LIMA Plan Q and A

by Ron Shandler on March 17, 2009 @ 00:00:00 PDT

 


Ron... Let's say I'm sold on the theory of the LIMA Plan. But at its foundation is the ability to pay a lot for offense. Works great in an auction setting, but I'm in a straight draft league. How do you suggest applying the theory in my situation?

It's a little bit more tricky in this type of league, but it can be done. In a straight draft, you have to take what's left on the table, so if someone grabs one of your LIMA gems before you do, you're out of luck. Still, there should be enough low-profile, high-upside talent to pull this off.

First thing you need to do is load up on as much top-level offense as you can in the early rounds, and don't let up. Start by grabbing top talent at thin positions. Keep loading up on as much solid overall talent as you can.

When others start grabbing the Madduxes and Mussinas in say, rounds 2 through 5, and perhaps starting runs on the top pitchers (you can hope), you should stick to grabbing bats. But be careful to watch runs on relievers. You might want to grab a closer some time in the first 8-10 rounds, especially if the pool is thinning.

Then, about 10-12 rounds in - about halfway into the draft - gauge how far down the pitching talent has been depleted. If your LIMA pitchers are near the top of the remaining arms, it's time to start picking them up. If you think you can still go another few rounds before that level is reached, go ahead and continue to stock up on bats.

At some point, you are going to have to start drafting pitchers aggressively, and that might not come until round 13 or 14. At this late stage, others may view your activity as grabbing bottom-feeders, but so what? They will likely be at a stage in the draft where they still have offensive slots to fill with the remaining available talent, so their interest in your pitchers will be low.

Again, it can be tricky in a straight draft. Best defense will be to make sure you have a deep list of LIMA pitchers from which you can choose.

We have a 5x5, 11 team, non-keeper league. I drafted all starters and middle relievers with terrific skills, but I do not have any closers. Would you recommend cutting a starter and picking up someone that might give me saves?

By all means. The LIMA Plan doesn't mean you have to corner the market on skills pitchers, just to fill out your roster. You still have to compete in all the categories and punting saves will put you at a severe disadvantage. Why? Because LIMA already assumes that you may have to punt wins at some point during the season, so now you could be in the position to have to compete sans two categories.

11 team NL 5x5 Ultra League, $260 cap. I've protected six bargain pitchers, totaling only $25. Should I take advantage of these bargains to spend $30-$35 for a Randy Johnson or Kevin Brown, or fish at the auction for three more "skills set" pitchers, end up with a $35-$40 staff, and throw all the dollars at offense?

Best strategy would be to not go after a frontline starter. At best, you might consider grabbing a $15 arm to provide a bit more innings, or a few second line closers, but if you've got a solid enough talent core, you might not need to do that.

Better to bring this staff in at under $60 which will leave you tons to spend on more stable offense... which can be dealt off later on if you need an in-season pitching boost.

I'm in a highly competitive 5x5 keeper league. I'm wondering how adding K's into the mix affects the LIMA Plan? By the way, there are 3-4 owners who routinely punt the saves category by not drafting any closers.

Let's take each issue separately...

A 5x5 league with strikeouts does make this more of a challenge because it also requires you to accumulate innings. You will not likely be able to finish high in K's if you implement LIMA strictly - however - you can still finish moderately well. LIMA requires you to target pitchers with high skills levels, and a solid strikeout rate is one of the key skills. So if you load up with three or four 140-160 IP hurlers, they will keep you at least in the middle of the pack in that category. Enough to remain competitive overall? Depends upon the league.

But the fact that there are owners in your league who will punt a category from the get-go is good news for you. These 3-4 owners serve to do two things in your favor...

  1. They will likely spend a fair amount of money on big-name pitchers (since they are punting saves, they are going to have to chase wins, which are expensive). This often causes a perceived shortage of talent which may get the other owners bidding on those scarce resources as well. This is just what you need to have happen - getting other owners to spend liberally on starting pitchers.
  2. Their punting of saves makes that commodity more accessible to you. Fewer owners chasing saves means that you have more of a chance to grab some at reduced cost - unless you have some owners who tend to stockpile those saves cast off by the punters.

The combination of being in a 5x5 league within the above environment of category punting will make it easier for you to contend while using the LIMA Plan.

We have a 1,000 IP requirement which makes the LIMA Plan a little more difficult to pull off. Suggestions?

I received several e-mails like this one, with higher IP requirements often up to 1200. This does make things a little bit tougher, but not impossible. The trick is to try to accumulate as many innings as you can while still spreading your risk.

Here are some possible draft plans...

IP
IP
IP
IP
180
180
180
160
160
180
180
160
140
160
160
160
120
140
160
140
100
140
140
140
75
75
140
120
75
75
80
120
75
75
80
120
75
75
80
80
1000
1100
1200
1200

Yes, at 1200 IP, it's difficult. You almost have to make sure you draft a frontline closer, then fill out your roster will almost all starters. Note that we've avoided any 200 IP pitchers because they will all likely go for inflated prices, no matter what their skill. Even 180 IP hurlers likely won't come cheap.

I am in an AL-only, perpetual, 5x5, auction league with 12 teams and a 1000 IP minimum. How many starters should I draft before I start getting good middle relief instead?

There's no absolute best way to do things. Note...

IP
IP
IP
180
160
160
160
160
160
140
160
140
120
120
100
100
100
100
75
75
100
75
75
90
75
75
75
75
75
75
1000
1000
1000

The bottom line is that you can do this with as few as three starting pitchers. Most people don't seem to realize how EASY it can be to reach a league's IP requirement. In a 900 IP league, it's a downright no-brainer...

IP
IP
IP
160
160
200
160
140
140
160
120
120
70
120
75
70
75
75
70
75
75
70
75
75
70
75
75
70
75
75
900
915
910

You do not need a lot of starters to meet your requirements. In the third example above, you can get away with only one frontline starter, a #4 and #5 guy, and the rest relievers.

Is LIMA advisable in a mixed league?

Mixed leagues are a slightly different animal for the LIMA Plan. Depending upon how many teams you have, if you're not drafting deep into the player population, LIMA may not be necessary, or advisable. For instance, in many mixed leagues, a pitcher like Jim Mecir would never get drafted, yet is an important element of a LIMA staff. There's plenty of pitching talent out there if you know where to look, and most mixed league teams can assemble a remarkable staff at little cost.

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