The start of spring training sets off many rituals for the serious roto
player, one of which is the rush to create player valuations. While some
fervently favor creating elaborate spreadsheets to assign values based on
predicted stats, many rely instead on hand calculations or even intuition
and experience. Today, I’ll look at the arguments against using a
quantitative valuation system; next week, I’ll cover the arguments in favor
Reason 1: They’re time-consuming.
Any spreadsheet takes time to build, but fantasy valuation spreadsheets are
particularly complex due to the recursive nature of valuation. To build a
reasonably accurate valuation scheme, you have to determine the top N
players (where N is the number of players per roto team times the number of
roto teams) in the player pool, because only that group of players can have
a positive dollar value. Finding that list is a recursive process, where
who that Nth player is may vary, depending on who else is in the pool, and
what else your team may need. Why? Because the relative value of one stolen
base is determined by the number of available stolen bases elsewhere in the
Of course, you can simply estimate who the top N players are going to be,
but that will cost you some accuracy.
Reason 2: They rely on projected stats.
Why are projected stats a negative? Because they’re not all that accurate
themselves, but their very nature implies accuracy. How often have you seen
a news report that says something like “e-commerce sales will total $142.5
billion in 1999, according to Mega Research?” That $142.5 number sure
sounds accurate, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s not – it’s just a guess,
and maybe it’s an educated one.
Using projected statistics to create rotisserie values can give you a false
sense of security when the spreadsheet tells you a player is worth $24.30.
Remember that he could just as easily earn $19 or $29 with only slight
changes in his underlying stats.
Reason 3: They’re inflexible.
With all due respect to folks like John Benson, I am a strong proponent of
real-time adjustments to valuations during the auction. Many knowledgeable
analysts will tell you to stick to your original values, because the
pressure of the auction can cause you to make irrational decisions. That
would be extremely valuable advice if every auction went down just as your
values predict it.
What if you have Ray Durham at $31 and he goes for $24? All of a sudden,
there’s an extra $7 on the table that your remaining values don’t take into
account. These valuation “errors” don’t always net out to zero, and you
need to be conscious of that during the draft so you don’t get caught short
using the wrong valuation baseline.
Perhaps now I’ve talked you out of using or developing a big valuation
system. Tune in next week, and I’ll discuss why you should use one after
Keith Law is the Baseball Prospectus fantasy editor. Feel
free to drop him a line at email@example.com.