Most fantasy players who ask me questions play in a “standard” 5×5 category league. This is why most of my pricing as well as subsequent discussions about what a player is worth tend to revolve around the idea of five hitting categories (typically home runs, runs batted in, stolen bases, runs, and batting average) and five pitching categories (wins, saves, ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts).
However, there are more than a few fantasy gamers out there who play with more than 10 categories. While there are some fanatics who play in 9×9 or 10×10 leagues, most of the Rotisserie-style leagues that play with extra categories don’t dive that far into the pool and play 6×6, or maybe 7×7. But because these leagues aren’t “standard,” it is often the case that they get little if any attention.
Without fail, I get at least one question a year asking how to value players for a 6×6 league. It isn’t necessarily “difficult” to do this, but there are two typical pitfalls that lead to incorrect assumptions or ideas surrounding 6×6 valuation:
- Fantasy players assign too much value to the category being added
- Fantasy players fail to redistribute the money from the existing categories to the new category and overspend on everyone
The second mistake is easy enough to fix. However you decide to allocate your dollars, just make sure that the money adds up to $3,120 for a 12-team league with a $260 per team budget.
What the hitters and pitchers are “worth”, though, depends a lot on which categories your league has added. Here is an example of two 6×6 leagues I have received questions about in the past.
- 6×6 League 1: The sixth offensive category is doubles; the sixth pitching category is holds.
- 6×6 League 2: The sixth offensive category is slugging percentage; the sixth pitching category is holds.
And here is how the valuation “should” play out:
- Standard 5×5 League: $175 per team for hitting, $85 per team for pitching,
- 6×6 League 1: $172 per team for hitting, $88 per team for pitching.
- 6×6 League 2: $158 per team for hitting, $102 per team for pitching.
To understand why the values play out this way, it is important to take a step back and understand why pitchers are worth less than hitters (in theory, at least).
Since hitters and pitchers each contribute to the same number of categories, it would seem logical to assume that hitters and pitchers should each get paid 50% of the budgetary pie (or $130 for hitting/$130 for pitching). However, where teams derive permanent benefit from the quantitative categories, the benefit they derive from the qualitative categories can be fleeting. A win is yours to keep forever, whereas an eight-inning, four-hit shutout can be undone by a four-inning, eight-earned-run nightmare the very next day. While generally speaking the best pitchers are nearly as reliable as the best hitters, the auction market doesn’t treat them this way, which is how the pricing discrepancy came to be in the first place.
Using the same theoretical baseline, adding holds and doubles to the mix in League 1 adds more value to pitchers. Even though one quantitative category is being added on both sides of the game, pitchers see a higher increase in the percentage of quantitative categories – from three out of five (60%) to four out of six (67%)—than the hitters do (4/5, 80%; 5/6, 83%). The difference in the hitting/pitching split is slight—only three dollars per team—but there is a difference.
League 2 sees the hitters lose ground in the quantitative categories. Instead of contributing in four out of five quantitative categories, now the hitters are “only” contributing in four out of six. This is why pitcher prices jump in this scenario, from $85 per team to $102 per team. Theoretically, the average team in a 6×6 league using slugging percentage and holds as the extra categories should spend far more on pitching than the average league.
To see how this would look, I pulled data from the PFM for a standard 5×5 league, a 6×6 league with doubles and holds, and a 6×6 league with doubles and slugging percentage.
Table 1: 5×5 vs. 6×6 Valuation Comparisons: Hitters
Player |
5×5 Rank |
5×5 $ |
6×6 2B Rank |
6×6 2B $ |
6×6 SLG Rank |
6×6 SLG $ |
Cabrera, Miguel |
1 |
$43.19 |
4 |
$33.75 |
1 |
$44.06 |
Trout, Mike |
2 |
$41.13 |
2 |
$37.48 |
3 |
$38.68 |
Davis, Chris |
3 |
$39.96 |
1 |
$38.21 |
2 |
$42.62 |
Goldschmidt, Paul |
4 |
$38.32 |
3 |
$34.35 |
4 |
$36.80 |
Jones, Adam |
5 |
$32.12 |
7 |
$29.27 |
5 |
$28.89 |
McCutchen, Andrew |
6 |
$31.53 |
6 |
$29.91 |
6 |
$28.39 |
Pence, Hunter |
7 |
$29.24 |
9 |
$27.09 |
8 |
$26.09 |
Ellsbury, Jacoby |
8 |
$28.39 |
13 |
$24.50 |
20 |
$21.40 |
Rios, Alex |
9 |
$28.25 |
11 |
$25.42 |
16 |
$22.30 |
Gomez, Carlos |
10 |
$27.59 |
22 |
$22.44 |
11 |
$24.86 |
Carpenter, Matt |
14 |
$25.11 |
5 |
$32.18 |
14 |
$22.69 |
Cano, Robinson |
11 |
$26.61 |
8 |
$27.68 |
7 |
$26.62 |
Bruce, Jay |
20 |
$23.20 |
10 |
$25.98 |
18 |
$21.70 |
Ortiz, David |
18 |
$24.38 |
12 |
$24.76 |
9 |
$25.34 |
Encarnacion, Edwin |
15 |
$24.99 |
24 |
$21.58 |
10 |
$25.09 |
In order to provide this list with a little more flavor, I pulled the top 10 hitters from all three potential formats. For the most part, the lists stay pretty static but it is interesting to see how each category contributes. Adding slugging seems to lend to some fairly predictable results. Miguel Cabrera was valuable to begin with; adding slugging to the mix and he’s even more of a stud in the depressed offensive valuation context of 6×6 with slugging. On the other hand, adding a sixth quantitative category does seem to be the great equalizer. Not only is Cabrera not as good as he was in 5×5, but his “paltry” doubles total only ranks him as the fourth best hitter overall in 6×6 with doubles.
Still, most of the takeaway from this chart is that A comes far closer to equaling A than you might expect. Yes, Matt Carpenter is an outlier, but his valuation spike in 6×6 with doubles takes a whopping 55 doubles to accomplish, and even this huge jump in doubles only gains Carpenter seven dollars in overall earnings.
Table 2: 5×5 vs. 6×6 Valuation Comparisons: Pitchers
Player |
5×5 Rank |
5×5 $ |
6×6 2B Rank |
6×6 2B $ |
6×6 SLG Rank |
6×6 SLG $ |
Kershaw, Clayton |
1 |
$38.08 |
1 |
$45.38 |
1 |
$52.44 |
Scherzer, Max |
2 |
$30.55 |
2 |
$32.23 |
2 |
$37.20 |
Wainwright, Adam |
3 |
$26.30 |
5 |
$27.25 |
5 |
$31.43 |
Kimbrel, Craig |
4 |
$25.29 |
3 |
$31.27 |
3 |
$36.09 |
Lee, Cliff |
5 |
$24.48 |
8 |
$26.32 |
8 |
$30.35 |
Iwakuma, Hisashi |
6 |
$23.31 |
9 |
$25.17 |
9 |
$29.01 |
Darvish, Yu |
7 |
$23.05 |
10 |
$24.42 |
10 |
$28.15 |
Holland, Greg |
8 |
$22.94 |
4 |
$29.23 |
4 |
$33.72 |
Nathan, Joe |
9 |
$20.57 |
11 |
$24.30 |
11 |
$28.01 |
Harvey, Matt |
10 |
$20.15 |
12 |
$22.55 |
12 |
$25.98 |
Uehara, Koji |
16 |
$16.40 |
6 |
$26.55 |
6 |
$30.61 |
Jansen, Kenley |
19 |
$15.38 |
7 |
$26.47 |
7 |
$30.52 |
There is even less variability among the 10 best pitchers, both in terms of how many arms slip past the Top 10 but also in terms of how the rankings move (or, rather, don’t move). The biggest news in the top 10 is that Uehara and Jansen—both middle relievers at the beginning of the season—jump up a great deal because of their combination of saves and holds. Beyond the holds bump, the jump for most other pitchers has more to do with format. Pitchers are “worth” more in 6×6 that uses hitter doubles and “worth” even more in 6×6 leagues with hitter slugging percentage. An ace is worth is weight in gold in a 5×5 league, but is an even more significant impact player in 6×6.
Or, at least, this is the instruction valuation theory offers.
The problem with all of this is that if your league continues to spend $175 per team for hitters and $85 for pitchers, this is immaterial. In reality, if your league is anything like Tout Wars or LABR or some of the other expert leagues out there it probably spends $180 or slightly more per team for hitters.
If your league does spend $85 per team for pitchers in a 6×6 holds league, the values would look very different:
Table 3: 5×5 vs. 6×6 Valuation Comparisons: Pitchers (adjusted)
Player |
5×5 Rank |
5×5 $ |
6×6 2B Rank |
6×6 2B $ |
6×6 SLG Rank |
6×6 SLG $ |
Kershaw, Clayton |
1 |
$38.08 |
1 |
$43.87 |
1 |
$43.87 |
Scherzer, Max |
2 |
$30.55 |
2 |
$31.16 |
2 |
$31.16 |
Wainwright, Adam |
3 |
$26.30 |
5 |
$26.36 |
5 |
$26.36 |
Kimbrel, Craig |
4 |
$25.29 |
3 |
$30.24 |
3 |
$30.24 |
Lee, Cliff |
5 |
$24.48 |
8 |
$25.46 |
8 |
$25.46 |
Iwakuma, Hisashi |
6 |
$23.31 |
9 |
$24.34 |
9 |
$24.34 |
Darvish, Yu |
7 |
$23.05 |
10 |
$23.62 |
10 |
$23.62 |
Holland, Greg |
8 |
$22.94 |
4 |
$28.26 |
4 |
$28.26 |
Nathan, Joe |
9 |
$20.57 |
11 |
$23.50 |
11 |
$23.50 |
Harvey, Matt |
10 |
$20.15 |
12 |
$21.82 |
12 |
$21.82 |
Uehara, Koji |
16 |
$16.40 |
6 |
$25.68 |
6 |
$25.68 |
Jansen, Kenley |
19 |
$15.38 |
7 |
$25.60 |
7 |
$25.60 |
I would argue that 6×6 should flatten all of the pitching categories and that even a titan like Kershaw should be worth less in 6×6, not more. However, for most of the pitchers here the differences between 5×5 and 6×6 are negligible. This is fine. Since 6×6 isn’t a standard format, I suspect most 6×6 owners are spending the same amounts on hitters and pitchers across the board that their 5×5 counterparts are.
If I were putting together a list of practical, no nonsense bid limits for a 6×6 league, I would mostly leave my standard list of 5×5 bid limits intact. The more categories there are, the more the values across the board should get flattened out. The elite hitters are worth a little less; the boring guys who get 600 plate appearances and do a little bit of everything are worth a little bit more. You want hitters who will produce something in every game, and if you can put together a team with 14 of these hitters, all the better.
On the pitching side, bump set up men up a little bit. Instead of paying $1 for a set up, push these guys up to somewhere between $3-5, even in an only league. I wouldn’t go too crazy. While holds aren’t quite ubiquitous, there were 91 major-league relievers in 2013 with 10 holds or more. Only 37 relievers saved 10 games or more. Even more than with saves, you can find holds in the free agent pool during the season.
Thank you for reading
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This also has the problem that some categories are direct linear combinations of others (as opposed to implicitly being connected). If my league adds TB, then it is HR + other stuff. If my league adds SLG it is BA + other stuff, including HR. So in one case an original category gets double-weight. (As it is in 5x5, there is some express double-weighting because each HR has 1 run and at least 1 RBI, and the HR adds to BA.)
Regarding holds for the pitchers, nothing in the earlier pitcher numbers accounts for holds. The category is 100% a new stat.
So, I am not up to your level with these stats, what is your advice?
Here are what my formulas for last year's 4x4 valuation for AL only look like
HR = $0.35 per HR Total Draft $728
RBI = $0.12 per RBI Total Draft $971
SB = $0.42 per SB Total Drat $485
And here is the 5x5 valuation
HR $0.25 per HR; $503
RBI $0.07 per RBI; $618
SB $0.29 per SB; $360
Runs $0.07 per run; $620
These formulas assume a $175/$85 split per team. Assuming (as I advised above) that you were simply going to keep this split, if you added a qualitative category you would do nothing except add a formula (similar to the BA formula) for the qualitative category.
However, if you were going to add a quantitative category, you would need to do what has already been done with the 4x4 to 5x5 formulas: shave more money from the quantitative categories to make the money add up. Here's one way to do it:
HR $0.18 per HR; $381
RBI $0.06 per RBI; $468
SB $0.24 per SB; $273
Runs $0.06 per run; $470
TB: $0.02 per TB $509
Every time you add a category you're flattening all of the existing categories out. You can argue about whether or not this is the "right" distribution (and without more data on leagues with total bases, I'm only guessing here) but this gives a good approximation.
Pitching would likely shake out something like this:
W $0.45 per win; $330
SV $0.23 per save; $126
K $0.04 per strikeout $414
Holds $0.27 per hold; $150
Again, I'd like to see some more data on the 6x6 total bases/holds front, but this gives you a broad idea of where the baselines would be
Hitting: AVG, OPS, HR, (RBI+Runs-HRs), SB
Pitching: Ks, ERA, WHIP, SPCOMB*, RPCOMB*
*SPCOMB = Starting pitcher wins + QS + CG + Shutouts + No hitters + Perfect Game
*RPCOMB = Relief wins + Saves + (Holds/2)
For pitching, I would treat the SPCOMB* like wins and the RPCOMB like saves in terms of the relative value of the stats.