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February 26, 2013

Fantasy Beat

Budget Allocations and Pitching-Staff Outcomes

by Jason Collette

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Last week, we reviewed how the experts split their money in the LABR and ToutWars auctions in 2012. While the winners each spent at least 30 percent of their budget on pitching, other teams that spent even more did much worse while some who spent less nearly won the league.

The next step is seeing the theory in action. In a perfect world, the totals needed for each of the categories would be rather stable so we could accurately forecast exactly what we would need to finish within the top three spots of each category at season’s end. Since fantasy baseball is never that perfect, we are forced to use the most recent history.

The final standings from the 15-team Mixed ToutWars league are cleanly preserved for us on the OnRoto site. MLB.com’s Cory Schwartz easily won the league, placing in the top three in five of the 10 categories and securing a top-five spot in all but one of the rest. The table below shows what was needed to finish a tick above second place in each category, as well as what it took to capture third place.

CATEGORY

TO WIN

3RD PLACE

Runs

1095

1044

Home Runs

296

274

RBI

1033

1021

Steals

187

182

Average

.2734

.2719

Wins

103

101

Saves

85

81

ERA

3.479

3.614

WHIP

1.192

1.202

Strikeouts

1351

1340

We learned last week that each of the winners in the LABR and ToutWars leagues spent at least 30 percent of their auction budget on pitching. What we did not see is what that kind of pitching staff would look like on paper, statistically, coming out of the auction. Using the player projection data and auction values from our Player Forecast Manager, we can piece together a pitching staff based on set dollar amounts to see what kind of pitching staff one could put together in a vacuum, assuming everyone held to the same dollar amounts. (Note that the ratios below are approximations, rather than exact computations.)

The 75/25 split:
In this popular split, an owner spends just $65 on his pitching staff. This is an example of the type of nine-man pitching staff and stats that could be assembled based on our PFM values and projections:

PITCHER

$$

WINS

SAVES

SO

ERA

WHIP

Chris Sale

$15

11

0

198

3.38

1.19

James Shields

$9

12

0

184

4.12

1.27

Mike Minor

$8

11

0

159

3.88

1.24

Jim Johnson

$10

3

40

44

3.77

1.29

Glen Perkins

$4

3

28

53

4.29

1.36

Edinson Volquez

$6

9

0

175

3.96

1.32

Anibal Sanchez

$3

13

0

147

4.27

1.36

Ryan Vogelsong

$5

10

0

140

4.00

1.30

Matt Moore

$5

11

0

182

4.03

1.39

Totals

$65

83

68

1282

3.99

1.32

This pitching staff would have finished no higher than eighth place in any one category.  While a team that spends 75 percent of its budget on hitters may have a very strong offense, it has shortcomings that must be addressed during the season either via free agency or trade.

The 70/30 split:
This approach is safe and comfortable, and it tends to be where leagues as a whole fall.  This requires spending $78 of your auction dollars on pitching and, with an extra $13 compared to the 75/25 model, here is the sort of staff that one could assemble:

PITCHER

$$

WINS

SAVES

SO

ERA

WHIP

David Price

$24

16

0

210

3.09

1.18

Jake Peavy

$11

12

0

184

3.79

1.25

Homer Bailey

$7

12

0

150

4.10

1.27

Max Scherzer

$9

12

0

184

3.89

1.28

Mariano Rivera

$15

3

40

53

2.48

1.01

Matt Harrison

$1

13

0

134

4.47

1.38

Jonathan Broxton

$7

3

25

60

3.01

1.14

Marco Estrada

$3

10

0

145

4.40

1.27

Jeff Samardzija

$1

11

0

162

4.56

1.38

Totals

$78

92

65

1,282

3.75

1.24

This team would have finished in the middle of the pack across the board, which is not a bad outcome, provided that the offense met or exceeded each of its categorical benchmarks.

The 65/35 split
This arrangement was more prevalent in years past, but has gone the way of 4x4 league scoring. Teams using this split budget $91 for a pitching staff and, with that money, this is what owners can buy:

PITCHER

$$

WINS

SAVES

SO

ERA

WHIP

Justin Verlander

$30

19

0

234

3.03

1.15

Yu Darvish

$20

13

0

213

3.14

1.18

Craig Kimbrel

$22

3

45

97

1.89

1.00

Bruce Rondon

$1

2

28

50

5.02

1.57

Glen Perkins

$4

3

28

53

4.29

1.36

Max Scherzer

$9

12

0

184

3.89

1.28

Clayton Richard

$1

9

0

113

4.36

1.31

Marco Estrada

$3

10

0

145

4.40

1.27

Matt Harrison

$1

13

0

134

4.47

1.38

Totals

$91

84

101

1,223

3.83

1.28

Note that the final totals for the 65/35 split are not that different from those in the 70/30 split. When teams use a 65/35 approach, they tend to chase a few of the biggest names available. Verlander and Darvish fit that bill as starters, and Kimbrel is the best reliever, according the PFM. But, in order to acquire that trio, owners must spend $72 of the $91 that they have budgeted, leaving just $19 to be used toward the other six members of the staff.

Much like we saw in last week’s article, who you spend your money on is much more important than the amount that you allocate. 

Jason Collette is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

6 comments have been left for this article.

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