Ottoneu Friday Musings: Price, Catcher, Elite Sinkers

Well, it’s Friday. As we head into the weekend, I wanted to take some time to address some ottoneu thoughts and tactics I’ve been ruminating on over the past week. If you’ve read any of my buying generic series, you likely know that I try to entertain all possibilities and look for value when consensus seems to move in one direction. I’m also constantly on the hunt for ways to operate more efficiently. So these are my current thoughts as I consider the ottoneu landscape. Let’s discuss these in the comments. If I’m missing anything, or these tactics seem off, please let me know.

Might David Price present a buying opportunity?

When we released our starting pitcher rankings a week ago, each of Chad, Justin, and myself had David price between $24-$25 as we head into the 2017 Ottoneu season. This was around the same time that a news of a potential injury broke. According to Jim Bowden, there is concern that Price might need tommy john surgery. If he has tommy john, Price will not be a $25 pitcher. However, Price will be reevaluated today and, according to John Farrell, could play catch again tomorrow.

Well it seems like opinions are all over the map on this one.

Let’s start with what we know. Price injured his elbow, leading many to think Tommy John surgery was necessary. However, even though he has received multiple opinions on his elbow from Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Neal ElAttrach,  it doesn’t appear that he is in any hurry to have surgery, and may be on a quicker recovery time than we realize (based on Farrell’s comments). So what does this mean for Ottoneu?

From the Ottoneu Rules Sec V:


d. When a player is dropped, other team owners have 24 hours to claim him on waivers for 100% of his salary, with the team lowest in the standings getting priority. If the regular season has not begun yet, a coin flip will determine who is awarded the player

e. If a player passes through waivers, 50% of his salary, rounding up, counts against his previous team’s salary cap as a cap penalty, until he is claimed by another team or until the end of the current season. Any bids for him as a free agent must be at least 50% of his previous salary.

f. The team that dropped the player may not nominate or bid on the player until 30 days after the drop date, unless the keeper deadline occurs in between the drop date and the player’s new auction.

Ottoneu teams typically keep $5-$20 in cap space as they enter a given season. My thought is this, does spending money on David Price, acknowledging the injury risk, allow you to ignore saving money for free agents?

I acknowledge that with the injury news surfacing you likely don’t have to pay $25 for Price at the moment. With the news of this injury his cost in auction drafts is falling, but could we benefit from being aggressive, even if there is a significant chance he is out all year? Let’s say I bid $25 for Price, as if he was never injured, and leave myself zero money in the auction. If he has tommy john, I can cut him immediately, and one of two things happens:

1.) If a team claims him on waivers (unlikely) I will now have $25 in cap space to spend on early season free-agents. (Rules Sec V. d.)

2.) No one claims him, and I have $12 in cap space and a $13 cap penalty on David Price. Any other team can now start an auction for him at $13 – half his salary rounded up. (Rules Sec V. e.) Once David price is re-auctioned, I will clear the additional $13 in cap space. If no one re-auctions him in 30 days, I will start the auction again and immediately cut him if no one else bids. I will now have $12 +$6 in cap space.

This process will continue. Either way, you’re looking at recouping at least $12 in cap space from Price in a “worst case” scenario. That number will increase as the season goes on. Giving you the cap space you would have originally tried to end the auction with.

But what if Farrell is right and Price really is on a shorter timetable for return? Well in that case you just came out of your auction draft with a cheap David Price. If he’s ends up being healthy enough to pitch and not need surgery, and you have him for $14, that’s fantastic. If he still ends up being hurt or ineffective, you can cut him and get decent chunks of your money back. Aren’t potentially injured high dollar assets just another way to add high upside, while you assure yourself of cap space instead of the standard approach of saving money? Am I missing something?

Discussion topics:

  • Catcher is considered to (generally) be one of the lowest replacement level positions. However, because of the way ottoneu is structured, you have a 162 game cap at the positions, with 2 C spots in your lineup. Should this artificially inflate replacement level (making the position less valuable), from where it would be if you had 1C spot to fill 162 games? How should this be accounted for in dollar values?
  • Home runs are death in ottoneu points formats. As I looked into Aaron Sanchez on Wednesday. I pondered if SP and RP with an elite sinker can be expected to allow higher than average home run rates. When the average home run rate is 1.17 per nine innings, having a skill set that can mitigate this is helpful, even if it doesn’t come with the double digit K/9 totals that we are so used to seeing these days. Zach Britton is the best example of this, however, several others fit a similar mold. Below I’ve added a table of RP who have top-25 sinkers both by whiffs and ground balls. While some of these names don’t have fantasy relevance, it appears to be a list build for home run avoidance (Link in table heading)
Player Tm Th IP Num Velo H Mov V Mov Whf/Sw GB/BIP HR/9 FIP xFIP
Zach Britton BAL L 67.0 938 97.38 -7.28 3.68 37% 80% 0.13 1.94 2.09
Michael Lorenzen CIN R 50.0 210 96.61 -8.05 6.62 30% 72% 0.90 3.67 3.10
Jeurys Familia NYN R 77.2 748 96.74 -8.23 5.07 26% 69% 0.12 2.39 3.03
Josh Osich SFN L 36.1 269 96.57 -9.42 5.06 26% 73% 1.73 6.09 4.78
Rob Scahill MIL R 34.2 259 93.97 -8.33 3.13 25% 68% 0.52 3.46 3.67
Luke Gregerson HOU R 57.2 445 89.9 -5.44 2.33 25% 68% 0.78 2.99 2.90
Scott Alexander KCA L 19.0 225 91.38 -9.01 2.44 23% 81% 0.47 3.25 3.79
Matt Bowman SLN R 67.2 600 92.13 -8.52 5.31 21% 72% 0.53 3.31 3.53
Marc Rzepczynski WAS L 47.2 467 92.17 -10.87 3.91 20% 68% 0.19 3.57 4.24
Jeremy Jeffress TEX R 58.0 554 96.2 -9.43 4.81 19% 69% 0.31 3.28 3.64
J.P. Howell LAN L 50.2 452 85.96 -9.92 2.15 18% 66% 0.71 3.50 3.59
Blake Treinen WAS R 67.0 563 96.21 -9.63 3.07 18% 73% 0.67 3.62 3.47
Alex Claudio TEX L 51.2 437 86.6 -11.32 -3.45 16% 78% 0.35 2.97 3.60
Average 0.53 3.26 3.39

We hoped you liked reading Ottoneu Friday Musings: Price, Catcher, Elite Sinkers 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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Joe, don’t you mean ‘lower than average home run rates’? Looking forward to the answer to the C question.