ROTISSERIE: Xtreme LABR
That’s the mantra for Xtreme Regression Drafting (XRD), as espoused by Ron Shandler in the 2012 Baseball Forecaster and in an essay from earlier this year. As he pointed out, “regression and gravity are the two strongest forces known to man.” In theory, that’s straightforward—but how hard is it to do in practice? It's not always as easy as coveting high reliability scores and avoiding those messy consistency grades of C or lower.
I decided to take XRD for a test spin at last weekend’s AL-LABR auction. It was time to see if I could dance with the devil.
XRD is not a pedal-to-the-metal thrill ride on the dark side of consistency; as described in the Forecaster, you still need to draft a core of solid, reliable veterans. In other words, the Tier-1 Portfolio 3 players we’ve all come to know and love. But after that, it’s time to throw convention out the door. Inconsistency—normally something frowned upon—is a plus, as long as the skills are there. In Mayberry terms, that meant looking for players with an A or B in health (first letter of the reliability score) and experience (second letter), while consistency scores (third letter) of C-F would be fine.
"Target skills," I told myself. In the end game, when there weren’t many options left, I focused on playing time. While XRD says speculating on players with injury risk or uncertain roles is good, a player who would see regular ABs was given priority.
Standard P3 has a top hitting tier with an 80% ct% along with PX or Spd over 100. To expand this pool, I used the advice given in the Forecaster – a second Tier-1 level with a 77% ct% and a PX or Spd over 110, and a third level with a 73% ct% and PX or Spd of 120 or greater. In the spirit of XRD, I also lowered the Consistency score to C while leaving the health and experience grades at B or above. The result was 32 hitters and 20 pitchers in Tier 1.
With those thoughts in mind, here’s the squad, with Mayberry scores included.
Pos Name Team Sal Mayberry/P3 === ============= ==== === ================ C Arencibia, J.P. TOR 13 3205 50 ACB C Iannetta, Chris ANA 7 4115 55 ADB 1B Teixeira, Mark NYY 30 4135 65 AAB T1 CI Barton, Daric OAK 1 2103 18 BCF 3B Chisenhall, Lonnie CLE 8 2215 50 ADB 2B Johnson, Kelly TOR 15 4325 70 ABF MI Ryan, Brendan SEA 3 1415 55 BBC T1 SS Andrus, Elvis TEX 26 1335 60 AAB T1 OF Bourjos, Peter ANA 17 3525 75 ABC T1 OF Boesch, Brennan DET 17 3225 60 ABB T1 OF Rasmus, Colby TOR 16 4305 60 ABF OF Ibanez, Raul NYY 8 4135 65 AAC T1 OF Ross, Cody BOS 9 4133 55 BBA T1 UT Butler, Billy KC 22 3035 55 AAA T1 Pos Name Team Sal Mayberry/P3 === ============= ==== === ================ P Danks, John CWS 12 3305 70 AAA T1 P Slowey, Kevin CLE 2 2203 27 FCB P Lewis, Colby TEX 11 3405 75 AAA T1 P Floyd, Gavin CWS 11 3305 70 AAA T1 P Alvarez, Henderson TOR 5 3103 50 ADF P Perkins, Glen MIN 1 4410 13 ACF P McGee, Jake TB 1 3400 0 ADC P Thornton, Matt CWS 10 5530 54 ACA P League, Brandon SEA 15 5330 48 ABA T1 RES Davis, Wade TB 1103 18 AAA RES Benson, Joe MIN 3321 9 ADA RES Carmona, Fausto CLE 2103 24 BAB RES Herrera, Kelvin KC 5401 10 AFF RES Jackson, Conor TEX 1211 5 FFC RES Hendriks, Liam MIN 3100 0 ADF
Here's how the team stacks up compared to the Mayberry goals:
Batting PX Spd xBA PA MM ====== == === === == === Actual 42 29 24 66 793 Target 37 23 32 54 600 Pitching ERA K Sv IP MM ======= === == == == === Actual 31 29 7 21 407 Target 17 27 5 25 320
Let’s take a closer look at the team:
How’s the Tier-1 core? Spread out and overflowing. Twelve players (marked above) qualify under the modified ranking system, totaling $181. Typically, you want 5-8 players totaling up to $160 in Tier 1.
It's clear that if there are players who qualify for both P3 Tier-1 and XRD, it's possible to end up with a lot of Tier 1 players (since their prices tend to be lower). With so much money spent on Tier-1 players, this team is short on the Tier-3 players that provide low-cost speculative upside in P3. Here, the upside is taken by the XRD players that should regress to their mean. Also, the approach clearly follows Spread-the-Risk rather than Stars-and-Scrubs.
Were the target MM goals met? For the most part, yes. This team comes up woefully short in BA; that will have to be addressed. It’s also a little shy in IP; that can be addressed either by swapping a reserve starter for a reliever, or picking someone up from the waiver wire. But power, speed, AB, ERA, K, and Sv are all above the targets.
Does the team “embrace volatility?” On offense, the picks didn't speculate on roles; 12 of the 14 hitters have a grade of 5 for playing time. But four hitters met the criteria of having an A/B grade in health/experience and a C or lower in consistency (Rasmus, Ibanez, Kelly Johnson, Bourjos).
The pitching side was a bit more adventurous. Danks, Floyd, Lewis, and Thornton meet the XRD criterion. Expensive top-tier pitchers were shunned to concentrate on more affordable options. With $68 spent on pitching, it’s not quite a LIMA team, but it was less than I typically spend on a staff.
Is it a team of high-skilled players who are experienced, healthy, and erratic? Between the high Tier-1 content of this team and the number of players who meet the XRD criteria, this team is well matched to the concept of Xtreme drafting.
How does this team stack up against the competition? I like this team, and Rotolab agrees. Using the March 3 HQ projections,it's a few points out of first place; four teams are stacked at the top of the standings separated from the rest of the field. It’s projected to have 400 more AB than the next highest competitor, which explains the best-in-category totals for runs, HR, and RBI. It’s a competitive team, which is what you want before the season.
A closing thought: During the auction, it didn't feel like it was going well. Only after checking the projected standings at the end of the draft did it look like a good team. It’s a side effect of drafting players who had down years in 2011—our brains subconsciously tell us that the players are going to continue that trend. If you believe in regression to the mean—and history says you should—ignore that creeping sense of doom.