With May here, @Ottoneu leagues begin to take shape. I suspect that in most leagues teams classify themselves as contenders or rebuilders prior to Opening Day, but there are always a few overly optimistic rosters. In our league as I read the standings, there are clearly 5 contenders (actually, one team trying to run away and hide, and 4 teams desperately attempting to stop that from happening) and 5 rebuilders. In my opinion, two other teams ought to be rebuilding, but they seem caught in no man’s land – a subject for a different post.
For all of @Ottoneu’s great qualities, the standings page has for years left me lacking. The P/IP and P/G columns are somewhat useful, but as you try to assess pace of innings pitched, games started and the volume of luck present in a month’s worth of stats, they are incomplete. In an attempt to delve a bit deeper, I developed a very elementary Excel spreadsheet that would take the standing page, and for each team, also show the teams wOBA, BABIP (Pitching, not hitting), OBP, SLG, OPS – in other words, some additional numbers that comprised a team’s aggregate point production. My goal was to develop a tool that might provide a bit more insight into the true performance YTD – i.e., a team sporting a .330 BABIP or absurdly high HR/FB rates might be in for some positive regression, while another team batting .344 as a team might swing the other direction.
Happily, I shared my simple spreadsheet with our league’s commissioner, @Fazeorange – and here is the result. Trey, as dedicated a commissioner as exists in the Ottoneu world, took what was a tiny acorn and cultivated a giant, beautiful oak of a dashboard – his tool offers a detailed look into each team’s performance via the advance metrics with which readers of this blog are familiar, and standards against which to judge (i.e., league average numbers in each category and 2013 champion averages as well). As he and I have discussed, I find myself perusing this page each night (it is simple to update it for your league, just follow the instructions on copying your standings page and pasting it to the appropriate cell). There are a few points of particular usefulness in my mind:
(1) Breaking down a team’s hitting performance. For me, the P/G particularly underwhelms as a measure for team hitting success. With this spreadsheet, I can look at each team’s wOBA, as well as where it might be improved. As an example, comparing @Fazeorange’s team (Lucky Strikes – one of the contenders) and mine (Enrico Palazzo – also hopefully one of the contenders), we have scored an almost identical 1764 and 1747 points to date, Trey coming in at 5.51/G and me at 5.41/G. I sport a 10 point advantage in OBP thanks primarily to patience with free passes; however, @Fazeorange’s team posts 16 and 18 point leads in ISO and SLG, respectively, more than making up the difference in OBP. To improve my team, I’d probably be looking to add a bit of power in the OF.
(2) Chasing down the Leader. YTD, our league leader (Chicago Chiefs — @NickKappel) raced out to a 600 point lead. Part of that is that he has thrown 60-90 innings more than his followers, but even if that is half of the lead, the other 300 points are unaccounted for. Looking at his pitching performance, the term “otherworldly” comes to mind at 5.86 points per game – -but for those of us chasing, hope abounds. The .274 BABIP and 0.70 HR/9 are unlikely to remain so low, and his team’s below league average ability to miss bats may catch up in the end, especially in the LWTS format. Of course, in two months’ time I may look back at this as mere wishful thinking.
(3) Pretenders. While this is more art than science, one of the interesting aspects of the @Ottoneu format is that, in any given year, the limited number of “contenders” create for interesting decision making. I may expand this into another post, but my main thought is that with only 4-5 teams really in contention in a given season, it can be slightly more important to take on a head to head approach in some discussions. I recently closed a couple of trades for high end hitting that I didn’t particularly need (though of course players like Albert Pujols and a healthy Chase Utley always help), but I felt it important to prevent them from winding up in one of my competitors hands. In a league where you are competing against 11 other owners, this is more challenging. Similarly, as I evaluate potential trades, there are a few teams with whom I am very reluctant to trade, as the fear of improving their rosters against me outweighs the value to my own team. I raise the point because @Fazeorange’s standings dashboard does a good job in my mind of confirming that a couple teams are likely pretenders though their position in the standings suggests otherwise. As an example, The Syndicate, one of our league’s best owners, has a team that has been in 2nd-3rd all season – but I see nothing but trouble ahead. The team OBP of .330 is significantly below league average while the 3.71 FIP may portend additional trouble on the mound, and he is dealing with significant injuries to both his lineup and starting pitching staff. From a head to head perspective, I might be more willing to deal with this team despite its heightened position in the standings because I believe the regression monster is coming.
(4) A quick note on league averages. Of course, one point must be made with respect to the league average column – with so many teams rebuilding, it is hard to assess what value these numbers present. The rebuilding teams are probably running out lineups, but with 2015 on the mind, there is no incentive to worry about whether Corey Kluber might be a good start on the road in Chicago, because the points don’t matter in 2014. I wonder whether there might be a way to create another column to identify contenders and pretenders manually, and then compare amongst the teams we deem relevant to our quest for fantasy gold.
All in all, I can’t thank Trey (@Fazeorange) enough for expanding what was merely a simple idea and basic spreadsheet into a valuable @Ottoneu tool. Look for a forthcoming post of his own on the topic via the Fangraphs Community Blog. Of course, all comments are welcome here at Sports By the Numbers, or comment to me via twitter (@wfporter1972).