The twists and turns of life often bring you back to a very familiar place.  The twists and turns of my life brought me to  Somerville, New Jersey to raise my children in my wife’s home town.  While my wife was very familiar with the surroundings of this part of New Jersey, I was not.  I often got route 202 confused with route 206 and became even more confused when it turned out they become the same road just north of Somerville.

I clung to sports to get my bearings and started coaching in the local high school.  Football and Wrestling filled my days and nights and I started to master all the  little ins and outs of the towns here in Somerset County.   Then my wife became pregnant with triplets and my life completely changed.  Instead of teaching and coaching I was changing diapers and making formula.  Instead of watching game film or scouting opponents I was watching Sesame Street and going to well visits.

While I was talking to one of my friends from High School on Facebook they mentioned that a mutual friend was in a similar situation and lived relatively close to me.  That mutual friend turned out to be Joe Pisapia, author of The Fantasy Baseball Blackbook, and someone I hadn’t spoken to since graduation.  I looked Joe up on Twitter and we reconnected.  It proved to be a very small world.  We had grown up only a few blocks from each other and now we lived in neighboring towns.  It was amazing how much we had in common.  We both married amazing women who had become the major bread winners in the household and had daughters that we stayed home to take care of.  We both were infatuated with fantasy sports and immediately started picking each other’s brain on theories and strategies.BlackBook14Cover

I was primarily involved in the fantasy football world and had been away from fantasy baseball for a number of years when we reconnected.  Joe, on the other hand, had been writing about fantasy baseball on multiple sites and was on SiriusXM Radio on the Going 9 Baseball show along with another childhood friend Dan Strafford.  Not only was Joe posting articles and talking baseball on the radio, but he was author to the Number 1 Fantasy Baseball book on Kindle.  The ideas and theories behind Joe’s book brought me back to Fantasy Baseball in 2013 and I couldn’t be happier.  It made me look at rankings and the draft in an all new way and actually had me right back up on top of the leagues I was in my first year back since the late 90’s.

If you don’t believe me or are skeptical you should listen to some friends in the industry who think just as highly of The Fantasy Baseball Black Book as I do.

“Pisapia’s ideas and concepts on relative value are some of the smartest things I’ve read on this topic in all my years playing fantasy. All the things you think you know about fantasy are going to be colored and changed once you read this.”– Will Carroll, Lead Writer for Sports Medicine, Bleacher Report Member, BBWAA and PFWA

“Joe will have you looking at your player rankings in a whole new
way… and it will help put you ahead of the curve.” – Chris McBrien Host, “Dear Mr. Fantasy” Podcast

 

I was so excited about Joe’s latest book that I wanted share it with as many friends and followers as I could.  Joe was nice enough to provide me an excerpt from his latest book so that my readers and followers can see what they’re missing by only buying a fantasy magazine from the local drug store.  Here’s some of what the new book covers.

The new and expanded 2014 edition includes:

* Over 400+ player profiles including minor league prospects
* Expanded RPV for all players in varying formats (roto & points)
* 2014 Draft Strategy for all formats including Daily Fantasy Baseball leagues
* Chapters on being a commissioner, most overrated/underrated players, making trades and managing your team, and the answers the five biggest questions in fantasy this season
* More Dynasty and Auction League content than ever before

Here’s the excerpt, and don’t forget to click on the link to buy The Fantasy Baseball Black Book 2014 Edition.

By Joe Pisapia the creator of the revolutionary statistic RPV (Relative Position Value) and the author of The Fantasy Baseball Black Book 2014 Edition. Available on Amazon Kindle Store and iTunes for Apple Devices. Check out www.fantasyblackbook.com for your fantasy baseball news and listen to him on Sirius210/XM87 Fantasy Sports Channel Going 9 Baseball Every Thursday 8-10PM EST.

 

RPV – Relative Position Value

The age old argument in fantasy sports has always been whether or not to value position scarcity. Many have had theories on both ends of the spectrum. The biggest problem is neither side has been able to quantify their stance on the subject. That is until the Fantasy Baseball Black Book created the statistic Relative Position Value otherwise known as RPV. What RPV does is allow you to compare players to their peers at their respective positions with weighted values based on their production. It also gives you a look into each position as an entire entity to see just how valuable catchers are compared to second basemen as a whole. Best of all, it is completely adaptable to all formats, styles, scoring systems. RPV is adjustable to your specific league style and depth of talent. It’s the single most useful draft tool and player evaluation system available to fantasy players. And for any roto league players skeptical of this stat translating into your format, get ready to see fantasy in a whole new light.

RPV goes so much deeper than just measuring out league average production at a position. That really doesn’t help you much because all that gives you is a medium baseline to work off of and stay above. But what does that mean? It doesn’t weigh the players value above that baseline nor weigh the elite at the position versus the elite at other positions.

For example, let’s pretend the league average second basemen offensive stat line is: .260BA/70R/10HR/70RBI/7SB

The “experts” who use this logic insist that Player X is better than the league average and Player Y is under the league average so therefore Player Y is not valuable. Here is the major problem with this approach; the league average holds 30 players at second base. Fantasy leagues play 12-20 second basemen every week (depending on format and MINF slots). Therefore, the “league average” concept is obsolete. The fantasy league average is what is applicable based upon the depth of your personal league. My 24 team dynasty league is a totally different set of circumstances than my 16 team points league or 12 team roto league. You must have an adjustable tool to measure players in all situations.

Let us take things a step further. It’s not enough to know the statistical average fantasy points of the top 12 second basemen over the last three years (roughly 400 points). You need to have some way of quantifying how much better (or worse) a given player is compared to the next guy available at his position on draft day. I call this approach Relative Position Value of a player or RPV. This theory is simple to grasp and easy to utilize when creating your tiers for your draft.

To begin using RPV, you’ll need a method that will assign a numerical value to each player that reflects his performance. Any single measurement method will do; however, it is most easily communicated using fantasy points (or projected fantasy points) which measure a player’s true overall production. However, just because we are using points does not mean the result is not applicable to roto formats. In fact, it can be a huge asset when creating your draft strategy in roto leagues. You just have to adjust the point value by adding more weight to stolen bases and being aware of positive and negative batting averages (above/below .275BA as the benchmark). On the pitching end, you increase the value of saves and awareness of positive/negative ERA (3.75ERA being the threshold). We will investigate roto RPV further as the chapter continues.

With the basic point value system Robinson Cano is the highest point getter at second base with a 550 point average over the last three seasons. The average over that same period for the top 16 second basemen is 375 points. Note that we are looking at Cano versus a grouping of 16, but of course the number can be adjusted for any depth necessary.

The formula to determine the RPV or the percentage in which a player is better than the fantasy league average is:

(Individual Player Point ValueFantasy League Average of the Position) ÷ Fantasy League Average of the Position = RPV

In the case of our example:

(Robinson Cano’s 550 −The Average 2B points 375) ÷ 375 = .46

So what does this .46 number mean? It means Cano is +46% better than the league fantasy league average second basemen. Therefore his RPV is +46%.

RPV can also show a negative impact. That would mean a player whose point total is below the position average (the 375 point threshold in this circumstance). RPV lets us see not only the negative affect of these players, but also the extent of that negative impact. For instance, let’s plug in Omar Infante’s 3 year average of 320 points into the equation.

Infante’s 320pts – 375 FLA (Fantasy League Avg) ÷ 375 = −.15 or −15%RPV

This means that should you end up starting Omar Infante in your league that you are down -15% in production at that given position relative to what the average second basemen in your league will achieve. Therefore, you must make up ground at another position just to keep up with the league average at an overall team level. The goal is to be at or above the average at every available position in order to maximize each available roster spot. Bill James once said if you had a league average player at every position you would make the playoffs in MLB every year. That would be accurate in fantasy terms as well. However, what we want to do is get to the playoffs with a real chance to win. In lay terms, you want to squeeze as much juice from every single orange you have in your crate so that your glass is as full as it can be, or at least fuller than the guy next to you. You have a certain number of finite active roster slots in your lineup and getting the most out of them each week is the key to success.

RPV IN THEORY

For an example, let’s take a look at the RPV leaders at each position over the last three years using the standard scoring system. Again this is for a field of 16 deep at each position. The second RPV in brackets [X%] is for a 12 team roto league pool with expanded rosters (2C/CINF/MINF/5OF etc). The three year leaders by position are:

(FL AVG Points) =Fantasy League Average points

[RL AVG] = Roto League Average points

C Carlos Santana {398pts} (289 FL AVG pts) +38%RPV

[based on 256 roto league average points Santana = +55% roto RPV]

1B Prince Fielder {522pts} (418FL AVG) +25%RPV [386 RL AVG = +35%]

2B Robinson Cano {550pts} (375FL AVG) +46% [356 RL AVG = +55%]

3B Miguel Cabrera {636pts} (375FL AVG) +70% [346 RL AVG = +85%]

SS Ben Zobrist {443pts} (358 FL AVG) +24% [330 RL AVG = +34%]

*ALL ROTO OF RPV based on a 360 point ROTO AVG*

OF #1 (440) – Mike Trout (*only two full seasons*) (601) +37% [+70%]

OF #2 (376) – Alex Rios (424) +8% [+17%]

OF #3 (319) – Alfonso Soriano (369) +10% [+3%]

* #4 and #5 OF for roto only

*OF #4 (274) – Austin Jackson (342) [-5%]

*OF #5 (240) B.J. Upton 286 [-21%]

*SP RPV values hold true in all formats*

(w/ a secret points league advantage discussed later in this chapter)

SP#1 (522) – Clayton Kershaw (669) +28%

*SP #2 (409) – C.J. Wilson (440) +8%

*SP #3 (337) – A.J. Burnett (372) +10%

*SP #4 (291) – Mike Minor (311) +7%

*SP #5 (256) – Ryan Vogelsong (269) +5%

RP #1 (321) – Craig Kimbrel (522) +63%

*RP #2 (241) – Glen Perkins (264) +10%

One of the most interesting things about looking at 3-year averages is that the “best” player at each position is not necessarily the one that jumps to mind. Ben Zobrist for instance is not the player Hanley Ramirez or Troy Tulowitzki is, but Zobrist does produce consistently and he stays on the field regularly. In points leagues, Carlos Santana’s +38% is higher than Mike Trout’s 37%, but clearly there is no universe Santana goes before Trout nor should he. What it does illuminate is that relatively speaking, Santana’s value based on the positional depth of catcher is extraordinary. It also shows how valuable a catcher who plays more frequently just 5 games a week. We

Notice that for the outfield and pitching positions I’ve broken things down into individual roster spots, even though the players who are eligible at these positions are all drafted from a single pool. I think this is appropriate when considering RPV, because, not all three outfielders on a fantasy points league squad represent the same level of quality or performance. Thinking this way, you can see why drafting a solid number one outfielder is important, but once you have one, the rest of your outfield slots can be filled later in the draft.

There is a distinct difference in the points and roto RPV numbers. You can also clearly see when the talent pool expands to a 12 team roto league with 5 OF/CINF/MINF etc. the percentages expand. What also grows is the disparity between the top and bottom numbers. You also see how even the best 4th and 5th outfielders are in the negative pool making outfielders a higher priority in roto. The OF pool becomes a matter of supply and demand. There are 90 active OF playing a night in MLB (3OF x 30 teams). In a 16 team points there are 48 (3 OF x 16 teams). That is about half the total talent pool. In roto, you normally have 5 active X 12 teams which is a pool of 60. That is 2/3 of the talent pool and I am not counting how many you will see used in DH or UT lots. That can easily bump that number to 70 or more out of the 90 available.

In 12 team roto leagues, Mike Trout’s value skyrockets as it should. OF is where you will get the majority of stolen base production and that is crucial to roto leagues. Another clear leap is at catcher. Santana’s RPV also increases a great deal based on the expanded catcher pool and lack of production at the bottom third of the top 24 catchers. As for Miguel Cabrera, well he is still equally brilliant in all formats.