Welcome, folks, to the Pitcher List staff leagues. This year, we added a huge number of new staff members, which allowed us to expand from three to a whopping six leagues! As a reminder, these leagues are standard 5×5 and are set up relegation style, which means if you finish in the top three, you move up; if you finish in the bottom three, you move down.
There’s an adage from Kevin Millar: “It’s not always the best team wins the World Series but it’s, most of the time, the hottest team.” I truly believe in Millar’s words here. But sometimes, the hottest team is also the best team. That’s what occurred in the Legacy League, as No. 1 seed Rick Graham secured a 5-4 victory, eliminating third-seeded Jonathan Metzelaar to secure his first PLATYPUS.
The pair entered the day in a heated race: tied in RBI, steals, wins, and saves. What followed was pure mayhem, as Jon’s offense exploded for 12 RBI on three home runs. Unfortunately, while Jon was enjoying the power display, Rick’s team racked up one steal from Adalberto Mondesi and two wins to Jon’s one in each to steal those two categories. It was enough to secure his 5-4 victory.
When asked about his victory, Rick said, “As expected, it came down to the wire Sunday, but luckily I still had some FAAB budget left to just barely out-stream Jon and his 39 add/drops this week.” Rick, of course, is referencing the Jonathan Metzelaar Transaction Watch. The final number? 276 over the course of the season for an average of 11.5 transactions per week.
I further asked Rick about his biggest strength against Jon; “[My] starting pitching, which showed this week.” And show, it did, with Rick beating Jon by three points in ERA and nearly 0.4 in WHIP. However, Rick’s strategy did seem a bit peculiar in one way. He is Pitcher List’s resident closer expert, and yet, he rostered only Brandon Workman in the final. “When I decided to drop [Jose] Leclerc and [Kenley] Jansen in order to stream starters just to advance [against Austin Bristow in the semifinals], I had already made up my mind I would be punting saves. It worked out as I had an early lead in ERA/WHIP this week and was able to just stream for Ws and Ks.” For the record, after Rick dropped both closers, I used my remaining $50 in FAAB to acquire both in an attempt to troll both finalists.
The strategy clearly worked for Rick, and we’re proud to crown him our PLATYPUS OF THE LEGACY LEAGUE!
Special recognition should be given to Jonathan Metzelaar for coming in second place and Kyle Bishop for finishing third. Next year, we say goodbye to Myles Nelson, Max Posner, and Alex Fast, who depart for the Prodigy League. In their stead, we welcome the return of Ben Pernick, the champion of the Prodigy League, along with Brennan Gorman, and Brandon Lundberg.
— Dave Cherman
Astudillo Ghibli (Ben Pernick) is your 2019 Prodigy League champion! After reaching the playoffs as the No. 5 seed, Ben’s squad took care of business last week and managed to win in the championship, 6-4, over Brennen Gorman’s squad. Led by Trey Mancini, Kyle Schwarber and Trea Turner, Ben won all five hitting categories! He managed to take strikeouts, 70-48, which was enough to get him a victory. Congratulations to our champion!
The third-place game is where our overall No. 1 seed, Boydz-in-the-hood, found themselves, but they at least managed to win that one and salvage their season somewhat. They defeated the Statcast Darlings 5-4 behind solid hitting from Nelson Cruz and Jonathan Villar, and solid stuff on the bump from Justin Verlander.
Congrats to our winner(s) this season!
– Andy Patton
Death. Taxes. Dave Fisher.
Dave’s team, “Not Dan,” is about as certain as it gets. To be fair, he didn’t own first place wire-to-wire, but he was close to it. Paul Ghiglieri made a bid to supplant Dave for a minute, but he was dealt with as ruthlessly as Robb Stark.
Dave and Paul fought for the title, and Dave even scored a decisive win 8-2 in that matchup. How did he do it? It all started with the trio Clayton Kershaw, Luis Castillo, and Zack Grienke, who held down his rotation virtually all season with a little help from Joe Musgrove and Tyler Glasnow.
Offensively, Dan’s outfield could match just about anyone’s with Mike Trout, George Springer, Kris Bryant, Charlie Blackmon, and Austin Meadows. Timely pickups of Bo Bichette, Mike Tauchman, Will Smith, Scott Kingery, Lourdes Gurriel, Matt Olson, and Adam Eaton also helped.
Dave, Paul, and Jake Bridges are the top three. They move up to the Prodigy League, meanwhile Daniel McNamera, Alex Drennan, and Colin Weatherwax took places 9-12 and will be demoted.
– Travis Sherer
No. 2 Prognosis Negative (Ryan Amore) vs. No. 1 Led Z.Eflin (Max Freeze)
Here we are folks, the championship matchup between the two teams that paced the league for the majority of the season.
The matchup started as a microcosm of the week, with Prognosis Negative jumping out to an early offensive lead thanks to dingers from Jeff McNeil and Marcus Semien, as well as a stolen base from one of the unlikeliest of sources: Yadier Molina. After the first day, Prognosis Negative held a 3-0-2 lead in hitting, while Led Z.Eflin picked up a single K from Jairo Diaz. Thursday was the backbreaker on offense, though. Prognosis Negative put up very good totals with 7 R, 3 HR, and 7 RBI to open up overall leads of 11 R, 10 HR, and 7 RBI. With the way they were hitting, that proved too much of a gap for Led Z.Eflin to make up, especially with Z.Eflin not recording a single steal over the weekend.
By the time the last hitter was done Sunday, Prognosis Negative had dominated on offense, taking runs 49-27, home runs 18-6, RBI 32-25, steals 9-5, and average .287-.260. That left pitching as the “do or die” for Z.Eflin’s hopes. If Z.Eflin could take all five categories to tie the matchup, they would win overall.
Thursday again looked like the decisive day for Prognosis Negative, as they picked up two wins and 16 Ks with fantastic ratios of a 0.69 ERA and 0.62 WHIP, while the Z.Eflin staff had no appearances. That bumped Prognosis Negative up to leads across the board heading into the weekend series— a major problem for Z.Eflin. Things didn’t improve on Friday or Saturday either, and Prognosis Negative had leads of two wins and 11 Ks, but trailed in saves by one with ratios up for grabs. Then Z.Eflin received a monster day from their staff, racking up three wins and 34 K with OK but not great ratios, a 4.45 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. That was good enough to flip Ks, take control of ERA and WHIP, and maintain saves. Three wins is an impressive total for any single day, as it’s the most volatile of pitching categories, but it was only good enough to result in a tie, leaving the final total at:
Led Z.Eflin: 4
Prognosis Negative: 5
Congratulations to Ryan Amore on taking the championship, as well as Max Freeze and Ben Ruppert for earning promotion for the 2020 season. Hopefully next year these three original Pitcher List League 1 owners will continue their success. On the flip side, Michael Ajeto, Ben Hizer, and Nick Gerli will be relegated down a level. Better luck next year, guys.
Season in Review
Coming into the season, I ran projections on each of the teams as they had been drafted, for xWin% (calculated based on rankings in each category), zWin% (calculated by z-scores for each category applied to a normal distribution), and pWin% (head-to-head simulations or projected stats). There are inherent challenges in doing so, as teams will have different strategies in roster management over the course of the season. Still, rough trends can be seen. The top three teams were projected to be Justin Paradis, Ryan Fickes, and Alex Isherwood. Those teams finished fifth, ninth, and seventh, respectively. The bottom-three teams were projected to be Ryan Amore, Ben Hizer, and Michael Ajeto. That played out for the latter two, but clearly Ryan Amore exceeded projections.
How did Prognosis Negative do it? Yes, the team did exceed some of its offensive projections, but what was critical were the pitching moves that improved the team from the worst projected pitching team in the league (-5.57 zPitch) to much closer to average (-0.69 zPitch). I actually went into the season attempting to do the exact opposite, building a dominant pitching staff (9.60 zPitch projection, twice as good as the next team) and hoping to make offensive improvements over the course of the season. Here’s the problem with that strategy: pitching is extremely volatile. One blowup can ruin ratios for the week. Ks and wins are subject to whether an ace receives two starts in a week or not. Meanwhile, hitters go to work day in and day out, having good days and bad days, hot weeks and cold weeks, but are far more likely to reach stabilized stats over a week compared to pitchers. There’s also the impact of offensive numbers, specifically home runs, skyrocketing every year. How to quantify that impact on fantasy roster construction will be a significant area of research (and hopefully illuminating articles) in the offseason.
Also, it cannot be overstated: the key to fantasy baseball success is getting Ronald Acuña Jr. Don’t ask questions, just get him next year.
I want to thank all of the owners in Pitcher List League 1 for a fantastic season, as well as the other owners who provided write-ups every single week for their leagues. I, for one, couldn’t always highlight the conversations that we had behind the scenes about our teams and strategy, but these leagues made my first year as a staff member here special and helped contribute to the awesome sense of community at Pitcher List. Thank you all.
– Ryan Fickes
It was probably always going to end this way. Other than a brief interruption when Otto von Bettsmarck (Rob D.) overtook him, Austin’s Team (Austin Gretencord) more or less led PL2 wire-to-wire. So it should be no surprise that he’s our champion after a 7-1 win over Yu Snell My Bum? (John Hale).
In the championship matchup, Austin’s offense was good, not great, but it was good enough as John’s hitters picked the worst time for an off week. Austin’s Team totaled 64 R/RBI, 10 HR, 2 SB and a .269 average, but won all of those categories but steals, which the two tied with two each.
Austin put up numbers in ERA (2.79) and WHIP (1.07) that are very hard to beat, but the only other pitching category he won was saves, 5-2. The PL2 crown really came down to John’s paltry week on offense: 29 R, 3 HR, 20 RBI and a .216 average. Congrats, Austin!
– Jordan Larimore
The Bottom of the Barrel
New World Odor (Colin Ward) vs. Ewing Oil (Matt McLaughlin)
Congratulations to Colin Ward for his 6-3 victory over Matt McLaughlin to claim the Championship in the Bottom of the Barrel league.
Colin has found his way into the Best Performances space many times during the regular season, and his team didn’t let him down at the end of the year. Unheralded starters, such as Trey Mancini (.462 AVG, 4 R, 2 HR, 10 RBI) and Yoan Moncada (.462 AVG, 4 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI) led the charge on offense for Colin. On the rubber, Colin’s patience for Luis Severino paid off, as he added 1 W, 13 K, a 0.00 ERA, and a 0.78 WHIP, to anchor the staff for the final game. Solid starts by Marcus Stroman and Sean Manaea also helped Colin in his quest for gold.
As for Matt, what Trevor Bauer giveth, Trevor Bauer taketh away—adding an unsightly 6.43 ERA to the championship game ledger. In the end, Matt collected many mid-tier arms on his run to the final game (Mitch Keller, Sandy Alcantara, Kyle Hendricks, and J.A. Happ) to bolster his staff during the long season, but that strategy comes with unreliability, which doomed Matt during the final week. Offensively, Matt’s team was consistent, just a hair less consistent than Colin’s in Week 24. A young outfield of Eloy Jimenez (.391 AVG, 4 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI) and Austin Meadows (.300 AVG, 5 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 SB) and a young infield featuring Cavan Biggio (.313 AVG, 3 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI) and Xander Bogaerts (.321 AVG, 2 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI) kept Matt in the running.
Promotion and Relegation
- North Correa (Kyle Frank)
- Donny’s Dandy Team (Donny Moskowits)
- New World Odor (Colin Ward)
Relegation (if there is a 7th league)
- Sean Anderson
- The Bull Doziers (Evan Rockow)
- Frankie Goes to IL (David Fenko)
– David Fenko
(Graphic by Nathan Mills/ @NathanMillsPL)