A late-night chat between a league mate in one of my 20-team dynasty leagues and I the other day prompted me to write this post. We were arguing (read: having a nerdy, sabermetric discussion) about the relative value between the 2013 version of Elvis Andrus, whom he rosters, and the 2013 version of Zack Cozart, whom I roster. I have been examining how we fantasy managers can use advanced metrics to unearth offensive value in deep leagues, and recently posted on the Real Top 25 Overall Hitters in Fantasy 2014. Redraft owners especially need to read it.
At any rate, I was arguing that according to my favorite offensive indicators, namely wOBA and wRC+, two advanced metrics that measure overall offensive output, Andrus and Cozart had very similar years, which is the truth. I examined all the SS from 2013 with a qualifying number of PAs, according to Fangraphs, sorted by wOBA, and found 17 eligible players. Look who ended up close to one another:
My friend, who is very knowledgeable on all things baseball and fantasy retorted that it was comparing apples and oranges. In our H2H, 6x6 league (incl. OPS), "there is no way that Cozart had as valuable a year as did Elvis," came the dissent. On the surface he was right. Elvis scored more runs (91 to 74), stole more bases (42-0), walked more (7.4% to 4.2%), and struck out less (13.9% to 16.5%).
But me being an Elvis hater-I couldn't help myself. I replied that Cozart tripled Andrus up in HR (12 to 4), out slugged Elvis (.381 to .331), and somehow managed to out wRC+ him as well (79 to 78). Look, I'll be the first to tell you that my friend had me beat. For dynasty league value there's no doubt that Elvis has more upside and probably just had a down year last year.
Here's the point though. For 2013, especially in a league that counts OPS, the respective value all comes down to where they were drafted (or how much money was spent). In one current set of 2014 projections Andrus is the #5 overall SS whereas Cozart is #16. (BTW, our Faketeams staff is getting ready to begin our 2014 Player Rankings soon...so stay tuned!) Checking over with the Fangraphs Staff Ottoneu site Elvis cost $13 at the beginning of 2013 while Cozart cost only $5. Yet, when we look at those numbers again, there is no doubt that Elvis was not worth the cost. Not last year. The perception of Elvis was better than the real thing.
This is yet another reason why it behooves you, fantasy manager, to begin looking at these advanced statistics instead of merely looking at what a player's counting stats were last year, or idly looking through ranking systems without understanding the way they are put together. If you don't, you'll be the one overpaying on draft day.
In my next couple of posts, I'll be exploring positional scarcity based on these same metrics. Opine below if you feel so inclined, or talk with me via Twitter (@agape4argentina).