Scoresheet: The basics of player evaluation

by BaseballHQ.com on March 26, 2009 @ 00:00:00 PDT

 


There are three key components in determining the value of a player in any Scoresheet league:

  1. The value when playing on your team this season
  2. The value of the player to other teams (commonly referred to as trade value)
  3. The value of the player in future seasons (perpetual leagues only).

This article will concentrate on the first of these components.

The player evaluation process begins with some reasonable prediction of the statistical performance of every player eligible for your draft. The hard part is taking those projections and turning them into a ranking.

Position players

Essentially, you need to look at a combination of how well he hits, how much he plays, his position(s), his range, how many errors he commits, how many bases he steals/times he gets caught, and how many runs he scores. The most important, of course, is his hitting, relative to other players at his position. OPS (OB% plus slugging) is a popular measure, but it vastly undervalues the importance of getting a man on base. Better to use a more complex measure, like runs created/game or linear weights.

Next, you need to consider any value that his speed might add. I like to think of it this way: A stolen base turns a single into almost a double (the difference being that a man that might have scored might be on third) and being caught turns a single into a sacrifice bunt.

Defense is an important, but often overlooked part of evaluating players, and can affect a player's value by as much as 20%. There are two things to consider... a player's range, and the number of errors he commits relative to other players at his position.

Range factors are available from a number of sources, including the STATS, Inc. books. The cost you assign to an error should be at least the same as a hit and probably no more than a double. Outfielder errors are potentially more costly, but the difference is small. As a point of reference, in my league last year, the unearned runs/errors ratio on the 10 teams participating ranged from 0.44 to 0.71.

Finally, you need to look at plate appearances. The maximum number of PAs that you can have a player give you is proportional to the number he gets in the majors. So, if two players, measured by RC/G are identical, have the same range, commit the same number of errors at the same position, and have the same future potential, you want the one who is likely to give you more PAs.

You also need to consider the role the players will have. If they're in your starting lineup, then you want as many PAs as you can get. Be careful in looking at likely starters. If you have one who is sure to get his 650 PAs versus one who might platoon and only get 400-500, consider what the player with fewer PAs will be worth when you backfill the PAs of his backup to reach a full-season level. That can significantly reduce his value.

Pitching

Unlike Rotisserie, pitching wins, losses, and saves are usually meaningless in simulation leagues. The only stats that really matter are IP and ER. Although predicting performance for pitchers is much more difficult than for batters, evaluating them once you have a prediction is much easier.

The goal is to minimize your team's ERA over the course of the season. First, you should pick a baseline ERA, an ERA level at which you consider a 200 IP pitcher to have no value or liability. In the NL, you might use 5.00, but an AL league would use a level closer to 5.50. In mixed leagues, you must account for the significant league differences. Be sure to "normalize" your baselines to one league or the other.

For starting pitchers, you can use the formula (Baseline - ERA) * IP to give you a sense of value. For relievers, you may want to factor in their roto ratio ((BB+H)/IP) to account for the fact that they often inherit runners.

[Editor's note: You can also use Ed's formula with BPVs and consider baselines around 40 in the AL and 50 in the NL.]

Many drafts require you to integrate both batters and pitchers into a single ranking. Unless you're using a formula that makes it easy to compare them (like runs above replacement), merging your two lists will be a black art. The best advice is to load the top of your list with position players, given the fact that pitchers are more prone to injury and their performance more prone to fluctuation.

A few final words about the other two components of player value...

Trade value can be difficult to evaluate. If you know an owner has a hole in his team, or has a soft spot for a particular player or team, you can take advantage of it by drafting the right individuals and trading them for more than their worth.

In perpetual leagues, future value can have a dramatic effect on the balance of power in your league. Consider that a player's prime years are typically between ages 27 and 31 and that the older a player is, the sooner you will need to find a replacement. Finally, be sure to consider how injury prone a player is.

Tips specific to Scoresheet Baseball

Generating rankings: When generating player rankings in a perpetual league, don't forget to include prospects that don't appear on the draft list. There are players who are still eligible due to being affiliated with a team of the correct league but do not appear on the other league's draft list.

Batting: Experience has shown that OB% is at least twice as important as slugging. Runs scored are an extremely minor stat. Scoresheet uses them, combined with SBs, 2Bs, and 3Bs to determine how many bases a runner gets on a hit by another batter. You may choose to simply ignore it.

Speed: Remember in Scoresheet, you can prevent any player from ever attempting to steal, so the value for speed should always be positive.

Defense: Scoresheet provides defensive range factors in their draft packet and they never change over the course of the season. For a full time player, each 0.10 in range is worth about .025 in batting average.

Plate appearances: You want as many PAs as you can get but anything over 650 is likely to be wasted.

Pitching: The worst thing you can do in Scoresheet is fail to draft enough pitchers who will give you innings. If you run out of innings, Scoresheet will bring in the dreaded "Pitcher, AAA" with an ERA over 9.00.

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