Ottoneu Prestige League Roster Breakdowns: Offense

This year, Ottoneu introduced the Ottoneu Prestige Leauge (OPL). The unique format allows 240 teams to enter a second competition (separate from their “home league” – the Ottoneu league they are already part of). While this isn’t the only “league of leagues” type set-up (The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitation, for example), it’s structure is one-of-a-kind and creates challenges for managers that they don’t face in other formats. For example, while TGFBI involves every team from every participating league, OPL is opt-in and includes 240 teams representing 139 leagues. The roster rules stand out even more.

While Ottoneu rosters are ever-changing based on free agent auctions, trades, and even lineup decisions, OPL scoring is best-ball scoring based on a locked snapshot of your roster. OPL is broken into four rounds – Opening Day to April 30, May 1 through May 31, June 1 through the All-Star Break, and the break to the end of the year – and at the start of each round, your roster is captured and locked, and cannot be changed. Make a big trade on April 15 to add an ace, that ace won’t be on your OPL roster until May 1 – if you make it to the second round.

The result is that teams built for OPL have to make choices other Ottoneu teams don’t. Depth becomes particularly important. While 7-8 OF might be enough for your typical Ottoneu team, most OPL players felt that wasn’t enough. You need enough depth to overcome injuries and to max out your lineup spots – because of the best-ball scoring, you can’t just pick five OF each day and run them out there; you need five of your OF to step up and score points. Getting five out of seven to score is a lot harder than five out of 10, especially when you factor in injuries and off-days.

Before the season even started, Jason Mycoff posted some incredible analysis on the Ottoneu Community site, digging into optimal roster construction. I highly recommend you take the time to read it.

Now that we finished the first two rounds of OPL, we have live data to evaluate roster construction and get a sense for what works and what doesn’t. Before diving in, it’s worth noting that this data is pretty limited. I used data from round 2, which includes just 170 teams going through this process just once. The data also does not effectively remove minor league players or injured players. I manually cleaned this up, but I am sure I missed some players. Some players also started the month and then got hurt – they stayed in the data set.

I took every team from round two and looked at how many players they had at each position, then calculated average total team points, hoping to get a sense of optimal ranges – what number of players eligible at a given position helped teams maximize their total points? Players who qualify at multiple positions are counted at each position. Multi-eligibility is a big benefit in OPL. I considered only looking at players at their most valuable position, but doing so ignores a major component of OPL roster building. Going position-by-position, here is what I found. As a baseline, in round two, the average team scored 4144.89 points.

Catcher

Catcher OPL Roster Analysis
Number Carried Average Points Number of Teams
1 4307.57625 8
2 4175.389912 114
3 4070.522051 39
4 3936.202222 9

In his analysis, Jason noted that a single catcher spot in OPL would effectively handle three catchers on a roster, suggesting that three catchers is about the max before you hit diminishing returns. He also noted, however, that catchers were by far the weakest performers by position. And it’s the latter point that stands out here. Unfortunately, no teams went catcher-less (unfortunate for our data, anyway), so we can’t easily see if ZeroC is a viable OPL strategy, but it is pretty clear that carrying a third catcher was not valuable. The teams with 3+ catchers scored, on average, ~140 points fewer than those that carried 1-2 catchers. The average team carried 2.28 catchers.

My only healthy catcher for round two was Christian Vázquez who had 14 games with positive points and added 101.8 to my total. Without him, those 101.8 go away; and you can make a case a second Vazquez could have netted me another 100-ish points. But I also got almost 100 points from Alec Bohm, despite a rough month. DJ Stewart got me over 100 as a depth OF piece. Adding a second catcher instead of one of those two might have been a wash; adding a third instead of both of them would have definitely hurt.

In round three, I have added a second healthy catcher, but I did that mostly because I am high on that catcher (William Contreras) and because I need to make up games played in my “home league,” then because I think I need a second catcher for OPL. In the future, I think I would prefer to have either one very good catcher, but I wouldn’t hesitate to add a second. The fact that Vazquez also qualifies at 1B gives me a little extra flex if those two go off on the same day, which helps limit the risk.

Corner Infield

1B OPL Roster Analysis
Number Carried Average Points Number of Teams
1 N/A 0
2 3620.44 3
3 3869.328947 19
4 4124.170294 34
5 4267.265946 37
6 4112.3275 36
7 4226.67 18
8 4423.170833 12
9 4084.872857 7
10 3914.433333 3
11 N/A 0
12 4602.73 1
3B OPL Roster Analysis
Number Carried Average Points Number of Teams
1 N/A 0
2 4130.6125 4
3 4087.913889 18
4 4085.040638 47
5 4141.859189 37
6 4200.461563 32
7 4297.247273 22
8 4075.1075 8
9 3862.785 2

Jason’s analysis suggested that a team could use six CI spread evenly across the two spots, but it looks like a little more depth doesn’t hurt (note: Jason assumed one position per player, so a player with 1B/OF eligibility was only a 1B for his analysis; in my data, that player would count at both spots, so we would expect that I’ll find slightly higher numbers than he did). The most common number of 1B to carry was about 4-6; same for 3B. In both cases, this is likely driven up by multiposition eligibility. For example, my second round team included seven 1B and six 3B, but among those were multiple OF (e.g., Dominic Smith), MI (e.g., Eugenio Suárez), and guys who qualify at both spots (e.g., Alec Bohm).

At first base, the data suggests that having 2-3 players isn’t enough, while at 3B it isn’t as clear that having so few is a problem. In both cases, it seems you can go up to five or six from either position alone before you see diminishing returns. The average team carried 5.45 1B and 5.08 3B. But

Looking forward, I would probably target a minimum of four players eligible at each spot, though I would prefer to be at 5-6, as long as those additional players also qualify elsewhere on the field. I would also continue to value eligibility at those spots for my extra OF or MI (or C) until I had seven or more. Once I get to seven, I don’t think I would put much weight in getting an eighth.

Middle Infield

2B OPL Roster Analysis
Number Carried Average Points Number of Teams
1 N/A 0
2 4173.818 5
3 3951.653571 28
4 4164.95625 48
5 4271.284615 39
6 4176.228182 33
7 3936.386364 11
8 4330.932 5
9 N/A 0
10 3847.41 1
SS OPL Roster Analysis
Number Carried Average Points Number of Teams
1 N/A 0
2 4026.301364 22
3 4108.637778 45
4 4174.462041 49
5 4210.895161 31
6 4227.446154 13
7 4003.75 7
8 4364.823333 3

Jason’s analysis landed at the same place for MI as CI – about six total split between the two spots. But OPL managers were less aggressive up the middle than at the corners, carrying 4.74 2B and 4.01 SS. The logic of this follows another point Jason made – the decision to on which last player to carry with the 40th roster spot is likely more a question of player production than of which position that player plays. Since MI usually perform worse than CI, it makes sense that managers would take one last CI over one last MI

At first glance, this looks like a mistake – at SS in particular, the averages keep rising as the number of players rises. But some of these are pretty small samples, so let’s look at a different cut of the data:

MI vs CI Comparison
1B 2B SS 3B
Players at Position Average Pts No of Teams Average Pts No of Teams Average Pts No of Teams Average Pts No of Teams
2-4 4010.720714 56 4091.769012 81 4120.827328 116 4088.432029 69
3-5 4129.198667 90 4149.08087 115 4159.80072 125 4106.158333 102
4-6 4169.667477 107 4202.61275 120 4194.012796 93 4135.004052 116
5-7 4197.941648 91 4189.106988 83 4186.682353 51 4200.032967 91
6-8 4200.028788 66 4138.172245 49 4177.283478 23 4218.630161 62

Looking at this table, 2B maxes out around 4-6 with teams in that range score ~111 more points than teams with 2-4 2B and 74 more than teams with 6-8. At SS the peak is also 4-6, but the impact of being above or below that is smaller.

At the corners, however, the max in both cases is at 6-8 and the value of reaching that max is higher, particularly at 1B. My guess is there are two factors at play here. First, there are a lot of players at other spots who qualify at 1B, as well. Managers who optimized for multi-position players likely both carry a lot of 1B and benefited from the overall value of having those flexible players. Second, if your 5th CI or MI is going to score for you regularly, they will need to be able to do so, at least on occasion, from the util spot. Since CI score more than MI, on average, they are also more likely to fill that spot rather than being wasted on the bench.

My takeaway at MI is that I’ll likely accept a small number of MI on my OPL roster in the future. While I won’t avoid carrying 5-6 at each spot, if I only have four (or even three), I think that can work. And I may be better off with one more SP, one more CI, one more OF than one more MI.

Outfield

OF OPL Roster Analysis
Number Carried Average Points Number of Teams
7 3834.1325 4
8 4012.362143 14
9 4021.421852 27
10 4062.136207 29
11 4209.464762 42
12 4193.988108 37
13 4343.439231 13
14 4603.43 2
15 4547.325 2

Jason found that five OF slots would handle about 10 OF and sure enough the average OPL team carried 10.6 OF. However the data does not suggest that 10 proved optimal, or even a cap, as average scores went up as teams added more OF. Looking at ranges like we did for the IF spots shows the same pattern:

OF OPL Roster Analysis
Players at Position Average Pts No of Teams
7-9 4001.955333 45
8-10 4036.477286 70
9-11 4114.059796 98
10-12 4164.60213 108
11-13 4222.17163 92
12-14 4247.098654 52
13-15 4398.012941 17

Again I think one factor is that multi-position guys often have OF eligibility – team’s stick just about anyone in the OF these days – and so in many cases that 12th OF might actually be a second 2B or 3rd CI, which does skew the analysis a bit. So my big takeaway here is not that I need 12+ OF for OPL, but that I should probably put a higher priority on getting CI/OF eligible players.

In Ottoneu in general, I tend to put a very small premium on multi-position players. They help with depth for sure, but I don’t think they bring that much value beyond a player with the same numbers at the more valuable position. If there are two players who I expect to put up the same stats and both are 2B-eligible and one is OF-eligible, I don’t add more than a dollar or maybe two to the second player’s value. For OPL, I am wondering if that needs to be more like $3-$5. My starting 3B for my OPL team is Justin Turner. I have ten OF. This data suggests that if I replaced Turner with an equivalent option who happened to be 3B/OF instead of just 3B, there are meaningful points to be had.

Summary
I want to make sure to reiterate that this is rough and raw data. It’s one year, with more injuries than we have ever seen before, and unique positional eligibilities in Ottoneu, and it is just one month of games and it is just 170 teams. None of this is definitive and, to be honest, none of this is drastically changing my thinking. But there are some interesting tidbits here that are either giving me confidence in some of my decisions or encouraging me to make small changes around the margins.

Also, keep in mind the numbers I landed on here – 1-2 C, 4-6 1B, 4-6 3B, 3-4 2B, 3-4 SS, 10-12 OF – add up to 25-34 bats. With only 40 spots on your overall roster, I am confident that leaving only four spots for pitching won’t be enough and I doubt 15 is either. Which points to the importance and value of multi-position eligibility. If you have three 2B/SS and a bunch of CI/OF, plus a couple 2B/OF, and a couple 1B/3B, you can start to meet those totals with a reasonable number of players.





A long-time fantasy baseball veteran and one of the creators of ottoneu, Chad Young's writes for RotoGraphs and PitcherList, and can be heard on the ottobot podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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Ross
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Ross

Great article! It’s challenging and extremely fun to manage Ottoneu and OPL to remain competitive in both!