MLB Tier Level Value: What Is It and How Does It Work?

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By Brian Draus February 8, 2021 0 Comment
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What is Tier Level Value?

For those of you who enjoy fantasy baseball, there is a new concept that I am about to introduce. It is called MLB Tier Level Value (TLV), which is a way to evaluate players and teams by their record. This can be a bit complicated to use, as it changes nightly, and is something that each fantasy player must calculate individually.

Before diving into TLV’s usage, one must understand how it works. The concept is five levels, and each has a winning percentage range attached to them. That is due to the fact that this concept is used throughout the season, and winning percentages are the only true guide over a 162-game season.

Since winning percentages fluctuate throughout the season, it only made sense to equate them with their end of year equivalent. For example, if a team is playing at a .539 pace, they would be at Tier 2. However, if that same club went on a losing streak and dropped down to .500, they simply fall into Tier 3. As far as players are concerned, some may perform better versus certain Tier Levels, while not as well against others. More will be explained in regards to individual players as the article moves along.

As I referenced above, it is quite easy to see how fantasy owners can use TLV. For example, the 2020 Chicago White Sox went 21-3 versus Tier 4 and 5 Level competition, however that was only against three teams (DET, KC, PIT). However, the ChiSox played well below .500 versus Tier 3 Level and above, as they posted a 14-22 record (.389 winning percentage). If those numbers held true over a 162-game season, it would make sense to look to play White Sox players if the South Siders were facing sub-par competition.

Before we go any further, here is a quick note: TLV records are evaluated the day of the game, not by that day’s outcome. There is no way that a team can knock another into a different Tier by beating them that day. However, if one club beats another, that result counts towards tomorrow’s winning percentage.

Tier 1 Level: 90 wins and above (.556 and above)

The first level of TLV is where the majority of playoff teams come from each season. Not only do most postseason clubs hail from this level, but it also encompasses the game’s elite teams. If your favorite team is from Tier 1, they are likely playoff-bound to championship contender.

Tier 2 Level: 85-89 wins (.525 to .549)

While Tier 1 may possess the dominant teams, many clubs in Tier 2 will contend or barely qualify for the postseason. These teams are good, either just outside of the playoffs or a weak postseason participant.

Tier 3 Level: 78-84 wins (.481 to .519)

Clubs at this level of TLV vary from mediocre to slightly above average. They typically fade in August and September and are rarely a true playoff contender. Tier 3 clubs can cause problems for Tier 1 or 2 teams, especially if they possess quality pitching.

Tier 4 Level: 70-77 wins (.432 to .475)

These teams are the ones that have no realistic shot at the postseason. While some contend until the All-Star Game, it is unusual for them to be in meaningful games into the second half of the season. They generally have little to no pitching, and many are going through long rebuilds.

Tier 5 Level: 69 wins and below (.426 and below)

When your favorite team is in Tier 5, it is usually not a good sign. These clubs are the worst in the league, almost all are rebuilding and some are contending for the top pick in the MLB Draft. This is the group where the easy wins come from. If you are a contender and struggle against either Tier 4 or 5, it can be devastating in a close pennant race.

How to use TLV

Now that you have seen all five tier levels, here is how it works in practice. Suppose you are looking for an under-the-radar pitcher. You want to look at players facing lower-tiered teams. If you have your own formulas for Fantasy Baseball, you can incorporate TLV into them, especially in regards to how you pick your team. In theory, you could create an algorithm for TLV which helps update player stats nightly against teams of each level; you could even extend it to each teams’ stats versus clubs of all levels. You can evaluate those stats over any period of time you like.

All in all, this is just another way to evaluate the potential of a player on a nightly basis. It is similar to the quadrant system in NCAA Basketball, which is a tool used when determining the NCAA’s 68-team field each March. Also, it is totally up to you when you begin to use TLV, as it is difficult to evaluate MLB performance early in the season. So enjoy Tier Level Value this MLB campaign, as hopefully 2021 is significantly closer to normal than 2020 was.

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I am an analytics-based writer who is a fan of Chicago area sports teams. My favorite sport to write about is baseball, however if I were to compete in any sport currently it would be long-distance running.


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