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Tuesday 23rd May 2017

As you likely know by now, we are at the quarter pole of the season.  At this point every year, I make it a practice to go through each of my teams with an eye on the categories, as we are now at the point where the standings are reflective of how they may be at the end of the season.  That is, until now, I am not too concerned where I sit within each category as they are still volatile.  While they are still volatile, the relative distribution between standing places is now representative of how it will be at season’s end.

Here is what I mean.  I will use a couple of similar leagues as the example.  There are both 15-team mixed leagues with no trading, played mostly using NFBC rules. Our own Perry Van Hook runs them.  I took last season’s final standings and averaged them.  I then took this season average standings for both leagues, and normalized each category so there were the same number of each stats in each category.  Here are the results:

FINAL 2010 STANDINGS

BA

HR

R

RBI

SB

ERA

K

SV

W

WHIP

0.279

276

1103

1051

205

3.285

1479

120

110

1.200

0.276

259

1070

1011

188

3.398

1393

101

109

1.209

0.274

251

1060

1004

179

3.540

1322

92

106

1.239

0.273

250

1038

992

159

3.559

1286

88

104

1.257

0.272

244

1030

983

154

3.721

1273

82

101

1.274

0.272

233

1005

979

151

3.741

1235

73

100

1.282

0.271

232

996

961

146

3.779

1214

63

98

1.292

0.269

219

979

921

142

3.902

1204

60

97

1.297

0.268

215

943

907

133

3.906

1201

59

92

1.304

0.266

211

920

899

132

3.975

1187

49

92

1.307

0.264

211

918

890

118

3.999

1172

48

89

1.307

0.261

210

896

881

108

4.045

1169

46

88

1.315

0.261

202

870

865

103

4.092

1145

33

83

1.326

0.256

186

866

824

91

4.201

1111

13

81

1.345

0.252

146

784

687

86

4.552

920

2

58

1.397

NORMALIZED 2011 STANDINGS

BA

HR

R

RBI

SB

ERA

K

SV

W

WHIP

0.279

282

1072

1070

197

3.168

1472

109

118

1.126

0.272

263

1039

1057

180

3.421

1439

83

114

1.180

0.267

257

1031

1035

176

3.451

1325

75

112

1.205

0.264

249

1025

1016

168

3.504

1311

74

110

1.217

0.260

242

1021

993

148

3.523

1284

72

99

1.226

0.258

236

1004

987

144

3.575

1277

68

97

1.235

0.257

232

990

947

142

3.653

1269

66

95

1.248

0.256

232

988

914

140

3.663

1232

61

92

1.257

0.255

215

986

908

138

3.709

1211

59

92

1.275

0.254

205

963

881

131

3.823

1207

54

90

1.285

0.252

197

924

856

127

4.011

1135

52

88

1.298

0.250

195

893

848

112

4.054

1122

47

82

1.322

0.248

191

871

812

102

4.078

1108

45

77

1.373

0.242

188

844

783

97

4.441

1019

38

71

1.398

0.237

157

823

746

89

4.588

896

22

67

1.418

As you can see, the standings are pretty similar in terms of top to bottom distribution within each category.  Doing this exercise earlier in the season would have rendered the top to bottom distribution in the normalized standings to be more spread out.  The top team would be higher than last season, the bottom team lower.  Now, they are about the same.

Based on the above I do not want to draw any specific conclusions based on where I sit per category, other than I feel comfortable looking at some general trends which I will now describe.  These observations are all based on personal research and seem to hold true year to year.

The first category I look at is home runs.  While there are exceptions, year after year, homers prove to be the most important offensive category as champions rarely struggle in the category.  This maybe intuitive as each homer also results in a run and an RBI, not to mention a hit, but it is always nice when data supports intuition.  If I find myself in the bottom half of the homer category, I spend some time evaluating how I can improve that, since I know if I want to compete, I am going to have to do better.

The next category I check out is batting average.  I do not do it so much to see where I stand, but more so because a rise in average will almost always result in a gain in runs and RBI as well.  If I am doing well in runs and RBI but struggling in average, I am quite confident my offense will be strong since I have faith my average will climb.  However, if my average is decent but my runs and RBI are lagging, I am concerned.  The first thing I look at is my at bats total as compared to the rest of the league.   If I am not accruing at bats at the rate of others, I find the dead spots in the lineup and figure out how to upgrade them.  Sometimes you take for granted a player is getting a certain amount of playing time, but when you take a closer look, you discover he is short some at bats.  This exercise helps me catch those that I overlook while there is still time to do something about it.

With respect to steals, I do not get too concerned so long as I am somewhere in the middle.  Historically, steals are very bunched in the middle so it is usually fairly easy to manage the category to maximize points by adding another speed guy in to gain points if they are there and if they are not, you use that spot to help boost power.  It is still too early to manage in that manner, so I continue to play my best hitters unless I am really lagging in steals, in which case I look to get the most points with the least effort.   If two teams are ignoring steals, I make sure I have ample stolen bases to finish above them, but focus on really pumping up the other categories.

Turning to pitching, the most important factor to keep in mind is that it is NEVER too late to gain or lose points in ERA and WHIP.  Later in the season, I will in fact demonstrate that MORE points are gained or lost in ERA and WHIP towards the end of the season than any other categories.  But it is still way too early to worry about that.

The first trend I look for with pitching is where my ERA sits with respect to my WHIP.  More often than not, the two categories will be close, with a couple of standings points.  If the difference is greater than that, expect your ERA to be the category that corrects closer to your WHIP.  As such, if my WHIP is strong but my ERA is weaker, I do not sweat it since that should correct.  But if my ERA is very good but my WHIP is not so good, I am concerned since I am likely going to lose ERA points.

While it is a little too early to make this determination, eventually, if your ERA and WHIP are poor, you need to consider if it is better to start ignoring them and focus on wins and strikeouts or perhaps look to add some strong relievers in an effort to improve the ratios.  We will discuss this in more detail later in the season.

A mistake I often see made at this point in the season is managing closers based on where you sit in saves.  In my opinion, it is too early to do that.  While deployment of closers ultimately depends on the quality of the matchups for your starters, my general feeling is pile up the saves early on and worry about catching up in strikeouts and wins later using two-start pitchers if necessary.  Closers are so volatile, it is best to take advantage of the saves while you can.  You can always find two-start pitchers later if necessary.

In summary, even though the stats are distributed as they will be come October, there is still plenty of time to gain points across the board and elevate your squad into contention.  But it is not too early to make educated evaluations of how you need to go about accomplishing that.  That said, if you are strong in homers and WHIP, you are set up quite well for a fun and competitive summer.

Comments   

0 #4 Todd Zola 2011-05-19 03:15
I personally think you are selling Kinsler WAY too short. Kinsler is a tier above Roberts, maybe more. I would want more than Aviles, who is by no means assured on playing time the whole season, especially once Moustakas is called up. In a ten team league where closers emerge, I personally can't deal a top 30 player for a closer.
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0 #3 Pete D. 2011-05-18 12:52
Todd: Thanks for the tip. I will post in the forums from now on, but I have a follow up to the above. I approached the owner about a trade and he offered me N. Feliz and Chipper for Kinsler and A. Ramirez. I don't have a problem with trading Kinsler. Other than BA (slight edge to Kinsler) and OBP (larger advantage to Kinsler), there really is not much difference in Roberts and Kinsler's numbers YTD and I don't expect Roberts to hit .221 all season. I do have a problem with taking back Chipper. He is one setback away from surgery, we only have one DL spot and I have not given up on Broxton yet. It's not like anyone has run with the LAD closers job since he went on the DL. I don't think Chipper is worth stashing on my bench in a 10 team league at this stage of his career. The guy has Aviles who has 2B, 3B and SS eligibility. Would Kinsler and Aramis for Neftali and Aviles be a good trade for me IYO? Thanks again for your help. Pete D.
Quote
0 #2 Todd Zola 2011-05-17 13:46
Most people use the expression "trade from strength to improve weakness". I find this a little misleading. If you are first in a category, but have 3 teams nipping at your heels, you really do not want to deal from that category. but if you are at a point lower in the standings where there is a big gap to the next team, you can afford to deal from there, assuming you can gain more points than you lose. This is the sort of thinking you need to do, keeping in mind that it is still early and a lot can happen within each category. We are still in the stage where you are more concerned about piling up stats, then you massage the categories later.

is there any way you can get two of those closers? maybe deal Ellsbury for 2 closers, make up some ground in saves and if necessary, deal excess saves for steals later in the season if you need to fortify SB after dealing Ellsbury.

With respect to Soria, we are talking about him in the forum, but I am not quite ready to give up on him yet.

FYI -- not that you cannot post a question like this here, but if you want some more eyeballs reading and offering advice, more will read it in the forums.

Good luck!!
Quote
0 #1 Pete D. 2011-05-17 13:32
Todd: You were kind enough to answer my punting saves question in my 5x5 roto league on KFFL yesterday. Since that time, a fellow owner has put N. Feliz, H. Bell and Soria on the block. As I told you, I am currently 8th in saves with 20. The owners ahead of me have 26, 27, 28, 30 and 31 respectively. The leader has 50 which is unapproachable. The owner in question needs runs, steals, avg and k's. My current roster is Avila, Konerko, Kinsler, Rolen, Rollins, CarGo, Granderson, Ellsbury, A. Jones, Vlad, Ar. Ramirez and B. Roberts. SP's are King Felix, C. Lee, Haren, Beckett, Nolasco, D. Hudson and Pineiro. RP's are Farnsworth, Salas, E. Sanchez and Venters. Considering the circumstances, do you think I should make an offer for any of the closers and if so, which? I am not real high on Soria. Which players should I consider offering. My only real strength right now is steals where I'm in 1st place. Thanks again for your help.
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