Position Depth Scarcity

By nichols33

Any experienced fantasy baseball player will tell you that they take into account the depth at certain positions when drafting or placing an auction value on a player. Stephen Drew’s .291 avg. last season with 21 HRs was far more valuable than Derrek Lee’s .291 avg. with 20 HRs because Drew plays shortstop and Lee plays first base. Lee is an average 1B at best while Drew is arguably a Top 5 SS. How can that be you ask? It all comes down to the options available at each position and the difference between the top producers over the non producers who are forced to start due to lack of options.

My colleague tallkid1 wrote a great piece, Third Base, The New Second Base, where he asked the question which position has the least depth or most depth scarcity. This inspired me to try and put some analysis together and attempt to solve this question for the upcoming fantasy baseball season.

I based my analysis on a 12 team Head-to-Head Points league that starts 1 C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, U/DH, 3 OF, 5 SP, 2 RP. I took the average points scored for the season for the top “starters” at each position. So I averaged the top 12 scoring catchers, the top 36 scoring OFs, top 60 scoring SPs, etc. The data rolled up like this:

Pos Avg Starters Pts
C 321.7
1B 488.4
2B 418.0
SS 417.4
3B 412.0
OF 439.4
SP 411.5
RP 236.3

This analysis obviously assumes that the top 12 scorers at 1B are all on different teams and also does not factor in the U/DH spot but directionally this data proves very helpful.

As you might expect the top 12 scoring catchers are greatly outscored by the top scorers at other positions. MLB teams place great emphasis on defensive minded players at the catcher position and even the best catchers sit roughly every 5th game. What is rather telling is tallkid1 was onto something. 3B was actually lower scoring than SS and 2B.

Surprising no one, 1B is the deepest position but by how far ahead it was over OF was quite shocking to me. OF felt a little weaker than normal going into last season but some breakout seasons (Kemp, Quentin, Hamilton, Victorino, Ethier, McLouth, Ludwick) really added to the depth of that position.

When drafting or placing auction value on a player you must keep in mind the position depth scarcity. You can be sitting pretty after 5 rounds with Mark Teixeira, Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, Adam Dunn and Vladimir Guerrero but after round 15 you’ll feel nauseous looking at Bengie Molina, Alexi Casilla, Miguel Tejeda and Melvin Mora in your starting lineup.

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2 Comments

Filed under Position Analysis

2 responses to “Position Depth Scarcity

  1. tallkid1

    Love this analysis. It shows that even a strong 1B like Kevin Youkilis or Adrian Gonzalez can actually be below average when compared to your competitors.

    There is one other dimension to consider as the next step in this analysis and that’s the weighting of averages. It’s important to look at the median at each position to truly understand depth. For instance Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins clearly bring up the average at SS so you have to look at the next group of players such as Troy Tulowitzki, Derek Jeter and Stephen Drew to really understand the depth at SS. There are also some deep drop offs at some positions that need to be considered. Catcher is a great example of this where you have big guns like Mauer, Martin, Soto and VMart (and maybe Wieters) you see a big drop off to guys like Molina, Doumit, Pierzynski and Ianetta. Understanding where those drops off are key to grasping the depth of each position.

  2. mrcane

    Its also important to not get caught up in runs at different positions. If Jeter (overrated), Troy Tulowitzski, Rafeal Furcal and Stephen Drew all go before you have a chance to grab one at a reasonable spot, don’t overcompensate and draft Miguel Tejada, Peralta or Hardy in the 6th round. Wait a few more rounds where those guys will be a better value. If others want to take them, so be it, you can draft other pieces of your team that will allow you to make trades later on that address SS or any other position.

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