Quarter Pole Evaluation: Using Rates to Find True Standings

It seems like just yesterday we were talking small sample sizes and trying not to panic about our fantasy teams sitting in 9th place. Or some of us were assuming our early season success was a mirage, masking what was sure to be a brutal year. But now we are coming up on the quarter pole, and it’s no longer time to make cheap excuses.

For ottoneu owners, it is time to evaluate our teams, identify our weaknesses, figure out where we have depth, and decide if this is the year to make a move.

The problem is, 40 games into a season, it can be tough to tell what is real and what is a result of owners over- (or under-) using their players. For example, in the original ottoneu league, Harper & the Hoofnagles is first in strikeouts, four Ks ahead of my Freeport Pretzels. But he has also thrown more then 30 more innings than I have to date. I am pretty comfortable assuming I will make up four Ks in 30 innings.

Instead of just looking over the standings, I like to create “Rate Standings.” I take games played and innings pitched for each team in the league, and create rates out of the counting stats. For example, here are the strikeout stats from the FanGraphs Experts League going into Monday night’s games:

Team K K/9IP Pts for Ks Pts if K/9
Amateur Hour 282 8.0657 5.5 7
Eno’s Slaughter 282 7.2583 5.5 2
Dyersville Nine (Sabermetrics101) 285 8.1688 7 8
ESPN Quintong 313 8.2288 8 9
That’s Chentertainment 323 8.7036 11 12
Andy Behrens 280 8.0170 4 5
Fiorentino (RW) 341 8.0622 12 6
BIG BOPPERS 224 6.6171 1 1
Earl Webb (BaseballHQ) 272 7.6183 2 3
KFFL 317 8.0140 10 4
Team RotoWire 275 8.5443 3 10
Scouting The Sally 314 8.6071 9 11

As you can see, there would be some pretty drastic changes if we used K/9IP rather than just counting strikeouts. Fiorentino’s 18 K lead turns into a middle of the pack score when you account for his league-leading 380.2 IP (329 is league average at this point). Team Rotowire is poised to make a big run if they can get their IP up – they are garnering only 3 points for Ks but would have 10 if we were using K/9.

And the same is true if you consider W/IP, S/IP, R/G, HR/G, RBI/G and SB instead of W, S, R, HR, RBI, and SB. Check out the chart below, which shows total score, score based on rates, total games played and total IP by team:

Team Points Rate Points Games IP
Amateur Hour 80.5 84 397 314.7
Eno’s Slaughter 50.5 48 413 349.7
Dyersville Nine (Sabermetrics101) 68 62 422 314.0
ESPN Quintong 64 70 399 342.3
That’s Chentertainment 67 65 423 334.0
Andy Behrens 25.5 30 402 314.3
Fiorentino (RW) 90 76 423 380.7
BIG BOPPERS 63.5 63 440 304.7
Earl Webb (BaseballHQ) 66 66 410 321.3
KFFL 62.5 53 428 356.0
Team RotoWire 75.5 86 416 289.7
Scouting The Sally 67 77 387 328.3

There are some pretty big changes. Fiorentino is riding a significant number of games played and innings pitched to his spot in first – if we were to equalize playing time, he would drop 14 points in the standings and fall to 4th place. James Quintong from ESPN would gain only six points, but would move up three spots from 8th to 5th.

What does the data tell me? Well, I am apparently a terrible prognosticator. I had KFFL as a clear favorite – that team is sitting in 10th. I also referred to my team – Amateur Hour – as, “A ragtag bunch of no-good players hoping that their chemistry as a team and chipper optimism can carry them all the way to the top.” And yet in both cuts of the data, I sit in second.

Most importantly, I learn that my team is slightly better on a ratio basis than on a counting basis. I typically stay pretty steady in my player usage, staying on pace to fill out my positions and innings without racing out too fast. As a result, looking at the ratio standings doesn’t move my team much, even though many other teams fly around all over the place.

I also learn that, 25% of the way through the year, I need speed. And badly. I am somehow leading in HR despite having used 16 fewer games than the average team and having no one with more than 7 HR on my roster. I am also way at the bottom of the pile in SB and near the bottom in R. I probably need to add some speed and need to find someone willing to move it.

The key is, before you go about making trades to improve your team, make sure you know how good your team actually is.

Chad Young is a product manager at Amazon by day and a baseball writer (RotoGraphs, Let's Go Tribe), sports fan and digital enthusiast at all times. Follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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I agree with looking at the data in this way. The only problem with something like this on is effectively making the assumption that you can catch up on innings pitched to equalize out a counting stat like strikeouts if your K/9 is currently better is doing such without considering that to do such you might have to start your more fringe pitchers you aren’t today that could be more detrimental to your rate stats like WHIP and ERA. Might not always be worth the boost in one category to hurt you in two others.