Before I went on vacation last week, I posted what I had for replacement value with respect to the NFBC’s 12-team, $100K online championship. It was the aggregate by-position numbers gleaned from one of last year’s leagues. Here I’ll break it down further into individual stat lines.
|Position||Subset||REPL BA||REPL RUNS||REPL HR||REPL RBI||REPL SB||Slots|
|All H w/o C||TOTAL||0.268||81.62||23.78||78.02||10.22||12.00|
A few notes here. First off, I calculated the numbers for each position based on percentage of at-bats out of the aggregate. For most positions this works fine, but catchers are too high because their at-bats total come out to only 1.51 slots when we know they occupy two entire slots. Using the two-slot calculation, catcher replacement value is considerably lower:
Accordingly, I re-set the other replacement numbers based on the non-catcher totals and 12 total slots, rather than 14. You can see how little catcher value was found among the non-starters.
Second, as I did in the aggregate post, I calculated replacement value as the sum of reserves and undrafted players. (You can click on the prior article to see how I determined who qualifies as what.)
As you can see, undrafted players, i.e., waiver wire pickups, make up the vast majority of replacement at-bats (~88%). In the 12-team format, you’re very likely to find better players than the ones you happened to take in Rounds 24-30.
Third, outfielders comprised only 4.87 slots when you need five of them, and surely some people used OF-eligible players in their UT slots. But that’s likely just a function of the NFBC’s default positions. Plenty of players like Kris Bryant and Miguel Sano were used in the OF even though their designations are 3B or 1B. That might affect the position-specific replacement values slightly, but I imagine the impact was minor as most of the big producers were starters anyway.
Finally, the surprising thing is how high replacement value is everywhere but catcher. In fact, at first base it was actually higher than the starters! I thought this might be a spreadsheet error at first, but look who the undrafted players were: Ryan Zimmerman, Justin Smoak, Logan Morrison, Trey Mancini, Yonder Alonso, Matt Adams, Justin Bour, Yuli Gurriel, Rhys Hoskins and Mark Reynolds. And remember – we’re not looking at their season-long stats which suffer from stretches where they weren’t yet full time. These are only their stats on active rosters in the NFBC, meaning it’s cherry-picked for their best work. While there were duds among the pick-ups like Joe Mauer (that might have been me, actually), he got all of 12 at-bats before being cut. By contrast, the starters included nearly full seasons of Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Chris Davis, Brandon Belt and Matt Carpenter.
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Third base was especially odd with its huge HR and terrible BA numbers, but it makes sense when you consider a large portion of it was made up of Todd Frazier and Joey Gallo.
One flaw in this method, I’m realizing, is while replacement value should be fairly reliable across different leagues – after all, the player pool is the player pool, and all the top free agents get picked up in short order everywhere – the by-position results reflect averages rather than a typical snapshot of what’s available. On the one hand that’s as it should be because there’s no one waiver period where you make all your moves, but a season full of them where you’re constantly tweaking to improve your slots. On the other, if you pick up Aaron Judge, and the rest of the outfielders are terrible all year, the average replacement value isn’t going to reflect anyone’s reality, i.e., either you got much more than replacement value or much less.
In any event, I do think the edges smooth a little when you take the aggregate non-catcher hitters as there are many more players considered, and everyone has a good chance to get a few of them. But for a more accurate read on replacement value of a given format, you might need to do this over multiple seasons, and that’s tricky because baseball, e.g., juiced or deadened balls, can change in the meantime.
But here are the key replacement numbers if you’re using these as a basis (as I will in subsequent pieces):
|All H w/o C||TOTAL||0.268||81.62||23.78||78.02||10.22||12.00|
As you can see in the 12-team, replacement value is very high. I suspect it’s significantly lower in the 15-team format, and I’ll also be exploring that as the Main Event nears in mid-March.
For pitching, I had to do something a little different. I couldn’t just apportion slots based on IP the way I did hitters and at-bats because starting pitchers throw so many more innings (more than 84% of the total), so it would look like only one and a half relief slots were used rather than the 2-3 you need if you want to compete in saves. Accordingly, I estimated 2.5 relief slots and 6.5 starting slots as my basis for calculating the per-player numbers. It might actually be 2.7/6.3 or 2.3/6.7, but I can’t think of an easy way to ascertain that info. One other issue, I noticed just now, is Brad Peacock, who almost certainly was used for his starts, is listed as a reliever, as was Mike Montgomery, though we’re talking about a total of 100 IP or so.
The result that jumps out at me is undrafted pitchers (streamers) were terrible with a 4.63 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. If your starters didn’t pan out, the waiver wire was a minefield. Also, the relief win totals look high, but keep in mind there were some listed relievers who had spot starts, and we’re not talking about the projections for any particular reliever, but the entire slot over the course of the year with different players toggling in and out of it.
I didn’t include the IP numbers in the table, but starters get 172 IP and relievers 82.5. Because I did the calculations by roster slots rather than IP, I didn’t differentiate between drafted and undrafted innings pitched. But you can see there are a ton of strikeouts per relief slot (partly due to a couple SPs creeping in as relievers) but mostly because top relievers on average strike out more than a batter per inning, and these are the cherry-picked best ones in a relatively shallow league.