ottoneu Keepers – The Results

Tuesday night was the ottoneu keeper deadline and every owner was busy deciding who had earned a roster spot for 2012 and who was being tossed back into the pond. While I was debating a $40 Matt Holliday and a $26 Pablo Sandoval, others were wrestling over a $42 Roy Halladay or a $27 Mat Latos.

The kept players can provide some great insight into where the ottoneu owner universe stands on the ottoneu player universe as we head into auction season.

For starters, there were 929 individual players kept in at least one league. 929! Obviously a lot of players were kept in multiple leagues (473 were kept in at least 20% of leagues) but 929 players is more than exist on active MLB rosters on any given day (30 teams x 25 roster spots is 750 players) and pretty close to covering every player on every 40-man roster (30 teams x 40 roster spots = 1200 players). This says a lot about how large the ottoneu player universe is, and also about how varied people’s opinions are. It’s not like there was a set of players who everyone loved and kept, with the rest getting thrown back.

The average team kept about 25 players, which means that in the average league, you will need to auction off 180 players, compared to the 480 you had to auction last year. Should go much quicker.

How about specific players? Well, no one was kept in every single league. The three closest, all kept in 93% of leagues, surprised me a bit. I expected some top prospects — Jesus Montero, maybe? Bryce Harper? — to be kept in every league. These guys, for the most part, didn’t do anything to disappoint last year and seemed likely to get kept. But the top 3? Matt Cain, Jose Bautista, and Matt Kemp. Bautista and Kemp make a lot of sense – both had question marks pre-season due to prior struggles (2010 for Kemp, every year before 2010 for Bautista) but both played incredibly well and now have a track record that people can believe in. Cain, on the other hand, seems to simply be a case of a guy who was fairly valued, perhaps a bit underrated in fantasy circles. Not surprisingly, the only leagues where Cain was cut were 5×5 leagues — the only leagues that count wins. The most popular rookie, with just over 90% of teams keeping him, was Jesus Montero.

The most expensive keeper, by a long shot, was Albert Pujols. Owners who kept him (about 53% of Albert-owners) paid $59 on average. Only three other players were kept at an average of more than $50 — Hanley Ramirez ($52), Troy Tulowitzki ($52), Miguel Cabrera ($51). Pujols also earned the distinction of being the single highest-paid player in all of ottoneu: one owner in a FanGraphs points league kept him at $70. That owner is in good company though — multiple other owners kept him a $69 and Hanley earned at least one $69 keeper slot, as well. The highest priced pitcher was Felix Hernandez, at $45 in 73% of leagues.

Despite this, his somewhat low keeper rate means that 10 other players had more total money spent on them (average salary x leagues kept). Miguel Cabrera earned that honor, being kept in 89% of leagues at his $51 salary. Roy Halladay outpaced King Felix by this measure, being kept at $44 in 90% of leagues.

Halladay was a hotly debated player, actually. At $45 in the FanGraphs Experts League, I was able to trade him for a $6 Howie Kendrick and a $3 Dee Gordon, but might have had to cut him. ottoneu chief Niv Shah received a tweet today from a disgruntled owner concerned that he over-spent on a $42 Halladay, but clearly he was not alone in this. In fact, when you consider that Halladay was kept at prices as high as $54 (and that Hernandez was kept as high as $63), $42 for the Phillies ace seems like a downright steal.

There were a few guys that were kept less often than I expected. Bryan LaHair, even with a potential Quad-A tag attached to him, seems like he is going to get some playing time next year, and should have been pretty cheap in most leagues, but was kept in just over 5% of leagues. Rubby de la Rosa was only kept in a quarter of leagues. Sure, his value in 2012 is next to nothing, but when people are paying a good price for top prospects, a young pitcher who has flown through the minors and shown solid potential in MLB seems like a keepable asset. Nolan Arenado is a top prospect with a shot at a job in Colorado as soon as this year, yet more than 75% of owners cut him loose.

At the other end, I was surprised that Prince Fielder was kept in so many leagues, more than 90%. He is moving to a tougher park in a tougher league and surely came at a high price last year, almost all owners felt he was worth paying for in 2012, as well. Thought more people would cut Mat Latos, as well. Despite having a year that was slightly down from his 2010 and making an extreme move in terms of how his home park plays, more than 78% of owners held Latos for another year.

Looking at my keepers, my three best keepers were Ryan Zimmerman ($17 compared to an average keeper price of $39), Chase Utley ($12 compared to $22) and Paul Konerko ($8 compare to $17). My three worst were Matt Garza ($16 compared to $11 on average), Hunter Pence ($26 compared to $21, although I kept him for $21 in another league), and Michael Pineda ($17 compared to $11). I also kept one player, a $4 Nestor Molina, that no one else kept in any league. Guess I’m the only believer in the White Sox prospect.




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19 Responses to “ottoneu Keepers – The Results”

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  1. Justin says:

    Are these average figures for keeper values available? Would be a great research tool as we prepare for our auctions this year.

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    • Chad Young says:

      This link has them by league type:

      http://ottoneu.fangraphs.com/averageValues?gameType=1

      The numbers I gave were across all ottoneu leagues (so weighted averages of the three scoring systems) but for auction prep, you are much better off using the numbers for the scoring system you use. Just keep in mind that the avg price at which a guy is kept is, almost by definition, below his actual value. Theoretically, the highest price a guy is kept at should be close to his real market value, with anyone below that price being willing to keep him, and making the average much lower than market value. Of course, in reality, it doesn’t play out exactly that way.

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  2. dudley says:

    i’m assuming jason kendall at $48 is a placeholder for someone else. who?

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  3. LuckyStrikes says:

    More articles on Ottoneu are welcome – keep them coming.
    Don’t understand how 900+ players can be kept in a single league…? 12 teams x 40 roster slots is 480 maximum, correct?

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    • hernandez17 says:

      I think what he means is that 929 different ballplayers were kept across all leagues — not all in the same league.

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  4. LuckyStrikes says:

    I’d like to see an Ottoneu article highlighting the top 10 players whose value far exceeded their salary from 2011 and those players primed to do so in 2012. A snapshot of the players most commonly found on championship teams from 2011 would be interesting, too. Have to imagine guys like Berkman, Bumgarner, A. Gordon on that list…

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    • Chad Young says:

      I can look at something like this, but it would be hard to do anything on guys on the most championship teams – I don’t think I have access to that data. But taking the points league player totals and comparing those to prices, I could probably put together something on the best values. Let me think on this.

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  5. EarlWebb says:

    Hey Chad – can you share stats on which players were selected for Arbitration and at what averages/min/max?

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  6. jrogers says:

    This is really interesting to see! Thanks for putting it together.

    I wonder, though, if rather than just the average value guys were kept at, it would be better to make some kind of “keeper threshold” for each player.
    Like, “this guy was kept in over 50% of leagues where he cost less than $26, but under 50% of leagues where he cost more than $26.”

    Otherwise the data are skewed by the biggest bargains, e.g. if the avg price Jose Reyes was kept at is $20, that doesn’t mean he’s a bad keeper at $30, just that he went cheaper last year in lots of leagues.

    I don’t know if that’s easily doable or not, but something along those lines would be cool.

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    • Chad Young says:

      Don’t think I have this data exactly, but I think the data above covers it pretty well. The average value should be just below the max “good value” for a player. Each owner should be making a call on whether or not the player is worth keeping. Some will either make a bad call or will intentionally overpay because they are worried about not replacing the player. So maybe the 75th percentile of where a guy was kept would be the point at which he ceases to be a good value? Hard to say, but I think you can a point between average and max keeper values as a good proxy.

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  7. Steve Lidd says:

    Chad – I saw the earlier comments, but your #s below still don’t make sense. Please clarify how the 929 and 473 keepers relate to a maximum total of 480 (i.e. 12 X 40) players in any single Ottenu league:

    For starters, there were 929 individual players kept in at least one league. 929! Obviously a lot of players were kept in multiple leagues (473 were kept in at least 20% of leagues) but 929 players is more than exist on active MLB rosters on any given day (30 teams x 25 roster spots is 750 players) and pretty close to covering every player on every 40-man roster (30 teams x 40 roster spots = 1200 players).

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    • Chad Young says:

      The 929 refers to the total number of kept players across all leagues. When I took a complete list of every keeper in every league, there are thousands of names on the list. But when you compile it by player so that each player only appears once, you are left with a list of 929 players. That means that there were 929 players were kept by at least one owner in at least one league. Does that make sense? Hernandez17 explained it above and had it right as well?

      The 473 is exactly what it says – the number of players kept in at least 20% of leagues. So if you had a list of keepers for league 1, and another for league 2, and so one, 473 players would appear on 20% or more of those lists.

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  8. Steve Lidd says:

    Surprised nobody commented on the absurdity of keeping Hanley Ramirez at $52. Sure there will be inflation attributable to all the below market keeper prices, but the inflation rate won’t come anywhere close to offsetting the significant market value drop that has to occur in Hanley’s average price this year, i.e., questions on his injury recovery plus whether his being upset about his move to third will affect his mental outlook and thus offensive stats, plus the already declining trend in his homers for 3 straight years prior to his disastrous 2011, plus the uncertainty of whether the new Miami stadium will be a hitters or pitchers park. From Rotoworld today: Ramirez reportedly isn’t very comfortable about making the move to third base in order to accomodate Jose Reyes at shortstop, but it looks like he won’t have much of a choice. Assuming no setbacks with his shoulder, he makes for a fine bounceback option in fantasy leagues. Feb 2 – 3:05 PM

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    • Chad Young says:

      I actually disagree. I think Hanley may be a risk, and I would not want him at $52, but I think if you want Hanley, his salary will break the $50 mark in most leagues. If you want him for 2012 and have the option to keep him at $52, I think you have to keep him. I doubt you get him back for less.

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