A couple of Cafe Members who are also our subscribers invited me to comment on this topic. As many of you already know, I support this site with ad revenue and enjoy to cruise by occasionally, as many of you drive the intensity that makes this sport so fun.
We've been using the Position Scarcity model since 1999, and I'd like to begin by saying that almost every rankings list you see today use some form of position scarcity to come up with it's overall ranking. They might not quantify it, but I rarely see overall lists that are based on straight valuation.
I don't know if the folks who have said they have done back testing on the topic really used the right parameters, because we've done over 100,000 simulations and the results are not even close when comparing the results to straight drafting using $ values (to the tune of 25% more effective within the first 80-100 picks…after that the value of position scarcity reduces greatly and become par with straight valuation) If the ranking or dollar valuation service is not computing $ values based off of the projected statistics this is another matter entirely.
I can offer you results of these tests in a statistical format, but that really will not mean much to the non mathematician. So I will present it in a non scientific format, and leave you to judge if it passes the test of logic:
As an example of our drafting strategy, last year we recommended 3B Scott Rolen as an overall top 10 selection based on VAM. If however, we based our rankings strictly on his 5x5 Roto valuation he would have fell outside of the overall top 20.
Do you believe that Rolen’s draft rank should be elevated based on the mediocrity at his position…when you consider the Hillenbrands and Ensbergs that muddle up the position…does it make sense that Rolen's value is more than his stats contribute (intrinsic value). Let's assume that you draft in a serpentine type of league: Based on last year's stats, Todd Helton finished with a similar fantasy worth...but who would you rather have? If you selected Helton to fill in you 1st base slot, more than likely you would have to fill in your 3rd base slot with a mediocre player by the time your turn came up again. Whereas if you selected Rolen, you'd more than likely have a solid player to choose from at 1st base since there is a much greater depth at that position.
If you draft in auction league, then you might ask "what is the difference if Rolen plays 1st or 3rd, as long as he's on your team?" Since most fantasy leagues require that a roster include a standard number of players at a pre determined number of positions, then there is a replacement cost in filling a starting roster position with a middle of the road 3B like Morgan Ensberg over the likes of a middle of the road 1B like Frank Thomas. As an example, if you let 3B Rolen slip by last year and instead invested an equal number of draft dollars on someone with similar stats (let's say 1B Todd Helton again). This has two immediate and obvious effects: 1. It significantly reduces your spending capital and 2. It puts you in a position were you'll have to fill in some other positions with average players. If the other position that you fill in with an average player is a position that is not deep in quality, then it's going to hurt your team's accumulated production. A counter argument might be "if you did choose 3B Rolen over 1B Helton, then to fill in your 1st base slot isn't 1B Frank Thomas going to cost you more than 3B Morgan Ensberg....thus making the apparent gain a mute point". Not necessarily, since there is a greater degree of draft deflation when it comes to the mid tier player, thus the difference in draft cost/position would not equate with the gain in productive stats. Auction Drafts typically follow a barbell structure (most of the money is spent upfront on star players) which creates a deflation of prices for the mid tier player. Thus you’ll be able to pick up a middle of the road player 1st baseman like Frank Thomas at relative discount based on the strength of the other players at his qualified position.
Additionally you must apply a predictability of each position into the scarcity model. As almost everyone knows, pitchers and catchers are very unstable positions to forecast, mainly due to the excessive injury rates among the groups. In fact each position should have a predictability quotient that is attached to the position scarcity model (or you would be drafting a stud catcher in the #1 slot). And this is exactly what we do and needs to be done to maximize the value of the position scarcity model.
For more on our concept of Position Scarcity, visit: http://www.insiderbaseball.com/VAM.htm
Best of luck this fantasy season!
Anthony A. Perri
Publisher and Statistician
Fantistics Fantasy Sports