Context Counts – Week 12 Fantasy MVP

This week is a good example of how the talent pool, as well as categories, can affect valuation.
I usually start by listing the top players in a shallow 5×5 Mixed League with 10 fantasy teams and a total of only 216 active players (96 pitchers and 120 batters).
Mets rookie Matt Harvey won both of his starts, striking out 13 Brewers in 7 innings last Tuesday, and fanning 6 Phillies in a scoreless outing Sunday. In 13 total innings of work, Harvey gave up just 3 earned runs, 5 hits and 3 walks, good enough for a 2.08 ERA and a stellar 0.692 WHIP. In the shallow mixed league last week, those stats earned a $55.68 RotoValue, the best of any player (and the first time that a pitcher has been top overall in the rankings in the 5 weeks I’ve looked at the top weekly prices).
Pedro Alvarez was the week’s top batter, hitting .414 with 4 HR, 10 RBI, to earn $53.33 in the mixed league. Alvarez’s stats come out on top in the much deeper 4×4 NL Only format, where his numbers earned $49.31 as the league’s best, well ahead of Matt Harvey’s $34.68. But in the 5×5 NL Only, Alvarez, who scored just 5 runs, wound up second behind the Reds’ Jay Bruce. Bruce hit only .276, but slugged 6 HR, scoring 6 times, and driving in 7, to earn $46.48 on the week, just ahead of Alvarez’s $45.74. Neither batter stole a base, but Bruce qualified at the weaker position in the NL 5×5 format, so his positional adjustment, extra 2 HR, and extra run scored outweighed Alvarez’s better average and 3 more RBI.
In the shallow mixed league 5×5, however, Bruce’s value was just $47.30, as the positional adjustment there actually worked to Alvarez’s advantage. The deep 5×5 leagues start 50 outfielders in the 15-team NL, but just 30 corner infielders. So the replacement level outfielder is worse than the replacement corner infielder, giving Bruce  a bump in that format. But in the shallow, mixed 5×5 league, just 36 outfielders start, and 12 3B only from the 30 MLB teams, plus another 24 total utility players (can be any position; DH only must go here). So in the shallow format, Alvarez gets the boost, since a replacement 3B is worse than a replacement outfielder.
Oh, and to muddy things further, in the 5×5 mixed league, Bruce wasn’t the second-most valuable batter; he was 3rd, also behind Hanley Ramirez, who hit .500 with 3 HR, 6 runs, and 7 RBI. Ramirez also didn’t steal this week (interestingly nobody in the mixed-league top 20 had a steal), and his R/RBI totals matched Bruce exactly. Bruce hit twice as many HR, however, so in a deep format he’s worth more. In a shallow format, Ramirez qualifies at SS, an even weaker  position than 3B, so with the positional adjustment he earned  $50.90, ahead of Bruce’s $47.30. All three players had very good weeks and clearly helped their teams. Which of the three (or four, if you toss in Harvey) was worth changes based on roster requirements, categories used, and positional eligibility.
While Matt Harvey was the week’s best pitcher in any format, in the 4×4 NL Bobby Parnell earned $29.27 to rank second to Harvey’s $34.68, with 3 saves, a 0.300 WHIP, and a 0.00 ERA in 3.33 innings, just ahead of two middle relievers, David Hernandez ($28.48) and Nick Vincent ($27.93), who each won twice and had a 0.00 ERA on the week. In the 5×5 NL Harvey’s 19 strikeouts gave him a $37.02 RotoValue and an even larger lead over Jeff Samardzija, who won twice while posting a 2.93 ERA and 1.109 WHIP and 11 Ks in 15.33 IP to earn $23.94. Samardzija edged out Mat Latos, as Latos  fanned 22 on the week with a nearly identical 2.84 ERA and 1.105 WHIP. But Latos had just one win, and also pitched only 12.67 IP (making the 22 strikeouts even more impressive), and his RotoValue worked out to $23.89.
NL players dominated the week, earning the top 4 spots in the 5×5 mixed league, but Chris Davis was once again the AL MVP, repeating from week 9 after hitting .348 with 4 HR, 10 RBI, and 5 Runs scored. As in week 9, Davis scored just once when he didn’t drive himself in. His stats earned $45.53 in the mixed league, $42.36 in the 5×5 AL only, and $46.16 in the 4×4 AL onlyNelson Cruz was the 4×4 runner-up, earning $43.24 after batting .379 with 3 HR and 11 RBI, but he scored only on his 3 HR, so his deep 5×5 value fell to just $33.15. Edwin Encarnacion was 5×5 runner-up, hitting .364 with 3 HR, 7 runs, and 8 RBI. Honorable mention goes to Joe Mauer, who, helped by a larger positional adjustment as a catcher in the shallow 5×5 league earned $43.48 in that format (.407, 2 HR, 8 R, 4 RBI), just ahead of Encarnacion’s $43.18 as the 2nd best AL player. In the deeper AL-only, Mauer’s $35.02 value ranked 4th, and the relative lack of RBIs dropped out of the top 10 in 4×4 .
Max Scherzer was the AL’s top pitcher, with a 2.08 ERA, 1.154 WHIP, and 16 Ks in 13 innings while winning twice. This earned $35.17 in the AL 5×5, easily the league’s top price, and $31.61 in the AL 4×4, edging out Blue Jays’ closer Casey Janssen, who earned $31.42 in 4×4 value after posting a 0.00 ERA and 0.500 WHIP over 4 appearances, earning a win and 3 saves. Middle reliever Drew Smyly was a distant runner-up in 4×4 value, earning $26.02 after posting a 0.522 WHIP in 7.67 scoreless innings over 3 appearances. Smyly got a rare 3-inning save last Monday, and picked up a relief win also, to go with the strong ERA/WHIP numbers.