• Josh St. Marie

Who You Got: Risers or Fallers?

Do you find yourself wondering if Randy Arozarena is as good as Mike Trout? Have you ever thought that Kevin Cash might not be as good of a manager as people think? Would you argue that Shane Bieber is the most talented Bieber ever? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be suffering from recency bias.

Recency bias – the enemy of all fantasy baseball players. It can make us do crazy things. It clouds our judgment, causing us to think good players are bad and terrible players are elite. It’s what leads fantasy managers to trade Jose Altuve for Vince Velasquez after he strikes out 25 hitters in his first two starts of the season (that actually happened in one of my home leagues in 2016). Luckily, there is a cure. Or so I have been told.

Apparently, the easiest way to avoid recency bias is simply to listen to the sound advice of level-headed fantasy experts. After all, surely the best fantasy players in the world can evade recency bias like Tyler Glasnow can evade bats. If our fantasy players are indeed like Tyler Glasnow, we know they have the goods to get it done. However, that would also mean they are vulnerable to wildly missing the target at any moment. While I am certain fantasy experts do a better job at avoiding recency bias than the everyday Joe Schmoe, I am not convinced they can avoid it entirely. I wanted to put this to the test.

To do so, I headed over to the National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) where the top fantasy baseball players in the world compete. I gathered the average draft position (ADP) from the NFBC Draft Champions game mode for 2020 and 2021. For 2021, I only used the ADP since January 20th. From there it was simply a matter of determining how far players have risen and fallen since last year’s draft.

Now the fun part. I made two teams - a team of the biggest ADP risers and a team of the biggest fallers. The idea is to track the two teams throughout the season to see which one performs better in a head-to-head standard 5x5 roto (categories: AVG, SB, HR, R, RBI, ERA, WHIP, W, SV, and K) clash for the ages!

**I will be giving periodic updates over the course of the season on my Twitter – @j28stmarie**

I wanted the two teams to be as close to optimal as I could make them. That did not mean the goal was to create even teams that were competitive across all 10 categories, but that each team would be the best version of itself. If I were to give each team their best shot, that would require an expert’s touch I simply do not possess. I needed help, and who better to help than Rob DiPietro (@deadpullhitter) – last year’s Draft Champions Overall Winner!

I recruited Rob and sat down with him on Discord to get his help forming the two teams. What started as just me and Rob, quickly turned into something much larger. Shortly after I called Rob, fantasy writer extraordinaire Victor Akintola (@AwesomeVictorAA) joined us for the remainder of the roster construction process. Not long after, Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) and Michael Simione (@SPStreamer) each stopped by for a few minutes. At one point, there was even a GOAT sighting as the podcast host legend Doug Ishikawa (@coachingish) popped in to say hi. All of that to say, if you have a problem with the makeup of these two teams, you are staring down a gauntlet of fantasy baseball’s finest in opposition.

*Lineups mirror the starting lineup format of Draft Champions. Each round is 15 picks. I chose one player from each round for each team. If a player gets injured, I will replace them with the average performance of a replacement-level player*

With the lineups set and ready to compete, the question remains – which team will win? That is not a rhetorical question. I am curious which team you think we will win? Do you agree with the ATC projections above? Leave a comment wherever you are reading this (Reddit, Twitter, or on this website), and one random person who correctly predicts the team that wins and the number of categories won by the winning team will receive a free SPStreamer Membership for next season courtesy of yours truly. Also, one random commenter will receive a free membership from me for this year (if you already have one, you can give it away).

Personally, I suffer from my own bias, and I find myself rooting for the fallers. As such, I will say the fallers will win 8-2!

Remember to follow me @j28stmarie on Twitter for updates on how the teams are performing throughout the season. Also, if you have another idea for a head-to-head comparison in the same vein as this one, let me know! I am looking to make a series of these.

P.S. According to Ron Shandler’s BABS, 15 out of 23 players on the Risers have additional risk due to lack of playing time in the big leagues. Compare that to just 3 on the fallers. If that doesn’t scream recency bias then I don’t know what does.