2013 fantasy baseball auction values

Evan Longoria is the Rays’ franchise player, having inked a long-term extension with the team this offseason that should keep him there for the extent of his career. In many 15-team NFBC leagues he’ll go late in the first round or early in the second round as the No. 2 third baseman to get drafted in many leagues. However, I’ve got him as my No. 35 player overall, well below his ADP both at and in NFBC Drafts. Why does Longoria rate so low? In short – we don’t project him to get as many plate appearances as many of his contemporaries. Longoria was limited to 74 games last season due to a hamstring injury that ultimately required surgery, and then a subsequent procedure during the offseason. This after missing 29 games the previous season due to nagging hamstring problems. While it would be nice to presume that his November surgery cleared everything up, it would be Pollyannaish to give him a full 158-162 game projection for 2013.

And this illustrates an annual issue for those of us that do projections and valuations. It’s not just a matter of evaluating a player’s skills, but it’s also important to project playing time. As we discussed last year, extra playing time doesn’t just help in the accumulation of counting stats, but it can provide greater heft in a qualitative stat like batting average, where our projected .293 batting average for Shin-Soo Choo was worth more than Allen Craig’s projected .308 average, because he was projected to get 552 at-bats compared to Craig’s 321.

Of course, projecting playing time is an imperfect science. Injuries happen, job battles get resolved, and some players just take the leap. Of course, we adjust our projections accordingly when news happens in spring training, and job battle resolutions aren’t simply settled on Opening Day.

Last year I decided to do a set of playing-time neutral rankings to at least illustrate what these players were capable of doing when at-bats were equal. Obviously that won’t happen in real life, and moreover, not every player would improve linearly with more playing time. Platoon players (often, but not always) are platoon players for a reason. The idea here is that we might see some chances to find value – a player that otherwise doesn’t rank high but shows up on the second list could be a nice endgame pick. When we did this exercise last year, we were lucky to focus on Allen Craig and that Mike Trout tested out well, two good examples of players taking the leap and getting more playing time than expected.

Our methodology is the same as last year. I’m using his Standings Gain Points as my unit of measure – that’s the starting point for my dollar values. The actual equation is (Total Standings Gain Points / At-Bats) x 100 – basically, I wanted to move out the decimal point two places to make it a little more decipherable. This was done for standard 12-team mixed auction leagues, with a 60-40 hitting/pitching split as the starting point. I went with the top 80 hitters per at-bat this year. This year I also laid out their basic 5×5 projected stats. "VALUE" = their current projected value in $260 budget leagues. Here are the results (PDF version here):

 

RANK/PLAYER

POS

HR

RBI

R

SB

AVG

VALUE

PER AB

1. Ryan Braun

OF

42

115

105

28

.316

$43

4.708218

2. Miguel Cabrera

3B

43

129

110

3

.335

$41

4.653896

3. Jose Bautista

OF

44

105

102

9

.270

$30

4.466101

4. Matt Kemp

OF

33

104

102

24

.301

$33

4.254112

5. Mike Trout

OF

19

76

121

50

.305

$34

4.120581

6. Carlos Gonzalez

OF

27

93

98

22

.308

$28

4.096596

7. Andrew McCutchen

OF

30

95

103

23

.313

$32

4.071135

8. Justin Upton

OF

28

93

106

22

.294

$28

4.018105

9. Joey Votto

1B

29

102

101

4

.323

$27

3.999148

10. Albert Pujols

1B

38

111

101

8

.295

$31

3.937912

11. Giancarlo Stanton

OF

41

89

86

6

.265

$22

3.872101

12. Curtis Granderson

OF

39

104

109

15

.244

$27

3.865303

13. Troy Tulowitzki

SS

28

97

87

8

.307

$22

3.836279

14. Edwin Encarnacion

1B

37

94

89

8

.273

$23

3.806532

15. Paul Goldschmidt

1B

28

100

98

13

.290

$24

3.800893

16. Josh Hamilton

OF

32

102

88

7

.281

$22

3.755797

17. Adrian Beltre

3B

33

103

89

1

.314

$25

3.749745

18. Evan Longoria

3B

29

98

78

6

.288

$19

3.728163

19. Allen Craig

OF

25

107

85

3

.307

$21

3.686150

20. Brandon Moss

1B

24

73

63

4

.278

$8

3.632762

21. Bryce Harper

OF

26

82

111

23

.285

$26

3.626912

22. Billy Hamilton

SS

0

14

36

25

.261

-$11

3.618658

23. Prince Fielder

1B

34

108

89

0

.300

$24

3.606366

24. Robinson Cano

2B

31

102

104

4

.315

$28

3.569982

25. Jay Bruce

OF

37

103

86

8

.259

$22

3.562447

26. Jason Heyward

OF

24

81

88

18

.287

$19

3.504904

27. Josh Willingham

OF

30

97

75

4

.256

$14

3.479841

28. B.J. Upton

OF

28

84

89

36

.252

$23

3.477508

29. Matt Adams

1B

11

38

29

0

.291

-$10

3.477447

30. Aramis Ramirez

3B

28

97

83

3

.306

$20

3.459140

31. Mike Napoli

C

28

68

65

0

.261

$15

3.452116

32. Wilin Rosario

C

26

66

62

3

.264

$14

3.428534

33. David Ortiz

DH

26

78

73

0

.294

$12

3.420843

34. Justin Maxwell

OF

20

57

56

15

.247

$4

3.407278

35. Hanley Ramirez

SS

23

84

84

26

.267

$19

3.367487

36. Buster Posey

C

23

99

80

2

.314

$26

3.359492

37. Yoenis Cespedes

OF

22

80

79

21

.279

$17

3.357257

38. David Wright

3B

23

96

91

17

.289

$22

3.331232

39. Carlos Beltran

OF

25

81

71

8

.279

$13

3.323969

40. Freddie Freeman

1B

25

96

89

3

.287

$17

3.321939

41. Chris Carter

1B

22

69

64

1

.249

$3

3.321585

42. Jacoby Ellsbury

OF

13

59

101

34

.301

$20

3.313141

43. Eric Young Jr.

OF

3

17

44

17

.292

-$9

3.297836

44. Carlos Gomez

OF

10

38

55

27

.249

$0

3.264874

45. Adam Jones

OF

31

87

93

14

.288

$23

3.263550

46. Mark Teixeira

1B

33

106

89

3

.251

$18

3.244146

47. Anthony Rizzo

1B

29

101

82

5

.279

$19

3.235814

48. Corey Hart

OF

23

68

66

3

.274

$7

3.234623

49. Tyler Moore

OF

15

52

37

2

.257

-$6

3.234404

50. Paul Konerko

1B

32

91

65

0

.294

$16

3.229892

51. Oscar Taveras

OF

4

23

20

2

.305

-$17

3.223591

52. Ryan Zimmerman

3B

27

98

89

4

.287

$19

3.221927

53. Yadier Molina

C

19

70

66

10

.311

$19

3.203558

54. Charlie Blackmon

OF

6

30

37

9

.295

-$9

3.201505

55. Brett Gardner

OF

5

32

73

38

.269

$4

3.198173

56. Ike Davis

1B

31

91

73

1

.267

$14

3.194011

57. Nelson Cruz

OF

25

87

74

10

.269

$14

3.189590

58. Mark Trumbo

OF

32

94

70

6

.259

$15

3.158831

59. Darin Mastroianni

OF

3

20

33

21

.265

-$11

3.157535

60. Billy Butler

1B

27

108

74

1

.307

$20

3.145828

61. Ian Kinsler

2B

22

76

109

23

.260

$19

3.138335

62. Coco Crisp

OF

10

52

71

45

.263

$11

3.132523

63. Justin Ruggiano

OF

16

63

62

19

.284

$8

3.132083

64. Brandon Guyer

OF

7

31

38

9

.281

-$9

3.131255

65. Chris Davis

1B

30

89

78

1

.267

$14

3.130897

66. Miguel Montero

C

18

88

64

0

.295

$16

3.126509

67. Desmond Jennings

OF

15

54

100

38

.257

$15

3.122150

68. Ryan Howard

1B

31

113

74

0

.247

$15

3.118871

69. Adrian Gonzalez

1B

26

110

88

1

.297

$21

3.111384

70. Adam LaRoche

1B

28

91

73

0

.270

$12

3.108483

71. Chase Headley

3B

21

93

89

15

.289

$19

3.105872

72. Jarrod Dyson

OF

1

16

50

30

.263

-$7

3.101403

73. Jason Kipnis

2B

17

81

96

27

.276

$19

3.094966

74. Kendrys Morales

1B

25

81

66

0

.283

$10

3.092502

75. Carl Crawford

OF

13

65

77

25

.275

$10

3.092257

76. Melky Cabrera

OF

14

72

92

16

.316

$17

3.092254

77. Cameron Maybin

OF

13

53

81

33

.269

$11

3.084239

78. Carlos Quentin

OF

24

76

62

2

.254

$6

3.080584

79. Eduardo Nunez

SS

2

17

22

14

.276

-$15

3.079994

80. Mike Olt

3B

19

71

62

3

.255

$3

3.063567

Looking at the results, as always the elite players do well, though those that might get rated higher on the basis of their reliability (see also, Robinson Cano) lose a couple of spots. But we also see what happens if certain elite prospects get an extended look, with Billy Hamilton being the glaring example. Even after my recent upgrade in his playing time projection, he’s a negative-valued player in a standard 12-team mixed league, almost entirely on the basis of a lack of playing time (I have him projected to play 44 games). But if you give him the same at-bats as everyone else, his value skyrockets thanks to his crazy speed.

Which leads us to one of the flaws of our methodology – hitters whose value principally relies upon speed tend to get overvalued here. That’s because with extra playing time, their stolen base rate will likely decline – instead of being inserted into games where their speed is optimized, they face all situations, including blowout games, and don’t get the pinch-hit and pinch-run chances.

We alluded above how platoon hitters are going to get overvalued when we do this, and Brandon Moss fits that example quite well. The logic is pretty simple – those extra at-bats for Moss aren’t going to come against an infinite number of right-handed pitchers, but rather against lefties that fare much better against him.

Let’s briefly talk about two other groups of players that might benefit inordinately from this – those with high walk rates, and catchers. In both cases, by definition they are going to have fewer at-bats than their peers. Walkers because those walks don’t count as at-bats in a normal projection, thus artificially giving them more chances to accumulate counting stats than they would in an environment where plate appearances are equal. (Note to self: Next year, use plate appearances rather than at-bats as our baseline.) And with catchers, even in the extreme case of someone like Buster Posey or Carlos Santana, who both play other positions when they don’t catch, they’ll almost never get in the same number of plate appearances as the top hitters.

And yet, we still see a few players where, if everything breaks right, could provide you a hefty profit. Tyler Moore stands out the most to me in this exercise. Right now he’s a "Minister Without Position" – first base and both corner outfield slots are blocked. But neither Adam LaRoche nor Jayson Werth have been ironmen in their recent history, and as much as I love Bryce Harper, his all-out playing style could lead to injury quite naturally. He seems as if he could be this year’s Allen Craig – a guy that will produce if the at-bats somehow fall to him. Charlie Blackmon on the Rockies and Eduardo Nunez on the Yankees also fit that profile.

We did this exercise for 12-team mixed leagues, but you can really see the value of it when you drill down deeper. In single-league universes or mixed leagues with 15-plus teams, a few part-time players are necessary to fill your roster. These are the players you want to target with your endgame dollars – guys that could provide you that massive profit, instead of the steady, boring players that will earn you all of $1 on that $1 investment. Run your own numbers if you do your own projections. The exercise will provide you a handy sleeper list.

Follow @Jeff_Erickson on Twitter.

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