Thursday, January 31, 2008

Consistency: The Hallmark of a Head to Head MVP

I've primarily played in Head to Head leagues over the past seven years, and one thing I feel that is lacking in the majority of fantasy analysis is strategy for that format. H2H is a very different beast from the Roto format. Because of the weekly matchups in H2H, it doesn't matter what your players did last week, it only matters what they will do this week. Having players that are consistent and not streaky will help to alleviate any headaches you might have from week to week. Weekly consistency in a player's production is not something I've ever taken into consideration on draft day, but I think it's something we should all be aware of when participating in a H2H league.

I decided to take a look at the top 40 homerun hitters in 2007 to see which ones were either feast or famine from month to month and which ones were steady throughout. I wanted to see how many of these hitters had months of 4 or more homeruns, 5 or more homeruns, and 6 or more homeruns. I chose to look at homeruns because it is one of the few outcomes in which the responsibility solely rests with the hitter. RBI and run totals are too dependent on the rest of the team, and to look at those numbers from month to month wouldn't tell us anything about trends. The same goes for batting average, as opposing defense plays into that as well.

This is more of an informative exercise rather than a predictive one. Players still can contribute in other categories when they're not hitting homeruns and, for the most part, their value should not be predicated on that one category. I'm not suggesting that we reassign value to these hitters based solely on how many homeruns they hit from month to month, but I do think it is good for H2H players to look back at last season to remember how a player ended up with the season totals that he did. I don't have the time or information to do the research it would take to establish the presence, or lack there of, of any trends, so this is purely for informative purposes only.

Here are some players that stood out when I looked at their homerun totals for each month.

- Aramis Ramirez finished with 26 homeruns but he hit more than 5 homeruns in a month only three times. From June-August, Ramirez hit a combined total of 5 homeruns. Ramirez struggled with wrist and knee injuries, which contributed to missed time doing those months, but I'm sure it wasn't fun for H2H owners who basically had no power production from their third baseman for half the season.

- Khalil Greene was a fine source for middle infield power, hitting 27 homeruns last year, 3rd most among all shortstops, but he hit more than 4 homeruns in a month only three times. Greene hit half his homeruns in June and September, but hit only nine homeruns combined in May, July and August. Greene hit a lot of doubles during those months, so his power wasn't gone, but he had homerless streaks of 16, 17, and 23 games, providing zero homerun value in weekly matchups during those time periods.

- Magglio Ordonez had an MVP-caliber season last year, but he had three months where he hit less than four homeruns. More than half his homeruns were hit in May and August; he hit 10 homeruns the rest of the year. May and August were the only months that he hit more than five homeruns in. He carried fantasy teams with his homerun totals in those two months, but he was nearly a non-entity for homers the rest of the time.

- Mark Teixeira has lots of power potential, but he's been streaky the past couple of years. 2007 was no exception; in May, August, and September he combined for 24 homeruns, and he averaged 2 homeruns a month the rest of the year. For H2H owners who drafted him to win homerun matchups, those three months must have been very disappointing.

- Alfonso Soriano was one of the streakiest homerun hitters in the league. He hit 25 of his 33 homeruns in June and September. Soriano would have had more homeruns, but he missed most of August with a torn quad. Discounting August, he still only hit 7 homeruns in April, May and July, likely costing his H2H fantasy owners dearly in that category.

- Matt Holliday also had an MVP-caliber season, hitting 36 homeruns, including 12 in September. But he also had three months where he hit averaged a little more than 3 homeruns a month; not very MVP-like in H2H baseball.

- Jimmy Rollins won the NL MVP, hitting 30 homeruns, and he must have made things easier on H2H owners by hitting 4 or more homeruns in a month five times, and 6 or more homeruns in a month three times. Except for a homerless May, Rollins was exactly the kind of homerun hitter H2H want.

- Chris Young had a similar season to Rollins, hitting 5 or more homeruns in a month three times, and 4 or more homeruns in a month five times.

- Carlos Beltran hit six or more homeruns in a month five times last year, on his way to 33 homeruns for the season.

- Alex Rodriguez, our 2007 homerun champion, was the epitome of consistency. He averaged 9 homeruns a month, and hit less than 7 in a month only once.

As a participant in a H2H league, you would hope that your sluggers projected to hit 25 or more homeruns would give you one homerun a week, otherwise it's that much harder to beat your opponent in that category. Consistency helps a lot, but that's not going to make me shy away from guys like Magglio Ordonez or Mark Teixeira on draft day. Anyone can have a good or bad month; it's important to make the most out of your players' matchups every day in order to maximize your chances of beating your opponent each week.

No comments: