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February 22, 2010

Fantasy Focus

First Base Rankings

by Marc Normandin

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I asked you, and you told me what you wanted to see, and here it is: the first position in my revamped fantasy rankings. We will kick things off with first base soon enough, but I have some things I want to go over first.

  • Players are no longer ranked by number (the 1-20 system). Instead, I am implementing a tiered system using stars (five stars is the best, one is the lesser of your options). These stars are equal across positions to make comparisons between them easier-for example, there are three five-star first basemen, but there may be more or fewer than that at other positions-if it comes to it, the first player at a position may be a four-star option. You can derive positional scarcity from the number of four- and five-star players available and make decisions from there.
  • I am no longer just covering 20 players per position-each list may be a bit different in length, but this first list with hitters is 35 players long. This should let players in AL- or NL-only league be as prepared as those in mixed leagues. There are two things I did to make this happen. First, I used the depth charts as my guide (this is also where the projections listed come from) and picked the starting player for every team at the position, giving me a guaranteed 30 choices, minimum. Second, for players with multiple position eligibility, I included them in the list for each position. It is possible they will have different star ratings at different positions, though, so make sure you reference the correct set of rankings. Victor Martinez is a three-star first baseman-it's a very crowded position, and his numbers are very average for it-but at catcher, where the talent pool is shallower, Martinez is worth more. This allows me to show you which position a player is most valuable.
  • If a player is ahead of another player within the same tier, it does not necessarily mean I like them more. It means I typed their name first. The point of the tiers is that the players within each one should all have similar production-if one of them performs significantly better or worse than expected, then we can re-evaluate at midseason or during the year, but think of the star rating as their true or expected talent level.

Using tiers and significantly increasing the number of players covered were the two requests I saw the most when I opened the floor to you. Though I didn't see it mentioned nearly as often, including players at each available position seemed worthwhile. I will try to release a top-250 list eventually, but I hope these star ratings help you to construct your own in the meantime, given I'm producing them in a way that makes position-to-position comparisons easy. I think the rankings-and therefore our fantasy teams-will be that much better for these changes, so thank you for your input. We're still early enough that comments and suggestions regarding the format are appreciated, so don't be shy.

Five Stars
Player            PA   AVG/OBP/SLG   R HR RBI SB
Albert Pujols    686 .322/.443/.577 97 34 108  6
Prince Fielder   669 .287/.409/.586 87 41 107  3
Miguel Cabrera   686 .304/.390/.555 86 37 103  4

One thing before we get going-these runs scored totals look low to me across the board, so just make a mental note that the number should probably be higher, but also keep in mind how they fare relative to other players. So, don't think "Pujols will score 97 runs," think "Pujols is expected to score more runs than Prince Fielder."

Pujols is still the top pick in the game in my mind-this projection seems low to me, and I wouldn't be shocked by another season with over .600 slugging for the Cardinals star. Fielder is a monster, but he won't have the batting average of Pujols or as many runs scored given fewer opportunities. He will, however, go smash pretty often, enough to lead the league most likely. He will contribute to every category except steals, and you can't ask for much more given those numbers. Cabrera may not have third-base eligibility anymore after not appearing there in 2009, but his numbers hold up anywhere on the diamond. He may come close to leading this group in homers, but will do it with a better batting average than Fielder. You can't go wrong with any of these three, but if there was a Five-Star-Plus-One rating, it would go to Pujols.

Four Stars
Player            PA    AVG/OBP/SLG   R HR RBI SB 
Adrian Gonzalez  686  .287/.393/.533 91 34 102  1
Justin Morneau   669  .288/.372/.518 86 30 107  1
Kevin Youkilis   648  .290/.393/.506 84 24  88  5
Mark Teixeira    648  .292/.395/.534 85 32 105  2
Joey Votto       648  .294/.386/.524 80 30  94  8
Lance Berkman    648  .285/.404/.514 89 29  90  9
Ryan Howard      632  .268/.370/.543 86 37 114  3
Kendry Morales   632  .294/.347/.513 74 29  82  1

If Gonzalez weren't in Petco Park for half his games, he would be a five-star first baseman. Alas, he will be there for 81 games unless he is dealt, so he's here in all of his unadjusted glory. Morneau and Votto are very similar in my mind-I feel that Votto is and will be the better player when all is said and done, but they are close enough that they both make the four-star section. I'm a bit more optimistic about Youkilis than PECOTA, at least on its weighted mean forecast. I'm thinking maybe a little bit more batting average and a slugging percentage-around 30 points loftier-which fits in nicely with the rest of this bunch.

Teixeira will absolutely score more than 85 runs in that Yankees lineup in that stadium, but the rest of the line seems right to me. I don't think 100-plus runs pushes him into five-star territory, though-he's another just-missed in my mind, given that honor applies to all positions, not just this one. For a player dealing with injuries, Berkman had a pretty great season in 2009, but he's not top-tier at the position any longer. He's still worth a look, just not a first-round one. Howard is the closest thing to a three-category player in the four-star range, but he destroys those three categories. Expect more runs scored than that out of Howard-if he can keep his batting average up, he may be the class of this group. Morales is here because I expect a higher slugging percentage as well as more runs and RBI from him, matching him up with the rest of this group.

Three Stars
Player            PA    AVG/OBP/SLG   R HR RBI SB 
Adam LaRoche     616  .280/.358/.477 69 21  79  1
Nick Swisher     602  .249/.376/.465 76 26  73  2
Carlos Pena      595  .237/.381/.518 75 35  89  1
Billy Butler     632  .299/.371/.497 70 24  85  1
Michael Cuddyer  566  .275/.354/.462 70 19  67  6
Victor Martinez  560  .290/.367/.471 60 19  78  1
Chris Davis      480  .279/.336/.535 64 27  73  2
Derrek Lee       648  .287/.376/.472 80 21  78  5
Adam Dunn        632  .250/.387/.493 75 31  87  3

Did you expect to see LaRoche listed anywhere besides what would be considered the spot for average choices? You know what you're getting if you have LaRoche on your team, and it's very similar to every other player in this tier. Swisher is not a first baseman, but he is eligible in many leagues-the low batting average hurts him, but being in the Yankees lineup with that OBP makes him valuable. ena's batting average hurts his fantasy value significantly, but he's not a bad option at the right pick or price, given he has titanic power and will drive in plenty of Rays despite the lack of contact.

Butler has a better batting average than most of these guys, but his power isn't quite there yet, so he's still in the three-star section for now. Being in Kansas City's lineup also doesn't help him. Cuddyer is eligible at first despite being an outfielder-PECOTA doesn't expect him to hit as well as last year, but his line still works at the position if you miss out on better players or just want more flexibility on your roster. Martinez is, as stated, a better option at catcher, but if you want a more versatile version of LaRoche, then he's your guy-especially with all of the average, runs and RBI benefits that playing in Fenway Park in the Red Sox lineup entails.

PECOTA likes Davis a bit more than I do for 2010-I think he's capable of that kind of power, but let's see if he can keep the batting average up consistently in order to pull it off. I'm not sold on Lee's 2009 output-I expect something more along the lines of 2006-08, as PECOTA does. He had 12 "just enough" homers last year, but he also hit a ton of bombs that kept his average homer distance up. Given his age and other recent performances, and the fact that his HR/FB percentage shot up to pre-2006 levels out of nowhere, I'm inclined to think fluke more than new level of performance. Dunn is closer to four stars than three if you could guarantee his batting average would stay up, but I wouldn't put money on that.

Two Stars
Player            PA    AVG/OBP/SLG   R HR RBI SB 
James Loney      618  .295/.359/.444 61 14  81  5
Paul Konerko     595  .254/.363/.466 62 26  70  1
Todd Helton      557  .294/.412/.449 61 13  60  0
Aubrey Huff      557  .280/.345/.466 60 18  70  2
Daniel Murphy    543  .284/.345/.466 62 15  70  5
Nick Johnson     510  .283/.433/.431 60 11  59  1
Jeff Clement     471  .251/.341/.445 53 17  57  1
Matt LaPorta     409  .269/.353/.480 48 16  52  1
Garrett Atkins   367  .284/.351/.460 51 16  65  1
Jorge Cantu      353  .288/.353/.467 64 19  74  3
Troy Glaus       326  .255/.361/.439 44 14  50  1

Loney has the batting average and may have the RBI like he did last year, but he's going to miss out on runs and power, which is why he's here and not higher. Konerko is a good option for homers, but I don't think he brings much to the table that you can't get in a better form elsewhere. Helton will get on base and hit for average, but his power has all but disappeared. Huff and Murphy have very similar projections, neither of which is appealing for a first baseman. As long as he's on the field, Johnson will pick up plenty of runs thanks to that OBP. The lack of power is a pain, but he's capable of helping you in a few categories. The Pirates lineup won't do Clement any favors, but he's no worse than the rest of this group.

LaPorta has the best chance of this group to move into the three-star category, but PECOTA doesn't feel like he's there yet on his weighted mean, and the addition of Russell Branyan may cut into his playing time as well. Atkins' projection seems a little optimistic to me. Even when his BABIP rebounds, the switch to the American League-the East, specifically, as well as moving out of Coors Field, makes me think this one is a little too promising. Cantu is set to split time with Gaby Sanchez according to the depth charts, and play at third base as well, but he's still eligible. He's a much better option at third than first. Glaus is somewhat of a question mark-he could rebound and be much better than this tier, but given the depth at the position, I did not feel moved to put him any higher.

One Stars
Player            PA    AVG/OBP/SLG   R HR RBI SB 
Lyle Overbay     543  .257/.353/.425 54 15  53  1
Daric Barton     533  .263/.365/.423 63 12  54  2
Casey Kotchman   457  .276/.354/.424 46 11  56  1
Gaby Sanchez     289  .279/.355/.439 32  8  34  3

If you are forced into drafting one of these players, chances are good you are in an auction league and spent all of your money elsewhere, or are in an AL- or NL-only league and somehow missed out on the massive number of first base-eligible players that are much more deserving. You can do without any of these guys, though Sanchez has the most potential to do better than his forecast given his minor-league production the past two seasons, but he's still a bit of a question mark as well.

70 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links


Interesting list. I know that many things about his performance last year scream fluke, but I am still a bit surprised that Garrett Jones didn't make your list at all; especially since you have Jeff Clement on the list. (Jones got 20+ games at 1B last year so he is eligible there in most leagues.) Is Jones just OF in your lists or is there a reason he falls below even the 1-star guys?

Feb 22, 2010 09:31 AM
rating: 0
Marc Normandin

I think I just missed him because he was buried in the depth charts at first behind two other Pirates. I'll be sure to mention his 1B value in his OF appearance.

For what it's worth, you won't have to wait long to see. I'm going to be releasing a set of rankings every day this week instead of just one or two per week.

Feb 22, 2010 11:08 AM
rating: 0

Thanks for starting these, Marc. I've been looking forward to them.

I think that you missed Pablo Sandoval, however, as CBS has him with 26 games at 1B last year.

Feb 22, 2010 09:34 AM
rating: 3
Marc Normandin

Indeed. There are a few I seemed to have missed, given the depth charts didn't list them as appearing there in 2010. I'll have to keep an eye out on the other positions for players such as that. For Reynolds and Sandoval, I will have to mention where they would land at first base when I write third base.

Feb 22, 2010 10:57 AM
rating: 0
Richard Bergstrom

I do like this format much more than last year's.

I think Helton and Konerko should be in the three star group and Davis and Cuddyer in the two-star group since I think Helton/Konerko are more consistent. Also, mention should be given on Pujols's elbow surgery and any other injuries and/or surgeries in terms of their tier ranking. Supposedly, Pujols is pain-free for the first time since 2003.

Feb 22, 2010 09:43 AM
rating: -1
Marc Normandin

Glad you like the shift. I know you were one of the vocal ones this spring when I offered myself up for feedback and criticism, so it's good to hear you approve.

I'm starting to think Pujols is a Terminator and it doesn't matter if he's missing a limb or not, he's still the best player in baseball.

As for Helton and Konerko, we both know what they are, and at a position this deep I think they fit into two-star. Cuddyer and Davis have a bit more range in their performance, but I think their upside earns them three-stars. The cool thing about this format is what you just said though--if you want to interchange players between different star ratings, you can, very easily, for your own lists, instead of agonizing over a specific number.

Feb 22, 2010 11:16 AM
rating: 0

When I think of what I know of what Konerko is, I think that a .254 batting average would be just about the worst case scenario for how I think he'll produce. If you bump his average up to .277 like he had last season (with only a .287 BABIP), then his stat line basically mirrors Adam LaRoches. That's more in line with what I'd expect. Granted, there's more risk there than with LaRoche due to age and injury concern but I think that batting average projection is really selling Konerko a bit short.

Feb 22, 2010 12:51 PM
rating: 0
Richard Bergstrom

Yeah I'll admit being a pretty vocal critic at times. I'm glad you've kept an open forum and I do like the changes. My differences of opinion on Helton/Konerko/Davis/Cuddyer are just nitpicks, though I will add in the caveat that Davis and Cuddyer's upsides represent what Helton and Konerko have already done multiple times.

Feb 22, 2010 14:47 PM
rating: -2

If the point of the stars is that equal production results in equal stars and positional scarcity exists only as a function of the quantity of top-star players at a position, how is it possible for the exact same player to get a different star rating at different positions?

In other words - what does the star rating translate to? If it translates to draft order, then it should completely factor in positional scarcity. If it translates to absolute impact on the team, then it should completely ignore position and VMar should be 3 stars everywhere. Am I missing something?

Feb 22, 2010 09:48 AM
rating: 0

Very good point. I don't see how stars can translate across position and yet players have different star ratings at different positions; the star rankings of those players, practically be definition, do not translate across positions.

Feb 22, 2010 09:54 AM
rating: 0
Marc Normandin

It translates to the latter--I see what you're saying about keeping their star rating the same across the board. I may just have to mention that they have less/more value at the listed position than at their primary one and keep their star ratings solid.

This is still a work in progress, given how much we're overhauling it at once, so I appreciated this insightful feedback.

Feb 22, 2010 11:13 AM
rating: 0
Richard Bergstrom

I'd just handle the star list as a basic draft rating, though if someone was multiposition eligible, I'd give them a half a star bump, turning borderline tier 2s into tier 3s, etc.

Feb 22, 2010 15:12 PM
rating: -3

It makes sense to me that certain players would have different values at different positions. Think of it as opportunity cost. Martinez would rank among the most valuable catchers with his offense. If you drafted him with the intent of using him as a first baseman, he would be less valuable because the catcher you would end up with would not be as good on offense as Martinez. If you drafted Martinez with the intent of having him as a catcher, you could likely get a first baseman with more value that Martinez.

Feb 22, 2010 15:17 PM
rating: 2

The ***** rating is for fantasy purposes, by position.

If you can draft a first baseman with eligibility at, say, catcher, then if you play him at 1B on your team, he may only be equivalent to the other 3-star players at 1B. But if you intend to play him at catcher, he's worth far more to your team's success. So, he should have a higher star-rating at positions where performance is more scarce.

This makes perfect sense to me, and I don't see any reason to change it. For fantasy purposes.

Feb 23, 2010 10:43 AM
rating: 5
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

Here's where I'm confused, out of your 4 star players, Youkilis is projected for fewest home runs, fewest RBIs, lowest slugging percentage, 3rd lowest in runs - are you placing him above Teixeira, Howard, Votto et al, on your gut, or is there something I'm missing.

Feb 22, 2010 09:59 AM
rating: -4

It says in the article, that there's no ranking inside a tier. So Youk may be the last guy in that tier even though he's not listed last.

Feb 22, 2010 10:02 AM
rating: 4
Marc Normandin

From the intro:

"If a player is ahead of another player within the same tier, it does not necessarily mean I like them more. It means I typed their name first."

I wanted to clarify that for a reason. I also explained in the paragraph beneath the four-star section that I like Youkilis more than his PECOTA forecast:

"I'm a bit more optimistic about Youkilis than PECOTA, at least on its weighted mean forecast. I'm thinking maybe a little bit more batting average and a slugging percentage—around 30 points loftier—which fits in nicely with the rest of this bunch."

Feb 22, 2010 11:06 AM
rating: 0

in a keeper league, would you consider freezing Butler over Berkman, even though Berkman is one tier higher for this season?

Feb 22, 2010 10:24 AM
rating: 0

Depends, do you want to win this year or next year? If you're playing for this year, keep the best player this year. You'll probably be able to get Butler back in the draft much easier than Berkman if you want him for your CI or Util spot.

Feb 22, 2010 10:31 AM
rating: 0
Marc Normandin

Agreed. I like Butler more for the future, but Berkman for 2010 was the better option IMO.

Feb 22, 2010 11:01 AM
rating: 0

I just have a hard time envisioning Mark Teixeira not being an elite fantasy 1B this season. He's been one each of the last 2 seasons at the very least and, unless this is a keeper league I guess, strikes me as an equal option to Miguel Cabrera.

Feb 22, 2010 10:42 AM
rating: 0
Marc Normandin

I'll agree with you and say that if I were to move one player up into five-stars, it would be Teixeira. I kind of waffled on it as I was writing yesterday. If you like Teixeira more than I do, by all means, five-star the Yank.

Feb 22, 2010 11:04 AM
rating: 0

Thank you very much, Marc. It's a good list, as usual, with helpful analysis. Count me among those who love the new equally-weighted tier format.

Two questions:

1. Has your inbox given you a sense of how many BP readers still use the standard 5x5 in fantasy baseball -- and in particular, how many use batting average? I'm used to adjusting lists like these for OBP/OPS, and I know how entrenched AVG is in everyday commentary and, presumably, fantasy. Still, I'd love to see BP be Shaw's unreasonable man, and try to adapt the fantasy world to the real-life stat one.

2. Can any fantasy baseball writer avoid the "I wish Adrian wasn't in Petco" trope? If I were a Padres fan I'd be sick to death of seeing writers wish him out of San Diego.

Feb 22, 2010 10:49 AM
rating: 3
Marc Normandin

Thanks! Glad to see you like the new format.

1) Yes, loads of BP readers are playing standard 5x5, while many others modify the stats included but still play in a 5x5 format. There are more of you playing roto than head-to-head I believe, based on e-mails. A growing number are also playing Scoresheet, which is something we are aiming to increase coverage of this year. Stay tuned.

In-season I try to make use of real-life stats in fantasy that I find are effective for analysis, but many of them don't make it into fantasy leagues, sadly.

2) I am a Padres fan, and I am sick of it, but it's true.

Feb 22, 2010 11:00 AM
rating: 0

Does the very real possibility that Gonzalez gets traded at the deadline (quite possibly to Boston) give him a small boost in value? I know he tempts me in his price range for that reason.

Feb 22, 2010 13:17 PM
rating: 0
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

No way does Gonzalez go to Boston. This is just Red Sox nation thinking they can get anyone anywhere.

Teams like Tampa Bay could offer twice that of Boston. Give it a rest! If your SD would you take Boston's prospect plus leftovers or Crawford, Davis, and Brignac?

Feb 22, 2010 16:45 PM
rating: -6

Why would Tampa Trade Crawford for Gonzo if they are in the chase? I also Doubt they give up Wade Davis, and what has Brignac ever shown? So getting a Lars Anderson (if healthy) and a Ryan Westmorland or Casey Kelly would be good value. If Wade Davis is offered SD pulls that trigger quick.

Feb 23, 2010 07:57 AM
rating: 0
Austin (Raleigh)

They would consider moving Crawford because they have Desmond Jennings in the wings, and i suppose this guy is thinking Jennings/Upton/Zobrist/Adrian Gonzalez/Carlos Pena at OF/OF/OF/1b/DH is better than Crawford/Upton/Zobrist/Pena/Burrell

Feb 23, 2010 08:18 AM
rating: 0

San Diego would not even want Crawford---he is already $10 million per year and is a free agent after the season. They would like Davis, but Brignac is just filler, leaving Tampa's proposed offer inadequate. If the Rays offered Jennings, then San Diego would be all over it, but they won't. The Red Sox are the logical destination because they have a good farm system with cheap guys they could offer like Westmoreland, Kelly, even Bucholz or Bard, and they don't need the farm system as much as the Rays because they can run a $170 million payroll.

Feb 23, 2010 10:42 AM
rating: 1

"One thing before we get going—these runs scored totals look low to me across the board, so just make a mental note that the number should probably be higher, but also keep in mind how they fare relative to other players. So, don't think "Pujols will score 97 runs," think "Pujols is expected to score more runs than Prince Fielder. Pujols is still the top pick in the game in my mind—this projection seems low to me"

Is PECOTA ready for prime time yet? or still in "beta"?

Feb 22, 2010 10:49 AM
rating: 1

Meh. I don't think people wanting tiers meant they didn't want ranking too. There are a lot of 1b of similar ability, which I have a tough time choosing between. Saying they are all about equal just isn't that useful.

Feb 22, 2010 10:53 AM
rating: -2
Marc Normandin

Saying they are all about equal is useful, because they are not all about equal at every other position, which will allow you to make better decisions about what position should go when in your drafts.

Feb 22, 2010 11:03 AM
rating: 0

Well, I didn't say it was useless, just not that useful. Unless people are in really deep leagues or nl/al ones, they probably won't get past tier three. Thus for the majority your analysis will only include two separation points, between 5 and 4 and 4 and 3. That is an extremely limited amount of information. If Kevin Goldstein decided to drop his rankings and just use tiers, saying the top 40 players are about the same, I don't think it would go over that well.

Feb 22, 2010 11:22 AM
rating: -3

Seeing that there are just two separation points is extremely useful to me. With tiers, you are basically seeing that the prediction error bars overwhelm the differences between many individual players. If players #4 through #8 are all basically the same, seeing individual rankings within that group may lead you to false conclusions about the projections for each of those players.

Feb 22, 2010 12:48 PM
rating: 6

Right- if they are close to each other you can identify the guy with the lowest average draft position and seek out value while going after other players with great production, scarcer tiers, and higher draft position. If I'm drafting and there as still (5) 1B 4stars available and and (1) SS 4star available, it should be obvious who to draft next. That is, if you trust the system.

Feb 22, 2010 11:58 AM
rating: 3
Dan W.

What fun would it be if he did all the work for you? Don't you want some sense of ownership over your team & the decisions that go in to selecting it?

Feb 22, 2010 11:24 AM
rating: 8

When did I imply otherwise? To prepare for fantasy baseball I read a lot of people's opinions and then make my own decisions based on what I feel is important. My problem is that most of the time, I'm not even going to know Marc's opinion.

Feb 22, 2010 11:47 AM
rating: -1

Yeah, and if players were ranked, people would complain about the rankings....

Take the tiers as a guide and then adjust each player based on your personal feelings, league format, etc.

Feb 24, 2010 05:17 AM
rating: 0

Well, put my vote in for "hates tiers".

To me, grouping players into subjective tiers, instead of putting a dollar value or ADP # next to him, is dumbing down the value of your lists. Pujols is a lot, lot, more valuable than Miggy, but they are in the same tier. Miggy, meanwhile, is pretty damn close to AGonz, who is a tier below.

So what real conclusion can we take away from the tiers?

Grouping players together like this, and drawing arbitrary lines between "groups" only makes sense when there are actual clear delineations between distinct groups of players. but in the real life (ha!) fantasy world, there is a constant sliding scale of talent, and to create "tiers" creates differences where none really exist.

Feb 22, 2010 11:50 AM
rating: 3

To me, the only problem is that Pujos deserves his own tier. I think Cabrera and Fielder (and maybe Teixeira) are a tier below Pujols, but I don't know that it is fair to put them in the 4-star tier just because they are behind one of the best hitters in baseball history. Otherwise, I think the tiered approach is good. You can get dollar values/ADP many places, this is just Marc's tiering of guys with virtually identical dollar value into tiers. If you accept the premise (guys within the same tier are of nearly indistinguishable projected value), then in a perfect world you would never select the 1st player from a tier and generally select one of the last guys available in a tier (depending on where you are in the draft). That has enormous value for a snake draft, and some value for auctions (if you see Berkman about to go for much less than Votto).

Feb 22, 2010 12:38 PM
rating: 1

Simple answer to this is give Cabrera and Fielder a 5 star but for this one time give Pujols a 5 plus one like Marc said he would do if he could.

Feb 22, 2010 16:48 PM
rating: 1

I wouldn't say I hate tiers because it does break the players down a little more usefully than a strict ranking, but I agree with much of what you said. I think a system where, for example, Pujols gets a score of 100 and everybody else is in relation to that is ideal. Fielder maybe gets a 94, Cabrera a 91, Teixeira an 88, and so on.

Feb 22, 2010 12:46 PM
rating: 2

I'd love to see tiers, rank and scores listed for each player. I don't think it would be that hard to add plus it lets us know relative value as well as gives us a true ranking.

Feb 22, 2010 16:49 PM
rating: 1
Joe D.

"Pujols is a lot, lot, more valuable than Miggy."

In real life, he is.

In fantasy, not so much, at least according to PECOTA's projections...as listed above. They've got Pujols a little bit better in each category, except homers where Miggy has three more.

I would agree that Pujols was a lot more valuable than Cabrera last season: batting average very close, then Pujols had edges of 13 homers, 32 RBIs, 28 runs, and 10 steals.

I'd side with PECOTA, though, based on their last three years averaged:

Pujols: .337, 108 runs, 118 RBIs, 39 HRs, 8 SB.
Miggy: .312, 91 runs, 116 RBIs, 35 HRs, 3 SBs

That is to say, Pujols is clearly worth a bit more, but not as much as a "tier jump" at any other position. (I'll take Cabrera and a Tier 1 SS over Pujols and a Tier 2 SS, for example.)

Feb 22, 2010 15:14 PM
rating: 2

Another thing that would be very useful when you're done with these, Marc, is a printable cheat sheet in a grid format where we can see the tiers are a glance on draft day.

Feb 22, 2010 12:30 PM
rating: 2
Marc Normandin

Noted. I'll do what I can once I wrap up.

Feb 22, 2010 12:44 PM
rating: 0
Fresh Hops

Hrrm... How does PECOTA come up with similar RBI numbers for Billy Butler and Kevin Youkilis? They're projected to have a similar number of plate appearances and similar slash lines. One would expect, since Boston is projected to score 107 more runs, that portend more RBIs for Youk.

Feb 22, 2010 12:37 PM
rating: 0

There is a lot of strangeness going on with PECOTA right now that is being mysteriously ignored by BP. PECOTA cards were supposed to come out over a week ago. My guess is something is broken at the moment, and BP is desperately trying to fix it.

Feb 22, 2010 12:43 PM
rating: 3

I hate the tiers, too. It might make some sense to have a plain old list, with tiers added, but the above format, with *just* tiers, is lacking a lot of information. I mean, would you ever really draft Kendry Morales ahead of Mark Teixeira? The above format implies they are equal.

Feb 22, 2010 12:40 PM
rating: -3

Why don't you guys make your own lists if you don't like Marc's.

Feb 22, 2010 12:49 PM
rating: 4

I will, as will just about anyone who plans to draft a team in fantasy baseball. Problem is, I look to Mark to be one of the sources of information for my own list, and his list this year contains less useful information than it did prior to converting to the "pure-tier" system.

Feb 22, 2010 12:56 PM
rating: -1

He asked for feedback. It's not a person attack on him or anything just a preference.

Feb 22, 2010 16:51 PM
rating: 0

Kevin could order them but that would add precision instead of accuracy. The #3 guy at a position could easily end up at #8 by the end of the year.

You can look at the tiers as well as the ADPs. If you see that Billy Butler is going 6 rounds later than Youkilis, then you know you can wait for a slight downgrade. I much prefer tiers.

Feb 23, 2010 07:28 AM
rating: 2
Richard Bergstrom

I'm not sure rankings help that much either since the actual valuation depends on your league format. Unless someone is extremely proficient or deficient in one area or another, tiers are a good way to go.

And yeah, most first baseman within a single tier are quite similar to each other with the vaaiance due to those slightly more likely to hit for a better average, or hit more home runs. It's not like 5-10 years ago when there were first basemen who helped in stolen bases, for example.

Feb 24, 2010 09:06 AM
rating: 0

I think that adding tiers is helpful, but it would still be good to have a little more. Although I am not an auction guy, dollar values is not a bad idea to include within the tiers, just for some sort of rank among the tier. This would allow you to show a bit more of your opinion between players that are close and especially between players are on the fringe of two tiers. For example, would it be a better value to pick the last tier four player at a deep position or a top tier 3 player from another? How close are the two in actual overall value? A dollar value could help us decifer such an issue. That being said, I am glad to hear you are willing to take our suggestions into consideration. I would really love for you to kick out a top 250 list as you mentioned before, if at all possible. Either way, all insight is appreciated.

Feb 22, 2010 12:53 PM
rating: 1

Dollar values are provided in the PFM. Restricting it to one format (mixed 5x5) dollar value is probably not as interesting as saying that you should use the PFM to determine dollar numbers.

Feb 22, 2010 13:05 PM
rating: 4

Also, in my opinion, PECOTA needs a "polishing procedure" on its reliance on historical comps by a Commissioner of Common Sense for certain obvious-as-nose-on-your-face stats on uniquely consistent players. This perhaps can be statistically based on outlier (lack of) variance of performance for a particular player. For instance as applied to this report, at what point should any premier projection system look at Dunn's HR rates (39-42 for 7 straight years) or Helton's BA (over .300 for 12 of last 13, one on pre-surgery condition), or even Rivera's save rates in another context, and do some sort of adjustment to the PECOTA "output". Yea such process can be a slippery slope, but would any of the BP staff or readers be willing to bet their car title that .320+ lifetime Helton hits under .295 as per PECOTA?

Feb 22, 2010 13:21 PM
rating: 0

I haven't yet seen an explanation why PECOTA's projected HR and RBI totals for elite players is so ridiculously low.

Pujols' 34 HR, 108 RBI line would basically tie him for his lowest output in seven years. Howard has had at least 45 HR / 136 RBI four straight years yet is projected at 37/111 this year. Teixiera/Fielder/Pujols/Howard combined for 539 RBI last year, and PECOTA projects them at 434.

I can understand BP's incentive to project conservatively, but for fantasy purposes PECOTA's projections for power hitters are basically useless to me.

Feb 22, 2010 15:00 PM
rating: 3

I love the new tier format. My only suggestion would be to list the names within each tier in the general order that you like them, rather than just the order in which you type the names. I know that you go into more detail in the write-ups about which players you like more, but it would be helpful to just list them that way for more clarification within each tier.

Feb 22, 2010 15:28 PM
rating: 5

All the nitpicking guys. The things you seem to be asking for, seem to be things that any informed and knowledgeable fantasy player can do in his head. Rank players within tiers? You don't know enough about these guys to do that yourself?

This format seems very useful to me...the rest of the stuff I can do in my head during a draft. There's only so much of Marc to go around, and I'd prefer to see him use his talents creating more output, than "polishing" this stuff, which I can do myself.

Feb 22, 2010 16:20 PM
rating: 5

the thing is, this format is really just a dumbed down format of standard rankings.

do your $ values for 1b, rank them in descending order, and draw some lines somewhere every few players. that's basically what this is.

that's not a personal attack on Marc, who I think is very smart and has helped me a ton over the years. it's an attack on the "tier" format in general.

and to reiterate:

tiers make sense, if, in your league, you have 1b with $ values like





1) in real life it doesn't work that way and
2) tiers STILL wouldn't really give you any extra information beyond the $ amounts

when the rankings are really more like:


then where the heck are the tiers? you could make an argument for all sorts of things, but none of them give you information beyond the $ values

Feb 22, 2010 19:51 PM
rating: -2

I don't want to be an ass but missing players like Sandoval and Reynolds is a big deal to me. Both guys are 3 stars and Sandoval is one of the most talked about players this year. Reynolds just came off a huge season and I'd be interested in getting your opinion of where he stacks up. I understand neither plays 1st and in fantasy why play them at 1st when you can get them at 3rd but I think the comparative value gleaned from them being placed under 1st baseman ranks would be helpful.

I just was wondering which of the 4/3 star 1st baseman you could see breaking out. I keep hearing Votto as the next elite first baseman but I was wondering who you'd place money on and if it's not Votto what you think of him.

Thanks and I love your work!

Feb 22, 2010 16:56 PM
rating: 2
Marc Normandin

I built it off of the depth charts, which is why I omitted them accidentally. If this happens I'll be mentioning their value at other positions when I get to their true position, so expect to see plenty on Sandoval and Reynolds when I get to third base.

Also, when we have the blogs running, it will be easier to make corrections to things like that, as I could just throw a post up detailing my thoughts on someone like Reynolds or Sandoval at 1B. I would prefer to do it right the right first, but things happen.

Feb 22, 2010 19:18 PM
rating: 0

I like the tiers. There are a lot of straight-up ranking systems and lists out there, so the tiers give me a usefully different perspective on the same information. That said, ranked tiers (more like KG's prospect lists) would provide more of a one-stop-shop fantasy list.

Also, I love the way the stars work across the positions. I was going to request something similar before but I couldn't figure out how to work it out. I'd hate to overlook Victor Martinez as my second 1B because I've already got Mauer at C--but I'd hate to draft Martinez like an elite catcher if all I need is a 1B.

Thanks Marc!

Feb 22, 2010 18:14 PM
rating: 1

First time, long time. I pay my BP Fantasy subscription for PECOTA, but the spreadsheet is dense and time-consuming to manipulate.

Marc just gave us Cliff Notes on the data and listed similar players's projections side by side. How much more help for the draft do you need?

Sandoval and Reynolds are pretty big omissions though... Shake of the dust Marc, Spring Training is upon us!

Feb 22, 2010 20:42 PM
rating: 3


I'll be brief, as my comments mirror a number of those already made. I think the tiers are a good addition, although I would hope/like you to put the guys within the tiers in the order that you would rank them, even if that goes without any further comments or written values.

I'm happy to decide myself whether Adrian Gonzalez is more valuable than Ryan Howard, but it's fun to see how you would tier the guys within the star groups.


Feb 23, 2010 00:31 AM
rating: 2

I like the tiers as well, and I will use this a guideline to more or less break a tie between two players during the draft.

The only other piece that I think people would find of value is the actual value of players relative to draft position or dollar amount.

As an example, Morneau and Berkman are certainly going to go lower than their what their predictive performance will indicate, if you are in agreement with the numbers PECOTA is spitting out.

Feb 23, 2010 09:25 AM
rating: 0

So suppose you're in a 6x6 w/OPS.

Is that enough to bump Dunn up to 4 stars?

Feb 23, 2010 09:37 AM
rating: 0

I would personally say that it would put him on the high side of 3 for me. He still isn't getting a ton of runs, no bags, and his average is not above average. That's not to say I don't like him, it's just really relative to where you can snag him in the draft.

Feb 24, 2010 06:37 AM
rating: 0

Tiering has an inherent advantage over ranking, in that it is capable of accurately representing cases where two player have comparable value. If one has the RIGHT NUMBER OF TIERS, and sorts the players into them correctly, the result will have no disadvantages as compared to a ranking.

However, as I just said, this superiority is contingent on there being an appropriate choice of the NUMBER OF TIERS. For example, a two-tier system for these 1Bs would clearly be inferior to the old ranking system, whereas a six or seven tier system would probably be much better. In general, you want _as many tiers as accuracy permits_, or at worst some compromise between that and usability. (Seven tiers might be better than 28, for instance, purely for reasons of convenience.)

So the important question is really: how many tiers ought each position have? Offhand I'd say something like six or seven, although it might actually depend on which position you're talking about. It would presumably also vary from season to season, assuming that talent varies from year to year.

Of course, fixing the number of tiers by the sort of process I'm talking about would mean that you might have a different number of tiers for different positions. Some, I'm sure, will find that a negative. But given the degree of controversy about the importance of positional scarcity to begin with, I'm not sure it's really so appealing/useful to be able to say "oh, this guy is a three star 1B but a five star C."

Feb 23, 2010 16:42 PM
rating: 0
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