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Are $1 Players Really Where a Fantasy Baseball Season is Won or Lost?

I’ve written before about how my method is to start with what I think is an interesting factoid, then I flesh it out in a way that I think will be of benefit to fantasy baseball fans. Previously, I listed several factoids related to lineup order and what it means for fantasy owners.

Factoids can be twisted and manipulated; served up to serve almost any situation. Careful wording of a factoid can illicit optimism and a strong positive emotion toward a player or a certain fantasy baseball strategy. But when the factoid is worded slightly differently they can take on a very negative emotion.

Take this factoid about Barry Zito, for example: “When his team scores at least 4 runs in his start, Barry Zito is 126-7.” That factoid used by agent Scott Boras got Barry Zito a fat contract for the San Fransisco Giants as it seems so very impressive.(1)

But another way to rephrase that factoid is “Major League pitchers win games when they get significant run support.” or “When Barry Zito gets four runs or fewer, his record is just 49-130.”

But while we aren’t here to talk Zito, let us still revel in factoids yet again. This time it’s on the topic of $1 fantasy players.

Consider this factoid: “$1 guys are where a fantasy season is won or lost.” Are those guys at the back end of an auction or the last few rounds of a snake draft really where a fantasy season is won or lost?


 Factoids About $1 Fantasy Baseball Players

  1. According to Mock Draft Central the $1 end game starts around Round 22, but I’ve seen it as early as Round 18 and I’ve seen guys be so thrifty early that they can spend several dollars each for the last few guys on their roster, foregoing the idea of a $1 player all together.
  2. It’s basically a coin flip if $1 players earn money.  Over the past few seasons, MDC shows that 51% of $1 players end up earning more than a buck.
  3. Those that do earn money for a fantasy baseball owner are worth over $9 on average.
  4. But the other half that flop end up being worth $-7 and suck productivity from your team.
  5. On aggregate, the hundreds of drafted $1 players earned $1.89 by the end of the fantasy season.
  6. Everyone remembers Ben Zobrist from 2009, a $1 player who ended up earning nearly $29 dollars in profit.
  7. There were hundreds of fantasy baseball teams named “The $1 Zobrists” in 2o10.
  8. No one remembers that Ben Zobrist of 2009 was an outlier and that half of $1 players end up sucking productivity from teams.
  9. Catchers as it turns out are a particularly bad $1 bet, which challenges the notion that you should wait on a catcher until the end.
  10. Speculating on $1 rookies it turns out is a washout. You’ll have equal luck with a coin flip.
  11. $1 speculative buys on players returning from an injury had huge swings despite only 40% of them actually earning a profit. The healthy ones turned a healthy profit; the others…
  12. Starting pitchers are the most frequent $1 speculation.
  13. Only 29% of $1 starting pitchers earned a profit.
  14. Take a flier on a $1 corner infielder as a strong 77% earned a profit.
  15. Bringing it down to earth, I also looked at a single league I played in last year to see if the data held on an individual level as well.
  16. There were 12 teams in our Crackerjack league with a total of 48 one dollar players.
  17. One team had zero $1 guys, while another team had 9, really playing up the stars and scrub team approach.
  18. The league’s 2nd place team bought Kenley Jansen, Alex Cobb and Jedd Gyorko for $1.
  19. Some other notable $1 buys in this single league included Alfonso Soriano, Brandon Moss, Everth Cabrera, Julio Teheran, and Jonathan Lucroy.
  20. The notable $1 flops were pretty much every other $1 player.
  21. 31 out of 48 $1 players in this single league either lost value or broke even, a 69% failure rate.
  22. Based on previous factoids I’ll no longer say that “fantasy leagues are won or lost with $1 players.”
  23. But I’ll still be on the lookout for great $1 players because I have to spend that money on somebody.

Tags: Ben Zobrist Drafting Fantasy Baseball MLB

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