How to Handle Different Categories: OBP

Because the standard roto format uses batting average, most analysis, rankings, and projections are based on that and the other standard roto categories. If your league uses additional categories or replaces traditional categories with new ones like average being replaced by OBP, you’re can’t just rely on the normal analysis and cheat sheets provided by fantasy sites. You’re going to have to do a little bit of extra work. The purpose of this post is to aid those playing in leagues in which OBP has replaced average as a category.

When  OBP replaces average, you can’t simply look at the guys who have the best OBPs to determine who gains an advantage in this format. What really matters is the difference between OBP and average. To determine when the difference becomes significant, I created a spreadsheet with all qualified hitters from the last three years with their OBP and average. Then I calculated the difference between those numbers,  the mean and the standard deviation for the differences. The mean was .068 and the standard deviation was .02. I then sorted the differences large to small and cut out all players that were within one standard deviation of the mean. Below are the lists of players who were more than one standard deviation from the mean.

Name AVG OBP Difference

Two Standard Deviations or More Above the Mean

Carlos Pena 0.206 0.337 0.131
Jose Bautista 0.271 0.4 0.129
Daric Barton 0.249 0.369 0.12
Adam Dunn 0.212 0.33 0.118
Prince Fielder 0.291 0.409 0.118
Lance Berkman 0.275 0.391 0.116
Carlos Santana 0.247 0.363 0.116
Joey Votto 0.321 0.434 0.113
Mark Reynolds 0.213 0.326 0.113

One Standard Deviation or More Above the Mean

Kevin Youkilis 0.264 0.372 0.108
Josh Willingham 0.257 0.361 0.104
John Jaso 0.256 0.36 0.104
Chase Utley 0.264 0.367 0.103
Ben Zobrist 0.259 0.359 0.1
Alex Avila 0.26 0.358 0.098
Carlos Quentin 0.251 0.349 0.098
Todd Helton 0.27 0.366 0.096
Brett Gardner 0.269 0.365 0.096
Travis Hafner 0.267 0.363 0.096
David Ortiz 0.296 0.391 0.095
Dan Uggla 0.248 0.343 0.095
Russell Martin 0.231 0.326 0.095
Mark Teixeira 0.252 0.347 0.095
Shin-Soo Choo 0.284 0.378 0.094
Jayson Werth 0.271 0.365 0.094
Mike Napoli 0.261 0.355 0.094
Rickie Weeks 0.255 0.349 0.094
Dexter Fowler 0.275 0.367 0.092
Nick Swisher 0.274 0.366 0.092
Jonny Gomes 0.249 0.34 0.091
Geovany Soto 0.234 0.325 0.091
Jason Heyward 0.261 0.352 0.091
Matt Joyce 0.256 0.347 0.091
Curtis Granderson 0.247 0.337 0.09
Evan Longoria 0.275 0.365 0.09
Logan Morrison 0.25 0.339 0.089
Chipper Jones 0.276 0.365 0.089
Chris Young 0.243 0.331 0.088

 

Name AVG OBP Difference

One Standard Deviation or More Below the Mean

Jonathan Lucroy 0.279 0.326 0.047
Ronny Cedeno 0.254 0.301 0.047
Vernon Wells 0.244 0.291 0.047
Jeff Keppinger 0.296 0.341 0.045
Melky Cabrera 0.303 0.348 0.045
J.J. Hardy 0.256 0.3 0.044
Erick Aybar 0.274 0.317 0.043
Mark Trumbo 0.259 0.302 0.043
Michael Young 0.299 0.341 0.042
Adam Jones 0.284 0.326 0.042
Daniel Murphy 0.302 0.344 0.042
Ian Desmond 0.271 0.313 0.042
Darwin Barney 0.263 0.305 0.042
Alcides Escobar 0.262 0.304 0.042
Howie Kendrick 0.284 0.325 0.041
Carl Crawford 0.283 0.324 0.041
Ben Revere 0.278 0.319 0.041
Rajai Davis 0.263 0.304 0.041
Alex Rios 0.273 0.313 0.04
Danny Valencia 0.257 0.297 0.04
Starlin Castro 0.297 0.336 0.039
Adrian Beltre 0.314 0.353 0.039
Chris Johnson 0.279 0.318 0.039
Miguel Tejada 0.259 0.298 0.039
A.J. Pierzynski 0.278 0.316 0.038
Alexei Ramirez 0.272 0.31 0.038
Alex Gonzalez 0.247 0.285 0.038
Vladimir Guerrero 0.295 0.332 0.037
Ichiro Suzuki 0.29 0.326 0.036
Orlando Cabrera 0.251 0.286 0.035
Omar Infante 0.289 0.323 0.034
Delmon Young 0.278 0.311 0.033
Miguel Olivo 0.239 0.271 0.032
Mike Aviles 0.27 0.302 0.032
Jose Lopez 0.236 0.265 0.029

Two Standard Deviations or More Below the Mean

Yuniesky Betancourt 0.251 0.275 0.024

 

As you can see on the “good” list, there are a lot of high profile hitters with great OBPs not listed. Guys like Adrian Gonzalez, Buster Posey, Ryan Braun and many others aren’t on the “good” list because they already have good batting averages and thus don’t get a bump in an OBP format.

As mentioned, most rankings and analysis are based on the assumption of batting average as a category. My own personal rankings and projections are as well because that’s the format that I, and most readers, play in. For my projection system I use something I call roto rating. The idea is fairly straightforward. I project all hitters in each of the five standard roto categories and then I assign them a value for each category on a scale of 1-10. The scale is created by creating ten tiers for each category.

I took the 200 hitters from last year with the most plate appearances (this being roughly the number of hitters usually drafted in a standard 12-team league) and created the tiers based on that list. For example, there were 20 hitters who had a batting average above .307 last year and the next 20 hit between .292 and .306. If I projected a guy to hit .307 or better, I assigned him ten points for average. If I projected a guy to hit between .293 and .306, I assigned him nine points. And so on and so forth. After I did that for each category, I added up all the points and gave each guy a roto rating (You can see my top 200 here).

To determine how much of a bump to give or how much to knock a hitter down in an OBP league, I created tiers for OBP. Below are the tiers I used for average and OBP.

Pts

OBP

Pts

AVG

10 .370 or higher 10 .307 or higher
9 .361-.369 9 .293-.306
8 .349-.360 8 .286-.292
7 .341-.348 7 .275-.285
6 .334-.340 6 .270-.274
5 .327-.333 5 .260-.269
4 .322-.326 4 .250-.259
3 .313-.321 3 .241-.249
2 .303-.312 2 .229-.240
1 .302 or lower 1 .229 or lower

 

From there I could compare where a guy fell in the average tiers to where he fell in the OBP tiers and adjust my rankings accordingly. Below are the guys listed previously, this time with the number of points they would have gained or lost in my “roto rating” system.

Name

Points Change

Name

Points Change

Jose Bautista

6

Delmon Young

-5

Daric Barton

6

Mike Aviles

-5

Carlos Santana

6

Ben Revere

-4

Josh Willingham

5

Chris Johnson

-4

Lance Berkman

5

A.J. Pierzynski

-4

Kevin Youkilis

5

Alexei Ramirez

-4

Joey Votto

4

Ichiro Suzuki

-4

Adam Dunn

4

Vladimir Guerrero

-4

Carlos Pena

4

Omar Infante

-4

Prince Fielder

4

Yuniesky Betancourt

-4

John Jaso

4

Jonathan Lucroy

-3

Chase Utley

4

Mark Trumbo

-3

Ben Zobrist

4

Erick Aybar

-3

Carlos Quentin

4

Adam Jones

-3

Brett Gardner

4

Ronny Cedeno

-3

Travis Hafner

4

J.J. Hardy

-3

Dan Uggla

4

Ian Desmond

-3

Mark Reynolds

3

Darwin Barney

-3

Rickie Weeks

3

Alcides Escobar

-3

Matt Joyce

3

Carl Crawford

-3

Alex Avila

3

Rajai Davis

-3

David Ortiz

3

Alex Rios

-3

Shin-Soo Choo

3

Starlin Castro

-3

Jonny Gomes

3

Howie Kendrick

-3

Todd Helton

3

Danny Valencia

-3

Mark Teixeira

3

Miguel Tejada

-3

Jayson Werth

3

Orlando Cabrera

-3

Mike Napoli

3

Jose Lopez

-3

Nick Swisher

3

Vernon Wells

-2

Jason Heyward

3

Jeff Keppinger

-2

Curtis Granderson

3

Daniel Murphy

-2

Chris Young

3

Melky Cabrera

-2

Russell Martin

2

Michael Young

-2

Evan Longoria

2

Alex Gonzalez

-2

Dexter Fowler

2

Miguel Olivo

-2

Geovany Soto

2

Adrian Beltre

-2

Logan Morrison

2

Chipper Jones

2

Just to give this a little perspective, any player going after the first few rounds would go up or down about a round for each two points gained or lost. For the guys going in the first two rounds, the changes in value are a little smaller. On the good side of things, Jason Heyward probably becomes a no-doubt second round pick if he wasn’t already there for you, Prince Fielder and Jose Bautista become sure-fire first rounders, and Joey Votto is the clear #4 pick behind the big three and might even be worth drafting ahead of some of the big three depending on how high you were on Votto to being with. When I calculated the mean and standard deviation for OBP, Votto’s OBP came in at more than four standard deviations above the mean. On the “bad” side of things, Adam Jones goes from a late third/early fourth option to a late fourth/early fifth option, Adrian Beltre goes from a late second/early third to a fourth rounder, and Starlin Castro goes from a fourth to a late fifth or sixth rounder.




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You can find more of Brett's work, including his podcast, on TheFantasyFix.com or follow him on Twitter @TheRealTAL.


36 Responses to “How to Handle Different Categories: OBP”

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  1. Andrew says:

    Very informative post. We play in a 14 team OPS league and I ended up with quite a few of these guys Votto,Heyward,Zobrist,Weeks, Alex Gordon etc. I feel pretty good about it. This should help guys in OBP/OPS leagues. Thanks!

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  2. Aaron Murray says:

    I hope OBP leagues gradually become the norm.

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  3. ML610 says:

    Can you further explain why the difference between obp and avg matters as opposed to purely the obp number? If a players historical obp is .330, why do i care what component is derived from bb% versus avg?

    I mean if im evaluating two players with a .330 obp, with all else equal, why do i care if one has a .300 avg and .30 from bb% versus one who hits .290 and picks up .40 from bb%?

    Thanks

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    • Ian says:

      I believe the intent was to highlight guys that may be undervalued while others in your league are basing their picks off standard 5×5 rankings that include AVG.

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    • Michael says:

      Of course the pure OBP number is the bottom line, but the point was to show differences between BA and OBP because 99% of fantasy baseball literature you come across ranks hitters purely according to BA. Exploiting those differences is where you might be able to find an edge if your leaguemates aren’t paying attention. So for example if you were to let the computer pick your team based on default rankings, you would most likely suffer pretty badly in the OBP department.

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    • Brett Talley says:

      Yeah, Ian and Michael are spot on. The idea was that most people are presumably using rankings based on projections for the five standard roto categories. If you found rankings for an OBP league or if you made your own rankings based on OBP, this post wouldn’t be for you. But I think most rankings/cheat sheets out there that people use aren’t based on OBP. This post was intended to help you identify the guys you should move up and down those cheat sheets so that you don’t have to search for or create completely new rankings.

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  4. Trevor says:

    Yuniesky Betancourt really is in a league of his own.

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  5. Ian says:

    Surprised that Adam Eaton doesn’t show up in this analysis. He seems to be creeping up draft boards, but I still like him as a late round pickup for steals+OBP.

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    • Ian says:

      Nevermind. (Qualified hitters from the last three seasons)

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      • Brett Talley says:

        Yeah, I could have widened the sample some, but even if I had done that, I doubt I would have widened it enough to include Eaton. But yes, he’s a good OBP guy. I pretty much like him in every format this year. Great late round add.

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  6. centerfield ballhawk says:

    Wow… this article was really well done. This is exactly the reason why I come to fangraphs again and again. Keep up the solid work.

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  7. Moerder says:

    Really great work on this, Brett. My league uses OBP and SLG instead of AVG, and every year it’s such a (minor) headache for me to suss out rankings based on AVG. This is the best and most helpful article I’ve ever read. Thank you!

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  8. Giancartroll says:

    Wow. Wherever did you learn how to do such impressive statistical analysis? You must have a pretty gifted teacher. Now tits or GTFO.

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  9. Bobby says:

    Our league includes AVG and OPS. I’ve been toying with the idea of Votto at 4th. You say he is the clear #4 in an OBP league, but what about an AVG and OPS league? I think he may still be #4 (it’s not as if his AVG or SLG are lacking).

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    • Bobby says:

      Also, great article. I agree with the other commenters, this was extremely helpful. Especially since my draft is tomorrow!

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      • Brett Talley says:

        Thanks, Bobby. Yeah I’d have Votto as a clear #4 in that format, but not in the discussion to go ahead of any of the big three. Votto led the league in OPS last year and was about three standard deviations above the mean in that category, so he gets a huge boost when you add that category. I had him just behind Kemp and virtually tied with Pujols in my traditional 5×5 ranks, but he’s quite a bit better than Pujols with OPS and a touch better than Kemp as well.

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  10. Randy Talley says:

    Good work Brett. Don’t forget to thank your old man for giving you the love of the game

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  11. Scott says:

    This article is FANTASTIC. My main league uses OBP instead of AVG, and I love it. Too bad we finished our draft this week! Please do this again in future seasons, and do it earlier, if possible.

    Also, any OBP-related articles throughout the season (especially anything that discusses possible OBP of guys getting called up) Would be great.

    Great work. More OBP please!

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  12. Brett Talley says:

    If anyone is interested, here is the link to my piece on leagues that replace HR with slugging percentage: http://www.thefantasyfix.com/2013/03/how-to-handle-different-categories-slugging-percentage/

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  13. Brett Talley says:

    Unfortunately, not on this topic. I have other assignments from both sites I right for on Thursday and Friday. Really wanted to do some stuff on extra pitching cats. But I’ll start the series sooner next year.

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  14. J MAC says:

    I’m in a 12 team 5×5 H2H keeper league and I’m trying to decide who to keep. This is late, but drafts at 445pm CST tomorrow. I’m trying to decide my four keepers and have five possible players. After seeing this about Adam Jones, I don’t know whether to keep him or Ryan Zimmerman, and I have 2 other OFs.

    1. Giancarlo Stanton
    2. Carlos Gonzalez
    3. Troy Tulowitzki
    4. Adam Jones
    5. Ryan Zimmerman

    If you have any advice in this situation, I’d appreciate it.

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  15. Brett Talley says:

    The gap between Jones and Zimm definitely closes some, but I’d still prefer Jones by just a little.

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    • J MAC says:

      Thank you. This is a great article. So glad my random google search found it. Definitely be following in the future.

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  16. J MAC says:

    Just to be clear, you would for sure keep Heyward over Adam Jones in a 12 team 5×5 Keeper league with OBP instead of AVG?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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