This baseball season has seemed odd in many ways, with the Reds and Padres making a charge at the playoffs, what feels like disappointing or surprising seasons for many a player, and, of course, the whole "year of the pitcher" meme that's espoused anytime someone tosses a few zeroes onto the scoreboard. The 2010 season still has a whole lot in common with last year's ball though, as we'll see today by taking a look at the True Average lines for each position.

True Average, or TAv, adjusts for league difficulty, parks, and even includes value for players that steal bases. It doesn't have a 1:1 relationship with fantasy production, given your fantasy team more than likely doesn't care about how difficult it is to hit in Petco or how easy it is to hit a mile above sea level, but it does give you a great sense of positional scarcity. The deeper a position's options, the higher the TAv, and vice versa. You can spot trends by looking at year-to-year TAv, and as stated before, 2010 is similar to 2009, something to keep in mind when thinking about who you should hold onto or target for your 2011 team.

C .253 .323 .393 .254
1B .276 .365 .484 .292
2B .271 .338 .414 .267
3B .266 .340 .425 .270
SS .270 .330 .392 .258
LF .272 .345 .443 .276
CF .267 .338 .415 .269
RF .268 .346 .442 .276
Other .252 .331 .417 .263

Here's the 2009 positional breakdown. Below you will find the 2010 version of this:

C .248 .322 .380 .256
1B .268 .356 .457 .288
2B .266 .335 .391 .265
3B .267 .333 .423 .271
SS .263 .323 .373 .255
LF .267 .336 .423 .274
CF .264 .330 .412 .270
RF .270 .347 .446 .283
Other .249 .325 .406 .264

The offensive lines for 2010 are a bit uglier, but as far as their production relative to the other positions, things have been stable in 2010. There have been slight shifts for a few positions–first base is still easily on top of the offensive pile, but right field closed the gap considerably with a strong showing in 2010. In fact, right fielders have done almost the exact same thing in 2010 as 2009, but with most of the rest of the positions dropping in production, it's been able to stand out more. First base lost nine points of OBP and 27 points of slugging, but just four points of TAv, which should go to show you how offensive lines have dipped in 2010. The reasons behind these drops are things to be looked at in a different article as we try to put context into what's causing it–the league-wide defensive improvement has been very subtle, too subtle to influence the lines this much, and improvements in average strikeout rate have been gradual and over the years, not all at once.

The important thing to remember here is that there are little in the way of differences from a TAv standpoint–the positions that were strongest and weakest from a relative standpoint in 2009 are in the same places this year. There's no world-altering change expected between now and spring training in terms of player movement or promotions, so you can safely think of 2011 a lot like you did 2010 in terms of what positions are deep and which ones are shallow.

Thank you for reading

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Great work, Marc. Though, you're not helping my procrastination issue.
If I'm causing procrastination, I'm doing my job!
Reading this, it occured to me that, while helpful, something that might be more helpful would be restricting this to fantasy-likely players. Taking, say, just the top 24 players at each position. The fact that backup catchers and middle infielders are awful hitters drags down the overall numbers at those positions. How scarce would they be if we included just the players most likely to be starting in a fantasy league. (Or at least drafted and put on the bench.)
It works both ways though, as we have plenty of readers who play in super-deep leagues that require you to draft and roster players you would never think of in more standard leagues. But I'll look into having the data arranged differently so we can see what average is in fantasy terms for a standard league, as you suggest.