This article is part of our The Z Files series.
Grouping players by tiers is a popular bookkeeping procedure. Most often, the delineation is based on quality. That is, one tier ends and the next begins when there's a perceived drop in fantasy potential. There's nothing wrong with this approach. Many have used it with good success, including yours truly.
Last week, I serendipitously stumbled upon an alternate tiering process and applied it to relievers. Then I had an epiphany – this will work for all positions!
To review, the method isn't really tiering; it's more grouping. The inventory is grouped by a common trait, and then roughly ranked within each group.
The best part is the groups are entirely subjective, based on the manner the individual perceives that player pool. You may take the same 40 relievers and order them differently within a group, place someone in a different group or even come up with a completely different set of groups and not use ones that I listed.
The idea is to get away from drafting a static projection and focus on roster construction. In other words, you're emphasizing something about each player beyond their mean projection. By means of example, here are the starting pitcher classifications I'll present in a bit, with a brief description.
- Ace – Elite skills, solid track record of success, no obvious injury concern
- Potential Ace – Elite or the potential for elite skills without an extended track record
- Solid – The primary trait is durability, but elevated skills with some level of risk