One of the bigger challenges for fantasy baseball drafts and auctions is how to value players who are not projected for a full-season’s worth of at-bats or innings. If you run their partial-season projections through any standard player rater, they are unfairly penalized as it assumes zero replacement stats when we know we can get someone on waivers to fill in for them while they are not on the major league roster.
These types of players fall into four buckets:
|Unclear Playing Time||Mallex Smith|
One approach to handling this type of player is to neutralize the playing time component. FanGraphs has a Steamer600 projection which projects all players to 600 PAs. I do something similar to show a full season worth of PAs against RHP vs LHP on the player pages. You could also accomplish this by just multiplying all player projections by PA * 600/PA (or something equivalent for ABs and IPs).
But there are two key flaws with these approaches:
- A players PA/IP is not based on just the number of games they play. It is also based on their role in the batting order (hitters) or their average IP/Game. It is insane to look at Jose Altuve (guaranteed 1-3 hitter) and Alcides Escobar (possible top of lineup (Yost!!!!), possible #9) as having the same number of PAs when Altuve should have a higher PA/Game. The same would go for Clayton Kershaw projects as a 7 IP/GS pitcher where Lance McCullers is probably lucky to get to 6 IP/GS.
- At least for my projections, I adjust the RHP/LHP for part-time hitters to account for the likelihood that managers will platoon them smartly. So a left-handed hitter I project as starting 75% of the time will have a higher percentage of PAs against RHP than Anthony Rizzo. Thus, multiplying that player’s stats up will exaggerate their success.
I think we have come up with the most straightforward way to handle the above with the $/Game metric that is on the player pages (both for LHP/RHP on hitters) and in the Player Raters.
The $/Game metric represents the estimated Roto value per game for a player. For hitters at the top of the player rater, this will be slightly lower than their standard $ estimate since part of their value is based on their playing time advantage versus other players. Conversely, as you go down the player rater, the $/Game metric becomes greater than the standard $ estimate for hitters. For pitchers, the $/Game is higher than the standard $ value for some of the top pitchers and then foll0ws a similar pattern for hitters.
Here is how I use it for the above cases:
- Is the $/Game metric positive? If I am going to roster a player who cannot play starting game 1, he better be projected as a greater than replacement player ($1=replacement). At my 256 PA projection, Mallex Smith looks awful at -$9 but his $/Game shows he is a $9.50 player in 15-team leagues. Clint Frazier is at -$0.2 – no reason to look at him except if you are in one of those 50-round drafts.
- How do his RHP/LHP splits look (for hitters)? I can click on his name in the Player Rater to look at his platoon splits on the player page. For Mallex Smith, his value is tied up in SBs and, like most marginal LH hitters, he is really only fantasy useful when he faces RHP. His $/Game already bakes in the likelihood he would be platooned. If you think a player will be everyday, it’s best to just multiply the $/Game for RHP at .75 and the $/Game for LHP at .25.
- Create a revised $ metric to account for replacement stats. Let’s say you think Wilson Ramos will come back at the ASB. His $/Game is $4.1 for 15-team mixed. If you think you can backfill with replacement stats ($1), then that frankencatcher is $4.1*.5 + 1*.5 = $2.05. Lance McCullers is a $17/GS pitcher according to the 15-team projections but injury concerns bring him down to $10.8. But say you think he misses 5 starts and you can stream a $2 pitcher, then his true value is $17*.85 + $2*.15 = $14.75.
This is the same logic I used for selecting Kris Bryant in early 2015 drafts – almost winning ToutWars thanks to that pick and winning an NFBC league (intel that he was getting called up after the first 15 days helped). It is the same logic that makes me more comfortable gambling on Stephen Strasburg because his $/Game is elite (6th best for SP at ~$30 for 15-team, $5-$6 better than similarly drafted pitchers in Price, Cueto, and Verlander) and I am willing to take the over that he could make 5/6th the starts of those other pitchers.
Hope this helps and please ask questions in the comments.