Surprising Results From The Punt

We’re almost in rear-view mirror mode. Impossible though it may be to comprehend, the season is almost over and if you’re not winning your league, you’re currently on the sliding scale of realizing you’re not going to win your league. If you find yourself in the latter group, I’m sorry for that.

With losing in mind, however, I wanted to highlight a draft that I thought was just simply ludicrous back in March. A manager punted pitching. Like, the whole thing. Not just saves — but anyone who might toe the rubber.

You might be totally familiar with this tactic, but I’d never seen it actually utilized in a money league before — and not by a manager who actually managed the whole length of the season.

This is a mixed, standard roto, 12-team league in the Yahoo! format — with a $100 buy in. I didn’t even realize it was happening during the madness of the draft. It was when I started to scan the competition that I noticed one team drafted just four relievers, all in the last handful of rounds: David Robertson, Alexi Ogando, Randy Choate, and Duane Below. Yes, Duane Below.

I gave a guffaw, wrote off his team, and moved on to see if I’d overlooked anything on the waiver wire.

And then the bell rang. He started Alexi Ogando for one inning. He gave up no hits, no runs, no walks, and struck out two. He would never start another pitcher. Immediately, he had won the league in ERA and WHIP (0.00 and 0.00, respectively). Both the worst and the best he could do was 27 points in pitching.

He effectively just wiped his hands clean of five categories in one day of a 162 game season. He’d reduced his workload to managing to win every offensive category with the hopes that 87 points would be enough to win something. Conceivably, he was aiming for second place which brings in $300 because I’m not sure too many 12-team leagues could be won with just 87 points.

But as late as mid-June, this team was winning the league with — you guessed it — 87 points. This is a highly competitive league and not many managers were going to find themselves completely laying eggs with point totals in the 40′s, so the distribution of points was pretty even for a good amount of time.

He’s been among the top four almost all season long, and even as recently as last week, found himself in second place. But he was caught in home runs, stolen bases, and batting average over the last several days and currently sits in fourth place with 83 points. But he still could make his money back with a third place finish.

I’m not sure I’d find much joy in not having a pitching staff, but there is something rather liberating about not having to scream and yell about missed opportunities for wins and saves. More than anything, it was fun to watch — to see if he could pull the wool over the eyes of 11 other managers who either didn’t have the guts or the cojones to do something most people would consider pretty stupid.

The takeaway, as far as advice goes, is that it’s probably impossible to win a competitive league with 87 points. But should you be a particularly lazy manager, if you hate pitching and love offense, well — you can probably set yourself up to still be competitive with a similar approach.

Oh, and Duane Below.




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Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.

11 Responses to “Surprising Results From The Punt”

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  1. Aaron Murray says:

    A lot of leagues have innings minimums to prevent this sort of thing. Just depends on what kind of league you want to set up.

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  2. KJ says:

    Wow, gutsy move. Wonder what he would have done if Ogando gave up 4 hits and 2 runs? I guess just keep throwing out relievers til he was back around 1.00 and 1.00 … still….

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  3. yosoyfiesta says:

    That’s awesome, you can always find pitching in fantasy baseball…how many leagues was RA Dickey drafted in this year? How many people used a high draft pick on Chris Sale? A handful of starts from Brett Anderson may have changed a teams outlook in a roto league. What about Kris Medlen? No one has pitched better in the second half. He wasn’t on anyone’s draft board!

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  4. jj says:

    I think this is a horrible league set up. there is no reason not to have league min for starts or innings or even number of active pitchers. The leagues I have played in he would not even be able to walk out of the auction/draft without having 4 SP and 3RP. Change the rules so this kind of stuff can’t happen and you will likely have a happier league.

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  5. Dscott says:

    Innings limit or I don’t participate in the league.

    Where can you find a money league who doesn’t have these settings locked up already?

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    • Michael Barr says:

      there is an innings limit. No limit would be chaos. But there’s no minimum in this league.

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      • Todd says:

        If there’s no minimum, how is it you were surprised by this?

        Head-to-head also addresses this problem in a different way. At the very least, you need to be able to repeat that 0.00/0.00 performance 20+ times. And there are often weekly minimums, too (ours is 7 IP, I think).

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      • Michael Barr says:

        Todd – I was surprised that A) someone would do it in a fairly high stakes league and B) that it worked as well as it did.

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      • Bill says:

        I’ve seen this done, but usually the manager tries to get 2 to 3 high-mid quality save guys. In a standard league that means you can score high in 3 categories, while hopefully winning ERA/WHIP. It will cost you a few earlier picks though, but rounding this strategy out with robertson, chapman (was drafted late by many) or other hard throwing RPs guarantees you a low ERA/WHIP in case one of your saves guys (heath bell) kind of blows up.

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  6. joe bananas says:

    that was pretty great! very interesting way to exploit the loophole and a fun way to avoid dealing with the inevitable pitching headaches.

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