CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Wil... (05/28)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Wil... (05/28)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Suc... (06/03)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Closer Report: Week Ni... (05/28)

May 28, 2014

Fantasy Freestyle

Success Stories in the Endgame, Part One

by Mike Gianella

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

After a very slow start, George Springer arrived with a vengeance this past weekend. His sizzling 1.091 OPS in May is seventh-best in the majors for the month and the buzz/wow factor or whatever the heck you want to call it is extremely high. For the purposes of comparison, Springer has a 268/348/500 slash line in his first 155 major league plate appearances. Mike Trout had a .220/.284/.376 slash over his first 155 plate appearances. It’s an apples-to-bananas comparison given that Springer is almost two years older than Trout is now, but it is nevertheless amazing how quickly Springer has broken through.

It is also an aberration.

Earlier this month, I documented the performance of Baseball Prospectus’ top 20 hitting prospects between 2009-2013 in mixed league formats. Over the last five years, 26 of these prospects have accrued 100 or more plate appearances in a single season. Only half of these hitters were mixed league worthy (12-team league) and only three—Buster Posey in 2010, Bryce Harper in 2012, and Wil Myers in 2013—finished among the top half of mixed league hitters. Hats off to you if you drafted Springer this year, but if you were counting on elite production, you were really hoping that Springer bucked historical trends.

In keeper leagues, performances like Springer’s lead some owners to inappropriately value all rookies and bet entirely on the upside. Contenders ask for the moon and the stars for their elite prospects, and far too often the teams out of contention pay the full asking price.

There is another avenue to building a competitive team if you’re playing for next year, and that is mining your opponents for lower-profile players on the cheap. This week I will take a look at the hitters who fit this profile; next week I will focus on the pitchers.

Many owners don’t even consider this approach because at first glance the ROI from seems underwhelming.

Table 1: Rate of Return on $1-3 AL and NL Only Hitters: 2009-2013

Year

League

# of Players

AVG Value

AVG Salary

AVG +/-

2009

AL

61

$3.39

$1.28

+2.12

2009

NL

79

$3.89

$1.43

+2.46

2010

AL

63

$4.01

$1.66

+2.35

2010

NL

70

$5.28

$1.52

+3.76

2011

AL

53

$4.40

$1.38

+3.02

2011

NL

59

$5.96

$1.42

+4.54

2012

AL

58

$3.60

$1.13

+2.46

2012

NL

56

$6.15

$1.41

+4.74

2013

AL

50

$4.25

$1.33

+2.93

2013

NL

59

$5.07

$1.37

+3.62

Table 1 lists all of the hitters purchased in the CBS, LABR, and Tout Wars AL and NL only leagues for an average salary of three dollars or less between 2009 and 2013. There aren’t going to be this many endgame hitters in your home leagues since this table is working off of an average price. However, the numbers above give a rough idea of what your endgame dollar buys you, and in the aggregate it doesn’t buy you that much.

To be certain, getting $4-5 of stats on your $1-2 investment is fine. However, it’s not going to win you a title in your league. You are also not going to target players like this when you’re rebuilding. If there is profit to be had every year in your league’s endgame, it stands to reason that there is no need to trade anything of value for a four-dollar player.

In the aggregate, this is all very logical. However, there is plenty of value to be had from the best players to come out of the auction endgame every year.

Table 2: The Cream of the Crop: Best $1-3 Auction Hitter Buys, 2009-2013

Year

League

# of $10+ Earners

Value

Salary

+/-

2009

AL

4

$74

$10

64

2009

NL

11

$170

$25

145

2010

AL

8

$114

$16

98

2010

NL

14

$205

$24

181

2011

AL

8

$118

$12

107

2011

NL

15

$216

$21

195

2012

AL

7

$102

$13

89

2012

NL

14

$234

$24

210

2013

AL

8

$111

$14

98

2013

NL

10

$153

$13

140

Table 2 looks only at the success stories from the past five years. This is obviously a more selective picture, but keep in mind that this discussion is focusing on mining for future talent. At the end of May or beginning of June you’re not crossing your fingers on a cheap auction gamble but rather targeting the likely success stories.

With the exception of 2009 in the American League, there is typically enough value to found at the end of the auction to provide significant value during the season. This is the Holy Grail for fantasy owners: The cheap end-of-the-auction player who turns into a core member of your fantasy team. It doesn’t happen often—which is why you need to spend wisely at the beginning, middle, and end of your auction—but it does happen.

One of the biggest arguments against targeting players like this in dump deals is that they are flukes, and unlikely to hold their value the following year. However, the data from the last five years mostly contradicts this belief.

Table 3: Best $1-3 Auction Hitter Buys, 2009-2012 One Year Later

Year

League

Value

Salary

+/-

Next Year’s Value

% of Prior Year’s Value

2009

AL

$74

$10

64

$64

86%

2009

NL

$170

$25

145

$160

94%

2010

AL

$114

$16

98

$45

39%

2010

NL

$205

$24

181

$165

80%

2011

AL

$118

$12

107

$62

53%

2011

NL

$216

$21

195

$159

74%

2012

AL

$102

$13

89

89

75%

2012

NL

$234

$24

210

$194

83%

Totals

$1,233

$145

1089

$938

76%


The American League had a subpar rate of return in both 2010 and 2011, but for the most part the cheap and surprising buys held most of their value the following season.

Before you decide to run out and try to hoard this year’s best $1 buys, it is worth noting that this is not the most dynamic group of hitters in the world. There are a total of 99 hitters from 2009-2012 included in Tables 2 and 3. Their average value was $12 the year they were purchased. Their average value the following year was nine dollars. I’m not sneezing on an eight-dollar profit from a freeze, but keep in mind that most of these freezes are not going to catapult your team to the promised land by themselves.

However, because so many focus almost entirely on looking for the next Springer or Trout, there is definitely a buying opportunity with these types of players. If you can pick up three or four “marginal” freezes who can each deliver $5-6 worth of profit, it is another way to build a foundation for next year’s contender.

Mike Gianella is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Mike's other articles. You can contact Mike by clicking here

Related Content:  Fantasy,  Endgame

8 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Wil... (05/28)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Wil... (05/28)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Suc... (06/03)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Closer Report: Week Ni... (05/28)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article What You Need to Know: August 31, 2015
Premium Article Monday Morning Ten Pack: August 31, 2015
Fantasy Rounders: Socking Jay
Premium Article Rubbing Mud: Don't Mess With Texas
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: August 31, 2015
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Sometimes You Hit the ...
Premium Article In A Pickle: Rookie of the Year Fun Facts

MORE FROM MAY 28, 2014
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Wednesday, May 28
This is Not Your Father's Baseball Road Trip...
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Tuesday, May 2...
Premium Article Perfect Game Presents: 2014 MLB Draft Rankin...
Fantasy Article Deep Impact: Week Eight
Fantasy Article Closer Report: Week Nine
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Will Carlos Santana Heat ...

MORE BY MIKE GIANELLA
2014-06-02 - Out of the Park (OOTP) Baseball 15
2014-05-30 - Fantasy Article Free Agent Watch: Week Nine
2014-05-29 - Premium Article The Call-Up: Tommy La Stella
2014-05-28 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Success Stories in the En...
2014-05-22 - Fantasy Article Free Agent Watch: Week Eight
2014-05-20 - Flags Fly Forever Podcast: Ep. 20: The One T...
2014-05-19 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: My Closer Lost His Job an...
More...

MORE FANTASY FREESTYLE
2014-06-05 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Keeper League Purgatory
2014-06-04 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Profiling Alex Reyes
2014-06-03 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Success Stories in the En...
2014-05-28 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Success Stories in the En...
2014-05-28 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Will Carlos Santana Heat ...
2014-05-22 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Representativeness, Valua...
2014-05-22 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Dallas Keuchel: Sell-High...
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2014-06-03 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Success Stories in the En...