How hitting is scored in ottoneu FanGraphs points leagues

I love a lot of things about fantasy baseball.  But like many of you, when understanding players in real life, I have become increasingly immersed in the sorts of statistics that are commonplace here at FanGraphs: wOBA, FIP, WAR, etc.  And that created a problem for me as a fantasy manager: I just don’t enjoy leagues that reward managers for things like RBI, pitcher wins, etc.

Last year, I decided to do something about it.  Inspired by this post by Tangotiger, I created a custom Yahoo league that used a scoring system designed to more accurately reflect “real” baseball–or, at least, real player value.  It was a blast.  And on the basis of this success, FanGraphs adopted this scoring system as one of the ways that you can play the ottoneu fantasy game.

What makes it different from other points systems?  It is based upon those same, advanced statistics that we use to evaluate players in real life: linear weights for hitters and FIP for pitchers.

Let’s start with the point values for hitters:

AB: -1.0
H: +5.6
2B: +2.9
3B: +5.7
HR: +9.4
BB: +3.0
HBP: +3.0
SB: +1.9
CS: -2.8

These are based on linear weights, which are the basis for the entire family of w*** statistics, like wOBA, wRAA, and wRC.  I used Tango’s set of linear weights, specifically.  If you go to that link and look up the value of a single, you’ll see that the average single was worth 0.463 runs (in the lwts_rc column).  In our fantasy points, a single is an AB (-1 pts) and a hit (+5.6 pts), which sums to 4.6 points.  Similarly, a home run is worth 1.402 runs in linear weights (this is the average value of a home run, because they often at times with runners on base).  In fantasy points, it’s an AB (-1 pts), H (+5.6 pts), and a HR (+9.4 pts) = 14 pts.  In other words, this points system literally is linear weights, just multiplied by 10.

If you total up a player’s fantasy points using this system, you will get a number that is going to be very close to ten times a player’s wRC.  Here are the top-10 hitters by fantasy points in 2010, along with their wRC:

Name FP wRC
Albert Pujols 1287.8 135.8
Jose Bautista 1227.5 134.1
Miguel Cabrera 1226.7 130.5
Joey Votto 1218.2 135.8
Carlos Gonzalez 1138.7 121.5
Josh Hamilton 1113.9 123.2
Robinson Cano 1097.7 118.2
Paul Konerko 1097.1 120.1
Matt Holliday 1079.1 118.1
Adrian Gonzalez 1066.7 111.5

Any differences are attributable to slight differences in FanGraphs linear weights to those on Tango’s site (FanGraphs’ are a bit more generous, probably with a slightly lower penalty for outs), as well as rounding errors.  Not convinced?  Here’s a graph using 2010 data:

imagine a straight line of points

Neat, right? If you know a hitter’s actual hitting value, you know his fantasy value under this system.

The only meaningful difference between this system and the one that Tango invented for hitters is the baseline: we’re assigning points based on absolute runs instead of runs above replacement.  The reason is that many of the fringy catchers and shortstops that might have to start at times on some fantasy teams actually produce negative values in Tango’s system.  Using absolute runs solves this problem, in that virtually anyone with a pulse will produce positive points if given some playing time (Cesar Izturis produced 290 FP last year, despite his .248 wOBA in 513 PA’s).  The value lies in those players who not only get playing time, but can produce more points than other players in that playing time.

In future weeks, we’ll take a look at how we’re scoring pitchers, and then look at how these systems affect specific player values, strategy, and more!

Justin is a lifelong Reds fan, and first played fantasy baseball on Prodigy with a 2400 baud modem. His favorite Excel function is the vlookup(). You can find him on twitter @jinazreds, even though he no longer lives in AZ.

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13 years ago

I’m setting up my own league based on linear weights for the first time this season. Last year I was trying to think of a scoring system that would accurately represent things, yet for some reason I didn’t think of LW – I just sat there trying to crank out my own values. Oh well – I had some down time, and it was my first year really doing fantasy baseball, so it’s probably just as well that I got a little experience before trying to do my own (I’d done fantasy baseball before, but those usually consisted of picking players and not paying much attention until the season ended)

One thing I’m having trouble with now is what to do about pitchers. The only LW info I found right off hand is for batters. Currently, I’m just assigning them most of the same categories as hitters, just with inverse points (an IP = 3 PA. An event gives a batter X points, the same event will give a pitcher -X points). Batters get credit for SB and penalized for CS, and I gave pitchers a little bit of points for Ks to make up for the fact that pitchers seemed worth so much less even though batters don’t get penalized for Ks in my league.

Also, I’m unsure what to do about relievers. They don’t get any credit for pitching in high leverage situations, but giving points for Saves/Holds doesn’t feel right even if it’s only a small amount.

I look forward to reading how you decided to score pitchers.

Brad Johnsonmember
13 years ago
Reply to  Justin Merry

At least one other lw league spawned out of the book blog last year, which I joined. We had a lot of success ignoring SV/H using a 5 RP format with an innings cap (I think it was 1450 but I don’t remember). My relievers were the most valuable part of my team per unit (IP or PA). Relief also generally had the highest ‘reward’ in net points between the elite and replacement level aside from catcher and shortstop.

13 years ago
Reply to  Justin Merry

Thanks for the link.

It feels weird to see a system that gives credit for saves, but doesn’t care about base hits at all.

13 years ago
Reply to  Wade8813

I’d use something different than 3 PA/IP, though, since there are more in an average inning… I don’t know the exact number, but maybe 4 1/3.

13 years ago
Reply to  William

Basically, I’m using PA since Yahoo (and ESPN) don’t allow batters to get penalized for outs, which is really what LW counts. So I just deduct for all PA instead, then adjust all values of positive events by a corresponding amount.

With pitchers, 1 IP = 3 outs, so I just say IP = 3PA and then I don’t adjust the other events.

I should have clarified that earlier, but didnt’ want to make my post too long.

13 years ago
Reply to  Wade8813

Full ottoneu scoring/rules here: