When I created my team, I knew that I’d need to maximize value in order to be competitive – ottoneu is a pay-for-play league, and if the players came to the game through FanGraphs, I had to assume that they are smarter than the average bear.
In my 4×4 league, I took a look at the pitching rules, because I always find pitching tough to project in fantasy. The rules are fairly simple – there are five slots for starters, and five slots for relievers. The statistics measured (equally) are: ERA, WHIP, HR/9, and K. Over the course of the season, your entire staff MUST pitch between 1250 and 1500 innings to get credit for your stats.
First, I considered the stats. Three of these are rate stats, and one is a counting stat (strikeouts). What does this tell me? It tells me that I need to manage quality over quanitity – while still hitting my innings limit. In effect, it is much more worthwhile to have a few really good pitchers than a bunch of mediocre ones…so long as I hit that innings limit.
If Roy Halladay pitches 200 innings, then he’s worth approximately 3 elite relievers. If he pitches 240 innings, then he’s worth closer to 4. Paying for good starting pitching is the way to go. Just make sure that they are strikeout pitchers – gotta get those Ks up.
If I could get really great relievers – players like Joakim Soria, Aroldis Chapman, or Neftali Feliz, it would make a difference in my final stats. But if I couldn’t find great ones, or I wanted to put my resources in different areas, then my best bet would be to avoid relievers that would hurt my rates. And since relievers are tough to project – if I couldn’t find a sure thing, maybe an average reliever isn’t worth any more than a poor one.
So what did I do? I bought five relievers for $5…spending as little of my budget as possible on these slots. My relief corps includes: Hisanori Takahashi, Tim Collins, Wilton Lopez, Tim Byrdak*, and Clay Hensley. And, depending on who starts hot, I plan on benching them most of the time.
*Currently my ottoneu team, despite offering a 40-man roster, only contains 2 Mets. Those Mets are Ike Davis (bench player behind Pujols and Daric Barton), and Tim Byrdak (relief pitcher and mascot).
To balance, I bought what I consider, a great rotation. It consists of: Roy Halladay, Francisco Liriano, Gio Gonzalez, Shaun Marcum, and Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez wasn’t quite up to the quality I wanted, but he’ll do. I plan on adding a sixth and seventh starter via free agency on the cheap, and those seven should project to get me into the innings limit I need on their own, even without my relievers. The relievers will take up space on my roster, which is all they need to do, except for when they come in to make up some innings. Of the relievers, Lopez and Collins right now look to be fixtures in the lineup – Collins for Ks, and Wilton Lopez for being brilliant at not walking people.
Especially considering that prices for major leaguers in ottoneu go up by $2 each year, there’s a good chance that none of these relievers will make next year’s team. And with how good many of my starters project to be – I should do very well in each of the rate stats and rack up a reasonable number of Ks.
Of course, this strategy is very risky – a run of bad luck, an injury, or a disaster season by my starters could blow the whole thing to hell – but it’s worth trying to find any possible advantage (any Extra 2%?) to win my league. And this strategy, one that probably only will work in the microcosm that is ottoneu, might be a good one to try.