Shortstops are dominating the game today, but we don’t necessarily see that with the prices for them in current auctions. Most of you have completed your drafts and auctions by now, but that doesn’t mean that your research is done. Many of you will play daily fantasy baseball. We will cover that in detail again this season, but you can certainly get a head start by paying attention to how players are drafted or purchased in comparison with how they are projected to perform.
Projections are hard to pinpoint and difficult to rely on. PECOTA tends to be the best projection system out there and we will use Baseball Prospectus’ total average (TAV) and value above replacement player (VORP). Both are compiled to be independent of park effects, so we have multiplied each player given the park factors of their home ballpark. There is a lot secret sauce that goes into these numbers, but suffice it to say they are fairly easy to interpret.
We are using the current average auction prices from Yahoo and ESPN to look and see who the value plays will be. We are splitting the players into four groups of five. We find that the positions usually wind up in tiers and looking at them in tiers can crystallize the discussion a lot more than simply listing them one through twenty.
It is hard to believe that Turner is the most expensive guy on the board, but he doesn’t even qualify at short in all formats. He played second base for the Nationals in the second half and put up cartoonish numbers. The problem is that pitchers will now have a book on him, so it is hard to believe people are buying into that. Otherwise, the list is pretty solid.
Like with the other positions, the question always is whether it is worth it to pay the price for these guys. A lot depends on the format. If you are playing in daily fantasy then you are paying a total points format. The BP numbers become much more relevant in that case. In more traditional formats none of these guys are really big speed threats, so you might go with the second group.
The story here is whether you are dealing with categorical leagues or total points leagues. In traditional leagues, Segura makes a great deal of sense. He has always been the girl with the curl. PECOTA seems to think he will be bad once again. Even in bad times he should steal thirty or more bases. The others are fairly consistent with Russell inexplicably lagging behind as well. His contact went up last season, so the batting average should follow eventually.
What’s crazy is the difference in price between the bottom three players from this list and the players from the first group. This is the kind of thing to pay attention to when you are playing daily fantasy. When you get 80 percent of the production for pennies on the dollar you have to jump on it.
Looking at the prices, it is easy to see that the fantasy world is not impressed with the depth at shortstop. That can be seen when comparing the TAV and VORP scores. The replacement player portion of VORP is position specific. The total average is a comparison with every hitter in the game. So, some fantasy players draft the best player available and fill in positions like shortstop and catcher later. Others want a balance of good players, so they select one of the players from the first two groups.
Didi Gregorius will miss the first month of the season. Often early drafts and auctions create challenges like this. Fortunately, he wasn’t viewed as a regular shortstop, so people can get by without him. Out of the group, Swanson probably has the biggest upside and he often gets lost because of all of the brilliant, young shortstops in the game.
Like Gregorius, Duffy is due to miss time at the beginning of the season. However, the problem he has is similar to the problem Peralta has as well. Both are solid players, but they happen to have numerous solid players on the roster. Nick Franklin and Brad Miller can play the double play spots and Tim Beckham might get a hold as well. In St. Louis, Jedd Gyorko might end up sharing time with Peralta at third base.
At every position there are moments of insanity and seeing Semien in the bottom group was that moment. He hit 27 home runs last seasons and stole ten bases. He hit 15 and stole 11 the season before that. That kind of power and speed combination should not be able to be had for a buck, but it was just the same.