Thread: Stage Four

It doesn’t exist. But we keep hoping.

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I have certainly learned empirically -- twice -- that it is folly to make your first two picks pitchers. It's triple folly (if I have the math right) to make your first four picks pitchers.

It's embarrassing that I had to learn this empirically.

And still... who should the first pick be? A hitter or a pitcher?

We are talking retro, of course. In the mixed-league snake drafts that are shown in fantasy magazines each year, I can't say I've ever seen a pitcher picked first.

But in a given year in a retro draft?

1990, for instance?

Alex Patton Alex
May 7

Seadogs, I don't think that balance is possible. Your needs change too much in a shallow league to have one price fits all. In an only league, where just about everyone is rostered, it is conceivable, especially if there is active trading. Value is value, but the pricing pressure from people choosing not to compete for Saves, Steals and BA makes it very hard. Those strategies change the context of all prices. 

Peter Kreutzer Rotoman
May 7

I should have checked the math when I said you don't need to finish fifth in each category. Yes, you do! What I meant was that in a league like this one you don't have to consider someone getting to 90 points. You can play for 75-80 points it seems, and once more people figure out an approach that number will get lower.

For me to get those 37 runs I needed to take a middle infielder earlier and my final outfielder later. This was a failure of position scarcity, but I would argue not one of pricing. In an auction adjusting the dollar values would be important. In a draft you know the first three rounds are so are discounted, you're getting bargains, and it's best to take the best player. After that you're paying a premium and while you want the best player, that is the best player relative to your team. Those values are different based on your needs. A $14 player who has a power/run/position player that fits your needs is more valuable than a $17 player who doesn't. 

One other point: It's all very close. When I made my last pick I gained a pick in saves, gained one in ERA and lost one Ratio. But when Erickson picked, in order for him to gain a couple points in Wins he had to give me back the Ratio point. In the last rounds pretty much every pick spun things this way and that, in ways that were generally predictable but not easy to suss with time we didn't have. A value system that helps you escape that mess is what I'm aiming for. It's going to rely on dynamic pricing.

BTW, we're playing a purple-themed 1999 season next Wednesday and the one after, with two leagues. There may still be a few seats open. Let me know if you are interested in playing.


Peter Kreutzer Rotoman
May 7

But again, "best player available" means you've found a way to balance out the formulas for closers / starters / speed-guys / power-guys/ other-hitters in such a way that your Best Available Player isn't always the same type of player.

Kent Ostby Seadogs
May 7

I totally agree with "once you have Clemens you can't afford the next best pitcher" ... or I'd say it this way "once you have a #1 starting pitcher, you don't want to draft/buy another #1 starting pitcher at the expense of having a #1 hitter" ... or ... once you have a valuable pitcher, the value of hitters (to your team) goes up relative to the value of remaining pitchers ...

And it's key to consider the impact of "nobody is going to run away" ... you may not need 8 in every category ... but you do need to average 7.5!  So ... punting a category means you need to average 8.3 in the other 9 ... punting 2 categories means you need to average 9.25 in the other 8 ... Peter finished 37 runs short of doing just this ... which might have been just 1 too many closers?

It seems like if the proposal is that punting is more likely to win, then that means that a strategy of "take the best player available" is not the best strategy ... hmmm ... I'm stuck thinking that "take the best player available" has to work ... and the game then becomes each individuals determination of "best player available" ... in other words, I'd like to think that you can not become more likely to win with a "punt" strategy, rather if someone does have right formula for determining "best player available", then they can't be beat, another team can only tie them if they, too, are "perfect" ... but perhaps reality is that all owners are so close to "perfect" that the noise introduced by any, if not all, owners pursuing a "punt" strategy causes more random results?

Howard Lynch LynchMob
May 7

Even in a league with known stats, I think you have to treat the quantitative as neutral value categories, otherwise you wind up pricing like Benson with points from the worst ERA/Ratio/Avg up.  That still throws the balance toward hitting 4/3, basically a $150/$110 split.  It's not quite as drastic as the modern $180/$80 split.  The other option is to spend $11.30 per player, making it a $158/$102 split.  I think spending anywhere around $100 should be enough to win pitching.  Whether $160 can be competitive in hitting is still an unknown as I haven't done one of these retroactive auctions since John Hunt had a live auction on-line for the AL in 1999 to see if someone could win without having Pedro.  He also wanted to see Pedro's price.  I finished 3rd overall and 2nd in pitching behind the Pedro team.  There wasn't live stat updates and the platform was a chatroom, so it was torture.  I could have finished first in pitching had I taken a different end-game pitcher, but alas it wasn't to be.

Eugene Freedman EugeneFreed
May 7
I disagree with your assessment because I think that category value should be defined as:

In Normal Settings, $/Category=InjuryFactor*YtYCorrelation*(AvailableStats-PotentialWastedStats)/AvailableStats

Potential Wasted Stats are essentially those that you could buy that would put you way past 2nd place instead of 1 more than 2nd place.

So while InjuryFactory and YtYCorrelation go to 1 (and can be ignored) for known stats, you still have to take into consideration Potential Wasted Stats (think a staff of 9 closers for the ultimate case).

Potential Wasted Stats (because they come in big chunks) are why Saves and SBs are discounted (i.e. it's really easy to buy too many).
Kent Ostby Seadogs
May 6

The issue here is draft dynamics. Hitters and Pitchers should each get 50 percent of the money when you know the stats, but just because that makes Roger Clemens worth $50, once you have Clemens you can't afford the next best pitcher. Or the seventh best, because that hurts you too much in hitting. 

Unless you punt categories. Doug and Jeff punted BA, I punted Wins and Strikeouts. Once you do that you change all the values, and Pete Incaviglia has real value. So does Chuck Crim or Mike Hartly. 

So Alex, I think competing in all the pitching categories means your only chance is to dump BA or HR/RBI. Doug and Jeff showed how powerful dumping BA is and with any reasonable innings minimum (I had 850) and not too much competition it is possible to compete dumping two categories. 

My error was not taking a MI earlier and then picking off Otis Nixon at the end. Nixon was the one for Doug.

To summarize my point: Pitchers are worth 50 percent, but you can't spend $130 in pitching and compete in all 10 categories. But because there isn't a ton of distance between teams, nobody is going to run away with one of these things, you don't need an eight in every category to win.

Peter Kreutzer Rotoman
May 6

I'll volunteer an answer to your question, Alex. It sucks. You don't really have to work all that hard with a group of this stature to finish near the bottom, but finishing last was not a goal. When reality set in, there was an easy escape. I was already running last in ERA and WHIP, with what I thought were decent numbers, so simply drafted Wins and K's and dragged my sorry butt out of the basement. "You are plenty busy just trying to sync your list with the Google sheet while you're waiting for your next pick." That is definitely the key to this exercise, Alex, and any failure with that part of the program and you're simply toast. You can't be analyzing the draft and looking for ways to better your scoring opportunities if your source documents aren't extremely well crafted.

Tim McLeod tlmcleod
May 6

The overall theory: with risk taken out of it, each pitcher has more of an impact on the standings than each hitter (9 vs. 14). I thought I could set myself up to have a whole bunch of pitching points after the first four rounds, then, plugging away at the best four-category hitter available (punting speed) from Round 5 on, I'd eventually get into the thick of things in the four categories. Dominant pitching + okay hitting = victory.

In a retro draft, there is no such thing as a runaway team. If I could get close to 50 pitching points and close to 30 hitting points, that would be enough.

I got 48.5 pitching points and 16 hitting points.

Yes, you can see the standings after each pick -- that's what makes the exercise fascinating.

But clearly it's just a time-waster in the early rounds to do this (as soon as I picked Palmeiro I jumped from one point to 12 in batting average). You are plenty busy just trying to sync your list with the Google sheet while you're waiting for your next pick.

I did glance at the standings often enough after Round 5 to see that I was in trouble. My first two hitters were Palmeiro and Mark Grace; I could still switch to the time-honored Sweeney Plan -- pitching, BA, SB and (in 5x5) runs -- and I would have if the goal was to finish higher in the standings. But the goal was to win, so I stuck with Plan A until I saw it was hopeless.

And then I concentrated on batting average, because the goal now was the same as it turned out to be in our 1980 draft: DON'T FINISH LAST!

Ask Tim how it feels to be in last place when you're drafting stats that already exist.

(He clawed his way to 11th in the last few rounds.) 

Ryan's "value" on my own spreadsheet was $33.

Dykstra, Lenny - PHI... $30

McGriff, Fred - TOR... $27

Sabo, Chris - CIN...$23

Dawson, Andre - CHC... $28

I assigned $3,466 to the hitters that were available in this drat (Todd Zola and Ron Shandler determine who those are) and $2,664 to the pitchers who were available.

If I had distributed the money equally, Ryan would have "earned" far more than $33. I fiddled with the money distribution until the best hitter and best pitcher in 1990, in a standard 5x5 draft, had values that seemed in the right relation to each other.

Best hitter in 1990: Rickey Henderson $43

Best pitcher: Roger Clemens $50

Maybe I overdid it. Maybe Roger Clemens had only a slightly bigger impact on the standings than Rickey Henderson.

And maybe I got it completely wrong. Maybe Rickey had a bigger impact.

That's what we're trying to find out.

Alex Patton Alex
May 6