An Unintentional OPL Experiment

Year three of the Ottoneu Prestige League is off to a great start and with the new rules for 2024, late April is suddenly a very interesting time. For the first time, OPL is giving managers a chance to re-shape their roster in the middle of a round.

For those new to OPL, it’s a best-ball competition open to any team that finished in the top half of a standard Ottoneu league the year before. One of the unique rules, though, is that your roster for OPL locks at the start of each round – any adds, drops, or trades you make after that don’t impact your OPL roster.

But this morning, at 4 a.m. ET, all OPL rosters were re-set. Any adds, drops and trades processed over the last few weeks since Opening Day will be reflected in your OPL roster. And that has created a bit of a learning opportunity.

To help clarify what is happening, imagine you had a team entered in OPL. When the real Opening Day (not the Seoul Series Opening Day) happened, your roster was locked for OPL purposes. If you cut Garrett Crochet after that, you couldn’t put him in your lineup in your league, but his performance still counted towards your team’s stats in OPL. On the other hand, if you dropped him for Tanner Houck, you could use Houck in your lineup, but he would not count for OPL.

But, as of this morning, all rosters have been updated. If you dropped Crochet for Houck just after Opening Day, Crochet will now be off your OPL roster and Houck will be on it.

For most OPL managers, that made this a big week. This was their opportunity to optimize their lineup in the middle of the first-round and try to lock in a spot among the 170 teams that will stick around for round 2. And I took different approaches with each of my OPL teams.

First, the Fisher Bunnies, my team in league 670, has been just atrociously terribly horribly bad. Just the worst. So I did what I could, adding Joe Ross, Tyler Freeman, and Michael Massey, while cutting Alex Cobb, Lamonte Wade Jr., Tyler Wells, and Tylor Megill. I swapped out three pitchers who are not pitching for one pitcher who is and one hitter at a position where I am deep for two hitters who add more useful positional eligibility. Are those moves going to save this sinking ship? Probably not. I was hovering around 200th place and the path to the top 170 won’t be easy.

But my other two entires – the Keep or Cut Chad team from the Podcasters League and the Hawken Hawks from the FanGraphs Staff league – have both been around the top 40-50 overall and this is where my experiment really takes off.

Keep or Cut Chad has been doing well in OPL thanks to pretty strong depth, despite doing quite poorly in league 1443. That team also has a $21 Gerrit Cole on the 60-day IL, hopefully back late May, and just $1 in cap room. This creates a tough scenario for OPL upgrades. I have six players not producing for OPL – Spencer Jones in the minors and Cole, Triston Casas, Framber Valdez, Frankie Montas, and Paul Sewald on the IL.

In order to upgrade that roster for OPL, though, I would not only need to cut multiple of those players, I would need to cut Cole. As of now, Cole is my 41st player added. He won’t count on my OPL roster (you are limited to 40 and your most-recent add is the player left off). So if I, for example, added a healthy SP and cut Montas, that move would put Cole into my 40 and leave the pitcher I added off my OPL roster. So I would have to make a second move (say dropping Jones for another SP) to actually get a player on my roster. On top of that, other than Montas, I don’t really want to cut any of those non-productive players.

So I am basically making the bet that a team that has spent three weeks hovering around the top 40 will be able to stick inside the top 170 for three more weeks. By that time, I should have Valdez and Sewald back, Cole may be close, and maybe I have time to trade Casas or Jones.

For the Hawks, also near the top 40-50 overall recently, I was in a better position. My co-manager, Niv Shah, and I had a few players we were willing to drop. We could cut back our bullpen by a couple of spots and AJ Puk simply doesn’t need to be on our roster anymore. We also have some injured and minor league players we still want to stash – Casas, again, Nick Pivetta, and Chase Delauter, among others. So we made some upgrades (added Ryan Weathers, Joe Ross, and Connor Joe) but didn’t go all out.

How the Hawks and the Keep or Cut team fair in the next three weeks will be interesting. How much do those three upgrades move the needle? Will I regret not being more aggressive with one or both of those teams? How does that influence my thinking for round two, assuming at least one of those teams make it?

 





A long-time fantasy baseball veteran and one of the creators of ottoneu, Chad Young's writes for RotoGraphs and PitcherList, and can be heard on the ottobot podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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rustydudemember
1 month ago

It’s year 4. How time flies.