Basics: The Theory of Converting $ Values to Smaller Leagues

In The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2014 (at newsstands now! and online at, use the coupon rotoman2014 to save) we publish Bid Values for what is roughly a set of players I anticipate will have only league draft day value.

Because we go to press before many free agents have signed and teams have open questions about who is going to play, these are meant to be guidelines. They are a general evaluation of what the market should look like come March. Adjustments will be made as we understand the players’ contexts better.

But really, even the prices Alex Patton and I publish in March, are advisory or provisional. You need to tailor them for your league. We call them Bid Prices because they meld market considerations with our sense of risk and reward. That’s for us. You should incorporate your own evaluations, add it to ours if you like, to reflect your sense of the game and your league.

That being said, in the last 24 hours two people have asked me how to translate the Guide values into smaller leagues, and this is a worthwhile idea exactly because it is the first step toward creating your own values that add up.

But before we get to something of a step-by-step guide (in the next post), let me add one more caveat. Deep and shallow leagues, you must keep in mind, have different pricing curves. To demonstrate this I lined up last year’s Tout Wars auctions, from the most expensive player  to the least expensive. Then I plotted them.

Screenshot 2014-01-27 13.01.10This chart shows the prices of the 100 most expensive players in each auction. The Mixed leaguers paid more, appropriately, for the top players. This is because in a somewhat shallow mixed league the pool of replacement players is much larger than in a deep only league.

In a mixed league, you pay $1 for a guy who is pretty much just like the 30 guys who were taken before him or might be taken after him. This means there is not much advantage paying $2 or $3 for players. Pay up for the most valuable, irreplaceable players, and then scramble and scrounge in the end game.

That’s the theory at least. It seems kind of what happened in Tout last year, when you look at that slice of the top players, except when you look at the whole auction results, you see a lot of money was spent on the cheap players:

Screenshot 2014-01-27 13.09.03

It seems like the Tout warriors saved up their money for the end game. That isn’t right, but it is what happened, and it allowed Fred Zinkie to buy the two best catchers, three solid middle infielders, two top starting pitchers, paying for quality at the positions with the least replacement value, and then fill in the rest of his roster, knowing that he would be able to churn until he found quality in every spot.

But I digress. The point here is that once you translate the values mathematically, from the Guide to your league size, you will want to adjust them, moving some money from the low end of the curve (the $2 and $3 and $4 outfielders and first basemen) to the top catchers, middle infielders and starting pitching.

You goal is to put yourself in position to buy as many of those scarce, high-value, hard-to-replace players as you can in the auction. Just like Fred.