Data Visualization

Our MLB Draft Day Dashboard is No Fantasy

Spring Training is in full swing and Opening Day is right around the corner. That means that it’s draft season once again for fans of fantasy baseball. We decided to take a look at some projections from Steamer and how this information can be leveraged to help you select your team come draft day. 

We created a Fantasy Baseball Dashboard that allows you to look at all of the Steamer player projections for the 2014 season on a single visual interface. This tool allows you to sort by position and look at what the Steamer projections mean for fantasy performance in both Yahoo and ESPN leagues.

One thing that novice fantasy players have a hard time grasping is that big name players don’t always have the most fantasy value.

Let’s take a look at an example that illustrates this:

Based on the career statistics of these two players, it’s pretty obvious who the better player is. Pitcher A dominates Pitcher B in almost every single statistical measure. The most telling of these statistics is ERA+, which looks at a pitcher’s performance once it has been adjusted for the ballpark that he pitches in (where 100 is league average). Pitcher A’s career ERA+ of 282 means that he has performed almost three times above league average, while Pitcher B’s ERA+ of 100 means that he has been an average performer over the course of his career.

Based on this we would expect Pitcher A to have a much higher fantasy value than Pitcher B, but this isn’t necessarily the case. A player’s fantasy value depends very much on the scoring structure of the league that you’re playing in:

In an ESPN league, player A figures to be the stronger player. But if you’re playing in a Yahoo league, Player B would be a better pickup (and probably a better deal based on where you can expect to select him in the draft).

The graph below looks at all major league pitchers and their projected fantasy values. The green dots represent pitchers who figure to be starters for the majority of the season, while the orange and red dots represent relief pitchers. As we can see from the clear vertical separation, the Yahoo scoring system is strongly biased towards starting pitchers. This has to do with the point values that Yahoo associates with the various pitching statistics—Yahoo’s scoring system places a greater emphasis on innings pitched. This means that in Yahoo leagues, a middle-of-the-road starting pitcher is more valuable than even the most dominant reliever.

As it turns out, Pitcher A is All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel and Pitcher B is journeyman starter Carlos Villanueva. This just goes to show that there’s a big gap between a player’s real-world and fantasy value.

This type of insight can definitely be used to your advantage come draft day. We encourage you to use our tool to help you prepare for your draft and, if you’re feeling generous, share your insights with your fellow fantasy fans.

To find your own insights, explore the dashboard.

Happy drafting!

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