Fantasy owners often like to have a name to associate with their picks in a draft or their purchases at an auction. Shortstop easily calls up the following names: Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez. We all have associations with the names, but Tulo's injury history cost my team valuable points the last three years. He was 11% below an average-producing SS in my 18-team points league, even though people always ranked him in the elite tier of shortstops. He is once again expected to score the highest amount of points at SS in our league, and he is expected to be 27% better than the average-producing points-league SS. (Tulo-629, Average-493)
I am going to avoid diving for names at SS this year, and I will try to focus on skills, even if the name is bland. Research suggests that there are better options at SS in the second tier behind the big names, and I would have drafted the name brand SS that would have scored fewer points than the two other names that should score more points for a cheaper draft/auction price. All three SS are in the same tier, but one will outproduce the others.
Player A is projected for 471 points this year, which is below the 22 points below the average SS in tier one and ranks him at 10/18. He hit .292, smacked 14 HR's, drove in 65 RBI's, and swiped 4 SB last year. He is projected for a similar output in 2015 at .280, 15 HR's, and 61 RBI's. He has the potential and the name to be in the elite tier in a few years if he finds more power, but he hits 45% of his balls on the ground. He swiped 25 SB's in 2012, but he was only successful on 50% of his attempts last year. His value will land between $18-21 in an auction, and pick 90 in a draft, and owners will break even, even though they want to make a profit at each position.
Player B will sell for $10-12 at an auction, and he will be available two-three rounds after Player A. His WAR are similar to Player A's WAR, and he will likely turn a profit for owners that invest in him in 2015. He is not a big target for keeper leagues, but he will be valuable this year. He is projected to score 526 points this year with a .270 average, 9 HR, 66 RBI's, and 19 SB's. His strikes out less than Player A, which matters in points leagues. He also provides similar consistency to Player A in H2H leagues. He was successful on 21/25 SB attempts last season.
Player C will be the last SS taken off the board amongst these three players, but he provides more SB's than Player A, 40 fewer K's than Player A and a .275 average. He is not going to hit many balls out of the park with a 49% GB rate, but he could steal 15-20 bags this year. His strong contact rate will allow him to maintain his value as he ages. A $9-10 investment may return a $6-8 profit and a similar WAR to Player A. He is projected for 460 points at SS, which is only 11 points less than player A, but owners will be able to buy and draft him at a much more reasonable cost.
I would have drafted Player A before my research this week, but Player B will give my teams the best chance to win in 2015 because I will not have to spend a high draft pick on him. Player C will offer below-average value at a below-average cost, and he will not cost my team the championship since he will score 7% below the average SS. Remember that Tulo's injuries even place him below Player C the last three years. When I look at the end result, I know that Player B will offer similar value to Player A at a cheaper cost, 100 picks or $10, so that I can focus on other weaknesses in my 2015 teams. Which one would other owners choose?
Player B is Alexei Ramirez , Player A is Starlin Castro, and Player C is Erick Aybar. Continue to try similar exercises within your own league parameters to establish the players that will give you the most value at each price point in your leagues. As owners, we should let the statistics speak louder than the names.