Quirky Leagues by Brad Johnson November 7, 2014 In yesterday’s comments about Wilmer Flores, a reader referenced K/HR leagues. I must admit, I have never heard of K/HR as a fantasy stat. I don’t feel bad, a couple pointed google searches turned up precisely nothing on the topic. With K/HR in mind, let’s turn our attention to some quirky leagues. As always, we have the comments for further discussion. Razz I started thinking about the kind of league that would use K/HR. And that led me to my annual yearning for a true Razz league. They are the gold standard of quirky leagues. You may be familiar with the site Razzball.com, which provides standard fantasy advice and analysis. You may also be aware of the poker game Razz, in which the goal is to make the worst possible five card hand. A Razz league has a similar purpose – the goal is to see who can get the most playing time from the worst players. Scoring can be done in any number of ways. You can build a fairly standard rotisserie league using stats like strikeouts, total outs, and caught stealing for hitters and walks, hits, and OPS allowed for pitchers. The drawback with roto-Razz is that good players can still make useful assets. I’m more interested in points leagues since they give more flexibility to the commissioner. I especially like the idea of a linear weights based format, where the lowest WAR scores the most points. Depending on your league size, you might have to manipulate the weights such that replacement level actually corresponds with two (or more) WAR. No matter which Razz scoring system you use, the league will force all owners to develop their own valuations without the aid of RotoGraphs or any other fantasy website. The 20 Category Behemoth The very first league I commissioned was a 20 team, 20 category Yahoo public league. This was…a long time ago. In fact, I recall drafting Toby Hall “for batting average” (never mind the other nine offensive categories). That was the year I learned more is not better. I occasionally get requests for advice in leagues with more than 12 categories (to me, 6×6 is the highest justifiable set of categories). The first thing to know about these leagues is that correlation is king. Often, you’ll find stats like doubles, home runs, and slugging percentage being counted; aka power. Therefore, one power hitter will help you in multiple categories. I ran a little math prior to last season for a reader. He was in a 20 category auction league with a $260 budget. He wanted to know the drop dead price on Mike Trout. I tinkered with a couple different weights and came back with a range of $90 to $110. In other words, math said Trout was worth 34 to 42 percent of his budget. Why? Because Trout offered positive value in 10 categories. Once you get down past say Carlos Gomez, you’re starting to look at guys who can help in five categories and hurt five others. The same thing doesn’t usually happen on the pitching side because there are usually several reliever and starter specific stats included. A Clayton Kershaw might only be a seven category pitcher. Weird Stats When thinking about weird stats, K/HR certainly qualifies. If you’re going to take the time to build an atypical league, it should be done in one of two ways. Something that measures real performance, like linear weights, is one way. Such leagues are gaining popularity; I’ve been in one for five years now. The better way, at least to me, is to make something where none of the stats correlate. That’s easier said than done. The traditional 5×5 format is still common in large part because few things get double counted. Home runs are the obvious exception. However, even though a home run is a hit, there is a reverse correlation between home runs and batting average. Runs are generally determined by a batter’s place in the lineup and plate appearances, as are RBI. Maybe the standard set of five stats isn’t the best way to measure hitter performance, but it does force fantasy owners to make trade offs. The best of the weird stats leagues operate on a similar principle. If a league counts K/HR and K/hit, then it isn’t making owners do much work. Just pick players who don’t strikeout. However, if you use a set of stats like K/HR, BB/H, and SB-CS, you’ll force owners to make some serious trade offs. Never mind that most of the stats aren’t a great way to measure real life performance. The game of fantasy is designed to measure an owner’s ability to predict how real players will perform while collecting the specific statistics valued in that league. Parting Thoughts So let’s talk about your quirky leagues. Have you experienced the mayhem of 20 categories? Do you play with weird stats unknown throughout 99.9 percent of fantasyland? Tell us.