Roster doctor – 6/9/09

Player Pool: Mixed
Type: Non-Keeper
No. of Teams: 12
Points league

Scoring for Batting Categories
Walks: 1 point
Caught Stealing: -2 points
Hitting for the Cycle: 20 points
Errors: -2 points
Hit by Pitch: 1 point
Strikeouts: -1 point
Runs: 1 point
RBI: 1 point
Stolen Bases: 2 points
Total Bases: 1 point

Scoring for Pitching Categories
Walks Issued: -1 point
Blown Saves: -7 points
Complete Games: 10 points
Earned Runs: -1 point
Strikeouts: 1 point
Losses: -10 points
No-Hitters: 50 points
Quality Starts: 5 points
Saves: 8 points
Shutouts: 10 points
Wins: 15 points

Active Players 14
Reserve Players 6
Active SP 4
Active RP 1

Brian McCann (C)
Miguel Cabrera (1B)
Aaron Hill (2B)
Jorge Cantu (1B, 3B)
Ryan Theriot (SS)
Andre Ethier (OF)
Nick Swisher (1B, OF)
Ben Zobrist (2B, SS, OF)
Prince Fielder (1B)
Dan Uggla (2B)
J.J. Hardy (SS)
B.J. Upton (OF)
Chris B. Young (OF)
Dan Haren (SP)
Ted Lilly (SP)
Jonathan Papelbon (RP)
Max Scherzer (SP)
Javier Vazquez (SP)
Jair Jurrjens (SP)
Hiroki Kuroda (SP)

Jason wrote to the Roster Doctor concerning a mild headache (he’s trying to see if he can upgrade his bench). However, I am going to abuse my authority as Roster Doctor of the day to address the patient’s overall corpulence (his league’s strange scoring system) as well.

Scoring systems, like beer, are matters of taste and not ethics: I don’t like shaking the “thou shalt not” stick at league’s preferences. That said, with so many empty Coors Light cans on your league’s floor, I can’t help but feel that maybe we can do better (PBR?). There are some stats that are clearly gimmicks, like no-hitters, hit-by-pitches, cycles, and (somewhat) shutouts. Scoring stats like these provide for some added entertainment but are mostly luck driven. They’re also hard to equate to any kind of “true” baseball value. As a manager, I’d take two home runs or two one-hitters rather than a home run and a triple (extend accordingly to a cycle) or one no-hitter. But cycles and no-hitters are rare enough events that they’re not worth upsetting things over.

More importantly, as Jason himself noted in the e-mail, his league heavily rewards power batters and pitchers that get wins. I like that the league includes walks (which are not counted in total bases) and total bases instead of home runs. Using total bases smooths the scoring system out. Doubles and triples are better than singles (everything else equal) but worse than home runs.

On the pitching side of the ledger, however, there are a lot of dis-continuities. Instead of innings pitched, the league rewards quality starts and complete games. So there’s little difference between going six innings and giving up three runs versus going eight innings and three runs. Going eight innings and giving up four runs gives many fewer points, despite the same ERA! In general, there is too much emphasis on luck-driven stats like wins and not enough on better (though imperfect) measures of pitcher quality like hits allowed.

Anyway, on to your roster. Ideally, what you’d like is to put Zobrist into your middle infield somewhere (probably for Theriot) and upgrade your outfield. Perhaps you can trade Theriot or Uggla to someone in your league who needs insurance or an upgrade in the middle infield (perhaps Jose Reyes‘ owner, for instance). Young has value, though obviously it is only for his upside. Opinions differ sharply on him as to how much upside he really has anymore. He might be a small chip to throw in on a trade. Given that you’re waiting on Upton as well, maybe replacing Young with Aaron Rowand (whom you wrote was available) is something you should consider.

I like your pitching staff. I would not replace Kuroda as I think he’ll be a source of quality starts and wins. Instead, if you’re thinking of dropping a pitcher for either Rick Porcello or Josh Outman, then I might think about Scherzer. However, I probably wouldn’t pull the trigger for either.

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Yes, the scoring system is very un-sabermatic, but it’s a legacy format and we keep it as such to uphold tradition.  I agree with your synopsis – based on what the waiver wire is offering, I might need to ride out the rough patches and hope my “upside” players like Upton/Young sort themselves out. 

For what it’s worth, a couple players who have heated up since my email are David Murphy, Laynce Nix, Jeff Niemann, and Ubaldo Jiminez….

Thanks for your time!