More Evidence ‘Best Player Available’ Is a Poor Draft Strategy
I created a minor ruckus prior to the 2011 Draft when I argued that teams should not necessarily always select the best player available, even at a position of need. The reason I gave for this was a term called VORP (value over replacement player)–a concept based on position scarcity. In the past, I defined VORP as follows:
In a nutshell, VORP means selecting not the player with the most projected points, but the player with the largest disparity of projected points compared to the next player at the same position who you could secure in a later round.
In the article I wrote on BPA, I argued:
VORP is an all-encompassing draft strategy that leads to greater ultimate value than BPA–a more short-sighted draft philosophy which disregards the future in favor of optimal value right now. Would you rather have $100 today (BPA) or $500 tomorrow (VORP)?
Well, my friends at Code and Football (great site, by the way), posted a short article on why drafting the BPA is simply a way to optimize buyer’s remorse. In addition to labeling BPA a “hoary old theory” (which I love), C and F writes:
Consider this scenario: you have three players in the middle rounds you are considering, whose “true career value” is about the same. We’ll assume drafting is an efficient market for now, so our estimation of the value of these picks is a normally distributed estimate whose mean is based off their true career value. Which one of these men do we draft? We draft the player whose value we have overestimated the most. Consequently, we draft the player most likely to underachieve our expectations.
Since in most drafts there are very few times a true BPA falls into the lap of teams (i.e. players where one is wildly superior to all other candidates), it would seem that BPA is a way of optimizing how heartbroken a team will be over the draft choices it actually picks. Though this approach would appear to gather the best athletes, in a draft with a large error, and multiple situations where you’re picking from nearly equivalent athletes, perhaps all BPA will get you is maximally suffering from buyer’s remourse.
This idea is obviously different from my own, but it is interesting to note that others also view BPA as having little value, outside of optimal suffering. The Cowboys clearly drafted for value in 2011. The question is whether they enhanced their long-term value by including position scarcity into their draft motives, or if they opted for the top-rated player at each individual draft slot and ended up with sub-optimal overall value.