The Outfielder Triple Comparison

Last Wednesday, I compared my outfielder rankings with the recently released Sporting News Fantasy Baseball ’09 magazine. I didn’t compare to show one was markedly better than the other or anything like that, I just love comparing things-especially fantasy baseball rankings. I take pride in my rankings because I put a lot of time and effort into them as I’m sure industry standard magazines like SN do, too. Thus, when I see another ranking list of the same set of players, I’m always intrigued because I like to see what aligned closely and where the huge differences were on both ends of the spectrum. As I mentioned yesterday, my friend and colleague Jason Collette and his crew released their magazine through fanball.com & ownersedge.com (For those interested, it’s been rumored to be at Borders more often than Barnes & Noble… this was true in several areas across the country).

Now I have a third set of rankings to add to the mix and get an even better feel for how the outfielders are being viewed for 2009. I’ll cover the fanball list the same way I did the Sporting News whereby first I’ll look at the big differences between my list and theirs followed by the composite list in alphabetical order. Then, as an extra special treat, I’ll put up a triple comparison with an average ranking for 95 of the outfielders from my original list.

Outfielders I Love…

Here are the guys I rated much higher than the fanball crew. The cutoff was a double-digit difference between the lists:

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The Sporting News and I didn’t top 30 on any difference whereas I have five such differences with fanball. What does it mean? Nothing in particular. Three of the major differences in ranking came on Scott Hairston, Jody Gerut and Carlos Gonzalez, but I rated them in the latter part of my list of 100 and they rated them in the latter part of their list of 160. That doesn’t change the fact that I like them better, but the mixed league values from 80 to 160 were $0 for fanball so they find that back half rather interchangeable to some degree.

Our differences for J.D. Drew and Lastings Milledge are more significant as far as I’m concerned. I rated both in the top half while fanball had them firmly in the bottom half of their top 100. The near-guarantee that Drew will miss time due to injury has soiled his value and the fanball crew clearly doesn’t want anyone getting burned again so they slotted him behind the likes of Travis Buck, Nate Schierholtz and Steven Pearce among others. I’d be willing to admit that I was a bit generous, but his skillset is so plentiful that I couldn’t crush him despite his injury woes. I could see bumping him down a little bit in the update, but even 122 games of Drew (his average over the past five seasons) is better than the unknowns above, especially with his upside if he can make it into 140+ games.

The Milledge difference seems to be a stark difference of opinion. My love for Milledge in 2009 could start reaching Jason Collette-Nelson Cruz levels by the spring. Meanwhile, fanball is less than impressed with the budding outfielder. The accompanying capsule for Milledge said they were put off by his streakiness which isn’t a totally unfair critique. It’s easier for me to overlook the month-to-month swings since I play roto leagues almost exclusively. If he avoids the slow start he had in 2008 and doesn’t miss an entire as he did last July, I can’t see how he doesn’t show growth in 2009.

The Tattooed Titan, Josh Hamilton, fell pretty deep in their top 20. I remember thinking I might have been overrating him at six and it seems that the fanball guys would seem to say I did in fact. However, if they look at my rating of sixth among outfielders and think I was generous compared to their 18 slotting, I wonder what they thought of Yahoo!’s Brandon Funston rating him ninth OVERALL on his initial Big Board of 2009.

Outfielders They Love…

Here are the guys that fanball rated much higher than I did in my list. The cutoff was a double-digit difference between the lists:

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I guess I severely underrate speed. At least that’s what it seems like when you look at the list above. I’m not a huge fan of the speed specialists opting more for the power-speed combos with upside. I rarely leave a draft or auction with someone poised to steal 50+ bags with their 1 HR & 25 RBI and that is reflected in my rankings. I realize the pure dollar value of stolen bases is rather high in fantasy baseball, but there is no way I’m taking Carlos Gomez before the likes of Adam Dunn, Jermaine Dye, Magglio Ordonez, Nate McLouth and Vernon Wells though all five rate behind Gomez in the fanball list. I won’t delve into theory here in this piece, but what’s easier to fix in June or July: home runs, runs batted in and average or stolen bases? Maneuvering a deal for a stolen base guy like Gomez or Willy Taveras while holding a top 4 spot in HR, RBI and AVG makes much more sense than stocking speed and trying to peddle it later for the other categories. While I do believe they went too high on Jacoby Ellsbury, at least he’s a two category stud with potential for another (he could hit for .300+) and worthwhile offerings in HR & RBI for a leadoff guy.

Here is the fanball-Sporer full comparison in alphabetical order:

Click for full view

Click for full view

The Composite Look

Now that I’ve look at my list in comparison to two others, what does an average of all three yield? Notice how an outlier on one of the lists can boost or deflate a player’s final ranking even if the other two were well on the other side of the spectrum for said player (Ellsbury, Quentin specifically):

click for full view

click for full view

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