This article is part of our The Z Files series.
Ultimately, it comes down to ranking. Admittedly, my rankings are numbers-driven. I project player's performance then convert that to a formulaic "value", though I am loathe to that term. Even though the result is static, it's considered a range as projections are obviously not 100 percent accurate and valuation theory, no matter the system, is flawed – though since the shortcomings apply to all players, relative rank is still useful.
Others take a more zen approach. They have a feel for how a player will perform and rank him over a player they feel won't perform as well. For the record, I'm not saying my way is better. The fact that many zen rankers have soundly kicked my tail over the years precludes judgment. I'm merely framing the process to help understand where I differ in some instances.
One of the common traits of zen players is their willingness to embrace upside. It's not universal, but someone using feel over a spreadsheet is far more likely to pay for the high side of a player's performance range while those scientifically-oriented will favor the