Your lwts Fantasy All-Stars: American League

The All-Star Game voting discussion is topical in real life, so why not talk about it in fantasy?  I’m of the philosophy that All Star Games should be about the best players, not just the players off to a hot start over the first few months.  In this case, I’ll define “best player” as the players that offered the most production over the past calendar year (i.e. June 2010 through May 2011).  Below, the point values are FanGraphs Points, and the $ shown are the player’s average cost.  Without further delay, here are your American League (fantasy) All-Stars!

Catcher: Victor Martinez (746.5 pts, .368 wOBA, $25)
Alternates: Carlos Santana (571 pts, .352 wOBA, $31) and Mike Napoli (565 pts, .343 wOBA, $12)

Now primarily a DH, Martinez continues to be an excellent fantasy producer.  The guy can hit, and with catcher eligibility he’s just a terrific player–probably more so in fantasy than in real life, given his fielding issues.  Santana is back after missing time with injury, and has largely picked up where he left off last year.  Napoli might surprise some folks, but he got a lot of playing time after the first few months last year and produced very well.  If only he could actually catch, he’d get more PT…

First Base: Miguel Cabrera (1254 pts, .424 wOBA, $48)
Alternates: Paul Konerko (1190 pts, .419 wOBA, $15), Adrian Gonzalez (1188 pts, .397 wOBA, $46)

A lot of owners were concerned in the preseason about Cabrera’s off-field struggles with alcohol, but the guy keeps on hitting.  He was auctioned as the 4th-most valuable player in baseball, and may even be better now.  Konerko’s an interesting guy who doesn’t get much respect, but has been amazing over the past year.  Gonzalez’s numbers prior to this year are depressed due to PetCo, but he’s among the best in his league at his position in both fantasy and reality.  I’m not including DH’s in this piece, but David Ortiz (1091 pts, .400 wOBA) would be just a tad behind these guys.

Second Base: Robinson Cano (982 pts, .363 wOBA, $42)
Alternates: Ian Kinsler (749 pts, .360 wOBA, $23), Howard Kendrick (741 pts, .338 wOBA, $5)

Big surprise here: Cano’s been phenomenal.  Kinsler doesn’t have the massive point totals due to missed time, but when healthy he has produced just as well as Cano.  I was surprised to see Kendrick show up so high, but he had such a good first two months this year that it’s lifted his calendar year totals to very respectable levels.

Third Base: Jose Bautista (1432 pts, .465 wOBA, $30)
Alternates: Alex Rodriguez (909 pts, .378 wOBA, $32), Adrian Beltre (957 pts, .364 wOBA, $20)

Another big surprise, right?  Bautista’s just been ridiculous for the past year and a half, and is easily the best fantasy third baseman…and is approaching #1 overall status.  Beltre hasn’t been quite as good this year as he was last year, but has still offered excellent production.  A-Rod is, I think, approaching undervalued status…

Shortstop: Alexei Ramirez (846 pts, .344 wOBA, $14)
Alternates: Asdrubal Cabrera (701 pts, .340 wOBA, $5), Jhonny Peralta (706 pts, .330 wOBA, $3)

American League SS is just miserable.  But despite warnings of him being overvalued by many during draft season, Ramirez has really only gotten better.  This year, he’s been overshadowed a bit by what Cabrera and Peralta have done.  But if you look at the last 162 games, and account for the fact that Ramirez has played in pretty much every game, he ranks just a tad higher.  Also worth considering because of the quirks of ottoneu position eligibility: Wilson Betemit (656 pts, .352 wOBA, $2).

Josh Hamilton (854 pts, .438 wOBA, $37)
Curtis Granderson (989 pts, .377 wOBA, $14)
Carlos Quentin (911 pts, .394 wOBA, $7)

Alternates: Shin-Soo Choo (858 pts, .360 wOBA, $34), Nick Swisher (843 pts, .356 wOBA, $13), Bobby Abreu (843 pts, .352 wOBA, $5)

Hamilton has missed a lot of time, but when he’s been around, he’s been the best there is by a country mile.  You can make a similar argument about Quentin, but I’m giving Granderson the nod here because he’s played more.  Choo’s been a huge disappointment thus far in 2011, but his calendar-year performance is still very solid (.279/.377/.440).  Abreu continue to plug away and get relatively little respect for what he does.

Starting Pitchers:
Felix Hernandez (1351 pts, 2.82 FIP, $45)
Justin Verlander (1290 pts, 2.88 FIP, $33)
Jered Weaver (1275 pts, 2.84 FIP, $22)
CC Sabathia (1292 pts, 3.04 FIP, $32)
Alternates: David Price (1116 pts, 3.07 FIP, $26), Dan Haren (1168 pts, 3.10 FIP, $26),  C.J. Wilson (1054 pts, 3.35 FIP, $7)

These are your elite AL pitchers over the past year, by pretty much every measure.  Sabathia actually has the second-best point total, but his per inning performance hasn’t been quite as good.  Given that there’s an innings cap in ottoneu, I ranked him 4th.  But we’re sort of splitting hairs here.  I do find it interesting that Weaver went for such little money in ottoneu, given his season last year.

Relief Pitchers:
Jonathan Papelbon (553 pts, 2.35 FIP, 35 SV, $9)
Mariano Rivera (525 pts, 2.64 FIP, 35 SV, $14)
Joakim Soria (546 pts, 3.01 FIP, 38 SV, $14)
Alternates: Brandon League (521 pts, 3.16 FIP, 25 SV, $3), Matt Capps (507 pts, 3.43 FIP, 33 SV, $3), Chris Perez (498 pts, 2.95 FIP, 34 SV, $5)

Ah, the fickle job of the closer.  Joakim Soria was without a closer job only a few weeks ago, and yet still ranks as the 3rd-best reliever over the past calendar year.  He actually has accumulated more points than Soria, but I’m ranking Rivera above him (slightly) because of better rate stats.  Thing I didn’t expect: Brandon League has posted almost the same point total as Rivera over the past calendar year.

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Justin is a lifelong Reds fan, and first played fantasy baseball on Prodigy with a 2400 baud modem. His favorite Excel function is the vlookup(). You can find him on twitter @jinazreds, even though he no longer lives in AZ.

18 Responses to “Your lwts Fantasy All-Stars: American League”

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  1. SlackerITGuy says:

    How is Jose Bautista a 3B? lol

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  2. SlackerITGuy says:

    Then all those leagues should be ashamed of themselves.

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  3. Phillie697 says:

    Yes, comment on an article written about fantasy baseball, for fantasy baseball audiences, in an area of the website devoted to fantasy baseball, and tell people they should be ashamed of themselves. Yeah, you’re not self-righteous, not at all.

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  4. Jason B says:

    Should the all-stars be more devoted to “bang-for-the-buck” then gross production or output? e.g., Konerko at an average cost of $15 is a lot more productive use of draft funds than Cabrera for $48 – 95% of the production at 31% of the cost!

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    • Aaron says:

      You could do it that way but I think this way makes more sense. Just like you don’t put guys on the real All-Star team because they are great bargains compared to their contracts.

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    • Jason B says:

      Well no, but in a fantasy league with salary restrictions (presumably, since we’re citing average cost here) the “bang-for-the-buck” factor will be what separates the winners from the losers. You expect to get $40 or $50 of value from the Miguel Cabreras, Adrian Gonzalezes, and Felix Hernandezes of the world. It’s getting that huge production from the late fliers, bounceback candidates, and breakthrough players – the Lance Berkmans, Matt Joyces, Mike Morses, and Asdrubal Cabreras of the world, that will bring fantasy glory.

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      • Justin Merry says:

        That’s sort of what I was doing with my surprises series, which you can see if you look back a few weeks. There I was looking for guys who most outperformed their cost thus far. That doesn’t mean they’ll continue to do so, of course, but I might do something on projected value above cost in the future.

        With this post, though, I just wanted to focus on who the best players have been at each position. That, I think, is what All Star games are about (or, at least, should be about).

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      • Jason B says:

        Fair enough! Thanks for the response.

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      • Tim says:

        This distinction doesn’t matter. MLB teams also have salary restrictions (albeit, varying ones) and rely on efficiency to a tremendous extent. E.g., Tampa Bay or (conversely) the Mets. The Yanks and Sox are exempt, but the vast majority of teams do rely on “late fliers, bounceback candidates, breakthrough players” – we could swap out Jason B’s examples for, say, Cody Ross, Pat Burrell, Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey. Or their counterparts from the Rangers.

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  5. Scott says:

    Have you guys given any thought to re-working the points system next season? It seems with the run scoring environment down that mediocre starting pitchers are way outperforming top end OF and 3B talent which just doesn’t seem right. Tim Stauffer has nearly as many points this year as Andrew McCutchen (450 to 472) while McCutchen has ~3.3 batting WAR and Stauffer has ~1.5 pitching WAR to date. This doesn’t seem right.

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    • Justin Merry says:

      Well, the question is how each player is performing compared to a replacement player at his position. You can’t compare straight up to regular WAR because McCutcheon is getting credit for playing CF in FanGraphs WAR and is compared to all OF in ottoneu. Also, Stauffer’s WAR performance will get discounted because he plays at PETCO, whereas park adjustments do not apply in fantasy (value-wise, at least, until someone gets traded in real life).

      My spreadsheet that does the replacement calcs has data that is about two week old. It, at the time, had McCutcheon at 2.4 batting WAR. The difference between a CF and a corner OF is ~1 WAR per season (maybe pro-rated 0.4 WAR at the time), so we should probably deduct another .3 WAR or so to compare him to all OF. That puts him at ~2 batting WAR. I had him at 96 points above replacement in our scoring.

      There were three pitchers listed as exactly 2 WAR pitchers at the time: Jordan Zimmermann, Kyle Lohse, Brandon McCarthy, and Justin Verlander. Here’s the points above replacement I had for those pitchers:
      Zimmermann: 109 pts above replacement
      Lohse: 108 pts
      McCarthy: 110 pts
      Verlander: 77 pts above replacement

      Average of those four is 101 points above replacement. That’s pretty darn close to the McCutcheon score of 96 points above replacement. That’s a pretty fantastic, actually, to find it so close. I think it’s working really well.

      (if you’re wondering, the reason Verlander is so much lower is because the baseline used in WAR is different from the baseline in fantasy–fantasy’s replacement level is much higher. At the time, Verlander had more innings than those other pitchers, but a higher FIP. The fantasy calculation gives him less credit for playing time than the WAR calculation).

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  6. Scott says:

    Excellent response to my question. I set up a 20 team league using this scoring system but did not institute an ip cap. This has made any SP a valuable commodity since lots of ip=lots of points relative to RP’s (this is doubly true for RP/SP eligible starters). I only now realize how the ip cap emphasizes value over replacement rather than the value of replacement in bulk….

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    • Justin Merry says:

      Yeah, I think you need either an IP cap or transaction limits. I use this system in a weekly H2H points league, and it works ok because you can’t stream to an absurd level as you can only change lineups once per week.

      But it’s definitely the case that SP/RP’s have tremendous value in that league. I drafted Tim Stauffer as my #2 RP in that league and he’s been tremendous for me (my other RPs are Zambrano and McClellan. I was going to draft Putz over McClellan, but the guy two picks in front of me grabbed him).

      I did bump save points up to 7 points in that league to give true closers a bit more value, and will be moving holds up to 6 points next year. Definitely helps.

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      • Tom B says:

        I’ve noticed this same issue in a H2H league I set up using the Tango points… unfortunately Yahoo does not provide an innings limit for H2H leagues. :(

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      • Justin Merry says:

        I’m not sure I’d want an innings limit, because you could hit that with a bunch of long starts without using a starter in relief. But a starts/week limit would be nice. I’ve heard that ESPN can do this, so I might look into hosting my league there next year if that’s true and it’s otherwise a good system.

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  7. Kyle says:

    His name is Jacoby Ellsbury and he will get his revenge.

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