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Paying For Scarcity Over Production: Is Derek Jeter Worth It?

The SS pool in the American League is shallow.  For mixed leagues, this means you're likely to have an NL SS as your starter.  For AL-Only leagues, this means you're forced into making a decision based on scarcity.   This breaks down into either paying for the best options or trying to additional production from other positions and not spending the money necessary to land one of the better AL SSs.

Just as baseball analysts struggle with beat writers over the worth of New York Yankees' SS Derek Jeter, fantasy players in AL-Only leagues are forced to grapple with the same dilemma.  Is Derek Jeter worth as much as his projected value?

By most valuation methods, which account for AVG and Runs, Jeter comes out atop the AL SS rankings.  I do not dispute this.    Nor do I dispute that a player like Marcos Scutaro will not out-produce Derek Jeter in any of the five standard fantasy categories.  (Of course, if last season is representative, Scutaro will walk more and strikeout less.)  What I dispute is whether the absolute differences in production are worth the disparate amount of money necessary to get Jeter rather than one of several Marcos Scutaro types.

When one drafts based on scarcity, one assumes that the difference in absolute production from the top player to one of middling- to lower-tiered ones merits the extra money needed to acquire the top player(s).    Hence, you spend $24 for Derek Jeter rather than a couple of bucks for Scutaro (or $5 for Erick Aybar as Chris Liss of Rotowire spent in AL LABR.)

A look at the absolute production here doesn't quite merit the large difference in salary, which could be used in a variety of other areas.   Here are the top 17 SS-eligible players who had 250 or more ABs in 2008 with their 2008 production and the overall average production of this group.  (NOTE:  The rankings are determined using an average of player's ranking in each category against the universe of AL players.)

As one can see, Derek Jeter is above average in all these categories.  However, when the average counting stats are so low, accomplishing that feat is not as impressive.  Think a one-eyed man in the Kingdom of the Blind.


Jeter Derek 11 69 11 88 0.300
Ramirez Alexei 21 77 13 65 0.290
Young Michael 12 82 10 102 0.284
Peralta Jhonny 23 89 3 104 0.276
Aviles Mike 10 51 8 68 0.325
Cabrera Orlando 8 57 19 93 0.281
Scutaro Marco 7 60 7 76 0.267
Betancourt Yuniesky 7 51 4 66 0.279
Crosby Bobby 7 61 7 66 0.237
Bartlett Jason 1 37 20 48 0.286
Aybar Erick 3 39 7 53 0.277
Punto Nick 2 28 15 43 0.284
Izturis Maicer 3 37 11 44 0.269
Harris Brendan 7 49 1 57 0.265
Izturis Cesar 1 24 24 50 0.263
Lugo Julio 1 22 12 27 0.268
Lowrie Jed 2 46 1 34 0.258
Average 7.4 51.7 10.2 63.8 0.278