Friday, April 01, 2011

Mixed Leagues

I'm in one of these laid-back, screwy Yahoo! leagues for the first time. 6x6 (R, OPS, K, QS), mixed league, H2H, $260 auction. 9 position players, 9 P. Playoffs in the last three weeks. I already know that shallow leagues lead to non-linear prices; the studs skyrocket. And obviously the addition of Ks and QS will make middle relievers almost worthless, and seriously devalue closers (except for Carlos Marmol). Two specific, yet general theory-based questions:

1. Is $60 high enough for Pujols, especially given the few position players who play each week?

2. How close to Pujols should pitchers like Halladay, Felix H., Lincecum, and Lee be priced?
I typically don't discuss mixed leagues in this space. However, I am vaguely familiar with some of the theory surrounding mixed leagues.

At a glance, it would seem that the best players in mixed leagues should cost less, not more. After all, the worst hitter in a mixed league line-up is better than the worst hitter in an N.L.-only line-up, so Pujols is producing a lower percentage of stats for your team than in an N.L.-only.

It doesn't work that way, though. Prices for the superstars like Pujols are higher because what he contributes can't be found in the free agent pool in any year, while the stats for someone like James Loney can. Replace Loney with Lyle Overbay and you'll get most of what you lost back. Flip Overbay in for Pujols and your team will be hurting.

However, I'm not sure how well this theory works - or doesn't work - in the format that T.J. is describing. Nine position players and nine teams mean that you're buying 81 players. Someone like Josh Hamilton - who had a $19 A.L.-only average salary last year - would have been purchased in some nine-team mixed leagues but also would have been a free agent in others. Paul Konerko probably would have been available last year. From the N.L. side of the pool, I see even more $25+ earners like Corey Hart, Kelly Johnson, Drew Stubbs, Aubrey Huff and Chris Young who probably would have been free agents in a nine-team mixed league where you're only buying nine hitters.

This would make Pujols a little less special and probably decrease - and not increase - his price. Pushing him a little higher in a nine-team mixed makes some sense to me. Pushing him to $60 does not.

As for the pitchers, it's far more likely that you will be able to pluck a top performer from the FA pool simply due to the variability on the pitching side. On the other hand, the limited value of closers in this format minimizes this somewhat. Yet looking at the cheap pitchers who were taken in A.L. or N.L.-only leagues that probably weren't grabbed in mixed, I still see a lot of names. In the A.L., there was Trevor Cahill, Colby Lewis, Gio Gonzalez, and C.J. Wilson. In the N.L., there were actually fewer pitchers like this but a few names jump out.

Still, Roy Halladay might be just as "unique" in this format as Albert Pujols is. You're also playing with five quantitative hitting categories versus four quantitative pitching categories. The "correct" split for offense/pitching is $145/$115 due to the additional quantitative pitching categories and the fact that you're only buying nine hitters. Halladay's price might be closer to Pujols' than you think it is.

However, I don't know for certain because I've never played in this format and don't know how the prices actually shake out. The addition of quality starts, though, makes me believe that if everyone else is spending big on hitters that you might be able to defy the odds by spending big on your pitching staff and putting together a balanced offense across the board. But without any data to back this up, this is all just speculation based upon theory on my part.

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