Ottoneu Prestige League Roster Breakdowns: Pitching

Last week, we took a look at the Ottoneu Prestige League second round offenses, and tried to draw some rough conclusions about roster structure based on what we saw. Today, we’ll take a look at the pitching side of the equation.

To start, I went through and manually checked all pitchers on one or more OPL roster to make sure they were classified as either SP or RP, but not both. A fairly large number of pitchers have both eligibilities, but given how scoring for pitchers works (they count as a RP if they relieve and as a SP if they start) having dual eligibility has no value. While a small number of pitchers got both starts and relief appearances in round two, it was easier and more practical to qualify them as they were used or intended to be used. That does introduce some possible error, as this was a manual process but I double-checked my work and feel good that this is useful data.

Starting Pitchers

SP OPL Roster Analysis
Number Carried Avg Points Number of Teams
7 3916.252 5
8 4073.230833 12
9 4156.161212 33
10 4063.941915 47
11 4135.946061 33
12 4318.468 25
13 4218.072 10
14 4070.34 2
15 4372.1 2
16 4499.1 1

In his pre-season data analysis, Jason Mycoff found that OPL scoring could accommodate up to 15 SP. The data suggests that is not exactly optimal – yes, the three teams at 15+ SP scored a lot of points, but when you look at ranges to get larger sample sizes, you see a plateau:

SP OPL Roster Analysis
Players at Position Average Points Number of Teams
7-9 4112.267 50
8-10 4098.232174 92
9-11 4111.900973 113
10-12 4147.173238 105
11-13 4215.127059 68
12-14 4277.921622 37
13-15 4218.971429 14
14-16 4276.796 5

Once you get into that 11+ range, adding additional starting pitching wasn’t leading to more overall points. In fact, that matches the conclusion Jason drew: “Rostering around eleven starting pitchers will get an OPL team close to two starting pitchers per day.” Beyond that, there may be some small benefit – the 11-13 and 12-14 ranges fare a bit better than 9-11 or 10-12 – but it looks like those 11 SP that Jason suggests are a pretty good target.

I’ve been using 9-10 starters for my OPL squad – moving forward, I am going to nudge that up to 11 or 12.

Relief Pitchers

RP OPL Roster Analysis
Number Carried Avg PTs Nmber of Teams
4 4215.71 1
5 4054.727692 13
6 4157.175926 27
7 4097.432308 26
8 4084.599 40
9 4258.925833 36
10 4091.974118 17
11 4151.552857 7
12 4310.485 2

This table might be the most surprising one I found. Jason’s research suggested that you could have 15 relievers before regularly filling out the roster, and he concluded that basically any RP you roster will play. This matches what I saw in practice – when my relievers pitched, I got their points. I don’t think I ever left RP points on the bench.

But this data suggests that starting as low as four RP, there is limited benefit to adding more. The team with four RP (Kendall Graveman, who got hurt during the round; Richard Rodriguez, Daniel Bard, and Jake Diekman) managed the 60th highest score in round two. In round three, they are sticking with the plan (though they upgraded Bard to Edwin Diaz) and are again just outside the top 60 (which is no longer good enough).

Looking at buckets, you get the same general picture:

RP OPL Roster Analysis
Players at Position Average Pts No of Teams
4-6 4126.12 41
5-7 4113.461364 66
6-8 4109.257527 93
7-9 4149.397353 102
8-10 4153.428495 93
9-11 4199.096 60
10-12 4124.823077 26

Given the pre-season analysis and in-season anecdotal data that literally any RP you roster will score points, because you will rarely have six or more RP go on the same night, why isn’t adding relievers an easy way to add points?

In round two, I carried eight RP:

Chad’s Round Two RP
Jordan Romano TOR 13 136.2 136.2
Scott Barlow KCR 12 112.6 115.73
James Karinchak CLE 10 79.7 112.73
Michael Fulmer DET 11 84.1 110.07
Jake McGee SFG 9 78.27 96.9
Mike Mayers LAA 11 49.23 86.3
Joely Rodriguez TEX 8 43.37 55.33
Garrett Whitlock BOS 4 23.1 52.33

While my top guns put up plenty of points, the few at the bottom didn’t add a ton. In fact, Rodriguez and Whitlock were two of the lowest scorers on my team. And if you eliminate players who scored low due to injury (AJ Pollock, Michael Conforto, Luke Voit and others), Mayers was my 5th lowest scorer and McGee my 7th lowest. I noted last week that I could have gotten an extra 75-100 points from a second catcher pretty easily and that even Alec Bohm, who had a brutal month, put up nearly 100 for me. In fact, Bohm’s 93.7 was my lowest score for a position player who didn’t get hurt. Trevor Larnach got called up mid-round and put up 109.6. Dominic Smith has also struggled, and put up 111.9.

Spot checking a few other teams, the pattern seems to hold – the issue with RP depth in OPL isn’t that you get diminishing returns on relievers as your pen gets deeper. It appears the issue is that most relievers are just not that valuable, and the 5th, 6th, and 7th RP you get are quite possibly less valuable than an extra bat or starter. The caveat to this is that elite RP still score plenty to be valuable and you do get diminishing returns on position players and SP, at some point.

In round three, I am carrying seven RP, not counting Jesus Luzardo who was moved to the pen for the time being, but who I added expecting him to start. Looking forward, I may cut that back. Last week, we saw that an ideal roster might carry 25+ bats, but I stated, “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.”

I am now wondering if I need to backtrack on those last five words – if 11 SP is plenty, there is some evidence here that you don’t really need more than four relievers. If you have excellent relievers, that 5th or 6th bullpen arm will get you 100-120 points, but you can get the same from a position player having a rough month, as long as they keep playing. I played a quantity game with RP early in OPL, and in round three tried to both up the quality and keep the quantity, but in the future, I think I will pivot fully to quality over quantity. I’ll take 6-7 great relievers, if I can get them – if not, I might be happy to ditch any merely okay or even “good” relievers in favor of more depth elsewhere.

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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Excellent analysis. Thanks for sharing it.