The Accuracy of Projections–the hitting optimizer

I participated in my first auction last night, the Cardrunners League, and because we’re using to run the league, you can easily get a chart with the projected stats for each team. I did that and learned that according to the CBS projections my hitting is mediocre (uh-oh, and they’re not as negative on Grady Sizemore as they probably should be) and my pitching is pretty good. Overall, it looks like 75 points or so for my team, which I’ll take.

But then I found on the site, a story by Al Melchior and a widget that lets you graphically compare the CBSsports projections and the Accuscore projections. The differences are striking, and a good reminder that projections give you a very limited amount of information.

You can find out more about my draft at Patton and Co, in the Kevin Gregg discussion.

More Cardrunners Debate, at

In a previous post I wrote about the Cardrunners League I’m playing on, pitting quants vs. so-called fantasy experts. This has become a rather unwieldy mess, in part because the central issues keep erupting into flashes of debate about whether analysis or intuition matters more. The funny thing is that even when there is too much blather in this pissing match, there are interesting issues that come up about what we know and what we don’t know about the game of fantasy baseball itself.

Now, some THTFantasy writers are weighing in at their own site. Derek Carty is also a Cardrunners League competitor, but I like Derek Ambrosino’s take, which makes many of the points I’ve been trying to make, often with more wit. Derek also quotes a Mike Podhorzer piece about what makes an expert, which is a must read. Paul Singman also talks about the problem of identifying which players and which fantasy strategies actually work, which is certainly a huge issue. How do you decide what works if there’s no definitive way to test it?

For my part, I would love a tool that let me test different strategies in thousands of runs, to see what range of possibilities there really are. But I think the Derek defines the nature of the game in a most instructive way when he compares it to chess (a head to head game) and the stock market (a one against many game with many winners and many losers). Roto is a game of one against many with only one winner, which is different. Setting yourself apart would seem to be essential to win, but how is this done? The quants seems to think incrementally, by buying value. I think the so-called experts see more need for radical action, though it is certainly open to debate whether these are genius picks or zagging while others zig. All in all, a fascinating discussion if you have the time.

The Cardrunners Discussion

A couple of weeks back, I wrote about a new league I’m playing in called Cardrunners, after a poker instructional site that is sponsoring it. The league has a blog and home page, which has turned into a lively discussion about two divergent approaches to the game.

Bill Phipps is a poker player and a financial guy, and he thinks the general level of fantasy play is poor. He believes building a model of projections and valuation can help someone beat others consistently. Bill’s posts at the Cardrunners blog are provocative and confident. League organizer Eric Kesselman is a frequent contributor, too, with a sensibility similar to Bill’s, but without the bluster.

Rotowire’s Chris Liss argues that all the information of projections and valuation are shared by all the players in any competent fantasy league, and that the edge goes to the player who has the imagination to see what next year’s cheat sheet is going to look like this year, and draft accordingly. Chris has a post at Rotosynthesis called Lost in Translation: Why your projections and dollar values won’t save you.

One gets the sense that the Bill and the poker players don’t realize how tramped over this ground already is. Maybe I should send them to the Masochists Notes from Alex Patton’s books of the 80s and early 90s. The Masochists chapter that Alex blames for ending his run as a book author is here. It is about a retrospective draft experiment we set up, among other things.