Friday, January 21, 2011

Bargains and Busts: 2010 N.L. Hitters

The last two years in the National League have been kind of ho hum in terms of how the market treats the best hitters.

Top 10 Salaries, N.L. Hitters
#
Player
$
Sal
+/-
PK
SW
2009
1
Hanley Ramirez
$33
$44
-11
$44
$42
$41
2
Albert Pujols
$40
$44
-3
$45
$41
$45
3
Ryan Braun
$33
$41
-8
$38
$39
$40
4
Matt Kemp
$24
$39
-15
$38
$34
$37
5
Chase Utley
$20
$38
-18
$35
$30
$33
6
Prince Fielder
$22
$38
-16
$34
$30
$35
7
Ryan Howard
$25
$37
-12
$29
$31
$34
8
Troy Tulowitzki
$31
$35
-4
$30
$26
$33
9
David Wright
$31
$35
-4
$34
$35
$28
10
Justin Upton
$22
$34
-12
$28
$28
$30

Average
$28
$39
-10
$36
$34
$36

A few of the names are different, but this chart is very similar to its counterpart from 2009. The market gives these players a raise, the touts (Rotoman and Sports Weekly) aren't quite so keen, and they don't come close to the market, Rotoman, Sports Weekly, or 2009.

I postulated in '09 that this aggressive pricing might be a return to Stage One. In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that what is really happening here has more to do with the aggressiveness of one expert league in particular.

Top 10 Salaries, N.L. Hitters (by expert league)
#
Player
$
CBS
LABR
TW
PK
SW
1
Hanley Ramirez
$33
$51
$42
$40
$44
$42
2
Albert Pujols
$40
$50
$41
$40
$45
$41
3
Ryan Braun
$33
$45
$39
$38
$38
$39
4
Matt Kemp
$24
$41
$38
$38
$38
$33
5
Chase Utley
$20
$42
$35
$37
$35
$30
6
Prince Fielder
$22
$40
$37
$37
$34
$30
7
Ryan Howard
$25
$43
$35
$34
$29
$31
8
Troy Tulowitzki
$31
$42
$31
$31
$30
$26
9
David Wright
$31
$34
$36
$34
$34
$35
10
Justin Upton
$22
$35
$34
$34
$28
$28

Average
$28
$42
$37
$36
$36
$34

I've talked elsewhere about how aggressive the CBS prices are, but looking at it this way it really stands out. CBS spends $55 more than LABR on these 10 players and $60 more than Tout Wars. Upton and Wright are the only two players where the CBS seems to come to its senses - though maybe it's less a matter of them coming to their senses and more a matter of them running out of money.

If you take CBS out of the equation, LABR, Tout Wars, and Rotoman are (for the most part) in lockstep. Rotoman doesn't like Howard or Upton very much and is a little down on Fielder, but it's a blasé Stage Three battle on just about everyone else.

The exceptions that leap off the screen are Pujols and Ramirez. Those are some pretty aggressive prices compared to the non-CBS market that put Rotoman in a room all alone. What Rotoman seems to be saying is buy these guys unless someone crazy shows up. You might not get them, but you had better make someone pay at least $45 for each of them.

Curiously enough, that's exactly the opposite of what Rotoman did in Tout Wars. He let me walk away with Pujols and Ramirez for $40 apiece. I took a loss, but also wrapped up $73 worth of stats in two players.

Sports Weekly, meanwhile, just can't keep up. They're close to LABR and Tout Wars on Pujols, Ramirez and Braun but are left in the dust with everyone else but Wright. Looking at how much money Kemp, Utley and Fielder lost, maybe it's for the best that they can't keep up. Perhaps there is a hierarchy among the hierarchy, and Sports Weekly is simply smart enough to recognize this.

Or maybe they're just a bunch of hoarders over there.

Top 10 Earnings, N.L. Hitters
#
Player
$
Sal
+/-
PK
SW
2009
1
Carlos Gonzalez
$45
$21
+24
$20
$19
$16
2
Albert Pujols
$40
$44
-3
$45
$41
$45
3
Joey Votto
$40
$31
+9
$28
$21
$26
4
Hanley Ramirez
$33
$44
-11
$44
$42
$41
5
Ryan Braun
$33
$41
-8
$38
$39
$40
6
Matt Holliday
$32
$34
-1
$34
$30
$30
7
David Wright
$31
$35
-4
$34
$35
$28
8
Troy Tulowitzki
$31
$35
-4
$30
$26
$33
9
Jayson Werth
$30
$27
+3
$23
$22
$31
10
Angel Pagan
$30
$3
+27
$8
$2
$16

Average
$35
$31
+3
$30
$28
$31

If you're using Sports Weekly's prices year in and year out, this is where you had better see them rallying. Problem is, though, that they're not. They're behind on Holliday and Werth, and way behind on Votto. They can't even beat the market's incredibly soft price on Pagan (a great call by Rotoman, btw).

Half of the players in this chart match the players in the first chart. The $31 average salary matches the average salary in 2009, but as a group these 10 players look even more predictable, with only Pagan throwing off the curve.  Take him out and this group nearly breaks even.

This is more a product of the aggressive pricing of the expert leagues. In total, 17 National League hitters cracked the $30 price barrier last year...while only the 10 hitters you see above earned more than $30. I always like to say that the market is predictable when the salary and the earnings are close, but the truth in this case is that the market spent so much that the best hitters were bound to be expensive.

With so much money floating around, there had to be some bargains too.

Top 10 Profits, N.L. Hitters
#
Player
$
Sal
+/-
PK
SW
2009
1
Angel Pagan
$30
$3
+27
$8
$2
$16
2
Carlos Gonzalez
$45
$21
+24
$20
$19
$16
3
Omar Infante
$19
$1
+18
$1
$1
$7
4
Chris Young
$29
$12
+17
$13
$13
$9
5
Neil Walker
$17
$0
+16


-$0
6
Buster Posey
$19
$3
+15
$4
$2
-$1
7
Starlin Castro
$15
$1
+15



8
Mike Stanton
$15
$1
+14



9
Aubrey Huff
$27
$13
+14
$12
$9
$9
10
Jonny Gomes
$19
$5
+14
$7
$6
$13

Average
$24
$6
+17
$7
$5
$7

If your league is like CBS, LABR, or Tout Wars, then, yes, this was a sweet spot. If your league is like my N.L. home league (and many home leagues, this list is fugazi. Walker, Posey, Castro, and Stanton were all in the minors and thus unavailable in the auction phase of the day.

For the other six players on the chart above, these prices are most certainly legitimate. Gonzalez ($23) and Young ($15) went for a little more in my start-up home league, but Pagan, Infante, Huff and Gomes all went for the same price or $1 less. The money that we weren't allowed to spend on the minor leaguers wasn't going to the bargains we could spend on but elsewhere.

On the other hand, this is where Rotoman seemed to shine. He beat the market on Pagan, Young, Posey and Gomes. Sports Weekly, meanwhile, gets left in the dust again. They'd better spend their money somewhere, and they had better hope it isn't in the next group.

Top 10 Losses, N.L. Hitters
#
Player
$
Sal
+/-
PK
SW
2009
1
Nate McLouth
$3
$22
-19
$21
$16
$22
2
Jimmy Rollins
$12
$31
-19
$27
$28
$26
3
Chase Utley
$20
$38
-18
$35
$30
$33
4
Pablo Sandoval
$14
$32
-18
$29
$25
$29
5
Jason Bay
$12
$28
-16
$24
$27
$26
6
Prince Fielder
$22
$38
-16
$34
$30
$35
7
Kyle Blanks
$0
$16
-16
$14
$1
$6
8
Mark Reynolds
$15
$30
-15
$24
$26
$33
9
Yunel Escobar
$3
$18
-4
$18
$19
$22
10
Lance Berkman
$10
$24
-12
$25
$21
$21

Average
$11
$28
-17
$25
$22
$25

Phew. Sports Weekly dodges a bullet here, though you do have to wonder where they're spending their dough. They beat the market and Rotoman on Escobar but otherwise are completely shut out.

This is where the market's aggressiveness hurts them a lot. Seven of the 10 players here get raises and the results aren't good. If you were in an auction against the market, this is where you would sit on your hands and hope to clean up in the middle.

This is what I did in both the CBS expert league and my home league. In my home league in particular, I was the last owner to buy a player, and only cracked the $20 barrier on one hitter - Derrek Lee. I then deked and juked my way to a completely balanced squad.

If, in the other hand, you find yourself in an environment that is conservative like LABR or Tout Wars, don't wait. Jump in with both feet. As I mentioned above, I bought Pujols and Hanley for $80 combined...and then stole Votto at $28. Some owners don't like spending $108 for three players, but it's OK if the prices are right.

1 comment:

Rotoman said...

I love the way you break it down, Mike, but want to point out that while I didn't bite on Pujols and Ramirez in Tout NL (even though I thought they were cheap), I did buy Pagan and Posey in the draft and traded for Gomes in May, so I had some skin in.

Pujols and Ramirez were two of the first three or four players out, and I really had my cap set for Ryan Braun, and so didn't pull the trigger. I think it is instructive to note that my initial price for both Pujols and Ramirez was more like $42, but when I was allocating extra money to make my prices add up I put it up top. I hoped someone else would pay the high price, though given the conservative nature of Tout it doesn't surprise me that no one did.