By Tom Trudeau
The inaugural LABR mixed league draft was held this past Saturday night, causing some of the industry’s brightest minds to miss the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Competing against an experienced group of fantasy owners made it even more important to dig deep for undervalued commodities. Using Bloomberg Sports’ Front Office 2012, I was able to find those commodities at the catcher position.
Determining replacement level and evaluating positional scarcity are two of the toughest tasks facing an owner in a deep league with a lot of positions. A top-200 list for a typical 10-team league should look very different from a top-200 list for a 15-team league with two catchers, five outfielders, a middle infielder, and a corner infielder, since any change to positional requirements affects replacement level across the board.
It’s hard to overstate how much more valuable catchers are in a two-catcher league. Front Office generates “B-Ranks” for each player based on the league’s settings. For example, Mike Napoli’s B-Rank in a one-catcher, 15-team league is 42nd, while Carlos Santana checks in at 55th. For mixed LABR, those B-Ranks jump to 21st and 28th, respectively. B-Ranks for backstops increased enough to make catchers roughly twice as valuable in the LABR draft, by far the biggest increase of any position. This made catchers the most undervalued commodity on draft day, relative to a typical top-300 list or even the ADP results that the experts study.
With this in mind, I was thrilled to land the top-ranked catcher, Mike Napoli, with the 32nd pick, Joe Mauer with the 59th pick, and Salvador Perez with the 269th pick. Perez’ B-Rank of 109 made him one of the best value picks of the day for my squad. He instantly becomes either an overqualified backup or a valuable trade chip in a league where other owners will be forced to start catchers such as Ryan Hanigan, Wilin Rosario, and Yorvit Torrealba.
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