August 11, 2008
BASEBALL: The complete total base
Posted by Ricky West
I know Crank is a lot like most new-age baseball fans & pays close attention
to OPS (on base plus slugging), as do I. Like batting average, though,
that can take into account a player's value only when he's on the field which
can be deceiving for a player who is as likely to be injured or on the DL as he
is to be on the field. Take Nomar Garciaparra, for instance, always good
for a high batting average & decent OPS but also rarely available for more than
130 games per season. My fantasy league has created what we feel to be the
true barometer for a player's value when it comes to performance on the field:
the overall total base. The calculation for this category is quite
simple, MLB's total bases plus walks plus HBP plus steals. So, other than
when a batter/fielder moves the runner up, this formula encapsulates what a
player has done on the field during the season. Does this really
matter? Well, ask any rotisserie (or MLB) owner of Milton Bradley or
Chipper Jones, who have been day-to-day seemingly since June. Currently,
for players with more than 200 at-bats, the top 20 OPS performers in MLB are:
Diehard fans look at that list and know that Pujols was on the DL last month.
Chipper, #2 on the list, has 327 at-bats (David Wright has 453). Milton
Bradley, fourth on the list, has two plate appearances in the last week and a
half. Alfonso Soriano, #20, has missed over a third of the season.
Fantasy owners know all too well that there are two categories that are of the
utmost importance: at-bats and innings pitched. If they don't play, they
don't help you. Here are the current overall total base leaders through
Sunday's games, and chances are that means these are the fantasy 'studs' in your
Yes, Shady Grady Sizemore is the complete total base champ of baseball, at
this juncture. Yes, he has a high number of at-bats & a mediocre batting
average (.269). At the end of the day, though, when your fantasy
league is tallying up runs, homeruns, rbi and steals (and, maybe, MLBs total
bases) you're more likely to wish for Mr. Sizemore's presence on your squad than
Xavier Nady, J.D. Drew or Jermaine Dye. The old commercial may have said "chicks dig the long ball" but fantasy owners dig players who are on the field. Honesly, who is happy that they picked Howie Kendrick and his batting average?
Assuming that there is no reliable specific data that one can point to in order to judge a player's worth, does this truly account for a player's numerical fantasy value? Thoughts? Reactions?
I don't play fantasy baseball, only fantasy basketball and sometimes football. So I am not sure of the fantasy baseball rules.
That said, I assume that in fantasy baseball (as in basketball and football) one can substitute a player into the active lineup for a player on the DL (ESPN fantasy baseball has both a DL slot and bench slots, for example). If correct, I think your measure of "overall total base" understates the value of of players who tend to end up on the DL. To get a better estimate of how much that player will help your team, you need to add to the player's totals the stats you estimate will be compiled by his replacement for the time he is on the DL. That is, I would rather have Pujols instead of Sizemore, because the overall total bases you'd get from Pujol *plus his replacement from your bench for the month he was on the DL* is more than you'd get from Sizemore playing every day.
Of course, as in real baseball, in fantasy baseball the stats compiled by a backup will vary from team to team, depending on how good your bench players are. But still, it is likely that even a lowly bench player will pick up at least 20 overall total bases during a month while Pujols was on the DL, making the total of Pujols + replacement to be over 340 overall total bases.
You're mostly correct, you get a replacement (usually) for injured players. Guys like Bradley & Chipper, who have been day-to-day are iffy.
Thing is, though, you're by-definition bringing up someone that you didn't think was good enough to be on your "A" team to replace your stud.
If one of your WRs goes down on your fantasy football team, you're forced to use your #3 guy for that slot and unless you've gotten lucky with a diamond-in-the-rough youngster, chances are it'll be someone that was rated as an also-ran in your league.
In this case, baseball, let's look at Chipper Jones. Let's also assume that there are 12 teams in your fantasy league. If you lose Chipper, your best case scenario is that you're going to replace him with the #13 third-baseman in baseball, assuming that you had the top backup. Optimistic assumption, by the way. So, you're competing against teams with A-Rod, Wright & Aramis Ramirez and you're trying to patch together stats combining Chipper when he was playing plus Casey Blake. Not good.
I should know. :)
Is there a stat that measures your "total bases" by plate appearances? It seems like an obvious (and useful) stat but I've not seen it anywhere. Obviously it could be calculated pretty easily.
Two things strike me as being unaccounted for:
1. Caught stealing
2. Lineup position (Sizemore is boosted because he bats leadoff, whereas most teams bat their best player third or fourth)
Your Chipper analogy hits me hard. He is on both of my teams. I have been lucky on one of my teams as I also have A-Rod, but on my other team I have tried several alternatives (most recently Willie Harris). My team with A-Rod is in first place and my other team is in second, but has Holliday, Bay, Burrell, Tex & Prince. It has made it a lot easier having to play Harris.