October 2011

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How The RotoAuthority League Was Won

I had a pitiful performance in the 2011 RotoAuthority League, finishing dead last with 39.5 points.  It's time to call in reinforcements at this site.  How about Tom Warman, who won the league with 103.5 points this year?  Thomas has been a member of the league since its inception in 2008, which is no small feat since the bottom four are kicked out each year.  Only one other original member, Darrell John, is still standing.  Thomas was kind enough to spill the beans on how he won the 2011 RotoAuthority League, and his post is below.

Keys to success in fantasy baseball are based on taking advantage of rules specific to the league that objective fantasy baseball rankings and commentary do not take into account.  In the mixed AL and NL RotoAuthority League, the rules include daily transactions, 1500 maximum allowed innings, two catchers, three bench slots, two DL slots, standard 10 scoring categories and 162 maximum games played per hitting position.  The following strategies take advantage of these league settings and can lead to a championship:

  • Maximize At-Bats by Streaming Hitters - Rather than just setting a hitting lineup and riding it subject to injury and performance, fill your bench with hitters and activate them to cover off days in the schedule or for hitters that are not starting that day.  Four out of five hitting categories are cumulative (HR, RBI, SB, R), so maximizing at-bats is critical.  While other owners fill their bench with potential future closers or top minor league players, fill your bench with hitters to stream.  This strategy requires an owner to monitor his roster on a daily basis, but the extra at-bats can make the difference in a competitive league.   In the RotoAuthority League, more than half the owners did not use their maximum allowed games for a single hitting position.  Having hitting positions on your roster that did not use the entire 162 game allotment is like leaving some of your auction money on the table at the end of the draft.   My team led the RotoAuthority league with 8267 at-bats, and the team that finished with the least at-bats (7,353) finished in last place.  
  • Carry a Back-Up Catcher on your Bench and Target Hitters with Multi-Position Eligibility – Hitters qualifying at multiple positions are easier to stream for at-bats since they are eligible to fill multiple roster positions.  The Holy Grail is a hitter that qualifies at catcher and other positions.  These players can maximize your allowed games at catcher (which have the most off-days of any position), and fill-in at other positions as necessary on days when you have three catchers playing but an open spot at a non-catcher position.  If Jake Fox ever got 550 ABs, he would be on all my teams. 
  • Fill Out Maximum Allowed Innings at end of Season, as Necessary – It is not as important to stream starting pitchers during the season to maximize your innings pitched since only two of the four scoring categories for pitchers are cumulative (W, K).  See where you stand in the pitching scoring categories in late August and fill-out your remaining allowed innings only to the extent you are chasing wins or strikeouts.  There are plenty of starters available to pluck off the waiver wire and use in good matchups.
  • Draft Quantity Over Quality for Closers - With closers, you are only chasing a single scoring category so don't be the owner starting closer runs in a draft, or bidding $35 for a top closer.  You can always claim non-closer relievers to match the solid K/Inn, ERA & WHIP that elite closers provide.  Since you should be stockpiling hitters on your bench to stream on a daily basis rather than relievers that may become closers in the future, you should draft three or four closers.  I like to draft four closers, three of which are mid to low tier.  Although drafting four closers requires you to pass on mid-level hitters in the 10-15 round range, the difference in value between a hitter drafted in the 12th round versus the 17th round is exceeded by the value in maximizing the number of at-bats your team accumulates during the season. 
  • Trade for Good Pitchers that Start the Season Poorly - Starting pitchers that have a bad April cause many owners to panic.  Take advantage of this by targeting slow starting pitchers for trade, and monitor the waiver wire for impatient owners that dump good pitchers.  In the RotoAuthority League, I traded for Justin Verlander on April 23.  His stats for my team for the rest of the year were: 215 innings, 22 wins, 215 K's, 2.22 ERA & .91 WHIP.  Starters that were dropped early in the season after poor starts and claimed on waivers include Ian Kennedy (claimed April 27), Wandy Rodriguez and Madison Bumgarner
  • Target a Top Tier Starter in the Draft - In the RotoAuthority League, my team had 8,267 at-bats and 1,500 innings pitched. So, a hitter with 600 at-bats had approximately 7% of my total at-bats, and a pitcher with 200 innings had approximately 13% of my total innings.  I was able to maximize the number of other at-bats my team accumulated by streaming hitters on a daily basis from my bench.  I target an elite starter in the late second or third round that can lock in 200 of my 1,500 potential innings with quality stats.This year, I drafted Felix Hernandez in the third round with the 32nd pick.
  • Avoid Low Average Hitters in First Three Rounds - Although some hitters fall too far in drafts due to a low batting average and become nice draft values, avoid taking a batting average risk at the top of your draft.  The need to avoid an average drain in the first three rounds is increased because streaming hitters on a daily basis to maximize at-bats and taking an elite starter in the first three rounds increases your roster’s exposure to a lower batting average.
  • Don't Overpay for SBs – Players with a high number of stolen bases are generally taken too high in drafts.  Maximizing at-bats by daily streaming of hitters off-sets the loss of a top steals player by increasing the number of stolen base opportunities for your team.  Also, the opportunity to claim stolen bases off the waiver wire often presents itself during the season (for example, claiming Jason Bourgeois when Michael Bourn was hurt for the Astros this past season, or claiming Eric Young Jr. when he was called up by Colorado).
  • Finally, Spend the Off-Season Paying Attention to your Significant Other - When you are covertly checking box scores on your iPhone under the table at dinner, or when you’re 40 minutes late going to bed because you just had to see if the Padres could rally to get you a Heath Bell save, hopefully your significant other will remember all the attention you gave in October through February.

We will re-examine these keys in the off-season, and identify players to target in drafts.

Tom Warman

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