What We Can Learn from OPL Team Adds and Cuts

With the Ottoneu Prestige League knockout rounds starting today, OPL is now a spectator sport for all but the 27 players who manage or co-manage at least one of the 32 remaining teams. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t good data or lessons to be learned from what those teams are doing. And looking at changes made to those rosters might help the rest of the Ottoneu world make smarter choices starting as soon as today.

Those 32 teams had more than 300 players added to or removed from their rosters between the Round 3 snapshot date (June 1) and the playoff snapshot date (yesterday). What’s interesting about those changes isn’t necessarily that those managers are better or smarter or anything – it’s that they are forced to make more aggressive decisions on a tight timeline. That gives us an opportunity to look at who they added or dropped and potentially find players we should be acting on.

There were thirteen players who were removed from at least four OPL rosters (via cut or trade) before the playoffs:

A number of these players are talented but struggling (Gallo, Votto, etc.) or talented but unproven (Yepez, Thompson, etc.), or talented but banged up (Springs). but what they all have in common is their OPL managers were tired of waiting on them.

If six of a group of 32 managers are ready to bail on Gallo, that is probably evidence other managers are also running out of patience. A non-OPL manager, without the forcing mechanism of setting a 40-man playoff roster by July 20, might still be sitting on Gallo, but this at least suggests those managers might be nearing the end, as well.

If you roster one of these players, it’s worth considering why those managers acted faster than you. Was it just because of OPL and you there is good reason to wait (e.g., you expect Springs to be back but the OPL manager can’t afford to be without a pitcher for another week)? Or was it not unique to OPL (e.g., Gallo just struggling) and if it wasn’t unique to OPL, why not make that cut now? What are you waiting for?

Maybe you are waiting on Gallo because you (like me, to be honest) believe that he is still a very strong OBP/power play and don’t think you would have bailed on him in OPL. Two OPL playoff teams added him, and maybe you feel more like those managers? That’s reasonable and then you should wait. But if not, don’t let the lack of an artificial deadline stop you from acting quickly to improve your team.

If you don’t roster one of these guys but want to, maybe now is the time to make an offer.

Yepez is a prime example. He was added to the IL a few days back and could be back soon, but presumably, four OPL teams were spurred to move on in part because of the injury and in part because he hasn’t been that good. He has a 113 wRC+ on the year, but that is down to 104 in the last month and 34 since the start of July.

He also has a decent K-rate, acceptable BB-rate, a double-digit barrel-rate, and a 114 max EV. And a HR/FB rate of just 13.9%. Only 24 qualified hitters have a Max EV over 114, and only 17 pair that with a barrel-rate of 10% or greater. Only one of those 17 – Sean Murphy – has a HR/FB rate lower than Yepez. None other than Murphy are under 15%, only seven are under 20% and the group as a whole averages 21.4%. Yepez deserves better results, but you can understand why OPL managers didn’t want to wait.

Yepez feels like a player I want to buy, and seeing how OPL managers treated him makes me wonder if other Yepez managers might be ready to bail. If so, now is as good a time as any to act. The same goes for any of those 13 who you are still high on.

As for the most added players, 12 players were added by four or more OPL playoff teams between June 1 and July 20:

Some of these players might have skills or roles that make them uniquely valuable in OPL. Brubaker has pitched well lately, but I imagine his OPL appeal was tied up with being locked into a rotation spot and being a reliable source of innings over the two-month marathon that is the OPL knockout rounds. Escobar isn’t some unknown quantity and the burst of additions for him is likely driven by positional eligibility.

But players like Garrett, Jones, Phillips, Keller, and Paredes have OPL-related warts – an unsure rotation spot, short track record, non-closing role in a loaded bullpen, history of poor performance, and lineup instability, respectively. Yet managers still felt like they wanted to add them and trust them for that stretch run.

You have an advantage over those managers – you could add Keller, Garrett, or Paredes now and then cut them if they struggle or lose their jobs. So why not act on that? Maybe there are good reasons. I could hardly blame you for being done with the Keller coaster. But all of these players are worth a second look.

For me, Paredes should be universally rostered and, if he is not, I would go get him. Garrett has been very good lately and there is some pedigree to bet on, as well. Same with Jones. If these players are free agents in your league, it’s worth asking what the OPL managers see that you don’t and maybe buying in.

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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1 year ago

Not an OPL participant, but I’d be interested in seeing more analysis like this during the tournament.