HEAD-TO-HEAD: Building a homogeneous team

Introduction

Variety is the spice of life. But variety has no place in the type of players rostered on head-to-head fantasy baseball teams. Teams in head-to-head leagues need players cut from the same cloth—players that are completely homogenous. 

Focusing on certain metrics helps build a homogenous team. While this approach is best suited for non-points head-to-head leagues, it is also applicable in points leagues. Drafting a homogenous team inherently builds consistency into your roster. In either type of head-to-head league, week-to-week consistency is crucial.

Developing Team Homogeneity’s Metric Filters

First, let’s assume this team is playing in a 12-team mixed 5x5 league. Team Homogeneity will apply a LIMA-type approach where the majority of its auction dollars or high draft picks will be used on hitters. It is important to allocate these dollars/draft picks towards players that perform well in the same categories, thus providing a weekly advantage in those categories. 

Second, paying attention to certain metrics can actually provide Team Homogeneity with a consistent week-to-week competitive advantage. Bill Macey’s work (referenced in the Baseball Forecaster) has established that ct%, bb% and Eye ratio are harbingers of more consistent production. This article uses ct% and xBA in its analysis. If you play in a league that uses OPS or OBP, you should adjust your filters accordingly.

Third, because it is impossible to win every category every week, you will need to decide which categories you want to win each week. You can draft a team of speedsters that gets on base, swipes bags and scores runs. Alternatively you can go with a power-based team that has the ability to get on-base and score runs, but also hit the long-ball. This article applies the less fleet-footed Matt Holliday model. Note: feel free to try this exercise substituting Spd in place of PX.

Our filters are as follows:

ct% - 80% and greater
xBA - .280 and greater
PX – 120 and greater
RC/G – 5 and greater

Those filters generate a list of the following homogeneous players based on BaseballHQ.com’s 2013 projections:

Player Name         Team   ct%   xBA   PX  RC/G  
================    ====   ===   ===  ===  ====
Beltre, Adrian       TEX    87   303  133  7.01                
Beltran, Carlos      STL    80   286  130  6.01
Butler, Billy         KC    83   293  120  6.85                
Braun, Ryan J        MIL    81   302  153  8.23
Cabrera, Miguel      DET    84   307  148  9.13                
Craig, Allen         STL    80   291  139  6.30
Cano, Robinson       NYY    86   318  133  7.10                
Cuddyer, Michael     COL    81   292  129  5.44
Cespedes, Yoenis     OAK    82   282  126  6.09                
Gonzalez, Adrian      LA    82   293  125  6.36
Encarnacion, Edwin   TOR    83   287  147  6.88                
Ramirez, Aramis      MIL    85   289  124  6.18
Fielder, Prince      DET    82   298  137  7.79                
Tulowitzki, Troy     COL    85   300  135  6.96
Jones, Adam L        BAL    80   283  121  5.32                
Zimmerman, Ryan      WAS    81   280  125  6.32
Montero, Jesus       SEA    80   290  120  5.68    
Ortiz, David         BOS    80   293  139  7.24    
Pujols, Albert       LAA    88   309  140  7.07    
Teixeira, Mark       NYY    81   281  132  5.61    
Zobrist, Ben         TAM    80   283  125  5.81    
Zunino, Mike         SEA    84   306  152  6.31

Assembling Team Homogeneity (“Team A”)

Using current average draft positions (“ADPs”) (from mockdraftcentral.com), it is possible to assemble the core of your team using players from this list. You can also slightly modify the PX filter to capture additional players with the requisite baseline consistency metrics. 

With its first ten picks, Team A will draft eight hitters (3 OFs, C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B) and two starting pitchers:

Player Name              ADP Round
===========              =========
Robinson Cano (2B, NYY)     1
Troy Tulowitzki (SS, COL)   2
Adam Jones (OF, BAL)        3
Ryan Zimmerman (3B, WAS)    4
Yoenis Cespedes (OF, OAK)   5
Zack Greinke (SP, LA)       6
Roy Halladay (SP, PHI)      7
David Ortiz (1B, BOS)       8
Jesus Montero (C, SEA)      9
Michael Cuddyer (OF, COL)  16

Note that in the process of drafting an offensive juggernaut, two very good starting pitchers have been selected as well. HQ’s projected numbers for the core of Team A are as follows:

Runs: 685
HR: 211
RBI: 723
SB: 53
AVG: .289 

In 2012, Team A’s week-to-week DOM% consistency score (weeks where BPV > 50%) was 51.38%. If you remove Montero’s abysmal 25%, which appears out of line with BHQ’s rosy 2013 projection, the resulting consistency rating is 55%.

If Team A’s DOM% seems low to you, consider that in 2012, of those players that played at least one-third of the season (8 weeks worth of games), only 18% achieved a DOM% of 50% or higher for the season. For these qualifying players, the average DOM% was 34% and the median was 33%.

Assembling the Competition (“Team B”)

However, these numbers are no fun in a vacuum. Instead, let’s compare them to a second team—built without applying filters to create a homogeneous team, but instead using February ADPs from mockdraftcentral.com. This team will even have the good fortune of drafting both Mike Trout and BHQ’s projected HR leader, Giancarlo Stanton. 

Importantly, Team B applies the same LIMA-type approach, loading up on offensive players early, but without regard to what categories those players might provide production in. In other words, this team is built to compete against Team A, and given its focus on hitting, will be much closer in production to Team A than the average team in the league. Here is how Team B looks:

Player Name              ADP Round
============             =========
Mike Trout (OF, LAA)        1
Giancarlo Stanton (OF, MIA) 2
Hanley Ramirez (SS, LA)     3
Cole Hamels (SP, PHI)       4
Brett Lawrie (3B, TOR)      5
Jose Altuve (2B, HOU)       6
Carlos Santana (1B, CLE)    7
Miguel Montero (C, ARI)     7
Nelson Cruz (OF, TEX)       9
Matt Moore (RHP, TAM)       9

This is a very solid team. However, it was not built applying the principles of homogeneity. Here are Team B’s projected core numbers:

Runs: 655
HR: 178
RBI: 628
SB: 135
AVG: .274

Comparing Teams A and B

And how do these numbers compare with those of Team A? Team A has the advantage in the following categories:

Runs: +30
HR: +33
RBI: +95
AVG: +.015

In 2012, Team B’s DOM% consistency score was 44.88%. This means that Team A’s 2012 DOM% consistency score is higher by 6.5% (without adjusting for Montero’s score, which would increase the difference by over 10%). Not surprisingly, Team B has the advantage in steals, but Team A could care less about winning that category.  Again, it is important to remember that most teams in this league will not yield this type of hitting production. 

You have likely realized that you will need to adjust your filters as the draft progresses. By adjusting your filters, you can effectively create tiers of target players to draft. It is recommended to keep ct%, eye ratio, and/or bb% at higher levels (the key consistency metrics), and decrease PX or Spd in later rounds. For instance, decreasing PX to 100 yields some intriguing options in youth, such as Oscar Taveras (OF, STL), as well as a buy-low opportunity in Carl Crawford (OF, LA), and a talented player that may be slightly overlooked at this point in his career, Nick Markakis (OF, BAL). Additionally, you may wish to incorporate BHQ health grades into your decision-making process.

It should be emphasized that multiple layers of consistency have been built into this lineup as a result of the following: (1) applying metrics shown to generate consistent results; (2) allocating draft dollars/picks towards hitters, who are generally more reliable than pitchers; and (3) drafting hitters who do the same things well, which means the team is more likely to win its target categories in a given week.

Conclusion

In head-to-head fantasy baseball, the importance of drafting a homogenous team cannot be understated. The purpose of this article is to suggest a draft approach—not a list of players to necessarily target. Preliminary research shows that a homogeneous team is more likely to be a consistent team, which is what head-to-head players strive for. 

You should apply these principles to your own league settings to create your own “Team Homogeneity.” After all, variety is no fun if you lose 6-4 every week.

 

For definitions and benchmarks of BaseballHQ.com's most-used terms, see our Glossary Primer.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.