Sullivan: A quick attempt at measuring MLB team depth

From Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs on January 12, 2015:

There’s nothing more enviable than a collection of stars. Generally speaking, people tend to focus on the top of a given roster, because that’s where you find the most impressive players, the players most likely to make a significant difference. The fantasy world operates like a video game with injuries turned off: you go in with your starting lineup and starting rotation, and you never need to replace anyone, and everyone’s competent. Every so often, teams do have sufficient health to be able to rely on the expected regulars. But more often than not, depth becomes a major factor. Sometimes this is even intentional — teams will accumulate depth in lieu of adding higher-quality starters. We’ve seen the A’s, for example, focus on depth, at practically every position. It’s not the most important thing; it’s just an important thing, frequently.

And it can be a tricky thing to measure, ahead of time. You can go about it by feel, on a case-by-case basis, but I thought I’d try something quick and easy. Which teams project to have the most and least depth for the season ahead, based on where things stand today? Presented below is not the final word, but it should be at least a starting point. Some numbers will change when, say, Max Scherzer and James Shields make up their minds, but they aren’t going to flip this graph on its head.

There’s no perfect way to do this, to my knowledge. This is just one way of doing this. For each team, I grabbed all the position players and all the starting pitchers who show up on the current depth charts. I decided to ignore bullpens, because they’re a lot more variable, and bullpen depth can also look a lot like rotation depth to some extent. So, one caveat here is that relievers are excluded, but individual relievers typically aren’t too important, and you can just mentally factor in that, say, the Royals have a more awesome bullpen than anyone else. It’s strong and deep. Anyway.

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Originally published: January 13, 2015. Last Updated: January 13, 2015.