This article is part of our The Z Files series.
Before heading to the Fall Stars Game at the recent First Pitch Arizona (FPAZ) conference, a couple of guys approached me in the hotel lobby where I was asked about importance of projections. They wanted an expert's opinion, but since they couldn't find one, they settled for me.
Their conversation stemmed from each drafting a team the previous evening. With no ballgames on the Friday night preceding Saturday's Fall Stars game, FPAZ sponsors several draft and auction leagues of various formats. These two participated in one of the National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) draft-and-hold leagues. One remarked to the other, "I hate my team, drafting without projections sucks." The other countered with, "I love my team, but I never use projections anyway." From there, the two began arguing about the importance of projections before asking me to mediate.
The first thing I did was explain while some may not use spreadsheet-driven, formulaic projections, everyone has player expectations, so it's more semantics. One person's projection is another's Zen expectation. Both nodded in agreement.
I was then asked, "Which is better?" I responded with a question, "What's a projection?"
Paul (not his real name), the guy that uses them replied, "They're how the person feels the player will perform." Norm (also made up), the one that doesn't use projections chuckled, "Aren't they just guesses anyway?"
I suggested, "Projections are more like educated guesses, based on history. Some use a Zen-like approach, doing each by hand, looking at the player's history and simply