In case you live under a rock, which is actually Billy Butler in a boulder costume, and it wasn’t as obvious as the fact that Jose Fernandez and Yordano Ventura are going to combine for zero fantasy points this season, fantasy baseball draft season has begun. And in case I wasn’t aware of it, the unending requests for my rankings has surely served as a reminder. Last year I received quite a few emails in anticipation, some of which were rather entertaining. This year, however, one person has topped them all. The email read something like this. “Can you tell me when your rankings will be released? It’s the only post you write that I really care about. My draft is on the 12th.” To that guy I replied with a link to last year’s rankings. I wonder how his draft went. I hope his league gives points for honesty…
Razzball Commenter Leagues are open! Play against our contributors and your fellow readers for prizes. Join here!
Another email that stood out was the following. “I love your work on points league. You’re my go to source. Thanks, Matthew Berry.” I’ve got to be honest, I’m not sure whether this email actually came from The Talented Mr. Roto or not, but I’m doing my best to convince myself that it was. So far I’m leaning towards the conclusion that there is a better chance that it came from Matthew Dingleberry. Either way, I’ll take it. With such a small fanbase, beggars cannot be choosers.
Before we dive into my rankings, I want to talk a little about points leagues rankings. Never trust a man with two first names, especially if one of them’s a woman’s. Shelley Duncan, Shannon Stewart, Casey Blake, Babe Ruth and of course Bryce Harper, all have full names which fit the bill. I know, what in the world am I getting at? If you ask an expert for advice on your points league and they don’t ask you what your scoring system is then they are going to give you a mediocre response. It’s like a lawyer trying a case without all of the facts. How could they possibly compare Chris Davis to Starling Marte unless they know how many (if any) points your league deducts for strikeouts and awards for stolen bases. Based on my 2017 estimations, in a league that penalizes one point for a strikeout and gives two points for a stolen base, Davis is projected to score 329 points while Marte puts up 333. But in a league that does not subtract any points for strikeouts and only gives one point for a stolen base, Davis will score 528 points as compared to Marte’s 413. In this second league Davis is a top twenty hitter. In the first example he’s number 70. You see what I am getting at here? Fantasy advice in points league’s is entirely dependent on the points distribution of league in question. Generic rankings are pointless (pun intended). You might as well ask the slow adult in the red shirt working the register as your local Target. No offense to Target.
Here is a link to ESPN’s top 300 in head-to-head points leagues. What scoring system are they basing this on? This list is about as useful as a one armed trapeze artist with an extra itchy ass (quote found online). Or perhaps in better context, it’s about as useful as drafting Alex Reyes in a redraft league. Thanks for letting me know that Clayton Kershaw, Mike Trout and Mookie Betts were in the top three. For the most part the top ten or so players are consistent across most leagues, it’s players ten through one hundred that make the difference on draft day.
Personally I like the fantasy baseball guys over at CBS. I’ve had the pleasure of participating in several mock drafts this season with them and they do know their fantasy baseball. I respect their knowledge, but their generic head-to-head rankings are suspect to say the least. I realize that no one wants to be the guy that takes Kershaw with the first pick, but in certain scoring systems, that is the right move. Regardless, in any sane scoring system he is a top five-ish pick. These rankings have him at the ten spot!
Go ahead and do your research. Look around. What you will find is that most people act like points leagues do not exist, or that they are the red-headed step child of fantasy baseball. While the latter might be true, it doesn’t change the fact that there are thousands of points leagues in play. These leagues need love (and advice) too.
But who has the time to consider all the angles and potential combinations of scoring systems? That would be me. I actually do not have the time, but I do it anyway. Razzball High School Football rules! Can anyone name the movie from which I bastardized that last quote?
Now let’s get the part that you actually care about. As for those of you that skipped the previous seven paragraphs, you’re going to need to go back and read them to find the password to access the rankings.
This year I have made some significant enhancements to my spreadsheet. The most notable is the dynamic league-specific rankings feature. You now have the ability to enter not only your league’s scoring system, but also the number of players you start at each position so that the spreadsheet can customize rankings based on your league. I know, that’s awesome, right?!
Here’s how it all works. The spreadsheets contains a tab for hitters, pitchers and then one for each individual position. There is also a tab labeled “Rankings”. This is the sheet that hosts the actual rankings. The last tab is the “Settings” tab. This is where you tell the spreadsheet about your league. Just like the estimations spreadsheet from last week, this spreadsheet comes preloaded with the scoring systems of the major fantasy baseball sites. It also provides the ability for you to enter three separate custom scoring systems. This is where you will enter your league’s scoring system, unless you are using one of the predefined.
Under the scoring systems there is a dropdown that allows you to select the active scoring system to be used by the spreadsheet. When you change scoring systems, the spreadsheet will automatically generate the new rankings and update (re-sort) each sheet. While I’d love to call it magic, it’s really just macros.
The “Settings” tab will also allow you to specify the number of teams in your league, the number of players on each team and the number of players that are started at each position. I need this data in order to figure out the replacement level player at each position in order to generate the position-adjusted rankings.
Lastly you will see something labeled “Reduce RP Weight” at the bottom. No, this is not a diet program for fat relief pitchers (aka Bobby Jenks). By default my rankings treat the RP position equal to the rest of the positions. As a result, you will see some RP in the top twenty. While mathematically this might be the case, in reality it doesn’t make sense to draft even an elite RP in the first two or three rounds (maybe more). But my spreadsheet isn’t human and doesn’t think like an irrational baseball fan. Everything is a one or a zero as far as it’s concerned, and the numbers say that Kenley Jansen has first round-ish value. By setting “Reduce RP Weight” to true my algorithm will lower the FVARz scores for relief pitchers, pushing them down a bit in the overall position-adjusted rankings.
A few more things to mention…
- If you see a bunch of zeros and #DIV/0! it likely means the scoring system you have told the spreadsheet to use is full of zeros. If this is not the case then you are probably trying to generate rankings for an unsupported league configuration. Unsupported configurations include any configuration that matches a money league I play in personally. Sorry, but I can’t exactly be handing over the exact cheatsheets I will be using at my drafts/auctions to my opponents.
- Every time you make a change to the “Settings” tab, it recalculates everything. It takes a second or so to do this, so be patient when making multiple changes. You will likely notice this most when you are initially configuring your custom scoring system. Don’t lose your cool if you make a change and it seems like the spreadsheet is frozen for a second.
- The “Calculate Rankings” button is mostly for show as they should be automatically calculated for you. However, if for some reason they do not appear to be updated, just press this button.
That’s really all there is to it.
In previous seasons I’ve listed rankings, but just like the lists I criticized earlier, those rankings were tied to a specific scoring system. At least in my case I shared the exact system being used. However, the results were likely not applicable to most readers. So instead of posting another pseudo generic list of players that might be more misleading than helpful, I’m going to let you get your hands on the spreadsheet and generate your own.
You can follow malamoney on Twitter at @malamoney.