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Position scarcity

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Position scarcity

Postby Ousmagic » Fri Feb 18, 2005 1:21 pm

i'm doing an auction draft and im thinking of taking a top player at the weaker positions and waiting back and getting some low value guys at deep positions, my question is what positions are the weakest and what are the strongest this year?? i know generally what the position trends are im just making sure
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Postby looptid » Fri Feb 18, 2005 1:33 pm

From Ask David Luciani, Volume 6, Number 5 at Baseball Notebook:
Q. I was wondering if there are any articles or your thoughts on the idea of position scarcity and do you use it or discount it in terms of auction format? For example, in my league, catchers routinely go for almost double the projected dollar amounts from your Fantasy Domination Ranking Sheets.

A. I actually used to believe in it and was even a proponent of it until around the mid to late 90's when we did a study on several hundred (and subsequently within a few years, several thousand) real fantasy leagues worth of data. What we found was that with perfect hindsight, position scarcity simply did not work and it wasn't even close. I know there are readers who disagree with me on this and I've heard the many good arguments on the other side but a home run is a home run whether your catcher hits it or your first baseman hits it. One argument goes that you should pay more for the catcher because he gives you more production out of a spot from which you normally wouldn't get much production. In real baseball, this is absolutely true and I'm completely a believer in real baseball position scarcity value but it's because the player makes a defensive contribution that doesn't exist in fantasy baseball.

When we did this analysis on the many fantasy leagues, we tried drafting based on inflating prices for players at weak positions and we did it with perfect hindsight, knowing exactly how players would perform. We even knew, with perfect hindsight, exactly how weak each of the positions really were. We had the computer simulate billions of drafts using these many leagues of data and with a third of the teams doing absolutely perfect position scarcity analysis and valuation and the rest of the teams ignoring it. Even with perfect hindsight, the position scarcity teams dramatically suffered in the standings, often ending up with middle-of-the-road teams that got reliable production out of the weak-hitting positions like catcher and second base, but suffering overall because it either had to try to find bargains at the good-hitting positions or because it ended up paying more for the production of the 20 home run catcher as an opposing team paid for the 20 home run outfielder. If the positions are weak, then it's okay to fill them, on average, with weak hitters. If you get lucky and can buy Alfonso Soriano at the same price you would have paid for him to fill your DH spot, great. If not, you move on and accept it.

After that study, and the sequel to it, which had even more data to work with, it seems hard to believe that I used to believe in this idea in fantasy baseball and I know there are many people who still do. It doesn't work for me and I've tried all of the valuation adjustment methods out there, both using hindsight analysis and for forecasting. The most common argument I get is that the guy who does pay more for the 20 home run catcher says that "it's easy to fill a roster with good hitting outfielders late in the draft" and I argue otherwise. They're only good in terms of a distorted perception based on the real baseball population rather than your actual fantasy population.

I can tell you that this is an area I know I differ on compared to some other fantasy experts and perhaps they're right and I'm wrong. My analysis tells me it's a good way to finish around the middle of the pack and if I'm wrong about that, then somehow I've found fantasy success most of the time by doing otherwise. If you believe that a home run from your catcher is worth more than a home run from your first baseman, then you are very much on the other side of this debate from me. At least you know where I stand.


I've changed my mind. Go with the biggest producers at any starting position you haven't filled.
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Postby Woolly » Fri Feb 18, 2005 1:46 pm

If I can get my hands on a very good (I mean top 3 or something like that based on where the drop off is) 2nd or SS I will slurge a little. However, if I don't get a top 2nd or SS I will just let it ride and not worry about those positions. btw - Tejada is undervauled in most rankings!!

I don't draft catchers until very late.

Basically, I don't believe that you can ever find a hard rule that you can blindly follow. Unfortunately, you just have to follow your gut and fine tune your gut with good information like the post above.
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Postby Amazinz » Fri Feb 18, 2005 1:51 pm

I think people mean two different things when they refer to positional scarcity and Luciani should have mentioned it. I have read quite a few of this writer's essays and I would take most of what he writes with a grain of salt. He talks about all the data analysis he does and doesn't support it by showing it to us. Bleh. I'll pass.

Positional scarcity values are used when you're creating your value sheets (cheat sheets). I have to question anyone who says they don't do it that way because I cannot think of another (mathematically sound) way to compare players cross-position.

The second reference to positional scarcity is on draft day where people target players willy-nilly just because they're in a shallow player pool. I agree that this isn't the best strategy. Have your cheat sheets ready to go and draft based on who is most valuable based on your projections. Positional depth will have already been taken into account.

Also, if you're using pre-made sheets (ESPN, etc.) you can assume that positional value has already been taken into account during their calculations so you don't need to consider it. Just follow the sheet and draft best available.
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Postby Cornbread Maxwell » Fri Feb 18, 2005 2:39 pm

great article Looptid - thanks for posting it.

Personally, I am in the exact same boat - I used to fully think that you should target the scarce positions early and try and find values in the deeper positions later. Now, I couldnt agree more with Luciani, I really dont care if I leave the first 4 rds with 3 OFers - as long as they were the best values on the table when I drafted them, than so be it.

As for MI and C depth - I think this yr is presenting savvy drafters with a lot of late rd value in those positions, so Id stress even more to grab best available regardless of position.
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Postby Amazinz » Fri Feb 18, 2005 2:43 pm

There is late round value for savvy drafters at every position. ;-D
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Postby Cornbread Maxwell » Fri Feb 18, 2005 2:46 pm

Amazinz wrote:There is late round value for savvy drafters at every position. ;-D


true - but doesnt that mean that position scarcity isnt a good concept to use when drafting then?
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Postby Mercer Boy » Fri Feb 18, 2005 2:48 pm

I didn't really care that much about scarcity when I took Tejada fifth...I saw that he had a crap-load of RBI's, good average, over 100 runs scored, and more HR's than any other SS by a mile. That has to be worth a top pick. I suppose I could have thought about the steals thing with Abreu, but Tejada hits for a better average, more HR's and RBI's than he does - and I'm really hoping that Sosa will help him get some more pitches to crush. ;-D
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Postby Amazinz » Fri Feb 18, 2005 2:58 pm

Cornbread Maxwell wrote:
Amazinz wrote:There is late round value for savvy drafters at every position. ;-D


true - but doesnt that mean that position scarcity isnt a good concept to use when drafting then?

When drafting no but I still believe you have to take it into account when evaluating player values. If you go by straight value Tejada is not a 1st round pick. Does anyone really agree with that? I think value over baseline just supports what most of know instinctively. And it really helps and comes into play on the middle to late round players where it is less obvious.
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Postby ironman » Fri Feb 18, 2005 2:59 pm

OK here's my question. How do you take projections for a point-based league and normalize the projected points for pitchers and hitters to get an effective overall ranking put together? Right now I have an overall pitcher ranking and an overall hitter ranking. Albert Pujols is the top hitter with 649 points, whereas Randy Johnson is the top pitcher with 1029. That's a pretty big difference in points. I obviously can't just combine the rankings based on points, otherwise I'd have 35 pitchers ranked ahead of Albert Pujols. So what would be a good way to normalize these point values in order to compare hitters and pitchers reasonably?
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