DC

DC

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Fantasyland

Once again, it's that time of year.  That's right - baseball is back!
 
For the first time in years, I wasn't able to make it to Vegas to place futures bets.  But Pete P. Peters needs something to sweat.  As a result, I decided to focus my attention on season-long fantasy.  So, in addition to my standard annual ESPN "Friends and Family" ("FNF") league, I opted to join some $100 Yahoo Pro leagues.  Five to be exact.  I bought in to the first on a Monday afternoon -- a league with a scheduled draft the following evening at 8:00.  Unfortunately, upon joining, I realized that draft times are PST, meaning the draft would take place between 11:00 pm and 2:00 am.  And I generally get up for work at 5:00 am.  No esta bueno.  I figured I'd "punt" the league, autodraft it, and sign up for another that drafted at a more reasonable hour.  So I plunked down another $100 and signed up for a Thursday evening draft.  And then I couldn't stop.  I signed up for a Friday night draft, and two more on Saturday (fortunately, the season began Sunday, thus saving myself from myself and potentially entering double-digit leagues).
 
So, I found myself in five leagues for $500.  The draft preparation then began.  As I delved in, I realized that Yahoo Pro Leagues operate far, far different than my FNF league.  My FNF league is a twelve team, 15x15, head-to-head "points" league.  In other words, there are 15 offensive categories, and 15 pitching categories, each worth an assigned number of points.  A single, for instance, is worth 1 point . . .  a steal - 2 points . . . a SO . . . 1 point . . . a win for a pitcher is 10 points.  Each week, you play another team (i.e., head to head), and at week's end, the team with the most points simply wins the matchup.   Notably, line-ups lock prior to the first game of the week; so, you set your line-ups on Monday morning, and then sit back and watch . . .  Easy game.
 
Yahoo Fantasy Pro ("YFP") - not so simple.  In fact, it took me hours just to research the rules, and how scoring was calculated.  Knowing the parameters of the game is, for obvious reasons, critical to determining draft strategy.   YFP is 5x5, head-to-head.  Offensive categories are Runs, RBI, HR's, Stolen Bases and Average.  On the pitching side, you factors Wins, Strikeouts, Saves, ERA and WHIP.  You get one point for each category you win.  So, at the end of the week, if you take HR's. RBI, Runs, Saves, ERA and WHIP, and you lose Stolen Bases, Average, Wins and K's, you'd win the matchup 6-4, and your record would be 6-4.  Unlike the FNF, which is all-or-nothing for the week, every category matters in YPL.  Also, there is no weekly roster lock.  Rather, you can move players in and out of your line-up up until first pitch.  The only limitation is that player acquisitions are capped at six per week.  This, I found out, gives rise to the phenomenon known as "streaming," e.g., rotating players (pitchers, usually) in and out of your starting line up to maximize starts. 
 
With a (fairly) firm grasp of the rules, I began formulating my draft strategy.  In FNF, for yours, I've gone sans closers and punted saves.  Instead, I find a handful of starting pitchers with relief pitcher eligibility and use them to fill my two RP roster spots.  The idea is that wins are worth more points (10) than saves (5), and I can usually get more SO's from throwing starters also.  This is compounded on weeks were the starter has two starts.  It's a strategy that has worked out well for me for years.  So, my first course of action was to place some message board posts asking for advice on whether this strategy would work given the YFP rubric.  The answer was a resounding "NO!"  Guys with thousands of posts to their names all claimed the exact OPPOSITE strategy was optimal - draft plenty of relief pitchers with starting pitcher eligibility (a mix of closers and set up men); then stream your starters in the several SP spots left on your roster.   This, according to the fantasy experts, will virtually guaranty that you win 3/5 pitching categories each week - Saves and the two "ratio" categories - ERA and WHIP (on the theory that set up men and closers will have better ratio's than most starters.  The experts claimed you could also compete in wins and K's by picking up guys off waivers every day to plug in (stream) up to the weekly acquisitions limit.  This advice was near universal (particularly on the 2+2 fantasy board). 
 
I pondered.  I tried to work out the math.  And, ultimately, I decided to zig when the experts advised I zag.  My plan was to focus my draft on offense and basically punt on pitching until unduly late in the draft; then, load up on average to above average pitchers, including guys who would fly under the radar.  The goal was to win 4/5 offensive categories every week, as well as Wins and K's, and then hope to compete in ratios.  This would leave me 6-4 (or better) each week.  If I could go 6-4 every week, I win.  I wasn't sure if this was the right approach.  I considered using the "experts'" approach in 1 or 2 leagues.  But, ultimately, I said "fuck it;" and I trusted my gut.  
 
I spent the better part of a day printing out player rosters and identifying a deep well of serviceable starters.  I also considered "position scarcity" -- i.e., trying to identify which positions where shallow . . . which were deep with talent . . . and using that to determine which positions to draft early, and which I could wait on.  I decided I wanted two outfielders in the first three rounds . . . I also wanted a first baseman early.  And I decided to wait, wait, wait . . . and then . . . wait some more on a second baseman.  I decided I'd be happy with Jonathan Schoop, and gambled that nobody would spend a decent draft pick on him.  I also decided to punt on short stop.  I figured I could live with Dansby Swanson if I had to, who would actually help out in Average, Runs and SB's.  I was also determined to draft only high-Average guys -- .275 hitters or better.  That meant monster guys like Chris Davis, who are killers in many leagues, would not find homes on PPP's teams.  If my strategy was going to work, I could not afford to roster guys who bat .220 and could cost me the Average category each week...
 
Of course, sometimes you have to let the draft come to you . . .
 
In the end, I could not find it in myself to autodraft the Tuesday night 11:00 pm league.  So, I sucked it up, drafted, and then went to work on 2.5 hours sleep on Wednesday.  The Thursday and Friday drafts went relatively according to plan.  Thursday night, MadBum was still on the board when my third round pick rolled around, and I could not pass him up.  it was a good value, but I felt like it through my entire draft off from that point on.  I was left with one outfielder heading to the fourth round, and, based on position scarcity, the remaining choices where not ideal.  I just felt like I never got back on my game plan after that selection.  And the Saturday morning draft was . . . interesting.  I drank a six pack of fine Pale Ale during the Friday evening draft, and awoke Saturday with a raging headache and no pain killer.  The first draft of the day began early.  I made it through the first four or so rounds OK, but then the suffering became nearly intolerable.  I decided a hot shower was the only thing that would allow me to live.  So, I ended up doing most of the draft from the shower - popping out why the bell went off indicating I was on the clock.  Shockingly, I think this team (Pete P Peters' Boys 5) was my worst team.  Fortunately, I regained the will to leave in time for my fifth and final draft later that evening.
 
Overall, I felt like I did well sticking to the game plan.  I held off on pitchers far longer than other teams.  I also jumped a few rounds to take some guys beginning the year on the DL, e.g., Ian Desmond . . . J.D. Martinez . . . Steven Matz.  It's a long season and, in head-to-head, you can risk a slow start to build a team that will dominate when it counts.  I also ended up going heaving on George Springer.  I took him in my first two drafts, and he just sort of fell to me in a few more.  I hate having so much exposure to one guy; but I'm banking on a big season. 
 
After two weeks of the season, my strategy seems to be working out.  I'm generally going 6-4 or better.  My starters are also competing in ratio's.  It's early, but I'm happy with the results:
 

Without further ado, my five Rosters (I have 1 or more SP spots open in each league to stream pitchers on a daily basis if I need to):

Pete P. Peters Boys 1

(C)   K. Schwarber
1B  J. Abreu
2B  C. Hernandez
3B  A. Bregman
SS.  D. Swanson
OF.  B. Harper
OF.  G. Springer
OF  A. Benintendi
UT  E. Enciarte
UT  M. Moustakas
DL  I. Desmond
---------------------------
L. McCullers
J. Tallion
M. Fulmer
J. Paxton
M. Bumgarner
C. Morton
G. Cole
M. Wacha
J. Ross
S. Feldman


Pete P. Peters Boys2

C     Realmuto
1B   E. Encarnacion
2B   D. LeMahieu
3D  K. Seager
SS.  J. Peraza
OF  M. Trout
OF  G. Springer
OF  A. Jones
UT  R. Healy
UT  M. Moreland
DL. I. Desmond
-------------------------
M. Harvey
C. Carrasco
D. Duffy
S. Strasburg
S. Manaea
C. Morton
F. Liriano
G. Richards
J. Ross

   
Pete P. Peters Boys3
 
Y. Grandal
P. Goldschmidt
J. Kipnis
R. Healy
F. Lindor
G. Springer
C. Yelich
O. Herrera
F. Freeman
M. Moustakas
 
DL I Desmond
DL JD Martinez
------------------------
M. Harvey
K. Gausman
M. Wacha
J. Paxton
J. Tallion
M. Tanaka
F. Liriano
S. Strasburg
S. Matz
T. Ross
 
Pete P. Peters Boys 4
 
K Schwarber
F. Freeman
J. Schoop
A. Bregman
F. Lindor
M. Trout
A. Jones
O. Herrera
K. Morales
B. Phillips
---------------------------
J. Paxton
M. Stroman
J. Lackey
J. Vargas
D. Duffy
I. Nova
J. Cueto
A. Cobb
J. Ross
J. Urias
 
Pete P. Peters' Boys 5
 
Realmuto
A. Rizzo
T. Turner
R. Healy
A. Russell
G. Springer
Y. Cespedes
A. Jones
O. Herrera
--------------------------
K. Kendricks
D. Bundy
L. Severino
Z. Wheeler
M. Fulmer
F. Liriano
S. Strasburg
C. Morton
M. Wacha
J. Oddorizi
J. Vargas
J. Urias
J. Ross