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April 6, 2017 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: The PFM and The Model Portfolio


Mike Gianella

Applying PFM valuations to the My Model Portfolio exercise and testing the results against mixed Tout Wars teams.

Every March, at least a few readers ask me “Why don’t you just use the PFM instead of your bids, Mike?”

Over the years, I have answered this question a few different ways. But today I thought I’d take a different approach. Inspired by a reader question last month, I decided to take the Player Forecast Manager's valuations for a 15-team mixed league and apply them to Baseball Prospectus’ My Model Portfolio exercise from March. As a reminder, this is what our authors did in that series.

In the “My Model Portfolio” series, the fantasy staff will create its own team within a $260 auction budget using Mike Gianella’s latest mixed-league Bid Limits for 2017. The scoring is 5x5 standard roto. The roster being constructed includes: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, 5 OF, 2 UTIL, and 9 P.

The Process
In this case, the process is simple. I took my mixed-league bids, took the valuations the PFM spit out for a 15-team league, and posted the results below. I started by using the 23 players who had the biggest differential between the PFM valuations and my bid limits, and kept adding players with less of a differential by position until I reached $260 in salary. As a reminder, every “winning” bid below equals my published bid limits plus one. One-dollar players on my team are those who were not listed in my bid limits.

The only change I made to this exercise is that I added a second catcher to the team and removed the second utility player, since my bids are designed to mirror the Tout Wars mixed-auction format. At the end of the season, I want to test this team not against the model portfolio teams but rather the mixed Tout Wars teams.

The Offense






Gary Sanchez




Brian McCann




Carlos Santana




Josh Harrison




Aledmys Diaz




Jose Reyes




Tommy Joseph




Devon Travis




Billy Hamilton




Andrew McCutchen




A.J. Pollock




Adam Jones




Kole Calhoun




Jacoby Ellsbury






The PFM is far more conservative on the top players than I am, so there are no Mike Trouts on this squad. This goes against what Bret Sayre typically does in Tout Wars mixed, and the approach I tend to take in shallower auctions. Sanchez at $25 is the anchor for the team, but the PFM also is betting on a comeback from McCutchen and for Hamilton to finally achieve his potential.

This is a fairly risk-averse team. Where my bid limits are somewhat cautious with Joseph and Travis, the PFM believes that they’ll be solid contributors. Calhoun and Ellsbury are not the most exciting players, but the PFM thinks that they will at least contribute at the levels they did over the last few years.

The Pitching




Clayton Kershaw



Dallas Keuchel



John Lackey



Jeff Samardzija



Michael Pineda



Michael Shoemaker



Wei-Yin Chen



Matt Andriese



Mike Leake






You can’t argue against purchasing Clayton Kershaw. While my bid limit sits at $42, it is admittedly a compromise with at least three separate goals: trying to spread money across a pitching staff, building in some risk because he is a pitcher, and also giving deference to Clayton Kershaw. I have no qualms with spending $50 or more on him in a mixed format.

The PFM spits out mostly veterans, which isn’t surprising. A former AL Cy Young winner, a reliable-yet-aging workhorse, and a solid arm who had one poor year with the White Sox back up Kershaw at $10 apiece. This is a very strong base for a pitching staff. With a pitching staff like this, my strategy typically would be to bottom out with one dollar starters and spend $77 on the entire staff.

The Prediction

This is the section of the model portfolio where our staff came up with predictions for their teams. For a league that doesn’t play out, going with a balanced team is a solid approach. Something the PFM cannot do that a human can is look for one-dollar fliers that the PFM puts below replacement level. Someone is going to get this year’s Aledmys Diaz—we just don’t know who that is yet.

I will revisit this team at the end of the regular season. Like any “test” of the PFM, it is far from perfect, but this is the goal of the PFM: to build a hypothetical team that is a successful fantasy franchise.

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A look at how to make the most of BP's offerings in tandem with Mike's bid limits.

This column is designed to address the questions I commonly get about my published bid limits here at Baseball Prospectus, how they’re different from the prices in our Player Forecast Manager (PFM), and most importantly why they are useful. It would be impossible to address every question our readers have had about my pricing modeling versus what the PFM is and what it does, so I’ll start with a few of the most common questions our readers have had about both.

Are you planning on using the awful Q&A format for this article?

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A primer on how the Player Forecast Manager and PECOTA projections can guide you before, during, and after drafts and auctions this spring.

Before the Auction

The advice below is designed primarily for mono league, auction formats. However, the same principles apply for mixed league formats as well.

For fantasy players, the unveiling of PECOTA means the simultaneous unveiling of the PFM, our Player Forecast Manager. One of the most versatile valuation tools in the industry, the PFM allows you to customize valuation based on your league’s format. This is particularly useful if you are not playing in a “standard” 5x5 Roto format, as most “expert” commentary (including mine) focuses almost entirely on 5x5, Rotisserie valuations.

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Part two in a two-part series comparing the PFM's performance to those of owners in experts leagues.

Last week, I took a look at how Baseball Prospectus’s PFM did against the CBS, LABR, and Tout Wars expert leagues. Today, I will shift over to the pitchers.

Last week, I concluded that the expert leagues pay too much for the top hitters while the PFM pays too much for the guys at the bottom of the pile. I thought that if you are going to redistribute your money, the best way to do this would be to redistribute it toward the middle, not at the top. I was amazed at how reliable the PFM was at “predicting” the earnings curve for hitters and wondered if the same thing would apply for the pitchers.

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January 30, 2015 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: PFM vs. the 'Experts,' Part One (Hitters)


Mike Gianella

Part one in a two-part series comparing the PFM's performance to those of owners in experts leagues.

Sometimes in these pieces, I delve into a long explanation of what I’m going to write and what I’m going to set out to prove. That’s not going to happen today. I’ve got a lot of tables to produce and a tight deadline so I’m just going to dive right into it. Today’s goal is to take a look at the PFM, take a look at expert prices, and determine whether or not I should be using the PFM more as a tool to devise my bid limits or if perhaps I should chuck my bid limits entirely. How’s that for a attention grabbing lead?

Baseball Prospectus fantasy writers get asked about PECOTA a lot. Some subscribers don’t understand why they should bother with my bid limits when the PFM serves the same purpose as my bid limits but with a more mathematical bent. Others find my bid limits interesting but think that the PFM should be featured more as we approach Draft Day.

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A new edition of Player Forecast Manager for generating in-season and past-season values.

A new version of the Player Forecast Manager (PFM) is now available. It allows you to see what players are worth in your fantasy league based on both in-season and past-season data.

Soon, the regular PFM will be updated with data from the 2013 PECOTAs. However, if you would still like to generate values based on the as-is 2012 stats—or stats from any of the past five seasons—this functionality will be available in the new PFM Year-to-Date (YTD). When the season begins, you will also be able to use PFM YTD to generate values for your league based on 2013 statistics.

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