Friday, February 13, 2009
How to handle double headers in RotohogPosted by Alex Zelvin at 1:01am
Rotohog Baseball is a fantasy baseball game with free entry, large prizes, and a unique "stock exchange" trading mechanism. Thousands of players compete in a global contest to see who can accumulate the most points. Like some "salary cap" baseball games, Rotohog gives you the opportunity to turn over your entire roster every day, greatly increasing the importance of factors such as opponent and park when determining your lineup.
We’ll start our look at how to handle double headers in Rotohog with starting pitchers. In general, this is the position least impacted by double headers. One advantage starting pitchers may have is that opposing hitters will sometimes be given one of the games off. Another advantage is that they may face an inferior starting pitcher if the opposing team doesn’t have any off days near the doubleheader, and is forced to use someone who isn’t normally part of its starting rotation.
On the other hand, there are some disadvantages for starting pitchers. Sometimes they will be left in a game even when they clearly don’t have their best stuff, to rest the bullpen. This can lead to some really horrendous game scores. And the odds of seeing the bullpen blow a lead are increased, since it’s more likely than usual that someone other than the best relievers on the team will be used in a critical situation. In any case, all of these effects are relatively subtle, and I generally evaluate a starting pitcher in a double header the same way I would any other day.
Relief pitchers are much more heavily impacted by double headers. In general, you’ll want to use the closers from both teams in a double header. I know that some people don’t like the idea of using directly opposing players, because they feel they won’t know who to root for and that only one of the players can have an ideal outcome. That’s not the right way to think about it, though. You need to evaluate the merit of using each player independently.
Even if you make the unrealistically pessimistic assumption that no closer will ever pitch in both games of a double header, there’s going to be almost a 50 percent greater than normal chance of each closer getting to pitch. Once you factor in that closers sometimes do pitch in both games, you’re probably looking at something like a 75 or 80 percent increase in value for closers whose teams have double headers. It takes a pretty awful closer to not be worth using in that situation.
Most Rotohog experts believe that using hitters in double headers is a losing strategy. Their thinking is that there are two potentially bad things that can happen to you: Your hitter may come out of one of the games early to get a little rest, particularly if the game isn’t close. The second (and worse) is that your hitter might not be in the starting lineup for one game (not so bad) and then be used to pinch hit (really, really bad). The last thing you want is to use one of your precious quota of games on a hitter who gets only one at-bat.
While all of that is true, there are some offsetting factors that sometimes may make it worthwhile to use hitters in double headers. The first of these is that “Rotohog $” are always a precious commodity. If you can get two games out of a good hitter for the price of one, that frees up money that can help you acquire better players at other positions that day or another day. The second potential advantage is that if one of the games in a double header isn’t close, managers will often leave a struggling (or just plain bad) pitcher in much longer, allowing opposing hitters to feast on a favorable match-up.
There are so many factors to consider that coming up with a definitive answer to when to risk using hitters with double headers is impossible. But I know that I’ve frequently had good success when I’ve done it.
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