A fan of the Yankees, Red Sox, and large sample sizes.
WHY VALUATION MATTERS
One of my favorite aspects of fantasy baseball is the math. Regressing the projections, computing inflation, figuring out dollar values, etc. I often think that I do a little too much of it. But then I get into a draft like last night, and I'm real happy that my dorky hobby helps me do real well with my... dorky hobby.
I've participated in a few Yahoo drafts the last couple days, and last night signed up for a 12 team 5x5 league with an odd group of positions - same 23 players as most leagues, minus a catcher, two outfielders, and a pitcher. Not too weird, right? You can just draft like you normally would, except you don't have to worry about finding a second catcher or drafting those pesky mediocre outfielders.
Wrong. Thanks to the handy Baseball Prospectus Player Forecast Manager, I could quickly see the rankings for this type of league. (If it was a league I really cared about, and didn't have the PFM, I would have computed the values myself and not trusted the BPro stats, but hey.) It was amazing how the value of middle infielders skyrocketed, while the outfielders weren't worth anything.
ARod and Soriano ranked 20 bucks higher than Beltran and Pujols. Nine of the top 14 hitters were middle infielders. Replacement level outfielders? Try Hidalgo, Edmonds, and Larry Walker. Since I know to trust what positional replacement level tells me, I jumped on the middle infielders early and often, worrying about outfielders later. Even catchers aren't all that valuable when you only need one.
Three of my first four picks were middle infielders. Soriano, Jeter, Vazquez (some dude started making "stupid Yankee lover" comments here, and then Kent. I was trying to leave the MI spot open for someone who feel too far. But Kent in the fourth round of a league like this was a major steal.
Then I went on a pitching run, with an 2 OF and a 3B thrown in - Berkman, Beckett, Contreras, Wolf, Ensberg, Benitez, Kearns, Sheets. My OF and CIs don't look as nice compared to other teams, but they're still above replacement, and my middle infield is rivaled by nobody.
Moral: Know the player pool and adjust your values accordingly. (Oh, and by the way, don't draft a catcher as your utility man.)
Side note: In Yahoo leagues with default settings, the members of non-Helton 1B mashers club are not first round picks. Maybe late second rounders. Delgado, Thome, Giambi are pretty much the equivalents of Furcal, Boone, Vidro, Rolen, Chavez, etc. Now, since most people don't realize this, you can let these MI and 3B drop a little bit before you take them, but since it's not hard to find 12 good 1B, it doesn't matter a whole lot which one you get. It is a lot better to have Renteria or Kent than Guzman or Kennedy.
Hmm, this has gotten me interested in writing a full entry about Yahoo leagues. Stay tuned...
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