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Position scarcity: Fact or fiction?

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Position scarcity: Fact or fiction?

Postby Erboes » Thu Nov 06, 2003 12:27 pm

Note: Erboes = Bogalusa Bombers. I finally figured out how to log into this site.

I started thinking about the philosophy of position scarcity while participating in the Shawn Green debate in the other forum and, since I am not one to accept these things blindly, I decided to do some research on the subject. I looked at 2b and catcher, since they are the scarcest. What I did was, tallied the best catcher and 2b's monetary value (as provided by Baseball HQ, a superb -- albeit expensive -- service) with the 36th best OF (the worst starting OF in a 12 team league), and compared the totals to the best OF's and worst starting catcher and 2b totals. I also totaled the 4th best 2b and catchers with the 27th ranked OF's along with the 12th best OF with the 8th best 2b and catcher. I know this is confusing, but bear with me. It becomes clearer when you see the numbers below. I also used monetary values for the '03 season for a 5x5 league instead of pure statistics because it's simpler to compare. Well, this is what I found:

Best 2b (Soriano, $37) + 36th best OF (D. Young, $21) = $58

12th best 2b (Vidro, $18) + best OF (Pujols, $44) = $62

4th best 2b (Giles, $27) + 27th OF (Nixon, $22) = $49

8th best 2b (Castillo $22) + 12th OF (Abreu $30) = $52


Now look at the catchers:

Best catcher (Lopez $31) + 36th OF (Young $21) = $52

12th best catcher (Santiago $9) + Best OF (pujols $44) =$53

4th best catcher (Varitek $17) + 27th OF (Nixon $22) = $39

8th best catcher (Pierzynski $15) + 12th OF (Abreu $30) = $45


I hope everyone has caught on because I ain't doing it again. But there are two truths evident here. Get the great players wherever you can because two good players do not equal one great and one mediocre. Secondly, position scarcity is mostly a bunch of crap, or at least proves it may be a bunch of crap upon further study. Also, keep in mind that if Soriano goes to the OF and unless Piazza and I-Rod find the fountain of youth, there may not be any great players at 2b and catcher anymore, which would make the difference between the best starters at these positions and the worse even more insignificant. If anyone understands this, I would like their thoughts on the subject if they would be so kind.
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Postby Area51's » Thu Nov 06, 2003 12:44 pm

I appreciate your effort, here.

I've always thought that drop off points were more important than position scarcity. If the top 6 two-baggers are SO much better than the rest of the field.....then you either want to get one of the first 6, or it probably doesn't matter who you get.

During my rankings, I try to have areas where all guys are somewhat close, but then drop off.

If I don't get any of those, then I'm grabbing quality elsewhere, and putting the position on the back burner, since you're probably going to wheel and deal w/ that crappy position all season.

Also, if there are relatively few good players in multiple positions, I will try to make pre-draft goals about grabbing one stud at one of the tight positions, say a SS, but then knowing I can't pay/draft for a high catcher or 2B.

Good research here! Thanks for the info.
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Postby Transmogrifier » Thu Nov 06, 2003 12:48 pm

I think tier rankings are the way to go.
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Postby Madison » Thu Nov 06, 2003 12:52 pm

Glad you figured out your login. ;-D

I have a feeling that this thread might hang around for awhile. :-)

I'm curious as to what the numbers would say for the '02 and '01 seasons. Tough for me to throw a theory out the window over one season. I agree that for last year, the money does balance out fairly evenly.

Also, there are great new players coming into every position every year. Jason Phillips could be the next big catcher and will get to start showing it this year. 2B is a lot deeper with breakout candidates: Vidro, M. Young, M. Giles, A. Boone, and don't forget if Kazuo Matsui comes over. A lot of those guys did well last year, but none of them have topped out yet.

All in all, it's best to have the best players at every position, but that obviously doesn't happen. I do agree that you want to get as many guys toward the top as possible, but I still have a hard time sacrificing a position based on 1 year numbers.

Like I said earlier, if we could see how the money values broke down for the last 3 years (you did last year already ;-D ), then maybe the argument holds some water. Right now, we have too small of a sample pool to work with conclusively.
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Postby Arlo » Thu Nov 06, 2003 12:53 pm

Positional scarcity is very, very real, and tiers and dropoffs are a key part of positional scarcity (I don't think you can really spearate one from the other).

Perhaps the best way to show this is to hold a two-team draft, using last year's statistics. One team drafts by positional scarcity, the other by best available player. The team using positional scarcity should win every time...
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Postby Pogotheostrich » Thu Nov 06, 2003 1:16 pm

I'd be interested how you came up with the dollar values. OF really isn't the best comparision because there is 3 times as many players available. So there is going to be a bigger difference between the best and the worst. I difference between the #1 and #12 2nd $19, the #1 and #12 C - $22, the #1 and #12 OF - $14. I would like to see that broken down by position.
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Postby Arlo » Thu Nov 06, 2003 1:26 pm

Just ran through some numbers...

For simplicity's sake, let's only look at hitters (the results don't change, but it saves time :-) ), working with last year's production. The goal is to put together the best possible team, with perfect hindsight.

Team A will draft by positional scarcity, Team B by best available player. Positions are C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OFx3 (no util in order to make the number of players even).

Team A wins the toss and picks first.

The positional scarcity pick is Pujols at 3B, who earned $45 (actually, Pujols would have been best available, too)

Team B then goes with Sheffield (43) and A-Rod (38), the two top producers available.

A then grabs Lopez (27) at C, and Soriano (36)

B counters with Helton (37) and Beltran (36)

A takes Bonds (33), and Ramirez (33)

B lands Wells (also 30), and the rest is just filling the lineup. B adds Posada (14), Boone (30) and Rolen (21); A adds Delgado (32), Renteria (31) and Wilson (28).

A beats B with $262 in value compared to $249. If B picks first, A still wins, $261 to $250. The pick it all hinges on is Lopez, the catcher.

Yes, the two-team example is oversimplified, but the results don't change with a full league with pitching. Don't underestimate positional scarcity. :-)


Ok, time for the best available player folks to rip into me! Great topic! ;-D
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Now we're debating.

Postby Erboes » Thu Nov 06, 2003 1:32 pm

"Like I said earlier, if we could see how the money values broke down for the last 3 years (you did last year already ;-D ), then maybe the argument holds some water. Right now, we have too small of a sample pool to work with conclusively.[/quote]"

OK, Madison, let's take a look at the past three years (Thanks to my handy Baseball Forecaster supplied by Baseball HQ at something like $30 a pop, I have the dollar values for each major league going back to the '98 season).

'03 season I already did, so let's go on to '02 (I'm going solely with the top at each position and skipping the middle players due to brevity. If anyone wants it I can do it for those too).

Best 2b (Soriano, $44) + 36th OF (Salmon $21) = $65

Best OF (Guerrero, $52) + 12th 2b (Young, $16) = $68

Best catcher (Piazza $23) + 36th OF (Salmon $21) = $44

Best OF (Guerrero $52) + 12th catcher (Wilson, $9) = $61


Hmmmm, that's two years in a row my claims hold up. Let's go back to '01 and check those numbers out.

Best 2b (Boone $38) + 36th OF (Preston Wilson, $22) = $60

Best OF (Bonds $51) + 12th 2b (Young, $18) = $65

Best catcher (Piazza, $26) + 36th OF (P. Wilson $22) = $48

Best OF (Bonds $51) + 12th catcher (Hernandez $9) = $60


Wow, three years in a row it holds up, and a quick scan of the prior two years shows pretty much the same. Anomaly? I don't think so. Position scarcity is as big of a scam as Social Security -- bad returns on your investment. The only exception is A-Rod, but he's the best there is anyway so he hardly applies.
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Re: Now we're debating.

Postby Transmogrifier » Thu Nov 06, 2003 1:36 pm

Erboes wrote:"Like I said earlier, if we could see how the money values broke down for the last 3 years (you did last year already ;-D ), then maybe the argument holds some water. Right now, we have too small of a sample pool to work with conclusively.

OK, Madison, let's take a look at the past three years (Thanks to my handy Baseball Forecaster supplied by Baseball HQ at something like $30 a pop, I have the dollar values for each major league going back to the '98 season).

'03 season I already did, so let's go on to '02 (I'm going solely with the top at each position and skipping the middle players due to brevity. If anyone wants it I can do it for those too).

Best 2b (Soriano, $44) + 36th OF (Salmon $21) = $65

Best OF (Guerrero, $52) + 12th 2b (Young, $16) = $68

Best catcher (Piazza $23) + 36th OF (Salmon $21) = $44

Best OF (Guerrero $52) + 12th catcher (Wilson, $9) = $61


Hmmmm, that's two years in a row my claims hold up. Let's go back to '01 and check those numbers out.

Best 2b (Boone $38) + 36th OF (Preston Wilson, $22) = $60

Best OF (Bonds $51) + 12th 2b (Young, $18) = $65

Best catcher (Piazza, $26) + 36th OF (P. Wilson $22) = $48

Best OF (Bonds $51) + 12th catcher (Hernandez $9) = $60


Wow, three years in a row it holds up, and a quick scan of the prior two years shows pretty much the same. Anomaly? I don't think so. Position scarcity is as big of a scam as Social Security -- bad returns on your investment. The only exception is A-Rod, but he's the best there is anyway so he hardly applies.


Can you elaborate on why these numbers show positional scarcity is bunk? I don't see it.
Last edited by Transmogrifier on Thu Nov 06, 2003 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Madison » Thu Nov 06, 2003 1:59 pm

I have to admit as Pogo pointed out that I completely skipped over the fact that there are 3 times as many OF availiable as position players. That's where the big difference is. There is a bigger dropoff at 2B and C than there is in the OF. Makes getting a higher value player at a scarce position even more important.
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