In early May I introduced Ottoneu players to the Advanced Standings Dashboard, a tool that allows team owners to decipher the early season standings in an effort to better gauge where their team might be headed as the 2014 season comes together. You can download that tool here (http://goo.gl/pbXI5), but now that we’ve just entered July, the traditional halfway point of the baseball season, it’s time to take a deeper look at a few ways this tool can be used to effectively to manage your team into contention in the second half.
Since the tool can be updated easily with just a couple of copy/paste actions, I use this tool almost daily in my own FGPoints Ottoneu league. But for fun, let’s walk through a few features as they apply to the FanGraphs Staff League, with a special focus on Eno Sarris’ team, “It’s A Perm“.
Eno enters July as a 3rd place team, nearly 400 points out of 1st place, and 150 out of 2nd. In general, with at least seven teams over the 8,000 point mark, this league looks competitive at a glance. But with the recent pickup of Ryan Braun, Eno clearly has his sights set on a title (https://twitter.com/enosarris/status/483016142831644672), so let’s break down the standings using the tool to see if Eno has the momentum to win it all in the 2nd half.
The first tab of the tool is simply the statistical breakdown of the Ottoneu standings into some common sabermetric calculations. While we can easily see Eno leads the league offensively at 5.44 P/G, the underlying statistics also support it, showing he maintains an (slight) advantage in OPS, OPS+, wOBA, Runs Created, and Total Bases. What may be more interesting is that Eno has more points scored from his offense than any other team in the league. In fact, just over 58% of his points have come from his hitters (tab 3, ‘Projected Finish”). With roughly 55% of league scoring in Ottoneu coming from offense, Eno is clearly banking on this approach of shoring up the side of the ledger that carries the most weight. The acquisition of Braun will only help.
So It’s A Perm is built on bats, but what about the pitching? Unfortunately, this is a weak spot, as Eno’s FIP, WHIP, and BB/9 are all higher than the two teams he’s chasing. I’m sure he knows this instinctively as his 5.03 P/IP is below the league average of 5.13 P/IP (and further below the top 7 teams of 5.19 P/IP), but the dashboard makes it quicker and easier to point out these pitching deficiencies. One possible area of improvement: the bullpen. Without looking at his roster, I can tell you pretty quickly he’s probably pretty frustrated with his bullpen, which has been almost 42% less effective (“PEN” = Saves + Holds/IP) than the league leader, A Little Out of Context. Shoring up a bullpen is often easier and cheaper than finding an ace SP mid season, so does Eno speculate on the eventual Sergio Romo replacement? Does he approach John Heyman’s Last Sirloin about shedding some of his bullpen pieces in a plea to “deal from strength”?
Once you’ve taken the time to digest some of the traditional sabermetric outputs in the Dashboard, your eyes will naturally gravitate toward the end of the first tab into the “League Projections” section, which is where the real power of the tool comes alive. The key takeaways here are the “Otto” score and the “Pace” columns. The Otto score can be better explained here by Chad Young (http://goo.gl/KK4Xy), while the “Pace” attempts to project the season-ending point totals for each team based up a range of factors, including current P/G and P/IP values, remaining IP and GP, and league averages in these areas. In many leagues these are the columns that can better identify contenders from pretenders, but for the FanGraphs Staff league we see more evidence that the actual standings are, for the most part, very accurate, as Eno is also projected to end the season with the 3rd most points (18,042, or about 400 points out of 1st place).
There are a few interesting things to note here, however. First, John Heyman’s Last Sirloin actually has the third highest Otto score (13.66), but is still projected for 4th place, most likely due to his slower pace in IP (1,416 projected). If this team can pick up the IP pace in the 2nd half with similar quality IP (5.54 P/IP), this team could make up ground quickly. This team is clearly riding a league-best bullpen and trying to maximize its RP innings as much as possible.
Second, Ground Rule Double Helmet, despite sitting in 4th place with a strong 9,000 points, has had to overtax a very week pitching staff (4.74 P/IP) just to get there (1,577 IP projected). The tool sees as much and projects this team to end the season in 5th place, but unless the pitching staff sees a significant improvement in the 2nd half, I’d expect this team to possibly fall even further as the season shakes out.
And that’s just the first tab…Once you get familiar with the tool, you’ll actually find the third tab, “Projected Finish” to be the most useful summary of some of these features described above, as it will give you a daily update of the projected champion for the league. With Eno just 400 points out of both the actual and projected season-ending standings, this league is just too close to call on July 1st, but there are at least four clear contenders here, and It’s A Perm is one of them. Will Ryan Braun help the cause? Just for fun, let’s say Braun increases Eno’s offense by just 2.00% (from 5.44 to 5.55). Well, that could be all it takes, as that small increase moves the needle for It’s A Perm enough to overtake Johan Santa Claus by 100 points in the projected season-ending standings, and less than 200 points out from 1st place. Of course, that’s if everything else stays the same, and, as in life, the only thing constant in baseball is change. This will be a fun league to watch as the summer heats up, so enjoy the tool and use it where possible to get that 2% edge.