2016 MORPS projections are finally ready. Unlike the baseline projections published several weeks ago, these projections include all players projected to win a MLB roster spot on opening day. I have also included a number of impact rookies who are projected to join a roster early or mid-season in 2016. Rookie projections use stats generated during either minor league or international play. Factors are applied to adjust the stats to MLB equivalent stats. MORPS projections also account for expected adjustments in personal playing time.
The excel version of the projections include a key tab that defines all headings used in the projections. In short, fantasy baseball players that play in rotisserie leagues should key on the R-ROTO and ROTO columns. ROTO is a point value derived from weights on the categories in a standard 5×5 rotisserie league. R-ROTO is the player ranking based upon the ROTO point values. If you league uses a customer scoring system, you can use the projections in the categories of interest to customize your rankings. Fantasy baseball players that play in a more realistic format like Baseball Manager or a similar simulation league should reorder the pitching based upon OERV and the batting based upon RC. OERV stands for Out Earned Run Value. This stat attempts to value a pitcher by combining ERA with the value of number of innings pitched. This is a way for fantasy managers in simulation leagues to compare the value of a relief pitcher with a starter or a starter who pitches 200 innings with one that pitches 100 with a slightly lower ERA. RC is Runs Created. A league like Baseball Manager uses RC as a basis for the points they generate in their daily games. The more realistic the simulation, the closer the hitting will align with RC.
For those who like to resort the projections for their own fantasy system, make sure you filter out the players with a roster status of “N”. These players will most likely not make an opening day 25 man roster. Those players who were still in competition for a position were included with a roster status of “Y” in most cases. I posted the “N” players for those managers who have keeper leagues or deeper rosters that may want to pull one of these folks onto their list.
Team projections for 2016 will be posted within the next week.
The 2016 MORPS baseline projections are ready. This is the third year we have provided baselines. These projections use all the models we have put together over the years for projecting player performance. This means that the projections are still based on four years of data, positional mean regression, etc. However, they do not account for a player changing positions, reductions in playing time, new players to the big leagues, etc. We entered all MLB player transactions into system since the end of the regular season last year. While this doesn’t guarantee that we have caught every trade, free agent move or player being waived; we are hoping that the majority of these type of transactions were captured in the system.
Some may like the baseline projections more than the final version. I read one review of MORPS in 2014 that criticized the fact that we took the time to model anticipate plate appearances and batters faced for each team before releasing our final projections. They didn’t consider that process “scientific”. Our perspective is that the modeling allows us to adjust the ratios between each stat and plate appearance or batter faced to account for situations that weren’t present the year before. This could be a player being part of a platoon when they played the position full-time the year before. It could be a reduction in playing time due to the appearance of a blockbuster free agent or anticipated rookie hitting the big leagues. It could also be a pitcher coming back from Tommy John surgery after being out of the game for over a year. Regardless of the situation, we believe that the modeling of plate appearances and batters faced for each team adds significant value to MORPS projections. This view is supported by our #1 ranking in 2014 for player projections using root mean square error (RMSE). If you still doubt our ability to accurately model these situations or you have an early fantasy draft and need something now, you’re in luck. You can use our baseline projections.
So…. without further ado, we present the 2016 MORPS Baseline Projections. The Batting and Pitching projections are available in excel and PDF formats. Follow the links below to download your copy.
If you player Roto baseball, you will find the projections already sorted in Roto Rank order. If you play a more realistic version of fantasy baseball, like BBM, you will need to re-sort the XLS spreadsheet in RC order for batters and OERV order for pitchers. Play Ball!
Most opening day rosters are set which means its time for the final 2014 MORPS projections. If you’re a Braves fan, you have to be wondering why your city is cursed. First its the traffic jam to end all traffic jams. Next, it’s all your pitchers getting hit by the injury bug. I’m hoping that some minor adjustments this year will yield even better results for this year’s projections. We’ll check in October to see how the numbers mapped to real stats.
For those who play Fantasy, remember to sort your stats for your scoring system. Baseball Manager (BBM) managers should sort batters by Runs Created (RC) and pitchers by OERV. This should yield the best results for simulation leagues that use real stats for nightly scoring. Roto leagues should use the projections as presented below.
MORPS updates for pitchers and batters are as follows:
Feel free to leave comments or suggestions.
Spring Training always adds unexpected twists for projection systems. This year is no different. Injuries, position battle updates, and unexpected player transactions lead to changes in player projections. During the year, this simply leads to variance from projected player performance. During Spring Training, projection systems have a chance to make last-minute corrections to account for all these changes.
MORPS updates for pitchers and batters are as follows:
Feel free to leave comments or suggestions.
MORPS projections are late coming this year. I’ve delivered a set of baseline projections several weeks ago. However, you’ll find that the actual projections have some drastic differences. I’m always amazed by the amount of player movement during the off season.
The Major-League Obie Role-Based Projection System (MORPS) uses four years of player performance data for all hitters. Since I started playing with Sabermetrics using Tango’s Marcel system, the first iteration of MORPS four years ago used the same formulas. After learning the basics, the batter formulas were adjusted to include the most recent four years of performance data. Adjustments were also made for player age, home ballpark data and expected playing time. The most complicated part of the system is the regression formulas. Tango provided formulas for his three year model. I had to crack open the math books to figure out how to transition the formulas to a four year model.
One of the most time consuming tasks in developing the system was determining the proper mean for player regression. If the goal was to ensure that the mean of all the projections competed favorably with end of year player means, the task would have been straight forward. However, my goal was to make the actual player projections as accurate as possible. “Role-Based” means that the player projections are regressed to position specific means. National League means are also separated from American League means.
While conducting research, I noticed that most projection systems used minor league stats as well as any available major league stats to project the future performance of young players. There are even formulas that anticipate player regression when entering the majors. The interesting thing is that Tango’s Marcel system does just as good at predicting rookie performance as other projection systems and he doesn’t use any minor league stats. Some players are great in the minors and simply can’t make the jump to the major leagues. Some players start out great, but find that major league pitchers start exploiting weaknesses they never knew they had. Others outperform all expectations. By calculating the reliability of a player’s projection using only major league data, MORPS adds a proportional dosage of a player’s positional mean to complete a rookie’s player projection. Since we are focused on individual player performance, I didn’t see the point of including all minor league stats when the results don’t seem to provide significant value. The last year of a rookies minor league or international season is included, with appropriate adjustments for competition, if no major league experience exists. While efforts have been made to adjust projections to reflect anticipated playing time, players who have a roster flag of “N” are projected using baseline projections only.
The formulas used to create pitcher projections are very similar to those that we have already discussed with batters. MORPS uses four years of data to create a pitcher projection. Adjustments are made for age, home field and anticipated role. The reliability of a projection is calculated based upon the amount of data available for a particular player. Someone with low reliability will regress more to a position specific mean than someone that has faced a lot of major league batters over the last four years.
The big difference between projecting pitchers and batters is the usage disparity between relief pitchers and starting pitchers. A good relief pitcher may face 350 batters in a season. A top end starting pitcher may pitch to 900 batters in a season. The plate appearances for position players are typically not dependent on role. A first baseman and shortstop may both have 600 plate appearances over the course of a year. Their position means will be different. First basement will typically have higher power stats while shortstops have higher speed stats. But, they are similar enough that their projections can be calculated using the same basic formulas. The disparity between relief and starting pitchers forces them to be calculated very differently. For months I struggled with pitching projections. When I finally figured out that starting pitchers and relief pitchers had to be calculated separately, everything fell in place.
Since publishing “What is the best type of fantasy baseball draft for me?” I have received several questions about “dynamic value drafts”. Managers that primarily play rotisserie or point leagues have never heard or played fantasy baseball using this draft format. My purpose with this article is to explain this draft format in more detail. I will use questions from readers as a starting point for the discussion.
What sites use the “dynamic value draft” format? The only site that I have found that still uses the “dynamic value draft” format is Baseball Manager (BBM). This site has been in operation since the early 1990s and touts itself as the longest running fantasy baseball game on the Internet.
Why was the name “dynamic value” used to describe this draft format? One of the unique things about this draft format is that the managers for an individual league determine the salary of each player by a sequentially ordered draft list. It is “dynamic” because the values are not known prior to the draft. The draft engine determines the salaries of each player based upon their collective ranking by the league managers. The draft engine then processes the draft using those same draft lists. I have seen some very interesting draft strategies that both influence player value(s) and the subsequent drafts. See the draft strategy question below for more details.
Your article said that players are drafted one position at a time. How exactly does that work? Each league drafts starting pitchers followed by outfielders, first basemen, second basemen, shortstops, third basemen, catchers, and relief pitchers. Most leagues choose to spread these individual position drafts over the course of eight (8) nights. This allows managers to adjust their strategies in between each positional draft based on factors like draft order, remaining budget, anticipated player values, team needs, etc. Many BBM managers refer to the mornings of draft week as the “eight (8) days of fantasy baseball Christmas”. It is like unwrapping presents each morning. Although most managers apply strategies to narrow the possible list of players they will draft, you really don’t know until you look at the draft results the next day. Sometimes you “get your guy”. Sometimes another manager uses a strategy you weren’t expecting and you end up with a player you weren’t expecting. At the beginning of the draft, every manager has an opportunity to target any player. Your ranking of players and positional budgets, combined with anticipating the actions of other managers, will ultimately decide whether you truly “get your guy”.
How many players are drafted at each position? Six (6) starting pitchers, relief pitchers and outfielders are drafted. Two (2) first basemen, second basemen, shortstops, third basemen and catchers are drafted. Drafting multiple players at each position each night creates some interesting strategy opportunities. See the draft strategy question below for more details.
How is draft order determined? For the first positional draft, starting pitchers, the draft order is determined randomly. Total remaining budget determines the draft order for the other position drafts. The team with the most budget remaining always picks first. An interesting twist that makes the dynamic value draft much different from a traditional snake draft is that draft order is reset after each team selects a player. For example, let’s say that team A picks first because they have the most money remaining prior to the outfield draft. Team B picks second with one million dollars less than team A. Thus, team A will get the first pick and team B will pick second. If team A picks a player that is more than one million dollars more expensive than the player that team B picked, they jump in front of team A when the draft engine picks the second player for each team in the outfield draft. You’ll notice that I didn’t say that team B has first pick for the second player because it is possible for one of the other eight teams to jump ahead of them if they drafted an even cheaper player that resulted in their total money remaining to be greater than team B. The ordering of a manager’s draft list not only impacts player values and their draft picks, it also impacts draft order for each positional draft and within each positional draft.
How are player salaries determined? As stated above, the managers within a league dynamically determine player values based upon player draft order. Each league has ten (10) managers. If Tulowitzky is ranked first by every manager for the shortstop draft, he would be valued at 5 million dollars ($500,000 x 10). If he was ranked second by every manager, he would be valued at 4.5 million dollars ($450,000 x 10). Each position lower in the rankings subtracts $50,000 from the value of the player. The combination of the values of each player for all ten (10) managers determines a player’s salary. The minimum salary for any player is $100,000 ($10,000 x 10). Any player ranked outside of a manager’s top 10 is given a salary of $10,000 from that manager. Let’s look at a typical scenario in a first base NL draft for a player like Helton from Colorado. Five (5) managers ranked him 9th while the five (5) other managers ranked him 5th, 7th, 8th, 11th and 13th. We would add $20,000 ($10,000 x 2) to his salary for the 11th and 13th rankings, $300,000 for 5th, $200,000 for 7th, $150,000 for 8th and $500,000 ($100,000 x 5) for the five (5) rankings of 9th. His total salary would be set at $1,170,000 for whatever manager ended up drafting him. The salary valuation method outlined above is used for all the infield positions (1B, 2B, SS, 3B) and catcher. Starting Pitchers and outfielders are similar. The difference is that the top 25 players are awarded a salary over $10,000 from each manager. Instead of reducing player salaries by $50,000 for each reduction in ranking, player salaries are reduced by $20,000. Thus a pitcher ranked 2nd by all 10 managers would have a salary of $4,800,000 ($480,000 x 10). An outfielder ranked 19th by all 10 managers would have a salary of $1,400,000 ($140,000 x 10). Relief pitchers are the same as starting pitchers and outfielders in the sense that 25 players are assigned a salary over $10,000. The difference for relievers is that the max salary for any reliever is $2,500,000 ($250,000 x 10). Each reduction on a managers draft list reduces a reliever’s salary by $10,000. Thus, a reliever that is ranked 2nd by all 10 managers would have a salary of $2,400,000 ($240,000 x 10).
How does the draft engine decide who gets which player? Once player salaries and draft order is determined, the draft engines drafts a player for each manager based upon their ordered draft list and their positional budget. For example, let’s say that Manager A set his second base budget at 2.5 million. The draft engine would look for the highest ranked available player on their draft list that has a salary of 2.4 million or less. Why 2.4 million you might ask? Because $100,000 is always reserved for future picks within each position. Since two players are selected in the second base draft, $100,000 is reserved for the second pick and 2.4 million is available for the first pick. If Jeter is the highest ranked player on Manger A’s list that is under 2.4 million dollars, he is selected. If his dynamic salary was 2.1 million, Manager A will have $400,000 available for his second pick.
What are some of the draft strategies that veteran managers use to draft their team using a dynamic value draft format? I asked this question on Baseball Manager’s discussion board. I have highlighted several strategies that managers use below.
- Use a minimum position budget (3.5 million) for Starting Pitchers – The Poolboy stated “the trend has been to minimum budget SPs and position for a balanced offense with a top 3 or top 5 pick among position players” (remember that remaining budget determines future round draft order). UMP stated “low ball the SP round so not to be picking near the bottom of the key offensive rounds.”
- Remove as many free agents as possible – Bruno stated “if the majority of the league goes with min caps, don’t be afraid to spend on hitters. Remove as many potential free agents as possible”. Any player that is not drafted by a manager during the draft is available to managers after the draft as free agents with a minimum salary of the dynamic value that was set for that player during the draft.
- Try to draft a key offensive player – Adam Shaw stated “A good strategy in AL used to be to go for A-rod but this year everyone will probably be gunning for Pujols/Fielder/A-gon & a great 2B, 3B.” Managers tend to use minimum salaries for starting pitching and outfield if they want to have the most remaining money for the first base draft.
- Maximize the production you get for the money you spend – Humin’bird stated “in some cases it’s prudent to spend money on a top 3 player at a position, but you’ll wind up with a weak backup probably. If you can get two reasonably productive players for the same money as a top 3 player with a weak backup then you might come out a bit better. One of your two reasonably productive players might have a career year, whereas the top player might get hurt and leave you with nothing”.
- Use sleeper picks to spread out your draft dollars for SP, OF and RP – Many managers choose to move one or two players up their draft list as “sleepers”. If the manager used a budget of 3.5 million for starting pitchers, a sleeper may allow them to spread their dollars between more than just a few top 25 players. Assuming that one manager’s rankings are similar to another, a straight draft list is more likely to result in the selection of a player that barely fits within their established budget. Subsequently, the next players will need to be very cheap to fit within the remaining budget. A sleeper allows a manager to select someone at a lower dollar value which will leave more money for later picks. Three 1 million dollar pitchers may give you better results than one 3 million dollar pitcher and a bunch of $100,000 guys.
The strategies that managers use in this draft format are only limited by their imagination and courage on draft day. If they mess up, they could end up with a team that needs serious help in free agency to compete. If they do well in the draft, they could start the year in a very strong position.
It is generally accepted that the first fantasy baseball format that used live performance results was Rotisserie. It was started in 1980 by Daniel Okrent. The name comes from the place where the league met – a New York City restaurant called “La Rotisserie Francaise”. Rotisserie baseball is typically referred to by the number of batting and pitching categories that are monitored. A 4×4 roto league tracks 4 batting categories and 4 pitching categories. This format became popular because one could easily add up their player’s stats using weekly data information that was published in the USA today. In a 12 team roto league, the top manager would get 12 points in a category they lead, 11 points for second, etc. By adding all the category points together for those players you started that week, you derive the leaders (and eventual winners) of your league. Simplicity is the biggest strength of this format. You can run it just like a fantasy football league. Waivers are processed on one day. Weekly standings are published at the end of the weak. Etc. Etc. That is probably why this has become the largest fantasy baseball format. The negatives are the game does not reflect real individual player performance. Team stats like RBIs, Wins, Losses, etc. are dramatically impacted by the strength of a player’s team in lieu of their individual performance. Roto also doesn’t emphasize the daily nature of baseball. Everything is done on a weekly basis. In other words, the simplification that makes it popular to casual fans has also made it unrealistic for baseball purists. As real-time stats have become more accessible, many rotisserie variations have popped up. Head-to-Head leagues use rotisserie categories to award team wins, losses or ties on a weekly basis. Some leagues have even replaced traditional roto categories with sabermetric calculations.
Before rotisserie, a game called Strat-o-Matic (created in 1963) was the baseball diehard’s game of choice. Many didn’t consider this real fantasy baseball because live stats were not used. It was actually a tabletop game that used historical player data recorded on player baseball cards to simulate games and even seasons. Some sites still exist today that are built upon either historical or fictional player performance. All of these games have their roots in Strat-o-Matic. The pro of this format is that mangers often play a full 162 game season that has the daily feel of major league baseball. The obvious negative is that the game does not use live performance data. Thus, you are not really playing “fantasy” baseball.
In the early 1990s, a new game called Baseball Manager teamed with prodigy to create the first online fantasy baseball game. In order to recreate the real baseball feel of Strat-o-Matic and combine it with the live performance data associated with rotisserie, Baseball Manager chose to use newly created sabermetric projection systems to simulate daily head-to-head baseball games. The game engine combined live performances of players that played that day with banked performances that had not already been used in a head to head game. A fantasy manager’s team offensive performance was calculated by running their players thru the Bill James Runs Created formula. Defensive performances were a combination of pitcher ERAs and player’s fielding performance. A daily head-to-head game would be decided by comparing the offensive and defensive performance of each team. A daily sports page was published each evening for participating managers that read just like your local newspaper. Managers chose their daily lineups based upon pitching matchups (LH/RH); established their pitching rotations three days in advance like a major league manager and even simulated travel to an opposing team’s park to play a 3 game series. Although the game has obviously matured from the days of prodigy (web based), the basic idea of the game is still the same. The major positive of a simulation format is baseball realism on multiple levels. That is also the negative. Managers looking for simplicity or a draft and go type of league should not play simulation leagues. It isn’t a huge time commitment. But, you do have to spend some time on your team every few days. Over the last several years other simulation games have popped up that compete with Baseball Manager. Based upon second hand information, these other formats have resolution formulas that are not based upon sabermetric theory. However, I have not played these leagues so I don’t feel qualified to evaluate them within this post.
The last format that began emerging over the last 10 years is the head-to-head point leagues. These are very similar to roto in the sense that you draft your team and play baseball on a weekly basis. The difference is that the games use a resolution formula to award points for individual player statistical categories in lieu of ranking them from 1 to X. In a sense, they have attempted to use resolution formulas like the simulation leagues while maintaining the weekly format of roto. The positives and negatives of this format are really the same as roto. Simplicity, weekly formats, team based stats, etc. It is just a different way to represent the results.
You’ll notice that I did not discuss the various draft formats. I’ll attempt to cover that subject in another post since it seems that I have been typing on this topic for a while. Once you pick a format, this may be a differentiator for some managers.
So…, without further delay, the questions that you need to ask yourself when you want to choose a fantasy game are as follows:
1. How important is being part of the “main stream” of fantasy baseball?
a. Important – You should play rotisserie
b. Doesn’t Matter – Go to the next question.
2. What is more important to you – Simplicity or Realism?
a. Simplicity favors weekly formats like rotisserie and point leagues.
b. Realism favors simulation leagues.
c. Doesn’t Matter – Go to the next question.
3. Do you get bored with fantasy baseball within a month of finishing your draft?
a. Yes – You may want to try a more realistic version of fantasy baseball.
b. No – Go to the next question.
4. How long do you want to play – Full Season or Partial Season?
a. Full Season fantasy baseball is the standard for all fantasy baseball formats. Go to the next question.
b. There is only one format that offers a partial season – Simulation Leagues. Baseball Manager offers a lightning version that is 54 games in lieu of the standard 162.
5. How important is the level of competition that you play?
a. If you want to play the very best competition, you have three choices.
(1). Rotisserie winner leagues – Some sites allow managers who win within a public league to play in a winner league the next year.
(2). Money leagues – Managers typically only put big money into a league when they are serious about winning. Almost every format has money leagues.
(3). Progression Leagues – This is unique to the Baseball Manager Simulation leagues. In essence this is a fantasy pyramid scheme. There is one Tier 1 league, two Tier 2 leagues, four Tier 3 leagues, etc. If a manager wins a lower level league they are promoted to a higher tier the next year. The two bottom managers at the end of each year in each league are demoted to a lower tier. This is the only format I have played that has consequences for winners and losers. As a result, I have never seen an abandoned team in a progression league.
b. If you just want to win, public rotisserie and point leagues may be your best choice. Many of these sites suffer from abandoned teams and only a handful of quality managers per league. But, winning is certainly much easier in these formats.
c. If you really don’t care or you just want to have fun, you may want to go back and consider one of the other questions when choosing your type of league. You can always find a group of friends to play any format if fun is your goal.
I’m hoping these questions help you choose the fantasy baseball format that best fits your interests. Feel free to offer comments if there are other things that you found important when making your choice of formats.