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.
|My other car is a Cistulli||15318.2||5.5||4.5|
|She’s Just Not That Shin-Soo Choo||14957.2||5.2||5.0|
|The Fluffy Bunnies||13958.9||5.0||5.0|
|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:
|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|
|The Razor Shines||171||160||161||155||154||156||747||143||1262.2|
|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|
|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|
|My other car is a Cistulli||1876||1500||5.5||4.5||10318||6750||17068||3|
|The Fluffy Bunnies||1819||1395.1||5||5||9095||6975.5||16070.5||8|
|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|
|The Fluffy Bunnies||1867||1435.1||5||5||9335||7175.5||16510.5||8|
|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.