The Z Files: Should Playoff Performance Influence Projections and Rankings?

The Z Files: Should Playoff Performance Influence Projections and Rankings?

This article is part of our The Z Files series.

Recency bias and fear of missing out are two strong forces, often unduly influencing rankings and player selection. One of the prime examples is playoff performance. Every season, there are a handful of players elevated or penalized based on postseason numbers, prompting me to tweet the following poll:

From a purely analytical perspective, the answer should be yes or no. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. However, as noted, that's not the way the human psyche works.

A plausible argument can be tendered for and against inclusion. Before discussing each, I wonder if the results would have been different if the question was posed following a full 162-game season? It's possible the shortened 2020 campaign influenced the responses, as people feel the playoffs added more data to an unusually limited sample.

My suspicion is if the poll were presented after a normal season and not while a playoff hero was rounding the bases after slugging his umpteenth October homer, "No" would have dominated. There are two chief reasons for this. First, the sample would have been cited as being too small. The player happened to get hot or cold in the playoffs and the trend would have flipped at some point during the regular season. Second, it isn't fair some players had the chance to generate more data while others sat at home.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Todd Zola
Todd has been writing about fantasy baseball since 1997. He won NL Tout Wars and Mixed LABR in 2016 as well as a multi-time league winner in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Todd is now setting his sights even higher: The Rotowire Staff League. Lord Zola, as he's known in the industry, won the 2013 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year award and was named the 2017 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year. Todd is a five-time FSWA awards finalist.
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