Ottoneu Auctioneering Series Part II: On Using PoTP to Assign Player Values
By: Brad Williamson
Topic: Ottoneu, Auction drafting, PoTP
In part one of this series we looked at different types of auctions, which types of auctions Ottoneu utilizes, how to prepare for an auction draft, and how to behave while the draft is happening. But none of this matters if you don’t have a system in place to assign valuations to the players you are interested in. Our sytem, PoTP, or Percentage of Total Points, assigns these valuations. Here’s how it works:
Ottoneu actually offers four different scoring options; each falls into one of two types: rotisserie or points-based. Though this article will focus on Ottoneu, it is important to remember that PoTP allows us to generalize and customize results for any other rotisserie, points-based, or head-to-head league, not only Ottoneu. Let’s begin with points-based leagues. Here is the scoring template for Fangraphs Points leagues, one of the four scoring options available in Ottoneu:
Pretty self-explanatory, but what isn’t clear is how this alters players’ values. Before getting into our system of putting prices to players, I think it’s important to point out a few key things this scoring format does. It immediately devalues steals, runs, and RBIs, and essentially equalizes all bullpen arms. A dynamite set-up man is now almost the same as a good closer, while a speedster with no other skills is likely not worth putting on your team. Now, how should you properly assign values to your players? It’s actually rather simple, but requires diligence.
Assigning Precise Values and Understanding Draft Capital
Capital is succinctly defined here: “wealth in the form of money or other assets owned by a person or organization or available or contributed for a particular purpose such as starting a company or investing”.
Succeeding in Ottoneu requires a change of paradigm. You must consider your team an organization that is investing in assets. You must think like a GM, which is the entire premise of the game. Still, many owners underestimate what this entails—don’t be that owner. By assigning values to a player you are declaring how much capital you believe that player to be worth. If you assign too little, you will be outbid, but if you assign too much, you will run out of money. The key to Ottoneu is not loading up on stars; the key is to build a complete team with both production and value that exceed capital at as many positions as possible. This is how you do that:
First, pick a player you’re interested in. I will pick Jose Ramirez for this exercise because I’d like to illustrate the wide gap between valuations. This is much different than typical drafts where the top-15 or -20 players will have steady ADPs. Here, each player’s value depends directly on how much you think they’re worth in relation to your budget instead of how much value they’re worth in relation to the round you’re picking in, a subtle but extraordinarily important point to understand. In a non-auction draft, the draft itself essentially limits your capital, each subsequent round being worth slightly less than the round before it, with every owner given the opportunity to take the player of their choice without penalty during each round. Round one might be worth an average of $44, round two $39, round three $34—the exact values make no difference in traditional drafts. But the key that you must understand is that this traditional type of draft automatically limits the capital you have to spend. You don’t have to worry about managing that aspect of your team; in Ottoneu you must manually manage this capital. If you spend $44 on three different players you might get three first-round picks, but this increases the chance that the rest of your team will be worthless. I cannot stress the importance of understanding this subtle but absolutely critical difference in draft formats.
Next, make your best prediction of what you expect your player’s—in this case Ramirez—season to look like. Here’s mine for Jose:
625 Abs = -625
185 hits = 1,036
36 doubles = 104.4
6 triples = 34.2
34 homers = 319.6
90 BBs = 270
2 HBP = 6
32 SBs = 60.8
6 CS = –16.8
This gives us 1,189.2 points. Now decide how many points you’re trying to earn in your league. Let’s shoot high and say we want to assure victory with 20,000 points. Therefore I am predicting that Ramirez will score 5.95% of my points. I talked in part one of this series about creating hard-cap values for players that you promise yourself not to exceed when bidding. At first glance it makes sense to simply allocate 5.95% of my budget to Jose’s hard cap, but this doesn’t work. And here we’ve hit upon another one of the mainstays of Ottoneu: salary cap management.
If 20 players each earn 5% of your points and you draft them at 5% of your salary cap, then you will fill only half your roster, not to mention this would be illegal. But if you draft 40 players who you can afford but only earn 2% of your points, you won’t field a good team. You have to find value–excess capital in other words–in every player you select, which is why this preparation is so important. Even if Ramirez has a 50/50 season (which he won’t), buying him at auction for $80 is a bad purchase.
To ensure you’re getting good players at good values, find their percentage of total points (PoTP), calculate how much of your budget that amounts to, and set that player’s hard cap to 75% of this. In our example Jose’s 5.95 PoTP comes to $23.8 of our $400 budget. We’ll be generous with our hard cap just this once and call it $24. Some simple math tells us that 75% of this is $18. You will not under any circumstance bid more than $18 for Jose, except when using…
Your Two-Hitter-Two-Pitcher and Big Exceptions
So your hard cap on Jose is $18, but you really think he’s going to have a huge year and you don’t believe $18 will get him, even with aggressive, smart bidding. Once you’ve assigned values to all the players you’re interested in, go back through the list and pick just a few of your favorites. On draft-day, depending how the auction goes, you can bid 100% of the PoTP (but this is truly a hard cap, no more than a $24 bid for Jose, even if he’s one of your exceptions) on four players–two hitters and two pitchers. You don’t have to do this, but you can, and you cannot do more than four, or more than two of each. Stick to the plan because it will work.
In addition to the two-hitter-two-pitcher exception, you can go big on two additional players. Think of these as your first- and second-round picks. Using this system won’t get you many of the top-tier players, but it will give you a balanced and productive team that will compete for years to come; sometimes, however, it’s important to get that ace or top hitter despite the price. Pick one batter and one pitcher you need and you may bid 150% of their PoTP on each of them. You could therefore bid up to $36 for Jose. In no circumstance should you win with bids of 100% or more of a player’s PoTP more than these six times.
This ensures you are able to get several stars while managing your entire team and promises that you’ll have money to spend on the waiver wire later in the year. If you do declare an emergency and spend more than the PoTP allots, then you must subtract the amount you go over from another player’s cost. Otherwise your entire budget will be skewed. Therefore if you are able to get a player beneath their pre-exception PoTP price, then you can spend that saved money elsewhere, using it even on top of a big exception should you deem such a purchase responsible.
Assigning your PoTP for rotisserie will work very similarly; you only need to make a couple small adjustments. Here are the 5X5 stats used in Ottoneu leagues:
The inclusion of average, ERA, and WHIP make this calculation slightly more difficult, but it’s still possible to assign proper values. Let’s assume a 15-team league, so with 10 categories there is a maximum of 150 points. Whereas 20,000 points was our goal in the points league, let’s set our goal here at 100 points. To calculate how much production you need to reach this goal, simply aim for the 80th percentile at each position’s statistics and then calculate a comprehensive total. Reaching such a goal will give you a realistic chance to win any league. For 2019, among hitters with at least 200 ABs, qualified pitchers, and relievers, the 80th percentile values were as follows:
Assuming all your positions log approximately equal ABs, which they should if your team is balanced, then we can just add these totals to arrive at a team goal. We will also assume you’ve rostered five starters, three good relievers, and one closer, though these might fluctuate. You’ll have to adjust this aspect of your calculations if you plan on using a different amount of pitchers. The saves category is the main problem here, but you can assume you have at least one good closer who will provide ~35 saves in addition to the charted values. Here are your calculated team goals using the 80th percentile marker from the 2019 season:
Calculating Precise Batter Values in Rotisserie
Let’s stick with Jose:
AVG = .296 = 10 points above team’s AVG goal
HR = 34/208 = 16.35% of team’s home run goal
RBI = 100/624 = 16.03% of team’s RBI goal
SB = 32/80 = 40% of team’s SB goal
R = 100/644 = 15.53% of team’s R goal
Since all five categories are equally valuable you can weight them equally. The PoTP system does this very easily by finding the player’s comprehensive percentage (CP) of the five stats; in this scenario the CP comes to 17.58% [(HR%+RBI%+SB%+R%)/500]. Then, for every point above or below the AVG goal add or subtract a tenth of a percentage to adjust the calculation. We are predicting 10 points above goal, so we add 1% and get 18.58 PoTP. This comes to a whopping $74.32, or $74-$75. The only difference here with the PoTP system between Points leagues and rotisserie is that you will set your hard cap to 50% of this value, so in this case we have Jose hard-capped at $37.
There is a huge gap between his value in points leagues ($18) and rotisserie leagues ($37), but this can easily be explained. We stated earlier that the points league devalues steals, runs, and RBIs, but these stats are important in this rotisserie format. Different players will carry league-dependent capital, but don’t be wary of these disparities. Trust the system.
You should also be cautious when using your exceptions in rotisserie, because some players will be very expensive. When bidding on your six hard-cap-exempt players, use 75% of their PoTP price as your new hard cap. In this example, if you want to use Jose as one of your two batters, his hard cap would increase from $37 to $56, or 75% of his $74 value. For your big exception, bid 100% of the player’s value instead of the 150% that you used in the Fangraphs points league. In this example, Jose’s absolute maximum price will be $74 if you decide to use your big batter exception on him.
That is a huge bid. Although the system allows this bid, I suggest setting a limit that you’re willing to spend on any single player. I suggest not spending more than $50 on any one player, but you can choose a different limit or even risk not having one, but remember that you need to field a full team and save some of your budget for the waiver wire.
Calculating Precise Pitcher Values in Rotisserie
Pitchers’ calculations will look very similar, but let’s do one for illustrative purposes. Let’s use Julio Teherán for this exercise. And remember, these are my rankings. You need to make your own. Every owner will value every player differently, so don’t trust their ADPs, don’t trust what others are saying, make your own calculations!
My prediction for Julio’s 2020 campaign:
W = 14
SV = 0
ERA = 3.60
WHIP = 1.22
K = 220
And his percentages:
W = 14/95 = 14.74% of team’s W goal
SV = 0/59 = 0% of team’s SV goal
ERA = 3.60 > 3.15 = .45 above team’s ERA goal
WHIP = 1.22 > 1.06 = .16 above team’s WHIP goal
K = 220/1,503 = 14.64% of team’s K goal
Once again they are all weighted equally, so let’s find Julio’s CP [(W%+SV%+K%)/500]: 5.88%. But we still need to adjust for ERA and WHIP. For every hundredth point of ERA and WHIP in either direction, adjust a hundredth of a percentage. For Julio this means we need to adjust by -.61 percentage points, giving us a 5.27 PoTP. This comes to $21.08, let’s call it $22 because he’s so durable. Cut it in half and we get a hard cap of $11 on Julio. Remember, if you think he’ll earn more wins or log a higher ERA, your hard cap will be different from mine. That’s okay.
Some Warnings for Rotisserie Players Regarding Fluctuating PoTP Values
Your weighting system will only be accurate if you don’t exceed each individual category. Remember to balance your team. Once you have a group of players who reach your team’s goal in one category, each subsequent intended starting player who adds to that category will only count for 50% in further weightings for that category. For example, let’s say you want a pitching staff of Verlander, Cole, Strasburg, Scherzer, and Castillo. Nevermind that you would have no money to spend on any other player, you would be wasting stats. Here’s why:
Imagine you’re in the middle of your draft. You’ve selected Verlander, Cole, Stras, and Scherzer, who together hypothetically reach 95 wins, achieving your team goal. Then, when you go to look up Castillo’s PoTP, you see he now earns only 50% credit for wins despite a predicted 15 victories. Once you’ve drafted players whose allocations reach your team goals, further additions of these stats are superfluous and will be handicapped. If you counted all these stats, your team could easily end up wildly unbalanced.
Castillo’s value pre-draft would include his wins, of course, but this is something you must be extremely cognizant of during the actual draft. Despite a specific player’s theoretical PoTP, their actual PoTP can fluctuate if you’ve already drafted similar players earlier in the draft. This can be confusing to track, especially if the draft is a fast draft, but you must try. Blundering this aspect of the draft is what oftentimes results in highly unbalanced teams, and in Ottoneu more than in any other format, it’s difficult to rebalance your team mid-season.
If, however, the intended starting players you have drafted meet all your team goals, then you can once again begin fully crediting subsequent stats into their PoTP values, as these will be surplus statistics. But this is only in the case that you have filled all your goals with other intended starting players.
Therefore, returning to the previous example, say you’ve selected Verlander, Cole, Stras, Scherzer, and several closers, and have met all three counting stats. If by some miracle Castillo is still on the board, you can now select him at his pre-draft PoTP value, assuming you have the funds; his wins can now be factored into his value because you’ve met all goals and balanced your team. But if you select him before you have your closers he will carry inherently less value since you still need saves while his wins are unnecessary.
While it is true that the value of statistical categories will fluctuate more than simply back-and-forth from full- to half-value, this is merely a system meant to assist you in balancing your team during the draft. I do not claim that Castillo’s wins are actually worth exactly half of what they were worth in the given scenario, but assuming this helps you draft wisely and carefully.
Planning Your Draft Strategy Around PoTP
Of course you cannot simply target all the best players. That would be too expensive. If you only research the elite players, then you will not have a good draft. You need to have a well-rounded pre-draft ranking of players. With your budget of $400 you need to field a 40-man roster with 22 starters and 18 reserves or prospects. This is why you can afford to have the 4-player exception and two big exceptions, because at least 10 of your players are going to be low-cost minor leaguers, inexpensive relievers, or platoon bats. For players valued at $7 or less before their hard cap, feel free to bid at 100% of their PoTP.
Not everyone is trying to fill an entire roster. Still, in dynasty leagues where you might only need a few players, the PoTP system is easily applicable. Instead of finding your PoTP values with a $400 budget, simply use your available salary cap minus the amount you need for in-season waiver wire moves as your total percentage. And when setting goals for the picks you need to make, all you must do is subtract the expected stats you already have on your team from your season’s goal, and what you have left over is what your new picks need to deliver. This works smoothly whether you’re in a points or rotisserie league as long as you are thorough with your research and calculations.
It also helps if you plug players into categories, or tiers. You don’t have to do this, but it can certainly help you budget, though theoretically, if you follow the PoTP plan accordingly, you won’t have budgeting concerns. The only issue becomes if you’re unable to get any of your players at the PoTP values you’ve calculated. To prepare for this eventuality, I recommend mock drafting if possible, but even if mocks are unavailable to you, the following solutions can still help if you’re in multiple drafts and botch the first one. At least you can salvage the remaining drafts.
In this case you have two options: find new players you didn’t catch the first time around, because there are always undervalued players to be had, or re-examine the players you’ve already priced and see if you can alter their hard caps through new analysis. But whatever you do, tempting as it might be, don’t ditch the PoTP strategy; it won’t work if there are leaks in your team because you’ve illogically fudged numbers and statistics.
It’s easy to think you won’t be able to get enough good players, but this just isn’t true. You might not get everyone you want, but the people who do get these expensive players will regret it very soon. By following the PoTP framework you will ensure your team is competitive this year while remaining fluid in its ability to make transactions both throughout the year and into next offseason and beyond.
How to Value Prospects and Bench Players
This is tough because you might predict their PoTP to be zero due to not getting a call this year, or maybe they’re valued at $2 because they won’t get much playing time, but their value is in the future and in slow game days. If there are prospects you love and have unbiased reasons for loving, feel free to bid up to $20, or about the value of one good starter, of your budget on a select group of players solely for your team’s future. The money spent here on nonproduction shouldn’t hinder you because you should have already met your primary goals with your intended starting players, while these players will help ensure you have a healthy team into the future. Similarly, assuming you’ve filled your needs, feel free to obtain economical bats or pitching reclamation efforts, but do so with PoTP in mind; simply because they only cost $3 according to your prediction is no reason to assume paying $4 is okay, and neither should you try to pay only $2.
By this point you should have the PoTP system mastered for your drafts, but there is one other key aspect of Ottoneu, and fantasy baseball in general, where PoTP will assist you. Read part three of this series to find out what that is.