An ottoneu View of End of Season Ranks

Earlier this week, Zach Sanders shared end of year fantasy rankings, providing a position-adjusted view of who provided the most (Chris Davis) and least (Barry Zito) value among qualified players in typical 5×5 roto leagues. This is extremely helpful information for those in 5×5 roto leagues, still helpful but maybe not extremely helpful for those who play in other formats.

What I’d like to look at is how the ottoneu end of season player rankings compare.

I am going to use a rather simplistic method for ranking ottoneu players – total points. No positional adjustments, no playing time considerations, just straight up who brought in the most points. The purpose here is not to determine who was most valuable, but to consider the differences between standard leagues and ottoneu leagues.

We’ve done versions of this before, so rather than rehash what you already know (In ottoneu, walks matter to hitters, saves matter less, holds matter more, SB matter less, SB% matters more), I want to focus on potentially new learnings.

First of all, if you want to get a list of all players sorted by points, you can find that under the “Sortable Stats” tab on any ottoneu league page. If you use the link above, you are going to see roster info for on of the FanGraphs staff leagues, rather than your own league.

Having said that, onto the comparisons.

SP Rank Higher in ottoneu
In Zach’s rankings, there were 14 SP in the top 50 overall, with the top performing pitchers being Clayton Kershaw (4th) and Max Scherzer (5th). In the ottoneu rankings, 31 SP cracked the top 50 with Kershaw (1st) and Adam Wainwright (2nd) leading the way. Scherzer, for what it’s worth, was again 5th.

Part of this gap is the lack of positional adjustments, but the reality is that you are going to get more points from a good-to-great SP than you are from a good-to-great position player. Of course there is also more variance in pitching stats, which is why these pitchers do not end up costing a ton more. The top seven average salaries in Points leagues are all position players, as are 16 of the top 20. The four exceptions are Justin Verlander (42.49), Felix Hernandez at ($42.39), Clayton Kershaw ($41.66), and Stephen Strasburg ($37.70).

The suggestion here is that there is a profit to be made going after top pitchers, relative to top hitters. If we assume you made “smart” choices and put your top dollars on either Miguel Cabrera (top ranking bat) or Kershaw (top ranking arm), you would have garnered 173 more points and saved $12.24 by choosing Kershaw.

Missed Games Seem to Hurt More in ottoneu
This surprised me a bit, although I guess it shouldn’t. When you are talking points, everything is turned into an counting stat, and fewer games means fewer changes to accrue those points. To make this comparison, I focused on players who missed time and don’t see big changes in their ranks due to other considerations (positions, stolen bases, etc.).

Allen Craig, for example, missed almost 30 games, but otherwise should be relatively equally valued in both lists – he does not rely heavily on speed, his average is good, but so is his OBP, and since he was OF eligible, the positional adjustment should not be huge for him, in either direction. Yet he ranks 54 spots higher in the 5×5 rankings (58th) than ottoneu (112th).

Brandon Moss missed a lot of time due to a platoon, but otherwise he too puts up his stats in areas that should be relatively similarly valued by ottoneu and 5×5 formats. But his ranks are similar to Craig’s – 61st in 5×5 and 131st in ottoneu.

The importance of having a handcuff for guys who tend to miss time is high when there are effectively no rate stats. I have suggested in the past that platoons are extremely valuable in ottoneu, and moving forward I plan to treat regularly injured players as if they are in a platoon. Craig, Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Zimmerman and others who seem to regularly find themselves on the DL should not only come at a discount (if you are buying them) but should only be bought if you have a backup you are confident can fill the games they miss.

Later in the off-season, I’ll take a closer look at rankings with a positional adjustment, and we should be able to glean even more information from those.

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Chad Young is a product manager at Amazon by day and a baseball writer (RotoGraphs, Let’s Go Tribe), sports fan and digital enthusiast at all times. Follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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