Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - GDR Rule changes

Most of the FABs are over, so it's time to reveal the good, bad, and ugly of GDR's rule changes, and talk about what they may do to your teams success.

I want to start out by saying that I love GDR, and I'm happy to see that they are looking for ways to improve the game. That being said, I am troubled with the two rule changes that impact scoring. The impact these changes have on legacy leagues should be factored into the implementation of any rules that change the value of players. Leagues need to be given the option of adopting or ignoring new rules. In the case of the FR position, that decision wasn't left to the leagues, and I feel like it should have been. In another case, the Champions Leagues were forced to adapt the SP matchup. Since entry into those leagues is at the discretion of GDR, they can certainly put in place any rules they want. However, I think the decision to put SP matchups into a legacy league was misguided, and will definitely impact the competitive balance of those legacy champions leagues. I'll get to that in a bit.

First, the good. I like the virtual series. I'd recommend that all leagues adopt it, because it tends to even out the volatile scoring swings. Last year, if you won one game by a wide margin and lost three by close scores, you'd be 1-3, even though you might have scored as many points as your opponent. With the new virtual scoring, that probably changes to 15-13 or 14-14, which is where it should be. I can't see this hurting anyone, and I think it will help keep the records closer than they were. The biggest impact? That will come at the trading deadline, when there are fewer teams below .400 or above .600. That means less movement of NT players. I'm not sure that's good or bad, but it will happen.

Second the ugly. FR points. Fortunately, there is very little impact, but I don't really see the point in this one. It's been hashed over enough, so I won't beat the dead horse. Suffice it to say that I'm not a fan of the rule.

Finally, and most importantly, SP matchups. I hate this rule. In the future, I will avoid like the plague any league that has instituted this rule. And it is the single most significant rule change introduced by GDR, but seems to have gotten very little attention. IMHO, it should NEVER be added to a legacy league, and owners should scream bloody murder or head for the exits if it is. The reason; an incredible advantage for three different groups of owners:

1. The Johan Santana owner. If you have him, and your league instituted the SP matchup, someone just threw you oh, say five million in cash. Don't spend it all in one place. I wrote earlier that the difference, based on projections, between the top SP, and the next 11 guys was 89 points on average. Of course, that top guy was Johan. This was based on the assumption that each guy would get 26 starts, so let's leave that assumption intact. How does Johan do now. First, I'm going to assume that Santana is going to win 75% of those SP matchups. You can argue the figure, but I think it's very close. That means that Santana wins 19 or 20 SP matchups, for a total of 190-200 extra points. The rest of the field? On average, they win 12-13, so let's give them 130 points. That means that Santanas advantage over the 'average' number 1 starter has increased from 89 points to an incredible 150 points. That's Albert Pujols like. How much is that worth at auction? Well, it's worth alot, and GDR just handed those points to Johan owners free of charge in legacy leagues that added the SP matchup. It's almost criminal.

2. The unbalanced pitching staff. Let's look at two starting staffs. One staff (Team 1) averages 20-17-15-13-10. The other one (Team 2) averages about 15 points per starter. Last year, these two staffs would get you the same number of points. But put put the SP bonus in place and presto, team number one gains a HUGE advantage on team number two. Why? Well, while Team 1 is able to win far more 1 and 2 matchups (18 available points), Team 2 wins far more 4-5 matchups (only six available points). My best guess here is that Team 1 gains somewhere around 200 points over the course of a season. Again, handed to that owner by GDR.

3. The unbalanced team, weighted towards pitching. This one is obvious. If you decided to invest more in offensive points than in pitching points, you're screwed, because those dollars invested in SP are worth more now. How much? Hard to say. But if the average SP staff scored 75 points last year, that number will rise to 90 points this year. Depending on how much you've invested in hitting vs. pitching, you've potentially lost a ton points.

I'm surprised that there has been so little discussion about the impact of this change. That's probably because it was not a mandatory change, but I have to admit that I'm very disappointed that GDR decided to use it in legacy champions leagues.


slipdiesel said...

Couldn't agree with you more on the FR spot. Aside from your usual hatred of relievers anyway, it takes up another roster spot to appease people who complained about their relievers not getting in enough games throughout the course of the week. I didn't realize what a strain it would put offensive backups and a premium on the Wigginton's and Hill's of the elague who qualify at multiple positions. As far as the SP bonus, I don't like it either. The only thing I can think of why it's not getting any forum debate is we have no idea how many league's adopted it. If you have a chance to e-mail Scott and find out what percentage is using it I'd love to know.


DKB said...

I too enjoy the virtual series enhancement. I disagree over its outcome however. I think there will be greater separation of teams, not increasing mediocrity. Typically scoring margin is one component used to quantify team performance in most computer models used for BCS, Sagarin, etc. Historically scoring margin has greater forecasting accuracy than W/L record, over the long term. Therefore, I believe you'll see great seperation between top tier, middle of the road, and cellar dwellers. Nevertheless, we will understand more as the season progresses.

Concerning the SP bonus I agree and disagree. Adding strategy altering rules in a legacy league with managers making multi-year decisions is questionable.

However, I think your SP bonus analysis is grounded in historical precedent.

I brought up the strategical oversight of the SP bonus in my blog titled "Is opening day the beginning or the end?". Personally I adjusted my strategy to feature more SP and only allocated 45% of my budget, after comparing my staff to others that might have been high, but why should I not allocate at least half of my budget to pitching?

Is pitching not half the game?

Can a manager not build a strategic advantage with his pitching?

Citing your comment, "That means that Santanas advantage over the 'average' number 1 starter has increased from 89 points to an incredible 150 points. That's Albert Pujols like."

If Pujols and Santana are the two best player from their respective positions why should their scoring advantage not be nearly equivalent?

I honestly believe the game is more balanced than last year. Consequently the SP bonus brings hitting and pitching near equilibrium, and because of the change bringing pitching more in line it seems as if pitching is overweighted, thus offense underweighted. Obviously, it is early and I may change my opinion... again, we will have a greater understanding as our sample size increases.

Despite our minor difference of opinion I enjoyed your post. I agree this should be discussed more. Good luck.

leehaak said...

dkb, thanks, very thoughtful post. Couple of points. You are exactly right, scoring margin has greater forecasting accuracy, which is exactly why the seperation will diminish. We've gone from an all or nothing proposition each week to dividing up the week based on the scoring margin. For that reason, you'll see a smaller seperation. I had a .635 winning percentage for all leagues last year. In one league I went 17-5 (.722). I don't believe that is an achievable winning percentage using the virtual series.

Second, you made this comment:

"If Pujols and Santana are the two best player from their respective positions why should their scoring advantage not be nearly equivalent".

No reason they shouldn't be equivalent (although no other positions offer anywhere near that difference). However, I need to KNOW they are going to be equivalent when I make my offers. In a legacy league, where Santana and Pujols were both retained from last year, I did not have that knowledge, nor did anyone else.

Therefore Santana was bid on under the old rules, but is allowed to perform under the new ones. His contract reflects that, therefore his owner gains a significant advantage.