Guidelines to Platooning

If you are new to Ottoneu, one of the first things you’ll realize is that the list of rostered players is deep. One strategy that these larger rosters allow for is the ability to platoon players. While this strategy isn’t too useful with 25 man rosters, it’s perfect for the 40 man rosters of Ottoneu.  Many teams utilize it in some capacity, but it can also lead to certain pitfalls. Let’s review a couple guidelines to platooning

1.) Target good home parks and left handed hitters

The goal in using a player in a platoon situation is to maximize your Points Per Game (P/G) by starting them in favorable situations. Unlike a major league team, you do not need to pair hitters who kill left and right handed pitching respectively. Instead, focus on platoons which are likely to yield a high number of usable games.  (This is very important as meeting the game cap greatly increases your chances of success.) The two most common splits I find myself building platoons off of are home/road splits and left/right splits. In these scenarios, I am targeting players who play in favorable home parks or perform well against righties.

A couple players who I plan to use in these types of platoons in 2016 include (vRHP) Chris Coghlan, Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick, and (@Home) Ben Paulsen.  There are plenty of other options as well! Coghlan, Moss, and Reddick all hit righties well, while Paulsen plays in Coors field. In each of these scenarios, those mentioned are likely to put up better production than their overall lines may suggest, and is likely to cost something similar to a 5th OF or bench player.  As you look for players who perform well in these types of situations, you’ll stumble upon a few players you really like. Feel free to post some of your favorites in the comments.

2.) Roster spots will be at a premium

Ottoneu uses deeper rosters than any fantasy league I’ve played in (40 man rosters). However, the number of roster spots required to platoon a position will cut into this total pretty quickly – especially if you plan to platoon multiple positions. From discussions with other managers, it takes about 3 players to fill one lineup spot entirely with a (vRHP) platoon. My original guess would have been 2 players, but due to scheduling (often having a platoon be formed with players on multiple teams), and the variability of pitcher matchups, it will be difficult to count on only two players to reach your game cap. Most teams don’t platoon multiple spots on their roster (entirely) for this reason, but if you do, you will be left having to sacrifice depth in other areas. You could easily cut out your minor league system or some pitching depth, to come up with the necessary spots, but you’ll have to make a sacrifice somewhere. Given this, I tend to use platoons as a supplement. I might be able to use Reddick and Paulsen to fill 120-140 OF games, but having enough depth that neither has to be in the lineup won’t leave me scrambling for OF games come July. Meeting your game cap is incredibly important.

3.) Don’t sacrifice games for a higher P/G

This builds off point two, but I’ve seen several leagues be determined by teams not meeting their allotted game and innings caps. Sometimes the team that takes first is not the team that is performing the best on a rate basis. Platoons can be a big reason for this. In Fangraph Points, 2015 1st place teams average 5.4 P/G and 5.65 P/IP. So it’s easy to look at the league standings page and focus on rate stats. However, leaving games on the table is much more detrimental to success than sacrificing some rate stats. Too often teams will get to the end of the year and be 20-40 games short (leaving 100-200 points on the table) when they would be better off filling those games with the likes of… say… Freddy Galvis.

Considering this, if I plan to platoon heavily, I try to roster a player on my bench who I know will play every day. An example of this on one of my current squads is Kevin Pillar. Pillar is a pretty mediocre last OF, but I know I can play him every day. He’s a great compliment to Brandon Moss or Josh Reddick. When Moss and Reddick both play lefties, or I need an OF game, I’ll plug him in. A common mistake I’ve made, and have seen others make, is to think filling game caps will be much easier than it actually is. Since we can’t bank 3.0 P/G for all empty games played, consider the cost of sacrificing slightly on your rate stats in order to meet the necessary game caps at each position.

This certainly is not the Rosetta Stone of platooning.  However, these are a couple things I’ve learned in the 4 years I’ve played Ottoneu that would have helped me understand platoons if I was just starting.  When I started playing I was  too quick to waste roster spots hoping a lefty masher like Sean Rodriguez (and his endless eligibilities) would maximize my P/G, only to play him for 20 games all season. Luckily, I just cut him instead of treating him like a Gatorade cooler.

We hoped you liked reading Guidelines to Platooning by Joe Douglas!

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Joe works at a consulting firm in Pittsburgh. When he isn't working or studying for actuarial exams, he focuses on baseball. He also writes @thepointofpgh. Follow him on twitter @Ottoneutrades

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The Arismendy Project
The Arismendy Project

Okay, I’ll kick off the listing of great platoon bats.

Seth Smith (especially for games in Texas).
Yangervis Solarte
Nick Markakis (even last year!)