth banking on, only Tulo has done it out of this group for more than a single season, but his age and injury concerns chew up some of his value.

The argument I’m making is that Bogaerts and Seager had “being a shortstop” baked pretty heavily into their price. Age was baked in there too, I’m sure, but whatever. Bogaerts was the top scoring shortstop in our format a year ago, so good for him and all, but Jhonny Peralta ($7) was number two and Brandon Crawford ($14) was number three. Peralta being hurt to start the year is a wrinkle, but those guys got pretty heavily punished for not being 23-years-old and presumably keepable for a decade. Maybe age was an even bigger factor than position?

Speaking of Bogaerts and 2015: he scored 810.5 points last year and yes, he led the way for shortstops. But compared to all other hitters, he ranked 55th. The two guys below him: Nick Markakis ($4) and Brandon Belt ($12). The two guys above him: Evan Longoria ($20) and David Peralta ($17).

So you could have literally bought the four hitters directly surrounding Bogaerts in 2015 net points and still had $5 left over!

Also, while Bogaerts was the 55th highest scoring hitter last year, he’s the 17th highest paid hitter this year. He’s also not priced to be immune from greed and his salary is going to grow by $2 a year. So… yikes.

Just as easily as it is to envision that $81 Correa being tops at short in August, it’s not crazy to see Bogaerts and Seager in the top five or even three. But it also seems fair to suggest that even if these guys lead the charge at their position, they’ll come out behind in the greater landscape of hitters at large.

Last year, Bogaerts averaged 40.525 points per week as the top shortstop. The 16th highest scoring shortstop, Erick Aybar ($3), averaged 27.325 points per week. So a 13.2 weekly edge between the best possible “starting” shortstop and the worst. (I grant you, this is a bit primitive. It assumes the top 16 scorers are spread across each of the 16 teams, it ignores platoons, guys got hurt and that screws up their net output, etc. I get it.)

Crush Davis, who you’ll recall went for less money and was just the second best right fielder (but also has 1B eligibility) behind MVP Bryce Harper, averaged 55.835 points per week. Kole¬†Calhoun ($10), the 16th best RF, averaged 38.805 points per week, a difference of 17.03 between second best and 16th.

So, through that lens, you’re better off just having the better overall player in Davis than you are having the top guy at a weak position. Having Davis instead of Bogaerts, again in this admittedly simplified example, gives you a 4+ point weekly edge over the worst possible starter at each¬†position.

Starting Davis/Aybar gets you 83.16 a week. Starting Bogaerts/Calhoun gets you 79.33. Also, the total cost of Davis and Aybar is lower than the cost of Bogaerts and Calhoun by $19, meaning that, at least theoretically, not overpaying for perceived positional scarcity affords you more resources to help your team.

Personally, I like to view players across their broader peer groups: pitchers against other pitchers, hitters against other hitters. Yes, a player may be the third best shortstop or the fifth best catcher, but that ranking is not interchangeable across positions.

Buster Posey is so good, he does not have a peer group at the catcher¬†position. He is a tier, the two tiers below him are filled with chirping crickets and sawdust, and then other guys start falling in line after that. Yeah, you’d like to have whoever is second or third best, but if you have to settle for that 16th guy, it probably won’t be overly painful.¬†The difference is negligible.

Dynasty Grinders Podcast – Episode 13

Week one is finished. All of the match-ups were fun, pretty close. We hit on why some were closer than others. We talked about next weeks match-ups. We also looked at what teams may need to do quicker than they want to, such as sell out for Kyle Schwarber replacements. Perhaps you need to replace Tyson Ross. Good God, the only thing worse than injuries is snow stopping baseball…well maybe.

2016 Auction Review – In Line 4 the Win

In Line 4 The Win

4w

And with great giant lightning bolts, the team wins their super hero, their Thor. Holy cow what a bid. I mean there’s probably cause for Thor costing $80, but holy Norse God he¬†is still young and fresh. Here¬†is the league’s token all upside team. It does¬†not¬†typically work for me, but if it works for IL4W. I am¬†not certain I actually know anything.

Hitting – Alright

Kyle Schwarber could have been the steal of the draft for 2016. Being a qualified catcher playing every day in the outfield. However, at $52 you’re looking to see him be as good as we was last year for an entire season. It¬†is clearly possible, he could be better, but IL4W¬†paid for it. Anthony Rizzo at $75 seems like a great price to me. Is Starlin Castro back to for real now? Joc Pederson is an enigma much like Colby Rasmus. Should be awesome, but um something’s not right. Dustin Pedroia and David Wright offer yesterday’s stars as older staples that in a day to day shuffling, should offer higher floors. Freddie Freeman being hurt before the draft could have dropped him into value territory. There is just enough question marks over the whole stack that I settled on alright.

Pitching – Not Quite

Something is missing here. Noah Syndergaard¬†is a tier 2 with tier 1 potential. Jose Quintana is a tier 2 that everyone wants to believe is a tier 4. Carlos Rodon getting paid $35 means he needs to be awesome soon. Matt Moore as your 4 is scary. The top half just isn’t good enough to get behind and the bottom half is even scarier. It clearly could work out, but I’m missing what that is to make this rotation great. Bullpen should be good though. Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon should be reliable stable relievers, as they come anyway.

Depth – Very Good

There is a plethora of decent talent that can be flexible and move around on this roster. The hitting depth is great, but the pitching depth drags this down quite a bit. Jose Reyes is a huge question mark, but at $8, possibly $10 next year is an exciting gamble. Guys like Matt Duffy, Brett Lawrie and Billy Burns could all finish high enough to start by the end of the year. They all are a small hot streak from being good enough to flip for something even more interesting.

Why 2016 would be bad…¬†

All of that upside could be egg on this teams face. Sure, it is exciting, the possibility of being right and awesome on young guys in a dynasty league is incredibly tempting. Just like a few other teams, this team is currently built for everything to go right, or its on to 2017.

Why 2016 would be¬†good…¬†

Well Syndergaard, Quintana and Rodon obviously blow away expectations. The hitters are good enough, as is, to carry.¬†They need these pitchers to be at their friendliest projections. Rizzo and Freeman could battle each other out for National League Silver Slugger, Joc Pederson gets his head on straight. Lots of upside here, it’s all over.

Overvalued Minor League Draft Picks

While preparing for minor league drafts, the easiest way to get started is to find some top prospect lists by top sites like Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus.  However, it is important to remember that these sites are creating lists for real life, not fantasy, so defense and intangibles are part of the thought process.  As fantasy owners, our scouting report is much simpler, and predetermined by league settings.

In Dynasty Grinders, we do not count runs scored or RBI, and ERA is not a big deal. ¬†So while scanning all of these lists, it’s important to look a bit deeper into a players’ past production, read the scouting reports, and find players that fit our specific league scoring system.

A member of the r/FantasyBaseball community on Reddit was kind enough to put together a top 100 list that combined multiple top 100 lists from reputable sites.

I’ve complied a list of multiple Top 100 Prospect lists into one. This is purely a mathematical based list not based on any scouting. The formula is based on how many lists they are on, the rage of their positions on the list, their high and low position, their average position and scores weighted more towards fantasy than real life prospect lists.

Now again, your league will determine how valuable each individual player is, and in this league, we could not draft certain players that had limited MLB experience.  After removing them from the list, leaving us with 85 players and moving what was left up the rankings, here are the players that we overvalued by 10 or more draft slots, when you compare our draft slot versus their ranking.

MILB Draft Overvalued

FND, HYD, LB and WYH each selected two players at least 10 spots ahead of their top 85 ranking.

However, it was GAU with the “worst” pick of the draft, selecting Brady Aiken with the 34th overall selection, when he was rank 70th. The differential, 36, was actually higher then the draft slot! Obviously Aiken is a well known name around baseball after being selected 1st overall in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft by the Houston Astros. However, he did not sign and was then selected 17th in the following draft by the Cleveland Indians. He has yet to throw a pitch in a game that counts as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

We have discussed the Foundation’s selection of Jeff Hoffman with the 18th pick a lot in our Slack chat, so I will let this one go, as to not embarrass his owner any more. But FND also selected Jesse Winker ahead of his rank, 34, with his first round pick and did so even before selecting Hoffman in round two. Prior to 2015, MLB.com ranked Winker¬†the 26th overall prospect in baseball and with 14 Top 100 prospects removed from our list of eligible players, the selection does make some sense. He is often compared to Jay Bruce, mainly because they came up through the Reds farm system. If Winker turns into 2012/2013 Bruce, this pick will be a steal.

Team Hydra may have reached for Pirates 2B Alen Hansen, but I think they got a real nice piece in Bobby Bradley, a player we were targeting with our next pick. Hanson is slotted in at 2B for the Pirates this season with Neil Walker being traded to the Mets and Jung-Ho Kang out to start the season. Hanson can fly and if he can get on base could be a valuable piece to the Pirates as a utility player this season. However, our league does not count runs scored and Hanson has a .320 OBP despite a .275 BA over two seasons at AA ball.

The Rays drafted Taylor Guerrieri way back in the first round of the 2011 draft out of Spring Valley High School in South Carolina. ¬†Who’s Your Haddy selected him 30 picks ahead of his rank, with the 53rd pick. ¬†Over four minor league seasons, and 206.1 IP, he owns a 1.61 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP with 178 strikeouts. ¬†Those are some nice numbers. ¬†He just turned 23 in December and will look to join the Rays rotation by early 2017. ¬†However, he is one full season removed from Tommy John surgery and has faced a 50 game suspension for a positive drug test. ¬†The Rays are loaded with pitchers and Guerrieri is their 3rd or fourth best pitching prospect. ¬†WYH hopes to not see him land in the bullpen, and a trade wouldn’t be the worst thing, as long as it is not to the Colorado Rockies!

With the 44th pick, WYH drafted Cubs OF Billy McKinney, despite being ranked 71st.  Chicago is loaded in the OF, signing Jason Heyward this offseason in addition Kyle Schwarber, Dexter Fowler (just re-signed), Jorge Soler and prospects Albert Almora and Ian Happ.  MLB Pipeline ranks McKinney the Cubs #2 prospect behind SS Gleyber Torres, ahead of Almora and Happ.  He is actually a perfect prospect to own as he is a high BA/high OBP guy.  He just needs Soler to be traded.

Long Ball to LF drafted two MLB ready players ahead of their rank, but I like both Jameson Tallion and Willson Contreras, despite both going a round earlier than their rank suggests.