Tagged: Runs Scored

Some Things to Consider When Measuring Player Value

By Eriq Gardner
Let’s pretend we have two teams each drafting one batter at C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, OF1, OF2, OF3.
The roster of Team A is the following: Alex Rodriguez, Mark Reynolds, Jason Bay, Jayson Werth, Nelson Cruz, Ben Zobrist, Elvis Andrus, and Mike Napoli.
The roster of Team B is the following: Adrian Gonzalez, Nick Markakis, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Jones, Robinson Cano, Alex Rios, Orlando Cabrera, and Bengie Molina.
Team A should be the far superior team if you go by any Average Draft Position measure. These are all heavy hitters who contribute some nice speed; however, when we take a look at projections, we’re not quite that certain that Team A would finish ahead of Team B.
Here are the projected team statistics for Team A:
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And here are the projected team statistics for Team B:
Picture 19.png
As you’ll see above, Team A has the clear upper-hand in HRs and SBs. However, Team B holds a small edge in RBIs and Rs and a big edge in AVG. How did we pull this trick?
The answer tells us something important about player value and is something to keep in mind when using player raters and managing a roster into the season.
Team A is a squad comprised of the top-rated players at every position who each project for less than 550 at-bats.
Team B is a squad comprised of players who are rated relatively lower compared to the other squad, but who each project for somewhere between 575 to 650 at-bats.
In other words, the extra ABs translate to added counting numbers, particularly important in context stats such as R and RBI. In addition, more ABs mean a bigger contribution to the overall team average. Last year’s best best performers against draft position included Aaron HillChone Figgins, and Victor Martinez. Is it a coincidence that each of these players led their position in ABs?
We’re all trained to weight heavily the categories that are seemingly dependent on core skills like power and speed; player raters in particular give a little bit of extra credit to steals because of the overall scarcity. But HRs and SBs aren’t the only categories worth considering when taking a look at a player. And core skills are not the only factors worth examining. Teams doing well in undervalued categories and teams healthy enough to gain a playing time advantage can find their way to fantasy success, perhaps to the astonishment of their league-mates.
For more on competitive factors in fantasy baseball, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kits.

The Case For Joe Mauer in the 1st Round

By Eriq Gardner

Last season, Joe Mauer took home the AL MVP after slugging 28 HR, 96 RBI, and a .365 AVG. It’s nearly indisputable that Mauer had one of the finest seasons ever by a catcher. Yet hardly any fantasy baseball idea is more controversial than the prospect of taking a catcher in the first round.

Some people who blanch at Mauer as a high pick might be nervous about the inherent risks of investing in a catcher, the one position on the diamond (other than pitcher) where no player can every day, and where injuries and wear are big concerns. Others point to Mauer’s HR-to-flyball leap (from 6.5% in 2008 to 20.4% in 2009), seeing it as a clear sign that “Mauer power” is illusory.

However, the best case for Mauer as a solid first-round pick has nothing to do with faith he’ll keep up the HRs. Nor does it have anything to do with batting average, his most famous advantage over other players. It comes down to another category in which he’s so spectacular, he holds the potential of helping a team go a long way toward winning it.

That category is runs — probably the least-considered one in fantasy baseball. It’s also the category that’s been shown repeatedly as most correlative with a fantasy team’s hitting success.

Competitors tend to dismiss the runs category, perhaps because they see it as outside  of their control. A player crosses the plate, after all, not just based on his ability, but also due to other players’ ability to drive him in.

However, it follows that getting on base is a skill, and that those who do it well score more runs. Over the last three years, only three batters with more than 600 at-bats (Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones, and Todd Helton) have gotten on-base more than Joe Mauer.

The result is that Mauer crosses the plate a lot. Over the last three seasons, he’s averaged 85 runs scored. He scored 94 in 2009. In 2010, he’s projected to score 92 times.

How valuable is that? Let’s put it in perspective.

Among catchers, he’s a beast. Last year, he scored 30 more runs than the average Top-10 catcher. He did this despite missing the first month of the season. Here’s a graphical look at Mauer’s performance last year. Note, too, those 112 AB as a DH:

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Going into 2010, Bloomberg projects Mauer to have a 25-run advantage on the top-10 leading run scorers at catcher. Is that a lot? Let’s look at how other players in the first round stack up in the runs category compared to the top-10 projected run scorers at their respective positions.Picture 30.png

As you’ll see above, Mauer (+25) holds a bigger advantage compared to his peers than Pujols (+12), Chase Utley (+12), Alex Rodriguez (+12), and Ryan Braun (+1).

Perhaps it’s time we began to look at things differently. Maybe Joe Mauer is to runs as players like Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury are to steals. This may sound controversial, but after going through several drafts already this year, and then projecting the seasons out, I’ve typically found that the team in my league that drafts Mauer is usually the one projected to win the runs category — and give himself a huge leg up on a league title.

For more information on Joe Mauer and hundreds of other players, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy tools.