Fantasy Rankings Prep (3 of 3)

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:

Name: AVG/HR/SB/Runs/RBI
Robinson Cano: 0.299/24/5/87/94
Buster Posey: 0.306/20/3/80/87

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:

Name: AVG/HR/SB/Runs/RBI
A.J. Pierzynski:0.268/11/1/44/48
Jed Lowrie: 0.273/14/3/63/63

Creating a team of Cano-Pierzynski and Posey-Lowrie, they end up with total values of:

Cano-Pierzynski: .286/35/6/131/132
Posey-Lowrie: .290/34/6/143/150

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.

Round Position SP RP
1 11 Kershaw 0
2 11 Darvish 0
3 8 4 0
4 7 4 Kimbrell
5 10 2 0
6 7 2 3

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.

Rank Name ADP Value Action
37 Evan Longoria 22 13.3 Gone
38 Anthony Rizzo 106 13.2 Wait until 8th
39 Hanley Ramirez 11 12.8 Gone
40 Albert Pujols 44 13.1 Target
41 Everth Cabrera 83 12.6 Wait until 6th
42 Justin Upton 40 12.8 Draft
43 Jay Bruce 30 12.8 Gone (likely)
44 Felix Hernandez 43 15.1 Target
45 Madison Bumgarner 47 14.7 Draft
46 Chris Sale 49 14.6 Draft
47 Justin Verlander 46 14.6 Draft
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 four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Jeremy Roell
10 years ago

Good stuff. How much would you down grade a top catcher like Posey in a 1 catcher league?

The Stranger
10 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Roell

Just use the 13th catcher instead of the 25th to find replacement level.