Fantasy Baseball Round Table: Shandler Park's salary-cap game

by Todd Zola, MastersBall.com on September 4, 2013 @ 14:27:12 PDT

 

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In July, our colleague Ron Shandler unveiled a new concept to the fantasy community -- monthly fantasy baseball competitions. The first iteration of the contest was a salary-cap game with leagues of 30 teams. After a surveying the 400-plus participants, Ron opened up a second free set of leagues for September. A full description of the competition can be found at Shandler Park. Here is a Cliffs Notes version:

Atlanta Braves RP Craig Kimbrel
Kimbrel: not smart pick?

Rosters are assembled via salary-cap method, with the salaries being a combination of what the player has done and what is projected using the conventional 14 hitters and nine pitchers, with nine reserves. The sum of all 32 players must be under the salary cap -- the active roster has no salary restrictions. Scoring uses a unique set of 4x4 rotisserie categories (OBP, R+RBI-HR, SB, HR, W+QS, ERA, K, SV+HLD). Wholesale substitutions for hitting and pitching are allowed twice a week (Monday and Friday). There are no FAAB or waiver additions.

Seeing that I was in a league with KFFL's Tim Heaney as well as our colleague Steve Gardner, Senior Fantasy Editor for USA TODAY Sports, I thought it would be fun to ask those who are playing to review their strategy and open the floor up for comments from the Knights who are not playing. As a bonus, we invited Steve to chime in as well.

OK, who entered a team into Ron's September contest? Care to discuss your strategy? Please feel free to comment on the strategies if you did not participate.

Perry Van Hook: Not amongst the competitors -- bad enough this time of year with my baseball teams and football starting -- but I would love to see the roster compositions, that is the number of hitters and number of pitchers and see if those who played last time changed their minds and went pitcher-heavy.

Todd Zola: I did, but the rosters also increased to 32 which I didn't care for. I would have gone six pitchers and one hitter if rosters had 30 spots like July. This time I have two hitters and seven pitchers on reserve but used one of the extra pitchers as a fourth reliever just in case the standings dictate a saves push at the end.

My Lords a Leapin' squad focused on players I felt had the best chance to maximize playing time in September. I was concerned about any injured player or even injury prone player fearing they could be shut down and I wasn't going to have many hitters on reserve. I figure teams fighting for a playoff spot are most likely to play their best guys so that was my concentration.

As mentioned, I came over to Perry's side and went real heavy with pitching so I'll have the ability for all 18 starts if I wanted with 12 starters. I also went with four relievers in the event I needed to chase SV+HLD. This leaves me with only two hitting reserves but that was the plan. Win or go home.

I tried to find bargains, but didn't want to get too hung up on forcing myself to take real cheap guys because they were cheap -- I wanted talent as well.

And finally, I used the old CDM game trick of just taking the four cheapest closers who had regular jobs. Last time, I took Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen as I was somewhat delusional that their extra K's would help -- I finished in single digit points in the SV+HLD category so I embraced the crapshoot that is save opps and went cheap.

Ryan Carey: I didn't get a squad in. Wanted to -- but had a family wedding over the holiday weekend which ate up all my time and two football drafts to prepare for -- so just didn't have the time to dedicate to it.

Lawr Michaels: Ryan -- You clearly did not read Matthew Berry's book. A wedding should never be an impediment to drafting, right?

RC: I actually did a football draft over the weekend. Didn't want to push my luck too much -- it was my brother-in-law's wedding after all.

Tim Heaney: For "Thanks Mo 42," my second Shandler monthly effort, I tried to organize my pitching a bit more for maximizing starts -- planning on two-start efforts, etc., what with the twice-a-week lineup changes. You can't accomplish this feat as optimally as desired because you're stuck with your roster the whole way, though. I went with four reserve starting pitchers and five bench batters. In any salary cap game, you must try to manipulate depreciated values with the best across-the-board potential.

Heaney elaborates, and Zola wraps up with a zinger!

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About Todd Zola, MastersBall.com

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for fantasybaseball.com, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at MLB.com and SI.com, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums.

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