FB205: Understanding League Rules

05/20/2007 12:13 PM - 

FantasyBaseball.com University Series
Contributed By: Ray Flowers

How many of you own an abacus?  How about a calculator?  Stupid questions unless you are attending a college lecture given by a professor who believes that pocket protectors should be mandatory for everyone.  But in the world of fantasy baseball they are actually tools that when combined with a little know how can be exceedingly valuable.  In this article we will briefly outline how a calculator can be the difference between winning your league and finishing in the middle of the pack.

Rules:

First of all you have to know what stats your league counts.  Does it use OBP or OPS?  How about 2B?  What about Hits?  For the purposes of this article we will assume that your league uses the standard 5×5 offensive stats that are: AVG, HR, RBI, Runs and SB.  So let’s get to it.

The Question:

Is MVP Barry Bonds .362 average more valuable to your team than MVP Vlad Guerrero’s .337? 

Would it surprise you to find out that despite hitting .025 higher Bonds AVG really wouldn’t’ be better in terms of your fantasy team?  I know it sounds crazy, but give me a chance to paint a scenario for you to illustrate this contention.

At Bats:

The average fantasy team has 9 offensive positions (all 8 fielding positions plus a utility player who can be from any position).  Since there is a limit of 162 games played per position, we have a framework established in which to gauge the average teams AB total.  Let’s say that the “average” fantasy player gets three at bats per game.  Take 3 AB per game multiplied by the 162 Games for each position and you wind up with 486 AB per position.  Then take this 486 AB total per position and multiply it by the 9 positions on your team for a grand total of 4374 AB.  We’ll use this total as our baseline meaning…

For the sake of our discussion the average fantasy team will be allotted 4374 AB.

You’ll see why this is important in a moment.

 Discerning Average:

So why don’t we run a little example and see what we get. Here are the pertinent stats for each player in this discussion of AVG.

 

AB

Hits

AVG

Bonds

373

135

.362

Vlad

612

206

.337

Your damn right that is a bit shocking.  Bonds, with his 232 BB last year, had 239 fewer AB than Vlad and as a result had 71 fewer hits.  While your wrapping your brain around that one (amazing isn’t it) let us move on to the heart of our discussion.  Let’s say, hypothetically, that your fantasy team has an overall .280 AVG.  Let’s further postulate that this .280 average is for your whole team minus either Bonds or Vlad.

Why does that matter you say?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  If we take our agreed upon hypothetical teams totals minus Bonds and Vlad’s stats this is what we get (our totals are arrived at by subtracting each players above numbers from the team total).

 

AB*

Hits**

AVG

Team Bonds

4001

1121

.280

Team Vlad

3762

1054

.280

* Team Bonds has 4003 AB minus Bonds (4374 – 373 = 4001).  Team Vlad has 3763 AB (4374 – 2006 = 3762).

** Since we want each team to be hitting .280 w/o Bonds or Vlad, we simply take each teams AB total and find out how many hits are necessary to form a .280 team average. 

Now why don’t we see what happens when we add Bonds’ .362 AVG and Vlad’s .337 AVG to their respective teams.

 

AB*

Hits**

AVG

Team Bonds

4374

1256

.287

Team Vlad

4374

1260

.288

*We add back in to the team total each player’s individual AB total, for Bonds 373 and for Vlad 612, to get to our established baseline of 4374. 

**We add each players hit total, for Bonds 135 and for Vlad 206, to each teams established hit level (team Bonds 1121, Team Vlad 1054). 

So what do we come up with?

All things being equal, in the form of team AB and team AVG, the team with Vlad Guerrero would have had a HIGHER batting average than the team with Barry Bonds even though Bonds personally hit .025 points higher than Vlad!!!

The reason for this conclusion is obvious…Bonds was walked so frequently in 2004 by Chicken S— managers and pitchers that he just wasn’t afforded enough AB to make his .362 AVG worth much to a teams overall total. 

What does this mean to you?  While Barry Bonds might be the most dominant offensive player of the last 75 years he really isn’t even close to being as valuable to your fantasy teams overall performance as Vlad Guerrero.  Remember this has nothing to do with who is the better player; we are dealing with who the better fantasy player is

A Statistical Review:

 

AVG

HR

RBI

Runs

SB

Bonds

.362

45

101

129

6

Vlad

.337

39

126

124

15

*BOLD denotes led category. We’ve just detailed how Bonds AVG, while higher, really isn’t better for the fantasy world.

So what we have is Vlad leading in 3 of the 5 of the categories.  This advantage includes RBI where Vlad amassed almost 20% more than Bonds (again a result of the fact that Bonds just wasn’t given the chance). Vlad also more than doubled Bonds in SB (his 9 extra SB are actually a huge advantage per our previous article on the SB which can be read here.  In the two categories Vlad lost, well they were extremely close.  The difference in Runs is negligible while the loss in HR is more than compensated for with Vlad’s advantages in the other categories. 

Conclusion:

It doesn’t matter what the baseball world thinks, it doesn’t matter what your brain tells you, in the fantasy world it’s all about the numbers and the numbers say that Vlad Guerrero is a better fantasy option than Barry Bonds even if Bonds has a higher batting average.  If managers and pitchers suddenly grew some “balls” and stopped throwing balls to Bonds then this statement may no longer be true.  But you and I both know that there still won’t be enough strikes thrown Bonds way to allow him to eclipse the performance of a player like Vlad. 

So in closing remember that not all numbers are what they at first appear to be, a discerning eye might be necessary to ferret out what you see on the surface.  A guy who hits .326 in 678 AB (Juan Pierre) is just as valuable to your teams AVG column as Ivan Rodriguez’ .334 AVG in 527 AB.  Be careful not to misconstrue my words however; I’m not saying that I would draft Pierre over Irod, I’m merely stating, if everything else was equal, Pierre’s AVG would have as great an effect on your team as Irod’s.   

The numbers don’t lie.

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