Brendan McKay Question

I have a question that’s more of an exercise, since it isn’t likely to have MLB fantasy relevance. But is there a mechanism/process in place to deal with a Brendan McKay-type situation? He probably ends up hitter or pitcher rather than hitter and pitcher, but if he takes off this could be something to watch closely by next summer. Apologies if I missed this in another thread.

Now that it appears likely that a far more valuable two-way player is headed to MLB soon, this topic has obviously taken on new urgency. Among all the sources I have seen and heard, the proposal you outlined seems to be the most widely endorsed way of dealing with Ohtani.

The only objection (if you can call it that) I have heard is that under such a system, if Ohtani performs anywhere close to the hyped-up expectations, he would be far and away the most valuable player in fantasy. In an auction league, I don’t see that as inherently problematic, but reasonable minds can differ.

The best alternative I have heard is to create two fictional half-players: a Hitter Ohtani and a Pitcher Ohtani. They would be auctioned separately, and would function as completely independent players for fantasy purposes.

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I think the best way to handle a two way player is to slot him as a Pitcher when he pitches and then a positional player when he doesn’t. One roster spot, gets points based on where he plays. Much like a SP only gets points when he starts or RP when he comes in relief. I think in a previous thread, coding might have been an issue on this but that’s how I would think it would be most realistic. If that makes him the most valuable player, the market will reflect that.

I guess I never wrapped a bow on this conversation, but the proposal from this thread has been implemented.

I checked out the other thread but there was not a lot of discussion. Other than the system/platform difficulties, are there any reasons why a player’s pitching and hitting stats cannot both be counted?

Possibilities I see:

  1. Allow all pitchers to accumulate stats for when they get plate appearances in game. This would be a change for all players

  2. No real change, players attain P & position eligibility as they do now and how the player is played on a given day / week determines the points accumulated.

I prefer #1 as it more realistically represents real life. Plus, #2 seems like what is currently the rule but what happens if Otani is in a lineup as OF, he starts the game as a LF and is then brought in to relieve / close? If he gets ABs after he moved to pitcher does he get those stats counted or not? What if he goes LF-P-LF?

The implemented solution isn’t because of technical limitations. It’s because of what @eamuscatuli wrote in that thread:

I don’t think anyone is adding pitchers for their hitting or wants a few innings of completely unplanned pitching from a position player. Making a change to the fundamental way that players are considered in fantasy would give owners less control on how their lineups work, and I think would be frustrating more than anything.

I don’t think anyone is adding pitchers for their hitting or wants a few innings of completely unplanned pitching from a position player.

I think both of those things are true but currently, occurrences of position players pitching is far more rare than pitchers batting. While incorporating pitchers’ hitting would be a fundamental change to the game, would it be that drastic?

A quick look at all pitchers with at least 1 PA this year returned 329 players.

  • 118 players would have been helped in total points vs 211 that would have been hurt.
  • The most anyone would gain would be 47.
  • The most anyone would lose would be 45.
  • 305 of the 329 (92%) would have their total affected (positive or negative) by less than 20 points.

While I agree the valuation of pitchers would change slightly, I don’t think this would reshape how ottoneu players value certain players. It might shift the allocation of $ more towards hitters, but if pitchers are affected more or less the same, I can’t image it would be that noticeable.

Note: Fangraph points were used and this really was a quick look and it’s early. My numbers may need to be checked.

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Thanks for doing this math @legendaryan, it is helpful to see actual numbers. I think the minor effect this would have on Ottoneu kind of underlines that it isn’t a good change to make. While there may be a minor effect to scoring, making a change that says “your lineup is your lineup and everyone gets stats for hitting and pitching, including pitchers” is a huge change and very different from every other fantasy game. This would require a ton of messaging and user education, which means there has to be a reason ‘why’ one would do this… and I am just not seeing the ‘why’. As fun as it is to ask for pitcher hitting to count when Madison Bumgarner hits two homers on Opening Day, those requests dry up when things return to the status quo. I would insert a collective pitcher slash line here but I haven’t had coffee yet and my Googling isn’t working that well. I found this showing AL vs NL OPS, and it seems to support the notion that pitchers aren’t going to add a ton of points to anyone’s lineup, though I am surprised they aren’t more of a negative.

Note: remember when Madison Bumgarner did that and it was awesome?

So, generally people aren’t clamoring to get hitting stats for their NL pitchers, from what I can tell. No fantasy game that I know of has that out of the box. Pitchers don’t hit well, so it isn’t a fun thing to add to fantasy - you want things to root for, and “sac bunt is best case scenario” doesn’t fall under that category.

Making a broad, massive change to how users will think about pitchers and how to build their team all for Shohei Otani seems like a bit of an overreaction as of right now. Let me see a full year of him in the majors with a team that is willing to deploy him the way we all salivate over, and let me see the number of innings or homers people miss out on because they put Otani in the wrong slot, and let me see Otani hit and pitch like the Japanese Babe Ruth he is claimed to be (keeping in mind it is 2017 and not 1920) and then in the fall of 2018 we can and should revisit this conversation. Because of Otani does all of that stuff, that would definitely be something to root for.

But as things stand, this is a big change to communicate, which takes a lot of time and effort, for very minimal gain. If there is an advantage to making this change that I am not seeing, please let me know, but it seems like almost no change for existing pitchers, and a complete unknown as to how Otani will hit and pitch in the majors. If he becomes the weapon that most of us as baseball fans hope he turns into, I think he’ll require a fundamental re-thinking of how fantasy baseball treats pitchers and hitters, but doing that proactively will take up my time (which is, unfortunately, finite), and I have a couple of other things that I’d rather spend the offseason on.

@legendaryan I hope this gives some insight into my reluctance specifically on your point and generally how I go about thinking about making broader rules changes. And sorry if this was ramble-y, I haven’t had coffee yet and I should go remedy that now.

Thanks for the response Niv.

I should have qualified my reply with something like “for the sake of the discussion…” as that’s all I really wanted. Prior to my post, this conversation felt like an open and shut case and I’d prefer it’s at least something that is contemplated from time to time.

All in all, I’m probably just guilty of being distracted by the shiny new thing that is Otani. For now I’ll just sit back and eagerly wait to see what he does.