It’s always been amusing to me that the calendar flipping over from one year to the next has been an impetus for people to dedicate themselves to life changes and betterment goals. The start of a new year is a line in the sand that we sometimes draw to say “This year will be different!”. With that as my inspiration, I’d like to share a handful of resolutions I’m making for the 2017 season of ottoneu:
Play in fewer leagues
With all apologies to ottoneu creator Niv Shah, my primary focus in 2017 will be to cut down on the number of leagues I’m in. Last season I played in twelve ottoneu leagues, and managing that many teams which require daily lineup changes and constant monitoring of trades/pickups/drops is taxing to say the least. I think my performance and enjoyment of fantasy baseball suffered last year due to being stretched so thin. Executing this plan will be easier said than done though, as despite dropping a few leagues to help trim down I’ve committed to a few others so I’m effectively treading water. It’s hard to say no when you enjoy playing in new ottoneu leagues as much as I do, so this may be more of a long term goal than a short term one.
Emphasize playing time and lineup spot
This is really two resolutions in one, but since they are related I will present them together. First, related to my first resolution, given that I play in so many leagues I often find myself pursuing strategies that allow me to reduce my daily time commitment. A big component of that is trying to minimize the lineup changes I need to make every day, and to do that I plan on prioritizing full time hitters over players I need to platoon and switch in and out of my lineup regularly. I may take a hit to my points per game efficiency, but if it means a better chance of reaching my games caps (a big issue for me the last two season), I’ll gladly make that trade-off.
The second half of this resolution is putting a greater emphasis on lineup spot, especially in ottoneu points leagues. Since every lineup slot is limited to 162 games, it is critical to make each of those games as valuable as possible. The best way to do that is to fill games using players who accrue the most plate appearances per game, and that means using players who hit near the top of their team’s lineup. As an example, a guy like Odubel Herrera is only projected to produce 1.10 points per plate appearance according to Steamer, but since he should hit at the top of the order for the Phillies he is projected for 4.43 plate appearances per game, and 4.83 points per game. Compare that to Jackie Bradley Jr, who is projected at 1.21 points per plate appearance but only 4.82 points per game due to hitting near the bottom of the Red Sox lineup. Bradley certainly offers more room for upside if he ends up hitting higher in the order, but that comparison shows how lineup position can often trump performance on a rate basis.
Balanced hitters, imbalanced pitchers
Another way to ensure I meet the games caps is to employ more of a balanced approach on offense. That means limiting high salary hitting assets (think $45 Goldschmidt or $70 Trout) and $1-$2 bench fliers in favor of spreading my salary commitments across multiple $10-$30 players. That approach should reduce the fragility of my lineup, even if it limits my upside a bit. Coupled with targeting full time hitters that hit near the top of the lineup, I should have a much better chance of maximizing my game caps.
In addition, since the innings pitched caps are relatively easier to reach, and pitching performance often comes with more volatility, I plan on adopting a stars and scrub approach at starting pitcher and relief pitcher. Having a rotation anchor (or two) will allow me to gamble on upside to fill out the rest of my rotation (examples include Ray, Skaggs, Urias, Duffy, Paxton). The same principle holds in the bullpen, but to an even greater extent. My preferred RP corps would include two or three relief aces (Chapman, Jansen, Miller, Davis, Diaz, Kimbrel, Britton), and then a handful of high upside relievers without a high leverage role going into the season (Capps, Barraclough, Dayton, Cecil, Strop, Strickland, Jones).
Pay more to speculate
I’m typically a value buyer at auction, sticking to my dollar values and trying to get a discount on every player I purchase. I also tend to favor current season value over future value, a strategy that I’ve begun to back off of. I still want to purchase players at a price that represents their short term value, but there are lots of reasons to pay a slight premium to acquire young talent that should appreciate in the future. The first reason is driven by the trade market, young assets (even when they are a couple years away from producing in the majors) often fetch a very nice return in season once the contenders and re-builders become well defined. Secondly, a cheap and young speculative add has very little downside (cut the player if the breakout never happens, with a tiny cap penalty), but much larger upside. That cheap qualification is very important, as spending $10 on Kevin Maitan is probably a bad idea. My plan in 2017 is to target value for most of my roster, but earmark at least five roster spots for high upside speculation.
Understand the market
This time of year is rife with ottoneu owners trying to gauge the keep/cut line and trade value of certain players. While I primarily pay to acquire assets using my own values, it is very important to know how the wider ottoneu market values a particular player. I may think that Alex Wood could be a top 30 starting pitcher if the Dodgers give him a spot in their rotation, but if everyone else values him as a mediocre bullpen piece I should adjust down the price I’m willing to pay to acquire him. Conversely, I have some reservations about Ryan Healy’s ability to contribute as a starting third baseman in ottoneu, but if the market views him as the next Jake Lamb or Mike Moustakas I will avoid buying him and ask for a higher return than I otherwise would when selling.
What fantasy baseball resolutions and goals do you have for 2017? Let me know in the comments!
Justin is a life long Cubs fan who has been playing fantasy baseball for 20+ years, and an ottoneu addict since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @justinvibber.