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 Draft Guide: Outfield Preview Podcast

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Ryan Noonan and Gerard Martin are back to talk outfielders. They talk about the perception of the outfield position in terms of how deep it is, how awesome Miami’s young outfielders are, and help you find some late value to round out your rosters.

Listen below, or find it on iTunes or Stitcher by searching ‘TheFantasyFix’.

2015 Fantasy Baseball: Staff Rankings Roundtable Discussion

I think it’s a good practice, regardless of the application, to try and improve yourself and learn something new every single day. It’s difficult to learn when you think you know it all.

With that very thought in mind, I work with a lot of really bright baseball minds here at TheFantasyFix. It’s pretty cool, actually. I felt compelled to pick the brains of my colleagues and fellow FantasyPros rankers to better understand their point of view on a few players that seem to be outliers for them. They were kind enough to answer, and Brett tossed the ball back in my court at the end of the post. You can find our positional rankings here, and we would love to hear from readers in the comment section.

As any intelligent person would, I started at the top.

Alan Harrison

Q: Alan, you and I are on the same page with regard to Todd Frazier. He’s not in your top 10 at third base, so I’m guessing that you don’t expect Frazier to repeat his 29/20 from last year. What are your expectations this season?

A: Frazier has been a fine real and fake baseball player for the past handful of years, but last year’s age-28 season effort was clearly a career year. Prior to last season’s 29 homers, Frazier had never eclipsed the 20 home run plateau; he tacked on an extra 10 in ’14 likely due to a spike in HR/FB% to 17%, also a career best with a minimum of 50 ABs in a single season.  And prior to ’14, Frazier’s career best stolen base mark was six in 2013, yet he swiped 20 last season? I think folks are on the right track by targeting Frazier — he’s a nice value at the hot corner and may just reach double digit homers and steals again in ’15 — but I think they’re paying a hefty premium for last season’s production, a price I’m not willing to pay. [Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball: Addison Reed and His Potential Replacement

This post was written by Rich Migliorisi exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com.

Playing the closer game has much to do with avoiding the wrong pitchers as it does picking the right ones. Heading into the 2014 season, I discussed Addison Reed’s injury risk. And despite those red flags, he managed to stay healthy and collect 32 saves. Showing me up, I suppose. But there were some bumps in the road.

How I felt overall about Reed can be summed from an article I produced after he was traded to the Diamondbacks prior to the beginning of last season:

Reed, 24, showed a significant decrease in velocity during the 2013 season, losing almost a full two miles per hour on his heater (94.5 to 92.7).  His zone percentage went from 57.6% to 52.9%, which could increase the risk for injury.  In fairness, this could be due to the increased use of his slider, which is now over 30%, but even the high usage of that pitch makes you a bit concerned, since sliders are known to heighten the risk of injury.  Chase Field actually graded out lower than the Cell according to ESPN’s home run park factor, so Reed’s fly-ball tendencies may survive the move in that sense.

[Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide: Starting Pitchers You Almost Have to Draft

I love FIP. Or at least I did until xFIP came along and improved the predictive power of defense-independent pitching statistics (DIPS). Because home run rates generally fluctuate from year to year, xFIP applies a league average home run rate to all pitchers, which makes xFIP better able to tell us what will happen in the future than FIP can. Admittedly, some pitchers do have the ability to maintain an above average home run rate and some are not able to bring their home run rate down to average. But for the most part, xFIP can tell us more about what will happen in the future.

But then Matt Swartz’s SIERA came along and upstaged xFIP. By giving more or less weight to some of the components of FIP/xFIP and by taking balls in play more into account, SIERA is able to be even more predictive than xFIP. Ever since Swartz came out with SIERA in 2011, that has been my go-to DIPS stat. But there’s a new sheriff in town, and his name is cFIP. [Read more…]

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: Mixed Tout Wars Review, Rounds 1-3

Spring Training is here. That means all of us baseball nutsos get to travel to Arizona or Florida to get an early look at our favorite teams and players. It also means that we get to dive head first into numbers to try and sort out what happened last season, who went where in the offseason and what will happen this coming season. But what it really means is that the fantasy baseball community kicks into full gear with some of the more famous leagues with some of the more credible participants in the fantasy baseball community: Tout Wars and LABR.

For the purpose of this reflection piece we’ll be focusing on Tout Wars. If you’re not familiar with this league, here’s an excerpt from their WikiPedia page:

“Tout Wars is the most high-profile fantasy baseball experts league and was the focus of the 2006 best selling book Fantasyland. It was created in 1997 by Ron Shandler who was fed up with the lack of promotion USA Today gave its annual LABR fantasy baseball experts league. The drafts are conducted each year in late March shortly before the MLB season and include a 12 team AL-only league, a 13-team NL-only league and a 12-team mixed league (added in 2005). Tout Wars was featured as the subject of a 2010 documentary called “Fantasyland” based on the book.”
[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 Draft Guide: Third Base Preview Podcast

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Ryan Noonan and Gerard Martin are back to talk about third base. In the hot corner podcast they discuss their approach to the position on draft day, talk through the top tier of third baseman, decide whether or not Chris Davis returns to form, and how much of a ‘leap’ Nolan Arenado makes.

Listen below, or find it on iTunes or Stitcher by searching ‘TheFantasyFix’.