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February 18, 2013 posted by Albert Lang

B.J. Upton, Power And Speed: A Fantasy Baseball (H2H league) Opus

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My head-to-head rankings are a blend of personal projections/thoughts and a statistical formula that weights certain categories. Every season I have to push B.J. Upton and similar players down a bit in the ranks. Still, I typically have these kind of power and speed players with low batting averages higher than standard ranks. What follows is why.

Name HR SB power+speed HRs:SBs
B.J. Upton

69

109

178

0.633027523

Ryan Braun

99

77

176

1.285714286

Michael Bourn

13

155

168

0.083870968

Matt Kemp

90

68

158

1.323529412

Curtis Granderson

108

47

155

2.29787234

Drew Stubbs

51

100

151

0.51

Carlos Gonzalez

82

66

148

1.242424242

Coco Crisp

27

120

147

0.225

Jose Bautista

124

23

147

5.391304348

Andrew McCutchen

70

76

146

0.921052632

Rajai Davis

14

130

144

0.107692308

Albert Pujols

109

31

140

3.516129032

Jose Reyes

29

109

138

0.266055046

Shane Victorino

46

92

138

0.5

Juan Pierre

4

132

136

0.03030303

Ichiro Suzuki

20

111

131

0.18018018

Hanley Ramirez

55

73

128

0.753424658

Alex Rios

59

68

127

0.867647059

Ian Kinsler

60

66

126

0.909090909

Angel Pagan

26

98

124

0.265306122

Jimmy Rollins

47

77

124

0.61038961

Josh Hamilton

100

23

123

4.347826087

Justin Upton

65

57

122

1.140350877

Miguel Cabrera

112

9

121

12.44444444

Since 2010, B.J. Upton has the most combined HRs and SBs in the majors – two categories incredibly important to h2h leagues. My philosophy in h2h is to go after the things the batter has control over: HRs, SBs and average (I’m willing to sacrifice average for someone who is dominant in HRs/SBs).

There are 24 players who have averaged 40 HRs and/or SBs per season since 2010 (giving them 120+ total). Combined, this group has 1,479 HRs and 1,917 SBs. The HRs:SBs ratio of the group is .77. It appears, of the “power/speed combo” players, they tend to skew pretty heavily to speed (only six players surpassed 99 HRs, while nine players have at least 98 SBs). As such, the most valuable type of power/speed combo player adds a little power to his speed.

Reasonably, it would seem that you should go after players with the HRs:SBs ratio closest to 1. However, there are just four players (Justin Upton, Andrew McCutchen, Ian Kinsler and Alex Rios) who have a HRs:SBs ratio between .87 and 1.14. In addition, with Upton, Kinsler and Rios you have some of the lower members of this club: Upton has the second lowest power + speed score (122), Kinsler has the sixth lowest (126) and Rios is right above him (127).

So, if you can’t exactly exploit players that give you an even amount of power and speed, what kind of power and speed player should you get?

Since it’s clear you can get SBs with this group (for the most part), it’s probably best to favor “power hitting speedsters.” Of the 24 players, only nine hit 70 or more HRs since 2010. Most of them are true power hitters, with only Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, Carlos Gonzalez and McCutchen having HRs: SBs ratios below 2.29. Ideally, you’d get as many of those players as possible. This likely means one of them, though, as they all are conceivably top eight players.

That said, if we dip out of the top nine HR producers, we come upon three players who have hit 60-69 HRs over the past three seasons: B.J. Upton (69), Justin Upton (65) and Kinsler (60).

We’ve already shown that, while Justin Upton and Kinsler provide a nice blend of power and speed, the quantities don’t reach the upper echelon. However, B.J. Upton has the most power and speed. In head-to-head, you want this type of player—you need B.J. Upton. Are there better players? Certainly. However, no one has been better than B.J. Upton at providing both HRs and SBs since 2010.

Lastly, since 2010, of the 15 best individual power and speed seasons (all with 59 – 79 HRs + SBs), B.J. Upton has three of them—albeit, they come in 12th, 14th and 15th. Still, only Ryan Braun (who has been the best fantasy player since 2010) is in the top 15 more than once. The rest are one-hit wonders, some of which are one trick ponies: Bourn in ’11, Juan Pierre in ’10 and Jose Bautista in ’10.

A note about Drew Stubbs, who has 151 combined HRs and SBs since 2010 and comes in sixth on the list: he is also one of only six players to have put up at least 40 combined HRs and SBs in every season since 2010. This isn’t an average; he put up 40 HRs + SBs in each of the ’10, ’11 and ’12 seasons.

Again, only six others have: McCutchen, B.J. Upton, Gonzalez, Jose Reyes and Michael Bourn. McCutchen and Gonzalez are in a tier of excellence all their own. B.J. Upton brings the best power and speed combination and Reyes gains value because of his shortstop eligibility. Meanwhile, Michael Bourn is a one trick pony. When, it comes to value and power and speed combinations, Stubbs might be the guy you grab later if you miss out on B.J. Upton. He consistently averages 40 HRs + SBs a season. It’d be nice if he hit a few more HRs, but his HRs:SBs ratio is better than Shane Victorino’s, Reyes’, Bourn’s and five other members of the 120 HRs + SBs club.

Somewhat surprisingly, or not, if you had both Drew Stubbs and B.J. Upton over the past three seasons, you’d have banked 329 HRs + SBs. If you had Michael Bourn and Miguel Cabrera you’d have 289 HRs + SBs. Stubbs and Upton hit only five less HRs than Bourn and Cabrera and stole 45 more bases. Clearly, Bourn and Cabrera are better players and provide a lot more when it comes to average and RBIs, however, you’re taking Upton and Stubbs much later. If you want to get the same kind of power and speed (or a bit more) than Cabrera and Bourn (or to supplement them) later in your draft, go get players like Upton and Stubbs.

What Happened in 2012?

Last season, we saw a far more even distribution of power and speed with the 40 HRs + SBs group hitting 841 HRs and stealing 832 bases.

There also appeared to a bit more of an even distribution around a 1:1 ratio of HRs:SBs, with nine players posting ratios between .77 and 1.22. Not surprisingly, we see some old favorites here: B.J. Upton, Carlos Gonzalez, Alex Rios and Ian Kinsler. However there are some new names: Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond, Hanley Ramirez and Michael Saunders.

Digging deeper, we see an uneven distribution of speed when it comes to the power producers. Of the top 10 HR hitters, only one (Ryan Braun) stole more than 16 bases. You have to go to #12 on the HR list (McCutchen) to get 20 SBs, but he is followed immediately by Mike Trout (49 SBs) and B.J. Upton (31 SBs). While the distribution of power and speed is more even, you still should favor speed guys that have a bit of pop as they are just not available outside the top picks.

What Happened in 2011?

In 2011, the group of power and/or speed stole nearly 200 more bags than they hit HRs. Like 2012, there were nine players who posted a HRs:SBs ratio close to 1:1 (between .81 and 1.3). The only real new names  are Chris Young, Jeff Francoeur, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia.

This group was a bit more impressive when it came to top heavy power. Of the top 10 HR hitters, five stole at least 25 bases (Curtis Granderson, Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Ian Kinsler, and Ellsbury). B.J. Upton doesn’t look as good amongst these players, but it should be noted that he came in seventh with 59 HRs + SBs. While there were some more polished players ahead of him, Ellsbury has failed to duplicate his success, Kemp hasn’t stayed healthy, Granderson has averaged just 15 SBs since 2010 and Michael Bourn only provides speed.

What Happened in 2010?

We saw even more distance between SBs and HRs in 2010, with this group stealing 268 more bags than they hit HRs. There also wasn’t much of an even distribution of power and speed, with just four players (Carlos Gonzalez, Shin-Soo Choo, Chris Young and Bobby Abreu) posting a HRs:SBs ratio between .83 and 1.31. This group is also a bit light on the SBs at the top of the HR leaderboard (only one player in the top 10 of HRs had 20+ SBs).

Of the top 11 HRs + SBs guys, only three best B.J. Upton when it comes to HRs:SBs ratio: Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Young and Alex Rios. Gonzalez is a star, Rios an enigma and Young hasn’t been really healthy in a while.

Since 2010, B.J. Upton and players similar to his profile (which can be drafted later or bought cheaper) have been a bit of a rare and useful commodity for h2h leagues.

I pulled all of the data from Fangraphs – one of the kickingest resources out there. I took me literally 20 minutes to build all of the spreadsheets I needed. If you want to check my work or make your own, you can access my spreadsheets here.

For a brief tutorial on how to use my head-to-head fantasy baseball ranks, please visit here. For all of my in-depth rankings breakdowns, please visit http://fp911.com/author/albertlang/. For spreadsheets of rankings visit here.

 

Albert has been playing and arguing about baseball and fantasy sports since 2002. Since 1982, he has also been largely miserable (here’s looking at you Armando Benitez) because of the Orioles and Eagles. Albert has won leagues and lost leagues, but he has the most fun debating player values. Albert typically plays in several baseball and football leagues a year. He also is an avid baseball card collector and writes about older players and their historical value relative to the Hall of Fame and their peers/current players. When not harassing league mates with trades and analyzing what categories his team performs poorly in, Albert is a communications professional in Washington, D.C. Follow Albert on Twitter @h2h_corner. He has an awesome puppy named Charlotte. You can find all of Albert's work at http://h2hcorner.wordpress.com/.
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