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Don’t Get Fooled: Finishing Strong in Points Leagues

Posted By Chad Young On September 11, 2012 @ 8:15 am In Ottoneu,Strategy,Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Sometimes the standings can play tricks on you. You see your team in first, but it’s an optical illusion. You are in seventh but are sure you have the best team.

In my experience, this has always been the domain of match-up leagues, but in my first go-round with the ottoneu FanGraphs Points Leagues, I am learning that I was missing a use case – and now I am hoping to take advantage to secure a championship with a very simple step.

Check out the standings (pre-9/10 games) for this FanGraphs Staff league.

Team Points P/G P/IP
My other car is a Cistulli 15318.2 5.5 4.5
Clown Meat 15101.7 5.3 4.6
She’s Just Not That Shin-Soo Choo 14957.2 5.2 5.0
Ben’s 14768.0 5.2 4.7
PEREZ-ence 14759.8 5.0 5.1
Edmonton Trappers 14335.9 4.7 5.3
Hartford Whalers 14182.7 5.1 5.5
The Fluffy Bunnies 13958.9 5.0 5.0
The Poopsites 13274.7 5.1 4.7
The Abundant Dongs 13173.4 4.9 4.9
The Razor Shines 12900.6 5.2 4.2
The Houston Babies 12664.0 4.5 5.2

That’s Brandon Warne sitting atop the table with a lead of more than 200 points. And that is Steve Slowinski sitting in seventh despite having the best combined Pts/G and Pts/IP stats.

And yet I am here to tell you that I am the favorite to win this thing.

Here is another table:

Team C 1B 2B SS MI 3B OF Util IP
The Abundant Dongs 187 154 157 155 153 130 746 133 1288.1
The Fluffy Bunnies 187 162 161 136 158 161 744 135 1395.1
Hartford Whalers 148 158 152 157 142 145 723 135 1342.0
The Razor Shines 171 160 161 155 154 156 747 143 1262.2
The Poopsites 187 145 149 158 150 161 706 153 1286.1
She’s Just Not That Shin-Soo Choo 157 163 161 155 153 157 800 162 1486.0
My other car is a Cistulli 182 160 155 162 163 164 751 162 1606.2
Ben’s 187 153 162 160 163 156 789 161 1480.0
PEREZ-ence 187 157 161 154 162 154 761 164 1479.2
Edmonton Trappers 185 125 162 167 150 154 770 160 1474.0
Clown Meat 164 163 162 167 158 163 795 162 1542.2
The Houston Babies 187 146 145 95 156 155 791 154 1251.1

This one shows projected games played and innings pitched, and two things should jump out. First, a few people are well over the pace at a few positions. Most of league is close to using up their catcher eligibility. Warne is going to have to significantly slow his pitching usage in the final weeks. On the other hand, some folks are well on their way to leaving playing time on the table. Slowinski’s stellar pitching staff, the one accruing a league-high 5.5 points per inning pitched, is on pace to come up 150 innings short of the max.

So what happens when you account for this? Let’s take a total number of expected games played by team, capping each team at 162 per position (or 810 for OF) and an expected number of innings pitched, capping each team at 1500 IP, and assume that everyone maintains their current Pts/G and Pts/IP rates. Then let’s project end of year standings:

Team Games IP P/G P/IP Off Pts P Pts Total Pts Rank
She’s Just Not That Shin-Soo Choo 1907 1486 5.2 5 9916.4 7430 17346.4 1
Clown Meat 1925 1500 5.3 4.6 10202.5 6900 17102.5 2
My other car is a Cistulli 1876 1500 5.5 4.5 10318 6750 17068 3
PEREZ-ence 1873 1479.2 5 5.1 9365 7543.92 16908.92 4
Ben’s 1905 1480 5.2 4.7 9906 6956 16862 5
Edmonton Trappers 1845 1474 4.7 5.3 8671.5 7812.2 16483.7 6
Hartford Whalers 1760 1342 5.1 5.5 8976 7381 16357 7
The Fluffy Bunnies 1819 1395.1 5 5 9095 6975.5 16070.5 8
The Poopsites 1784 1286.1 5.1 4.7 9098.4 6044.67 15143.07 9
The Abundant Dongs 1790 1288.1 4.9 4.9 8771 6311.69 15082.69 10
The Razor Shines 1838 1262.2 5.2 4.2 9557.6 5301.24 14858.84 11
The Houston Babies 1804 1251.1 4.5 5.2 8118 6505.72 14623.72 12

That isn’t a ton of movement…but there is a change at the top. The brilliant owner of She’s Just Not that Shin-Soo Choo has clearly positioned himself to leapfrog the teams ahead of him and charge to a victory in the inaugural year of this league! We should congratulate him heartily (I’ll accept any congrats via comment)!

Of course these standings have knocked down anyone who was using up games and innings too fast, but what if we assume that some teams will speed up their player usage down the stretch and make up some of the missing games/innings?

Let’s assume that any team can make up a two games per week, per position. Once a week their starter doesn’t have a game; once a week their starter just gets a day off; and on both days they put in a sub they otherwise wouldn’t (this probably overestimates the number of games that can be made up. Let’s further assume that because of the two catcher spots, people can make up 20 games at catcher down the stretch. For the outfield, let’s figure you can make up 30 games across the five spots. By using more starting pitchers, they can tag on two starts a week (so about 40 innings) they otherwise wouldn’t have had. And just to make things easy, we’ll also assume that using all these backups doesn’t hurt their Pts/G or Pts/IP. Our new standings:

Team Games IP P/G P/IP Off Pts P Pts Total Pts Rank
She’s Just Not That Shin-Soo Choo 1940 1500 5.2 5 10088 7500 17588 1
My other car is a Cistulli 1934 1500 5.5 4.5 10637 6750 17387 2
PEREZ-ence 1940 1500 5 5.1 9700 7650 17350 3
Clown Meat 1944 1500 5.3 4.6 10303.2 6900 17203.2 4
Ben’s 1941 1500 5.2 4.7 10093.2 7050 17143.2 5
Hartford Whalers 1837 1382 5.1 5.5 9368.7 7601 16969.7 6
Edmonton Trappers 1895 1500 4.7 5.3 8906.5 7950 16856.5 7
The Fluffy Bunnies 1867 1435.1 5 5 9335 7175.5 16510.5 8
The Poopsites 1842 1326.1 5.1 4.7 9394.2 6232.67 15626.87 9
The Abundant Dongs 1855 1328.1 4.9 4.9 9089.5 6507.69 15597.19 10
The Razor Shines 1895 1302.1 5.2 4.2 9854 5468.82 15322.82 11
The Houston Babies 1859 1291.1 4.5 5.2 8365.5 6713.72 15079.22 12

Thankfully, our hero in this tale remains in first, but poor Cody Wiewandt falls from a solid second place finish, to a spot on the outside looking in.

So which of these standings is accurate? Who knows! If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on something closer to the one with my team in first and Cody’s in second, mostly because while I think teams will try to fill out more games and innings down the stretch, going deeper into their 40-man rosters will result in fewer points per appearance.

But the important note here is this: don’t let the standings fool you. First isn’t always first and best isn’t always best. Make sure you fill out your innings and games. Slowinski may have built the best team at the top, but even in my last set of standings, he is leaving 118 innings on the table, and even 118 so-so innings (let’s say 5.0 instead of his current 5.5) would be enough to move him up to 2nd instead of 6th.

We’re down to the final three weeks of the season and now is the time to put the pedal to the metal in points leagues. Don’t leave games unclaimed. Tonight, even with the limited games, I made sure to fill out my lineup, and I will continue to do that every day the rest of the way. Albert Pujols get’s a day off? Throw a backup in there and take what you can get.

Maybe Slowinski will find a way to get those innings filled out and pull off a miraculous run to the title, but somewhere, in some league, someone will lose out because they didn’t use the full 162 games and 1500 innings. Don’t let it be you.


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