Sorry gang, it is going to be a bit of a short one today. I am in the midst of a huge Platinum content rush. Whoever decided February should only have 28 days was never in the fantasy baseball business.
Last week, we discussed the term scarcity in rather analytical terms, with respect to the number of draft-worthy players available in your player pool. The manner to handle scarcity was mathematical and basically adjusted values using the baseline of the replacement level player of each positional pool. Today, we are going to talk about a couple of other connotations of the term.
It is no secret that I am a big advocate of tier drafting. This is the process of grouping players of like value in the same tier and fundamentally considering them all to be of the same value, then choosing the player from that tier based on categorical needs and what you anticipate being able to pick up later.
There are two primary pieces of information I look for in my tiers. The first is pockets of value. I look for a place where there are several players at the same position of similar value. The idea here is I am fairly confident that I will be able to select a player at this position at a reasonable point in the draft. This allows me to bypass a player at that position and focus on players at other positions.
The other thing I look for is places where there is a steep drop-off of talent at a particular position. This is another means of defining a scarce position, especially if the decline is near the top end of the pool. Here, the idea is to do what you can to pick up a player at this position, before the drop. Perhaps the best example of this in the 2011 player inventory is at shortstop. Troy Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez are the class of the position, and then there is a steep gap until you get to the second tier consisting of Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins, then another considerable void until Alexei Ramirez and Derek Jeter appear. Many will refer to the shortstop position as scarce based on the dearth of talent at the top and the gaps between the tiers.
Some believe there is a means of quantifying this type of scarcity, assigning a value-bump to insure you acquire one of the top players using this definition of scarcity. The means we discussed last week gave every player at the position an equal bump. In order to quantify this form of scarcity, the algorithm would need to favor players at the top. As suggested, this is entirely possible, but in my not so humble opinion, not necessary.
Granted, I have been doing this a long time thus I need to be sensitive to and respectful of the fact that some people need more of a guide while I am comfortable relying on intuition based on years of experience. But, if you keep in mind that values are best thought of as a range, and the deeper you get into a draft, the value of adjacent players get closer and closer. In fact, the values of consecutive players after round four in typical drafts are basically equal. Or at minimum, the error bar associated with the projection masks the static value. This means you can jump down your ranking list a few spots and not be giving back “value”. So if there are a couple of players ranked higher than Alexei Ramirez on your cheat sheet, you can comfortably skip to the Cuban Missile if you are in need of a shortstop. You are not costing yourself any profit.
Another way scarcity is discussed has to do with the available players to replace an injured or under-performing player. Some will refer to a position as scarce if the available free agents at that position are scant or of poor quality relative to the other positions. This occurs mainly in mixed leagues. Those of us that play in AL or NL only, 10 teams or greater, know the free agent class is a cesspool, especially if the league drafts reserves.
Here, each position is replete with drek.
But in shallower mixed leagues, 15 teams or fewer, this can be a consideration, especially early in the season. The thinking here is that you may want to avoid investing an early draft pick or a significant portion of your auction budget on a player at a position where the replacement is weak. At this point, you may be thinking that value is relative and if the free agents of the position are good, the relative value of the players at that position would be depressed, and when it comes to initial valuation, this is indeed the case.
But once the season commences, it is all about stats. And in mixed leagues, you will have an easier time finding a suitable replacement for an injured Hunter Pence or Jayson Werth as compared to Brandon Phillips or Rickie Weeks. Again, this is completely dependent upon the player penetration of your league.
In a similar manner as above, some may want to quantify the effect of having a better player sitting on the waiver wire, to nudge you in the direction of a player at that position. Based on the discussion above, you know where this is going. The same principle applies with regards to adjacent players; their value is indistinguishable. So if you are more comfortable replacing Pence or Werth, take one even if you have Phillips or Weeks ahead of them on your cheat sheet.
That is going to wrap things up for today. Part of the March Platinum content is going to be a look at the available player pool in 15-team mixed leagues, in an effort to decide if there is a strategic advantage to planning around the strength or weakness of the reserve or waiver pool.