Playoff Roster Freeze
“Freezing player adds for the last month of the season is important because teams that aren’t in the playoffs can cut their high-priced superstars and end up having an outsized effect on the playoffs.”
I see your point; would it be possible instead to simply freeze the re-auctioning of any player that was cut after a certain date? That way, teams may still compete on the waiver wire for the rest of the season, being limited instead by the available personnel on the market rather than a full cutoff of all player adds. I think everyone can agree that it’s still important for both playoff and rebuilding teams to have roster movement in the final week; surely there’s another solution to this problem…
Total Points/H2H League Differentials
“I don’t think the point difference can be attributed to “missing” points on the bench, because of the sheer number of innings should outweigh missing a good start here or there. As an aside, I’m pretty satisfied with @eamuscatuli’s thoughts on this delta.”
I didn’t say the entire difference can be attributed to this; I said that I think that it’s part of the difference. I think that most of the difference is because of the nature of the H2H format, particularly with playoffs, where more teams remain in a competitive state deep into the season compared to a Total Points format. More teams making more “win-now” transactions equals a greater distribution of MLB talent among teams (and a lower points output compared to the few teams in Total Points leagues that are consolidating most of the available ROS points that may have been available in the market).
Which isn’t to say I disagree with Justin’s assessment- ultimately I think there are a number of things playing into this dynamic- but it is to say that I think you’re always going to see this difference between these two league types, no matter how people are able to play their Pitchers or what you do to try to “fix” how people manage their rosters.
“However, it is undeniably frustrating to lose out on a pitching start because of the 2 SP slots in H2H - it may only happen 2 or 3 times over the course of the year and it may not really affect wins or losses, but it will be what you remember. In conjunction with having to pick up lousy pitchers just to get to 14 starts in a week, navigating your 14 starts per week cap feels bad since you cannot pick on what days to use those starts up and you’re throwing pitchers you don’t want to throw at the expense of throwing pitchers you do want to throw. Again, that probably isn’t actually the case, but I can understand if it does feel that way.”
I submit that every game is frustrating until you get used to and better understand the parameters. And I submit that this sort of frustration always subsides as the market plays out (assuming you allow it to, for another year or two). And I submit, more importantly, that the frustration is actually rooted in the imbalance of the scoring formula relative to the MLB game, which undervalues RP’s and the Bullpen as a competitive piece for any team. I also think there’s frustration that stems from the ‘encouragement’ to reach for the 14 GS limit when, competitively, you don’t even need that many GS… maybe without this ‘encouragement’ there might be more people using different strategies with their rosters, and perhaps they wouldn’t feel so “bad” about chasing GS and stockpiling bottom-rotation arms.
I’ve always believed that the fantasy H2H Pitching game should not be focused on chasing GS or IP, and I do think there’s an opportunity to be had in many of these H2H leagues if people trimmed their Pitching down in favor of either long-term Hitting investments or win-now offensive options. But I’m not sure what good “encouraging” people to do something they don’t like or even want to do with their rosters was the way to approach their introduction into the system.
Regardless, you knew last year that there was going to be this frustration with the 2 SP setting- I even predicted as much when pushing for it- and you had to know there would be people threatening to pull their deposit for Year Two because of it. But instead of allowing for the format to play out and fix itself, you’re already pulling the plug before the end of one season… and you’re openly admitting that you’re doing so not because the numbers tell you there’s something wrong with the format, but because people who have yet to fully grasp it are frustrated?
Leaning Towards a Cap
“overall I’m definitely leaning towards implementing a weekly start cap”
In my experience, in the seasons that I ran a H2H league on ESPN (which allows for GS caps), and with a SABR-based formula, an 8-10 GS cap is the range to look at.
But, with a FG formula- which inherently inflates SP’s relative to both Hitters and RP’s- I would lean towards the lower end of that range. I’m not sure a limit toward or above 10 GS makes sense, because (as it’s a soft cap) you wouldn’t really change the environment- teams would still look for the incentive of carrying sub-par pitchers in order to exceed the cap on a weekly basis. On the other hand, setting a lower limit also means the pitchers available on the market to use/stash for streaming purposes will generally be better- and so there’ll still be the incentive to carry more than 10 SP’s.
In other words, teams will still be chasing GS as part of the game- and even though you would be raising the perceived (read: not allowed for market-correction) floor of the SP market, you will start hearing cries about ‘loopholes’ and ‘why have a GS cap if people can cheat it’ which will replace the ‘this 2 active SP thing sucks’ complaints.
I’ll make a suggestion again that I made when this was being debated last year: figure out a reasonable penalty for teams that exceed the cap. For the ESPN league, I multiplied the number of GS over the limit by that team’s highest scoring player for the week and subtracted that total from the team’s Total Points score. This way you’re pairing the two sides of the game with a measurable and reasonable dis-incentive to surpassing the cap without eliminating the opportunity or strategy to do it.
Another idea- which could fix the ‘no room to roster prospects’ problem another person brought up- would be if you could limit the 40-man roster to, say, 37-active players and 3 minor leaguers. Once a player on one of the three Minor League roster spots is called-up, the team becomes illegal and the manager is forced to make a move. In a practicality sense, taking some of those bottom-end roster spots away would easily remove the ability to stockpile SP’s beyond a certain threshold.
All-in-all, though, everything you’ve been working through here as a potential “fix” is something I’ve either tried myself over the years or worked-through the math/done the proof-test to figure out if it’s a change that would mean anything. I settled on two active SP’s with a balanced Pitcher scoring formula for a reason- which is that it works, and it works in that beautiful, natural, self-correcting sense that makes people frustrated only about having to sit a guy who might not even have an affect on his matchup- and not about some ‘loophole’ or what the threshold for some limit should be or how someone is using their roster to skew to some perceived advantage and how we might impose some artificial check to address it.
“This is a good diagnosis but I don’t agree with the solution. A small percentage of RPs crack the top 200 scoring pitchers because a small percentage of RPs are being used enough. RPs produce a higher P/IP than SPs, they just don’t pitch enough innings. The way to compensate for this is probably along the lines of what @dcrowell brought up pre-season: adding another RP slot to mimic the higher percentage of RP innings compared to SP innings. The goal is to have your RPs in total be able to score 35%-45% of your pitching points, and the best way to do that is to add more room to play RPs.”
Why aren’t RP’s being used enough, though? Because they don’t score so well… ergo, increasing their scoring would also increase their usage.
Whether RP’s can reach 35%-45% of a team’s pitching points without changing the formula depends on how teams use their SP’s… or, how SP usage is limited in the game, and how that might allow for any RP usage. I don’t agree that the solution here is adding another RP roster spot… after all, why would I want to add a maybe-20 point/week player whose usage I can’t possibly predict when (again) I can just stash another SP for streaming purposes?
The fact is that good RP’s aren’t able to score any better than many of these lower-tier/mediocre SP’s that are being rounded up… and that’s why they aren’t being used instead, which means the bottom-feeding SP’s aren’t being filtered off people’s teams and that in any given week the Bullpen plays a hugely deflated role in the format relative to how RP’s are actually used in real-life.
I’m not sure why you would shoot me down on this without proof testing what I’m talking about. I joined someone’s public H2H FG points league on ESPN six or so years ago and observed this dynamic pretty quickly- it’s not about ‘forcing’ people to roster RP’s, it’s about raising the production value of relievers so that the “best” RP’s score similarly to the “best” SP’s and Hitters, relative to the MLB game. Only then does the market allow for complete balance among the different roles.
So speaking of blasphemy, why not take a closer look a the points system? Wasn’t the Pitching formula pretty much a curve-fit anyway?
Justin Merry, Re: SABR Formula… “After a combination of theory, intuition, and trial & error, the following system was developed”
and, Re: FG Points Formula… “In an effort to come up with an alternative, I’ve been fiddling with a modified points system that includes point penalties for hits allowed.”
So… why not curve-fit the Pitching formula for H2H purposes? Here’s my proposal*, using stats available from FanGraphs:
Total Batters Faced: -0.1
HR Allowed: -13
BB Allowed: -3
— RP Categories —
Blown Saves: -6.7
---- Alternatively for RP Categories, using the SABR formula (and no TBF variable)—
Blown Saves: -3
*Side note- as the whole entire formula is built around wRC for Hitters, my actual preference is to move the decimal one spot to the left for both Hitters and Pitchers… this way a player score is akin to his fantasy “run value” (I just think it’s more intuitive to look at a player’s line and see that he was worth, say, 2.08 Runs instead of 20.8 Points).
- The SABR formula is used to better balance the top-level (Top 100) pitchers for any given season, relative to Hitters, compared to the FG Points formula
- Total Batters Faced is used instead of Hits Allowed to make for an all-encompassing “TBF/IP” efficiency factor, which includes all situations in which a P would need to face additional Batters; this also further deflates top-tier Pitching output relative to Hitting, but only slightly, and functionally this provides greater incentive to roster a Hitter instead of a Pitcher
- Saves and Holds are given equal value; functionally, it eliminates the (often futile) need to chase Closers as Setup arms are scored on the same level (after all, a game’s highest leverage situation could well be in the 6th or 7th inning and not necessarily the 9th)
- Blown Saves is introduced as an off-set to SV’s+HLDs; if you believe in using SV’s and HLD’s, I’m not sure why Blown Saves shouldn’t be used to balance their impact (as opposed to simply deflating their score); in a weekly sense, this “net SV+HLD” dynamic can mean the largest variance in points for RP’s than with any other position- some weeks a player might score over 40 points, but in other weeks that same pitcher could put up a -20 (although the bad performances happen less often, obviously)
- I think an additional “efficiency”/leverage consideration is important for RP’s to further filter through the “luck” of net SVs+HLDs, as well as to intuitively balance the SP/RP pool; in the Yahoo league I linked to earlier, the best option available is “Inherited Runners Scored” (at negative value, of course); my preference is actually “Inherited Runners Stranded” (positive value, naturally); but using the stats available in FanGraphs, I think a SD/MD (“Shut-Down”/“Melt-Down”) would be both intuitive and effective
Here’s a Google Doc spreadsheet I threw together which compares these different formulas using 2017 season numbers (I would’ve added more years to compare, but I only had the time for one). The first tab is a summary that compares the formulas; the second tab is the raw pitcher data in which I highlighted any P who pitched 50% or more of his IP’s in a relief role with a different color in order to more easily spot the diversification of RP’s among the pitcher pool.
Generally, I’m disappointed that you’re not willing to give this format more of a shot. I think the changes you’re leaning towards are no different than what anyone can do in setting up a ottoneu-style league -for free- on any big box fantasy service, and I think that they only shift around the pieces of a larger problem (which is the scoring imbalance). I think the better, long-term decision here- other than to adjust the scoring formula for P’s- is to chillax and allow the format and market to play-out. At the least, it would afford you the chance to build the H2H format into the sort of game you can’t find on Yahoo, or ESPN, or CBS, or FanTrax, rather than as something that just sucks up your attention every season as to whether you need to make another change or adjustment or addition or tweak or whatever.
Since you brought the ottoneu ethos into this… is it part of the ottoneu ethos to strive for an overall balanced league? Is it part of the ottoneu ethos to better reflect the MLB game in a fantasy format? Is it part of the ottoneu ethos to prefer for the market to correct for any imbalance in a newly formed league/format? Is it part of the ottoneu ethos to let the natural limits of the format be the constraint on a manager’s activity? Is it part of the ottoneu ethos to encourage an active gameplay, rather than a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ approach to roster management? Or is it part of the ottoneu ethos to give-in to a some vocal dissenters who aren’t willing to give the format a chance to work-out any perceived imbalances brought-on by them in their attempt to find some edge to play and which was encouraged by some in a misguided attempt to keep everyone informed of what is ‘possible’ to do, regardless of whether it’s also the correct thing to do, and to appease said dissenters with cookie-cutter artificial band-aids and a design overhaul which doesn’t actually fix the problem of chasing Pitching?
Build it and they will come… or, balance the P scoring problem and your job on this is done.