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2014 Fantasy Baseball Rankings and Fantasy Baseball Draft Guides

RotoRank Fantasy Baseball 2014 Rankings and Custom Draft Guide Subscriptions are on sale now! 

(Projections Last Updated on 03/20/2014)

 

1.     Purchase a RotoRank Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide Subscription for $20 via PayPal and have instant access to the latest 2014 fantasy baseball rankings with projections updated until Friday 3/28/2014 (updated projections that may affect draft pool rankings will be posted on Twitter). 

2.     Learn the different draft strategies used in fantasy baseball covering all fantasy baseball league configurations, including Auction, Head-to-Head (H2H), Fantasy Point, and Rotisserie Scoring.

3.     Learn why Position Scarcity can give you an advantage when you draft a fantasy baseball team.

4.     Learn why Online Fantasy Baseball Rankings and Draft Guides can give you a greater return on your investment than printed fantasy baseball rankings found in magazines.

5.     See how the Fantasy Baseball Expert Draft Guide can be used to make better draft day decisions by combining Average Draft Pick (ADP) information, up to date fantasy baseball rankings, and a unique grading system that allows any fantasy baseball owner to compare players across all positions in a matter of seconds.

How Position Scarcity affects Fantasy Baseball Rankings
In 1990, I began playing fantasy baseball as a hobby.  After several years of playing fantasy baseball, I started noticing the patterns that winning owners used during their fantasy baseball drafts, and I started analyzing the methods in order to improve my chances of winning in very competitive leagues.  By the late 1990's, I had a collection of spreadsheets that allowed me to build customized fantasy baseball rankings that I could arrange into a customized draft guide for each of my fantasy baseball leagues. 

 

The process of building custom fantasy baseball draft guides using my own fantasy baseball rankings was very time consuming, since I was joining 10+ leagues each season.  In 2001, I created RotoRank to help me prepare for multiple fantasy league scoring systems using one consolidated database to store my player projections.  The software generates reports that group players by breaking down the fantasy baseball rankings into a draft guide listing players in their primary position. 

 

Organizing Your Research
Compiling a fantasy baseball rankings list is an essential part of any fantasy baseball draft, but knowing how to properly use that list is something that usually takes years of experience.  RotoRank is a grading system that allows you to reorganize your fantasy baseball draft list into a more effective drafting guide by taking an ordered fantasy baseball rankings list into clustered groups of scoring talent.

 

By assigning a letter grade to players with similar statistical value based on your league's fantasy baseball scoring system, you have more flexibility when making a draft day decision.  Breaking your list into player groupings rather than just an ordered fantasy baseball ranking list allows you to decide how to build your team which puts you at a great advantage over drafters using a fantasy baseball cheatsheet from a magazine published in January. 

 

Instead of using an outdated publication fantasy baseball cheatsheet and scrolling down an ordered fantasy baseball ranking list of available players until you find the highest valued player available at a position you need to fill, RotoRank can show you how the other owners have been drafting and guide you to selecting players of similar value at weaker positions.  Using RotoRank will allow you benefit from the years of fantasy baseball draft day decisions that I and many other experienced owners have used to win fantasy baseball leagues in the past.


Experienced drafters learn that it isn't one superstar that makes or breaks your fantasy baseball team, but the combination of superstars and role players that yield a balanced statistical output within a league's scoring system.   The owners who can get the most out of their role players and late round fantasy baseball draft picks will inevitably win their fantasy baseball league.

 

Many experienced owners utilize a fantasy draft strategy known as position scarcity, whether they are conscience of it or not, and this is the primary philosophy used by RotoRank to build custom fantasy baseball draft guides.  Every baseball fan knows that there is a lot of hitting depth at 1B and OF, and that in most leagues every team will have their pick of the best pitchers in baseball, with many other quality players going undrafted due to roster restrictions.  The key to drafting a winning team is to know when to select a player from a scarce position rather than a similarly skilled player at a much deeper position.

 

RotoRank reports help you decide when you should select a certain players to fill spots on your fantasy baseball team by converting an up-to-date fantasy baseball ranking list into a matrix where players with similar “statistical” value are graded the same across all fantasy baseball positions within your league.  The easiest way to relate how I group players based upon their projected fantasy baseball ranking is to assign a letter grade to each group of players within a statistical cluster.  I use the expected fantasy baseball draft round to define the contents of each letter grade assigned to a group of players.

Group     Rounds
A+          1
A            2
A-          3  
B+          4, 5
B            6, 7 
B-           8, 9 
C+          10, 11, 12
C            13, 14, 15
C-           16, 17, 18
D+          19, 20, 21, 22 
D            23, 24, 25, 26
D-           27, 28, 29, 30

You could determine a different method of grouping players on your draft list, but the goal is to create a group of players that you feel are similar enough in “statistical” value that it doesn’t matter which player you pick from the group as long as he is the best fit for your team at that point in the draft.

 

Using Your Draft List and Player Groupings

One of the essential things you need to understand about position scarcity is that it differs for each league. Every league has their own rules, so there is no way to create a blanket statement about which positions are scarce that covers all leagues; however, I can make some generalizations based on a common league configuration that may help you understand how to use the RotoRank Expert Draft Guide Report to its full potential. I will base my example on 10-team fantasy baseball league in an attempt to identify the scarce positions for the 2011 Season. The example league requires the following positions players: 2 Catchers, 1 First Baseman, 1 Second Baseman, 1 Third Baseman, 1 Shortstop, 1 Middle Infielder, 1 Corner Outfielder, 5 Outfielders, 1 Utility Hitter, 6 Starting Pitchers, 3 Relief Pitchers for a total of 23 starting players. For position scarcity, do not include reserve players, as it will only skew the position scarcity profile of the league.

The chart below was compiled using the RotoRank Scarcity Report for the aforementioned fantasy baseball league configuration. 

RotoRank Fantasy Baseball Position Scarcity Report

 

RotoRank subscribers can create this report at the click of the button, once they have defined the configuration settings of their fantasy baseball league.  To explain this in a little more detail, I have exported this same report to Excel and added some additional information.

 

 

2011 Fantasy Baseball Position Scarcity Chart

Grade

Picks

C

1B

2B

3B

SS

OF

SP

CL

MR

A+

1 to 10

0

3

1

0

2

3

1

0

0

A

11 to 20

0

0

1

4

1

3

1

0

0

A-

21 to 30

0

3

0

0

0

5

1

1

0

B+

51 to 70

1

2

3

0

2

5

5

2

0

B

71 to 90

0

1

2

1

1

5

7

3

0

B-

121 to 150

1

1

1

0

0

8

7

2

0

C+

151 to 180

2

3

3

0

2

7

4

7

0

C

181 to 220

3

1

1

3

1

5

14

0

1

C-

261 to 300

0

1

0

2

4

4

10

8

1

D+

301 to 350

0

0

1

3

5

10

15

2

1

D

401 to 450

4

2

1

1

3

11

10

1

7

D-

451 to 510

1

4

1

0

1

5

10

5

10

E+

511 to 570

3

2

2

2

2

5

14

4

14

E

631+

95

100

46

53

33

174

61

8

470

Required Players =

20

15

15

15

15

50

60

30

10

Target Players =

2

10

8

5

6

29

22

8

0

Average Players =

10

11

7

9

16

42

63

23

20

Player to Avoid =

98

102

48

55

35

179

75

12

484

Talent Gap/Surplus =

-8

6

0

-1

7

21

25

1

10

 

Fantasy Baseball Position Scarcity of Catchers

As usual, Catchers are the scarcest hitting position in this 10-team fantasy baseball league.  The league requires 20 total active catchers, but only 12 catchers are average or better based on the projected fantasy baseball 2011 rankings.  If you want to remain competitive with other owners in this fantasy baseball league format, you need to grab at least one Catcher in the top 18 rounds.  If the opportunity to grab a second catcher surfaces before round 18 of your fantasy baseball draft, you could gain a slight competitive advantage over the rest of your league. Unlike 2011, the difference between the elite catchers and the average catchers has narrowed.  Quite a few catchers had 15+ Homeruns, while the elite catchers did not reach their expected heights in all statistical categories.

Fantasy Baseball Position Scarcity of Second Baseman and Third Baseman

These two infield positions are traditionally scarce, but last year the depth at these positions were diminished even further by injuries, the decline of some aging veterans, and the unrealized potential of top prospects.  Since both positions have about a 50% split between above-average and average players, you’ll want to plan to fill your starting positions within the first 10 rounds of the draft. 

Fantasy Baseball Position Scarcity of First Baseman and Shortstops

The remaining infield positions have similar talent pool depth; however, first base is definitely loaded with 6 top 30 players compared to 2 top 30 players at shortstop.  Like the other infield positions, there is a 50% split between above-average and average players, so plan on drafting a 1B and SS within the first 10 rounds of the draft. 

Fantasy Baseball Position Scarcity of Outfielders

As expected, Outfield is the deepest hitter position in 2011.  The difference between outfield and infield depth, is the fact that there are 2 average players to each above-average outfielder.  You definitely need to draft at least two outfielders in the Top 10 rounds, or you are going to have less of a competitive advantage than teams that grab 3 or 4 Top 100 outfielders.

Fantasy Baseball Position Scarcity of Starting Pitchers

Like the outfield position, there will be plenty of quality starting pitchers for a user to select from during their fantasy baseball draft.  In deeper position, they key is to select players who have some potential fantasy baseball upside.  Pitchers who have a fantasy baseball ranking of 30+ picks better than the Average Draft Pick (ADP) usually qualify as players with upside potential.  The more value you can get from drafting pitchers later in the draft, the more leeway you have to loading up on hitters who are in the Top 150 of the 2011 fantasy baseball rankings.  With the higher injury risks that pitchers face each year as evidenced by Adam Wainwright during 2011 Spring Training, I am recommending waiting until at least round 5 before drafting your first pitcher, and having at least 2 starting pitchers by the end of round 10.

Fantasy Baseball Position Scarcity of Closers

There are numerous strategies for pursuing points in Saves.  Some fantasy baseball draft guides recommend avoiding closers and focusing on quality starting pitchers and middle relievers, while others will advise to grab elite closers from the Top 150 players in the 2011 fantasy baseball rankings.  I always like to get at least one reliable closer from the Top 150, then hope to get lucky by drafting a few lower end closers or top setup men in order to remain competitive for scoring points in the Saves category of your fantasy baseball league.  As with Starting Pitchers, Closers are inherently more risky than drafting a comparable hitter; however, there are times that right Closer becomes your best value of the draft.

General Position Scarcity Guidelines

If you have the chance, always draft a scarce position over a 1B, OF, and SP; however, don't sacrifice a lot of value to do so. If an A+ rated player is on the board, do not draft a B rated player during your pick just because he plays a scarce position that you need to fill on your roster. The RotoRank 2011 fantasy baseball rankings has already factored in bonuses for superstars at weaker positions, so the only time you want to dip to the next talent level is if you are on the talent breakpoints: A- and B+,  B- and C+,  C- and D+,  etc. 

When two groups are meeting, like rounds 3 and 4; rounds 9 and 10; rounds or 18 and 19, there is usually a few owners that are targeting the same group of players.  During your fantasy baseball draft, you will need to determine the chances of a player you want will be available when it is time for you to make your next fantasy baseball draft selection.  If you select a player who is hovering around each group’s breaking point, you can select him early and hope you can compensate for the lost value in the very next round.  As long as you pick up the player with the better fantasy baseball ranking in the next round, you should be able to get the players you really like without losing your competitive edge.  By flipping the draft order of borderline players like this, you may be able to prevent other owners, who have a similar position need on their fantasy baseball team, from “stealing” your player.

These talent breakpoints also create a unique phenomenon of the “fantasy baseball position run”.  A fantasy baseball position run is more likely to cause owners heartburn during a starting pitcher or relief pitcher run, because the impact is usually subtler at the time the pick is made since you are in the middle rounds of the draft (rounds 7 through 18). There is a great tendency to panic when every team already has 2 starters and 2 closers, and you are sitting there with only one of each. If you attempt to match other team’s current allocation of players by dragging players from a lower group into a higher group just to make a pick in the “position run”, then you are missing out on the opportunity to select the most valuable player available from your well researched fantasy baseball ranking list! Just imagine the impact that this effect can have if there are 4 fantasy experts using this drafting system and 8 rookie fantasy owners who consistently select players from weaker groups in earlier rounds just because they are trying to mimic the veteran owners. With all that extra higher quality talent available to veteran owners later in the draft, I would be willing to be that at the start of the season, the 4 experts will be in top 5 slots in that league’s standings…

Conclusion
It takes a lot of time and effort to compile an accurate Scarcity Chart for your league, especially if your league doesn’t use the typical 5x5 statistical fantasy baseball categories. The custom fantasy baseball ranking feature in RotoRank easily converts your draft list into a scarcity chart based on RotoRank's fantasy baseball 2011 rankings. RotoRank will also allow you to print a variety of reports that will group players by position and player grade, allowing you to have a quick reference guide for your fantasy baseball draft. The above Scarcity Chart Report is a feature available when you purchase a RotoRank Customized Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for the current fantasy baseball season.

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