Every offseason, the big prospect sites start releasing their team lists. Over on Fangraphs, the prospects are sorted by FV on a 20-80 scale, their attempt at distilling a full player profile into a projected future role on the MLB team. At Baseball Prospectus, each profile gets an ‘OFP’ (‘ceiling’) role and a ‘Likely’ role on a 20-80 scale. While these grades and player profiles are invaluable for us dynasty leaguers, it’s not precisely what we need. What we need is a way to convert a future real-life role projection into a future fantasy baseball projection.
This summer, I made a ham-fisted attempt at this. The method was to take future scouting grades and weigh them based on potential fantasy performance. It was a start, but it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.
Then, Chip suggested we turn our slashline/HR/SB hitter projections into a single number. Then Chip pulled all the MLB seasons from 2009-2018 and re-calibrated them for roto. THEN Chip coded the whole thing so that we can plug in a prospect’s expected future slash line, HR, and SB production and have the code spit out a single FV number and Roto $ amount:
Let’s use Vlad Jr. as an example. I’ve taken my guidance from the Fangraphs “Scouting Explained” article to turn Vlad’s future tools into an expected slash line, HR, and SB. We can argue with the projections later, that’s not really the point of the article. The point is, we can take those expectations and compare them to how our hypothetical future Vlad Guerrero Jr. performed relative to the MLB since 2009 in terms of fantasy and Roto $.
I was anticipating Vlad’s FV ceiling to be a 70. And his ceiling numbers might be a little low based on the Fangraphs 20-80 guidance. That being said, a 65 makes some sense. Vlad’s profile is an awful lot like a 3B version of J.D. Martinez. Meaning he’s a great fantasy asset, but also always a sure-fire 1st rounder. A 65 feels about right.
In December, John Calvagno wrote a very interesting piece advocating that Victor Robles might be a better prospect than Vlad Jr. for fantasy purposes. Well, now we can evaluate that claim in terms of expected fantasy impact:
As John notes in his piece, Robles’s 40-SB upside does give him a slight advantage over Vladdy assuming both players hit their respective ceilings (but Vladdy likely has the safer expectation and floor). This has more to do with how fantasy baseball is scored more than anything else. We have to remember to put our emotions and gut instincts aside to make valuable choices in the fantasy baseball realm.
When I compiled my first draft of the Goyette hitter rankings, I was trying to make a systematic approach to valuing hitting prospects for fantasy baseball purposes. My goal was to stick to what the system spit out as my rankings, instead of starting with a system and then making idiosyncratic adjustments based on the dudes I liked or didn’t like.
Nicky Lopez is a dude I like as a baseball player. However, in my initial hitter rankings, he came out as the #14 hitter, sandwiched between Alex Kirilloff and Jo Adell. I love to take a position and argue it to the best of my abilities. But even at my obstinate best I couldn’t come up with a convincing argument for Nicky Lopez at #14. After talking it out with Brenden Gorzelski (aka Big Gorzey) in the group chat, I realized my prior system was just not giving guys credit for having a big ceiling:
Fantasy FV shows us what exactly the best case scenario is with Nicky Lopez: a nice player for a real-life baseball team that won’t hurt your fantasy squad, but will do very little to move the needle for you above a replacement level (40 FV) player in even his very best season.
One of the bigger debates in our internal chat this offseason is how to value Nick Madrigal. Alex and Brenden see a slappy 2B that doesn’t have the strength to hit more than a couple of HRs and isn’t fast enough to contribute much on the basepaths. Paul and myself feel like they are undervaluing his 70 hit tool and speed, and that he might (MIGHT!) develop a little bit of power later on in his career.
I think Fantasy FV helps to figure out how to value him by showing us both his potential value and his near singular path to getting there. You can see his upside is a nice 60 FV player. But his downside is essentially Nicky Lopez, who you can probably pick up in your dynasty league for peanuts. Madrigal’s path is narrow. He’s got to hit over .300 and steal 25+ bags to be relevant for your fantasy league, and also needs to find additional power to be arguably valuable. Now you can bet on him doing that if you want (I am), and you’ll have some more information to help you make that decision.
Look for Chip’s Fantasy FV system as an integral part of my revised hitter rankings this offseason. In the meantime, what are some prospect debates you’d like us to settle using Fantasy FV??