Outliers: Finding Disagreement With Myself

Creating my initial Bids and my initial Projections are two discrete processes.

For the Bids I sit with a player’s history of Cost and Earnings, look at his age and any injury information, and try to determine how much I think he’s worth and how much I think everyone else thinks he’ll be worth, since everyone else is who I’ll be bidding against. If I’m way higher than I think the market will be, I’ll shave my bid down so that it will win, but not tower above the competition. And if I’m way lower than I think the market will be, I’ll bump my bid up to just below the market. I want to indicate my predilections, but I’m also trying to describe the market as a whole, so the prices are useful even if you disagree with me.

My projections come in two phases. The first is running a player’s historical data, including a bunch of component parts (batted ball data, mostly), through my projection formula, which also takes into account age and league and home field and league. This gives a rough idea of what players will do but has to be adjusted for playing time, and for changes in roles. After those adjustments the projections run in the Guide, and a similar but more complex set (more categories, mostly, and more time to smooth anomalies) run in the Patton $ software, at first. As spring training progresses I tweak the projections manually, mostly for playing time with veterans, but also to deal with differing situations on teams with platoons and competition and as I get a better sense of new players and their roles.

Once the projections are loaded into the Patton $ software they get priced using Alex’s formula, which is an excellent way to discover what the projection formula is telling me, especially when it differs substantially from the bid price. I’ve been going through the lists, looking at some of the substantial differences, assuming that these are players who might be of special interest this year.

HITTERS (Proj$, PK5)

Mike Trout ($49, $41): The bid predated the reports about Trout’s reporting weight. It assumes he’s not going to be nearly as good as last year, but still plenty good. THe projection is a result of increased playing time, even though he’s projected to not be nearly as good as last year. Verdict: Assuming he can run once the season starts, I would be fine standing by the projection, but I think there’s enough risk of sophomore slump and/or other issues that I wouldn’t bid more than $41.

Albert Pujols ($36, $31): The projection is remembering Albert’s past greatness. Age deductions of significance don’t kick in until the mid 30s. He could be great again, but the trend is clear. Verdict: One reason to bid $31 on Pujols is that he could put up another $36 year. But counting on an aging player to keep running is a mistake. I’ve bumped his projection down a bit, especially the SB.


Joaquin Benoit ($15, $1) The bid is wrong. It is the standard bid for a setup guy in 5×5. Especially a guy on a team with a different pitcher named as closer (Bruce Rondon) and at least two other worthy CIW candidates (Al Albuquerque and Phil Coke). But it’s wrong because I’m projecting Benoit to be the closer at some point this year, and to do a good job at it. So, I’m bumping him to $3. That may seem silly, but that’s what he’s worth if Rondon does the job (I doubt it) or one of the other guy ends up the closer. Verdict: Right now Benoit is a closer in waiting. Maybe not even first on line. The reason closers in waiting are valuable is because you don’t pay much for them. So until there’s more smoke, I’m going to keep the bushel on this fire.

Andy Pettitte ($12, $1) He’s 41 years old this year. He only pitched 79 innings last year, and took the year before that off. It’s fine to say last year’s injury was not age related, but not many pitchers stay effective and healthy into their 40s. The projection reflects what he might do if he stays healthy, but the bid is a severe hedge. Verdict: It will be in the $8-$10 range if he emerges from ST in the rotation.

More to come!

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.

The art of making a Rotisserie deal

Mike Pianowski

Let me again recommend an excellent but hard to find Tout Wars essay, this time from the hyper competetive Mike Pianowski. I don’t personally believe him that he’s writing this story for himself, personally, but I think that that only amplifies the content. And I’m pretty sure Mike knows that, too.

Tout Wars — final al

Have at it

A 12 team AL only league auctions players. It should be straight forward, no? But it isn’t. The link takes you to the TOUT WARS AL results. You can decide who shone and who sucked. Feel free to comment if the mood fits.

On Monday I’ll post the NL results, which I was involved in. That is, as a team, scrapping for advantage.

The one thing I know for sure is that your league will vary.


Бейсбол для бейсболистов, тренеров по бейсболу, фанатиков бейсбола и для всех, кто интересуется бейсболом.

What is this page in Cyrillic?

Russian Baseball

I found this page because somewhere on it you’ll find a link to a full version of Michael Lewis’s influentual book Moneyball, which is clearly posted illegally. (Unless I’m wrong about Russian law.)

But what you’ll also find is a variety of Russian baseball love, not all of it IP impaired.

Feel free to comment on the good stuff. And the bad stuff.

MLB team in Ghana

iTeam Blog–New York Daily News

This isn’t really news. MLB has made a PR move into Africa. But that’s a really good thing to do, and that they got Omar Minaya and Dave Winfield among others to go means a lot. I like Reggie Smith’s quote, that the ballplayers in Accra haven’t been overcoached. But I guess the bottom line is I think Africans would be better off is they played baseball, so I’m all for the trip.