Rotisserie category reliability

by BaseballHQ.com on January 12, 2010 @ 00:00:00 PDT

 


The folks at BaseballHQ.com ascribe to the idea that base performance skills are the best predictors of a player's future performance. Base performance skills also tell us which Rotisserie categories are the most reliable. A Rotisserie team is just a collection of player fundamentals scored eight or 10 different ways.

Nothing is more fundamental in baseball than a batter's ability to know the strike zone and a pitcher's ability to find it. All rotisserie categories start there. Then they become obscured by circumstances. Like a runner in scoring position (RBI). Or a manager's patience (wins). Or the score (saves).

What every hitter shares is the experience of stepping into a batter's box. Successful hitters and blind hackers are defined by the fraction of a second that decides their on-base fate. A hitter's eye ratio (quotient of walks to strikeouts) defines that fraction of a second. Hitters with eye ratios of 0.75 or higher hit for a significantly higher batting average than those who hack away.

Table 1: How batting bye affects batting average, 1998

Hitters
Eye > 0.75
Eye < 0.75
BA
.286
.265

That 20-point spread in BA polarizes most league roto standings. Batting average is a very good derivative of eye ratio. In lieu of walks, it is the number of times a hitter successfully navigates the strike zone. The other hitting categories, however, deviate from this description.

Table 2: How batting eye affects AB/HR, PA/RBI and PA/SB, 1998

Hitters
Eye > 0.75
Eye < 0.75
AB/HR
.286
.265
PA/RBI
9.3
9.6
PA/SB
44.3
52.3

Over a 500-at-bat season, the difference between the hitters and the hackers is only one homer, two RBIs and one stolen base. There is virtually no propensity for a hitter with a good plate presence to produce more than his free-swinging teammates. The categorical value is in BA. If you want to spend for homers, spend for homers. Just don't expect a BA boost. Take the BA first because that's the competitive advantage. It's where the skill goes first.

Just as all hitters must step into the batter's box, all pitchers must take the mound. The base performance skills are simply the opposite of the hitter. Eye ratio turned upside down is the command ratio, the quotient of strikeouts to walks. A pitcher that strikes out a lot of batters reduces the chances a ground ball can find a hole. The skill here is K/9. A pitcher who masters both skills masters his craft. And the categories he controls:

Table 3: How command ratio affects ERA and WHIP, 1998

Pitchers - 25-plus IP
Control > 2.5
Control < 2.5
ERA
3.62
4.62
WHIP
1.21
1.46

Table 4: How K/9 affects ERA and WHIP, 1998

Pitchers - 25-plus IP
K/9 > 7.0
K/9 < 7.0
ERA
3.85
4.62
WHIP
1.32
1.43

These are nice categories. They are closely derived from the basic skills of command and dominance. As in BA, base skills will separate the standings in ERA and WHIP.

Table 5: How command ratio affects wins and saves, 1998

Pitchers - 25-plus IP
Control > 2.5
Control < 2.5
Wins/IP
0.06
0.05
Saves/IP
0.10
0.03

Table 6: How K/9 affects wins and saves, 1998

Pitchers - 25-plus IP
K/9 > 7.0
K/9 < 7.0
Wins/IP
0.06
0.05
Saves/IP
0.09
0.02

Finally, we have evidence that skills translate to cumulative categories, too. Saves depend on a whole lot of circumstances (score, situation, manager's whim), but really require command and dominance.

Peppered throughout both leagues are middle relievers with command ratios of 3.0 who strike out a batter per inning. Find them. Given the chance, they are three to four times more likely to notch that save. Chance is the reason people find the saves category unreliable. On the contrary, performance begets chances. Opportunities are made with good skills.

We also have evidence to hate wins. In fact, it is the least reliable of all Rotisserie categories. If a pitcher can sustain employment for a major league season, his command and dominance does not predispose him toward wins. Wins is a category that requires overspending to win.

ERA, WHIP, and saves are all reliable categories. Throw your money here instead. You don't have to punt wins per se, but make sure that all of your starters have good base skills. Everything else begins here.

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About BaseballHQ.com

Ron Shandler began publishing statistical reports for baseball analysts and fantasy leaguers in 1986. Since then, his enterprise has grown into one of the largest information providers in the industry, producing quality products continuously and over a longer period than any other fantasy baseball company.

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