Fantasy Value Above Replacement: New and Improved!

You may remember that earlier this year I put together a series of three posts outlining a system for objective fantasy player rankings and valuation. The system was (and still is) titled Fantasy Value Above Replacement, or FVARz for short. Some flaws were pointed out in Februrary, and it’s about time I recognized them and corrected the system to allow it to be even better and more accurate.

The major flaw that was pointed out was the way I was adjusting for position. A players’ raw stats were only being compared to others at his position, instead of the entire player pool as a whole. After the changes to the FVARz system, this is no longer the case. Players raw stats are now compared to the entire player pool, while hitters and pitchers are separated for obvious reasons.

After comparing players to the entire pool, their zWAA is compiled and compared to their position. After the positional adjustment for replacement level, a players’ final value (zWAR) is produced. This value is then put through the same auction converter as before, yielding a projected (or retrospective) value for each and every player inserted into the system.

While the FVARz system is now a tad more complicated and difficult to use, I feel it now gives us a very accurate representation of a players’ auction value as well as an accurate way to rank players across positions.

There are a few specific things the changes outlined above have brought to light, and I have detailed them below. Stayed tuned to RotoGraphs today, as I will be publishing final values for the 2011 season.

Noted Improvements
– Players that had rare stats for a position — such as SB for catchers and first baseman — were being overvalued. Yes, 15 steals from a catcher is harder to obtain then 15 steals from an outfielder, but in the grand scheme of things, they are equal on your roto ledger. Players with the rare stats for a position will still get a boost simply because it helps their overall value, but that boost will no longer be just because they are different from the norm at their own position.

– Before, I took value away from pitchers because they only filled up four of the five stat categories. Now, because relievers are being compared directly with starters, an artificial adjustment is no longer needed.

– Saves are now more valuable. As starting pitchers and their lack of saves were introduced to the pitching mix, each save became more valuable and boosted closers in the rankings. A good non-closer can still crack the top-10 in the reliever rankings, but it will be near impossible to reach the top of the ladder now.

Zach is the creator and co-author of RotoGraphs' Roto Riteup series, and RotoGraphs' second-longest tenured writer. You can follow him on twitter.

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12 years ago

I recall seeing this series at the beginning of the year. Nice to see an update. I’ve given this topic a fair amount of thought and there are couple of things which I believe remain somewhat elusive.

1. I believe there is some value in players who have what you called “rare” stats for their position. I believe the value comes from a number of different factors. It helps distribute risk, for one thing. Consider that there are three positions from which you can count on very few steals, for example: 3rd base, 1st base and catcher. This means that in order to compete in steals you have to have a high concentration of players in the other positions that will give you steals. This often leads to being forced into players who just steal and have few other contributions. This means that risk is clustered in those players and that players at those positions who might offer more value might not be able to be considered because they don’t steal any bases.
2. Which brings me to the second point, which is that looking at value by measure component parts of each category misses something that I am still working on quantifying, but which I believe exists, which is the additional value created by players who contribute in multiple categories. That is to say, the stats are equivalent when you have a homer and steals specialist versus two balanced players. One obvious advantage is, again, the distribution of risk. Balance also seems to contribute to roster flexibility. I haven’t yet come up with a way to put numbers to it, but my instinct tells me that Matt Kemp as a fabulous 5 category contributor is very significantly more valuable than is reflected in your system.
3. Finally, the position scarcity factor continues to be difficult to do. First off, the pre-auction valuation is very different from a post-auction valuation. What I mean is that pre-auction, the valuation must tell you how much to spend on each player in order to fill out the required number of players on a roster. After the auction is complete, those valuations no longer apply because a home run hit by an outfielder contributes identically to the standings as a home run hit by a shortstop. Using a value that considers position scarcity is really either mostly or perhaps exclusively important before the auction because the task it to create a valuation that gives you relevant information about allocating resources (limited) within the strict guidelines of roster requirements.
4. Furthermore, there are not actually and infinite number of players with infinite characteristics. If you did have an infinite number of players then you could ultimately construct a roster where you were paying the correct $ amount for the correct component parts of contribution (x dollars for home runs, y for rbis, z for sbs, etc). But the scattered distribution of value by player by stat means that you won’t always be able to map the dollars you wish to spend to a player with the correct characteristics. In that sense, players like Joey Votto or Eric Hosmer (sbs by a 1st baseman) or Tulo (power at ss), may have special value because of the impact that those unique characteristics have on the overall roster construction.