New for the 2016 fantasy baseball season is a unique contest offered by our friends at the National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) called the Cutline Championship. A complete review of the rules can be found HERE.
In brief, the Cutline Championship is a points-based, best-ball scoring format. The leagues consist of ten teams and use standard NFBC roster requirements and position eligibilities. There will be an initial snake draft to fill 36 roster spots then a pair of in-season FAAB periods. The first is the week after the season starts where you can add up to five more players with the second in early June where you can add as many as you want to a maximum of 46 roster spots. The regular season ends right around the All-Star break where teams will be entered into the Cutline Finals, Consolation Round or have their season end. More teams will be eliminated over the next nine weeks until a Cutline Champion is crowned in early September.
What follows is a primer for those entering the inaugural Cutline Championship. Even though the discussion will focus on that contest, many of the principles transcend into other formats, so hopefully all Platinum subscribers can glean a nugget or two to help in their draft prep.
The Cutline scoring is designed so that the ranking of the players by points emulates the ranking via standard 5x5 rotisserie scoring. The hitter’s correlation coefficient is .99 while the pitcher’s is about .90.
A noteworthy difference between the Cutline and other NFBC contests is there isn’t a Friday transaction day for hitters. The scoring period for everyone runs from Monday through Sunday.
Points are awarded as follows:
For those not familiar, best-ball scoring means your optimum lineup will be determined automatically each week without you ever setting a lineup. The only team management required is the initial draft and the two in-season FAAB periods. The NFBC site does the rest.
The intelligence is designed to account for corner infield, middle infield, utility and multiple position eligibility. There’s no delineation between starting pitchers and relievers – your top nine arms each week contribute to your total, regardless of their role.
PROPER RANKING USING POINTS SCORING
As discussed, back-testing using previous season’s final stats was used to produce a system that correlates very well to 5x5 roto-scoring. That’s all well and good but it’s still essential to come up with a draft list incorporating principles intrinsic to points scoring.
If you play fantasy football, you know where this is going. The key to points leagues is rankings should not be based on raw points but rather adjusted points using the last player drafted at each position as a baseline. The idea is everyone in the league is credited with the number of points scored by the worst active player at each position so the person with that player essentially earns no useful points from that player.
Mathematically, find the worst draft-worthy player at each position, subtract those points from everyone at the position and re-rank according to those adjusted points.
Truth be told, this is by no means perfect, especially in a best-ball format. The calculation only works if one player occupies each roster spot all season – which is obviously not the case. In addition, the use of corner, middle, utility and players that are eligible for multiple positions skew the replacement level. Still, doing the best you can to determine replacement is better than ignoring it. Ultimately, draft flow comes down to varying expectations of player performance but having a starting point where, at minimum, the players are ranked accurately relative to each other is very beneficial.
HOW MASTERSBALL GENERATES CUTLINE RANKINGS
Let’s start with the easy part – pitching. There are ten teams with nine roster spots, so the expected points from the 90th highest total is subtracted from all the hurlers.
Hitting is where it gets dicey. Here’s what we know.
Players with multiple eligibility are assigned a primary position according to this hierarchy:
C > SS > 2B > 3B > OF > 1B
This is how I view the strength of positions – you may see it differently. Your team, your call.
The projected points for all the hitters are calculated. The top-140 (ten teams, 14 roster spots) are examined to see if the above criteria are satisfied, starting with catcher and moving the hierarchy. If a position is short, the highest ranking player at that position is brought into the top-140, knocking out the lowest ranked player at a position that has not yet been checked. When finished, the top-140 should now consist of ample players at each position to fill all ten active rosters.
The lowest ranked player at each position is identified and those points are subtracted from every player with that same primary position. These adjusted points are used to rank hitters and pitchers together.
To reiterate, this process isn’t perfect, but it’s better than using unadjusted points. Because of the unique Cutline points system, the adjustment isn’t all that steep. However, to those playing in points leagues other than the NFBC cutline, omitting the adjustment is the biggest mistake made. The projected points for hitters and pitchers will be computed and it is wrongfully concluded that one is way more valuable than the other based on raw points.
GO BIG OR GO HOME
Before we go on to discuss some specific strategies, it’s necessary to set the proper mindset. Sure, there’s a league prize, as the top-scorer in each ten-team league will pocket a nifty $250. Hopefully, it’s obvious that the NFBC Cutline is a contest where you’re....
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