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Tuesday 19th Sep 2017

Many years ago, between the Mastersballs, I introduced readers to “Rotisserie Baseball Math.”

No, not another sabermetric stat for Brian Kenney to proselytize, but a different way to maximize the value of rotisserie baseball trades.

In many leagues where trading is allowed, it does affect auction/draft strategies in that should you be unable to get enough of any counting stat(s) at the draft but happen to accumulate a strong surplus in another category, you know that you will be able to translate the surplus even if you are dealing for cents on the dollar value wise.

So if you failed to get a good closer at your draft, you aren’t restricted to spending all your FAAB to get one of the new (usually temporary) closers in season, but can trade your extra stolen bases for some saves. Thus many trades are need for need.


But I want you to look deeper than just getting more points in the category you are trading for. While there are some instances where you just have one good prospective trading partner, it is far more likely that you will have several suitors for your Dee Gordon this year. Sure, you want to see what the best return for the Dodger speedster is, but I want you to look at the category positions of your trading partners. If you do it right, you may be able to “double the category points” in your trade.

In its simplest form, it is a variation of "Addition by Subtraction" for rotisserie scoring for your team. The premise is that while more points in a given category for your team results in a higher place in the league standings, so too are fewer points for one or more of your opponents in one or more categories.

Here is an outdated but still strong example of this type of trade:

Here were standings for the Cannonball Run III American League.

Rank Team Pts
1 Pt. Loma Quahogs 82
2 Surprise Royals 76
3 Framingham 72.5
4 Boston 71
5 Kilbourne 68
6 St. Paul 67
7 Beverly Hills Coyotes 65
8 Cape Cod 62.5
9 Brooklyn Cyclones 62
10 Salem 58
11 Scarsdale 54.5
12 Silver Lake Lookouts 41.5

Note how close the teams are, especially from 9th at 62 points all the way up to 2nd at 76.0. And of course some of the categories are so close that point totals and places can shift from day to day.

Now let’s look at two categories – Strikeouts

Salem 562
Point Loma 466
Surprise 449
Boston 444
Scarsdale 437
CapeCod 434
Framingham 425
Brooklyn 419
St. Paul 413

…and Saves

St. Paul 56
Surprise 38
Boston 33
Beverly Hills 28
Kilbourne 24
Silver Lake 21
Framingham 21
Scarsdale 19

If St. Paul could trade one of his premier closers (they were Mariano Rivera or Joakim Soria but could just as easily be David Robertson and Greg Holland today) and trade him to Scarsdale for a SP who would add a decent amount of strikeouts, he could not only gain four-plus points in K (and take away a point each from Framingham and Cape Cod), but Scarsdale, with the additional saves, would take away another point from Framingham and Kilbourne. With any additional improvement in other categories, this one trade would put him in a battle for 2nd place in the league with only one point of downside.

There is also the possibility of making a trade which doesn’t gain your team any categorical points but improves your position in the league standings!

Yes, you read that correctly. If your main competition loses points, you will have more of a lead or gain ground on a team ahead of you, even if you don’t gain points. The way you can do that is to find a specific trading partner. Let’s say you can trade saves for stolen bases in your league. If you trade your saves to a team that is currently behind your targeted opponent so that they may overtake them in the standings, you will have a net gain even if your side of the trade does not produce a gain in the SB category.

Let’s go back to Dee Gordon and his current 30 stolen bases. Here are the standings from a 2014 league, as of Monday.

Liquid Hippos 126.5
Canadian Bacon 121
Busted Flush 106.5
Bronx Yankees 104

And now the stolen base category where Hippos own Dee Gordon.

Liquid Hippos 77
Bronx Yankees 56
Busted Flush 51
Hudson Hawks 48
Canadian Bacon 43
Doughboys 43
Hackers II 38
Dreamers 38

Look how much flexibility there is in considering where to trade Gordon. Any team below Canadian Bacon would work in terms of not only taking a point away from him or preventing him from gaining a point. Hippos can gain points in several categories – HR (and only one home run ahead of the Canadian), Runs (4th but only four behind Canadian in 2nd), Saves (tied for 5th with Canadian), or Wins (4th with 32 but three-way tie for 1-2-3 with 33 including Canadian and Flush). So lots of choices to help the aqueous hog hold onto first place.

So when you make trades in your leagues, look beyond the ability to add points in one category – you may be able to “gain” in two or more categories just by picking the right team to trade with.

Simple “Rotisserie” Math.

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