Tuesday, March 27, 2012

David Bobke - Anticipating Fantasy Baseball Needs and Values for Beginners

Reminder: I am attempting to simplify some basic Roto FB concepts so that even a novice baseball fan looking to play Fantasy Baseball for the first time can hold some chance of not finishing dead last, and maybe even finishing near or at the top. But then again, this advice is free, and you get what you pay for! But then again, with free samples at the mall food court, you win there, don't you?

Concept #2: An-tici-pating Needs and Values

How does one predict the future? The magic 8 ball? A phone call to Miss Cleo? Maybe those will give you some piece of mind, but you're better off with your own list of predictions.

There's a couple things to remember here. One is projected stats. Experts can help you figure out about how well every player and their mother is going to do during a season. The other thing to remember is your player rankings. The rankings we'll get to next time; I'm going to start with the projected stats because that should help you decide on how you rank players before your draft.

Now don't fret over projected statistics; you don't need to predict everything yourself. There are a number of sources that offer numbers up free of charge, ESPN.com, Yahoo.com, and so forth. They all give you updated projections free of charge. Take some time to glance over the numbers, consider where you think their stats are way off, but use those stats as your template to start from. Start with the stats of the website you'll be drafting on; every site will have different rankings. If you're playing against friends, they'll probably draft from that list, not what some other site says (and if they do draft based on another site, there's no way to prepare for every possible contingency.) If you don't know what site you're playing on yet, look at a bunch of them, make mental notes of the players that are much higher or lower on other sites, and go over this step later.

Big point here...don't dogmatically stick with the site's list, but don't greatly over- or undervalue players that you think are going to be great or terrible. Don't take a guy listed as the 205th best player in the 10th Round just because you think he'll be amazing. Say you like the guy this site has listed as 205th best, SP Stinky McGee. You think he should be up in the 100-110 range. That's fine, but don't take him here. If he's the 205th player on the board, he's projected to go in the 21st round. Don't take him 11 rounds early. I'll put it this way, which of the following would you rather have:

SP Stinky McGee and an 18th Round pick OR
SP Stinky McGee and a 10th Round pick

Dumb question right? You'd rather have the second option. Yes, taking McGee in the 18th is a little earlier than projected, but that's okay in later rounds. At that point, you don't have “sure things” like you do in the first several rounds or “good bets” like you have in the next several rounds. By the last several rounds, you're taking guys you think could break out. 18th Round is okay for a guy projected to go in the 21st. Even if McGee pans out, and puts up numbers that makes him the 100th best player in the league, you'll have overpaid for him and hurt your team's overall talent level.

Summarizing that last paragraph...the talent pool is like a pyramid. You have a few bricks at the top, a lot more a couple layers down, more yet a few more layers down, and a plethora at the bottom. The top ones are the most reliable players, the bottom ones are the least reliable. There aren't a lot of ultra-reliable players and plenty of unreliable ones. If a player is pegged as being an unreliable player, draft him as such. Once you're a few levels in, you'll find a lot of bricks at the same level. And by bricks, I mean players...just in case you wanted that clarified.

Here's a question that may come up later: how can a player with really good stats be ranked so low? Consistency.

Example: One website has a player ranked 15th and another 40th. Their stats are listed below, specifically Runs, Home Runs, RBI's, Stolen Bases, and Batting Average.

15: 71 – 31 – 88 – 14 - .270
40: 74 – 22 – 81 – 8 - .271

Not terribly dissimilar numbers. The Home Run difference is noticeable, as are the 6 less Stolen Bases. That's quite a drop from #15 to #40. The players in question? Nelson Cruz and Torii Hunter. Yes, really. Cruz, oft injured but very productive when healthy, is ranked that much higher than the aging and still somewhat productive Hunter. The numbers aren't terribly different, but the consistent numbers and injury risk you'll get from Cruz outweigh the average output you'll get from Hunter. And remember, in most leagues, defense has nothing to do with Roto ball.

So, we've gotten into projected stats and how to read and interpret them, how you can't just line up the numbers and go by those. You need to know how likely a player is to follow through on those numbers. Keep in mind, you're not drafting their projected stats. You're drafting the likelihood that they'll meet, exceed, or fall short of those stats.

Next time, we'll talk about how you should set up your rankings. I don't recommend simply going with the rankings your site of choice is using. You probably have differing opinions to what they have, and we'll get into how to adjust your personal rankings accordingly.

David Bobke

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