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Keeper Decision Criteria, Part 2: Position Scarcity

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Keeper Decision Criteria, Part 2: Position Scarcity

Postby WebHamster » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:49 pm

In Part 1 of this series I wrote about evaluating potential keepers by comparing their keeper cost for the upcoming season with their projected cost (if they were available in the player pool) and their projected fantasy value. In this article, I’ll continue the discussion by examining the importance of position scarcity as a second [...]

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Re: Keeper Decision Criteria, Part 2: Position Scarcity

Postby Skin Blues » Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:55 pm

Little bit of misunderstanding here. The example used with Verlander/Greinke and the two catchers is a perfect one, but your definition does not follow it.

Since “position scarcity” is a frequently (mis)used term in the fantasy baseball community, I’ll start by offering my definition: it’s the comparison of the relative drop-off in expected fantasy value as you move from the higher-rated players at a given position to the lower-rated players at that same position.


It should not be the drop-off from the higher to lower players, it should look at the lowest players at each position. Very important distinction, especially in deeper leagues where the lowest valued player in the draft pool is typically the same for every position except catcher and possibly SS. The difference between the top- and middle-tiers is largely irrelevant. Look at the waiver wire in any normal league and the best 1B available and the best 2B available are probably very similar in production. There is essentially no difference between the replacement level for either of those positions in the vast majority of leagues, but you'd be hard pressed to find somebody that considers the effective position scarcity of 1B and 2B as being equal.

This is something that has always been a pet peeve for me. It's a misconception that has stuck around for some reason with no evidence to support it. That's not to say that there is no evidence, but I've never seen it presented. I tend to avoid spending big money on perceived "shallow" positions. Not only because their perceived value is inflated due to misunderstood positional scarcity adjustment, but because it's harder to replace them via trade. People typically don't have a backup SS/2B/3B for them in a utility/flex roster spot. Whereas having an injury to a big bat at 1B/OF is relatively easier to replace via trade. Anyway... kinda got off track there as this was an article about keeper decisions, but I think it applies to the general theory of position scarcity.
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Re: Keeper Decision Criteria, Part 2: Position Scarcity

Postby Ender » Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:22 am

It should not be the drop-off from the higher to lower players, it should look at the lowest players at each position. Very important distinction, especially in deeper leagues where the lowest valued player in the draft pool is typically the same for every position except catcher and possibly SS.


I disagree. There is no way to know to any degree what the lowest players at any position will be. Position scarcity is about reaching a point in the draft and feeling yucky with every option that is left. Last year 1B was a scarce position. After you got past the Freeman, Goldschmidt, Ike Davis level you were like, eww all of these options kind of stink and I'm just rolling the dice. By the end of the year the lowest players at the position were pretty good but there just weren't enough guys you knew would be good left, it was a big group of question marks. This year the MI makes me think eww by the middle rounds so it is scarce. This year C is extremely deep in a 1 C league, so deep that drafting any C in the first 10 rounds is just stupid unless they drop way later than you think they should by like 2 or 3 rounds.

Replacement level is a moving target pre draft and post draft it is next to useless. You get to the late rounds and there just is no certainty as to who will be that replacement level player.
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Re: Keeper Decision Criteria, Part 2: Position Scarcity

Postby Skin Blues » Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:46 am

To each his own. There's just very little to back up what you're saying, but I understand a lot of people feel that way. In my opinion, perceived position scarcity one of the last areas that are left to easily exploit in a draft.
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Re: Keeper Decision Criteria, Part 2: Position Scarcity

Postby Ender » Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:00 am

Skin Blues wrote:To each his own. There's just very little to back up what you're saying, but I understand a lot of people feel that way. In my opinion, perceived position scarcity one of the last areas that are left to easily exploit in a draft.



There is dozens of years of experience to back up what I'm saying. The least reliable data sets in fantasy baseball are the replacement level players, that is why they are taken at that part of the draft. There are going to be 10 MI that step up and put up numbers that will set the replacement level but those 10 MI are going to come from a pool of 20+ players and there is no really good way to know which ones they will be. The replacement level player is a moving target. Positional scarcity is a sham in general in anything but extremely deep leagues or extremely shallow leagues since the standard league with MI, CI, 5 OF and UT spreads the talent out so much. Replacement level is a pretty awful way to look at it though. To use a sort of silly example that makes the point, if you have 20 guys rated at SS in a 14 team league, 13 of them are rated at $25 or more and then the next 7 are all rated at $1 or less the position is extremely deep while replacement level says it is shallow. Where the $ falls within your draft class means a ton and replacement level is just some silly arbitrary point.

The smartest way to think of positional scarcity though is to look at the mid to late rounds of the draft and just think to yourself when do all of my options feel like they stink. The best way to find this point is to do a few mock drafts and just get a good read on what players you are comfortable having as a starter on your team and making sure you have one of those players at every position on draft day.
Last edited by Ender on Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Keeper Decision Criteria, Part 2: Position Scarcity

Postby bigh0rt » Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:03 am

Ender wrote:The smartest way to think of positional scarcity though is to look at the mid to late rounds of the draft and just think to yourself when do all of my options feel like they stink.
This is basically how I treat it. I try to think, at what point am I making a face at the thought of having to start one of the available players at Position X. Then I try and make sure I am able to acquire one of the players before that critical line. Even then, sometimes you sacrifice to get elsewhere and try and fill the need via trade or FA during April/May.
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Re: Keeper Decision Criteria, Part 2: Position Scarcity

Postby Skin Blues » Thu Jan 24, 2013 7:05 pm

Ender wrote:
Skin Blues wrote:To each his own. There's just very little to back up what you're saying, but I understand a lot of people feel that way. In my opinion, perceived position scarcity one of the last areas that are left to easily exploit in a draft.



There is dozens of years of experience to back up what I'm saying. The least reliable data sets in fantasy baseball are the replacement level players, that is why they are taken at that part of the draft. There are going to be 10 MI that step up and put up numbers that will set the replacement level but those 10 MI are going to come from a pool of 20+ players and there is no really good way to know which ones they will be. The replacement level player is a moving target. Positional scarcity is a sham in general in anything but extremely deep leagues or extremely shallow leagues since the standard league with MI, CI, 5 OF and UT spreads the talent out so much. Replacement level is a pretty awful way to look at it though. To use a sort of silly example that makes the point, if you have 20 guys rated at SS in a 14 team league, 13 of them are rated at $25 or more and then the next 7 are all rated at $1 or less the position is extremely deep while replacement level says it is shallow. Where the $ falls within your draft class means a ton and replacement level is just some silly arbitrary point.

The smartest way to think of positional scarcity though is to look at the mid to late rounds of the draft and just think to yourself when do all of my options feel like they stink. The best way to find this point is to do a few mock drafts and just get a good read on what players you are comfortable having as a starter on your team and making sure you have one of those players at every position on draft day.

You don't need to know the exact players that will be replacement level. They don't exist; they're a imaginary constructs used to set overall baseline values.

Anyway it seems we agree that for the most part positional scarcity should just be ignored in most situations (except with 2 C leagues or strange positional requirements/extremely shallow leagues). We just get to that conclusion in different ways.
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Re: Keeper Decision Criteria, Part 2: Position Scarcity

Postby bayside » Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:41 am

Skin Blues wrote:Little bit of misunderstanding here. The example used with Verlander/Greinke and the two catchers is a perfect one, but your definition does not follow it.

Since “position scarcity” is a frequently (mis)used term in the fantasy baseball community, I’ll start by offering my definition: it’s the comparison of the relative drop-off in expected fantasy value as you move from the higher-rated players at a given position to the lower-rated players at that same position.


It should not be the drop-off from the higher to lower players, it should look at the lowest players at each position.

Let me first say that Im one of the guys that feels like position scarcity is pretty much a myth and is nearly non-existent in all but the most ridiculously deep leagues.

But that ^ does not make any intuitive sense.
Take the hypothetical pool of players for 3B where there is 1 Miguel Cabrera and 19 Chone Figgins clones...
Or 1 Miguel Cabrera, 1 Beltre, 1 Sandoval, and 17 Figgins?
Or how about 19 Miguel Cabreras and 1 Chone Figgins?
Explain how using your model to select a team will give you any kind of edge whatsoever?
If youre going to construct a draft or auction using the idea of scarcity, then clearly using the idea of dropoff from top tier talent to average/poor talent for any specific position will give you a stronger overall team
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Re: Keeper Decision Criteria, Part 2: Position Scarcity

Postby Skin Blues » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:10 am

OK, let me just lay out an example. Leagues that use flex spots and utility spots (99.9% of leagues) will have the deepest positions fill those flex spots. So if there was even a bit of scarcity at SS and 3B or whatever, it's wiped out because all of the best players at the deep positions (1B, 2B and OF for example) fill those flex spots. So by the end of a draft, the replacement level for every position is for all intents and purposes the same. There might be 25 good 1B and only 16 good SS, but 12 of those SS fill starting SS spots, 12 1B fill starting 1B spots, 4 SS fill MI spots, 8 1B fill CI spots, and 5 1B fill UTIL spots. Formats that CI/MI/UTIL are designed to wipe out position scarcity. You can look at the players on waivers to get an idea of replacement level. Look at maybe the best 3-5 waiver wire players from each position and take an average of their overall fantasy value. For every position it's probably going to be the exact same, or pretty damn close to the same. And I don't think I need to go over why it's important to set value relative to a replacement player (it's the basis of WAR and pretty much every valuation system on the planet) but the example in this article using Verlander/Greinke and the two crappy catchers is a pretty good one.
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