Now that the baseball regular season is over, we can look back and judge who had the best year. For real baseball, WAR is a good start. But for Roto leagues, what counts are the particular categories your league uses.
Most baseball leagues are either traditional 4×4 leagues or 5×5 leagues, so I’ll give a list for both.
Here’s the RotoValue top 10 for a 10-team 4×4 league, with an active roster of 23 players (3 corner infielders, 3 middle infielders, 2 catchers, 5 outfielders, and 10 pitchers), a 4 person bench, and a $260 salary cap per team:
Matt Kemp may not win the NL MVP because he played for the out-of-contention Dodgers, but there’s no doubt he was the NL’s best player for Roto. In the standard 4 catgories, he was 1st in HR and RBI, tied for second in SB, and third in average. A truly dominating year. Ryan Braun did basically everything Kemp did, only not quite as well (except for batting average), so he’s a pretty clear #2. The #3 spot goes to pitching triple crown winner Clayton Kershaw, with Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols rounding out the top 5. Why is Kershaw so far below Kemp and Braun? Because Kemp and Braun contribute heavily in all four offensive categories, while starter Kershaw gets no saves, and thus contributes only in 3.
Teammate starters Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee also made the top 10, with Halladay ranking higher because of 2 extra wins, as they had almost identical ERA and WHIP numbers in about the same number of innings.
Now let’s look at the top 10 for a 5×5 league (same salary cap, number of teams, and roster sizes):
The same players are in the top 10, but they’re closer together, and the ordering changes after the top 3. Kemp was #1 in runs scored and Braun #2, so they now are 5-category monsters, not just 4-category ones. But their prices drop because other players now have more ways to add value. Kershaw led the league in strikeouts, becoming a 4-category player, and keeping his price about the same, narrowing the gap between him and the top two.
Albert Pujols passes Prince Fielder, because the 10 extra runs scored and 8 more SBs outweigh Fielder’s 21 RBI edge. Troy Tulowitzki drops from #6 to #10, as he scored only 81 runs. His other stats (.302, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 9 SB) were almost identical to Joey Votto’s (.309, 29, 103, 8). Tulowitzki ranks higher in a 4×4 league because his production in the middle infield is more valuable than Votto’s similar numbers at a corner position, but the extra 20 runs scored give Votto more value in a 5×5 league.
Lee’s extra 18 strikeouts compared to Halladay almost make up the gap Halladay’s 2 win edge opened.
Categories matter in fantasy values, and focusing on what categories your league uses is an important part of managing your team. In future articles, I’ll do a similar comparison for the AL, and then take a look at how roster size of your league can affect prices.
The original version of this post mistakenly used prices from a 12 team league, not a 10 team league. The values have been updated to reflect a 10 team league.