September 6, 2012
Resident Fantasy Genius
Last week, I discussed how little a fantasy squad’s ERA and WHIP is likely to move at this point in the season. Because of how many innings teams have already logged and how few will be logged between now and October 3 (both at the team and individual player level), it would take a lot to move the chains very far. I closed out the article noting how this can create some interesting strategic considerations, most prominently the decision to… gasp… chase wins.
“Don’t chase wins” has become a cliché in the fantasy community, something every good player knows is fantasy suicide. Except it’s not. This cliché was born, in part, from the sabermetric movement in general—you know, the one that says wins are a terrible gauge of a pitcher’s value. While this is generally true (at least in the sense that there are better gauges of pitcher value out there), it doesn’t have anything to do with fantasy baseball. Regardless of the utility of wins to judge a pitcher’s talent, we use it as a category in fantasy baseball. End of story. The link should end there. Yet, a lot of that stigma has carried over to the fantasy world.
Of course, the advent of this adage can also be attributed to the inherent variability of wins. Wins are harder to predict than ERA and harder still than strikeouts, so much so that many pundits will tell you to forget about wins all together, to just draft skills—implying that wins are wholly unpredictable. Except they’re not. ‘High variability’ just means that there is a larger spectrum of possible outcomes, but the mean expectation doesn’t change.
Hopefully you haven’t found yourself in a close race for wins, as your final position will be determined in large part by luck, but if you have, there are ways to improve your chances of collecting points while others are shrugging their shoulders, throwing up their hands, and calling it a day. Today, I’ll go over some of these considerations.
Wins are largely a numbers game
Relievers collect wins too