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Monday, May 21, 2012

DistraKtions

There are a lot of shiny objects in baseball and in football.  Many things that draw our attention.  Advanced statistics, off-field storylines, random occurrences, etc.  Often, when we translate what is happening in the real world to the fantasy sports world we get distracted from what makes an impact.

A perfect example is strikeouts.  Of course it is important to pay attention to K's with your pitchers, but why do so many people care about the number of times a hitter strikes out?  It's like looking at a house and thinking it is priced too high because there's bright red paint on the dining room wall.  Ridiculous.

Sure, strikeouts for a hitter can be an indicator or a predictor for you, especially when they are trending to a great degree in one direction or the other.  But, if there is a consistent track record?  Forget them.

Adam Dunn is a great case study.  For the seven seasons from 2004-2010 he averaged over 180 K's per year.  He also averaged over 40 HR's per year with exceptional consistency.  He was money in the bank for 40 HR, 80+ R, and 100+ RBI with a BA between .234 and .266.  At the same time it was very common for people to look at the 180+ strikeouts and think that they didn't want any part of Adam Dunn.

Why?  Who cares about his K's?  It limits his BA a bit, but that is already factored into the deal...  What if half of his K's were groundouts?  He would have had the same BA with only around 90 K's.  If that had been the case I guarantee you he would have been viewed differently and valued much more highly.

Another distraction?  Defensive ability.  Dunn is a terrible defender, which further reduces his perceived value.  But I ask you, who cares what he does with the leather?  If he loses some AB's to a defensive replacement on a regular basis, I suppose that could impact his value... But come on, there's too strong of a track record there.

In 2009 I got Dunn for $9 in a standard-issue 12-team keeper league.  And this was fairly early in the auction when people still had money.  He was supposed to go for at least $18 that year if I remember correctly, and I was really just price enforcing.  I already had my outfielders (Remember Dunn as an OF?  Good times, good times...) so I expected to drop out of the bidding around $14 or $15.  When I got him at $9 I couldn't believe it.  I kept him in 2010 for $14 but elected not to keep him in 2011 for $19.  He got drafted (by someone else) in that league last year for $23.  Ouch.

Anyway, the bottom line here is to become more aware that these sorts of distractions exist and that they artificially reduce player values in our minds.

A good one in the football world is the number of times a running back catches the ball out of the backfield.  Sure, it limits his production but that's already factored into his value.  What you have to look for is if the player is further downgraded in the perception of fantasy managers due to a limitation in one area of the game.  If they are perceived to be worse than what their track record would indicate... boom!  Buying opportunity.

Another one is the number of times a quarterback fumbles.  I mean, yeah, that's -2 points in most leagues but the point here is that if a QB is losing 7 or 8 fumbles per year they will be perceived poorly as a result.  For you that would be about -0.5 points per week worse than the average QB.  If all of the sudden a pretty solid QB option got bad press for his fumbling issues, don't you think his fantasy value would drop more than the reality of the situation?  -0.5 points per week should reduce their value somewhat, but it is hardly a major differentiator.  It is, however, a buying opportunity for you.

Be on the lookout for real value versus unfair drops in value based off of perceived value.