2017 Fantasy Baseball: Pre-Auction Tiers Outfielders Part II
Opening day is rapidly approaching. Your draft or auction is in the rearview mirror. So, why are we dredging up these auction values again? Simply put, your research shouldn’t stop the moment the draft or auction is done. There are always waiver wire claims to make and for those playing daily fantasy baseball, the research continues throughout the year because that’s what the folks at those sites are doing to come up with those prices.
With daily fantasy in particular, looking at more global numbers can be beneficial. Baseball Prospectus has their PECOTA projections that are among the most accurate in the industry. They have developed their total average and value over replacement player to encompass everything a player does offensively. Those numbers are park neutral, so we have applied a multiplier to add that element back in to both numbers.
We will compare the figures from those numbers with the average price that people paid for the player on Yahoo and ESPN. Those dollar figures represent where the fantasy playing world deemed their value and give us a guess as to where those daily fantasy sites will see their value. From there, we can see where there are pockets of inefficiency.
We split these players into tiers because it becomes easier to find the outliers. On the positive end we have Joc Pederson. Pederson is a low batting average guy, so it makes sense that he would be on the periphery of the fantasy outfielder world. However, in a total points environment he probably should be a starter. The key will be making more contact moving forward and we could see some growth in his third season.
On the negative end we get Jay Bruce. It might have been expected for him to play better in New York with a winning team around him, but Cincinnati has been a launching pad over the years and he has moved to a diametrically opposed environment. Bruce has a place in the fantasy world, but it probably isn’t in this grouping.
Another potential sleeper is Michael Brantley. His injury issues make this position make sense, but the projected numbers (and past performance) show that he belongs in a higher tier. When you add the addition of Edwin Encarnacion to an already potent lineup and suddenly he becomes a very good value play.
When you get to this point in a draft or auction you have to decide whether you want quality depth or if you want to roll the dice on a player that could win the lottery. Yasiel Puig represents the lottery. The PECOTA projection is ambitious, but we know he has it in him to produce these kinds of numbers. The question is whether we will ever see that guy on the field again. Sometimes, a dollar or two in auction (or the waiver wire) is not a heavy price to pay to find out.
Eric Thames is a similar player. He averaged over 40 home runs a season in Korea and will play first base every day in Milwaukee. He was an all or nothing hitter when he was here last time and likely will be again. Still, at the end of a draft or auction people are always looking for cheap power or speed and he can supply the power. In a total points format he probably isn’t worth the risk.
Carlos Beltran’s positioning is interesting. Since he DHs on most nights, his value over replacement player numbers are meager. That has more to do with the high expectations of designated hitters than anything else. He might go the way of David Ortiz in a final swan song or he might go gently into that good night. It’s anyone’s best guess at this point.
Two players stick out on the negative end immediately. First, we have Rajai Davis. He continues in the tradition of Billy Hamilton and guys like him. He led the American League in stolen bases last season, so he is an excellent cheap option for steals. In a 5×5 league that is an excellent investment for your bench. In a total points league I get why you are wanting to avoid adding him to your roster even for a day.
Hunter Renfroe presents a different dilemma. I would add him to my season long bench in a heartbeat. He has the chance to hit 25-30 home runs for a very low cost. Of course, he has limited experience and plays in a horrible hitter’s park, so it comes at a very high risk. On a daily basis, that might be too much of a risk.
David Peralta represents the positive outlier on the other side. He was brilliant in 2015, but suffered through an injury riddled 2016 season. Fantasy players often forget about players that suffered through injuries the season before. He would make a great bench piece in any full season roster, but might be more of a gamble in daily formats.