MASTER NOTES: All-Value Team

As we hit the 60-game mark, it’s a decent time to pause and take stock of the fantasy season so far. I’m currently third in the Tout-AL league, a mile back of leader Larry Schechter. To decide if I have a team that might have staying power, I like to use a process to assess my team for “value.”

Of course, value is in the eye of the beholder, and means different things to different fantasy players. What I am looking for as value is the combination of production and profit.

That’s how I measure player value for this purpose:

  • I take the player’s YTD production in dollars as calculated by the Custom Draft Guide (CDG). The CDG lets users tailor the value algorithm to reflect both league rules (Tout Wars uses OBP instead of BA, as all leagues should) and rostering habits like hitter-pitcher splits and stars-and-scrubs or balanced.
  • Then I subtract the player’s salary to find the profit or loss.
  • And then the critical last step is to add the production and the profit to create the player’s value. Note that a player can suffer a loss vs. his salary and still have positive value, provided his production is big enough (and/or the loss is small enough).

The beauty of this system is that a player has two paths to creating value: He can just be very productive, or he can be somewhat productive while also being very profitable. So a $40 player who was bought for $38 is a $42 value ($40 production plus $2 profit), but so is a player who has produced $30 for $18 in salary, or a $22 player with a a $2 salary.

My original plan for this edition of Master Notes was to value all the players on my Tout-AL roster. Then I remembered some excellent advice I once got from Ron Shandler, who told me, "Your own team fascinates you but bores everyone else." So instead of sticking with my plan and boring you with my team, I’ll give you the names of the players atop the Determination of All-Value Individual Tracking Tool (the DAVITT, for short), and bore you with that!

I’ll present the players in increasing order of value, with the last player being the DAVITT MVP of the 2016 season so far. Each player is shown with his salary in the Tout Wars Mixed 15-team auction, his production, the resulting profit and, finally, his value. I’ll add some comments as we go, which is part of our value for you.

Let’s start with the hitters:

C: Jonathan Lucroy, MIL, $17, $19, +$2, +$21

C: Wilson Ramos, WAS, $3, $16, +$13, +$29

The catchers demonstrate the two paths to value—Lucroy a $17 buy, Ramos a $3 sleeper. Only one other catcher—Jason Castro of HOU—has put up double-digit value, and 19 catchers have actually provided owners with negative value.

3B: Nick Castellanos, DET, $3, $18, +$15, +$33

Castellanos noses out all-world hot cornerman Nolan Arenado, whose position-leading $33 of production is decreased by a buck because his Tout buyer spent $34 and therefore is in the red by that buck. Similarly, Josh Donaldson and Kris Bryant have production at or near $30 but their owners overpaid by $8 (Bryant) or $9 (Donaldson).

1B: Wil Myers, SD, $8, $26, +$18, +$44

Fantasy owners have been waiting for Myers for years, and after most gave up, Myers has delivered this year with a $26 YTD all-round performance (12-33-7-.327-38) that cost his owner just $8.

OF: Mark Trumbo, BAL, $10, $30, +$20, +$50

The leading HR hitter in MLB has also rung up a useful .346 OBP (and .294 BA). But all his stat goodness rests on a 23% HR/F, which is 10 points higher than in recent years and just pretty darn high in general. Sell high? It’s worth thinking about.

OF: Mookie Betts, BOS, $32, $42, +$10, +$52

Remember what I said about not talking about your own team? This is my exception. I was very high on Betts going into the Tout-AL auction and paid $38 for him, to the chortles of many. Ha! I’m $4 to the good just on production (fourth highest in MLB) and plus-$14 on value. Yay me. It still doesn’t offset my $30 purchase of Justin Upton, though.

OF: Odubel Herrera, PHI, $3, $28, +$25, +$53

His .422 OBP is fourth in MLB and he’s popped 5 HR with 8 SB into the bargain. He’s pushed his Walk Rate to over 15% while cutting Ks by seven points. Those are sustainable skills gains. His SB% success rate is well under 70%, so he could easily get the red light.

OF: Gregory Polanco, PIT, $17, $35, +$18, +$53

A similar year to Herrera but with more Runs and RBI, and four more HR. But look out—his H% is up more than 40 points and his HR/F has more than doubled from last year. He’s also under 70% SB success. Plenty of room for nervousness here.

OF: Ian Desmond, TEX, $13, $34, +$21, +$55

One of the year’s feelgood stories, the little shortstop who couldn’t, reborn as an OF who really can. Eight HR, 12 SB, .352 OBP. And he's still SS-eligible. This season will doubtless be trotted out by proponents of the “contract year” theory of top performance.

DH: David Ortiz, BOS, $17, $36, +$19, +$55

Another feelgood story, the grizzled vet who always could and, as it happens, still can. Third overall in OBP at .425 (!), tied 5th in HR, leading MLB in doubles and Total Bases, and he's almost as old as I am, and I can barely walk down the stairs in the morning. There have already been rumblings that this might not be Ortiz’ last season after all. Would you go $30 in 2017?

2B: Jose Altuve, HOU, $31, $51, +$20, +$71

Confirmed his 2015 power jump, setting a pace for 25 swats and 50+ SB, which he’s copping at a 95% success clip. If he does go 25/50, he’ll be only the eighth in MLB history, joining Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson, and another undersized HOU 2B (who turned his 20/50s as an MVP and Hall of Famer for the Big Red Machine in CIN). Altuve would also be the first to 20/50 since Hanley Ramirez did in in 2007. Altuve’s not (quite) the value leader in this exercise, but his $51 in fantasy production YTD is leading all of MLB.

SS: Jonathan Villar, MIL, $1, $43, +$42, +$85 (!)

Your value leader is the improbable Villar, pushed out of HOU to make room for Carlos Correa and, we were told, holding down the SS spot in MIL until he could get pushed out by Orlando Arcia. Maybe not! Besides leading MLB with 22 swipes (76% success), Villar has five HR and is at .405 OBP on the strength of a near-doubling of walks, which is sustainable, and a 40%+ H%, which isn’t.

And on to the pitchers:

CL: Zach Britton, BAL, $17, $17, $0, +$17

CL: Fernando Rodney, SD, $1, $10, +$9, +$19

CL: Roberto Osuna, TOR, $2, $12, +$10, +$22

I required three closers and these were the guys. Both Osuna and Rodney benefited from depressed auction value because of uncertainty about their permanence in the closer role. Happens every year. Take the guy who has the role, unless you're me, and the guy who has the role is Jim Johnson.

SP: Johnny Cueto, SF, $16, $20, +$4, +$24

A nice bounceback season for a wily veteran starter after his disappointing playoff run last year.

SP: Jason Hammel, CHC, $3, $14, +$11, +$25

If Hammel finishes this year with double-digit production, it’ll be the third year in a row. He’s also managed to hang up some pretty decent value for a few years now, mostly because nobody ever believes he can do it again, even after he does it again.

SP: Marco Estrada, TOR, $1, $15, +$14, +$29

Like Hammel, except it’s for the second year in a row, not the third. Many of his skill metrics look like they’re going the wrong way, and his luck metrics look out of whack. But that might be because the metrics are calibrated for the current model of lowball-groundball pitchers. Estrada is a highball-flyball guy (over 50% the last few years), and maybe because batters see so few of them, his different skills work in mysterious ways.

SP: Aaron Nola, PHI, $1, $17, +$16, +$33

As a rising rookie, he looked like a serviceable potential #3 starter with a low K rate and great control. But he’s popped his Dom up around 10 K/9 while reducing his Ctl to 1.7 bb/9 this year. His resulting 5.7 Cmd is fourth-best among MLB starters.

SP: John Lackey, CHC, $5, $20, +$15, +$35

There’s something to be said for dependability. It seems like Lackey always goes for $5 and always delivers profit. You have to go back to 2011 to find a season where you didn’t cash a $5 bet on Lackey.

SP: Clayton Kershaw, LA, $38, $37, -$1, +$36

ERA 1.99, WHIP 0.65, Dom 10.6 K/9, Ctl 0.6 bb/9, Cmd 18.7 K/bb. 'Nuff said.

And before we go, here are the players who have destroyed the most value this season so far, excluding players whose value loss is injury-related:

OF: Aaron Hicks, NYY, $1, -$7, -$8, -$15

OF: Yasiel Puig, LA, $21, $2, -$19, -$17

3B: Mike Moustakas, KC, $13, -$2, -$15, -$17

OF: Chris Coghlan, OAK, $2, -$11, -$13, -$24

CL: Drew Storen, TOR, $7, -$9, -$16, -$25

1B: Jose Abreu, CHW, $38, $6, -$32, -$26

2B: Dee Gordon, MIA, $22, -$2, -$24, -$26

CL: Shawn Tolleson, TEX, $11, -$8, -$19, -$27

SS: Jose Peraza, CIN, $2, -$13, -$15, -$28

OF: Justin Upton, DET, $30, -$1, -$31, -$32

C: Russell Martin, TOR, $16, -$9, -$25, -$34

DH: Prince Fielder, TEX, $24, -$5, -$29, -$34

SP: Dallas Keuchel, HOU, $21, -$7, -$28, -$35

SP: Tyson Ross, SD, $15, -$10, -$25, -$35

C: Devin Mesoraco, CIN, $7, -$15, -$22, -$37

SP: Sonny Gray, OAK, $17, -$10, -$27, -$37

SP: Luis Severino, NYY, $7, -$15, -$22, -$37

CL: J.J. Hoover, CIN, $5, -$16, -$21, -$37

OF: Carlos Gomez, HOU, $26, -$6, -$32, -$38

SP: Matt Harvey, NYM, $29, -$5, -$34, -$39

SP: Shelby Miller, ARI, $8, -$19, -$27, -$46

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