The Fantasy Baseball Price Guide —

Last Player Picked

Mays Copeland has made a player rater. He has explained how he derives the values of the rater, and how he prices those values. He’s made some software that makes it easy to customize those ratings and prices for your league. He has also, most impressively, created an interface that allows the user to use a variety of projection systems (Marcel, CHONE, ZIPS, others I’m forgetting, and even a composite of them all) to create a list for their league’s format. 

The problem? The smell test. I ran the numbers for my Tout Wars NL league and the answers stunk. JJ Putz was named the fourth most valuable closer in the NL, by virtue of his 19 saves (!). F-Rod ranked first, with a projected 35 saves. The cloud, it seems, doesn’t always compute. Will Albert go for $49, as the PG suggests? In a word, no. But that isn’t the mistake (it is only a symptom).

Bid prices are different than projected values. Ignoring this truism means imagining that Johan Santana might be worth $48, as the LPP site suggests, but we all know that is wrong, even if Johan is healthy, which he may not be.

The problem is that there is no automatic pricing system based on projections that is going to properly price players for auction. Why? Because projections are, inevitably, 25  percent (or more) wrong. Even my projections aren’t perfect. We value projections because they fix for us what a player is expected to do, but what matters are the prices everyone else is willing to pay. And how our expectations stack up against them. That market evaluation is where the heavy lifting of draft prep comes. It combines the information in the projection with our assessment of risk, and filters it through our knowledge about the league we play in.

A system that projects Santana for $48, when he will not go for more than $38 in your league, is failing to properly allocate $10, compounding the effect of the error.

I dig Mays Copeland’s efforts, and maybe he isn’t selling the Pricing Guide as a list of bid prices, but rather as a way to compare different sets of stats (projected and real), though that wasn’t what I took away. My problem is that when he disses other sites, like the rototimes player rater, he offends me. Actually, he makes me an enemy. It isn’t that the rototimes rater is perfect, it isn’t, but it’s a lot better than anything Mays has come up with. His strict adherence to category scarcity blithely ignores the way people actually play the game. 

From the spirit of his site, I would think Mays would find ways to improve the rototimes rater. but instead he chooses to diss it and promote himself. That would be okay if he got it right. Mays hasn’t yet.

Update: I went back and checked his 2008 prices, figuring that would be a better test of the Price Guide. It is better. The Putz problem is a result of the projections, not anything the pricer is doing wrong, but he’s still giving Steals and Saves full value, so he prices Mariano Rivera at $49 last year. That is probably correct in a math sense, but doesn’t reflect the way the game is played. Also, his 2008 stats have Matt Holliday in the AL, which makes them useless for evaluating what actually happened last year. So, an interesting efffort showing some promise, but there are kinks to work out.

3 thoughts on “The Fantasy Baseball Price Guide —”

  1. Peter,

    There is definitely a disconnect between the Price Guide values (theory) and real-life auction values, and it’s an issue I’ve spent a lot of time pondering, without coming up with a lot of answers. (For one example: I could obviously force the Price Guide to give values more in-line with what’s expected, but doing so still doesn’t satisfy my questioning.

    Regarding the Player Rater, I apologize if my comments were offensive; that was not my intent. When I critique the other dollar value systems I see, my goal is toward creating more accurate values — either an improvement for them or an improvement for the Price Guide. I am sorry that I didn’t do a good job of expressing something that was really meant to be constructive.

  2. I took offense because your comment wasn’t constructive, it seemed dismissive and boastful and flew in the face of the idea of your exploration. The RotoTimes pricer does a pretty good job of giving “real” prices, which I assume comes from building off of McGee’s standings gains. I’m not down with the theory there, but it does weight the categories differently from one another.

    Why do I like that? Because a price list is going to value the stuff in a linear way, and Saves and Steals are not valued in fantasy league drafts and auctions linearly.

    Anyway, I like your investigations and wish you luck figuring it out.

  3. I just wanted to add that I stopped by the RotoTimes rater the other day, and something new is wrong. In 5×5 NL it had Chris Carpenter and Jonathan Broxton, with the same IP, WHIP and ERA, with almost identical prices, even though Broxton had 15 saves to Carpenter’s none.

    They’ve also changed the presentation, so that you can no longer see the value of each category. That makes the screen cleaner, but it obscures the values from which the ratings are derived, making them harder to check.

    My defense of the RotoTimes rater does not extend to this year’s model.

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