Many times in fantasy baseball owners fall victim to name brands. While having familiarity with a player is necessary, often we don’t dive deeply enough into a player’s performance to get a clear idea of how much more valuable he is than his peers. Due to this, we will often pay more for something than we otherwise would if we were truly aware of it’s value. Today, I want to talk about the 2B position and one name brand that will likely cost much more in your annual Ottoneu auctions, or in trades, than a much cheaper generic option.
|Mr. Name Brand||$22.00||688||8.70%||21.20%||0.193||0.324||0.275||0.343||0.469||0.347||0.339||117|
Any guesses? While the two players are strikingly similar, Mr. Name Brand certainly played more, with about 120 extra PAs over our and more power than Mr. Generic. However, the price difference is immediately evident. Across Ottoneu leagues, owners paid $16 more for our name brand option for roughly equal production across the board. The K/BB numbers are nearly identical, with both producing good power and higher than average BABIP results. While Mr. Name Brand bested Mr. Generic by 11 points of wOBA, xOBA (a statcast based equivalent for wOBA based on expected batted ball results) actually had our generic option with a 12 point advantage. Final answers? Going once… twice?
Jason Kipnis is our name brand. Logan Forsythe, he’s our generic option. This year Kipnis finally made good on the power people assumed was present throughout his career – doubling his HR rate last year to pop 23 dingers. However, everything has a price and that trade off for power appears to have cost him an increase in strikeouts and worse results on batted balls. He’s still a good option and I would happily own him on my teams, but at $22 it may be best to look elsewhere. Last month Paul Sporer ranked him as the 6th best 2B in his first run at 2017 2B rankings. Logan Forsythe; he was a footnote in those rankings. This lays out pretty clearly what I have seen in my leagues. Kipnis is viewed as an upper middle tier option, while Forsythe is role player. Digging a little deeper into their batted ball results the similarities are even more striking.
That’s about as similar of a batted ball profile as you’ll find, which bodes well for our cheaper option. We should note Kipnis’ 2016 power spike, he pulled the bull 5% more than he had in prior years. Maybe he reverts back to his 2012-2015 ways in 2017, but if he does, it will likely be at the sacrifice of his newly gained power for the benefit of a higher average. By comparison, Forsythe has been extremely consistent over the past few seasons by batted balls. Given the changes Kipnis has shown, it is entirely possible he decides not to pull the ball as often in 2017. Because of this, I would use the 2016 version of Kipnis as my baseline comparison for Forsythe.
While the differences are a little more apparent in plate discipline metrics, we should note that these totals are very similar as well. The largest difference is Forsythe’s selectivity, which he improved upon this year. While he has never been a free swinger (swinging outside the zone at just 23% for his career) he cut his swing totals even further in 2016. His 2016 Swing percent was his lowest since his 62 game call up in 2011.Kipnis is the opposite, posting his highest Swing rate and O-Swing rate since 2012. Additionally, his 2016 Z-swing was the second highest total of his career. This just goes to show how players can arrive at similar end points through differing processes. When looking at what to expect for 2017, the first place I check is the available projections, which I work off of in developing my own values.If you’re like me and play in an Ottoneu league, many of your rivals are probably using projections to build their values for the upcoming season. In doing so, there should be a price gap between Kipnis and Forsythe for 2017.
|8||Steve Pearce||Blue Jays||102||425||375||18||3||0.258||0.336||0.468||0.803||0.343||114|
|10||Dustin Pedroia||Red Sox||146||653||582||13||6||0.289||0.354||0.417||0.771||0.336||105|
|24||Devon Travis||Blue Jays||122||508||468||12||6||0.274||0.318||0.418||0.736||0.317||96|
Because of this apparent difference in expected future performance, I would wager that Kipnis will be held more closely than Forsythe – both due to projections, as well as familiarity with his name brand. Certainly given equal costs, I would prefer Kipnis, however when the average price difference between the two is $16, I would take the generic option in Forsythe without hesitation. Their 2016 seasons were extremely similar, and I would place some weight on the publicly available Statcast data when trying to project 2017 performance.
Joe works at a consulting firm in Pittsburgh. When he isn't working or studying for actuarial exams, he focuses on baseball. He also writes @thepointofpgh. Follow him on twitter @Ottoneutrades