Filling Your Yahtzee Slots - Sixes First, Amigos

If you're playing Yahtzee and score 6-6-6-6-3 on the first turn, the right play is to enter 24 into the sixes.  It's not to enter 27 into Chance.   The reason:  AGILITY.

If you're building a baseball roster and you get a #8 overall pick, you don't enter it into the setup-man column.  (One of) the reasons:  AGILITY.


I admire a "fresh perspective, different angle" that tries to make a case that a star setup man with 70 innings is as valuable to the ballclub as a star pitcher who goes 17-9, 3.75.   I'm not trying to prevent the case from being made.

But if we lose sight of the fact that Earl Weaver jammed his good pitchers into the rotation, and didn't much care who he had relieving, it could be that we're getting lost in the math-club portable again.

There are MANY reasons that WPA comparisons could get us wrapped around the axle here:


1.  The DELTA, the difference, between Joaquim Soria's 4.08 WPA, and the WPA that the next-best reliever would have achieved in the same opportunities, is likely small.

However, the DIFFERENCE between the WPA achieved by Felix Hernandez, and your NUMBER SIX (#6) starting pitcher (if you move a star SP out of the rotation to replace him with a meatball), is likely to be large.

Let's say you move Erik Bedard to the bullpen right now, and let's even say he posts the same WPA.  Are you okay with Miguel Batista in the rotation?

The #4-5 starting pitcher slots are frequently sucking chest wounds for ML teams, especially THIS team.  The #3 reliever slot isn't.


2.  The teamwide confidence / momentum effect of a legitimate ace in the starting rotation is not measured by simple WPA.   A team with Randy Johnson starting off the series believes it can win the series -- whoever it's playing.  A team with Carlos Silva starting the series, but Joaquim Soria in the bullpen, believes something different.

What causes a ballclub, or a ballplayer, to have a good year?   Confidence is a big part of that.  Dominating SP's are the biggest factor in momentum.  Earl's 4th Law:  Momentum Is As Good As That Day's Starting Pitcher.


3.  WPA's for relievers depend on opportunity which can and will fluctuate for non-closers, from year to year.


4.  Relief pitchers are drastically more fungible than starting pitchers. You can build bullpens out of AAA on a year-in, year-out basis -- but every club in baseball is hurting for #4 and #5 starters.   You can use Stars & Scrubs to find effective relievers very quickly.


5.  Filling your RP slots before your SP slots paints you into a corner.

The simplistic, Strat-O-Matic style WPA 'analysis' ignores the question:  Where does your roster go from here?

If I have Matt Cain, Randy Johnson and Tim Lincecum, then throughout the year I will have many opportunities available to improve the rest of my pitching staff.  But if I have three great relievers and five terrible starters, my opportunities to improve my staff are far more limited.  I'm much less AGILE.

Lock in the Cy Young starters and then you have agility to improve your staff.   But!  Spend your time filling in the easy Yahtzee slots first -- CL, RHSU, LHSU -- and you'll have a bear of a time filling your 6's and Four Of A Kind.


6.  etc. etc.


This winter, our new formulas have had us wondering whether Endy Chavez should make the $12M and Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn the $1M.  ;- )   Next up, the argument over whether the long man is worth more than an Opening Day Starter.

Sometimes our confidence in our latest kewl formulas .... can deprive us of our good judgment.   We should know better than to think that relievers make short money for NO reason.

You had your four 6's, and you decided to fill in your CHANCE slot first?  Re-think.


Dr D



We might mention, too:
IFF it is the case that the Mariners made the Aumont decision WHILE UNAWARE of the simple "agility" principle, then it's not an excusable oversight.
There isn't a roto champ anywhere who would be UNAWARE that AUMONT, RP clogs his future possibilities while Aumont, SP opens them up.
Obviously I don't think that the M's are stupid, or ignorant, or anything like that -- but I will tell you what: baseball decisionmakers would be a lot better off if "Rotisserie Champion" were included on their resumes. The fast action of fantasy baseball teaches you a lot, that you're not liable to learn any other way.
There are a lot of sabermetricians who have obviously never played much roto, either.
Any roto champs here who would even consider moving Aumont to the pen unless forced to?


And all this said, I'm a sucker for the short term. :- )
Get Aumont up here in May or June and I'll whine a lot less.
And don't even come into the paint with that "hasn't paid his dues" stuff. :- ) The people in camp were whispering about how good an ML pitcher he'd be, LAST year.
He can handle relief, just like he handled the WBC. Any decent pitcher can.*

Sandy - Raleigh's picture

1) Okay - I gots a problem with attempting a comparison between #1 versus #6 SPs -- as a fair comparison in any way to one RP and the next best RP. There are 5 starters and either 6 or 7 bullpen arms -- I don't get the rationale behind a "closest" possible with "furthest possible" comparison. I happen to believe VERY strongly that Smoltz in the bullpen gave Atlanta a MAJOR boost in team-wide value for his 3 years there, compared to any year other than his CY winner.
Twweeeeeeet!!! On point one, I gotta throw a flag for bogus stat manipulation to achieve a predetermined conclusion.
2) Yes, an absolute Cy Young arm to lead the pack can change the landscape. I've looked over the last dozen #1 overall pitching draft selections, and there isn't such a beast in the entire mix. So, what makes you think Aumont has more than a 3% chance of becoming one? Because, based on the discussion thus far, I'd say he's got a better than 50% shot at becoming a solid ML reliever, (and potential closer). And if Rivera doesn't change the landscape for the Yankees, I don't understand why they gave him $15 million last season. The lock-down bullpen for Seattle in 2007 was CLEARLY the determining factor in a near-miracle season.
Twweeeeet!!!! On point two, flag for pretending argument only flows one way.
3) WPA isn't perfect. WAR isn't perfect. We can agree on both of those. But, bullpen building is still an evolving science. And the 7-8-9 closer-Hydra seems to be a growing appeal to those clubs who can afford it. The fact that most cannot afford it -- and most teams don't look much beyond the closer for class-A talent "could" be a case of being ahead of the curve.
4) Yes, you can build dreadfully sucking chest wounds of a bullpen out of AAA players on an annual basis. Pretending that the rest of baseball has had the success of Seattle in building QUALITY bullpens out of spare parts is just wishful thinking. Heck, I think the Phillies actually developed more SPs than RPs for their championship team (depending on how one counts Myers on a given day).
5) This is my favorite. When I first jumped into Fantasy baseball, I first played a hitter-only stock market game. So, I learned the relative values of hitters for a season. The next year, I opted to dive into my first full league, (this was FP, not ROTO). I had read *ALL* of the forum advice, which was universally stated -- you MUST have SPs to win championships -- and drafting RPs early was idiocy.
I was sorely lacking in knowledge of relative pitcher value. So, I decided to punt year #1 -- I'd draft hitters heavy up front, take dregs for pitching, and use year #1 as a learning experience. I won the league. Why? Well, I had the best offense, yes. But, I ALSO ended up with the best pitching!!! How? Because, I knew my draft was such that I was immediatley better positioned to pick up the April surprises.
What I figured out after the fact was simple. HAVING great SPs was not synonymous with DRAFTING great SPs. The widely held and accepted wisdom turned out to simply be wrong.
The next year, I entered an experts league, which I won using primarily the same drafting approach, except I went and drafted two stellar closers early, (rounds 5/6).
There is some truthiness to your statement. But, it's only true if you CANNOT go out and get SPs when you need them. Boston won their titles with imported SPs and a homegrown closer. If you were talking Oakland or Tampa, your contention would be a very valid observation. But, Seattle has the money, where they CAN go out and sink major money into an SP when the time is right. They do not HAVE to develop their own SPs from within, (and frankly, they've shown no evidence that they are capable of doing so).
Personally, I'm kinda liking the idea of a business model of ...
Draft and develop quick-turnover closers, which can be off-loaded for multiple offensive prospects in rapid-fire succession.
Go out and purchase the SPs who have managed to survive the developmental nightmare of being an MLB starter on the FA market once you believe your offense can turn their talent into wins.
Screw developing SPs yourself, as they are the highest risk, lowest success-rate pieces in the game, and your club has the financial capital to afford the finished product without having to develop your own assembly line.

4're wrong about the Yahtzee move though, Doc. :) The correct play is to enter those 6s into the 4 of a kind slot...your odds of drawing at least 3 6s far outweigh your odds of drawing another 4-of-a-kind.


Oh yeah. You're right Matty. Forgot about 4-of-a-kind. Been fifteen years since I played. :- )
Sorry we don't always have time to respond in more detail, San-man. Keep it comin' bro.

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