I am going to finish my fantasy ranking series today (Part 1 and Part 2). Today, I am going to look at how I set up my draft ranking. It is a little unique, but indispensable for finding draft day values, but I first need to clear up one issue from yesterday.
I am going to go over one problem people are noticing which is how high catchers are in my rankings and the lack of Robinson Cano. Well here are my projections for each. If you disagree, that is a different discussion, I am just looking at the difference in replacement level values:
Cano projects to have the better stats, but Posey’s positional adjustment makes him more valuable. To put this into perspective, here are the replacement level catcher and second baseman from my rankings:
Creating a team of Cano-Pierzynski and Posey-Lowrie, they end up with total values of:
Most of the stats are about the same, the big difference comes with the number of RBIs and Runs. Now, if a league only has one catcher, there won’t be such a big drop off at the end. In other league types, some positions are worth more than others. In Ottoneu, there is no corner infielder position, but a middle infield position. Since, more middle infield positions exist, they have a much higher value than in other leagues. OK, enough on that, back to the rankings.
The next step is to rank the players for the draft. I attack this a little differently than most people. Rather than just going by the rankings or using them as a guide, I use an average draft position (ADP) report(s) to see where I can get any good draft deals. A person may want to use the ADP from the website they are using to draft like ESPN or Yahoo because these values are based off the website’s pre-rankings Other owners will probably use them in some way to draft. So, looking at our 12 team league, here is how I set up the pre-draft rankings (from NFBC drafts).
First, I go over every round (if you don’t have the time, at least do the first 10) and find the number of hitters, starters and relievers drafted. Here is an example of the first six rounds.
I have a good idea when starters and closers will begin to be taken. If I went further, I could see when people began to take their second RP. Mainly, I want to look at the time when closer or starter runs may start. Also, I may track catchers. With 24, being used and with ~15 somewhat decent, I may look at picking up 2 of the top 15. My top four starters after Kershaw and Darvish should go in the 3rd round. If you look at the rankings in the last article, five pitchers are bunch together (Strasburg through Hernandez).
I may be able to get one of these similar pitchers in the 4th round.
Next, I set up each round with the my ranked players and their average draft position. Then I go though each round looking for possible values which may fall to me later in the draft. For example, here is my 4th round setup.
|38||Anthony Rizzo||106||13.2||Wait until 8th|
|41||Everth Cabrera||83||12.6||Wait until 6th|
|43||Jay Bruce||30||12.8||Gone (likely)|
|48||Aroldis Chapman||61||13.9||Wait until 7th|
If I trust my projections, I am not a fan of Ramirez, Bruce and Longoria and they will be long gone before this round. Of the four starting pitchers, all should be around with even the possibility of Hernandez (or one of the other four starting pitcher in his tier). Pujols and Upton will likely be gone by the end of the round, so they may be good targets here, especially Pujols. Yesterday I used graphs to find tiers in the data. After Pujols begins a significant drop in CI talent. If no one as fallen to me from the previous rounds, it looks like I will be aiming for Pujols and Hernandez
The last three, Rizzo, Cabrera and Chapman (who got a nod over Kimbrell on Ks) could be taken later in the draft. Rizzo’s ADP put him in the 8th round, Cabrera’s in the 6th and Chapman’s in the 7th. No need to jump for these players now. Time to wait and get a good buy later.
One scenario I will probably dealing with is a few higher ranked players may still be around which I may be targeting for this round. For example, I have Buster Posey ranked 10th overall, but he has a ADP of 41 (high of 26). I may be looking to draft him here or maybe even in the 3rd round.
Note: If you really want a player, you may want to check the highest ADP to see where they may get picked early than you expect. If I am dropping a player quite a bit, like with Rizzo, I may use the average of the high and average draft position to get an idea of the round to pick them up. Ex: (74[high pick]+106[average pick])/2 = 90 pick, 90/12=7.5 round. I may want to draft him in the 7th round if I really want him.
Using this approach in a recent mock draft and I ended up as the league’s projected winner. I used the same strategy in a 15 team league and ended up with many of the same players (Darvish, Rizzo, Butler, Calhoun, Kennedy, Uehara, Salazar) because I see them as under valued and can wait to pick them up. Also, this method gives me pause to see if everyone else is seeing something in these players which I am not.
Well, I am finally done. I know the whole procedure is a bit of work, it is well worth it in leagues which matter. A league isn’t won on draft day, but it definitely can be lost. As always, let me know if you have any questions.
Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.