The Baltimore Orioles as an Ottoneu Team

I know Mike Elias is not running an Ottoneu fantasy baseball team. I also know this exercise is very unrealistic, yet I’m doing it anyway. For those who have never had the pleasure of playing in an Ottoneu league, you should try it! I’m sure regular readers of our wonderful site here at FanGraphs have heard plenty about it. You get a $400 budget every year. You have a huge roster that functions in a dynasty format. You can alter the scoring from standard roto to sabermetric points leagues to head-to-head leagues. Regardless of the format, the goal of Ottoneu is to be as realistic as possible. It seeks to simulate the real baseball general manager experience. One of the ways it accomplishes that is an end-of-season tradition called arbitration where your league mates get to increase the salaries of your players. If you somehow made it to the end of your season rostering Fernando Tatis Jr. for $10, you likely saw his salary shoot up in the arbitration process. But, it can only go up by so much each year and this, in a way, mimics salary increase through arbitration in real life. If a player gets too expensive to keep on your roster, you have to cut him at the end of the season, sending him back to a re-auction draft and thus, simulating free agency.

Ottoneu makes fantasy baseball just a little more realistic. So, I decided to take that a few steps further and create an Ottoneu roster that closely mimics the Baltimore Orioles. I write, “closely mimics” because just like most fantasy leagues, you can have more than nine players in a lineup at any given point. But, let’s not focus on that too much. Let’s just look at some quick points that would make you feel great as a manager of the Otto-O’s:


Link to team page


You would be ecstatic about your salary cap.Salary

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I added all players from the active roster and chose the minor league players with high prospect rankings as listed on the Orioles Roster Resource page. When deciding how much to pay each player I gave them the average salary across all Ottoneu leagues. Any player with no average salary, or an average of $0, was added for $1. The cost? I’m using $111 out of my $400 budget. That money is also being spent well when it applies to the active position players. There are six players (Adley Rutschman, Ryan Mountcastle, Trey Mancini, Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays, and Anthony Santander) who have roster percentages across all Ottoneu leagues above 97%. This is a little skewed because fantasy teams are all about building a team that encompasses the best players across the whole league. But, it gives you a sense of how much money you would have leftover for heavy hitters. With an extra $289 at your disposal, you could add, using average salaries, Mike Trout ($63), Juan Soto ($57), Freddie Freeman ($47), Trea Turner ($45), Gerrit Cole ($47), Josh Hader ($19), and Ryan Pressly ($11). I’m not so sure the Orioles will be doing that next year, but it just goes to show how much extra money you’d have laying around in the Otto O’s bank vault.

You would love your minor leaguers.OttoO's Minor League HittersOttoO's Minor League Pitchers

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Adley Rutschman would be hanging in your “Minor League” section no longer and you would likely be waiting and anticipating the best minor leaguer according to THE BOARD! in Grayson Rodriguez to make his major league debut. But, beyond the big dogs, you’ve been holding onto as keepers you’d likely be getting a few trade offers on players like Kyle Stowers, DL Hall, Gunnar Henderson, and Jordan Westburg. Each of these players with the exception of Stowers has an average salary above $1. That means there are many Ottoneu fantasy managers valuing these prospects for good measure.

You would be surprised at how well your position player roster is doing. 

OttoO's Position Players

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I’m not saying you would compete with the Monstars, but you would be excited about Trey Mancini’s 5.14 points/game (I’m using FanGraphs points league formatting), Austin Hays‘ 5.47 points/game, and Jorge López’s 7.56 points/game. For comparison, Juan Soto has 5.97 points/game, and José Ramírez leads the league with 8.61 points/game among players with greater than 40 games played.

Finally, you would be excited about some of the things happening with your players.

Earlier in the year, Justin Choi wrote about the early success of the O’s pen and they are still ranked fourth in WAR, sixth in ERA, and sixth in HR/9. And take a look at this statcast pitch movement leaderboardThere are a whole lot of Orioles pitchers all the way to the right of this chart, showing more rise and more break on cutters and more horizontal movement on sliders than average. This does not only apply to relievers. There are a number of O’s starters who can be found on the same leaderboards, including major leaguer Kyle Bradish. These pitchers are showcasing stuff and while I’m no stuff expert, I do know having it is better than not. There certainly seems to be something positive going on in Baltimore when it comes to pitching development.

Statcast pitch movement leaderboard image

Statcast pitch movement leaderboard image2

While you won’t be winning your league with the Otto O’s, you can probably see the fun in rebuilding. That’s another great part of Ottoneu. When you see your team sinking lower and lower and lower in the standings, you can tear it all down and start again. If you were managing the Otto O’s, you would be in a rebuild already. But rebuilding seems somewhat addictive in fantasy realms and, sometimes, real worlds. Take the $12 you would be paying to Cedric Mullins for example. Is that too much? Our on pace leaderboards might tell you Mullins is set to come up short of expectations in 2022. But, over 30 stolen bases (on pace by % games) is pretty great, and now wouldn’t be the time to sell. No, now is the time to sit back and laugh as what you’ve built in the Otto O’s slowly creeps up from the basement of the league standings and leaves league mates scratching their heads.

How does this apply to your own Ottoneu leagues? Well, maybe it doesn’t. But, maybe it shows you that you don’t need to spend all of your money to start being competitive. Maybe it shows you that there are some Orioles worth checking out; minor leaguers worth stashing, relievers and starters showcasing really good stuff, and veteran players who are very fantasy relevant. If I were rebuilding in Ottoneu, I would certainly be looking to pile up players from real-life teams that are rebuilding as well.

Thanks to Niv Shah for setting me up with this experimental league.


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4 months ago

Right on.