In Fantasy Baseball, it's all about the numbers. Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Baseball Stats: Blindly Comparing Player's Production

In real baseball, a case can be made that things like team chemistry and character guys play a part in a team’s success. But ultimately, the team that wins the game is the one that has the most runs at the end of the game. The final score is the only factor that matters.

In fantasy baseball, stats mean everything. Team chemistry and character guys? I guess it’s nice to have guys that you like cheering for, but it’s really all about the numbers.

Because of that, it’s sometimes best to take all of the perceptions and preconceived notions away and look only the numbers, not the names they’re attached to.

That’s what we’re going to do here. As we’ll see, sometimes the numbers are shown to be incredibly similar, even if the perceptions of the two players are not. Sometimes the numbers are different, but not as different as the draft placement/auction value would suggest.

At any rate, let’s do some blind stat comparisons.

 

  • Comparison No. 1: The Outfield

2012-2013 Combined Stats

Player
AB
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
Mystery Man 111421526620924.258
Mystery Man 211861786420816.257

The run discrepancy seems pretty great, but Mystery Man 1 took 923 of those at-bats on one of the worst offensive teams in the league, and now plays for a more for potent team. Mystery Man 2 took every at-bat for the same team, and a very good one, at that.

While the numbers are strikingly similar, the perception about the two couldn’t be more different. Mystery Man 1 is at the end of his career, while Mystery Man 2 is still in the early stages of his.

While that’d make a big difference in a dynasty league or if we were projecting 2015, it means significantly less in 2014’s projections. This is especially true since the primary skill of both men is power, and that tends to be the last thing to leave hitters.

Alright, who are these mystery men?

 

  • Comparison No. 2: First Base

2012-2013 Combined Stats

Player
AB
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
Mystery Man 19201232412317.283
Mystery Man 211581513113927.269
Mystery Man 31077125361541.263

Mystery Men 1 & 2 are definitely seen as young, trendy picks at the first base position, while Mystery Man 3 is perceived as past his prime. This time, the logic is a little more sound, especially since the 2013 weren’t anywhere near as close as what you see over the last two years.

What Mystery Man 3 has working in his favor this year is that this year, he’ll be taking half of his at-bats in a hitter’s paradise that’s known to give hitters incredible boosts, while 1 and 2 are at home stadiums that are known for being pitcher-friendly, especially in regards to home run prevention.

No doubt that 1 and 2 should be ranked higher than No. 3, but keep No. 3 in mind in your draft when faced with this option.

  1. Fall for the fantasy baseball tendency to overreach for young players, especially those coming off of promising seasons.
  2. Wait for the old guy who’s numbers aren’t likely to lag that much, especially when old guys tend to fall a little below their actual value on draft day.

No. 1 and No. 2 project better, but the difference isn’t that immense. I’d wait until they fall at least two rounds below their ADP and keep No. 3 in mind just in case. Even if you’ve got the position filled with someone like Paul Goldschmidt or Joey Votto, No. 3 is a good CI/UT guy.

 

  • Comparison No. 3: Starting Pitchers

2012-2013 Combined Stats

Player
IP
K
W
ERA
WHIP
Mystery Man 1409314313.101.127
Mystery Man 2404253263.761.181

Much like the last one, I’m not denying that there’s a discrepancy and much like the last one, the numbers are even more one-sided if you look at 2013 instead of 2012 and 2013.

What works in the favor of Mystery Man 2 is that he’s exceeded 200 innings in eight of the last nine seasons (hitting 199 in the other), while Mystery Man 1 has hit the 200 inning mark once in his career.

As was the case with Comparison 2, I’m not saying that No. 2 will be a better pitcher this season. No, what I am saying is that No. 1 will probably be one of the first 10 pitchers taken on draft day, while No. 2 may not even be drafted. There’s a discrepancy, sure, but it’s not THAT great.

Because they only go once every five days and (especially the young ones) tend to be treated very cautiously, I generally like to pass on pitchers in the early rounds and take the every day guys. I may go for one Top-10 pitcher, but I like to round my offense out before going too heavy after the arms.

There is no shortage of examples similar to this one that shows why I like to do that. But for now, we’ll only go with one starting pitching example.

 

  • Comparison No. 4: Closers

2011-2013 Stats

Player
IP
K
SV
ERA
WHIP
Mystery Man 1188197522.541.181
Mystery Man 2163.2191531.980.892

Fittingly, we close with the closers.

This one’s a little different than the last two. With those two, you did have to ignore a more significant gap in the 2013 season. In the case of this one, Mystery Man No. 1 (the bargain in this case), actually closes the gap significantly on Mystery Man No. 2 (the more highly-touted star) if we only look at 2013. Still, it’s always best to look at a more complete sample size, although it wouldn’t hurt anyone if we looked at 2013’s numbers.

2013 Stats

Player
IP
K
SV
ERA
WHIP
Mystery Man 169.274342.331.077
Mystery Man 260.158382.541.077

Here’s something you’re going to find a lot on this site when we’re talking about closers: A reminder to not overpay for them, for a multitude of reasons. I made the mistake in 2013 with Mystery Man 2 and while he certainly produced good numbers, the season Mystery Man 1 produced was comparable (or better) in every way, and he could have been had for much cheaper. I assure you, the four saves were not worth the gross overpay at the end of the year when my starting rotation could not hold it together and I failed to win a roto league where my team earned 87 of a possible 91 offensive points.

But, I’m getting off track a bit here.

This year in particular, the closer position is incredibly deep. Mystery Man 2 enters the year with a longer track record as a reliever than Mystery Man 1, although they’ve been a closer for pretty much the same amount of time. Mystery Man 2 is a Top-10 rated closer, even in a deep class, while Mystery Man 1 is not viewed anywhere near that high. The actual gap between the two is not that immense.

 

Tags: Alfonso Soriano Brandon Belt Bronson Arroyo Eric Hosmer Jay Bruce Jordan Zimmermann Justin Morneau Sergio Romo Steve Cishek

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