Saturday, February 24, 2007

Adjusting the odds in your favor

Thanks to some excellent questions from site visitors, I've steered the conversation the last few days toward teams whose freeze lists are significantly weaker than their opponents. It's easier to conduct your auction when you have a stacked freeze list. Mistakes can be made, but I will play it safe in these situations and try to draft steady veterans rather than young kids or older players returning from injury. Certainly, there is more to drafting as the favorite than this, but it's obvious what you need to do.

If you do have a weaker team, there are five methods I've identified over the years that will slightly or somewhat stack the deck in your favor. Over the next few days, I'll talk about each of these methods more in depth. For now, I'll simply identify them, with a brief description of each one.

It all starts with valuation. You're not going to win without figuring out what each and every player is worth, down to the scrubbiest catcher on the worst team in baseball. However, valuation is the hardest place to get an edge, since everyone has a very similar understanding of how pricing works and bid limits every year get tighter in tighter in every auction I've ever been in.

Off-season Trading is the next way a good owner can improve his team. This ties back to valuation, since you obviously don't want to misjudge how much your player is worth and give him away or overestimate your opponent's player and pay too much. Again, the problem with gaining an edge here ties back to valuation: part of Stage 3 hell is that we all pretty much have the same prices for the same players, give or take a dollar or two.

Inflation, which I've already talked about in depth, is part of valuation, but also has nuances that deserve greater detail. Should hitting and pitching inflation be tracked separately? Should inflation be tracked on a player-by-player basis? Is inflation skewed by position scarcity? I'll discuss this as I go along.

Optimal bidding is a term coined by John Benson. A less elegant way of phrasing this is "not bidding par". The idea is that if a player is worth $40 you shouldn't bid $40 since that's 100% of his value. Benson's theory was that you could fill out a team bidding 80% of every player's value. I'll discuss why this simply doesn't work, but also how you can use the concept to your advantage.

Finally, if the gulf in your league is so wide that none of these measures above closes the gap, there is always category optimization which, less elegantly, is called category dumping. I'm personally a big advocate of this for many reasons. However, it is controversial to some, and many expert touts and Roto players alike are dead set against category dumping for many reasons.

Obviously, some of these methods inevitably will overlap. As I go along in the coming days, I'd be glad to hear from any of you in the comments section of any additional tactics that you feel can or do tilt the odds in your favor as well.

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