Early Lessons from the Pitcher List Ottoneu League

Dave Cherman gives you an intro to Ottoneu in real time.

On February 15th and 16th, twelve members of the Pitcher List staff ventured into uncharted territory: Ottoneu. For those looking for a breakdown on how Ottoneu works, check out Mark McElroy’s article on the topic as well as his PitchCon presentation. To summarize briefly, Ottoneu is a hybrid keeper/dynasty format that attempts to mimic Major League Baseball closely through the use of salaries and subsequent salary increases, budget issues, and roster crunches.

During this process, we’ve all learned some lessons about the format and we’d like to take the opportunity to recap them for you:


Lesson 1: Knowing When to Drop vs When to Hold


It’s six months past draft day and Yasiel Puig is still not on a team. On draft day, you were able to get him for a discount at $6. If you drop him and he signs with a team (for real, this time), someone else will get him and likely at a discount even from your $6 price tag. But right now, he’s just eating up a precious roster spot. What do you do?

That decision is a complicated one that depends on several factors, most notably: where are you in the standings and what is the state of your team? While this is true of dynasty in general, it’s even more of a consideration when salaries are involved. If you’re in first place with $3 in salary cap space, you might need someone like a $2 Ben Gamel more than Yasiel Puig, because that extra bench bat is incredibly vital. If you’re in last place and you’re building more towards next year, Puig might be a must-hold. There is no wholly right or wholly wrong answer. Every transaction becomes a detailed cost-benefit analysis.


Lesson 2: Managing Your Roster


Ottoneu has a unique way of managing pitcher slots in your lineup; despite players having SP or RP “eligibility” next to their name, you can actually place a pitcher anywhere in your lineup. However, they can only get points if they’re placed into the spot in which they’re actually used in real life; for example, if I put Michael Fulmer into an RP spot, but he starts the game, I do not accumulate those stats (which I might be happy about). While this seems pretty straightforward, the position eligibility next to a player can make things quite confusing. Last year, Jordan Montgomery started in only one of his two appearances, thus making him a relief pitcher for this season. His manager has to be conscious of his real-life usage and be sure to place him correctly.


Lesson 3: How Much to Bid?


This is perhaps the most difficult thing to learn when transitioning to a dynasty with salaries. To contrast it against a dynasty¬†without salaries, you can use a tool like Andy Patton’s dynasty rankings to help gauge player value. Looking at that list, you understand that MacKenzie Gore is more valuable than Casey Mize. But what happens when Gore is $7 and Mize is $2? While we’ve all gone through a draft, this is still something we’re all learning, as evidenced by some of our struggles in bidding which is arguably more difficult. During an auction draft, you can see everyone else’s bids in real time as the value begins to climb. However, in Ottoneu, when you want to pick up a player, you nominate them for a blind bid that lasts 48 hours. At the end of the 48 hours, whoever bid the most wins.

A lot goes into the decision on how much to bid. First, who else in the league either needs or wants this player? Second, how much are those individuals willing or able to spend? Third, what’s my place in the standings? To the first point, every single bid that I’m interested in forces me into a deep dive on every other manager’s roster to get a sense of how badly I might have to fight to get this player. As a result, I’ve become pretty intimate with the other rosters in this league. But also because we’re a staff of writers, someone may have published an article on a hitter they like. This knowledge should’ve helped me realize that Michael Ajeto would bid high on players like Eric Hosmer or Ben Gamel, but I was too short-sighted to see it. To the second point, if I really want a player up for auction, I need to have a thorough understanding of the other teams’ budget situations; that knowledge dictates the aggressiveness of the bid. To the third point, a team’s relative place in the standings is the tiebreaker in bidding. If I’m in first place and someone nominates a player, I know I have to bid at least $1 over the minimum in order to win him, as I’d lose any tiebreaker for the minimum. Meanwhile, a last place team can be a little more conservative with their bidding.




These are just a few of the things we’ve learned so far. Once the season ends, we will have salary raises and arbitration to deal with that should greatly complicate things. How much do you allocate to each player? How much do you think others will bid? Expect another article like this in the future with even more lessons.


Featured image by Justin Paradis (@FreshMeatCommr on Twitter)

Dave Cherman

Across the Seams Manager, also a former player and umpire and New York-based lawyer who spends his free time studying advanced statistics and obsessing over fantasy trades. Will debate with you about most anything.

One response to “Early Lessons from the Pitcher List Ottoneu League”

  1. Tee says:

    As someone who’s already intimate with Ottoneu, I would love to read more of these types of articles. This article points out some of the interesting dilemmas you face as an Ottoneu manager, but I’d love to read a more detailed accounting of how you think through these decisions, and lessons learned/tips.

    I think you could write some really interesting articles based on deep dives into specific examples of in your league, especially since Ottoneu leagues are public (what’s your league #?) and so we can really follow along as we read. For example, a difficult decision of whether to cut an injured player, a walk through of how you went about constructing a specific trade offer that you thought was interesting, or any other tough roster decision you had to make.

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