Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fantasy Funkhouser: Fantasy Baseball 2013 Ranks - Round 8

At what point does Gallardo's value and risk intersect to maximize value? (eog.com)

Fantasy Funkhouser will review all things Fantasy Baseball. After all, life is a small sample size.

Adam Carolla has a theory. Well, this is one of his many theories. He says that at a certain point as he began to gain celebrity from Loveline, The Man Show, Crank Yankers, and now his eponymous podcast at the same time, somewhere there was a famous person subsequently losing their celebrity. One person is rising; the other falling. At one point, their star paths would cross, and he'd be able to have sex with this (presumably female) celebrity. His reference point is Cheryl Ladd from the hit TV series Charlie's Angels. When Charlie's Angels was on TV Carolla was but a child. Ladd, on the other hand, was a 20-something bombshell. As time and fame altered course, there was a point - so the theory goes - where Carolla not only surpassed Ladd's fading star power, but also when age was factored in - became the more appealing portion of the duo which would allow him to easily bed the fair maiden.

The theory seems implausible, but the tenets are resolute. Weighing in different factors can draw two separate entities together. The further development or recession of these traits gradually tend to flip the value where the escalating individual will surpass the more tenured track record of the other. Now, while this may be a great lead in to discuss Albert Pujols next year, I want to tweak Carolla's theory for fantasy purposes.

Instead of the end game being sex; let's make it something much less appealing. Weighing fantasy baseball player values.

One of the best things and more difficult things I've started to do when looking at player values is try to let the player's name not matter as much as the stats. Looking at the numbers provides reasonable comps for a higher rated player you may be able to get later in the draft. Uncovering this value is very helpful, but as you look at comparisons and keep searching for the best value player you can find; this trip down the rabbit hole can also misguide you. 

Going back to Carolla's theory - I'm looking not at celebrity and age, but rather relative value and risk to see where fantasy baseball players' values intersect to give the best value relative to draft position and risk involved taking the less "valuable" player. I know this is confusing, and may only make sense in my mind right now, so I'd like to present an example por favor. Using a tide and true methodology, please see the below blind test for two players from 2012.

Player A: 16 wins, 3.66 ERA, 204 K's, 9.0 K/9, 2.52 K/BB
Player B: 15 wins, 3.48 ERA, 200 K's, 8.5 K/9, 3.7 K/BB

Pretty close. 

Player A: Yovani Gallardo (Rank: 85)
Player B: Zack Greinke (Pre-injury Rank: 43)

Not close. Pre-Greinke's elbow trouble this spring, there were almost 3.5 rounds that separated both pitchers in my rankings. Now, two things - this example worked better when Greinke wasn't hurt. His wonky elbow has placed his name in red highlight for injury. Also, if it's my rankings, well then, why don't I have these guys closer?

The luxury that blind tests give you is picking and choosing certain stats. While I will admit I was surprised to see Gallardo (a notorious free bagger) to have a lower K/BB than Greinke, that certainly caught my attention. However, with that you're also ignoring park factors, team factors, upside, other advanced stats that shine brightly on Greinke, and the general instability that has plagued Gallardo in the past.

The point of this is more to making notes of similarities among players with differing draft ranks and seeing if it makes sense to wait for and take on the risk of a Gallardo instead of going for the similar, but more reliable Greinke. For me, again pre-injury, I think it is.

In the one draft I had (standard Y! snake) that I could reference, Greinke went with the last pick in the 3rd Round. Not that he was a particular target of mine in that round, but I had the first pick in R3 and took Dustin Pedroia. My last pick in R4 was Madison Bumgarner, and later in R9 when I selected Gallardo, the position players around that selection were Carlos Santana, Freddie Freeman, Paul Konerko, Shane Victorino, Desmond Jennings, Willin Rosario, and Carlos Beltran to name a few.

After the dust settled - waiting on Gallardo as my SP3 (Bumgarner, Chris Sale) netted me Pedroia. While if I was bullish on Greinke, I would have been left with a far less valuable position player in the OF, 1B, or C selected. I take that as a win. That is an acceptable cross section of risk compared to reward for me to make this move.

Now, the second part of weighing player value tends to get a bit more self-destructive. Comparing two or three players is all well and good, but when you focus on multiple players it's easy to lose your bearings between value and risk. 

Let's look at Asdrubal Cabrera and the shortstop position. Cabrera had a down year coming off of his breakout 2012 when he smacked a healthy 25 homers and drove in 92 RBI. His 2013 though is nothing to sneer at. He went 70/16/68/9/.270. So while he may have that disappointment stink on him, he still was an above average option at SS. 

Per Andy Behrens at Yahoo!, the average output for the Top 20 6's over the past 3 years has been:

2012 – 74.9 R, 14.2 HR, 63.3 RBIs, 18.9 SB, .271 AVG
2011 – 74.9 R, 12.3 HR, 61.3 RBIs, 17.8 SB, .280 AVG
2010 – 75.3 R, 13.1 HR, 64.2 RBIs, 13.8 SB, .274 AVG
While no one will be reaching for him (ADP: 101) he can very much boost those numbers up a tick towards his 2012 total in Cleveland's new fashioned offense. He seems to be a good middle point for how weighing the value of a player can lead you down a rabbit hole of indecision - that ultimately makes you make the wrong decision. Let's bring out another blind test for SS, but let's use projections for 2013.
Cabrera: 77 R, 16 HR, 73 RBIs, 11 SB, .273 AVG
Player V: 67 R, 17 HR, 68 RBIs, 19 SB, .268 AVG
Player W: 70 R, 15 HR, 62 RBIs, 14 SB, .291 AVG
Player X: 66 R, 13 HR, 65 RBIs, 12 SB, .274 AVG
Player Y: 81 R, 12 HR, 69 RBIs, 9 SB, .292 AVG
Player Z: 73 R, 11 HR, 69 RBIs, 19 SB, .290 AVG
With Cabrera serving as a baseline for average starting SS in a standard fantasy league, the other players on the list seem pretty comparable. Player Y's runs certainly stand out, but other than that, it appears ADP will have a big role in discovering who is worth taking. By just looking at the numbers, it's easy to continue down, down, down the rankings where you become so obsessed with value, that you either can't register who is most valuable out of this group, or you begin devaluing everyone. 
Out of the group of SS's I've selected (a noted shallow position this year) all of the above would fit the criteria for an average fantasy SS. However, once the names are revealed, they all range in ADP from 37 to 221.

Do you want this man as your starting fantasy SS? (GETTY)

Player V: Ian Desmond (ADP: 65)
Player W: Josh Rutledge (ADP: 197 )
Player X: Alexi Ramirez (ADP: 221)
Player Y: Martin Prado (ADP: 112 )
Player Z: Starlin Castro (ADP: 37)
Pretty wide range of players there. Now, as I mentioned the caveat that makes the blind test so wonderful is that it focuses on a limited number of factors. Those projections are in line (and yes, I'm just as shocked at Castro's line as you are, but I don't make projections) but you'd clearly rather have the high floor of a Castro over the complete unknown that is Josh Rutledge. Nor would you be happy coasting past Ian Desmond so you can secure Alexi Ramirez in the last round.
Maybe seeing these projections heightens the value of Hanley Ramirez or Troy Tulowitzki, but ultimately it's important to know when to say enough is enough. The risk is no worth the reward. If I strike out on Rutledge in a thin position, then I'm completely stuck. 
I recently found myself going through this with an outfielder, who as of now will remain nameless. He projects outside the top 100, but when I looked at comps for him, I saw guys ranked much earlier as well as much later. Soon enough I found myself saying, well he only looks to get x more runs and y more RBI so why not wait? That's exactly the kind of question that leads to find value, but if you start stretching it too far the risk you're taking on is high.
For better or worse, players are ranked not on projections, but their names (i.e. track records). Some times this can lead to overvaluing players. If you can keep your focus and find that perfect intersection point, it's a great way to get some steals in your draft.


RANK NAME POSITION
84 YOVANI GALLARDO SP
85 JAMES SHIELDS SP
86 JONATHAN PAPELBON RP
87 ELVIS ANDRUS SS
88 JORDAN ZIMMERMANN SP
89 CARLOS SANTANA C
90 MARTIN PRADO 2B/3B/OF
91 SERGIO ROMO RP
92 FERNANDO RODNEY RP
93 CHASE HEADLEY 3B
94 ASDRUBAL CABRERA SS
95 ALEX RIOS OF
96 JOSE ALTUVE 2B


On Deck: Ike Davis, Ryan Howard, Brandon Morrow, Ian Kennedy



OVERALL RANKINGS THUS FAR

Injury bug reigns supreme again this week. Roy Halladay, Chase Headley, and Mark Teixiera all drop down. Tex is barely worth owning with possible season ending surgery looming. Headley was looking to be a steady contributor, but a broken thumb will delay his opening day by about a month. 

Also, Halladay has looked shaky at best with his velocity and more importantly his control. As optimistic as I was about him, I'm starting to drop back a bit - even though I hate focusing on spring training stats, he has raised questions in key areas that will carry over into the regular season. As for David Wright's injury, I'm waiting to hear more. It's not going to alter my value on him just yet as several players under him have questions as well.

Finally, Greinke's elbow is scary. As Buster Olney reported, elbow inflammation doesn't just happen, it's usually a by product of something else. The most recent reports seem encouraging, but you have to be hesitant going in for Greinke.

As a note - I only intended to run about my first 100 ranks. I may publish as much as I have in the coming weeks, but I'll try to get one more out before the regular season. After my keeper league draft on Saturday I definitely want to put out a team of guys I want on my team this year. Not necessarily sleepers, but a mixture of guys I have a keen eye on. Might do a draft wrap as well, but that's debatable as there's already enough going on during the draft along with copious amounts of beer flowing at the Tilted Kilt.

RANK NAME POSITION CHANGE PREVIOUSLY
1 MIGUEL CABRERA 3B
2 RYAN BRAUN OF
3 MIKE TROUT OF
4 JOEY VOTTO 1B
5 ANDREW MCCUTCHEN OF
6 MATT KEMP OF
7 ROBINSON CANO 2B
8 ALBERT PUJOLS 1B
9 CARLOS GONZALEZ OF
10 JUSTIN VERLANDER SP
11 PRINCE FIELDER 1B
12 CLAYTON KERSHAW SP
13 JASON HEYWARD OF
14 GIANCARLO STANTON OF
15 DAVID WRIGHT 3B
16 FELIX HERNANDEZ SP
17 JUSTIN UPTON OF
18 JOSE BAUTISTA OF
19 EVAN LONGORIA 3B
20 STEPHEN STRASBURG SP
21 ADRIAN BELTRE 3B
22 HANLEY RAMIREZ 3B/SS
23 JOSH HAMILTON OF
24 BUSTER POSEY C/1B
25 ADAM JONES OF
26 DAVID PRICE SP
27 TROY TULOWITZKI SS
28 EDWIN ENCARNACION 1B/DH
29 IAN KINSLER 2B
30 MATT CAIN SP
31 COLE HAMELS SP
32 STARLIN CASTRO SS
33 DUSTIN PEDROIA 2B
34 JAY BRUCE OF
35 JOSE REYES SS
36 CLIFF LEE SP
37 ADRIAN GONZALEZ 1B/OF
38 MATT HOLLIDAY OF
39 RYAN ZIMMERMAN 3B
40 JACOBY ELLSBURY OF
41 ADAM WAINWRIGHT SP
42 MADISON BUMGARNER SP
43 BRYCE HARPER OF
44 JERED WEAVER SP
45 BRANDON PHILLIPS 2B
46 ALLEN CRAIG 1B/OF
47 YU DARVISH SP
48 YOENIS CESPEDES OF
49 BILLY BUTLER 1B
50 BEN ZOBRIST 2B/SS/OF
51 PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT 1B
52 GIO GONZALEZ SP
53 R.A. DICKEY SP 56
54 B.J. UPTON OF 59
55 ARAMIS RAMIREZ 3B 66
56 ZACK GREINKE SP 43
57 CRAIG KIMBREL RP
58 CC SABATHIA SP
59 IAN DESMOND SS
60 YADIER MOLINA C
61 AUSTIN JACKSON OF 67
62 AROLDIS CHAPMAN SP/RP
63 MAT LATOS SP
64 JASON KIPNIS  2B
65 PABLO SANDOVAL 3B 54
66 KRIS MEDLEN SP
67 DESMOND JENNINGS OF
68 JOHNY CUETO SP
69 BRETT LAWRIE 3B
70 JIMMY ROLLINS SS
71 CHRIS SALE SP
72 ALEX GORDON OF 78
73 MAX SCHERZER SP
74 AARON HILL 2B
75 JOE MAUER C/1B
76 MATT MOORE SP
77 MICHAEL BOURN OF 73
78 SHIN-SOO CHOO OF
79 ANTHONY RIZZO 1B
80 FREDDIE FREEMAN 1B
81 ROY HALLADAY SP 62
82 JASON MOTTE RP
83 MATT WIETERS C
84 YOVANI GALLARDO SP
85 JAMES SHIELDS SP
86 JONATHAN PAPELBON RP
87 ELVIS ANDRUS SS
88 JORDAN ZIMMERMANN SP
89 CARLOS SANTANA C
90 MARTIN PRADO 2B/3B/OF
91 SERGIO ROMO RP
92 FERNANDO RODNEY RP
93 CHASE HEADLEY 3B 71
94 ASDRUBAL CABRERA SS
95 ALEX RIOS OF
96 JOSE ALTUVE 2B






The Funkman says: The only holes I go down are when I'm golfing.


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