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Deep League Values at Catcher (with More Facial Hair (and Parentheses))

Perhaps it’s because I can’t grow substantial facial hair of my own, but when my grandmother-in-law very nicely sent along a shoebox full of baseball cards from 1978-1982, I was re-awed (sp?) by the facial hair (I say nicely because this is about the nicest thing she’s ever done (she once declared to a room full of people I didn’t know that my hair was obviously a perm (then she did so again during the processional at my wedding (!)))).

Being mathematical myself (take that sentence opening Mr. Connolly! (Mr. Connolly was my high-school English teacher)), I decided to sort them by some sort of mathematical function. Here it is:

Sort (1980, facial_hair, inches_of_face_coverage, wildness_of_look) = FaceHairRanking

After running my rather large sample size (200 or so cards) through the function, I have your top three players in FaceHairRanking for 1980 (drum roll please): 3) Gene Garber (Holy neck beard!); 2) Sparky Lyle (twirl those ends you bad boy!); 1) Al Hrabosky (Mad Hungarian is right!). Of course, these guys did other things (Garber had the now-rare trio of 10 wins, 12 losses and 14 saves in 1975, Lyle had a 127 ERA+ in almost 1400 innings, and Hrabosky, well, Hrabosky (I like writing his name (and saying it in my head)) threw with his left hand (and was mad), but I’m sure they are all eagerly awaiting their trophy (named the Tommy Bennett) in the mail.

Tortured intros aside (how much space did I leave for fantasy analysis?), this all does have a point. Let’s say you are in a deep league and you don’t want to reach on a catcher (reasonable enough), and you’re looking at catchers that are “Just off” our tiered rankings for the position (or below). How do you sort these guys?

If FaceHairRanking won’t help, what will? I mean, Yadier Molina (240.31 ADP), Carlos Ruiz (274.17 ADP), John Baker (322.9 ADP), Gerald Laird (325.7 ADP), and Jesus Flores (351.46 ADP) – cross your eyes a little when looking at their stats, and what’s the difference really (don’t leave them crossed, you’ll go blind). Maybe one will approach a .275 batting average (as opposed to .250), and maybe one will hit 10 home runs (as opposed to six), but most of them are interchangeable parts. So here’s an idea, sort these guys by reverse ADP! Seriously. Maybe Flores has the most threatening battery mate (but Ivan Rodriguez (329.87 ADP) is older than dirt in catcher years, and Flores is the youngest of the bunch), but you could really just wait past the 300th (!) pick in your draft, and then take whatever catcher you like. Boom – deep league catcher value article (book it!).

I do have a (less facetious) point that goes even deeper than the ADP rankings currently allow. Some leagues are so deep that you might even have room for a second catcher on your bench – in which case you can use a stolen tactic (from fantasy football) called handcuffing (like you’ve never heard of it). Why not take Laird and the (admittedly over-achieving) Alex Avila (ADP > 350) in order to make sure you have the (mediocre) starting catcher for the Tigers? That’ll cost you two end-game picks. If it’s a re-draft league, pair (ueberprospect) Carlos Santana (326.29) with the (less exciting) Lou Marson (ADP > 350). Or Taylor Teagarden (326.07) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (319.38 ADP) if you want a little more balance between your two guys.

If you’re a gambling type (and why not, if you’ve got no catcher and your deep league is wrapping up), here are two final names for you. They are both young guys, with some (former) gleam to their prospect shine, and an ADP value over 350, going up against extremely mediocre veterans. One is Adam Moore in Seattle, and the other is J.R. Towles in Houston. They might both deserve more words than I can (now) give them, but they both have some interesting minor league numbers (.301/.369/.483 for Moore; .299/.370/.493 for Towles) and some terrible big league numbers (.217/.250/.391 for Moore; .188/.280/.329 for Towles). But they both have mitigating secondary statistics (23 major league ABs for Moore (I know, not really a secondary statistic); .218 major league BABIP for Towles). Hey, Towles even ranks (reasonably) highly in today’s version of FaceHairRanking. (Please don’t hate me for my love of parentheses.)