Friday, December 28, 2007

Graphical Player – Key Fantasy Baseball Guide

The folks that write Heater Magazine just starter shipping their fantasy baseball guide, Graphical Player 2008. I loved Heater and used it extensively last year, it was key in competing in the NFBC which is a brutally deep and competitive league.

This is the first time I’ve used Graphical Player but I have to say that at first glance I love it! It’s not for beginners but I highly recommend it for veteran fantasy baseball players that are looking for an edge to help get their game to the next level. I plan on posting several updates in the coming weeks as I uncover nuggets.

The first thing that jumped out at me was WOW – Weight on Winners, which is something that I’ve been curious about for years. Basically, it figures out which players contribute the most toward a team winning their fantasy league. Breakout players like Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Braun are no brainers because of the relatively low cost that they came out. Basically they simulated 10,000 12 team roto leagues and figured out the % that a player was on the winning team. Alex Rodriguez is you 2007 run away MVP appearing on the winning team 31% of the time.

But that’s not really surprising, you don’t need to visit and purchase Graphical Player 2008 by John Burnson for $21.95 plus $5 for priority mail S&H to tell you that A-rod is a stud. The question is, how does WOW help us win our leagues in 2008?

One of my favorite players, Carl Crawford, tipped me off. Crawford got his 50 steals this year, hit slightly over .300 and swatted double digit home runs – typical Crawford year. However he only hit 11 HRs and I was hoping he’d start to establish more of a mid-20s level of performance or at least repeat high teens. I still love Crawford and am excited by the prospect that he might be available at a small discount. His WOW is 18 which is more than double the 8% average a player should have. So it begged the question, what other players are available at a discount or at least a reasonable fair market value that can significantly help my team win?

I decided to do a quick scan of all players with a 17 or higher WOW (more than double the average) who performed at or slightly below their previous 3 seasons in 2007. I did this for a couple of reasons – first, these players should be available at a reasonable price. Second, since we’re looking at a 4 year stretch they should have similar numbers in 2008. Third, since they have 4 years of a steady level of performance they would have a very good injury history. So I believe the result is a list of extremely safe players that will increase your odds of winning. Here are the initial ones that jumped out at me:

Carl Crawford

Ichiro Suzuki

Victor Martinez

Jose Reyes

Miguel Cabrera

Carlos Lee

Albert Pujols

I don’t think that you should draft Carlos Lee over Matt Holiday but what this does say is that if it’s between say, Derek Lee, Carlos Lee, Andruw Jones or Justin Morneau – Carlos Lee improves the chances of you winning your league more than the other guys. I also believe that Pujols is more likely to bounce back than A-rod is to maintain – and in a “down year” Pujols was still twice as likely to be on a winning team than the average player.

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