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RotoAuthority League Update: Top Draft Day Values

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 3 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he’s not one of them.

We're nearly one quarter our way through the season, so I figured it might be a good time to see which players have been the most valuable draft picks to date. This naturally begs the question: what makes one draft pick better than another? Well, ultimately the goal of this game is to get the best bang for your buck. In short then, it's all about value.

Now we have to be careful here in how we go about determining value. A player who outperforms his 26th round draft selection by 5 rounds is useful; however, a player who outperforms his 12th round draft slot by 5 rounds is far more valuable. This stems from the fact that the relationship between player values and draft position is not linear but rather logarithmic.

Todd Zola did some excellent work on this topic prior to Opening Day. As the fantasy expert states, "What we want to do is set a concrete boundary for players to be considered the same according to projected dollar value. All you need to do is take the round in which the player is ranked, multiply by three and that many players above and below the player in question are almost always within $2." Zola makes the link between draft round and the number of players within $2 in value, a rather negligible variance. Using his rule of thumb, a player drafted in round 5 will have 3 x 5 = 15 players with basically the same value.

This raises a few interesting revelations. Above all else, this reinforces the idea that on Draft Day we really shouldn't be tied to our dollar values. For one, dollar values are based on projections, which are really just estimates. If you have a guy ranked as the 10th best available player in Round 5 but you have high hopes for him, just draft him. Again, there's really not much difference in the other players you might have ranked ahead of him.

More importantly, though, the later you are in a draft, the greater the number of interchangeable commodities. This stands to reason; after all, the handful of players capable of going 30-30 will be scooped up by the end of Round 1 (except for Affordable Cargo, hat tip on the nickname to the PianoMan). In round 10, however, the best you can probably hope for in a power-speed contributor is to get double-digit totals in both HR and SB. Then again, unlike in Round 1 there are far more than just a few players who can provide what you want; indeed, you can find at least a dozen or so players who fit that description.

With this in mind then, it makes sense that if you plot the dollar values of players against draft selection, the graph is not linear. Now we all know Miguel Cabrera is a monster, but studs like him truly are leaps and bounds ahead of the pack. In any given season in a 12-team league, one can expect about 10 players worth between $30 and $40. If we use the same $10 window and examine players between $20 and $30, though, we'll find about 40 players. Continue this process on to look at players worth from $0 to $10, and you'll get well over 100 players. The point is the deeper you get into the player pool, there are fewer and fewer differences among the player values.

So back to the matter at hand: how do we determine value? Well, one method would be to simply subtract draft slot from current ranking on the ESPN Player Rater. As I've shown, though, this oversimplifies the process. Now if the RotoAuthority League employed an auction, it would make things a tad easier because we could simply subtract auction price from current dollar value. Unfortunately, it's still a straight draft league. On the bright side, however, thanks to excellent work by Bill Macey at BaseballHQ, we can convert draft slots into auction values using a logarithmic formula.

Here then are the Top 10 Draft Day Values thus far in the RotoAuthority League with draft selection in parentheses:

1. Jean Segura (242)

2. Starling Marte (193)

3. Manny Machado (215)

4. Chris Davis (134)

5. Carlos Gomez (93)

6. Matt Harvey (118)

7. Shelby Miller (256)

8. Coco Crisp (206)

9. Paul Goldschmidt (47)

10. Anthony Rizzo (67)

So now onto the more important question: which of these guys have the staying power to finish the year with truly breakout performances?

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