MASTER NOTES: 2018 All-Star Break All-Value team

We’re heading into the break this weekend, so it’s time for me to deliver my annual All-Star All-value fantasy team, a tradition that has been part of fantasy baseball culture since ... earlier this week, when I thought about doing it.

First, let me explain what I mean by “value.” Usually, when fantasy baseball writers talk about value, they mean how many dollars’ worth of fantasy production, or they mean profit, the gain in production over the cost of buying the player.

To me, “value” in fantasy terms means dollars of fantasy production and profit. I’d rather have a $30 player with a $5 profit than a $6 player with a $5 profit.

So I went back and got the last pre-season projections (p$) for all the hitters and pitchers in both leagues, pricing for a standard 5x5 league. Players projected under $0 were placed at $1, to reflect the fact that fantasy auctions don’t allow owners to bid less than zero (maybe we should!). Players not in the projections at all were given a p$ of $0, to reflect that they would not be drafted and would get onto rosters via FAAB or waivers.

Then I got their YTD stats and dollar values (y$) from the BHQ stats tool, for games through Tuesday night. Then I subtracted the p$ from the y$ to get the profit (or loss) of each player, and added that profit to the y$ to get a season value (v$) including both actual value plus the profit.

Then I ranked the hitters and pitchers separately by value, and finally placed the highest-value players into a standard 23-player fantasy team, with the usual position requirements for hitters (the DH or UT was the player with the highest value after all the positions were filled), and six starters/three relievers for pitchers.

And here they are:

HITTERS

The top value player for the season thus far has been CLE SS Francisco Lindor, whose value is almost $44 (p$24/y$33.87/+$9.87: v$43.74). Lindor has been a true five-category contributor, with 24 HR, 59 RBI, 80 R, 12 SB, .296. There’s a widespread belief that a true value player at draft needs to deliver 20+ HR and offer at least double-digit bags in an SB-straitened environment. Lindor has reached those thresholds already. He’s really good.

Lindor barely nosed out the #2 value hitter, BOS OF Mookie Betts, with a value of $43.34, just 40 cents less than Lindor ($30/$36.67/+$6.67), and that’s before his grand slam, 5-RBI effort on Thursday night. Betts has had a couple fewer HR than Lindor, a few bags more, and has lagged Lindor a little in RBI and Runs while far surpassing Lindor in BA (22-44-74-16-.346). Betts is good, too.

Next comes Betts’ teammate in the BOS OF, Andrew Benintendi, who checks in with a $41.28 ($20/$30.64/+$10.64). Benintendi has basically been Betts lite (14-57-67-17-.298). Benintendi is the last $40 value hitter.

In fourth, CLE 3B (and 2B) Jose Ramirez, at $39.26 ($30/$34.63/+$4.63). Ramirez was expected to be another five-category contributor, and he has been. But again, it’s likely most owners expected 25 HR for the full season—but not heading into the break with 70 games left to play. (25-60-61-19-.290)

A bigger surprise in the five-hole, as SEA MI Jean Segura has notched $36.86 in value ($20/$28.43/+$8.43). Much of Segura’s value has arisen from his .329 BA, and a lot of experts believe that number is due to sink when Segura’s Hit Rate regresses from its current level around 37% (.370 BABIP) to something more in line with his career 33% level (7-47-62-14-.329).

Another Red Sox hitter in at #6, as OF J.D. Martinez has ridden a .331 BA, 28 HR and 77 RBI to a $36.02 value ($33/$34.51/+$1.51). Martinez was expected to be a top hitter—as we see in his profit of less than $2. But you gotta love paying $33 for a hitter who actually delivers even more (28-77-67-2-.331).

The next few value hitters have to be considered surprises, none more than MIN OF Eddie Rosario. His $34.84 value ($15/$24.92/+$9.92) includes an increasingly rare and valuable .300 BA, as well as mid-50s RBI and Runs, and even 6 SB. (18-54-58-6-.300)

The lowest HR total among non-catcher value hitters is OAK 2B Jed Lowrie, whose $34.66 value ($1/$17.83/+$16.83) includes 16 big flies (16-62-41-0-.287). But Lowrie has been uncommonly productive in RBI, with 67 despite his low-ish HR total—and he gets a lot of value from his low projected value, which has created the most profitable hitter in the first half.

The second most-profitable hitter was SEA OF Mitch Haniger, at $33.94 ($6/$19.97/+$13.97). His line looks a lot like Lowrie’s, with a few small differences including 4 SB (18-65-46-4-.274).

No surprise to see BAL MI Manny Machado, who is having a vintage Machado season, a $33.56 value campaign ($23/$28.28/+$5.28) that includes another .300+ BA and 6 SB after zero and nine the last two seasons (23-63-46-6-.314). Machado is also elite in HR production but his poor team support—the Orioles sport an MLB-worst .290 OBP—have curtailed his runs produced. If, as widely rumored, he were to end up in the Bronx or some other locale with more productive teammates, he would almost certainly add still more value.

We close out the hitter list with something of a blast from the past, TEX OF Shin-Soo Choo in the DH/UT slot. Choo’s $31.78 value ($6/$18.89/+$12.89) was based on solid across-the-board stats (17-42-52-3-.290), about 80 cents ahead of CHW SS Tim Anderson, done in by a .246 BA. Anderson will be the subject of my Facts & Flukes Spotlight analysis next week here at BaseballHQ.com.

The two catchers are TAM C Wilson Ramos at $23.12 ($4/$13.56/+$9.56), thanks to useful HR, RBI and BA (14 HR-51 RBI-29 R-0 SB-.291), and HOU C Evan Gattis, a $20.26 ($7/$13.63/+$6.63) value with a recent spate of HR (18-62-37-1-.248). Both catchers benefited from the need to have two catchers on the list, and from their relatively modest projections creating larger profits.

STARTING PITCHERS

The top starting pitcher by value is TAM LHP Blake Snell, at $39.02  ($4/$21.51/+$17.51). Snell has been a long-awaited revelation this year with 12 wins for a struggling TAM club, and excellent decimals and Ks (12-2.09/1.03-132 K) in 116 innings.

The #2 value starter is CLE RHP Trevor Bauer, at $32.54 ($7/$19.77/+$12.77).  Bauer has pitched in some tough luck for CLE, especially with their poor bullpen performance leaving him with just eight wins but excellent decimals and a ton of whiffs  (8-2.30/1.07-168). Both Snell and Bauer are top-10 in starting pitcher ERA over the last full year (>=175 IP). Bauer’s 2.58 is fifth on the list, while Snell is seventh at 2.65.

The last-full-season ERA leader is the #3 value starter, HOU RHP Justin Verlander, at $31.62 ($22/$26.81/+$4.81). This year, he’s been dominant enough (9-2.05/0.83-160) to post a solid profit despite lofty pre-season expected value.

The surprise of the value rotation has to be the #4, STL RHP Miles Mikolas, at $28.84 ($3/$15.92/+$12.92). His value is based on solid across-the-board numbers, although with limited Ks (10-2.65/1.01-81).

At #5, Verlander’s teammate, RHP Charlie Morton, at a $28.14 value ($4/$16.07/+$12.07). Morton has added Ks to his wins and acceptable decimals (11-0-2.83-1.12-141), and benefits from a $4 pre-season projection to provide a big value bump via profit.

The last value SP is probably no surprise: NYY RHP Luis Severino has amassed $27.30, almost entirely based on pure in-season value ($23/$25.15/+$2.15) with little profit.  He leads MLB with 14 wins, and the rest of his numbers, especially WHIP, are ace-level-2.12/0.96-143). Be a little wary of the ERA, as his xERA is a full run higher.

RELIEF PITCHERS

The top value reliever this season has been OAK closer Blake Treinen, whose $32.16 value reflects excellent stats (5-23-0.98-0.96-56) and a smallish projected value ($4/$18.08/+$14.08). The latter, of course, was because of uncertainty surrounding the OAK bullpen coming into the season. Blake Treinen is on a lot of leading fantasy teams.

The #2 reliever is the most dominant closer in the game this year, SEA RHP Edwin Diaz. His $26.28 value was much more expected than Treinen’s ($13/$19.64/+$6.64), but he has created a profit anyway by really getting the job done (0-35-2.30-0.81-78). Diaz’ ERA is actually higher than his xERA by 36 points, so he might even have room to improve.

And finally, if I tell you the #3 value reliever isn’t a closer, you’ll probably guess it must be MIL LHP Josh Hader, at $22.20 ($1/$11.60/+$10.60). Hader has earned his value with a couple of vulture wins, some saves, excellent decimals and a huge number of relief Ks (2-7-1.55-0.82-85). Should circumstances propel Hader into a few more save opportunities, he could add even more value down the stretch.

CONCLUSION

Now, before you get busy writing a letter to the editor or a barrage of tweets, I know that the profit might not be perfectly reflected in the method here because many players went for prices not matching the BHQ pre-season projected values.

But what can I say? It’s a tradition.


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