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February 18, 2011

Fantasy Beat

Scoresheet - A-Rod or Stephen Drew?

by Rob McQuown

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The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. 

-Proverbs 12:15

I do try to be wise about my fantasy gaming, especially Scoresheet Baseball.  And BP Kings has presented an interesting case of at least two smart people questioning a decision I recently made.  With the draft for that league beginning today, and drafts everywhere beginning this week or in the ensuing two weeks, the question makes an interesting touchpoint for evaluating players in a context such as Scoresheet keeper leagues, where a significant portion of talent can be retained from year to year, and player salaries are not an issue.  Anyway, here's what unfolded:

In the recent redistribution draft, I traded for the fourth pick and took.... Stephen Drew.

On another blog, Sky Kalkman openly questioned that pick (Jason Heyward, Chase Utley, and Adam Wainwright were the first three players taken and Alex Rodriguez and Victor Martinez immediately followed), and as his recent post indicates, he believes that Alex Rodriguez is clearly better.  And he's not the only one–a poster on the Scoresheet forums suggested that if he was in the BL Kings league, he'd, um, let's just say “do very well”, with a comment about A-Rod.

These are smart people–Sky doesn't have the Scoresheet experience, but clearly knows baseball.  And I have no doubt that the forum poster would indeed do quite well in the 'Kings league, based on his other posts.  So, what was I thinking?  Is there a lesson to be learned here, other than that I could have possibly made a profit by trading down a pick (with Sky) and having both of us take the same players anyway? 

Looking first at next-season (2011) value, it's important to remember that WARP is not fully correlated to Scoresheet value; so as a proxy, a run estimator based on rate stats will be used, with the offensive stats adjusted for Scoresheet defensive range compared to average (5.5 OPS points per .01 defensive range).  All 250-plus PA shortstops and third basemen are listed, ordered by R/G, not +wins:

Shortstop

PA

SS

AVG'

OBP'

SLG'

R/G

vsR

vsL

+R/G

+runs

+wins

Troy Tulowitzki

600

4.85

.330

.395

.554

8.09

7.88

8.59

4.44

69.8

7.0

Hanley Ramirez

674

4.67

.282

.363

.467

5.86

5.99

5.52

2.20

38.9

3.9

Yunel Escobar

650

4.83

.303

.368

.421

5.51

5.46

5.63

1.86

31.6

3.2

Alexei Ramirez

600

4.81

.292

.331

.441

5.11

4.76

6.13

1.46

22.9

2.3

Stephen Drew

650

4.74

.272

.332

.445

5.03

5.46

3.92

1.37

23.4

2.3

Rafael Furcal

519

4.79

.284

.349

.391

4.73

4.63

5.00

1.07

14.6

1.5

J.J. Hardy

500

4.78

.270

.325

.421

4.64

4.70

4.49

0.99

13.0

1.3

Jimmy Rollins

600

4.78

.265

.322

.423

4.59

4.53

4.74

0.94

14.7

1.5

Jed Lowrie

451

4.77

.251

.341

.404

4.56

4.33

5.13

0.90

10.7

1.1

Jose Reyes

601

4.71

.265

.323

.392

4.27

4.17

4.60

0.62

9.7

1.0

Elvis Andrus

650

4.82

.286

.340

.359

4.23

4.06

4.69

0.58

9.9

1.0

Jason Bartlett

560

4.78

.271

.333

.362

4.10

3.86

4.68

0.44

6.5

0.6

Starlin Castro

650

4.73

.281

.315

.377

4.09

3.77

4.97

0.44

7.5

0.7

Derek Jeter

620

4.68

.263

.331

.365

4.06

3.56

5.41

0.40

6.6

0.7

Marco Scutaro

432

4.76

.263

.337

.355

4.02

3.90

4.35

0.36

4.1

0.4

Clint Barmes

600

4.81

.258

.304

.395

4.01

3.74

4.75

0.36

5.6

0.6

Brendan Ryan

344

4.87

.276

.322

.350

3.86

3.86

3.87

0.21

1.9

0.2

Asdrubal Cabrera

565

4.70

.260

.317

.361

3.83

3.87

3.71

0.18

2.6

0.3

Ian Desmond

575

4.72

.255

.300

.384

3.83

3.60

4.44

0.17

2.6

0.3

Alex Gonzalez

500

4.78

.249

.291

.394

3.78

3.81

3.70

0.13

1.7

0.2

Alcides Escobar

620

4.75

.272

.306

.358

3.73

3.51

4.32

0.08

1.3

0.1

Jhonny Peralta

600

4.70

.241

.304

.373

3.70

3.57

4.02

0.05

0.7

0.1

Jack Wilson

450

4.84

.275

.310

.349

3.69

3.58

3.98

0.04

0.5

0.0

Paul Janish

458

4.78

.246

.314

.358

3.69

3.49

4.21

0.04

0.5

0.0

Replacement

 

 

 

 

 

3.654

 

 

 

 

 

 

Third Base

PA

SS

AVG'

OBP'

SLG'

R/G

vsR

vsL

+R/G

+runs

+wins

Ryan Zimmerman

650

2.74

.308

.376

.500

6.73

6.99

6.63

2.54

43.3

4.3

Evan Longoria

665

2.75

.292

.371

.501

6.51

7.32

6.18

2.32

40.5

4.0

Alex Rodriguez

600

2.62

.265

.362

.505

6.16

6.12

6.16

1.97

31.0

3.1

David Wright

650

2.66

.285

.373

.465

6.01

8.03

5.40

1.82

31.0

3.1

Adrian Beltre

650

2.74

.301

.347

.477

5.86

6.87

5.47

1.68

28.6

2.9

Ian Stewart

550

2.67

.269

.347

.483

5.68

4.40

6.14

1.50

21.6

2.2

Chipper Jones

519

2.62

.270

.379

.429

5.51

5.82

5.39

1.33

18.1

1.8

Aramis Ramirez

550

2.61

.270

.338

.470

5.40

6.04

5.19

1.21

17.5

1.7

Scott Rolen

560

2.71

.285

.354

.439

5.39

6.28

5.04

1.20

17.7

1.8

Jose Bautista

708

2.61

.237

.335

.476

5.18

5.39

5.10

1.00

18.5

1.9

Pablo Sandoval

600

2.59

.283

.331

.446

5.10

4.99

5.14

0.92

14.5

1.4

Martin Prado

680

2.65

.294

.340

.418

4.99

5.32

4.85

0.81

14.4

1.4

David Freese

550

2.67

.274

.333

.431

4.90

5.41

4.70

0.72

10.3

1.0

Casey McGehee

650

2.64

.272

.329

.434

4.86

5.69

4.56

0.68

11.5

1.2

Jose Lopez

565

2.70

.289

.314

.433

4.73

5.35

4.50

0.55

8.1

0.8

Jeff Baker

314

2.66

.270

.328

.420

4.67

5.77

4.18

0.49

4.0

0.4

Pedro Alvarez

600

2.61

.244

.319

.446

4.67

3.61

5.08

0.48

7.6

0.8

Danny Valencia

550

2.68

.281

.326

.405

4.55

5.53

4.18

0.37

5.3

0.5

Chase Headley

600

2.70

.266

.341

.395

4.54

3.97

4.80

0.36

5.7

0.6

Mark Reynolds

600

2.59

.221

.315

.450

4.51

5.19

4.27

0.33

5.1

0.5

Omar Infante

650

2.65

.288

.337

.381

4.47

4.41

4.50

0.29

4.9

0.5

Casey Blake

550

2.68

.256

.329

.400

4.38

5.63

3.96

0.20

2.9

0.3

Placido Polanco

610

2.67

.288

.328

.378

4.32

4.45

4.26

0.13

2.1

0.2

Michael Young

692

2.59

.268

.320

.398

4.31

4.80

4.12

0.13

2.3

0.2

Replacement

 

 

 

 

 

4.183

 

 

 

 

 

The above AVG', OBP', and SLG' are the adjusted values for batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage modified by defensive range away from average (4.76 at shortstop and 2.65 at third base).  The first thing that jumps out is that A-Rod is indeed projected to be a high-impact player in 2011, fully 3.1 wins (using a crude 10 runs/win ratio) above “Scoresheet replacement” level!  PECOTA shares some of Marc Normandin's optimism that A-Rod's hip is back, and–obviously–that his ballpark will help a ton.  Stephen Drew gets a slight wins bump (compared to runs per game) for being projected at 650 plate appearances, compared to 600 for A-Rod. 

In his blog post Wednesday, Sky tersely dismisses any position player value more than five years in the future.  And, frankly, that is very wise advice which I will heartily reiterate here.  One could argue convincingly that five years is more far-looking than necessary for most fantasy contexts, but it's a good enough balance to be a functional guideline.  So, that leaves the Rodriguez versus Drew debate hinging on the answers to two big questions:

  1. How much time-value do you give “wins”?  In other words, if Drew can be expected to post +2.3 win seasons for the next three years, how do the +2.3 wins in 2012 and 2013 compare to those in 2011? Combining the cascading uncertainty of subsequent seasons with the fact that players doing well in the present season can usually be traded to good benefit, a factor of 10 percent depreciation per year has always seemed to work when I've built teams in the past.  In cases like the one I'm in for the 'Kings league, I tend to be more willing to call it almost 0 percent for the first year, but 10 percent thereafter. 
  2. Will Drew be able to make up the -0.8 wins he's giving up in 2011 in the following four years?  Drew's ages will be 28-32, while Rodriguez's will be 35-39 over the five-year span. 

To be honest, given that A-Rod is one of the best players in the history of the game, the prospects do seem pretty grim for Stephen Drew to make up the projected win deficit he's expected to accrue in 2011; it would almost require that Rodriguez's physical condition deteriorate quicker than expected.  And this is a good reminder that great older players can still retain a ton of value.

So, I was wrong?  Well, yes, but.....

Even in breaking down the values as shown, many factors suggest that this move wasn't the complete waste of assets it appears on the surface:

  • I have Ryan Zimmerman.  And so far, the best trade offers have been for about 60 percent of his value.
  • Stephen Drew hits right-handed pitching hard.  As can be seen from the chart, his defense-adjusted R/G against righties is as high as everyone besides Troy Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez, and far ahead of the fifth guy on the list (Alexei Ramirez).  Since platoon splits are locked in before the season, and active rosters aren't limited to 25 players (as in MLB), it will always be easier to find players who hit lefty pitching better, so Drew's weakness that way is less significant than it would be in real life.
  • The team is bad this year, and older players have reduced trade value in the 'Kings league.  So, the notional (projected) 0.8 wins I'm losing aren't going to matter much, and my impression was that it would be difficult to get full 2012 value for A-Rod, though maybe that was an overreaction on my part.
  • Sure, A-Rod looked good at the end of the year, but that was a serious hip injury he sustained. If I'm playing for 2012 and beyond, Drew seemed safer, even though he misses some games every year.

I admit to making the trade for the distribution pick on a whim, since I had far more prospects than I could use or keep, and I liked the offer I received.  So, it's a little less embarrassing to admit that the choice wasn't maximally efficient, and I am glad to have Drew, and feel that he's somewhat underrated as a Scoresheet commodity as long as he stays in hitter-friendly Arizona.  And, really, having players you like is part of the fun of these games, though winning is always fun.

Feel free to ask draft questions in the comments here, as I'm much more prepared for the 2011 Scoresheet season now than when the dispersal draft took place.  And follow along with the 'Kings draft, which kicks off tonight at 7:25 PM ET.

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

Related Content:  Scoresheet,  Stephen Drew,  A-rod

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