2015 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

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.

Tier One

2014 2013 2012 AVG ADJ
Giancarlo Stanton 62.7 34.5 52.0 49.7 51.5
Yasiel Puig 56.6 41.1 —- 48.9 50.2
Jose Bautista 53.2 36.9 31.8 40.6 44.2
Jayson Werth 50.5 43.7 17.1 37.1 42.7

For those that doubt Werth’s credentials, consider this: he has produced 40 or more VORP two consecutive seasons and three out of the last five. When healthy, he produces elite numbers. This is especially true when you consider walks and OBP. Like some other players, he provides good production in all of the categories (instead of great production in two or three), so he gets overlooked a lot. If you find him slipping late in your draft, he could be a very good investment.

Some people will select Bautista before Puig. I have no problem with that. The whole idea of VORP is to look for large gaps in data. Once you put them in their proper group, you can pick them in just about any order and be okay. Once these guys are off the board, you can look to other positions to see if they have any tier one guys left before joining in one those right fielder runs.

Tier Two

2014 2013 2012 AVG ADJ
Shin Soo Choo 10.9 62.6 34.6 36.0 32.1
Matt Kemp 39.1 12.5 44.7 32.1 31.2
Hunter Pence 33.9 32.5 17.5 28.0 30.7
Nelson Cruz 36.9 19.7 23.4 26.7 28.9
Jason Heyward 27.8 18.0 43.9 29.9 27.2
Ryan Braun 17.5 17.9 57.8 31.1 24.4
Torii Hunter 15.1 29.5 34.2 26.3 23.1
Seth Smith 33.6 9.0 17.6 20.1 22.7
Jay Bruce 6.8 37.5 27.0 23.8 20.4

In the last edition, I talked a little about the difference between ordinal data and interval data. Simply put, interval data is the king of data in the statistics world. The general idea is that the order above is not important. What is important is the relatively small gap between the fifth best right fielder and the 13th best right fielder. This doesn’t even include the flyer picks that we will get to shortly.

On draft day, this is a huge deal. There will always be runs on certain positions and people will panic and snatch the next available guy. So, let’s say someone flips out and selects Choo. If the next guy selects Kemp, that doesn’t mean you have to select Pence. You could wait because there are several players right around the same value. Some will draft Braun really early. It’s a not a big deal because they are all right around the same value.

Take a Flyer

2014 2013 2012 AVG ADJ
George Springer 19.5 —- —- 19.5 19.5
Kevin Kiermaier 16.9 0.0 —- 8.5 9.9
Gregory Polanco 6.9 —- —- 6.9 6.9
Jorge Soler 6.6 —- —- 6.6 6.6
Avisail Garcia 0.6 3.2 0.4 1.4 1.4

There are guys like this at every position. They simply don’t fit in the VORP paradigm. Springer’s 19.5 would register him as a third tier guy, but we know he’s better than that. The question is how much better. If we simply extrapolate last season’s numbers over a full season he would be a solid tier two guy. If he brings the speed he brought in the minors, he would join that group of superstars. Soler is another that could be anywhere between tier two and borderline tier one.

The others are likely tier two or three players. The gamble is trying to guess which one they fit in. However, if you are looking to fill out your bench, it sometimes pays to take a guy with the potential to be more than a bench guy. The flip side is having a guy like Garcia. After his first year up in 2012, some fantasy players have bet twice on him (2013 and 2014) only to be disappointed. It is part of the gamble of taking a flyer on a young player.

Tier Three

2014 2013 2012 AVG ADJ
Michael Cuddyer 14.5 29.6 16.9 20.3 19.9
Josh Reddick 19.7 13.4 25.9 19.7 18.6
Kole Calhoun 28.3 11.7 -0.7 13.1 17.9
J.D. Martinez 38.5 -3.1 -5.8 9.9 17.3
Nick Markakis 18.7 10.3 20.1 16.4 16.1
Carlos Beltran 0.7 26.8 33.2 20.2 14.8
Alex Rios -1.6 24.7 35.2 19.4 13.3
Carlos Gonzalez -2.4 32.8 20.4 16.9 13.1
Shane Victorino -0.1 26.8 24.9 17.2 13.0

Do I really believe that Gonzalez is not a top twenty right fielder? Of course not. There are mitigating factors at work here that would work to elevate him considerably (home ballpark for one). However, there are a number of people that have put him with that first tier of right fielders. Depending on your personal preference, that would make him either the fifth or sixth ranked right fielder on the board. Some have picked him even sooner.

If 40 VORP represents the demarcation between a tier one and tier two player, then we haven’t seen Gonzalez produce that since 2010. That’s going on five years ago. Mind you, he does have several tier two seasons to his credit (other than last season), so that would probably be the most sensible place to put him. He’ll get picked by then anyway, so I would go ahead and let him be someone else’s headache. We’re talking about someone that has played in more than 135 games only once.

I personally nabbed Carlos Beltran in the 24th round of my last draft. I probably could have had him in the last round. Some of these guys will go undrafted and will wind up on the waiver wire. They are nice to have around if your regulars get hurt. Martinez and Victorino might be nice flyers late given past performance. With Martinez you are betting that he’s found his level. With Victorino you are hoping he can get it back.

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