Thanks to an annual calendar and our current place on that calendar, we can write sentiments such as, “with 2014 soon coming to an end, baseball looks toward the horizon with excitement, knowing the 2015 season soon approaches.” For the fantasy baseball community, even closer than the actual baseball season comes rankings, sleeper, bust, and strategy season. Continuing this onslaught of excitement is the Positional Series that will be rolled out here at Baseball Prospectus. The plan is that this series will roll out using the same format as last season, just bigger and better. One-year, three-year, and dynasty rankings will be produced, players will be profiled, prospects will be analyzed for fantasy purposes, sleepers and busts will be selected, and relevant strategies will be discussed.
This is a safe place and no one would blame you if you were salivating just a little bit (if more than a little bit, one might consider a shawarma or a handful of almonds) because all this information, content, and analysis sounds like a great way to prepare for the upcoming season. Alas, there is a wrinkle here that once ironed out, should further improve this said preparation; that being what we take away from all this information. The first part—the rankings or how players compare—is obvious. The second and potentially more beneficial part—the thinking behind the rankings and analysis—is not as obvious. Below we will take a look at why we are too likely to get caught up in the former, all while overlooking the latter too frequently. We will also take a look at how to improve these tendencies for this upcoming offseason.
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Jason's been thinking about the offseason, including rankings, playoff performances, and pre-playoff non performances.
I’ve been thinking about….. prospect rankings. The time of year is near, and I’ve started to make calls and I’ve started to take notes and I’ve started to put the parts of the machine together. One of the reasons I was never keen on prospect ranking had more to do with the process than the finished product, which, I will admit, has value despite a shelf life that makes it obsolete before you can find comfort in it. The process is the real creature here, as the definition of prospect value is always up for debate, with some offering grand rewards for high ceilings, some for skill maturity, some rewarding proximity to the majors, and some ranking prospects based solely on statistical output. Because value is in the eye of the value beholder, there isn’t a wrong way to organize and rank prospects, as the subjective nature of the process keeps us tied to individual philosophies and category weights. But one shouldn’t assume that all rankings are therefore created equal, and that throwing darts onto a board with prospect faces is a better method of classification than picking up a phone and talking to the industry tasked with prospect evaluation.
Or is it? My eyes have been privy to a few teams’ internal prospect rankings, compiled by their scouts on the ground and their analysts in the office, and even though the process of the product is more complex, I’ve been just as bewildered looking at a team’s list as I have been looking at a Bleacher Report slideshow of the top prospects in the game. The truth is that I’m not sure how the new BP rankings will be received, and even though they will be thoroughly researched and examined, the weight I assign to any specific attribute or characteristic will be based on a personal preference, and as a result, the BP list that I put a bow on will look different than the one Nick would compile, or Jason, or Mark, or Chris, or anybody else who decided to make a list. That uniqueness is both valued and open to exposure, with the latter stemming from the aforementioned subjectivity of the process itself, as each list, regardless of author, is different and therefore inaccurate at some level when judged against the reader’s personal preferences and experiences.
How players were ranked in the free agent compensation procedure in its first years, from 1982-1984.
The free agency season is among us. Major League Baseball released the list of the 100+ free agents over the weekend and we've already seen some action, with C.C. Sabathia opting out of his contract with the Yankees only to re-sign with the Bombers less than twelve hours later. It's a crazy season.
It's also the season when everyone gets to discuss and argue about the less-than-useful Type A and Type B free agent rankings Major League Baseabll gives out each year. For those who follow MLB Trade Rumors, this week's release of free agent rankings wasn't all that surprising, as they have been running their own version of the calculations for years now. For the rest of the baseball-watching public, though, the free agent ranking process is about as clear as Bryce Harper's eye-black. It doesn't help that MLB makes it difficult - if not impossible - to find the formula anymore.
A new way to get combined outfielder rankings--and before the individual rankings have even published!
[UPDATE 2-24 5:08 EST] My starting pitcher rankings (which are publishing on the site tomorrow) were just added to the PFM.
One of the questions I see the most this time of year is some variation of, "Will we see a combined list for your outfielder rankings?" The combined list surfaces sometime after I complete the individual lists--which are written the way they are not because more leagues use left, center and right field designations, but because writing up 120-130 players worth of comments in one sitting is tedious for both the reader and the writer.
A review of Marc's 2010 fantasy rankings for first basemen.
Before the 2010 season, we introduced a few new looks for our fantasy content here at Baseball Prospectus. We shifted our numbered ranking system for fantasy rankings to a tiered model that grouped similarly producing players together rather than ordering them in a much more rigid—and not necessarily reflective—numerical format. We, in many cases, doubled the number of players we were ranking at each position, which (we hope) was more helpful to you, our readers. We also began to review the previous season's rankings, in order to see what lessons could be learned from what we thought we knew, to see if the processes for putting together the rankings were sound. We're bringing back the tiered format this season, but that will come later on—for now, we're diving into the review of the 2010 rankings.
First up is first base, which is where the rankings began. A few things to remember while analyzing my analysis of my analysis: these are not the 2011 rankings—they are just a reflection on the 2010 ones—and the focus here is not so much on whether or not the projections were correct, but whether or not the thinking and process that led me to do what I did was correct. For example, there is literally no way I could have foreseen Jose Bautista's 2010 campaign back in February, but I should have looked at his productive September of 2009 and dug deeper to see if he would be a better player over the old Bautista—as discussed in his Player Profilefrom September, there were some signs he could be better in the future. That doesn't mean I'm going to give extra credit to everyone who finished the year hot, but it does remind me that projection systems don't always know about certain changes in a player, and won't always reflect those changes. With that, let's check out what first base looked like back in February of 2010.
In a process to provide answers, there's some heat to be taken for the pre-season hot corner rankings.
It's time to see where I went right and wrong with my fantasy rankings for third base. These rankings were made during spring training, and this particular series of pieces is meant to review those rankings so we can see what there is to learn from both the process and the results-my hope is that next season's rankings will improve through this, since I'm forced to face the music in a way.
Reflecting on the 2009 rankings for the second sackers and looking forward to the 2010 projections.
Continuing from where we left off last time, this week we will take a look at the fantasy rankings for second base that I made prior to the start of the regular season. Remember, the plan is to see what went right and what went wrong, both in terms of things that cannot be controlled (such as injuries, demotions, etc.) as well as problems with the process (over- or underrating a particular player or skill). First base went well, with just one major mistake, but second base saw a lot of new blood injected into it in 2009, as well as loads of rebounds and surprise seasons. Let's take a look and see how much of that is something we need to pay attention to going forward.
Looking back on the 2009 projections at first base, and seeing what takeaway lessons come of them.
We're handling the offseason's fantasy content a little differently this year, and with good reason. The plan is for me to go through all of the rankings I made in the preseason so that we can see what went right and what went wrong, and see what we, as a group, can learn about the process and how it should be improved for 2010's rankings. I think this kind of transparency will be healthy for the BP Fantasy Beat, as it will give me loads of time to think on my mistakes from 2009 and to judge them appropriately as legitimate errors in the process or see them for what they really were, which is something I, nor anyone else could not foresee-you know, the kind of stuff that happens in baseball hundreds of times a year, the kind of stuff that makes us love the game, but also screws up our fantasy teams.