Joe Pisapia is the author of the #1 best selling Fantasy Baseball Black Book 2015 Edition on the Kindle Store andiTunes for Apple Devices . He is also host of the Fantasy Black Book on Sirius/XM Fantasy and the Dear Mr. Fantasy Podcast .
I recently had the opportunity to meet Joe Pisapia, an author of a best seller fantasy baseball book,The Fantasy Black Book. A few weeks ago, Joe invited me to be a guest on the fantasy baseball show he hosts, The Fantasy Black Book show, on SiriusXM Fantasy Radio on Friday and Saturday evenings from 10:00 pm - 12:00 am. is a co-host on the top rated Dear Mr. Fantasy Podcast with Chris McBrien.
Whether you are new to fantasy baseball or a veteran of many years like me, one must never stop seeking out and honing their fantasy baseball knowledge. The Fantasy Black Book offers fantasy players another way to value players, via the Relative Position Value (RPV). RPV breaks down the position scarcity equation, telling you how to value players at each position, and across positions, and can be applied to all types of leagues, whether you play in roto or points leagues. The Fantasy Black Book can be used to get a leg up on your competition and ensure you are prepared on draft day.
Below you will find an excerpt from the 2015 edition of the Fantasy Black Book for your reading pleasure.
IS CLAYTON KERSHAW MORE VALUABLE THAN MIKE TROUT?
The answer to this question is more complex than may meet the eye. There are still the staunch traditional roto players that will scoff at the idea of a pitcher in the number slot. However, I don't think that the concept of Clayton Kershaw being the most valuable asset in the fantasy game today is an unthinkable notion. In a new era of baseball, where pitching is dominating the landscape, Kershaw is on a level beyond what you can imagine. His 2014 stats were off the chart (21-3, 1.77 ERA, 6 CG, 239 K/31 BB, 1.81 FIP, 0.86 WHIP, 10.8 K/9, 14 BB/9, 7.7 K/BB ratio) and he missed a handful of April starts due to a back issue. If you take out his one dreadful early season start against Arizona, his numbers are freakishly good. He was deserving of the Cy Young and MVP awards that he took home this off season.
Trout had another terrific season despite an uptick in strikeouts. This was likely a reflection of him trying to hit home runs instead of following his usual approach. Still, it was another elite fantasy season for the Angels' outfielder. The trick with evaluating Trout vs. Kershaw is twofold: First we need to evaluate the next best guy at each position on the board. (Relative Position Value, or RPV, is the Fantasy Black Book player evaluation tool that we will use to help answer that question). Second, we must evaluate the player in varying formats. There should never be a silver bullet answer of "this guy over this guy" without asking more questions. Nothing drives me crazier than when people tweet a fantasy expert and ask them to evaluate a player without providing the format in which they play. How can anyone give a player evaluation without knowing the circumstances surrounding the situation? It drives me absolutely crazy.
The best pitcher after Kershaw is debatable. Chris Sale, Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer, Madison Bumgarner, and Adam Wainwright are all in the conversation. However, each has their drawbacks. Felix and Sale are certainly great, but Felix has had a hard time getting run support and Sale has been a victim of some bad White Sox teams. Scherzer has been great the last few years, but that came after years of teasing and disappointing. Plus, he's three years older than Kershaw. Bumgarner is coming off of a historical post season and is one of the brightest young stars in baseball, but his home ERA (4.03) still shows he has some inconsistencies in his game. His 269 combined regular and post season innings are also worrisome. Wainwright has been in this conversation before, but he's aging and has had major arm surgery. No one has quite dominated to the level of Kershaw, where nearly every start is dominant. From an RPV perspective, Kershaw is a +30% advantage from the next highest pitcher for this season (Chris Sale at +17%). That's comparing the top 16 #1 arms as a group.
Trout is the rare combination of power and speed, but he is not alone in that club. Andrew McCutchen has closed the gap on Trout considerably. Take a look at their stats side by side:
Mike Trout: 173 H, 39 2B, 36 HR, 111 RBI, 184 K/83 BB, 16 SB, .287 BA
Andrew McCutchen: 172 H, 38 2B, 25 HR, 83 RBI, 115 K/84 BB, 18 SB, .314 BA
Keep in mind that Trout had 50 more ABs than Cutch. In points leagues, McCutchen's better K/BB ratio make up for Trout's higher HR total and strikeout rate. In roto leagues, McCutchen's uniquely high batting average (a lost art form these days) is the equalizer to the HR gap. You can also argue that in this power starved universe Giancarlo Stanton's power potential is without equal. Speed can be found throughout the draft, but power is a dwindling commodity.
In points leagues, I don't believe that the competition is very close between Trout and Kershaw. Unless the scoring system is heavily weighted towards hitting, Clayton Kershaw is the choice. In this format, where you can grow such an RPV advantage (see RPV Chapter for more information) through starting pitching, he‘s the clear winner in my mind. Age, ability, ballpark, offense, defense, bullpen, division opponents - he has everything going his way. Oh, and he can also swing the bat a little which helps his win total. In roto formats, where five active outfielders are mandatory, I still take Trout without hesitation. In this league format, Trout's Roto RPV is +73% (opposed to +27% in points leagues, this drastic change is due to the active talent pool utilized in these different formats.). He's still young with an abundance of talent. I would like to see the Angels surround him with some better lineup protection as an aging Pujols is only a short term fix.