When it comes time to make your draft pick on your roto draft day, you’re not only deciding which player to draft but which stat you are drafting too. The players are just workers for you as you try to mine out the highest totals possible across the board. But, if you don’t plan your draft right and maybe ignore home runs throughout the early rounds then you may find yourself trying to target that stat later on only to find that the home run market dried up by that time. So, your draft strategy should be tailored around knowing the market for each stat and knowing which stats provide the most value too.
The graphs here show the projected WERTH value in the five roto hitting categories for each player throughout the draft, based on their average draft position. This provides a good way to look through the draft and see how the value for each stat changes as we progress past the early rounds. As you scroll through these charts, pay attention to the slope of the red line for each stat. A flatter line indicates that there is little change in the availability of the stat from the first round of the draft to the last round of the draft. A steeper slope indicates that the stat becomes very scarce as the draft goes on.
What we can see is that Runs and RBI have the biggest drop-offs from the early rounds. HR and AVG also have a very steep drop. Meanwhile, SB’s are almost as plentiful in the late rounds as they are in the early rounds. So, we want to get Runs and RBI’s early and get HR and AVG early while we wait on SB’s if we want to maximize value.
But, is the ability to generate Runs and RBI’s really a skill? Can someone be good at those two things specifically? I would argue that those two stats are the byproducts of other skills. A player himself hits HR’s and hits for AVG and steals bases but his teammates help create Runs or RBI’s for him. So, let’s focus specifically on HR, AVG and SB and hope we can find a way to create Runs and RBI’s out of that.
Creating Runs and RBI’s with Homers
You may not be able to draft for Runs and RBI’s specifically despite their scarcity but you can draft for other stats that tie into them. So, focusing on what is in a player’s control is important.
Of all of those stats that are most within a player’s control, HR’s are the most effective stat to target because they also have a direct effect on both RBI’s and Runs. Over the past three seasons, HR roto values have had a 0.83 correlation to RBI roto values (very high correlation) and 0.46 correlation to Run roto values (fairly strong correlation). So, when you draft a homerun hitter, you’re also inherently drafting an RBI creator with a higher Run total too.
Your Second Stat to Focus On
Unfortunately, HR’s don’t also have a strong correlation to AVG and SB’s. If you draft purely for HR’s, you could finish well in three categories but would be burned in the other two. So, what else should you target? With AVG, it has a fairly strong correlation to both Runs and RBI values (0.43 and 0.31 respectively) so it’s a good secondary category to target. On the other hand, SB’s have a moderate correlation to Runs at 0.37 but a negative correlation to RBI values with -0.26. SB’s are not only plentiful later in the draft (so scarcity isn’t a concern), they typically don’t inherently provide a strong link to other stats on their own. Meanwhile, AVG is scarce as the draft goes on and it gives you a decent boost to Runs and RBI’s by drafting specifically for it.
So, Yes, Target HR’s and AVG Early and SB’s Late
It’s as simple as that. Don’t focus on trying to get balanced hitters in the early rounds because your main goal is to maximize your return in HR’s and AVG before the pool dries out for both of those stats. As a result of drafting for HR and AVG, you should also be getting a nice stockpile of RBI’s and Runs in the process. You can perhaps choose to punt SB’s altogether but there should be decent options for you to pick up in the later rounds as low-end starters or plug-and-play bench players for your team when you need a boost in SB to keep you competitive. But, ideally, you’d be finishing very high in four categories with this strategy and trying to just stay in the mix when it comes to SB’s.