May 12, 2020

Last Player Picked

In 2020, Ron Shandler’s Baseball Forecaster introduced the Mayberry Method — a simple fantasy valuation system named after the town where everything is simpler. The 2020 Forecaster has an updated version of the Mayberry Method.

The basic idea is that each player receives a 7-letter code, e.g. “3425 ABA.” Each of those numbers represents the player’s value in a different skill category. Hitters are evaluated by power, speed, average, playing time, and reliability (the three letters). Pitchers have run prevention, strikeouts, saves, playing time, and reliability.

The categories break down something like this:

xBA Below .240 0 .240 – .254 1 .255 – .269 2 .270 – .284 3 .285 – .299 4 .300+ 5

So Josh Hamilton gets a 5 for the BA slot; Mark Reynolds gets a 0. Most people will be somewhere in between. Repeat that for each of the categories, and you end up with a 4-digit summary of a player’s fantasy value. Three letters are added to that to indicate a player’s reliability, based on Shandler’s existing reliability scales.

I think the idea is intriguing, but I would make a couple criticisms:

Proprietary Stats – Shandler loves to use his own stats — PQS, PX, SX, etc. — several of which show up in the Mayberry Method formula. He even insists on giving his own names to stats everyone else uses (like dominance for K/9).

Now, Shandler is trying to sell a product (books and website subscriptions), so it makes sense to make his fantasy stats dependent on having that product. The downside is that it makes it very difficult for his ideas to become mainstream. When the Mayberry Method is based on PX, and no one knows how to compute PX, I don’t see the Mayberry Method gaining much popularity. Plus, isn’t it supposed to be a simple system? How is PX simpler than just looking at HR?

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Simple Scales – The Mayberry Method is supposed to be simple, because each skill is rated on a scale from 0-5. That’s easy to remember and easy to use for simple value calculations. However, saves only go from 0-3. The plate appearances category just uses 0, 1, 3, and 5. The reliability scores are letters! It seems that for a supposedly simple system, there is a bit of needless complexity.

Excess Categories – Once again, the Mayberry Method is intended to be a simplification of fantasy value. Do we need all three letters for reliability? I would argue that past injuries are very limited at predicting future reliability, so much so that I would be hesitant to go beyond about three categories:

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Generally healthy (most players) Injury questions (e.g. Josh Hamilton) Probably hurt (e.g. Erik Bedard, Justin Duchscherer)

The Mayberry Method’s three A-F reliability scores are overkill for a simple system (and I would question their predictive value even in a complex system).

All that to say, I like the idea of a simple mnemonic of a player’s value. I just think the Mayberry Method needs a little more refinement to be useful for that purpose.

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