The development of SIscore started with the theory around average player scores. In today’s fantasy baseball market, it is challenging to determine a baseball player’s value when drafting multiple positions, especially when you need numerous scoring categories. The average player theory is a way to compare players at similar positions. Once we have a baseline of the average player, we can determine which players have the most significant edge. The next step after establishing these scores at each position is then comparing the best option at other positions.
Each season, the player pool changes in the fantasy baseball world. Some positions will have more depth, and others will only have a handful of reliable options. When a fantasy owner is preparing to do his or her draft prep, he or she wants to find the hidden values at each position. By doing this, a fantasy manager can select the strongest options at the other positions early in the draft.
Sports Illustrated has developed a way to determine each player’s value with each category relevant to their production. Hitters have five offensive categories (batting average, runs, home runs, RBI, and stolen bases). Pitchers also have five categories (wins, ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, and saves).
With these scores, a fantasy owner can quickly look at the stats to see which players have the most value either by last year’s stats or this year’s projections from any source. When using projections, a fantasy owner’s success will only be as strong as his or her ability to interpret information. Finding the best source for that information is essential.
Our SIscore is built for 12-team, 5-by-5 Roto leagues with once-a-week pitching moves. In the future, we could modify the options for 10-team and 15-team leagues, and we may even add bi-weekly pitching move leagues.
The toughest part for any fantasy owner to understand is draft rankings or cheat sheets due to the underlying information behind each player's profile. At any position in baseball, I may only like a handful of players. When I rank them, I can't leave players I don't like off the cheat sheet, and it wouldn't be fair to list them poorly just based on my opinion.
Here’s a look at the midpoint values in 2019 in a field of 2,112 teams in all ten categories:
BA: .265, R: 1125, HR: 348, RBI: 1083, SB: 114, W: 86, SV: 66, ERA: 3.998, WHIP: 1.230, K: 1415
In today's fantasy baseball market, fantasy owners use ADPs (average draft position) to better prepare for the upcoming draft season. ADPs give fantasy owners a feel for a player's value in the open market. It is a great tool, but a fantasy owner must understand the value of the information. ADPs from mock drafts have less value since many drafts aren't completed by a full roster of owners, and many drafters may lose interest at some point during the drafts. The best information in fantasy baseball comes from owners playing for real money or owners competing in a real league that will be played out during the season.
Our SIscore can work with any projections to deliver results. This season, we will do all the research on all 30 baseball teams. We then do our team profiles for each team's projections. With this information, we delivered SI rankings based on the SIscores. Also, we can check the results from the previous season to see how each player stacked up against their competition.
At the same time, we can deliver weekly rankings based on playing time and opportunity. We break the season into 26 weeks to come up with the weekly results. If a player is projected to play in seven games, he’ll have a better chance to produce stats in the counting categories. More playing time doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll have a higher score than a player with a much higher skill set with five games.
Note: SIscore equations are adjusted each season for the current playing field in Major League Baseball. If home runs are declining, a big power hitter will be rewarded for his edge in home runs. If steals are scarce, an elite base stealer will have plus value in the stolen base category.
Once we have each player's projections matched up with the SIscore, we have a way to compare the values of all players. For this information to have more value, we need to compare players at like positions. We know Mike Trout is an edge over every other player in most recent seasons, but how much is he an edge over all outfielders? How much is Gerrit Cole an advantage over the pitching inventory? Does Cole provide more of an edge in pitching than Trout does in hitting? ADPs and a player's draft value help fantasy owners make trade-off decisions within drafts. Once fantasy owners have this information, they must decide how much to trust or agree with a player’s projections. Fantasy owners should then compare that player with other players at the same position in the projected ADPs.
The bottom line here is that a fantasy owner is trying to gain an edge with each of his first few picks in the draft while filling as many categories as possible. Each decision takes a fantasy owner on a different path.
We also had access to multiple other events with large amounts of teams competing for an overall championship. The information we used was from a league with once-a-week transactions for pitching.
The midpoint for wins last season was 86, which was divided into nine pitching slots to come up with 9.555 wins per pitcher. I then used the overall standings in the 2,112 leagues to determine the points gained for a win or lack of a win. From the midpoint of wins, I used +/- 500 spots in the standings to get a range of points gained or lost. It was amazing to see 1,065 teams fall between 78 and 94 wins. I divided 1,000 overall points by 16 wins to come up with 62.5 overall points for each win. There were 147 leagues in this competition, so each win within a single league environment was worth .35511 league points.
For the ERA and WHIP categories, I did some research in a few leagues in which I had access to the final results. I determined that a competitive team would need about 1,350 innings throughout the year. I then found the medium ERA (3.998) and WHIP (1.230) in this 12-team format in 2019. I subtracted the innings pitched by the pitcher from 1,350. I multiplied that number times (.44422 = 3.998/9). This data gave me the total number of runs allowed for the remaining innings for the medium ERA by inning. I then added the total number of runs allowed by each starting pitcher, and I divided that number by 1,350 innings. This result delivered the +/- impact of each pitcher based on the number of innings pitched or projected to pitch. The range was 1,000 league points divided by a gap of .382 in ERA. This number was then divided by 176 leagues. I used a -14.874 data point to show a lower ERA awarded more points.
I repeat this same process for WHIP. The range was 1,000, which I divided by .076 (gap in WHIP from 1.192 to 1.268). I then divided into 176 leagues to deliver -74.761. Again, I used a negative number as a lower WHIP is the desired result.
For strikeouts, the medium total was 1,415 Ks. Pitchers aren’t created equal in Roto formats, but I still need to divide 1,415 by nine pitching spots. The average sum of strikeouts per starter came to 157.222. The range of strikeouts for 1,000 teams came to 171 with a low of 1,326 at the 1,557th position and 1,497 at the 557th position. Each strikeout was worth 0.033227 points in the standings after dividing by 176 leagues.
The midpoint for saves was 66 in this event. A fantasy owner typically will get saves from two to three roster spots in their starting lineup, but we need to base the target goal on nine pitchers. This leads to a negative score for each starting pitcher in saves. Over 1,000 spots in the standings of a 2,112-team league, there was a difference of 28 saves. This total came to 0.202922 points in a single league per save. Many fantasy owners play the save category differently, creating a wide range of results. A format with an overall prize does lead to more teams competing in this category.
For batting average, I used the same theory for ERA and WHIP. By looking at all 2,112 teams, I determined that 7,350 at-bats was the midpoint. The midpoint for batting average was .265 in 2019. For each player, I subtracted their at-bats from 7,350, then multiplied that number by .265 to get the total number of hits to deliver a medium batting average. I then added the total hits by the player to this number, and I divided that total by 7,350 at-bats. These results gave me the impact of each player as far as +/- in batting average. The range of 1,000 spots in the standing was 0.0089 points in batting average or about 64 hits over 7,350 at-bats. So, 1,000 divided by .00879 divided by 176 leagues = 638.407 points for batting average.
The midpoint for runs was 1,125. The range was 116 runs over 1,000 spots in the standings, which delivered 0.048981 points per run in a single league.
The medium point for home runs was 348. The gap between 557th place and 1557th place in a 2,112-team format was 47 home runs or 0.12089 points per home run in a single league.
The midpoint for RBI was 1,083. The difference in 1,000 points in the overall standing in RBI was 107 RBI. This number worked out to .053101 points per RBI in a single league.
A team needed to get 114 stolen bases to finish at the medium point last season. The gap between 500 spots in the overall standing in either direction was 32 stolen bases. This equates to each steal being worth 0.210438 points in the standings.
By using these totals, a fantasy owner can easily see which players had the most value last season. It is a tool that will help you when you are making future decisions. The real trick is to create these values for this year’s projections. By understanding the player pool and each player’s value within each category, a fantasy owner can make better draft decisions. Here’s a look at the chart for both batters and pitchers to show power points gained or lost in each category within a league environment in 2019:
To add some food for thought about values in each category, each one of these category points is worth three points gained in a league environment: .330 BA, 140 runs, 50 HRs, 135 RBI, and 25 SBs on the hitting side. Pitchers would need about 18 wins, 23 saves, 2.25 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and 250 Ks to gain about three points in the standings in each category.
On the downside, a batter would have to hit .210 to cost a team two points in the standings along with 40 runs, eight HRs, 40 RBI, and no SBs. A pitcher would need to get five wins, no saves, 5.00 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and 110 Ks to cost his team 1.5 points in the standings in each category.