Friday, June 10, 2011

Playing the Name Game

This edition of "Playing the Name Game" takes another look at player comparisons without knowing their names. Name recognition tends to sway our interpretation of a player's overall fantasy value. This exercise in player evaluating will help you find some waiver wire gems who are being overlooked by others in your leagues.

I'll run through a few of these comparisons (using standard 5x5 categories) for your fantasy baseball viewing pleasure and hopefully give you something to mull over as you assess your roster(s). NOTE: All statistics quoted are for games played through June 8th, 2011 and ownership numbers are from ESPN leagues.
  • Player A: .310 BA (57/184), 29 R, 8 HR, 19 RBI, 2 SB
  • Player B: .316 BA (55/174), 25 R, 8 HR, 25 RBI, 0 SB
Okay, not much difference here when you compare simple 5x5 lines. Too be fair, both players qualify at the same position. A deeper look into their numbers show Player A has 20 XBH and Player B has 22 XBH. Player B has walked 20 times while Player A has 19 walks. Hmmmm. Player A has a .890 OPS compared to Player B's .918 OPS. Still looking like pretty even players across the board. Let's go SABR via FanGraphs. Player A has a .345 BABIP, a .389 wOBA and a wRC+ of 145 while Player B has a .324 BABIP, a .396 wOBA and a wRC+ of 143. These guys are virtually twins of the baseball diamond. It's time for the reveal. Player A is Mitch Moreland and Player B is Todd Helton.

My fantasy perspective: Are you ready to know the stark difference between these two players? Moreland is 100% owned compared to Helton's 51% ownership rate. Moreland is looked upon as a young player on an offensively potent team with tons of potential while Helton is viewed as a player with injury concerns on the downside of his player career. The numbers tell us different.
  • Player A: .293 BA (63/215), 34 R, 5 HR, 28 RBI, 9 SB
  • Player B: .265 BA (58/219), 39 R, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 5 SB
Again, to be fair for comparison reasons, these two players both qualify at the same position. Player A has a significant advantage in batting average and nearly twice the stolen bases than Player B while the other three scoring categories can be considered a wash to this point in the season. Each player has 21 XBH but Player B has a significant 34 to 10 advantage in walks over Player A. Let's go SABR via FanGraphs. Player A has a .341 BABIP, a .335 wOBA and a wRC+ of 111 while Player B has a .317 BABIP, a .357 wOBA and a wRC+ of 127. Not a ton of difference here and I can see making a case to own either of these players. It's time for the reveal. Player A is Corey Patterson and Player B is Colby Rasmus.

My fantasy perspective: When I hear Patterson's name, I think of a player who hasn't had much of a career since 2008. But a deeper look into his player page shows a 2004 season where he went 24/32 (HR/SB) and a 2006 season of 16/45. I'm not suggesting he's going to put up numbers like those in 2011 at 31 years of age but he has proven the ability to produce at the major league level. Rasmus is a 24 year old fantasy stud with many great seasons ahead of him and who deserves his 100% ownership rate but why is Patterson only owned in 69.2% of leagues?

This simple exercise of looking at the scoring category numbers that matter in your league and searching the waiver wires for the players who can fill those needs will make your team better. The hard part is knowing when to cut ties with the players with obvious name recognition for the players possibly available on waivers who can help your team win. And knowing is half the battle.

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