Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Managing Risk With Bench Spots, Part 2

In Part 1, I discussed how you can use a bench spot as a hedge against a risky player you drafted. In this part 2, I'll discuss how to decide what to do with each of your bench spots.

You basically have four options when it comes to bench spots:
  • Platoon: One guy who mashes right-handed pitchers, one who wails on lefties.
  • Upside: Younger guys who might outperform expectations
  • Pitchers: In daily leagues, you could have extra pitchers to try to rack up counting stats.
  • Injury risks: As mentioned in part 1, you can backup your risky players.
Platoon players can often be had for cheap. Their season stats and projections are not going to look good because they hit something like .200/.300/.300 against opposite-handed pitchers. If you keep one guy who mashes righties and one you matches lefties, you can get the best of both worlds. The downside is that you have to check the matchups every day. Also these guys tend to be less-than-stellar players who could lose their job at any point. 

If you're reading this blog, you know about upside players. It's like drafting Evan Longoria or Colby Rasmus last year. Sometimes, you strike gold (see Longoria, 2008). Sometimes, the guy sits in the minors all year (see Rasmus, 2008). This category also includes guys like Elijah Dukes who have talent and always seem on the fringe of a breakout year.

In daily leagues, many managers will carry extra pitchers to try to rack up wins, saves, and strikeouts. This may not work as well with a Roto league (IP limit), but if you decide to draft pitching late, running extra pitchers out there can help offset the losses you made.

And finally, you can draft a backup for any of your risky picks. Better grab a backup 3B if you intend to draft Chipper Jones.

How do you decide what to do? By the time you're drafting bench players, you should already know how many injury backups you need. A good rule of thumb is that you want no more than half of your bench players as injury backups. You should also know if you need any platoon mates. You need to take care of these two cases first.

Once you've filled your obligations, then you can pick between upside players and extra pitchers. Make your picks based on your overall strategy (take pitchers if you need them, upside if you can). 

And finally, remember that players can fit into more than one category. Andy LaRoche is both a backup 3B and an updside player. You want all your bench players to be as useful as possible, so keep an eye of for guys that fill multiple needs.
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