Ottoneu Trade Deadline Prep: Points League Case Study

Last week, I wrote about Ottoneu trade deadline preparation and promised I would come back with case studies this week: One about a points league and one about a roto league. Today, I’ll take a look at my team in 90% Mental, league 670, which is a SABR Points league.

My team, Fisher Bunnies, is currently in third place and has some serious ground to make up if I am going to win. Determining how likely I am to make that up and what path I can take to do it will help me set my strategy for the trade deadline.

In the article last Friday, I stated that, “The first thing I do during the break is to be very honest with myself about where my teams stand,” but there really is a “step zero” that precedes this, which is establishing what success looks like in that league. This league is a non-prize league, so there is nothing on the line but bragging rights. That would suggest that it’s a perfect league for a Ricky Bobby attitude (“If you ain’t first, you’re last”), but I still enjoy a good race to the finish and I would rather finish second than 11th. Without a prize on the line, first place has to be the goal, but I would accept a hard-fought finish that comes up short. I am willing to go for it here, even if the odds are against me.

That brings us back to the first step – being honest with myself about where my team stands. The simplest read is that I am in third place, with 9,808.5 points, about 350 points out of second and more than 900 points out of first. That can be deceiving and on a points per game and points per inning basis, the story is a little different.

League 670 Current Pace Projected Standings
TEAM Points as of ASB Projected End of Season Points Projected Offensive Points Projected Pitching Points P/G P/IP
1 I’ll figure it out later 10152 18550.8 11080.8 7470 5.7 4.98
2 The Sam Beckett Cricket Club 🐟 10718.3 17785.92 10555.92 7230 5.43 4.82
3 Fisher Bunnies 9808.5 17689.8 10594.8 7095 5.45 4.73
4 Knebel Gazers 9461.6 17401.68 9661.68 7740 4.97 5.16
5 Pass the Popcorn 9110.6 17272.2 9817.2 7455 5.05 4.97
6 Bulldoggos 8733.7 17230.92 10555.92 6675 5.43 4.45
7 SABRtooth Beagles 🐶 8812.2 17108.28 9953.28 7155 5.12 4.77
8 Alternative Stats 8383.1 16840.2 8845.2 7995 4.55 5.33
9 Here Comes the Judge 8074.1 16689.36 10089.36 6600 5.19 4.4
10 Yari’s Autonomics 8893.6 16394.52 9389.52 7005 4.83 4.67
11 SABRflower Seed Finger ☝️ 9368 16299.72 8514.72 7785 4.38 5.19
12 🌱💥Seed Bomber💥🌱 8210.5 15837.36 9117.36 6720 4.69 4.48

For this version of the standings, I took points per game and points per inning pitched for each team, assumed everyone maxes out 162 games per position and 1500 innings pitched, and calculated final projected scores based on that. I am still in third here, but first and second have flipped and my pace is just 100 points out of second and less than 900 out of first.

Next, I look at innings pitched and projected games played by position for each of the contenders. One challenge is determining who the contenders are and, in this case, I should probably look at the top seven teams in projected points. If I think that my team might have a path to catch first place, it’s hard to say that the other teams over 17K projected points are out of it. But, for simplicity for today, I am only going to look at the top three.

Contender Games Played and Innings Pitched Pace
Fisher Bunnies 117 150 168 157 162 162 809 160 1565.2
I’ll figure it out later 202 159 155 160 160 159 791 157 1449.1
The Sam Beckett Cricket Club 🐟 276 164 160 166 171 169 823 168 1643.1

This shows, in part, why I am projected to make up so much ground and why the second-place team is projected to catch first: the team in first is well ahead of the pace in innings pitched, games at catcher, and games in the OF. All those extra games used up are points he won’t be able to score in the second half. But that is already accounted for in the projected standings, so the real question I want to answer with this data is: will anyone leave games or innings on the table? If so, we would want to re-set the projected standings to account for less than 162 games per position or less than 1500 IP for that team.

All three teams are doing just fine on the innings pitched pace, but there are a few places where we are 5+ games behind the pace on games played: C, 1B, and SS for my Bunnies; 2B, OF, and Util for I’ll Figure it out Later. The Sam Beckett Cricket Club has no areas of concern.

Last week, I noted:

A decent rule of thumb is that you can make up one game per week at each position by filling out a full lineup daily. You can make up a bit more in the OF (5 games a week, perhaps) and a lot more at C (using the two C spots, you can make up 7+ games a week).

There are 11.5 weeks left in the regular season, which suggests that I’ll Figure it out Later and I should have plenty of time to make up ground in all those positions. While I have been running well behind the pace at C, I had started the year with Yasmani Grandal and Alejandro Kirk as my only C. Riding Grandal alone has put me behind the pace, but I now have those two, plus Cal Raleigh, Christian Vazquez, and Eric Haase. I probably don’t need to keep five catchers, but I certainly have the depth to make up ground. 1B is a little tighter for me, but I can’t imagine I leave more than 1-2 games on the table (hopefully less).

I keep watching these numbers as the season goes on – if I’ll Figure it out Later keeps falling behind at OF, eventually I’ll start assuming he can’t make up the lost ground. But for now, I think it is fair to assume we all get to 162 at each spot. I might miss out at 1B by a game or two, but that 10-15 points won’t change my planning much anyway.

The next question is how and where you can improve your team. At the bottom of the lineups page, there is a table that shows production by position. A simplified version of that table is below:

Positional Production for Fisher Bunnies
C 65 200 5.52 358.9
1B 83 298 3.36 278.8
2B 93 352 6.16 573.2
SS 87 332 7.07 614.7
MI 90 331 3.81 342.8
3B 90 321 4.46 401.3
OF 449 1604 6.15 2763.5
Util 89 324 4.07 362.6
Bench 266 747 2.84 755.6
SP 119 673.1 4.31 2899.67
RP 199 196 6.19 1213
Bench 43 160.2 3.95 634.33

There are a couple of pretty obvious issues: my first base stats are legitimately awful. Horrendously bad. My team has Josh Bell, who has been improving and who I still believe in, and Luke Voit, who might be healthy finally (maybe?), but there is a clear opportunity to add a legit, top-tier, high scoring 1B. Util is an almost-equally-bad spot, at 4.07. If I can trade for a 1B, and get some positive regression from my existing 1B, there is no reason I can’t put up 6.25 P/G at one of those spots and 5.5 P/G at the other. There are six 1B over 6 P/G (not counting John Hicks and his 53.8 points over 7 games) and another 5.25. If I can get to those targets (6.25 and 5.5 the rest of the way) that adds 332.7 to my end-of-year score. That alone is enough to move me to second and cut my gap to first by a third.

I have another big issue at MI, where I am putting up 3.81 P/G. I thought I had solved that by trading for Trevor Story, who helped me replace the injured Corey Seager, but now Carlos Correa is on the COVID-IL, exacerbating the situation there. That said, with those three plus Ozzie Albies at 2B, and Jonathan India starting to play well at 2B, there is good reason to think I can get more like 5 P/G at MI. That is another 73.8 points added with no need for a trade.

I also have an opportunity to upgrade at 3B, where Alec Bohm (who has COVID and may be out a while) is the only player on my roster with 3B eligibility who isn’t a MI (the others are India, Willi Castro, and Josh Harrison). 4.46 P/G at 3B isn’t a disaster like my 1B and Util numbers, but it isn’t good and I should be able to add another 50ish points there with a good addition.

I am banking on some natural improvement from my SP. Luis Castillo seems to be getting back on track, and Framber Valdez has been a nice boost since he came back. But with Shane Bieber, Carlos Carrasco, and Corey Kluber on the IL, I could probably use another SP or two to upgrade JT Brubaker and Mike Minor. Those two are 3.47 and 3.82 P/IP respectively this year, and getting more like 4.5 P/IP out of those positions, over the 50-75 innings I need from each would add another roughly 100 points.

All of that puts another 550 points on my roster. Add in 100 for the improvements from Castillo and Valdez plus returns from injured SP, and I am suddenly awfully close to the top of this league.

The challenge here is that the teams ahead of me might also make these kinds of moves, so I am chasing a moving target. There are also very large error bars on any of these numbers. I could make no trades and finish 500 points better than expected. I could make a bunch of shrewd deals and stumble anyway.

But the last question I said to ask is, “Is this possible?” Is it possible for me to add a stud 1B, a big util bat, a solid 3B, and a couple decent SP? That is a lot to do. It probably means trading away George Kirby, Cal Raleigh, one of my stud SS, Alek Thomas, and more. It maybe requires shopping $24 Bieber for a big package that can help right now. But the path is there, and I am inclined to go chase it.

My next step would be to scour the free agent pool to see if there are upgrades I can make to my pitching and maybe 3B situations, plus to improve my MI depth until guys get healthy. I can’t get the 1B I need via free agency, so I’ll be looking at trade blocks and rosters near the bottom of the standings to find an upgrade there.

Then it is time to put the offers out and see what happens.

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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