2012 fantasy baseball spring preview: VORP

In the world according to VORP, Miguel Cabrera is number one. (Julio Cortez/AP)

Baseball season is fast approaching. We have roughly a month to absorb what happened last season, what players are on which teams and what we should take out of spring training. For now, let’s focus on last season sabermetric style.

Wikipedia defines value over replacement player (or VORP) as a statistic that demonstrates how much a hitter contributes offensively to his team in comparison to a fictitious “replacement player,” who is an average fielder at his position and a below-average hitter. A replacement player performs at “replacement level,” which is the level of performance an average team can expect when trying to replace a player at minimal cost, also known as “freely available talent.”

Now, in pure baseball terms, this stat sucks in my opinion because defensive stats are ignored completely, but in fantasy terms, this is great because it gives us a complied number to rate our fantasy players. Now, is it the end all stat? No, there is not any stat or data that can predict injuries or the Jeremy Lin’s of the world. But stats like this help us have the advantage over our league mates to bring about the ultimate goal of a championship. I am going to give you the top 13 or so VORP players from each position from last season, as well as their ESPN rank this season (Note: a * by an ESPN rank means that is what a player would be ranked if ESPN ranked him at that position).


Joe Mauer 43.7 8
Carlos Santana 40.4 2
Brian McCann 36.9 3
Mike Napoli 35.7 1
Buster Posey 31.4 7
Jesus Montero 29.4 10*
Geovany Soto 29.1 11
Miguel Montero 28.6 5
Russell Martin 25.4 14
Derek Norris 22.9 52
Chris Iannetta 22.3 19
Ramon Castro 21.4 19
Yadier Molina 20.7 9


Since offensive catchers are few and far between, most catchers have a very high VORP. Now, if I am looking at this and drafting a catcher, I am going to go after Joe Mauer. He is eighth on the ESPN list but has the highest VORP. So I am going to get good value at where I am going to have to draft him. Another name that pops up here is Derek Norris. He saw a little action last year with the Nationals and was traded in the offseason to the A’s. If he comes up from the minors, he could be a really good waiver-wire claim.

First Base

Albert Pujols 56.3 2
Prince Fielder 42.9 5
Joey Votto 39.4 3
Adrian Gonzalez 37.8 4
Mark Teixeira 30.2 6
Michael Morse 26.2 12
Adam Dunn 24.9 26
Lance Berkman 23.4 11
Paul Konerko 22.3 7
Carlos Pena 20.1 21
Justin Morneau 18.2 34
Derrek Lee 16.3 36
Ryan Howard 16.2 22


This is probably one of the hardest positions to analyze when using VORP. If you are a first baseman and you are not killing it, then you are going to have a terrible VORP. I have also left off players like Cabrera from the first base list because he is playing third base this season. Looking at this list, it’s very easy to see that in order to get good value for your team, you want to get one of the top-tier first basemen. If not, you will be hurting at this position. If you are playing in an NL-only league, your mission in life is to get Joey Votto, because it gets ugly quick at first base.

Second Base

Dustin Pedroia 40.5 2
Chase Utley 40.2 7
Ian Kinsler 39.6 3
Robinson Cano 38.1 1
Dan Uggla 35.3 4
Rickie Weeks 30.9 8
Ben Zobrist 29.9 5
Howie Kendrick 26.3 9
Brandon Phillips 25.5 6
Dustin Ackley 24.1 12
Daniel Murphy 22.3 18
Kelly Johnson 22.0 14
Neil Walker 21.3 1


Second base is a little more cut and dry when comparing ESPN rank with VORP rank. You can see the value pick here is Chase Utley. This is a guy who can give you first- or second-round production and has done so in the past.

Third Base 

Miguel Cabrera 57.3 1*
Hanley Ramirez 45.9 3*
Evan Longoria 41.5 2
David Wright 41.3 4
Alex Rodriguez 39.0 9
Pablo Sandoval 38.3 5
Ryan Zimmerman 36.4 6
Kevin Youkilis 34.9 11
Aramis Ramirez 30.9 8
Chipper Jones 30.8 21
Chase Headley 25.3 19
Adrian Beltre 24.6 3
Mark Reynolds 23.5 12


Miguel Cabrera is far and away the best VORP guy at this position (or any position for that matter). If I am in a 12-team snake draft and end up with the number one overall pick, a good move would be to take Cabrera, and in the second round, grab either Teixeira or Wright, depending on who falls to you. While third base may be deep, I would still like to end up with two really high VORP guys manning my corner infield slots.


Troy Tulowitzki 45.8 1
Jose Reyes 38.1 3
Yunel Escobar 30.9 16
Asdrubal Cabrera 30.3 7
Derek Jeter 27.1 10
Jimmy Rollins 27.1 4
Starlin Castro 25.8 5
Alexei Ramirez 24.1 8
J.J. Hardy 24.0 9
Jhonny Peralta 23.6 11
Stephen Drew 20.1 14
Rafael Furcal 20.0 23
Ian Desmond 18.1 18


Now, you could look at this one of two ways. First off, Troy Tulowitzki is far and away the best shortstop on this list, and if I cannot get Cabrera, I may want to take Tulo here. The other way is to pass on shortstop almost altogether and load up in other positions, then grab Yunel Escobar later in the draft which still gives me good value at the position. I would lean towards the latter to address other needs.


Matt Holliday 46.6 10
Matt Kemp 42.2 1
Ryan Braun 35.9 2
Curtis Granderson 34.4 7
Andrew McCutchen 34.2 9
Jose Bautista 33.0 3
Josh Hamilton 32.0 14
Jacoby Ellsbury 30.8 4
Giancarlo Stanton 30.2 8
Jayson Werth 29.8 26
Carlos Gonzalez 28.5 6
Carlos Beltran 28.1 34
Justin Upton 27.3 5
Manny Ramirez 27.2 NR
Logan Morrison 26.4 43
Andre Ethier 26.1 37
Shin-Soo Choo 25.8 23
Carlos Quentin 25.8 55
Jason Heyward 25.4 32
Matt Joyce 24.7 52
Alex Gordon 24.1 16
Shane Victorino 23.9 18
Josh Willingham 23.8 48
Nick Markakis 23.6 39
B.J. Upton 23.2 25


Now, you can see that I only put 25 outfielders on here, but compared to other positions, it gets ugly quick. This is a position I plan on addressing early and often. Chances are I am not going to get the first pick in the draft, so my strategy would be to go outfield in the first round (Kemp or Braun), first base in the second round (Teixeira at worst) and in the third round grab Matt Holliday. For where you are drafting him, you can get excellent value. In the first three rounds I have nearly filled the two weakest batting positions (first base and outfield).

Related Articles

Back to top button