...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

March 28, 2004

annika's Secret Fantasy Baseball Player Ranking System

i can't wait for baseball season to begin. One reason is my new, as yet untested, secret fantasy baseball player ranking system. After two sub-par finishes in Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball leagues, i have decided on a more scientific approach. Okay, quasi-scientific. i don't have enough free time to develop a really scientific system.

Because i love you, i'm going to let you in on it. The system is based on the fact that the Yahoo! public leagues rely on only five offensive* stats: batting average, runs, home runs, RBIs, and stolen bases. The fantasy baseball guides out there (i'm using Lindy's) have their own ranking systems that take into account additional stats that are irrelevant to the Yahoo! leagues. Therefore i didn't think the comprehensive rankings should be trusted to pick the most useful players according to the more limited Yahoo! categories.

Another important point, of which all fantasy baseball players are aware, is that you are forced to pick players from each position category. Catchers are, by nature of their position, going to produce lower stats in the five categories, than say outfielders. Unless you get someone like Pudge, but there's only one Pudge. Still, you are forced to fill one spot on your lineup with a catcher, and there are only a few quality catchers out there.

If there are 12 teams in the league, chances are i'm not going to get Pudge. Some other fool is going to try to draft him in the first round, so i'd never put him on my list. i need to figure out a way to pick the best player with regard to the five categories, but a player that the other league members might overlook.

For example, here's how the Lindy's guide ranks catchers:

  1. Mike Piazza

  2. Javy Lopez

  3. Jorge Posada

  4. Ivan Rodriguez

  5. Mike Lieberthal

  6. Jason Varitek

  7. A.J. Pierzynski

  8. Jason Kendall

  9. Ramon Hernandez

  10. Bengie Molina

  11. Paul Lo Duca

  12. Charles Johnson

  13. Benito Santiago

  14. Jason LaRue

  15. Toby Hall
According to my quasi-scientific system, here's how i would rank the catchers:
  1. Ivan Rodriguez

  2. Jason Varitek

  3. A.J. Pierzynski

  4. Javy Lopez

  5. Jorge Posada

  6. Mike Lieberthal

  7. Jason Kendall

  8. Ramon Hernandez

  9. Benito Santiago

  10. Bengie Molina

  11. Jason LaRue

  12. Paul Lo Duca

  13. Greg Myers

  14. Charles Johnson

  15. Mike Piazza
You can see that my system drops Piazza from first to fifteenth, which might seem incredible to you. First off, i've never been a big Piazza fan. As a baseball player, he's selfish, he's not a leader, and he seems aloof and disinterested most of the time, unless somone's chucking a bat at him. As far as stats go, he just didn't do it last year. Sure, i'll admit Mike was injured and missed three months. If he returns to form, he'll probably be a great fantasy pick. But my system has no sympathy for injuries; that's the "scientific" part of my quasi-scientific system. Anyways, let the crowd go after Pudge and Piazza, i'm looking for the dark horses.

What i do first is determine the top ten players in each statistical category. i do it a little different than most statistical tables, so my list yields a few more players when there's a tie. Normally, the statistical tables will count each tied player towards the total ten in the top ten. So you'll might see numbering like: 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 6, 7, 7, 7, 10. Since i don't care how many guys are on the list, as long as their stats are in the top ten, i won't skip over numbers like that. Thus, if there's any ties, my list would include guys who might be lower on another statistical list. Using the example above, my list might look like this: 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, and so on. Using my system, the tenth player on ESPN's or Lindy's list would be the sixth player on my list in the above example.

i do this ranking for each offensive category that Yahoo! uses. This way, i can see if a player will help me in stolen bases for example, even if his sucky stats in other categories make him less desirable in non-Yahoo! leagues. i don't really care about a guy's on base percentage or his total hits, since Yahoo! doesn't use them.

Once i find the top ten stats for each category i assign a cutoff number, which is the tenth stat in the list. For instance, the tenth highest amount of runs by a catcher (using my top ten list) was 52, by Cincinatti's Jason LaRue. Then i go through the list of all players in a specific position and assign a point to any player who's stat for that category is in the top ten for other players within that position. (It does no good to rank, say catchers against outfielders on stolen bases; you'd never see a catcher in the top ten.) Therefore, i would give one point to all catchers with 52 or more runs.

Once i go through all five stats, on all players in a position, i get a number ranging from zero to five. Additionally, i'll give a break to guys who are close to the top ten in a certain category, or who did poorly due to injury, yet had a good 2002 season. Instead of a point for that particular stat, i'll give those guys a "+." If a player has a plus, he will automatically move to the top of the list for players with his 1-5 point total. For instance, Mike Piazza got only one point from my system (his batting average was in the top ten for catchers last year), but i gave him a "+" in three other categories because of his past performances. That put him at the top of all the other “one point” guys on my list.

Here's my catcher's list with my point system attached:

  1. Ivan Rodriguez (5)

  2. Jason Varitek (5)

  3. A.J. Pierzynski (4+)

  4. Javy Lopez (4)

  5. Jorge Posada (4)

  6. Mike Lieberthal (4)

  7. Jason Kendall (4)

  8. Ramon Hernandez (4)

  9. Benito Santiago (3+)

  10. Bengie Molina (3)

  11. Jason LaRue (3)

  12. Paul Lo Duca (2+)

  13. Greg Myers (2+)

  14. Charles Johnson (2)

  15. Mike Piazza (1+)
After assigning pluses, i rank guys with the same amount of annika points by their ranking according to Lindy's.

There's still some brainwork that needs to be done. That's the "quasi" part of the quasi-scientific system. For instance, what do i do with Atlanta's catchers, Eddie Perez and Johnny Estrada? Eddie is ranked higher than Johnny on my system, but Johnny is expected to be in the starting lineup this season. Obviously i'd want Johnny rather than Eddie, since he'll have more at bats. That's where my system needs some tinkering.

Another potential flaw is that my system relies on the previous year as a predictor of future performance perhaps too heavily. The sophmore slump isn’t taken into account, nor are potentially good rookies or veterans who are on the downhill side of their careers. i try to minimize this by adding or withholding a “+” when the opportunity exists.

But all in all, i think my secret system is good for identifying the dark horses among the rankings put out by the magazines and websites. It's time consuming to go through all the positions and assign points, then rank them. i've been doing it little by little for the past few weeks, during my breaks at work.

i think i'll put Jason Varitek or A.J. Pierzynski at the top of my draft list as catcher, since they seem to have been under-rated by both Lindy's and Yahoo!'s ranking systems. Actually, i had A.J. on my last two fantasy teams and he's always been good to me. Now that he's on the Giants, i have another reason to like him.

On the other hand, Varitek is a solid player on an American League team that will be a contender again next year. His power numbers are better than A.J.'s but his batting average is not as good. They each crossed the plate 63 times. Tough choice; i can't decide yet. Tune in later if you're curious. i'll post a link to my team on the sidebar, like i did last year.

* i haven't used my system for pitchers, but the same concept should probably work on them, with a few adjustments to distinguish the value of relievers as opposed to starters.

Posted by annika, Mar. 28, 2004 |
Rubric: Sports


Quite a passionate presentation.

I'm willing to bet that there are also magazines out there (or soon to be published) that can also help in ranking players.

Good luck to u! :)

Posted by: Mark on Mar. 28, 2004

Another baseball fan at MuNu! Alrighty then!

I'm doing an analysis on the greatest hitters of all time over at my joint. Come by and let me know what you think.

I was going to try to do a fantasy league myself, but I think I'll miss the boat this year. Maybe I'll just watch your team and see what the hell is supposed to happen!

Posted by: Madfish Willie on Mar. 28, 2004

damn that's alot of analysis. ...damn...

...you should put LoDuca higher up since he is going to have a breakout year, plus he'll probably get some time at 1b and OF too. Good hitter, good guy. i'm biased because he is a dodger as you know.

public league? i did a private one last year but no one besides mean really played in it the lazy bastards...

Posted by: Scof on Mar. 28, 2004

Lo Duca? Yah right, just as soon as Beltre has his long awaited break out year. i won't hold my breath.

Posted by: annika on Mar. 28, 2004

Annika where were you when I needed you to help me prep for my own baseball fantasy league? I was wire to wire last place last year, and hoped to improve this year. If I had had access to your super secret system I might have done better in my auction on Saturday. Alas, another season is wasted for me.

Posted by: The Maximum Leader on Mar. 29, 2004

A heads-up to fellow annika denizen baseball nuts about the kick-ass documentary Up For Grabs, which I had the pleasure of seeing at a film festival a few weeks ago. The film is about the battle for the Bonds #73 home run ball between Patrick Hayashi and Alex Popov. Although perhaps SFers and ex-SFers like annika are sick of the story, the documentary is quite fascinating and extremely entertaining. I'm not entirely sure if it has a distribution deal yet, but hopefully someone will pick it up (ESPN? PBS?) and make sure it’s shown somewhere, somehow during this year's baseball season.

Posted by: robofrost on Mar. 29, 2004

They both will be great this year! I guarantee it!

Posted by: Scof on Mar. 29, 2004

How about that Cubs pitching staff. ;) Kinda frightening.

Posted by: Mark on Mar. 30, 2004

i've always hated Greg Maddux. He's so smug.

Posted by: annika on Mar. 31, 2004

ugh! My season is already ruined. I knew Prior might be gimpy going into the season, but now I find out that he's going to be out for months and not weeks. D'oh.
You've got a great ranking system, btw.

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