Fantasy Baseball Round Table: MVPs, Cy Youngs and Rookies of the Year

by Todd Zola, on April 2, 2014 @ 13:37:16 PDT


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Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Not hard to fish for this answer

You know, I thought about. I knew by being vague we'd get answers coming from a couple different perspectives. But in the end I decided each angle has merit. In a minute, we'll reveal the Knights' predictions for each league's MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year. The catch is when you broach the topic from a fantasy point of view, the whole bang-for-the-buck aspect is introduced. Is the fantasy MVP the player returning the most fantasy value or the player with the greatest value with respect to their cost?

A common axiom is you can't win a league with your first round pick but you can lose it. While I understand the message, it's a very cliché and I feel lazy way to make your point. After all, only one of three first-round picks ends up worthy of that status, so being in that minority can indeed go a long way towards winning your league. Basing the fantasy MVP on pure performance is basically asking what first-round pick is most likely to return the most value. I think this is a relevant question.

On the other hand, just based on conventional valuation principles, a first-rounder that does what he's supposed to do offers little profit. It's the players taken later that provide the big return on your investment thus are the MVP in many pundit's eyes.

Let's see how the Knights attacked the question.

AL Fantasy MVP

Brian Walton: This could be a two-man race between Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera. Both have huge new contracts, but I will go with the younger, more balanced performer in the Angel. Can't really be wrong on this one.

Ryan Carey: Mike Trout: I think this year will be the first of many MVPs for the Angels' new $144 million-dollar man. Sleeper Candidate: Evan Longoria

Lawr Michaels: Michael Brantley: MVP to me means delivering maximum profit for minimum investment. I think Brantley will jump some levels with a 20/20 season.

Tim Heaney: Lawr touched on the fun debate with all these. How are we putting the awards in context? Some of us will define it differently. I tend to look at these awards the same way Lawr does -- winning fantasy typically involves getting that one guy that'll perform way above his draft or free-agent price. But I'll stick with the status quo for these, and give my value-based designations in parentheses.

Mike Trout. Bold. (Jose Abreu)

Greg Morgan: Following Tim's lead....

Mike Trout/Miguel Cabrera -- coin flip (Derek Jeter ... Hey, he's hitting .333 already. Grady Sizemore wins if he stays off the DL)

Todd Zola: OK, I'll play, too. Mike Trout returns the most raw value while teammate Kole Calhoun offers great bang for the buck.

AL Fantasy Cy Young

BW: I can immediately think of six contenders -– Yu Darvish, King Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale, David Price and the twin Tigers, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. Even though Yu is currently sidelined, I will give him the slight edge, though Sale's upside is very intriguing.

RC: Chris Sale: I think Brian laid out most of the leading contenders, I am going with the guy I own in a ton of places. Sleeper candidate: Justin Masterson.

LM: Chris Sale: the American League Clayton Kershaw.

TH: David Price: Those first two months from last year aren't the truth. (Danny Salazar)

GM: Max Scherzer (Jake Peavy never gets any respect ... Drew Hutchison is a dark horse)

TZ: Chris Sale returns the most value from an arm but Drew Smyly is a great return on investment. You really didn't think I was going to do this without mentioning Smyly, did you?

AL Fantasy Rookie of the Year

BW: In a pure world, Xander Bogaerts would be my selection. A couple of experienced professionals new to the US should finish ahead of the Red Sox rookie, however. Jose Abreu is the pick for those who dig the long ball, while my preference is Masahiro Tanaka.

RC: Jose Abreu: I think Abreu can win this easily just by staying healthy and playing nearly every day. He's the real deal, and his power numbers will be hard for voters to ignore. Sleeper Candidate: George Springer 

LM: Yordano Ventura. Dude throws really hard and can control it.

TH: Jose Abreu, he with the swing that makes Steve Gardner, me and others swoon, edges out George Springer. (Yordano Ventura)

GM: Yordano Ventura

TZ: I'll go with Bogaerts under the assumption that Abreu has a better season statistically but Bogaerts is close enough that position and age tilt the voters in his favor.

Closing it out with the NL awards....

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About Todd Zola,

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at and, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums. Fantasy Baseball

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