Positional weighting (aka ‘positional scarcity’ for fearmongers or fearophiles) in fantasy baseball is one of the most discussed and least understood variables when it comes to ranking players. I have heard arguments ranging the whole gamut on how much a player’s value is impacted by their position – everything from ‘it means nothing’ to ‘it means everything.’
In my yearly review of my Point Shares methodology, I decided to test the underlying assumptions on positional weighting. One advantage and burden of using a ‘methodology’ is that you have to make decisions on each variable. If you rely on gut feel for player valuation, all variables are just blended together into one experience-honed calculator. So you have both the benefit of never fretting about your underlying assumptions as well as the detriment of never testing and refining them.
For Point Shares, I’ve historically weighted hitters 75% vs. position and 25% vs. overall regardless of league format – e.g., a player’s value is based 75% on how he compares with the average drafted hitter at his position and 25% on how he compares with the average drafted hitter (regardless of position). I hadn’t revisited it in recent years so it felt like an assumption worth testing.
To test it, I ran Point Shares against my projections for a 12-team mixed league (C/1B/2B/SS/3B/5 OF/CI/MI/UTIL/9 P) using the following weights (positional/overall): 0/100, 25/75, 50/50, 75/25, 100/0. I then averaged the differences in projected dollar value, adjusting it so 1B became the base (1B=0). To translate the dollar figures into rounds, you can assume +/- $4 is a round in Rounds 1-3, +/- $3 a round in Round 4, and +/- $1 a round in Rounds 5-22.
For example, a 75/25 weight using Point Shares would value a player $10 more if he was a Catcher vs. a 1B, $7 more for a Catcher vs. an OF (10.1-3.2), etc. From a snake draft perspective, that’s saying a top catcher (say Posey or Mauer) is 2-3 rounds more valuable than a 1B/OF with the same projected stats. See below for the full chart:
|Avg $ Adjustment Based on Position For 12 Team MLB|
* For a 2 Catcher league, the catcher adjustment would nearly double (75/25 goes to +19)
Armed with this data, Grey and I tested our ‘gut feel’ across a number of different scenarios – e.g., how much more is Youkilis worth as a 3B vs. 1B?, how much less is Posey worth if he just had 1B eligibility? Before running the data, I assumed 75/25 would prove too high of an adjustment. But after going over various mixed-league scenarios, we found that the 75/25 adjustments were most in line with our drafting experience. There were about as many cases that we exceeded the 75/25 results as cases where we fell below it. We generally agree that Youkilis is worth about $3 more (or an early round) as a 3B vs. 1B, Posey is worth about $10 more (potentially from 15th round to 5th round) as a catcher vs. a 1B, etc.. (Note: For DH, I multiply the average 1B’s counting stats by 5%)
I tested this across 10-16 team mixed leagues and found that the 75/25 proved best across each format. The dollar differences vary slightly but generally hold up since even 16 team leagues never really suffer from ‘scarcity.’ There are always free agents available who are clearing a projected 400+ ABs. The point where ‘scarcity’ plays a big role is AL/NL-only when you run out of starting players and delve into players at 300 and less ABs.
This scarcity is felt across all positions in AL/NL-only and it was therefore not surprising when I found out how little positional weights matter in these formats. There were only two real impacts of the positional weights when I tested the 0/100, 25/75, 50/50, 75/25, 100/0 scenarios: 1) 1Bs lose about $1 every 25% increment of positional value (so Votto would be worth about $47 with no positional weighting and about $42-$43 with 100% positional weighting) and 2) Catcher values changes dramatically. In the end, I decided to switch this to 25/75 as I’ve found that 1B projections are a lot more reliable than Catcher projections. In addition, even with just a 25% positional weight, Posey is valued at $36 for 12-team NL only with 2 catchers. This is already more than he’ll likely go for in most leagues (he went at $29 in our recent CBS) whereas most 1Bs seem to go closer to the 25% weight vs. 75% weight.
Please leave comments if you have a point of view regarding the ideal positional weighting. Does the 75/25 weight seem too much/little? If you prefer a different split, why?