2015 Fantasy Baseball: Right Field VORP Revisited

This marks the end of the VORP revisited series. With the end comes this one piece of advice: it is dangerous to use any one piece of information exclusively during your draft. Statistics are tools. If you follow them down the rabbit hole, you usually wind up either in the cellar or somewhere near it. If you use this as just one of many tools at your disposal, then you will be in the right frame of mind.

In the last edition, we started grouping the players where their adjusted VORP scores tended to clump together. That’s a key point to remember. The order of these players is not so important as remembering which group they belong in. Sometimes you can wait a while to get that second tier guy. Sometimes, one of those first tier guys aren’t recognized as such. It happened in my last draft at this position. We’ll separate the group into four tiers. In the middle, we’ll throw in the prospects that don’t really fit the VORP model just yet. [Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball: Center Field VORP Revisited

We come to the end of our VORP soon (RF will be the last edition) with a slight variation of our organizational structure. Many of you have had your fantasy drafts already, but for those that haven’t it isn’t enough to simply rank the players at a position and call it a day. Each draft is organic to itself and you have to be as prepared as you can for any possibility. There are always runs on certain positions and you have to know whether it pays to go down that rabbit hole.

When that run of outfielders comes, you have to know whether you are getting bang for your buck by getting involved in that run. Sometimes, it pays to go in another direction and pick up a key player at another position when that run comes. So, we will be breaking the center fielders into tiers. Included in this list is everyone penciled in to be the center fielder for their team next week. [Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball: Left Field VORP Revisited

As you might imagine, outfield is one of the deepest positions in any fantasy draft. The trouble is that different leagues treat outfielders differently. Some of them consider them collectively while others break them down by their individual positions. Here we will break them down by the individual positions and then let you break that down how you need to based on your individual needs.

Like we have with the other positions, we will be going with the Yahoo top 20. Obviously, most of these guys will be eligible at more than one outfield position, so you will likely see some of these guys more than once. Like we have with the other positions, we will highlight a few players that did not make the top 20 but should have. We will spend most of our time looking at the players that are vastly separated from their Yahoo ranking. [Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball: Shortstop VORP Revisited

As we continue our journey through this VORP series, we get to maybe the most difficult position to pick on the diamond. Shortstop might be shallowest of all the positions on draft day, but that makes for good opportunities if you know more than your opponents. There are some players that won’t be among the top 20 that might actually be superior to those in the top twenty. As always, we will take the Yahoo top 20 and look at them specifically.

That doesn’t mean that your research should stop there. Take a gander at all of the players destined to play regularly at shortstop (or who will be eligible at shortstop) and you might find some bargains late in the draft. For now, we will focus on the Yahoo top 20 and see how they compare when we apply our special formula for VORP.

Yahoo 2014 2013 2012 AVG ADJ Rank DIFF
Hanley Ramirez 1 41.4 44.0 39.3 41.6 41.9 1 0
Ian Desmond 2 36.4 29.6 32.1 32.7 33.4 4 -2
Troy Tulowitzki 3 34.2 40.3 11.2 28.6 32.4 5 -2
Jose Reyes 4 36.4 28.8 54.1 39.8 36.8 2 +2
Alexei Ramirez 5 21.0 25.1 7.7 17.9 20.2 14 -9
Elvis Andrus 6 21.0 27.1 31.2 26.4 24.7 11 -5
Jimmy Rollins 7 29.5 15.2 40.1 28.3 26.5 9 -2
Starlin Castro 8 27.7 4.0 37.8 23.2 21.5 12 -4
Ben Zobrist 9 33.5 29.8 46.3 36.5 34.4 3 +6
Xander Bogaerts 10 14.6 4.3 —- 9.5 10.3 19 -9
Erick Aybar 11 32.6 20.6 31.9 28.4 28.5 7 +4
Jhonny Peralta 12 37.3 28.5 11.8 25.9 30.1 6 +6
Alcides Escobar 13 22.4 -5.7 24.8 13.8 13.4 18 -5
Danny Santana 14 25.0 —- —- 25.0 25.0 10 +4
Jean Segura 15 11.1 27.7 3.6 14.1 15.4 17 -2
Javier Baez 16 -5.4 —- —- -5.4 -5.4 20 -4
J.J. Hardy 17 20.0 26.2 8.6 18.3 20.2 13 +4
Asdrubal Cabrera 18 17.0 17.9 25.1 20.0 18.7 15 +3
Brad Miller 19 16.6 19.2 —- 17.9 17.7 16 +3
Jed Lowrie 20 17.2 43.8 26.1 29.0 27.6 8 +12

When I look at the shortstop list, it is isn’t as barren as immediately thought, but you do have to do some digging to find some diamonds in the rough. According to the VORP multiplier, we find that a few guys stand out in addition to the ones shown above. Jordy Mercer, Brandon Crawford, Yunel Ecobar, and Justin Turner all had 17 or better in adjusted VORP. They did not register in the top 20as shortstops. Escobar and Turner are also eligible at multiple positions, which adds some value.

Most Underrated Players

Jed Lowrie– Houston Astros (+12)

You see this from time to time. Lowrie is probably similar to Chase Headley of the Yankees in terms of career arcs. How do you handle it when a player has a career season? Lowrie has been up since 2008 and has surpassed 400 plate appearances twice. Those have been the last two seasons, so perhaps he has finally gotten over the injury bug. Not coincidentally, he has surpassed 20 VORP only twice. If you combined his other seasons into a healthy version, he probably still wouldn’t come close to producing those 2013 numbers. Let’s assume he produces somewhere in between 20 and 25 in lieu of the 27.6 above. That would put him in Starlin Castro and Elvis Andrus country. That’s still starter quality in most 12 player leagues.

Jhonny Peralta– St. Louis Cardinals (+6)

Peralta is one of the more intriguing players in the game today. He’s died a few professional deaths and managed to rise like the phoenix in the ashes. The Indians tried moving him to third and eventually thought he had flamed out. He resurrected himself in Detroit and then tested positive for PEDs. The Cardinals gave him another chance and he capitalized on it. Bet against him at your own peril.

Ben Zobrist– Oakland Athletics (+6)

No, this isn’t a repeat of the second base article. Zobrist is underrated everywhere he is eligible. I covered a lot of ground there, so I’ll focus on durability. He has played in 146 or more games every season since 2009. That kind of durability alone is worth the extra spots at shortstop, but when you combine the power, speed, and patience you get one of the most underrated players from the last decade.

The Most Overrated Players

Alexei Ramirez– Chicago White Sox (-9)

The White Sox are one of the more puzzling organizations in baseball. It’s difficult to determine from one year to the next whether they are rebuilding or going for it all. Ramirez seemed like a perfect candidate to be dealt for prospects, but they never pulled the trigger. Most pundits have given them a hard time for not choosing to embrace a rebuild. Funny, but he has bounced back and seems to be as valuable as he always was. I like Ramirez just fine, but he is overvalued because of his speed. As he gets older, that advantage will be negated.

Elvis Andrus– Texas Rangers (-5)

We continue the theme here with Andrus. It is easy to get into the habit of overpaying for single categories. Andrus is a nice player, but he is not a top ten overall shortstop. He contributes steals, but he struggles to bring much more to the table. He is a starting quality shortstop, but he should not be among the top half of that list.

Alcides Escobar– Kansas City Royals (-5)

Why not make it a trifecta? Escobar is overrated for two reasons. First, he has the speed element in his game that others have overvalued. Second, he is probably a part of the bump that most Royals are getting this season. We must remember that they were barely in the playoffs at the end of the day. Many of them got hot at the right time and it is dangerous to put too much stock in October performance.

2015 Fantasy Baseball: Third Base VORP Revisited

As we continue with our value over replacement player series, we come to a point where we should take a step back. Sometimes it helps to ask ourselves some basic questions before continuing with our endeavor. A number of sites have numbers similar to VORP. Essentially, it amounts to runs above replacement. Baseball Prospectus is the author of VORP, and their PECOTA system has been closer to predicting players’ future performance than anyone. So, I’ve gone with VORP.

As you have seen if you’ve tuned in the last few times, we are taking the last three seasons and developing an adjusted average for VORP. We then compare that average and where it ranks with other averages where Yahoo has ranked its players. When we see a large discrepancy, it always pays to slow down and take a longer look at it. We adjust the VORP by weighting the most recent seasons more than the seasons before that. Hopefully, it gives the numbers a little more relevance.

What we will do today is take the top twenty Yahoo third basemen and see how they look when we apply the VORP test. Naturally, this is very helpful when preparing for a draft because there are some players that are still third base eligible that I would have never dreamed would be. That makes a difference when ranking your big board. You might see some of the same names as we’ve seen at other positions. They aren’t typos. [Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball: Second Base VORP Revisited

Fantasy baseball players often base their selections on two things: the average draft position for the player and preseason rankings from the particular site they are using. Funny, but those average draft positions (ADP) are based mostly on the preseason rankings. It all comes down to those rankings for most players. Yet, most of us have found ourselves scratching our heads at least once or twice at some of the rankings. It behooves us to figure out how they arrive at those rankings.

If we do that, then we can determine for ourselves whether those rankings make sense or not. For the last couple of seasons, I’ve been using value over replacement player (VORP) to rank players. It tends to fit on the upper end, but it often breaks down as we get to the middle rounds or late rounds. I’ve been tinkering and have found a weighted system that works better. It doesn’t work perfectly, but the closer we get the better. The closer we get the closer we get to peaking behind the curtain.

The weighted system is fairly crude for the time being and really the braintrust of colleague Chris Garosi. The most recent season is multiplied three times, 2013 is multiplied twice, and 2012 is multiplied once. Then, that total is divided by six to give us a new one season score. Most of the time the scores are similar to the three year average, but sometimes we see some discrepancies. Those discrepancies can explain why we see some funky rankings sometimes. [Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball: 30 Prospects in 30 Days — Blake Swihart

Some of you may be old enough to remember 45s. I came of age in the tail end of the vinyl generation. Of course, vinyl went the way of the do-do bird and the concept of the single (and subsequent B side) seemed to go along with it. Then came cassettes, compact discs, and then finally MP3 technology. Suddenly, people were buying singles for 99 cents or a $1.29 on Itunes or Google Play. Suddenly, everything old was new again. The only thing missing was the B side.

The same has happened with catchers. In the good ol’ days, most teams considered it a bonus if catchers could hit at all. They wanted someone that could be a good receiver, part psychologist, and someone that could control the running game. As time went on, some of those considerations went by the wayside because numbers crunchers couldn’t quantify it. Teams wanted catchers with big arms and big bats. If they could block pitches in the dirt that would be great too. Fortunately, pitch framing is making a huge comeback and so are receiving skills. Blake Swihart is a part of that comeback. [Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball: First Base VORP Revisited

As some of you may know, Chris Garosi and I participated in a recent fantasy draft. I shared my VORP findings with him to assist with the drafting process. He made a couple of suggestions to make the system better and we will incorporate those as we look at a comparison between how Yahoo ranks first baseman and how our VORP methodology ranks the first baseman. Of course, before we get into the rankings and discrepancies, we should talk about the tweaking that has been done.

As usual, we looked at the last three seasons of value over replacement player. The main difference is that I applied a weight to the more recent seasons. The 2014 numbers were tripled, the 2013 numbers were doubled, and the 2012 numbers were counted as is. The general idea is that we didn’t want to forget about other seasons, but we wanted to apply more weight to 2014 because those numbers are more relevant most of the time. We are calling this new total the relative VORP. Naturally, there are always exceptions to every rule. No system can be perfect after all. [Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball 30 Prospects in 30 Days — Carlos Rodon

Most of the time, fantasy players will not reap any kind of direct benefit from the amateur draft for at least two or three years. Of course, every year there are exceptions, and Carlos Rodon will likely be the exception from the 2014 draft. Amazingly, he lasted until the number three overall pick, but he looks to be the first from that class to make a lasting impact for fantasy baseball players.


Rodon was a three year stud that pitched at North Carolina State. Like Mark Appel before him, he was overwhelmingly thought to be the number one overall pick coming into the 2014 college season. Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t quite as dominant in 2014 as he had been the two seasons before. Naturally, that was somewhat deceiving given that his ERA and other DIPS numbers may actually have been better.

Rodon started off 9-0 with a 1.57 ERA his freshman year. MLB draft rules require you stay at least three years at a four year school before entering the draft. He followed up that sparkling year with a 10-3 record, but his 2.99 ERA should have been an indication that he wasn’t completely unhittable. Even though he had a better ERA in 2014, his win-loss record, strikeouts per nine innings, and walks per nine innings all suffered. That took him from a prohibitive number one overall pick to the third pick in the draft. [Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball: Catcher VORP Revisited

The calendar has finally flipped over to March. Spring Training games are beginning and fantasy drafts are finally taking place. Earlier this offseason I took a look at value over replacement player (VORP) and catchers. This time, I focusing on Yahoo rankings and adding a little bit of information to VORP to put these rankings in some perspective. Sometimes, we can use some information to our advantage. Some players might be overrated while others underrated. Sometimes, the rankings put too much emphasis on the last season. Sometimes, the VORP rankings may not account for a player improving or slipping. The players are listed in the order that Yahoo has ranked them.

2014 3 Year Relative VRank Diff
Buster Posey 50.7 54.1 37.3 1 0
Carlos Santana 33.0 37.5 20.7 2 0
Devin Mesoraco 42.9 17.7 0.9 16 -13
Jonathan Lucroy 55.7 33.9 17.1 4 0
Evan Gattis 23.5 21.1 4.3 10 -5
Yan Gomes 34.3 19.8 3.0 14 -8
Salvador Perez 16.2 22.9 6.1 7 0
Yadier Molina 18.0 35.6 18.8 3 +5
Brian McCann 13.5 16.8 0.0 17 -8
Wilin Rosario 3.4 15.9 -0.9 18 -8
Matt Wieters 8.8 20.6 3.8 12 -1
Russell Martin 43.1 28.7 11.9 5 +7
Wilson Ramos 17.3 13.0 -3.8 21 -8
Stephen Vogt 13.3 4.6 -12.2 30 -14
Travis d’Arnauld 17.8 8.0 -8.8 27 -11
Dioner Navarro 14.1 11.1 -5.7 23 -7
Derek Norris 20.8 14.5 -2.3 19 -2
Miguel Montero 16.3 22.0 5.2 8 +10
Jason Castro 10.9 20.3 3.5 13 +6
Kurt Suzuki 16.0 8.3 -8.5 26 -6

The Most Underrated

Miguel Montero– Chicago Cubs (+10)

The first rule in all statistics is that statistics really don’t lie. They all tell a story and the key is not to blindly follow them, but to figure out what story they are telling. Montero is rated 18th amongst catchers in Yahoo for a reason. In particular, his 2012 season is still anchoring him as an above average catcher. The likelihood of him seeing a 41.5 again is almost nil. So, if we look at the last two seasons as more of a guide we see a 12.3 average. That’s good enough for a -4.5 or a 24th ranking amongst VORP. So, actually 18th sounds a bit optimistic. [Read more…]