Turning Their Rankings Into Your Rankings

Christopher J. FarinoContributor IFebruary 24, 2009

Like many of you out there, I have been prepping for the 2009 Fantasy Baseball draft since Eric Hinske struck out to finish up a three-day long game five of the World Series last October.

If only my boss and girlfriend understood the time and effort that needs to be put into draft prep to make the six month season more exciting.

Nothing is worse than becoming the Fantasy Kansas City Royals, mathematically eliminated before the 4th of July brisket is fully smoked. I would have said the Pittsburgh Pirates, but at least they have Terrible Towels to wipe away their baseball tears.

Fantasy baseball is a long and grueling season that cannot be won with a good draft alone, but is nearly impossible to win without a good foundation built in March.

The purpose of this column is not to tell you whom to draft, but to help you make sure that you are getting the proper information for your league.

With all the different ranking systems and projections our there, and with so many leagues straying from the traditional 5x5, it is important to make sure that the rankings you are using truly match up with your league settings.

With a few relatively easy mathematical equations and some Excel spreadsheets you can turn any projection a customized cheat sheet. It gets a bit mathy here, but I promise it makes sense and is not that hard to recreate.

Start by compiling projections from several sources, I of course suggest by starting with ProFantasyBaseball.com. As with any statistics, the more samples you gather, the more accurate the numbers.

For this column I will be only talking about the 5x5 stats, but understand that the purpose is to create a cheat sheet with your customized league settings.

With these formulas you should rerun these rankings taking your leagues stat categories into consideration prior to drafting.

It starts by looking at each of the projections individually. Each player is assigned a number based on the stats that they are projected.

We will start with the hitters. Find the projected league leader in each of the five stat categories. The league leader is assigned 1 point, and everyone else gets a percentage based on the league leader being 100%.

The sample equation looks like this:
Player Runs / League Leader Runs

(Example: If Ryan Howard is projected to lead the league with 45 HR and Hanley Ramirez is projected to hit 30 HR, then Ryan Howard is given 1 point and Hanley Ramirez is given .667 points.)

This is simple to do for the counting stats, R, RBI, HR, and SB, but gets a bit tricky with AVG. If you look at 2008, both Magglio Ordonez and Aaron Miles hit .317, however Magglio did it in nearly 200 more at-bats, so his .317 should count for more than Miles' .317.

To account for this there is one added step to the equation. I took the projected number of AB divided by the league leader in AB and multiplied that number by the AVG percentage to come up with a weighted calculation. Not all projections will have the AB projections, but there are plenty out there that do.

Sample equation:
(Player AVG / League Leader AVG) * (Player AB / League Leader AB)

Pitching stats pose another set of equations. The counting stats, W, SV, and K are done the same way that the hitting counting stats are figured. ERA and WHIP need to be weighted the way batting average is, but since lower is better, the equation needs another step.

Check your math and make sure your parentheses are in order you algebra geeks; no player should receive more than 1 point for any category.

As far as who the league leader is, use the starting pitcher with the lowest ERA and WHIP. If you are struggling to find projected IP, you can use 200 IP for starters and 70 IP for relievers as a benchmark.

Sample equation:
[2-(Players ERA/League Leader ERA)]*(Players IP/ League Leader IP).

After you have calculated the numbers for each of the categories, add them together to get a true overall value for each player. The list you now have is a great start to the perfect draft cheat sheet.

These numbers are great and can be used as part of your draft kit, but we encounter one issue. Math doesn’t understand that you need to field a team with assigned positions.

If Math had its way, very few catchers or second basemen would be drafted this year. To combat this, I have taken the rankings that Math gave me and divided them by Average Draft Position.

This accommodates for position scarcity and moves those catchers, second basemen, closers, and lower tiered shortstops up in the rankings to create a more accurate cheat sheet.

Now you have your rankings and you are one step closer to being ready to draft. My next article will highlight some pre-draft and war room strategies.

If any of you have your own rankings systems, or if you are thoroughly confused, let me know in the comments section.

Scout Hoffman

Pro Fantasy Baseball