This year’s model has more than 1200 player profiles written by old friends HC Green, Rob Blackstien, Jeff Zimmerman, Tim McLeod, and JD Bolick, and introducing a newcomer, veteran sportswriter Larry Fine, against whom I’ve been playing rotisserie baseball for almost 30 years.
Rookie profiles were written by the guys above, with additions from Perry Van Hook, Rob Leibowitz, Jeff Winick, and Scott Swanay. Rob put the section together.
You’ll also find more of JD’s unheralded rookies, a bit about the Perfect Pitching Staff by yours truly, and Strategies of Champions by Glenn Colton, Fred Zinkie, Ron Shandler, Alex Patton, and Don Drooker. Good stuff there.
Plus, the mag to have major league and minor league games played.
Finally, an All-Star mock draft, featuring in pick order Zach Steinhorn (Creativesports 2.0), Tim McLeod (Prospect361.com), Justin Mason (friendswithfantasybenefits.com), Doug Anderson (FantraxHQ.com), Todd Zola (Mastersball), Derek VanRiper (The Athletic), Ariel Cohen (FanGraphs), Clay Link (Rotowire.com), Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm), Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ), moi, Ian Kahn (The Athletic), JD Bolick (The Guide), Steve Gardner (USA Today), and Eric Cross (FantraxHQ.com), all commenting on each of their picks. Tim McLeod put it all together, many thanks to him for that.
The Guide also has my fantasy prices and cheat sheet, along with Picks and Pans from Dave Adler, Rob Blackstien, JD Bolick, Ariel Cohen, Buck Davidson, Patrick Davitt, Doug Dennis, Don Drooker, Mike Gianella, Phil Hertz, Tim McLeod, Alex Patton, Mike Podhorzer, Vlad Sedler, Ron Shandler, Zach Steinhorn, Seth Trachtman, and Jeff Winick. So many opinions!
Find the Guide at Barnes and Noble, Wal Mart, and an assortment of drug stores, groceries, and magazine stands across the USA and Canada (though maybe not in Wal Mart in Canada). But there is a convenience store in Atitoken Ontario that is usually one of the first on the continent to put the Guide on sale. You’ll have to decide if it’s worth the drive.
I saw you were editor and chief of my favorite magazine…”The Fantasy Baseball Guide”. We use this as our bible to set values for our league. Because of Covid I realize things may be delayed etc. Could you let me know if the magazine is coming out on time this year? Thank you!
The publisher decided the retail environment was not conducive to publishing the Guide this year, so they have us on hold until next year (we hope).
I’ve been writing profiles and published a full price list and projections yesterday, available to Subscribers to the Rotoman Special at pattonandco.com (pattonandco.com/rotoman). It costs $10. We don’t yet have an automatic link to the prices page for a silly tech reason, but if you subscribe let me know and I’ll send you the link.
I also started a newsletter that contains samples of the profiles. It’s free and you can subscribe at rotoman.substack.com.
Thanks for asking. I’m sorry we don’t have a Guide this year.
I play in a roto 5×5 league which uses OBP instead of BA. Why is Mark Canha rated so low?
First thing, my prices and rankings are for batting average leagues. I’m a big fan of using OBP, it makes total sense to credit hitters with walks, especially when we penalize pitchers for them, but OBP hasn’t caught on yet. So my price, $11, reflects Canha’s weak batting average, not his very good on base percentage.
That said, a few facts argue against that $11 price.
Canha earned $17 last year, and $11 the year before.
He went for $15 and $14 in the CBS and LABR expert leagues this year, both BA leagues, and $16 in Tout Wars, which uses OBP.
My own projection is rosier than any of those carried at FanGraphs, and when you price it it suggests Canha is a $16 player on par in BA leagues, a dollar or two more in OBP leagues.
Absent a transcript of what I was thinking when I priced him at $9 in March, and bumped him to $11 earlier this month in the update, here are the caveats:
He shined last year as a full time player after the break, a career year really, but that’s a small sample after more spotty playing time because he’s generally been weak against lefties. He hit eight homers last year against lefties, good, with a .221 BA. Bad. If he loses at bats he loses value.
He’s 31 years old and falls into that class of player who is older, less athletic, platoonable and more prone to lose his job to younger and more athletic players at any time. And if his gains the last two years are real, he’s a classic late bloomer, a type of hitter who generally falls apart quickly as he ages.
Will Canha lose his job this year? Probably not. Could he match last year’s numbers? Certainly, but is that guaranteed? Far from it, and there is some little risk of collapse.
So, I gave him an $11 price because he’s not the sort of player you want to bid up to his career best price, he’s the sort you want to sneak in after all the sexier choices are gone and the boring choice goes a little cheaply.
Still, $11 is probably a little too pessimistic. That’s the price you want to pay for him, but odds are good in BA leagues he’ll go for $13-15, as he did in the expert leagues that use BA, and $16 as he did in Tout. That’s okay. I’ve bumped his price to $13, because it might make sense for you to pay that at some point. In OBP maybe you want to go $14.
And, of course, if you’re a big fan and you want to take him to $16, that may well work out. So, feel free, but you won’t find me bidding against you if you do.
The biggest news is that The Fantasy Football Guide 2020 is shelved. The publisher was getting too few advance orders from skittish retailers, and so we’re taking a pass for this season. We hope there’s a football season this fall and you can enjoy it without the Guide.
The goal is to be back for baseball come January, if possible.
In the meantime, we have baseball potentially starting up. Updated projections and prices for buyers of The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2020, reflecting the 60 game season and the unbalanced schedule, will be available on July 9th on the Updates and Corrections page here.
Our three-player keeper/yahoo standard roster /10 team league/ daily moves. wants to modernize our standard 5×5 categories for next season, but we can’t come to an agreement.
Either 6×6 adding OPS, QS and replacing S with S+H.
Or 7×7 adding OBP, SLG, QS, Holds separate.
We are expanding the rosters slightly next season as well, and we also don’t want to drop the win category all together.
We don’t know what potential issues we will have with these potential set ups, thanks for your help.
I’m in favor of modernizing, for sure, but you were right to ask, because there are implications worth considering in all your potential moves.
The big one: Do more categories make for a better game? The obvious answer is with more categories you have more verisimilitude. More different players have value doing different things and that’s good, right?
Maybe not. Or rather, more categories means you run into a math problem. Back in ancient times we played 4×4 (no Runs or Strikeouts), but sometime around 2000 it became obvious that more and more people were playing 5×5 (with Runs and Strikeouts). In Tout Wars we switched over and those of us who do player pricing discovered something that makes total sense but wasn’t at all intuitive: More cats mean the most expensive players earn less.
The reason is math. Each category siphons off some value from the players at the top, and gives it to the players in the middle. Last year the game’s premiere strikeout pitcher, Max Scherzer, earned $40 in 5×5 (with strikeouts) and $41 in 4×4 (without strikeouts). Crazy, eh? Be prepared for that.
In other instances, you’re adding redundant categories. For instance, if you add OPS to a league that counts batting average, too, you’re counting batting average twice. And counting home runs twice, too, since they’re a big part of the SLG slice of OPS. I would recommend replacing BA with OBP, so that you count walks on the hitting side as well as the pitching side, and be done with it.
Similarly, adding QS as an extra category in addition to Wins, means starting pitchers games started are counted twice in counting stats (plus strikeouts! That’s three times) and they loom larger in ERA and WHIP as well. This will make good starting pitchers much more valuable, and much more pricey I would think.
Plus, adding Holds to the Saves category makes relievers much less valuable. The reason is supply and demand. Saves have value because there is only one fellow on a team getting a save in any given game. Holds can be spread between two or three pitchers, which expands the pool significantly. With more supply comes less demand, and lower prices. Is that what you want?
In The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2012, I think, Tim McLeod pitched the idea of using Saves + Half Holds as a category, to give recognition to middle relievers, but to continue to venerate those who are able to close games without getting hurt or becoming ineffective. I think this is much better way to go.
And while we’re at that, Wins + Half QS as a single cat recognizes that bad luck can hurt starters who are pitching effectively without destroying the notion that getting a win is something pitchers are trying to do and should be rewarded for.
Okay, so right now I’m on: OBP, Runs, HR, RBI, SB for hitters. ERA, WHIP, W+Half QS, Sv + Half Holds, and Strikeouts for pitchers. Hmm. 5×5.
I guess if you wanted to go to 6×6 I’d suggest adding SLG to the hitting side (count doubles as well as homers) and Innings Pitched to the pitching side, though I fear that doubling up on IP and Ks is going to push too much value to the pitchers again. Tristan Cockcroft has long suggested adding IP and changing Ks to K/9, making it a third pitching rate stat. That does restore some balance to the starter/reliever mix.
Might there be unintended consequences having half the pitching cats be rate stats? There might be, but Tristan swears by this and so it is surely worth a shot.
One other idea: Fielding stats. I know, they’re all flawed, but in fantasy baseball the goal isn’t a perfect reflection of a player’s contribution on a baseball field, but a given valuation based on the stats you choose to count.
Inside Edge has published fielding stats in recent years that track plays based on difficulty. So they have plays rated Impossible (no one can make them), Remote (a 1-10 percent chance), Unlikely (11-40 percent chance), Even (40-60), Likely (60-90), and Routine (91-100). My idea is to add Remote plays as a counting stat.
Last year, Nolan Arenado made 39 Remote plays, two more than Brandon Crawford, who made one more than Manny Machado. This would be a little like Home Runs, events that some players do regularly, but far from every day. Giving value to Brandon Crawford for his defense seems like a worthwhile idea.
The other category would be to count Routine as a rate stat, so every error or misplay on a play everyone should make would hurt your team in that one. Many outfielders and catchers top this list, having not made a mistake on a routine play last year, but there is Rougned Odor in 19th place, the highest ranked middle infielder by far. Let’s give him a hand.
The only problem is that this data is not available from Inside Edge in game, and FanGraphs is not even showing it for 2019. If no stats services have it, it doesn’t exist, so for now this is a pipe dream. But in the future, I’m all in.
Good luck with your decision. I hope you and your leaguemates have a fun discussion.
A reader writes: “How would you equate or gauge the Big Price to a 12 man 5X5 mixed league auction with $260. We play keepers too but that’s really not my issue. The Big Number seems to be about right as most other magazines I’ve seen will list auction prices using that format.”
I’ve answered this question before, and published an article showing how to do the math in 2014. Click here to read that.
But before you do that, you may want to read this.
The prices in The Guide are for a 24-team mixed league, and are intended to emulate the pricing of a deep AL and NL only leagues. The reason I don’t publish AL and NL only prices—the leagues are a little different, which makes the values of their stats a little different—is because when we put together the Guide in December there are usually hundreds of free agents out there. We don’t know who is going to be in which league.
The important thing to remember about deep prices is that the value of the stats, be they homers, RBIs, runs, hits, steals, are linear. That means that every home run a batter hits has the same value. Every stolen base has the same value. Et cetera. The reason for this is because the vast majority of stats that are produced in the whichever league one is playing in are counted in your roto standings. The replacement level is pretty close to nil for any stat category.
In a 12-team mixed league, you’re playing with just 12 of baseball’s 30 teams. You’re only using the half the available stats overall, roughly (this varies by category). This means that a player has to hit a bunch of homers before those homers have any value. And if he doesn’t hit them, there will someone available for free who will.
What this means, practically, is that in a AL or NL only league, the last player taken costs $1. And in a 12 team mixed league the last player taken cost $1. But the last player taken in the mixed league would have cost about $13 in the only league. The chart below shows the prices for players taken in a 15-team mixed auction, likely Tout Wars in 2016, from most expensive to least.
The thing to notice is that the graph goes pretty straight at about the 50th player taken, which supports the observation that after the third round in a mixed draft the players in each round are pretty interchangeable. No matter who someone takes, there’s another player like him still available. But this isn’t so among the best players. They are not interchangeable, and their value drops quickly, as the left side of the graph shows.
When someone takes Mike Trout, there isn’t another Mike Trout out there. There is Jose Altuve, but when he’s gone there isn’t someone similar. By the time you get to the sixth or seventh player the options are not nearly as appealing as the early choices were. In a draft, the compensation is the earlier pick in the next round. In an auction there is no compensation. Those irreplaceable players can only go to the person who pays for them, and that drives their prices up. Hence the steep curve in the graph showing the prices of the best players.
This situation is even more extreme in a 12-team league than a 15-team league. The bottom line is that if you convert the magazine prices to your mixed league size, it is important that you then reallocate money from the least expensive end of the list to the most expensive end, so that you have realistic prices for the Trouts, Turners, and Scherzers in your game.
Your draft day goal is to have a list that shows the prices you’re willing to pay for each available player, and have that add up to the amount of money available in your auction.
You don’t have to buy those most expensive players. In this year’s Guide, Tout Mixed Auction 2017 winner Jeff Zimmerman talks about how the prices for the top guys in that auction were overinflated. He complains that people always inflate the prices of the top guys in mixed auctions, as if that’s a mistake. I think Jeff is such a numbers guy that he only looks at what people earned to determine their price, and from his success you can see that his price list can work. But I think his list worked in spite of his error, rather than because of it.
The bottom line in fantasy baseball is where are you in the standings. Absolutely.
But the bottom line is a moving target as the season goes along. The top performers in the first half don’t usually perform as well in the second half, and some folks we’ve left for dead in the first half reemerge in the second half full of life. All of which aligns with what we know about regression to the mean. If you’re the best (or worst) at something for a little while, you’re likely to do worse (or better) for the next little while.
Top 20 Pitching Profiteers in the First Half of 2017:
Of course, everyone wants to know who is killing their team, as if they didn’t already know.
The Bottom Ten Biggest Losers in the First Half of 2017:
No. 11 is Jason Verlander, BTW. You have to decide whether to bail on bad first halfs by historically good pitchers. I would bet on a better second half for Tanaka and Verlander, and worry more about Tillman and Glasnow.
But Tillman and Glasnow are talented, and history says that if they stay healthy they will have their moments.
Yesterday I posted lists of the Top 20 hitters and pitchers in 2017, sorted by the Most Costly (with 2017 earnings), and the Most Earned (with 2017 prices).
Today I’m dumping the whole spreadsheets, sorted right now by Biggest Profit to Biggest Loss.
The most profitable hitters so far this year are:
The Top Losers? From worst to less worst…
That’s enough, right? These are guys someone paid real money for, and the results have not been good.
Hitters are generally considered more reliable than pitchers, in large part because they do not get hurt as catastrophically as do hurlers. But a look at the Top 20 hitters ranked by auction day 5×5 price shows disasters for owners of Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson, Freddie Freeman and Starling Marte.
Still, the Top 20 hitters cost $695 and earned $491, a better ratio than the Top 20 pitchers.
A closer look at the list shows that most of the attrition is due to injury, and a slight overvaluing of the best players, who also happen to put up big stats even when they’re not having a great season.