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ASK ROTOMAN: Should I trade my No. 1 pick? For a lot.

Rotoman!

I have the third overall pick in a 12 team league. Twofold question, I have a trade offer of my First Rounder for a 2nd, 4th and Sonny Gray. Is this good? The guy offering the trade is in the 7th slot. Second, if I keep the pick, Kershaw or Stanton? Assuming Trout and McCutchen go No. 1 & No. 2.

“Two Shades of Gray”

Dear Two Shades:

I have a simple chart to show you why you don’t want to trade your third pick for a 17th, 41st and Sony Gray.

Screenshot 2015-03-09 22.37.39

Those are the prices, in descending order, for players in last year’s Tout Wars Mixed Auction. The things to notice here are the elegant curve of the line. On the left are the most expensive players, and on the right are the least expensive.

The 20 cheapest players cost $1. They’re that flat line to the far right. After that, the line moves pretty much straight up until you get to the 75th or so most expensive player, and then it starts getting steeper. By the time you get to the first 10 or so players, moving cheapest to most expensive, you’re clawing your way up a cliff.

This is the nature of the shallow mixed auction.

A shallow mixed draft is different. Each player taken in order is the best player available. So the price paid is one step down for each player taken. The line is a straight descending line, not unlike the auction values from about 75-336. But compare it to the auction line and you can see that the first 70 or 75 players are a draft’s bargains. And the earlier in the draft, the bigger the difference between the red line and the blue, which means the bigger the bargain.

 Screenshot 2015-03-09 23.41.53

I have to admit, Two Shades, from your description, I’m not sure what you’re ending up in this deal you’re talking about. But if I read it literally, you’re trading your first pick and ending up with two second picks and two fourth picks plus Sonny Gray. I hope that’s the deal, because then it is kind of close.

The marginal value of your five picks after the trade is $31, while you traded away $33 of marginal value. Plus you got Sonny Gray! To make up the diff!

But Sonny Gray’s ADP is 78 right now. That’s the magic point where the blue line crosses the red line. Ergo, Sonny Gray has no marginal value above his draft position. Getting him in trade doesn’t really help you at all.

So, not only are you trading more value to get less value, but you’re using up two more roster slots to do it. There is a recipe for such advice. Don’t do it.

Which takes us to part two of your question:

Kershaw or Stanton?

There is a good argument to be made for saying that Clayton Kershaw has the most value this year of any baseball player in the fantasy game. He’s coming off one of the best pitching seasons of all time, at a young age, during which he missed 15 percent of his starts because of injury. And now he’s healthy. Amazing.

So I think it makes sense to take Kershaw if he’s there.

But I also think you should hope that one of the guys ahead of you takes him and leaves you Trout or McCutchen or Goldschmidt.

If you take Kershaw early you’re going to have a heckuva time adding enough hitting to your mix. It can be done, but you’re going to be sacrificing your big hammer, that is the hitter people are willing to bid up. Whether that’s Trout, McCutchen, Goldschmidt or the other big name first round hitter who has special status because he plays middle infield, these are the guys who make up a big part of that value cliff on the auction chart.

Kershaw is in there, for sure, but somewhere there is another chart that shows that more pitchers will come out of the blue and earn $30 than hitters will. And not a few great pitchers fail at some point.

Which is why, with a Top 4 pick I’ll take a hitter. But Kershaw gets very viable after that.

Sincerely,
rotomansignature

ASK ROTOMAN: Wacha Flocka Cashner?

Hi Rotoman –

Can you explain how prices sometimes do not coordinate with projections? For example below are your projections for Cashner and Wacha:

Cashner: 10 W, 3.53 ERA, 149 K, 1.24 WHIP
Wacha: 9 W, 3.45 ERA, 173 K, 1.16 WHIP

Yet you have Cashner at $16 and Wacha at $8.

Could the difference be perceived risk?

“Wacha Flaka Cashner”

Dear WFC:
In the Fantasy Guide, the projections are a starting point. They’re based on past performance rates regressed toward the mean, with some manual adjustments, scaled to a rough estimate of playing time (which is also regressed). The Projections are my attempt to describe a player using numbers. I hope that they give a sense how hittable a guy is, what sort of control he has, does he hit for average, can he run, that sort of thing.

The Big Prices in the Guide are my attempt to fix a guy’s value against the market. The prices are meant to be advice on who to buy and who to not buy. Essentially, I try to set the price on guys I expect to do well a buck or two higher than their “market” price. And guys I have concerns about, I set a buck or two lower.

It is important to note that the Prices add up to the budget for a 12-team AL or NL league with $260 budget per team. The reason to budget this way is because it helps you track the spending during the auction. If guys are going for more than the bid prices, you know that there are going to be bargains later. If guys are going for less? A bubble is born.

Now, let’s fast forward to March 15. That’s the day I posted the updated projections and prices here, for purchasers of the Guide. The adjusted projections were:

Cashner: 184 IP, 3.54 ERA, 10 W, 149 K, 1.14 WHIP
Wacha: 172 IP, 3.77 ERA, 11 W, 163 K, 1.24 WHIP

Now here’s the interesting part. The price for Cashner in 5×5 is $16. The price for Wacha is $15. But if you translate the above to dollar values, Cashner’s line is worth about $17, while Wacha’s is worth $8.

What happened?

Two things. As we hurtled toward the baseball season I learned that the market for Wacha is red hot. People consistently have him valued higher than Shelby Miller, which I think is a little wacky. It turns out that he tends to be going in the $16-$18 range in startup auctions. If I kept him at my pessimistic $8 price, it would look like a massive overpay when he went for twice that on draft day. But it isn’t really. The low end of the market for Wacha is $16, and I don’t want him at that.

Cashner, on the other hand, is a guy I want at $16. I mean, I’d rather have him at $14, and that’s been his average price this preseason, ranging from $13 to $15, but if I have to go $16 I’m okay with that.

The other thing I did was tinker with the projections to better reflect my perceptions about these two.

Wacha was a fastball/changeup guy last year. That’s it. An excellent fastball, a tough change, and early success, but it’s really hard to sustain a high level of success over multiple times through the lineup with just two pitches. No matter how good they are. My pessimism derives from the limited arsenal and the good chance that as major league scouts and hitters get repeated looks at him, there is going to be some payback.

The reason why most everyone thinks I’m wrong is because Wacha has added a curveball, which he threw a fair amount in his first start this year, and a cutter, which he didn’t throw much. It’s early, the pitches are new, and so there’s a lot we know. If he adds them effectively, he will become every bit the ace he looked like late last year. My bet is there is going to be some adjusting and he’s going to have some rough starts. So I think he’ll allow more hits and runs. We’ll see.

Cashner, on the other hand, is older, more experienced, has a more traditional fastball/slider/change repertoire already in place. I like him being at least as good as he was last year, when he earned $17.

The final word is that this process is one that consists of information, generated by the players that play, the press that follows them and tells the world what happened, and the numbers that describe what they did. This information is distilled by analysts as it comes in and added to both the projection, something of a description of average talent levels, and the market, which filters it all through the lens of risk and reward, which leads to bid values.

The whole process stops, for a few seconds at least, the moment the auctioneer says Sold! And then it starts all over again.

 

LINK: OBP’S Lawr

Mastersball.com’s Lawr Michaels tackles on-base percentage, as Tout Wars’ AL and NL leagues transition to the greatest stat ever! Um, to a better stat than Batting Average. Read it here.

ASK ROTOMAN: How Do I Scale Your Prices Down For My Smaller League?

Hi.

Many people asked this question when the Guide came out, so I wrote up a step-by-step guide here. And many more have asked me in the last couple of weeks.

Read more…

LABR AL Results 2014

Have been posted at Real Time Sports.

What you need to know: Tanaka went for $19. Most expensive starter was Yu Darvish at $28. Scherzer and King Felix were $27.

Jose Abreu went for $24, and Prince Fielder in Texas went for $33. Top hitters were expensive, generally. Pujols went for $29, Manny Machado for $19. Trout was $45, Miggy went for $42.