sorry this post is so long don't let it discourage you from reading it!
First off i'll give you a short background on the fantasy league i belong to. It is a highly competetive 11 team NL only auction style 5X5 league. With 23 total active players 13 position 10 pitchers and the such.
The league has been together for 4 years now but last season was our first year using the auction styled formate (which i highly recomend to anyone who hasn't tried it), as well every owners first time experiencing an auction style league.
I entered the draft with the strategy of punting starting pitchers all together and going with a strong core of 3-4 decently valued closers and then filling the remaining of my pitching slots with middle relievers and set up men. My theory was extremely had to predict pitchers whom do not fit the distinction as beint elite and being only an NL league the list is even smaller, because of this i decided to try a rarely discussed strategy of punting wins and K's. By using all closers and middle relievers the idea is that you'll have an aboundance of Saves (its suggested that you draft at least 3 closers to insure finnishing at the top of pack) making yoru team virtually untouchable in that catagory. Since non of your pitchers are kept in teh game for longer than 3 innings (for the most part) there is a far less chance that they will be left high and dry thus your overall team ERA and WHIP will easily be within the top 3 of the league if not the best overall.
If your league employs a minium innings pitched rule to counter such a tatic, you can still use this strategy by simply drafting 3 A or B grade pitchers and then gambling on some lower profile closers or top set up men that have a chance at the closer job during the season.
If you happen to play in a 4X4 league this strategy will easily win you the pitching title for your only punting one catagory, Wins. Most people would argue that if you punt any catagory it should be saved for closers are one dimensional and thus not worth the money spent on them, or a high draft pick in straight pick styled leagues. But i argue that esspecially in a 4X4 league it is easier to amount a large number of saves, that it is to predict starting pitchers and wins, with a core of 3 or so strong closers and then filling your roster will players who will pick up a few scraps here and there throughout the season.
By the end of the draft my pitching staff was as fallowed:
Jason Isringhausen - $25
Byung Hyung-Kim - $19
John Smoltz - $18
Mike Williams - $3
Octavio Dotel - $6
Jose Jimenez - $3
Eric Gagne - $1 (best catch of entire draft)
Giovanni Carrera - $1
Scott Sullivan - $1
Matt Herges - $
although i over spen on Isringhausen i was smart in drafting Herges, Carrera and Gange who at the time where all a core part of the Dodgers bullpen expecting one to win out the closer job. Williams and Jimenez where also at a great price due to lack of respect for closers in my league.
The plan is not fool proof by any means, and inorder for it to work you must have a well balanced offense which is in the top of every catagory to make up for being last in 2 pitching catagories. I made up for some holes in my offense during teh season by eventually trading Isringhausen, Kim and Jimenez and replacing them with middle relievers since i was already well ahead in teh saves catagory. By the end of the season i had one my league by 3 points and had the 2nd best pitching staff overall with an amazing total of 167 saves!
Let me know your comments and ideas are of this strategy. I'm interested in your imput because i am still trying to decide it the method is good enough to attempt two years in a row when the league already knows about it.
A Jose Canseco bat?! Hope you didn't pay money for this
It might work again. The problem with this type of plan is that it gives you very little room for error. In order for this to work you had better know that your offense can dominate. If anyone else tries your strat. it might not work as well as the price of relief pitchers could go up.
In theory it sound great, but I don't think you would win a league like that. Finish in the top three or four sure, but win...Hardy ever. My NL only league is very similar to yours (12 teams instead of 11) and that pitching staff in my league would not have won the league.
I never said the plan was fool proof no plan is, however i was able to sneek past the rest of the league in using the plan for they had never seen it before (aside from the one owner whom hinted to the idea prior to the draft which is where i got it from)
but to say you wouldn't win the league is also wrong for i did, do i think you could rely on it every year? probably not but its nice to see that there are other options that can work out there.
The main key is to make sure your offense is strong enough and if it isn't don't hesitate to trade a closer or two once your far enough a head in that catagory (i had almost 50 saves before the end of april!) to make up to your holes. By the end of the season my total points for offense was 42 which placed me 3rd offensively allowing me to sneek by and win the league by a close margin of 3 points
A Jose Canseco bat?! Hope you didn't pay money for this
I think you won less through a specific strategy than by gauging your league's preferences and going against the flow.
The all-relievers strategy can work and it can fizzle, but when your league shuns closers (you won't see closers with a stranglehold on their jobs going for $3 in too many NL-only leagues...), it makes a lot of sense. At those prices, it might be hard to use any other strategy.
Unfortunately, it's doubtful that your league will again hand you closers at such bargain-basement prices. I'd take a wait-and-see approach into this year's auction: if closers are again cheap, by all means go with this plan again. But if, as is more likely, other owners try to bid you up (or imitate the strategy themselves), drop out when the bidding gets too high and leave them hanging. If you can again go against the strategies used by the rest of the league, you'll be in good shape.
I tried this exact philosophy last year and it netted me 3rd place. It seems like this approach works better in Roto style leagues then H2H because if your closer (smoltz) has a bad week like he did at the beginning of the year last year then it destroys your era/whip for that week and you end up losing 4 out of 5 categories in pitching (as I did). Anytime you have a 5-5 week in h2h it hurts big time. I think our league champion only had 18 loses in a half-season league. you have to have a better balance to win in H2H
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I tried the same exact strategy in my 12 team roto league last year. Finished 2nd and lost by a point. I do believe it can guarantee you a 3rd place finish or higher if there are no inning restrictions. I employed a similar strategy, trading some of my closers when i got a big cushion. You might run into trading problems with your league if they catch on to your ploy each year. You might find guys not trading you a speed or power guy because they know you have no need for your closers. I am contemplating doing this again, but i feel there is some good cheap pitching to be had every year. I might try of build a low budget staff instead. Not fun in the last couple week of the season knowing you can't get anymore roto points.
I was lucky in the draft closers did not go undervalued persay, they actually went for to much early on with Nenn at 31, Benitez at 28, Hoffmen at 31 and Wagner at 26, but after that i think teams shyed away from the so called "Second tier" of closers and due to their neivity i was able to capitalize on their lack of knowledge of smaller market teams.
However i do think the strategy will be much harder to empoly a second time since it has been expolited for an entire year already. So i am not totally sure how i want to tackle my pitching staff next year, one this is sure though i will be keeping John Smoltz at $18 and Eric Gange at $1 to anchor my staff in saves