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Position Scarcity: A thing of the past?

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Postby JustAnotherYanksFan » Fri Feb 25, 2005 10:35 pm

Position scarcity is just the principle that a player who's X amount above the lowest value among players starting at position A is equally valuable as a player who's X amount above the lowest value of players starting at position B. So if the difference between Soriano and D'Angelo Jimenez is the same as the difference between Todd Helton and Shawn Green, than Soriano is just as valuable as Helton.

With that in mind...I think you're absolutely right about catchers - the values of the different catchers this year are very similar.

At second base, I think Soriano's quite a bit ahead of the pack. If the worst second baseman hits .270 with 10 HR, 85 R, 55 RBI, 12 SB, then Soriano's difference would be roughly +.010, 25 HR, 10 R, 50 RBI, 12 SB.

Shorstop...Tejada's 50+ RBI edge over all other shortstops makes him awfully valuable, not to mention the 10+ extra homers and very solid average. Of course, you'd have to take into account that he'll get about 10 to 20 less steals than most shortstops.

Obviously, I've only looked at a handful of guys...but if you're comparing the values of two different guys, you can try comparing how far they finished above the worst players at their respective positions if you want a concrete way of evaluating their position-based value.
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Postby JustAnotherYanksFan » Fri Feb 25, 2005 10:40 pm

Cornbread Maxwell wrote: Dont ask me too many specifics, but Im pretty sure one of the local statisticians can help explain it better.


I made my post before reading that...after reading that, I'm starting to feel like I pretended to be a little more knowledgeable than I really am in my previous post. Just so everyone knows, I certainly wouldn't consider myself a local statistician...so just take my post for what it's worth. ;-)
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Postby xeifrank » Fri Feb 25, 2005 11:04 pm

Position scarcity is alive and kicking... and if you don't use it to evaluate players, you are missing out!!!

Run the numbers, do some serious analysis then get back to us. :)

vr

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Postby looptid » Sat Feb 26, 2005 12:08 am

Amazinz wrote:In order to draft best available you have to determine value. I wonder how you go about determining value without taking position into account?

If when you say best available you mean lumping players into one pool and comparing them then that method is seriously flawed.


I don't know. I tend to think the opposite, as long as people drafted with their starting line-up requirements in mind (not getting five back-up OFs before the a starting C).

Would a team really suffer offense-wise compared to someone that took position scarcity into account if they spent their first five draftpicks on three OFs, a 1B, and a 3B (very deep this year)?

If you've got big guns at the prime positions, it doesn't seem like you'd have much of a problem weathering the production of the 8th-12th best SS, 2B, and C.
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Postby BigLebowski » Sat Feb 26, 2005 12:19 am

Position scarcity has to be taken into account but you have to figure out the proper "weight" to give it in your rankings

A players position has to be taken into account to figure out his true value but there is no harm in waiting to fill those "scarce" positions if you get enough value

Every draft and every league is different so there is no single correct answer

For instance in my NL only keeper league I played last season with Kit Pellow and Todd Greene as my two catchers and took second place I would have had first if it weren"t for injuries

I just think that too many owners hear "position scarcity" and think that means they need to grab top middle infielders or catchers even if it means passing on the likes of Manny Helton or Bonds
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Postby Amazinz » Sat Feb 26, 2005 12:31 am

looptid wrote:Would a team really suffer offense-wise compared to someone that took position scarcity into account if they spent their first five draftpicks on three OFs, a 1B, and a 3B (very deep this year)?

Would they suffer? Probably not. And I can also use ESPN cheat sheets to build a competitive team. But we don't all spend far to much time at the Cafe because we like to compete. We want to dominate! :-D

The first five rounds of a draft (unless you're a complete boob) are pretty hard to screw up. You're going to have your best successes and failures in the middle to late rounds when player values aren't as clear. I definitely believe that evaluating players cross-position will give you an edge.

BigLebowski wrote:I just think that too many owners hear "position scarcity" and think that means they need to grab top middle infielders or catchers even if it means passing on the likes of Manny Helton or Bonds

I agree and I'm not advocating that draft style. I think that's half the problem. People are referring to two seperate things when they talk about position scarcity and it's not always easy to tell what they're referring to.
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Postby Garry26 » Sat Feb 26, 2005 1:10 am

Sorry. I forgot to mention I was referring to mixed leagues. Talent is still very thin in NL and AL only leagues.

Cornbread Maxwell
I agree. SPs are somewhat thin this year for some odd reason. Also some SP veterans have dropped drastically in value compared to other years. Pitchers like Maddux are going in the 3rd half of the draft.

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"Many are agreeing with this yet many will justify the picking of Soriano round 1....So how is it that these guys whose value is derived largely from the position they play OK to pick early? Their raw numbers do not equate to their draft slots"

The reason is because there is a big difference in value between Soriano and the next best 2B compared to other top hitters. Lets assume its your pick and you have a choice between Soriano and the top hitter available (say Ramirez). Soriano would be the better pick. Its true Ramirez is the "better" pick in terms of numbers. However, if you pick Ramirez, Soriano wont be available during your next turn. The next best 2B is Giles or Boone. A big drop in value. If you pass on Ramirez and pick Soriano, you can pick up Ortiz or Sheff and not miss a step. A Soriano/Ortiz or Soriano/Sheff combo is more valuable than a Ramirez/Boone combo overall.

This doesnt mean you should always pick based on position scarcity. Yes picking Soriano over Manny is fine, but you cant pick V-Martinez over Manny. The reason Soriano wins over Ramirez is because Soriano has good power numbers PLUS SBs and no other 2B can compare to him in that regard. Usually drafting based on the best available player is recommended for the first 3rd of the draft. After you get your "core" players you may have to forego drafting the "best" player in favor of whats best for your team in general. Its pointless to have the best players if you have no base stealers or decent closers. After a while you have to forget about the best overall player and start taking care of certain prerequisites every team must have.
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Postby looptid » Sat Feb 26, 2005 3:44 am

Garry26 wrote:The reason is because there is a big difference in value between Soriano and the next best 2B compared to other top hitters. Lets assume its your pick and you have a choice between Soriano and the top hitter available (say Ramirez). Soriano would be the better pick. Its true Ramirez is the "better" pick in terms of numbers. However, if you pick Ramirez, Soriano wont be available during your next turn. The next best 2B is Giles or Boone. A big drop in value. If you pass on Ramirez and pick Soriano, you can pick up Ortiz or Sheff and not miss a step. A Soriano/Ortiz or Soriano/Sheff combo is more valuable than a Ramirez/Boone combo overall.


I tend to think that people overrate depth in the OF. In most leagues you have to start three of them. Taking your third OF is the same as taking your only starting 2B.

A common claim that I hear is that you can find late round bargains at OF and 1B easier than at some of the more scarce positions. But are these later round corner players going to mash alongside Pujols and Manny any more than Jaun Uribe or Carlos Guillen are going to equal Tejada's production?

The above example is either pretty biased, or incomplete. Who is going to take Boone in the second round? Or if Boone comes in a later round than the second, the other players taken inbetween should be factored in.
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Postby baseballgeek7 » Sat Feb 26, 2005 4:57 am

An understandable note on position scarcity found in another thread:


Hi Guys,

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!

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Postby Arlo » Sat Feb 26, 2005 8:50 am

I think Garry's thread title is a bit extreme (although it's definitely served its purpose by generating some great discussion ;-) ) - position scarcity certainly isn't a thing of the past, nor will it ever be. It's an integral and undeniable part of drafting and evaluating players, and of the game itself.

Garry's point is important, though: scarcity evolves over time, and it's important to keep track of those changes, both within each position and when comparing positions with one another. Last season's scarcity can indeed quickly become a thing of the past...
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