I wrote a detailed post last year on position adjustments where I looked at the subject from a few different angles. While I still have the same position that the concept of ‘position scarcity’ (aka boosting up the values of certain positions like C/2B/SS) in mixed leagues is false but largely benign, the illogicality and non-stop reference to it in posts/podcasts is driving me a little nuttier this year. Hence, another post.

I will be focusing on standard mixed league formats. AL/NL-only is a different beast where ‘scarcity’ could occur at any position given the percentage of major league starting players who are drafted.

To start, here is a hypothetical question. Let’s say a player is projected at 80/20/80/5/.280. Should he more expensive in a draft as a 2B or a 3B? Catcher or SS? 1B or OF?

I believe that his value does not change (except a bit with a catcher in 2 catcher leagues). Perhaps add a dollar if he has useful multi-position eligibility and remove a dollar or two for a DH. But the difference most people think exists is largely a false perception like how one might feel a ton of feathers would be lighter than a ton of lead.

While it’s nitpicky, I dislike the term ‘scarcity’ in mixed league fantasy baseball as the word implies there is not enough to go around and someone is getting nothing. Musical chairs is a game of scarcity. Finding a woman in polygamist societies is a game of scarcity. You can wait until the absolute last round and still find a player at every position. Inequality is a more fitting word. Anyone who thinks those are synonyms should make themselves inequal. But for easier comprehension and SEO purposes, I’ll call it position scarcity throughout the post.

I think the belief in ‘position scarcity’ is rooted in thinking one or both of the following is true:

  • Certain positions have lower floors/replacement values than others (e.g., the last drafted OF is greater than the last drafted SS) thus a player from a position with lower replacement value has more marginal value.
  • Certain positions have fewer ‘stars’ and thus one gains a relative advantage vs competitors by having a rare positional star (e.g. Posey as your catcher)

Do certain positions have lower floors/replacement values than others and, if so, how should we handle it?

Below is a dollar value distribution by position that I took from my ESPN 12 team mixed projections (C/1B/2B/SS/3B/5 OF/CI/MI/UTIL). I broke up OF into OF1 through OF5 to fit the grid on the page.

Positions for multi-position eligible hitters are assigned in the following order of most to least valuable: C/SS/2B/3B/OF/1B/DH. The only position adjustment made was an approximate $1.60 boost to all catchers so that the last catcher is worth $1. I will revisit that decision at the end of this section. The dollars are calculated by my own methodology that’s a variant of Standings Gain Points (SGP) where I focus on a player’s contributions versus the average rostered hitter vs a ‘replacement’ hitter. (I’m overdue to update my FAQs on this after some notable changes last year.)


ScreenHunter_91 Feb. 19 23.57

If we focus on the blue highlighted boxes, it is clear that if each of the 12 teams only picked one player per position (not including DH), the floor for C and SS are lower than the other positions (with OF being next). But once we take out 12 1B/3B (purple), 12 2B/SS (orange), and 12 UTIL (green), the ‘floor’ of each position resides somewhere between $-0.7 and $1.9 (aside from a fluky 3B result) and the replacement values range from -1.5 to 1.3. Note that if I remove the +1.6 I added to all catchers that the floor and replacement value would fall within these ranges (floor of -$0.6, replacement of -$1.1)

I do not consider the differences in floor/replacement values to have any real statistical significance. The CI/MI/UTIL roster slots seem to effectively level any surplus/advantage from any position. Below are the stats for all the hitters valued between $0.5 and $1.5 to give a flavor to how homogenous the statistics are for this player pool.

Alex Rodriguez DH 560 65 20 68 3 .239 1.5
Jayson Werth OF 538 61 15 61 4 .265 1.5
Devin Mesoraco C 436 47 17 54 3 .242 1.5
Domingo Santana OF 519 56 19 63 6 .249 1.4
Marcus Semien SS 538 62 15 59 10 .250 1.4
Nori Aoki OF 577 65 6 45 16 .269 1.3
Scooter Gennett 2B 584 59 11 56 7 .275 1.2
Jhonny Peralta SS 578 60 15 66 3 .262 1.1
Yasmani Grandal C 458 50 16 54 2 .241 1.0
David Wright 3B 543 62 13 56 7 .265 1.0
Chris Carter 1B 492 58 27 68 3 .223 0.8
Corey Dickerson OF 476 55 17 61 5 .262 0.7
Michael Conforto OF 546 58 18 66 3 .255 0.7
Addison Russell SS 565 60 15 63 9 .247 0.5
Stephen Vogt C 443 48 12 52 2 .259 0.5

Here is the same distribution for the standard NFBC roster format (15 teams, C/C/1B/2B/SS/3B/5 OF/CI/MI/UTIL). The boost to catchers to ensure the 15th catcher is at $1 is only $0.70.

ScreenHunter_92 Feb. 20 01.06

Again, the leveling function of the CI/MI/UTIL has brought the ‘floor’ value range for all rostered positions (except 2nd catcher) to between 0.1 and 2.5 and replacement value range between 0 and 1.5. These are narrow ranges where the differences appear to be noise vs something statistically significant. The fact that there are less shortstops greater than $1 than other positions does not matter because there are enough to fill out the SS spot and contribute for MI.

So if you do not consider Corey Seager to be a top 50 player as an OF in mixed-league drafts, there is no basis for considering him a top 50 player as a SS.

Now 2nd catcher, that gets ugly. The last catcher is at negative $9 (and that’s with a 70 cent boost!). This is not surprising when you consider that: 1) You are drafting a catcher per MLB team whereas other positions are only drafting about 0.75 per team, 2) catchers average less playing time than position players, 2) catchers are typically defense-first players, and 4) catchers are more likely to do a 50/50 share (vs standard righty/lefty platoon). So how should we handle it?

The traditional approach would be to add $10 to all catchers so the last catcher is worth $1 (-9+10). This would mean that drafters would divert $300 of its pre-draft hitter dollars across the 30 catchers. To give some perspective, if we assign 67% of $260 for hitter dollars and then multiply by 15 teams, it equals about $2600. So this redistribution represents over 10% of all hitter dollars. (For snake drafters, this is the equivalent of moving all but the very top catchers up several rounds).

I can think of two instances where one could justify adding a premium to a good’s true worth (where there is no true scarcity in supply, time, etc.):

  • Insurance – You reduce the risk/exposure of a worst case outcome (car crash, home damage, death, etc.) with insurance. You are paying more than it’s true value since there has to be something in it for the insurance company to offer the downside protection.
  • Inflation – The market inflates the price of a required good so you have no choice to pay the premium – e.g., concessions at a movie theater.

The $10 premium on all catchers does not make sense from an Insurance point of view because the WORST CASE scenario is you are paying a $10 premium per catcher by getting the two worst catchers for $1 leading to a net loss of $20. With that floor in place, you should look to buy catchers for less than a $10 premium.

So what would a more realistic ‘insurance’ premium be? Well, the first 16 catchers in the above example are priced at $1 or more. Since they are all greater than or equal to the minimum bid (or pick value in a snake draft), they at least have the potential to be bought at face value. The premium one puts on these 16 catchers is largely insurance – saving you from drafting one of the below minimum bid players. The threat of being stuck with a below min bid catcher increases the more catchers taken – e.g., when you take Buster Posey as the first catcher, there is only a 14/29th chance that you were going to get a below average pick. But that last $1 catcher is your final chance to potentially buy at ‘face value’ so the odds are now 100%.

The formula I used for the ‘Rudy’s Premium’ column for $1+ players is:

(ABS(AVERAGE(Negative Val Catchers)+Min Bid)*COUNT(Negative Val Catchers)/29

So the premium for Buster Posey (the $22.3 catcher) is calculated as (4.4+1) * 14/29 = 2.60 with the average of the under $1 catchers equaling -4.4 (converted to absolute value of 4.4) and adding in an extra $1 for min bid to reflect that the average premium you are paying for that whole group is $5.4.

This premium increases steadily up to the 16th catcher where one could warrant the full $5.40 premium. For the below $1 players, the formula changes to:

(ABS(AVERAGE(Remaining Negative Val Catchers))+Catcher Value)

So the premium on the 29th catcher is worth (8.85)+-8.6=$0.25 with 8.85 being the absolute average of -8.6 and -9.1. In essence, your premium in this case is half the difference of the two.

Here is a grid with these calculated premiums alongside the old school method:

Rank Value Rudy’s Premium Adjusted Value Old-School Premium Adjusted Value
1 22.3 2.60 24.90 10.1 32.4
2 20.7 2.70 23.40 10.1 30.8
3 11.4 2.80 14.20 10.1 21.5
4 8.5 2.90 11.40 10.1 18.6
5 6.7 3.02 9.72 10.1 16.8
6 6.4 3.15 9.55 10.1 16.5
7 5.3 3.28 8.58 10.1 15.4
8 4.7 3.43 8.13 10.1 14.8
9 3.2 3.60 6.80 10.1 13.3
10 2.5 3.78 6.28 10.1 12.6
11 2.5 3.97 6.47 10.1 12.6
12 2.1 4.19 6.29 10.1 12.2
13 2 4.44 6.44 10.1 12.1
14 1.2 4.72 5.92 10.1 11.3
15 1 5.03 6.03 10.1 11.1
16 1 5.39 6.39 10.1 11.1
17 0.8 5.19 5.99 10.1 10.9
18 -0.5 4.29 3.79 10.1 9.6
19 -1.2 3.95 2.75 10.1 8.9
20 -2.6 2.91 0.31 10.1 7.5
21 -3.5 2.30 -1.20 10.1 6.6
22 -4 2.06 -1.94 10.1 6.1
23 -4.1 2.21 -1.89 10.1 6
24 -4.1 2.53 -1.57 10.1 6
25 -4.4 2.65 -1.75 10.1 5.7
26 -6.3 1.28 -5.02 10.1 3.8
27 -6.7 1.20 -5.50 10.1 3.4
28 -7.2 1.10 -6.10 10.1 2.9
29 -8.6 0.25 -8.35 10.1 1.5
30 -9.1 0.00 -9.10 10.1 1
Total 40 90.9 130.9 303 343

The final sum of ‘premium’ dollars for catchers is $90.9 or $3 a catcher with the $1+ catchers at an average premium of $3.70 and the negative catchers at $2.28 (with the last catcher warranting no premium). I could see spreading these averages across all the catchers versus a dynamic premium which would be very difficult to maintain during a draft.

That is FAR less than the $300 combined premium ($10 per catcher) proposed by the traditional method.

One additional advantage for the thrifty catcher buyer is that at least a handful of snake drafters wait until the absolute end to draft their 2nd catcher (or leave $1 in auctions). Just timing your 2nd catcher buy makes it quite easy to avoid the full $10 penalty. In LABR, I drafted Dioner Navarro in the 28th of 29 rounds after I had already taken 5 reserve picks but before 4 other teams took their 2nd catcher.

As for inflation, that is driven by the draft room participants’ feelings on ‘insurance’ as well as their player assessments. So if everyone had the same assessments plus fully believed in insurance, I would expect the ceiling would be the $10 premium.

Below please find the 31 catchers drafted in my 2016 LABR mixed draft with their pick number, the $ value I have that pick worth, my player value, and the observed premium (pick value minus player value). Note that I have pick values go into negatives once we get into reserve rounds as I value picks by matching the pick number to the person in the player rater with that overall rank.

Name Pick # Pick Value Player Value Premium
Buster Posey 21 28.6 22 6.6
Kyle Schwarber 50 21.5 20.4 1.1
Jonathan Lucroy 93 15.4 6.4 9
Russell Martin 107 14.6 4.5 10.1
Brian McCann 114 13.9 8.3 5.6
Salvador Perez 124 12.3 11.2 1.1
Travis d’Arnaud 125 12.3 5.2 7.1
Matt Wieters 134 11.5 0.7 10.8
Stephen Vogt 156 10.3 2 8.3
Yasmani Grandal 159 10 1.9 8.1
Devin Mesoraco 165 9.7 2.4 7.3
Yan Gomes 170 9.3 0.9 8.4
J.T. Realmuto 181 8.8 2.3 6.5
Francisco Cervelli 213 7.3 -2.7 10
Welington Castillo 214 7.2 1 6.2
Nick Hundley 223 6.9 6.3 0.6
Derek Norris 226 6.8 -1.4 8.2
Blake Swihart 235 6 -0.7 6.7
Wilson Ramos 239 5.8 3 2.8
Miguel Montero 250 5.3 -3.6 8.9
Yadier Molina 278 3.3 3 0.3
Robinson Chirinos 292 2.4 -4.2 6.6
Jason Castro 319 1.3 -4.1 5.4
James McCann 329 1 -4.2 5.2
A.J. Pierzynski 335 0.7 -6.8 7.5
Dioner Navarro 408 -2 -7.4 5.4
JR Murphy 411 -2.1 -6.4 4.3
Carlos Perez 413 -2.3 -7.2 4.9
Josh Phegley 421 -2.6 -8.6 6
Chris Iannetta 427 -2.8 -10.7 7.9
Hank Conger 432 -2.9 -10 7.1
All 7.0 0.8 6.3
Top 16 C ($1+) 12.0 6.7 5.4
Bottom 15 C (<$1) 2.3 -4.8 7.1

As you can see, the actual market premium on catchers was about $6.30 (note there’s some rounding differences in the table) and only $5.40 for the catchers I valued at $1+. The reason we don’t see a $10 premium is two-fold: 1) Not everyone believes in the $10 premium and 2) My player values are different than other competitor’s values. So even if you think the ‘insurance’ is stupid, you can justify spending more on catchers solely because of this market inflation.

The two players I chose are in red (Hundley and Navarro). Hundley was one of a handful of catchers that were draftable at near my position-neutral value. I took a $5.40 hit on Navarro though it could have been just $4.40 but I liked Navarro’s per-game performance over JR Murphy and bought on the upside that he exceeds my projected playing time. The average premium I paid was a combined $3/catcher – 70% less than the traditional method implies but right in line with my ‘insurance’ model.

So my suggestions for 2 catcher premiums in mixed leagues are as such:

  1. Catcher Haters/Gamblers – I am in this camp. I do not want to invest a lot of money in catchers for various subjective reasons (injury prone, less reliable). I suggest no premium on catchers.
  2. Slightly Averse to Crappy Catchers – I would follow the ‘insurance’ model where you would add about $3-4 (or 30-40% of the traditional method). You might jump a little quicker to get a catcher near face value.
  3. Really Averse to Crappy Catchers – I would follow the ‘inflation’ model and add about $6-$7 to catchers. This likely leads to picking two catchers in the first 2/3 of the draft. I do not recommend this but if this the market inflation rate on catchers, it is not unreasonable.


Does one gain a relative advantage vs competitors by having a rare positional star (e.g., Posey)?

If the hitter/pitcher values I noted above are representative, then the answer to this is no.

Believing one gains at an advantage with a ‘rare star’ requires there to be market inefficiency whereby certain positions are available on the ‘cheap’ in later rounds. But if I look at the spread from the best player available at a position to the last draftable one, you will find they are all around $30-$40 depending on the year (they can get to $40+ when a position has a Mike Trout/Bryce Harper or prime Miggy Cabrera as its leader).

When Buster Posey was chosen in the 2nd round of LABR by Howard Bender, he was forgoing the option of choosing a more valuable player (using position-neutral values). Let’s say he chose Edwin Encarnacion or Chris Davis to solidify 1B. Assuming he drafts Trumbo again in the 10th round, we then swap out the choice of Mitch Moreland in the 18th round for Yadier Molina. I have Encarnacion/Davis a few bucks more valuable than Posey and Moreland a few bucks more than Molina.

In this case, there is no advantage or disadvantage because all 4 picks in this example (Bender’s actual two, my substituted two) are reasonably valuable picks at those draft slots. I am not arguing that taking Posey there was a bad decision, it’s just that whatever advantage he gained in having a much better catcher than the rest of us was negated by having Mitch Moreland vs a better 1B/3B. This is why I typically view most misguided ‘scarcity’ plays to be benign (and bristle when I hear/read scarcity used to gush over a pick).

It is possible – depending on your draft room – that the premium on a ‘rare star’ might be less than on second/third-tier players. In LABR, I think Mike Podhorzer got a very good (pre-Fowler) price on Kyle Schwarber in the 4th round. One of the best catcher values in the draft. No better or worse than my Nick Hundley pick based on my values – it really comes down to drafting preference (and I prefer to wait on catcher and have some reservations on Schwarber). But the timing in the draft where these catcher values occur are going to vary by year (and, possibly, by draft).


‘Position scarcity’ in mixed league fantasy baseball drafts is largely an illusion except for 2 catcher leagues. In 1 catcher mixed leagues with typical roster formats, you should not even worry about positional adjustments and treat every hitter position-neutral (possibly adjusting up for multi-position and down for DH). In 2 catchers leagues, some adjustment could be made to catchers but it should be much less dramatic than the traditional method of ‘worst catcher value’ * -1 + 1 (e.g., worst catcher worth -$7 means a premium of -$7 * – 1 + 1 = $8). Based on my analysis, I’d put it at 30% of that figure.

Yes, it means you’ll have some draft-worthy players valued at less than $1 (particularly in 2 catcher leagues). But the alternative (significantly goosing up the values of all players at the position) distorts your rankings/values and could lead to making sub-optimal draft decisions (i.e., drafting catchers early – or paying more in auctions – thinking you are getting a discount when you should be diligently shopping for the best possible bargain).

Other Notes

  • This analysis was based solely on standard 5×5. While I do not employ any positional adjustments (besides the mild one on catchers) for the other category variations I publish, it is certainly possible that some category combinations might disrupt the harmonic balance seen above. For instance, if you play 6×6 and add in SLG, you are tipping the balance towards power hitters which would help certain positions vs others. I would do an exercise like I did above for your format to determine if any adjustment is necessary but, when in doubt, do not make any adjustments. (Note: Our Preseason Player Rater accommodates a number of different league formats. If you don’t see your format in there, try the ‘Other Hit’ and ‘Other Pitch’ options.)
  • If another player valuation system paints a different picture for 5×5 – e.g., the floor/replacement OF is significantly better than the floor/replacement SS – there are many reasons why this could be the case. Here are some helpful things to consider: Does the total $ for all players valued $1+ come close to $260 * # of starting players? Have you checked to see that the values for each stat category sum up to about the same number? If you are doing your hitter comparisons only within position (vs all rostered hitters like myself), try either re-running it based on only the players at that position that your first run deemed as rosterable or re-running it based on all rosterable players. If your system is dependent on a dynamic replacement-level value (e.g., the 19th 2B), take a long hard look at the differences per position and ask yourself if the differences really mean anything when you can suddenly add/remove a player (say, out for the year) and it changes by a couple dollars. (as a case study, check out the FanGraphs calculator which, as of this post, suggests for NFBC format that 2Bs should get a SMALLER positional adjustment than 1B or OF.)
  1. Hank

    Hank says:

    Excellent write up Rudy. I’ve long thought the industry norms regarding scarcity were actually backwards. Instead of drafting “scarce” positions early b/c of the lack (perceived or real) of replacement caliber players, owners should look at drafting deeper positions early strictly b/c if a replacement IS needed they can be found much easier.

    This just further proves the risk involved in selecting “scarce” positions above others does not have a payoff, it is only risk.

    • Nathan says:

      @Hank: That doesn’t make sense. If I can replace a deep position early, Then why not draft scare positions earlier

  2. Simply Fred

    Fred Barker says:

    Rudy, I did this simple analysis end of season, matching beginning draft pick to end of season player rater:

    count POS med end
    pick PR return
    17 1B 42 37 114%
    11 3B 42 42 100%
    8 2B 49 65 75%
    31 OF 41 67 61%
    9 SS 64 155 41%
    25 SP 51 82 62%
    3 RP 58 133 44%
    1 C 56 36 156%
    (I see now that the total count is 96, where it should be 100, so consider this not spot on, but pretty close.)

    Not position scarcity per se, but seems revealing to me. What do you make of it?

    • Simply Fred

      Fred Barker says:

      @Fred Barker: sorry, the columns were straight in the comment section as I posted it… :-(

      • Simply Fred

        Fred Barker says:

        @Fred Barker: basically the first number after the position is the median draft pick, the second is the end rater, and the last the percent up or down.

        • Simply Fred

          Fred Barker says:

          @Fred Barker: 17 1B drafted in top 100 ended up with 14% (114%) higher player rater than their pick.

          • TheTinDoor

            TheTinDoor says:

            @Fred Barker: This is about which positions out-performed their top-100 ranking last year, right? What’s your takeaway? Invest high draft picks in 1B/3B because they’re more likely to payoff? Or flip it and invest in the “sure thing” closers because as a whole they’re such a poor return?

            One year is obviously to small for conclusions but I’m curious how you interpret this, because even if the data was better I could see multiple paths forward.

            • Simply Fred

              Fred Barker says:

              @TheTinDoor: To me, this matches Rudy’s ‘reliability in early rounds.’ It makes me want to lean toward 1B/3B early. Obviously, 41% for SS reinforces draft late. The other side of the coin is Correa could far out-perform SS. My inner self, won’t let me buy Correa because, as a SS, he is far more likely to NOT perform up to expectations (Reyes was drafted at #37, but returned #157, Desmond #33 to #155.) Not sure if it is injury risk with SS over 1B/3B, or ??? Just not willing to take on the apparent risk at the early rounds.
              I did not pursue ‘nailing’ the data with expanding to multiple years, since it seems to reinforce much of what has been said for some time, to draft solid 1B early.

    • @Fred Barker: Well, here’s another angle. This is the average returns per position of players with RCL ADPs b/w 1-150. The lowest a player was valued at was $0 (since if they sucked/injured that bad, you could replace them and get at least $0)

      I’m sure it’ll be near impossible to read but just note the last column represents the difference b/w expected average and the actual average. So positive they over-delivered and vice versa. I generally see this as ‘noise’ but I do think that Catchers, on average, are riskier bets as higher draft picks.

      Row Labels Count of Earned Average of ADP Average of Earned 0 floor Expected Average (ADP) Difference
      1B 15 56.0 19.3 17.9 1.4
      2B 12 74.4 13.9 15.2 (1.3)
      3B 13 64.7 20.7 16.7 4.0
      C 5 99.9 8.3 11.4 (3.1)
      DH 1 64.3 25.7 16.9 8.8
      OF 41 68.8 15.3 16.2 (0.9)
      RP 17 113.9 5.1 9.15 (4.0)
      SP 32 74.5 15.5 15 0.5
      SS 10 83.0 5.5 13.5 (8.0)

      • Simply Fred

        Fred Barker says:

        @Rudy Gamble: Seems to show similar results:
        1B/3B positive
        SS/OF negative

        • Yup – re: SS, there is probably “dumb premium paid” driving some of it and noise explaining the rest. Would but expect same # this year (but would predict it to be negative for SS)

  3. TheTinDoor

    TheTinDoor says:

    I think your Posey/Moreland vs. Edwin/Yadier simplifies the entire argument.

    Because of differences in valuation, you can almost always get a player valued at greater than $1 for $1. So if you go Posey/$1 OF, you can likely get a $5-$7 player.

    When you make your $1 player a Catcher, you’re actually getting a -$2 player (Dioner, etc), for a $3 ‘loss’. So if position-neutral values, does Edwin > Posey make up for the $7 OF > -$2 Dioner?

    Basically, because of the potential for significant value on the $1 position player, I think I’m moving towards buying Posey.

    There’s also the concept of which $1 player is more likely to outperform his value and return a profit? That question seems to be a slam-dunk for non-catchers.


    • @TheTinDoor: I don’t think you’re finding $7 OFs at the $1 level. In the example I provided, I’m arguing that Posey/Moreland is more or less worth the same as Encarnacion/Molina. Posey went a $6.60 premium based on my projections. That’s about the maximum premium I could see someone justifying.

      • TheTinDoor

        TheTinDoor says:

        @Rudy Gamble: league dependent, of course, but I almost always see several guys go undrafted who I valued north of $5.

        What about the idea of profit potential (upside)? The 23rd ranked Catcher probably doesn’t have an upside beyond $5 or so, whereas we see $1 OF/CIs earn $20 pretty regularly.

        • here are all the players who earned $10+ in 12-team mixed last year who had an ADP>=175 in the 100 RCL drafts.

          I count 8 OF and 2 Catchers. Given you are drafting 5.5 OF in RCL (5 OF + UTIL) and 1 Catcher per team, I’m not seeing any major upside advantage.

          Name Pos Earned ADP
          Dallas Keuchel SP 30.9 211.7576
          Lorenzo Cain OF 29.7 199.5347
          Kendrys Morales 1B 21.5 274.0769
          Curtis Granderson OF 20.3 228.63
          Alex Rodriguez 3B 20.2 261.2364
          Shin-Soo Choo OF 19.1 185.703
          Adam Eaton OF 18.1 212.2178
          Brandon Phillips 2B 17 268.6207
          Brian McCann C/1B 16.6 189.9109
          DJ LeMahieu 2B 16.2 285.6667
          Russell Martin C 16 231.4592
          Danny Salazar SP 14.9 216.1778
          David Peralta OF 14.8 266.4
          Mike Moustakas 3B 14.5 278.8333
          Dexter Fowler OF 14.3 268.2683
          Josh Reddick OF 13.5 284.8387
          John Lackey SP 13.4 259.1875
          Adam Lind 1B 12.9 265.0727
          Brandon Belt 1B/OF 12.5 190.3069
          Mark Teixeira 1B 12.5 277.2642
          Carlos Martinez SP 12.2 255.1348
          Brandon Crawford SS 11.5 275
          Trevor Plouffe 1B/3B 10.8 271.88
          Noah Syndergaard SP 10.1 267.75

          • TheTinDoor

            TheTinDoor says:

            @Rudy Gamble: Ok. So as a percentage of all $1 players drafted, Catchers probably produce about as well as others.

            My framework for this is 2C leagues, which as you mention, are a unique animal. Catchers 19-24 are just so poor… this year, for instance, guys going after pick 250 in NFBC include Melky, Castellanos, Domingo Santana, VMart, Kendrick, Span, A-Rod, Semien. I’d rather take my chances with one of those for my last roster spot than Yadier, Chirinos, Pierzynksi, Castro, James McCann.

            • TheTinDoor

              TheTinDoor says:

              @TheTinDoor: I think mostly I’m looking for a justification to buy Posey. He seems like such a combination of high floor, proven production, high-PAs (including 1B), and far ahead of every other catcher.

              I really like how my team looks when Posey sits in the C1 spot and I fill out the back end of my roster with $1 OF or UT, as opposed to the opposite. But I’m primarily a spreadsheet guy and I trust your thought process on most of this stuff so I’m playing devil’s advocate to see if I can justify to myself spending on Posey :)

              • Simply Fred

                Fred Barker says:

                @TheTinDoor: 3 of the top ten teams in RCL drafted Posey last year. (none in the next 20)

            • @TheTinDoor: It depends on the price you have to pay for Posey. I’d rather more power or speed with a top 20ish pick. But it’s possible – depending on how the draft plays out – that it could work for you. Consider yourself an ‘inflation’ play :)

  4. Job3rd says:

    Absolutely GREAT article, Rudy. Great stuff as usual.

    I think the other thing of practical note is one’s own rankings.
    By waiting until the very end, you’ll probably still get your 22/24th-ranked
    2nd C, even though 26 or 27 have been taken. In other words, there
    will be enough variation in draft boards, that there is no need to pay
    a premium early cause you won’t be as penalized as you should be late.

    • @Job3rd: ding ding ding. others will argue that’s the same for other positions i suppose but hard to prove/disprove.

    • TheTinDoor

      TheTinDoor says:

      @Job3rd: on the flipside… your $1 Catcher is ‘actually’ worth -$2 or -$3, with a best-case upside of maybe $3-$5, right?

      Whereas a $1 OF is ‘actually’ worth $5-$7 (because of the different draft boards you mention), with an upside of $20+.

      I don’t really buy scarcity as a whole, and completely agree with not adding $10 to every C. Just throwing out some reasons why it may be worth avoiding the bottom tier Cs.

      • In what format are you talking about? McCann and Martin delivered $16 last year and had ADPs after 175.

        Only two of the top 5 catchers drafted in ADP last year (Buster Posey, Evan Gattis) delivered positive value ($25, $16). Lucroy, Mesoraco, and Gomes were negative.

        • SefSef says:

          @Rudy Gamble: Is that $ value position weighted? I was pretty sure your calculations had some positional weight into the dollar value

          • no position weights. i removed those last pre-season.

  5. Mike Adamson says:

    Makes sense to me. I’ve never been comfortable with the scarcity argument and your explanation is excellent. Thanks!

  6. Swfcdan says:

    “illogicality” Should be word of the year, I’m not even sure it exists.

    Interesting read so far, but got to the tables and we could do with bigger or expandable ones dood! Anyway will carry on, I’ve always been a believer in position scarcity (I mean inequality!) so am interested to hear your reasoning.

    • @Swfcdan: Not sure how to expand the tables other than make them a GIF which I’d rather not do. Can’t you zoom in on your phone?

  7. Mike says:

    Why do you compare only to the floor? The gaps is wider if you, for example, take the #1 2b and #8 1b versus The #8 2b and #1 1b.

    • And they are the same on the 11th 1B/2B. What advantage is gleaned with the first 8?

      • Mike says:

        @Rudy Gamble:

        @Rudy Gamble:

        You’re looking at the end of the draftable pool. Position scarcity is something people weigh early on in the draft. You did the work. Your numbers show id be better off with Altuve and the Eighth best first basemen than goldy and and the 8th best second basemen.

        that seems like a function of inequality to me.

      • Mike says:

        @Rudy Gamble:

        One other question. You say you used SGPs based on the average rostered hitter. Is that the average hitter at that specific position (which is typical for sgp calculations) or is it irrespective of the position (just the averaged rostered hitter based on your player pool)?

        • @Mike: Average rostered hitter regardless of position. But the ‘rostered universe’ is based to reflect the rosters – e.g., in 15 team 2 catcher, there are 30 rostered catchers, 45 2B/SS, etc.)

          • Mike says:

            @Rudy Gamble:

            Got it. That makes sense.

  8. Jfree says:

    The issue I’ve always had with ‘scarcity’ is at the low levels. If the scarcity adjustment is actually higher than the players projected value, then all the scarcity adjustment is doing is forcing the projection estimate to be more accurate the closer the estimate is to replacement. This is nuts. The errors/variations will show up during the season – not the second the draft ends. It’s why we play the game rather than start the World Series once we’ve projected a teams WAR to start the season. And it’s those guys right around replacement who are most likely to be affected by the players who outperform their projections.

    I always laugh when I see a couple of owners with a bench full of crappy ‘position scarcity’ guys. Cuz I know that I’ll either see every one of those players dropped to waivers in April – or the owner is gonna be in last place and lose interest by May.

    • @Jfree: Yes, one of the less benign effects of using these position adjustments is that one could think a -$7 catcher is more valuable than a $1 OF.

  9. Scooter G says:

    How do you feel about filling util or CI slots in the first 5-6 rounds if it means taking the best player available as opposed to reaching for a position of need?

  10. Brokeback says:

    I don’t care about position scarcity too much. BUT, on years when there are sure elite players at very shallow positions, then I do care. Especially in Auction drafts. I feel that there is certainly an advantage to having 20 more homers from your middle infielders than the next guy. I can make up any other positional difference in deeper positions with making good buys. But, in shallow positions, it is literally impossible to make better buys when none exists or MUCH more difficult if only a few exist. Sometimes in the OF, numerous people have the potential to return top 20 value, but there are usually less than a handful of MI who can. I really only consider this in auction leagues when I can plan my team out. Snake drafts are more difficult and it would be too risky.

    And, this argument does not apply to this years crop. I don’t see a clearly shallow position with a clearly sure thing elite guy at the top. Altuve is the only guy that stands out, but I think there are a couple others that could produce close enough to him to negate the advantage.

    • @Brokeback: i disagree – especially since several drafters put premiums on early ‘shallow position’ players at auctions. a guy is worth whatever he is worth IMO – positional premiums not necessary.

  11. tyler says:

    Hey Rudy! I always look forward to your posts. So for someone trying to grasp the positional value of a player not being as important as your overall $, value to a player, do you generally draft the best value? Last year was the first year that I did this ( based on your $ values, thank you). I made an excel doc with columns of every position, ranked by the $ amount they were worth, and didn’t choose any players due to the position they played, only what they were worth. Once I was needing to fill certain areas I did deviate to fill a position, but that may have not been until the 10th round or so. Could you talk about any materials you bring to your drafts? Also, I see myself reaching for Machado in round 1 ( yahoo SS eligibility) because his $ value is so close to other players, however he is a SS eligible player. The struggle against eligibility is real!
    Thanks for all the great things you are creating!

    • @tyler: I have a post coming up next week on this. Basically, I am looking at my values vs ADP to understand where the values occur. It could be systemic (like 2B/SS tend to have premium pricing in first 5-6 rounds and then go back to normal) or just based on certain players I like (e.g., say last year, drafting Bryant as my 3B in a couple leagues). So I have a general gameplan for players/positions for each of my draft picks. It’s flexible enough that I can take advantage of unexpected bargains but thought through enough that I hope to avoid “Oh no – i need a 3B and have no idea whom to pick….panic!”

      • tyler says:

        @Rudy Gamble: That is exactly how I feel about 1B and 3B. After Abreu/Davis I feel really worried without having the strong corner guys. Could you essentially use the $ value as “ranks” and then just look to find if that next player you are looking for compared to ADP could pass into the next round, kind of thing?
        I liked your podcast with JB explaining how you were looking for which player would pass to you in the next round based on your values and what you thought could make it back to you at a great value.

        I am in the middle of the snake/roto draft at 6, and could see hopefully Rizzo and Machado falling there. I feel like Rizzo could out perform Machado, but for what I could make up potentially in round 3 with Chris Davis, I didn’t miss anything with Rizzo except for average and I got the premium SS. I am NOT a O’s fan BTW. Just so happens I am drafting all Tigers and O’s players. #GoNats

        • Rizzo and Machado are priced about the same so you can’t go wrong with either. While Machado’s SS eligibility itself doesn’t mean much to me, SS AND 3B does. Love roster flexibility (even if it’s insane in Yahoo). If you need speed later in draft, could move Machado to 3B for a SS. I value that at approximately $1.

          So going Machado/Davis sounds pretty good to me.

          • tyler says:

            @Rudy Gamble: Thanks man! I keep looking through the ADP per my position and see Machado falling there, and also having Davis with OF/1B eligibility couldn’t hurt either, only meaning that I would need to fill 1B. I keep finding Andrus really late in drafts for a speedy SS, which I thought was surprising in a 12 teamer. Also like Starlin with 2b/SS eligibility. Thanks again for replying and last question….
            I am in a 9 P (SP and RP) with 5 bench spots. I generally draft 1 bench bat that would be able to fill into the OF or has multiple position eligibility so that I am carrying fewer bats on my bench, but have a lot of flex if someone has an off day. Would you generally fill those other 4 bench positions with SP in the early part of the season to gain a quick advantage in Wins and SO, or fill with RP to contain an early surge in ERA/WHIP by your starters? I feel like I have to push into getting quality starters earlier than I would want If I should fill my other 4 spots with starters and not relievers.
            Thank you again.

            • I would probably keep 2 bench spots for hitters to max ABs. If it’s Yahoo, i’m assuming it’s an IP cap, right? I probably would keep the 3 other bench spots fluid with pitchers but probably more RPs in the beginning in hopes of lucking into some closers you can trade. Your league is shallow enough that you can stream throughout season to make sure you max your IP.

              • tyler says:

                @Rudy Gamble: Thanks. It is an innings cap per position, but I also have a Waiver Wire amount of 32 moves. . So streaming throughout the season is tough compared to riding the closer carousel with moves and also covering injuries and break out guys with moves.
                Thank you for the advice!

  12. CoreyII says:

    I noticed you have Hundleys value a lot higher than a bunch of Cs that were drafted (and I often see ranked) a lot higher. I’m curious why you are so high on him.

    • CoreyII says:


      I ask because I’m in an NL Only keeper conundrum and need to pick one to cut and two to keep between $4 Hundley, $4 Solarte, and $18 Rendon.

      I was leaning towards dumping Hundley, but reading that value just of C has me thinking you might disagree.

      • I would look at my nl values and choose the one with the most surplus value. Solarte, fwiw, has playing time risk

  13. Owen Simring says:

    I’m having trouble understanding the catcher equation. Could you show the inputs for the number 3 ranked catcher?

    That first graphic was also very helpful. In a yahoo league though, the spread between SS and 1B/OF/ etc. Is a little higher. The two utility spots would, according to these values, be used on 17 OF, 4 U, 2 1B, and 1 3B. That makes the replacement values C=(1.6) 1B=5.3 2B=5.4 SS=1.4 3B=4.4 OF=5.1. So that represents an extra $2 or so diff between SS and 1B/OF. What kind of $ bump would you recommend, if any?

    • Owen Simring says:

      @Owen Simring: an extra $2 diff from the values you listed, so ~$4 diff total

  14. OaktownSteve says:

    Nice work Rudy.

    Sounds like you’re going to talk draft strategy next week. I think position does matter in the draft but probably matters in a way that’s different than most drafters think. Be interesting to see what you come up with.

    One thing that has always been clear to me is that using a $ adjustment to auction values based on position is generally entiredly wrong.

  15. Owen Simring says:

    Anyway Rudy, really fantastic article. Do you think you could write an article addressing the value of SBs sometime in the not too distant future? I generally look at three different auction valuations: Razzball’s, Fangraph’s, and BP’s. I’ve noticed that when it comes to valuing steals, FG is on the low end, BP is on the high end, and Razzball is almost right in the middle. To wit, Dee Gordon: Despite practically identical projections across each site, his value varies greatly, more so than probably any other player that has similar rankings.

    • Owen Simring says:

      @Owen Simring: projections “

    • Well I have talked about this with Mike Gianella and Mike Podhorzer at FG in the past. It is one of two things – 1) over/under crediting SBs or 2) underestimating the opportunity cost for HR/RBI. All I know is that I’ve checked my stuff against RCL + NFBC leagues and it checks out in terms of estimating league standings points per category.

  16. bossmanjunior333 says:

    Great work Rudy…again

    I am always trying to find an edge in my shallow mixed league, as there is a good amount of money and bragging rights on the line. It’s a unique format: 10 team C/1B/2B/3B/SS/3OF/UTL with a limited budget for moves. How would positional scarcity or absence of affect this format? With no MIF or CIF positions, would this even further dilute any positional adjustments? With only 3 OF, would there be any less premium on OF? Thanks!

    • thanks. this looks like the yahoo format with one less UTIL. that’s 10 less 1B/OF used up in UTIL. i probably would draft anything but an OF if the value is close to the same. tough to say since i’ve never played w/ that format.

      • bossmanjunior333 says:

        @Rudy Gamble:

        Yeah that has been my thinking. Pretty much just give the edge to the non-OF if the value is close. I’ve been focusing on 1B/3B early or SS (with that sweet Machado eligibility). How would this affect how you view SS and 2B? Because OF have utility, would you focus more than normal on SS/2B early or wait a few rounds since there will only be 20 (roughly) SS/2B drafted?

  17. SheriffMcRawDawg says:

    this is awesome rudy. ‘scarcity’ question for you –

    12 team (5 OF, CI, MI, U, etc.), standard roto, keep 8 in the round drafted in for up to 4 years. this is my current squad

    1b – Chris Davis (18)
    Of – Nelson Cruz (6)
    OF – Lorenzo Cain (21)
    Bn – Gallo (19)

    P – Keuchel (10)
    P – Hamels (4)
    P – Walker (17)
    RP – Familia (25)

    I have the 2nd overall pick this year, and the best 5 players are Kershaw, Donaldson, Giancarlo (whom I love), McCutcheon and Altuve.

    Who do you think I should take? I think it’s doubtful the first picker takes Kershaw, and I think he’ll take Donaldson (whom I should probably pray falls to me, as the next next group of 3b is: Carpenter, Beltre, Seager, and Longoria)

    I’ve been thinking Giancarlo all the way, but the more I do, I don’t love starting that heavy in OF. I think my pitching is off to a good start, so Kershaw isn’t essential. Would you think of taking Altuve there (next ‘best’ 2nd basemen are Cano, Kinsler, Zobrist, Walker, etc. – no odor, no ANYTHING).

    Really torn on this one – anything would help!

    If you’d advise going with Giancarlo with the 2nd pick, which 3B would you aim for of the 4 listed (I had thought of Longoria but you don’t seem to like him…)

    Thanks so much Rudy!

    • @SheriffMcRawDawg: LOL, this isn’t a scarcity question. So you have a solid core from keepers but extremely skewed toward power vs speed/avg. That’s good if you read my earlier article that power is more expensive this year than speed/average. Given what you have, I’d rank those options as Kershaw, Donaldson, Altuve, Stanton.

      • SheriffMcRawDawg says:

        @Rudy Gamble: well my 2B and 3B options are … scarce! Haha

        Thanks man

  18. Clint says:

    Rudy, have you done any positional analysis in the past I’m not remembering of actual draft positions & strategy revolving around the positions you end up with? Beyond Grey’s pairings for the first 2 rounds or so, unless I’ve missed it, I’m looking to see what strategy there is from there depending on your slot in the draft and I thought you’ve done that before at some point.

    • Not recently if ever. My LABR recap has some info there. It all depends on my $ and ADP. Could adjust by format. Definitely by year.

  19. Holden says:

    There is no real positional adjustment in your example because it’s extremely deep in non catcher roster spots. If you only started 3 OF / 1 U and no CI/MI there would be a much bigger effect. It’s very sensitive to league settings.

  20. dem ribbies says:

    Morning Rudy. What steps would I need to perform on the data to modify your 5×5 rankings to substitute OPS for AVG? I assume take OPS col from the 6×6, but what calculations would you need to perform to pull out the value added by AVG?

    • dem ribbies says:

      @dem ribbies: Ultimately I’m just looking for a ranking (not so much for auction value b/c my league is batshit crazy and the $’s are never close).

      For a simple ranking in a (R/RBI/HR/SB/OPS), would it be as simple as sorting the 6×6 OPS on $-$AVG or would you weight things differently with AVG removed? Thanks!

      • Have u checked out the ‘other hit’ link on the preseason player rater?

  21. Chicken Dinner says:

    Hey, Rudy.

    Would you give a bump to OFs in a 12 teamer with 5 OF spots?

  22. Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo says:

    question for splits of hitter vs pitcher drafting value amount. i know the standard thing is somewhere in the 65/25/10 with positions being hitter/SP/RP split. but that’s based on a standard ESPN sized league, what about a 16 teamer with 7 SP, 6 RP, 14 hitter (including 1 BN hitter), should it still be in the 65/35 range or more pitching in that kind? i’ll ask Rudy this as well. it’s actually 3 BN (i put 2 of those into SP, since that’s best way to use this kind of roster generally)

    • Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo says:

      @Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo: the assumed “standard roster” being 14 hitter to 9 pitcher, mine being many more pitchers, relatively (39% of team in standards vs 46.4% in mine.

      sorry, that should’ve read above 7 SP, 6 RP, 15 hitter (one of which being a BN hitter). 28 roster spots.

      • Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo says:

        @Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo: one idea could be

        if the ideal values in a 9 out of 23 player roster is 1.55555 hitter to pitcher ratio (14/23 divided by 9/23) then maybe
        the number would be for my league (15/28 divided by 13/28) 1.153846154 ratio. if the same ratios apply to SP vs RP (which i’m not sure they do since we have 6 RP to 7 SP, holds and saves here, both separately and net saves + holds as categories) then
        hitter = roughly 58%
        SP = roughly 30%
        RP = roughly 12%

        tell me if any/all of that sounds right, or maybe i should give more to RP.

    • It’s less whether a league should be 65/35 vs just reflecting what draft rooms typically are. Given you have 14 hitters + 13 pitchers, I would plan for moving that split closer to 50/50….maybe 60/40? I saw in a follow-up comment you went with 58/42 so I think we’re on same page here.

  23. Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo says:

    just to show what attempting to do this looks like in my league i mocked simulated drafted at fantasy pros (they run similar deal to you guys in which you put $10 at fanduel and get their premium content for free, and save 15 bucks while also having $10 to play with in fanduel). used exactly league settings, size, able to put keepers in exact rounds. 2 keepers per team. i have c.seager and franco in last 2 rounds, but for evalution purposes i was pretty sure i should value them at what i’d pay for drafting them at their ADP’s in yahoo. this team here spent almost exactly the 58% i was shooting at, about 10% less in SP than i though, that value went to RP.
    C chirinos (24th round)
    1B hosmer (4th)
    2B walker (12)
    SS seager (28th)
    3B Franco (27th)
    CI belt (6th)
    MI segura (14th)
    LF yelich (7th)
    CF mookie (1st)
    RF heyward (3rd)
    OF reddick (10th)
    Util ozuna (16th)
    util cron (18th)
    util villar (22nd)
    BN o.arcia SS (23rd)
    SP sale (2nd)
    salazar (5th)
    walker (9th)
    w.chen (13th)
    buchholz (15th)
    porcello (19th), rater really likes him in QS leagues
    vince vela (20th)
    RP rondon (8th)
    ramos (11th)
    watson (17th)
    strop (21st)
    herrera (25th)
    clippard (26th), could’ve went dunn to backup ramos.

    Too much towards either side you think, an attempt at the 58/30/12, ended up 58/27/15 or so, lot of rounding in there.
    rankings of players made by using 2/3 of your QS + holds rater for pitchers with 1/3 Grey, EXCEPT in RP, in which i went 100% QS + holds rater, as his ratings ignore holds completely. same ratios for hitters.

  24. For an Armenianless vacation come to Akron says:

    this goes with Shektor’s book as well, only in 2 catcher leagues is there any such thing as “scarcity”.

  25. Suppa says:

    Standard league keeping 4 (forever). 8 man league.

    Top 3 are locks:


    Pick one:
    Cabrera or Arenado or Bryant?

    Thanks in advance

    • Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo says:

      @Suppa: not miggy from age. OPS rater for this year even says bryant, so with age go him.

  26. Matt says:

    Am I right in thinking based on your opening paragraphs that in a league with no MI, CI or UT spots, the above analysis would not apply and placing some kind of premium on infielders would be appropriate? I play in a league with C, C, 1B, 1B, 2B, 2B, SS, SS, 3B, 3B, OF, OF, OF, OF, OF and 13 teams. Does using 52 middle infielders versus the normal 36 change the calculus?

    • i’ve never seen that roster format before. off top of head, I’d think the main adjustment might be a little discounting of OF. The reality with 2B/SS (and 3B) is that just b/c the last 6 or so are negative doesn’t mean the top guys are really worth any more. But if I guess that the last SS is -$3, then i’d imagine a boost of ~$1. That’s so inconsequential that i’d just draft with a strategy of “When close, go anything but OF”.

  27. Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo says:

    this is the league i actually drafted attempting the 58/27/15, and basically hit it near perfect, tell me if it looks balanced enough. max 2 NA legally. 1 slot, so i’ll have to go with no BN bat or 1 less RP or SP for a while till reed or giolito comes up. figured as old as my 1B are i might be best served with best 1B/CI prospect (keepers for future years go by ADP of previous year, so i could keep reed at 24th round for next year, 23rd for giolito). betts won’t be good value next year (at best break even) franco and seager won’t be as much as this year.
    C hundley (18)
    1B pujols (4)
    2B schoop (14)
    SS ceager (keeper, 27)
    3B franco (keeper, 28)
    LF belt ( 7)
    CF mookie (1)
    RF heyward (3)
    OF delino (10)
    util k.davis (12)
    util castellanos (20)
    util villar (24, this will be a stream spot for hitters, speed mostly)
    NA reed
    SP price (2, missed sale by 5 picks)
    salazar (5)
    shark (9, missed walker/matz/pineda by within 10 picks)
    w.chen (13)
    buchholz (16)
    nola (19)
    kennedy (23)
    RP tolleson (8)
    ramos (11)
    strop (17)
    siegrist (21, wow, he goes late in yahoo)
    jumbo D (25)
    BN giolito (26)
    currently 1 RP short. or 1 BN bat short.

    • looks good. several players that i’m targeting in leagues. unique format – seems like you went in with a solid strategy.

  28. Montezuma's Revenge... right now says:

    on the new “other” categories in the raters: if i’m in a league with both QS AND wins should i be adding
    1. the “wins w/QS” AND QS or just QS and “wins with no QS”
    this same question applies to other category mixing, like if i have AVG and OBP for hitters.

    • Add both the wins with QS + QS. Add both Avg with OBP + obp

      • Montezuma's Revenge... right now says:

        @Rudy Gamble: that was my first guess too, but then after days of using it 2nd guessed that.

  29. Anti-E says:

    saw that stuff at fangraphs. Mike Podhorzer is probably the most overrated fantasy baseball writers. Just the lack of logical, coherent thought in his articles baffles me.

    • thanks for the defense though there’s no need to denigrate mike. i consider him a friend. he asked permission before doing the write-up. Not saying I agree with him of course. I think my only frustrations with that overall exchange is 1) how unsuccessful I was in persuading people to rethink and 2) i didn’t like the negative vibe from some of the commenters.

Comments are closed.