Author Archive

RotoGraphs Chat – 5/13/11

Pick Six Updates

Last week I introduced ottoneu Pick Six, a daily points game, and I wanted to update everyone on the recent updates to the game.  For those of you who don’t know, Pick Six is a game that takes less than 5 minutes to enter and lets you compete against other FanGraphs users on your ability to choose players for the day, with achievements for winning or accomplishing other feats.  It’s free to play, and you should definitely check it out.

The next time you visit the Pick Six site, your first stop should be the “Add Friends” tab.  You can now follow other users on Pick Six, allowing you to compare yourself to a subset of the day’s participants.  I think this is a pretty fun feature, but the real reason I am writing today is to share a few Pick Six users that you should consider following.

With over 200 participants in the first 6 days, I’m pretty sure I missed more than a couple of people you should be following.  In the comments, feel free to share your Pick Six profiles with each other, so you can add each other to your leaderboards.  Additionally, make sure to follow ottoneu on Twitter or Facebook for updates and so you can give more of the great feedback I’ve received so far.  Have fun, and good luck!

ottoneu Pick Six: The easy high-variance alternative

ottoneu Fantasy Baseball’s argument is that fantasy owners should have to make the same kinds of long-term decisions that Major League GMs have to make.  The secondary argument is that traditional fantasy baseball statistics are too steeped in the past, and the linear weights points system is a big step forward in this regard.  The question then arises – what if you ignore the first rule and focus on the second rule.  The result is ottoneu Pick Six.

Pick Six is a simple game and while it is not completely unique in its mechanics, it should prove to be easy and fun.  You have six positions to fill and $120 to do it.  The positions are C, CI (1B/3B/DH), MI, OF, SP, RP.  The goal is to gain the most points, based off of the linear weights points system, in a given day.  Everyone gains points as the system states, except SP gain 1/4 the points to bring their average points scored in line with the rest of the positions.  Entries open at midnight ET and close when the first game of the day starts.  Sure, that stinks on days with day games, especially for those of us on the west coast, but we want to keep this thing as simple as possible right now, and we’re interested to see what you guys think.

The prices were seeded a few weeks ago with average prices from ottoneu Fantasy Baseball points leagues.  However, these values are adjusted every week based on usage.  To give a real example, Jose Bautista’s torrid start to the season has seen his price go up $3 during the testing period, and I imagine while people continue to focus on using him at CI or OF, his price will continue to rise.

There are some high-variance bragging rights to win and some achievements to unlock and the only requirement is a FanGraphs account.  We’re going to call from now until the All-Star break a test period to get some feedback and see how the thing plays with a larger audience.  I’ll personally make custom achievements for the top 3 overall scores at the break as well, so a bit more than bragging rights are on the line.  Games start early today and entries are open now, so go ahead and fire it up and have some high-variance fun.  As always, you can reach me on twitter (@ottoneu) or via email (help at ottoneu dot com) or in the comments!

ottoneu Updates and Last-Second Leagues

As we get to the final stretch of fantasy prep before the season starts, I wanted to update everyone on some changes over at ottoneu Fantasy Baseball, as well as a few leagues that need a couple more owners for drafts over the next few days.  First, for those of you who might not know, ottoneu Fantasy Baseball is the FanGraphs fantasy baseball game.  You can read the introduction here, or you can send me an email with any questions you might have.

Technical Updates

Wednesday, a relatively large number of leagues wanted to draft at the same time, causing my server to eat itself for about 3 hours.  We’ve done a couple of things to ensure this won’t happen again, such as doubling the capacity of our server and examining all the database code line by line.  Long story short, it was unacceptable, and I’ve spent a lot of time Wednesday night fixing it up so that going forward we won’t have these issues.  Yesterday, we had a couple of leagues draft with no issues reported to me, so I think the changes have helped.

Open Leagues Still Available

We have a few leagues actively looking to fill out their ranks.  Here are a couple that reached out to me:

Halpin’s League – Run by John Halpin at, still needs 7 players.  It’s a 5×5 for those of you more interested in a traditional set of stats.  John knows his stuff and I imagine this league would be a pretty good challenge, if you fancy yourself as a fantasy expert.

RBP Blog League – Another 5×5 league, only needs 3 more players, and they are drafting tomorrow starting at 2pm PT.  Short lead time, but having talked to the guys running this league, it’ll definitely be a fun time. (corrected the draft time for this one from 2pm ET)

Money League Baseball – Finally, for those of you that want FanGraphs Points and some cash prizes, we have a $49.99 prize league that needs 8 owners still.  Highly recommend this league, as I know one of the participants is one of the original ottoneu owners playing in a points league for the first time.

Beyond these leagues I’ve mentioned here, there are a few more public leagues looking to fill out, as well as some private leagues that are very close.  Check out the list here and if you have any questions about a particular league or getting in touch with a commissioner, shoot me an email or tweet @ottoneu.  I will get back to you as fast as I can with whatever information you might need.  Since I like giving away teams, how about the best tweet about ottoneu today will get the winner a free $9.99 team for this season.  Include @ottoneu so I see it!

Why I Think ottoneu Leagues Will Last

The below is a slightly modified email I sent yesterday to John, who has graciously allowed me to use the conversation for this post.  This is an open conversation, so I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

From: Niv Shah
Subject: Re: One potential customer’s thoughts
To: “John Meyer”
Date: Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 4:45 PM

Hi John,

First, I want to thank you for your well-thought out email.  It is great for me to get feedback like this, it helps me understand what my potential customers are thinking and its a great insight for me when thinking about what I should work on next.

I could not agree with you more about your underlying question about ottoneu.  This sentence of yours sums it up the best:

It requires people who are able to give a long-term and dedicated commitment, which is generally found only among acquaintances and friends, and it also requires people who are very serious baseball fans, which, for a full league, is generally found only among strangers on the internet.

So, here are my arguments as to why ottoneu is uniquely situated to limit this problem, as well as some for how when we inevitably run into this problem next offseason we plan on handling it.

First, I should start by stating that I have been in an ottoneu league for over 5 years.  In that time, 3 people have dropped out.  2 dropped out before the game started – said they would play, and quit before the draft.  1 dropped out after year 3 because he had to focus on other personal obligations.  A replacement was found in each case pretty quickly.  While everyone in the league is a friend of a friend by some degree, not everyone knows everyone, and there are definitely owners that have been in tough roster situations and could easily have quit, but have chosen not to.  Granted, this is a limited anecdote, but I believe it has some value to your concerns.

Second, there are a number of reasons why ottoneu, unlike other fantasy leagues, will work better with strangers from a competitive balance standpoint.  Year over year, there are a number of things in place to make sure each team has an opportunity to win at the beginning of the season – deadline trades, arbitration, the very nature that expensive superstars are sent back to auction every season by the way inflation and mid-season trades work all help give teams a chance to win every year.  I’m happy to discuss any of these in more detail if you have any questions about them.

Third, the fact that you are in a league with 11 other like-minded individuals who had to pay money to play, which more than anything acts as a barrier of entry to just mindlessly joining a league and ignoring it by June, will help attrition greatly.  In a sense, everyone else in the league has the same mindset as you when joining – is this league going to stay together, or are 3 teams going to quit, etc – yet they have chosen to play, making their implicit statement that they are probably not going to be the team that is going to drop out and ruin the league.  Beyond that, the game requires a lot of trading and interacting with the other owners, and while it might seem silly, the camaraderie from these interactions are a huge boost in keeping leagues together.

Finally, while we have been hesitant to mention it at this point of the year, we have a plan for an interesting way to redistribute teams in the case that an owner does decide for whatever reason to drop out or not renew their team.  We plan on offering abandoned teams at a half-off for the first season starting price, which brings in new owners to inherit disbanded teams at a discount in year one.  We believe this will help league health and limit the number of leagues that are faced with a completely abandoned team for an entire year.

I believe all of these points in total will really help attrition year over year, though obviously it will not solve the problem completely.  Towards that, the only other thing I can say is that so far I have had nothing but excellent responses from some of our public owners.  Many leagues have drafted already, people have repeatedly told me that it is one of the best draft experiences out there, and so far the ‘strangers’ issue just hasn’t been a problem for these leagues.

So, that is my argument.  I’d love to hear your thoughts more, and if you’re ok with it I would like to use this conversation as the basis for a post on FanGraphs/RotoGraphs tomorrow.

Thanks again for the great email!
Niv Shah

The only point I’d like to add to this already long post is that as long as I still need to administer my league, I’ll be here to help administer your leagues and add features and answer questions and help out in any way that I can.  My league has been going strong for six years and I don’t see it ending any time soon.

If you have questions that you want to send me directly, you can reach me at help AT ottoneu DOT com, and if any of this answers your concerns, there is still plenty of time to join a league or start a league today.

ottoneu Improvements

ottoneu Fantasy Baseball has received a tremendous amount of feedback since launching, and it has resulted in some new features that I would like to share with all of you.

The largest improvement is that we’ve created an alternate draft method for those of you who aren’t able to get the league together for a live auction draft.  Based on feedback from various leagues, you can now opt out of the auction draft and run 48-hour blind auctions between now and the start of the season.  Now instead of needing one block of time that can last longer than six hours, you can organize the auctions to only require 5 minutes a day.  You can even do a live auction for part of the league, and then switch to the 48-hour auctions whenever you want.  Choose whatever is most convenient for the league.

We’ve done a lot to clarify and improve our FanGraphs integration as well.  The FanGraphs toolbar now gives you fantasy-relevant projections, sortable stats, free agents, and a stronger player search within one click.  The FanGraphs staff league is going to draft this week in Arizona, and as the FanGraphs guys get to play with the game a bit, we will be adding more tools and features based on their feedback.

Of course, at the end of the day, this operation is to share a really neat fantasy baseball game with all of you.  As those of you who have contacted us already know, I am very responsive to comments, bugs, new feature requests, and questions.  ottoneu consists of one person, me, trying to build something that you, the informed baseball fan, will enjoy much more than a traditional fantasy game.  Since I am familiar with the entire site and the game format, you can reach me at the contact us page and I will do everything in my power to add any new tools or integration or features you want, resolve any questions you have, and respond and understand any comments you send. 

Already, existing leagues have pointed out the need for a league message board (resolved, and being improved shortly), the need for an alternate long-form draft option (resolved), as well as the need for clarity in player search and other FanGraphs tools (resolved).  Go to the contact us page, send an email to help, and let’s keep improving fantasy baseball!

Free Team!
We aren’t done giving away free teams for this season, and after Eno picked on me a few times with my ‘bad’ keepers and ‘bad’ trades, I think I’ll give away the next team.  Let’s do an exercise about positional scarcity.  ottoneu lineups consist of 1 C, 1B, 2B, SS, MI, 3B, Util, 5 OF, 5 SP, and 5 RP.  There is no CI since the util spot tends to lean CI.  Here are some players, their positions, and their prices.  Based on positional scarcity and performance in the 4×4 format (OBP, SLG, HR, R and ERA, WHIP, HR/9, K), who do you think is the best value, and who do you think is the worst?  All prices are from the original ottoneu league.  As always, show your work:

Shin-Soo Choo, OF, $27

Hanley Ramirez, SS, $57

Tim Lincecum, SP, $58

Bobby Jenks, RP, $6

Pretty varied set of players, and all but one of these prices was set at our auction draft on February 28th.  I’m very interested to see what you come up with!  Good luck!

ottoneu Has Revamped Prizes

While we have been really happy with the launch of ottoneu Fantasy Baseball, the launch of the prize leagues definitely left something to be desired.  So having taken your comments into consideration, we’ve taken our industry leading prizes and improved them.

First, we’re changing the prizes to all cash, both for simplicity and to give our winners a bit more scratch in their pockets for the off-season.  Second, we’re introducing a $49.99 tier, available immediately.  First place at the end of the season will receive $300, second place will receive $100, and third will receive $50.  We’re also increasing the first place prize at the $99.99 tier.  First place will now receive $650, with second place receiving $200, and third place receiving $100 in cash.

Finally, we’re dropping the $249.99 and $499.99 tiers to interest-only lists.  If you’re interested in playing at a higher tier for higher prizes, let us know.  We will work with you on a league by league basis to optimize the prize structure for what you and your league wants!

Of course the $9.99 tier is still available, with multiple public leagues looking for members today and drafts happening all the time.

Between a game we think is excellent and prizes that are better than any other prize league out there, I believe we have a really strong offering for all levels of fantasy players.  We hope that these revamped prizes will be more to your liking.  Please let us know what you think in the comments or by contacting us.  Of course, there is still plenty of time before the season, so you can start a league or join one today!

ottoneu Now Has Prizes

You requested, and we listened: today we are introducing 3 new tiers of ottoneu Fantasy Baseball, each with prizes for first, second, and third place.

$99.99 Tier

The team that finishes in first at this tier will receive $500, and second place will receive $100.  First, second, and third will all receive a free one-year renewal of their respective teams.

$249.99 Tier

The team that finishes in first at this tier will receive $1250, and second place will receive $250.  Again, first, second, and third place will all receive a free one-year renewal of their respective teams.

$499.99 Tier

The team that finishes in first at this tier will receive $2500, and second place will receive $500.  Just like the previous two tiers, first through third all receive a free one-year renewal of their respective teams.

Other than awarding cash prizes for the top 3 in each of these leagues, the game is the same as the $9.99 tier, which is now our permanent price for the basic tier.  Full dynasty league with auction drafts, FanGraphs leaderboard integration, and more.  Let us know what you think, and sign up today!

ottoneu How-To: The Auction Draft

Your draft room.

The auction draft is the busiest single event in the ottoneu year.  Our first auction draft has started, and I know a few more are scheduled to start over the next week, including the draft for the original ottoneu league.  I thought it would be helpful, now that the very beginnings of draft season are upon us, to step through what the actual process is of conducting an auction draft using ottoneu’s custom software.

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