Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Using Inflation to Rank Your Team

Yesterday, I wrote about figuring out inflation across your league. Today, I'll talk about figuring out how good (or bad) your team is using inflation.

If you play in a carry-over league, you're probably used to seeing a team like this one, that headed into my auction head and shoulders above the rest of the pack:

David Ortiz $18, Chone Figgins $12, Grady Sizemore $10, Jorge Cantu $15, Curtis Granderson $10, Craig Monroe $8, Jeremy Reed $10, Brandon Inge $1, Felix Hernandez $10, B.J. Ryan $15, Mike Macdougal $5, Kevin Millwood $12, Bruce Chen $1, Rafael Soriano $1.

One of the very bad things about looking at freeze lists in hindsight is that you already know who the bargains and busts are, and last year's projections are already hazy in your mind. We all know Cantu tanked. We all know that Jeremy Reed was terrible. We are well aware that Bruce Chen didn't do any of his owners any favors.

Forget all of that for a moment. I had this team projected to get $256 of value from its $128 in freezes.

This means that this owner had $132 to spend in the auction. An inflation rate of 31.35% meant that he would get $100 in value back. That's still a $356 team.

In most competitive leagues, that's the season right there.

TeamSalaryValue$ to SpendAuction ValueTotal $
Team 1$128$256$132$100$356
Team 2$187$227$73$56$283
Team 3 $73$135$187$142$277
Team 4$88$146$172$131$277
Team 5$59$121$201$153$274
Team 6$92$125$168$128$253
Team 7$104$127$156$119$246
Team 8$82$109$178$136$245
Team 9$129$138$131$100$238
Team 10$122$130$138$105$235
Team 11$154$139$106$81$220
Team 12$155$137$105$80$217

The only column that needs explaining is the "Auction Value" column. The auction value is the hypothetical value of each team's remaining dollars if they all match inflation. The Total $ column adds up the freeze value and the auction value to give us each team's total projected value.

There are a lot of other interesting tidbits I could talk about here. Two teams froze players who were worth less than their combined salaries. Team 2 is bolstered by the fact that he froze $187 worth of salary...he only "loses" $17 off his auction dollars, compared to a $25 or more loss for everyone else.

But that's the basic, quick-and-dirty way you compute the impact inflation will have on your league and how you think your team will stack up. Tomorrow I'll begin the conversation about what you can do to swim against the current if you don't have the best freeze list going in. To give you some hope, the team with the $356 projected team didn't even finish in the money in my league last year.


Tom said...

So maybe you are leading up to this but...

I play in what looks like a similar AL league--12 teams, each freezing 8-13 players per year. I sold out last year to get into the money, picking up studs for my low priced talent--now i'm left with a wasteland for a reserve list. No big winners salary wise. What I do have, however, are solid, quality regulars at just under inflation adjusted salaries. Nothing flashy, just +1 or +2 on guys like Konerko, Tejada, M. Young, etal.

In an inflation-heavy league (20-30%), is it better to lock up as much salary in guys who are relatively reliable and will produce, then take your shots at the real up-side but risk-heavy guys, or would you prefer to head into the auction carrying a minimal freeze list and try to spread your risk over more players?

btw--nice site.

Toz said...

Tom - this is a great question. Let me give you my thoughts.

Generally speaking, a high inflation league tends to suck value out of your team at the auction, as Mike explains in his previous posts. Therefore, the initial reaction is: I want to freeze low priced guys because they are at value.

While this is fundamentally true, the problem with that theory is that you will wind up freezing a bunch of players who will earn you $6-8. A value if you are keeping those players at $1. The question is: where will you get your statistics needed to win the league? Well, the only place left is the draft. And we know that you will be paying a 30% premium on those players, and perhaps more if there is a position scarcity issue to deal with at the draft.

The flip side of this argument is: what happens if you keep Konerko, Tejada, Young, etc.? Well, you are freezing about $100 of salary, with 11 slots on offense to fill - if you don't have players to dump (code language for being able to leave 2-3 dead slots on your team to dump into later), you are really in a barrell because you have frozen statistics at decent value, but now have to fill a roster.

The real answer is - a combination of both. I think you have to keep one or two of the best of those just under inflation guys, but you should look to trade one as well.

This also depends on your overall league outlook. For example, I just overpaid in a trade to get a top 6 pitcher because most of the top pitchers are frozen and there is a lot of offense available in our draft, despite the moderate inflation.

I'm sure Mike will address this more eloquently, but I wanted to share my practical thoughts.

mike fenger said...

I think (fear) that the year after shooting the moon, a team is going to have a hard time competing for the impact players with the better freeze-list teams, and having mid-level at-value players (frozen) and risk-heavy guys (bought at auction) is a recipe for a sixth-place finish if you're not careful. (In the old RLBA books, wasn't this the "Fenokee Zone"?)

That said, such a team is in good shape to build a good freeze list for 2008. If you come out of the auction with a team with a small chance of being in the money, you can hold up the contenders by playing them against each other for the Tejadas and Youngs.

Toz makes a good point about trying to trade now, though my experience is that it's hard to get value for par-value players; lots of owners underestimate inflation (and one of my pet theories is that high-value players' prices typically inflate less than mid-level players), and so won't trade for someone they think might get cut.

Toz said...

Mike - very good points. On the issue of the "post-shooting the moon," you are almost always going to finish 6-8, and I'm learning why (finally) - even if you have some par players to freeze, you really have nothing to dump, and without something to dump, you are in deep trouble every time. You cannot count, in a 20-30% inflation league (like mine), on getting bargains at the draft that are significant enough to dump into a 3rd or 4th place team.