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Pitchers-Only Roto Dynasty League: An Overview

March 6, 2009

Today, I will be going over the settings of my recently created Pitchers-Only Roto Dynasty League, as well as covering possible strategies that could be employed to win this league. But first, I’d like to quickly mention that a recap of the week that has been, as well as a look ahead to the week that will be, are planned for this section of the blog every Friday, starting next week.

If any of you are interested in viewing, tracking, or participating in this league, here is it’s homepage on ESPN, and you can find my email address in the About section of this blog.

Now, without further ado, the settings for the Pitchers-Only Roto Dynasty League:

Roster – 5 SP, 3 RP, 8 BN, 4 DL

There are no specific limits on how many starting pitchers or relief pitchers you may own, however there’s a total limit of sixteen players, with up to an additional four players from the disabled list. Since it is an eight-team league, this amounts to 128-160 players owned. This total exceeds that of most public leagues, however, many leagues use a deeper format and have similar numbers with regards to pitchers owned. According to Yahoo!’s O-Rank, the 128th best pitcher in the league for the upcoming season is JJ Putz of the Mets, (who has obviously taken a hit by no longer closing), while the 160th ranked pitcher for the upcoming season is Junichi Tazawa of the Red Sox, whom many of you are probably unfamiliar with. (He has considerable upside, but it’s going to be tough finding a spot in that rotation this season.) What all of this means is that this league is fairly deep, but not so deep as to force teams into owning multiple pitchers with 5.00 ERAs and no job security despite being the third best long reliever for the Baltimore Orioles. Or well, you see what I mean.

Scoring – Rotisserie, five categories: W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP

For those of you unfamiliar with Rotisserie scoring, it is a system in which each team is ranked by category. Since this is an eight-team league, the league leader in a specific category would be awarded 8 points. It’s simple really. Second place would take 7 points, third place 6 points, and so forth, until reaching the lowly cellar dweller, who manages one solitary point. But no worries for the cellar dweller, as there are four other categories he is competing in, unless of course, he/she did not jettison that category in favor of others, in which case it was probably a long season for his/her fantasy team. The categories chosen are the standard 5×5 pitching statistics. Of a pitchers normal statistical line, the only one missing would be Innings Pitched, as Walks and Hits are both accounted for within the scope of the lovely category we all know as WHIP ((Walks + Hits)/Inning Pitched). We’ll get to Innings Pitched later on, as they take part in a different way. The statistical categories that came the closest to being used, but were eventually decided against were Complete Games and Holds. In each case, the statistic weighed the overall balance too much toward Starters (CG) or Relievers (HD). The other knock against Complete Games is the fickle nature of their accumulation. Moving right along…

Game Limits – 1608 Innings Pitched, 201 per slot

This is the largest limit ESPN allows, and I think it worked out near perfectly. Having no limit was not an option to me, as 40% of the categories could be very heavily weighted just be rotating any pitcher who is starting the next day with hopes of garnering a Win and numerous Strikeouts. This limit will allow for the building of a team, while still allowing for those who love to play match-ups to take full advantage. If we assume a number one fantasy starter pitches 225 innings, while the number two and three each contribute 200 innings pitched, and each of the top three relievers accumulates 65 innings pitched, for a grand total of 820 IP, you’d be left with 788 for the final two starting pitcher slots, in addition to any bench pitchers. Therefore, it’s large enough to pull team depth into play. The best part is, it’s also small enough for owners to consider sitting top pitchers with tough match-ups in favor of lesser pitchers facing weak opponents.

Waivers – two day waiver period, move to last after claim

I know a lot of folks in the fantasy community are anti-waivers, but I can’t agree with this sentiment. In my opinion, if a player is cut from a team for one reason or another, it’s only fair that everyone get a shot at him, as opposed to a league where there are no waivers, and the first person to see that another has made a move is able to snatch up the player that was released.

Can’t Cut List – No

Being stuck with a pitcher that is out for the season sucks. Any league that needs a Can’t Cut List likely isn’t competitive.

Trade/Acquisition Limit – No

Neither seems necessary to me. A trade limit, like a can’t cut list, points toward a lack of competition. Any effect an acquisition limit would have is already taken are of by the Innings Pitched limit.

Roster and Lineup Changes – Daily, the former locks at first game of day, the latter at scheduled game time for each individual slot

One of ESPN’s greatest advantages over Yahoo! is the ability to make roster changes during the day of games, as injuries can strike at any time.

Trade Review – 48 hours, commissioner has the sole power to veto trades

I am a very active owner and plan on checking the league at least once every day, so by the time two days have passed, I will have surely seen any trades that have been proposed and accepted. I have found that, in my experiences, using a commissioner-only system of trade vetoes is simpler, easier, and in the end, more just. It is my opinion that trades should only be vetoed if it seems that their intentions are less than honorable, as opposed to vetoing any trade that seems “uneven” or “unfair”. My reason for this is that no team is going to offer or accept a trade that they feel will make their team worse. It’s not up to me to say I think you’re wrong by vetoing a trade.

Trade Deadline – Friday, August 28th, 12 PM

The last date ESPN allows for a trade deadline. I had originally planned on not having one, as it is rotisserie scoring and the year as a whole is what matters, but that invites collusion at the tail end of seasons between competing teams and those that are completely out of it.

Draft – Auction Draft

ESPN’s other great advantage over Yahoo! is that they allow for auction drafts. The reason an auction draft is so preferable in this case, is the ridiculous positive difference in statistics having the first or second pick would give you over the seventh or eighth pick, at least in theory. It would be something like, Santana, Lackey and King Felix versus Halladay, Liriano, and Joba. Auction drafts are also considerably more fun, but that’s just my opinion. And, they add a bit more strategy to the draft.

Keepers – 8 keepers per team per season

This is so that each team gets to keep their (projected?) starters from season to season, notice the Dynasty part of the league name. It also helps to ensure the draft is still worthwhile every year, as half of each team will see a turnover. It allows for young arms to develop with one team, but they may end up finding another home if their original team decides not to give them a chance as a starter. This will be further explored in the strategy section.

Possible Strategies

1.) Middle Relievers as Top StartersSome people absolutely love to use multiple middle relievers as opposed to carrying starting pitchers on their bench. The biggest con to this strategy in this league would be that there are only 3 Relief Pitcher slots per team. This means two things: Middle Relievers with SP eligibility will be very valuable, and you might lose saves if you try to fully employ this strategy.

2.) Pay Big for Top Starters and Top Closers – This one is fairly self-explanatory. Since it is an auction draft, and the top starters and closers will cost a lot, it may be a good strategy to go for a few of them, and fill out the rest of your roster with young pitchers with high upside and pitchers coming off of major injuries. These players are high risk, but they shouldn’t cost all that much to acquire, which is necessary when so much of one’s allotted auction funds will be going to a small percentage of their team. Of course, the bulk of this team’s innings would also be held up in those few pitchers. A couple of injuries could prove disastrous.

3.) Play the Daily Match-Up Game – A third strategy, (and of course there are many others, but these were the three major ones that first jumped out at me), would be to make the very most of the set Innings Pitched limits, by evaluating each pitchers daily match-up. This strategy would likely include targeting multiple third or fourth tier pitchers as opposed to the first or second tier pitchers that were targeted in last strategy. In this case, it would be best to have as many good pitchers on your team as you could to call on depending upon how you felt about their start as opposed to a few great ones you’d want to have pitch every time out.

I haven’t yet decided which strategy I’ll employ for the draft, and I’m still looking for a few more very competitive team owners who’d be willing to commit to this keeper league. It should be lots of fun, and take lots of skill. Look for more updates about it in this blog in the near future. Enjoy your weekends, and I’ll be back with my first Top 40+10 list on Monday.

~ Corey

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