What It Takes To Win


What It Takes To Win 2012

Our annual What It Takes To Win series attempts to estimate the stats you will need to place fourth in each of the ten roto categories in a 12-team mixed league with 14 hitters (2 catchers), 9 pitchers, 3 bench spots, and 2 DL spots.  Aiming for fourth in each category might seem like a lame strategy, but if you pull it off you'll have 90 points and a good shot at winning.

Looking at info from various 2011 leagues that followed the above format, here are my estimates for 2012:

Offense

  • .270 AVG
  • 271 HR (19 per hitter)
  • 1071 RBI (77 per hitter)
  • 1092 R (78 per hitter)
  • 187 SB (14 per hitter)

Pitching

  • 3.54 ERA
  • 1.21 WHIP
  • 1328 K (190 per starter, assuming 62 Ks per closer)
  • 99 W (15  per six starters, assuming 4 W per closer)   
  • 101 SV (33 per three closers)

Offense is similar to last year, but pitching continues to improve.  It wasn't long ago that a bunch of  3.75 ERA and 1.25 WHIP starters would result in a strong pitching staff.  These days, a staff of Jordan Zimmermann, Colby Lewis, Shaun Marcum, Gavin Floyd, Brandon McCarthy, and Scott Baker probably isn't going to cut it.  Of course, good relievers help pull your ratios down.

In my projections, about 21 starters meet filters of an ERA below 3.60 and WHIP below 1.23.  Of those, only five are typically drafted after the seventh round: Tommy Hanson, Josh Johnson, Adam Wainwright, Yu Darvish, and Cory Luebke.  Three pitchers coming off injuries, one coming from Japan, and one who made 17 big league starts in 2011.  If you sit out the first seven rounds on starting pitching, you will probably have issues.



What It Takes To Win 2011

Our annual What It Takes To Win series attempts to estimate the stats you will need to place fourth in each of the ten roto categories in a 12-team mixed league with 14 hitters (2 catchers), 9 pitchers, 3 bench spots, and 2 DL spots.  Aiming for fourth in each category might seem like a lame strategy, but if you pull it off you'll have 90 points and a good shot at winning.

Looking at info from various 2010 leagues that followed the above format, here are my estimates for 2011:

Offense

  • .273 AVG
  • 260 HR (19 per hitter)
  • 1031 RBI (74 per hitter)
  • 1064 R (76 per hitter)
  • 169 SB (12 per hitter)

Pitching

  • 3.59 ERA
  • 1.24 WHIP
  • 1314 Ks (188 per six starters, assuming 62 K per closer)
  • 102 W (15 per six starters, assuming 4 W per closer)
  • 91 SV (30 per three closers)

Compared to 2009 year, there was a clear trend toward pitching.  It's impossible to say whether that will hold up in 2011.  Among these ten categories I saw the most variance on saves, which makes sense, because it depends on how aggressively your leaguemates pursue them. 

Would the above benchmarks have won your league in 2010, assuming you use this format?



What It Takes To Win 2010

Our annual What It Takes To Win series attempts to estimate the stats you will need to place fourth in each of the ten roto categories in a 12-team mixed league with 14 hitters (2 catchers), 9 pitchers, 3 bench spots, and 2 DL spots.  Aiming for fourth in each category might seem like a lame strategy, but if you pull it off you'll have 90 points and a good shot at winning.

Looking at last year's guidelines plus info from three of my 2009 leagues that followed the above format, here are my estimates for 2010:

Offense

  • .282 AVG
  • 295 HR (21 per hitter)
  • 1114 RBI (80 per hitter)
  • 1157 R (83 per hitter)
  • 170 SB (12 per hitter)

Pitching

  • 3.78 ERA
  • 1.27 WHIP
  • 1270 Ks (181 per six starters, assuming 62 Ks per closer)
  • 94 W (13.67 per six starters, assuming 4 wins per closer)
  • 102 SV (34 per three closers)

Question for those who played in a league with this format in 2009: would these exact numbers have given you the title?



What It Takes To Win: Summary

A balanced strategy that I have found effective is to aim for fourth place in each roto category.  If you pull that off, you'll have 90 points in your 12-team league.  We just finished up our What It Takes To Win series, which attempts to determine which stats are needed for fourth in each category (12-team mixed leagues with 14 hitters (2 catchers), 9 pitchers, 3 bench spots, and 2 DL spots).  The summary:

Offense

  • .283 AVG
  • 285 HR
  • 1111 RBI
  • 1154 R
  • 175 SB

Pitching

  • 3.73 ERA
  • 1.26 WHIP
  • 1270 K
  • 95 W
  • 100 SV



What It Takes To Win: Saves

Next up in our What It Takes To Win series, saves.  The goal here is to determine the stats needed to achieve fourth place in each of the ten common roto categories.  The league type: 12-team mixed with 14 hitters (2 catchers), 9 pitchers, 3 bench spots, 2 DL spots.

In my two leagues last year that fit this format, the save totals for fourth place were 119 and 102.  Looking at the data you guys sent in from your leagues, my figures are on the high side.  I'll suggest you aim for 100 saves.

I do worry about saves in my leagues.  But two things I don't do are worry about individual projections or draft the big-name closers.  I just try to have three of the game's 30 closers, and if another comes available I will do everything I can to get him too.  In one league I was rostering seven closers at one point.  Not only was I padding my saves total, but I was reducing the supply of this precious commodity.  I would then shop 'em around.  The strategy requires you to be on the ball in terms of the waiver wire.



What It Takes To Win: Wins

Next up in our What It Takes To Win series, wins.  The goal here is to determine the stats needed to achieve fourth place in each of the ten common roto categories.  The league type: 12-team mixed with 14 hitters, 9 pitchers, 3 bench spots, 2 DL spots.

In the first league I looked at, 95 wins earned fourth place in the category.  In the second, it was 94.  I saw pretty good variance in the reader data, but a benchmark of 95 seems fair.  For those curious, it took about 3.34 wins on average to gain one point in the standings last year.  More so than any other counting stat, every pitcher win is huge in fantasy baseball.

If we assume a dozen wins from your three relievers, you need 83 from your six starters.  That's a tall order - 13 or 14 wins each.  34 pitchers won at least 14 games in 2008.  It was 36 in both '07 and '06.

Wins is probably the most frustrating fantasy category.  It's not advisable to chase them.  Just draft starters who can help you in the other three categories and the wins should come.



What It Takes To Win: Strikeouts

Next up in our What It Takes To Win series, strikeouts.  The goal here is to determine the stats needed to achieve fourth place in each of the ten common roto categories.  The league type: 12-team mixed with 14 hitters, 9 pitchers, 3 bench spots, 2 DL spots.

In the first league I looked at, 1279 Ks was good for fourth place.  In the second, 1268 was enough.  Reader data sent in showed more variance, but typically showed a lower benchmark than my leagues.  We'll go with 1270 strikeouts this year to be safe.

Technically you are looking for 141 Ks from each of the nine pitching spots.  But your typical closer whiffs about 65, and you should have three of those.  So you're looking for about 179 Ks from each of your six starters.

In 2008, 20 pitchers reached 179 Ks. In '07 it was 17 and in '06 it was 14.  I'm only projecting 12 to pull it off in '09, but there are always surprises.  You really can't beat Javier Vazquez for 198 Ks in the 13th round.   You can also draft Rich Harden, Joba Chamberlain, Max Scherzer, Jonathan Sanchez, Erik Bedard, Chris Young, and John Smoltz based on their strong K/9s, combining them with replacement level pitchers to reach a strong strikeout total for the roster spot.

By the way, four closers are projected to top 80 Ks: Brad Lidge, Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Marmol, and Jonathan Broxton.



What It Takes To Win: WHIP

Next up in our What It Takes To Win series, WHIP.  The goal here is to determine the stats needed to achieve fourth place in each of the ten common roto categories.  The league type: 12-team mixed with 14 hitters, 9 pitchers, 3 bench spots, 2 DL spots.

In the first league, 1.26 was necessary for fourth place.  The second league was about the same.  I found very similar results in the reader data sent in, so I'm comfortable going with 1.26 for our WHIP benchmark.

Among those with 100 projected innings, I have 28 who should be around 1.26 or less (topped by Johan Santana at 1.12).  Solid WHIP contributors you can get in the 15th round or later in most drafts: Kevin Slowey, Justin Duchscherer, Jered Weaver, John Smoltz, Andy Sonnanstine, Dave Bush, and Kenshin Kawakami.  I haven't looked closely at Koji Uehara yet but he may be another.



What It Takes To Win: ERA

Next up in our What It Takes To Win series, ERA.  The goal here is to determine the stats needed to achieve fourth place in each of the ten common roto categories.  The league type: 12-team mixed with 14 hitters, 9 pitchers, 3 bench spots, 2 DL spots.

In the first league, a 3.74 ERA was necessary for fourth.  In the second league, 3.71 was required.  I know we are short on data here, but I would be comfortable aiming for a team ERA of 3.73.  Using my first seven picks on hitters, I've still been able to assemble teams in mock drafts that project in the 3.76-3.79 range.

Since your three closers should hopefully improve your team ERA a bit, how many starters are projected to come in under 3.90?  I found 39, from Rich Harden at 3.11 to Ryan Dempster at 3.89.  The latest drafted is John Smoltz (3.68 ERA, 19th round), while the latest drafted who can rack up decent innings are Jered Weaver (3.75 ERA, 19th round) and Derek Lowe (3.61 ERA, 14th round). 

Out of roughly 72 starters drafted, 39 of them are projected to have ERAs under 3.90.  Using a 100 IP minimum, 50 pitchers were under 3.90 in real baseball in 2008, 44 in 2007, 34 in 2006, and 45 in 2005.



What It Takes To Win: Offense

In this post we will sum up our offensive benchmarks.  The goal: assemble a balanced team that achieves fourth place in every category.  That seemingly modest goal will usually result in a championship with 90 points.  The league type: 5x5 12-team mixed with 14 hitters, 9 pitchers, 3 bench players, and 2 DL spots (1500 IP max).  I realize our sample size for these benchmarks is small, just a few leagues I've been in.  But I want to be careful to limit it to leagues of this exact type that I know were competitive.

On to the benchmarks:

  • .283 AVG
  • 285 HR
  • 1111 RBI
  • 1154 R
  • 175 SBs

Later today we'll start doing the pitching categories.




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