The Secret Formula 2010

The Secret Formula 2010

Postby J-Pav » Tue Nov 30, 2010 12:04 am

[b:f33579296a][size=24:f33579296a]The Secret Formula (tm) 2010[/size:f33579296a][/b:f33579296a]

[i:f33579296a]”In baseball, my theory is to strive for consistency, not to worry about the numbers. If you dwell on statistics you get shortsighted, if you aim for consistency, the numbers will be there at the end.”

Tom Seaver[/i:f33579296a]

Welcome all to the seventh installment of [i:f33579296a]The Secret Formula[/i:f33579296a], where I once again take 20 Championship teams in the leagues I've participated in this season then add, subtract, multiply and divide to see if HAL is leaving breadcrumbs for us to follow out of the forest.

I understood going in that it would be pretty tough to exceed last year’s effort. The guest contributors made last year’s post a memorable one. This year, with no guest writers, I hope you readers will get more involved in telling [i:f33579296a]your[/i:f33579296a] tales and sharing [i:f33579296a]your[/i:f33579296a] experiences. I’m here to tell you, you can virtually take last year’s post and simply change all the 2009s to 2010s to bring it up to speed. These patterns have held up so well year after year, that it’s become pretty darn hard to find new ways to say the same things over and over with anything approaching a fresh take.

To that end, I’ve tried to trim all the blather I could. I’ve embedded my Theory in Action post here to provide the real-time working demonstration of my “Formula” to those who might be interested. I’m trying to keep much of my personal commentary to a minimum this year (minimum for me, you understand, is slightly different than what it is for most normal people). I’m hoping I can encourage the newbies and veterans alike to share some of their insights and strategies and we can all benefit from the collective symphony, and not just the sound from my own horn. That is, all of you are invited to be the guest contributors this year -

To the soapbox…

[quote:f33579296a="Theory in Action: J-Pav"]

Here's a link to the team: [url=][b:f33579296a][size=18:f33579296a][u:f33579296a]Secret Formula 2010[/u:f33579296a][/size:f33579296a][/b:f33579296a][/url]

Here's how I set up my Draft Card:

1. Fielder ($8.45)
2. Cano ($5.37)
3. J. Drew ($7.35)
4. Sabathia ($6.76)
5. J. Johnson ($7.25)
6. V. Martinez ($5.32)
7. A-Rod ($6.36)
8. [color=darkred:f33579296a]E. Aybar ($4.83)[/color:f33579296a] S. Drew ($3.26)
9. Cordero ($1.89)
10. Wolf ($4.01)
11. McClellan ($2.34)
12. Borbon ($1.24)
13. Garza ($2.12)
14. Richard ($0.86)
15. Choate ($0.55)
16. [color=darkred:f33579296a]Pie ($1.83)[/color:f33579296a] Brantley ($1.79)
17. White ($4.07)
18. [color=darkred:f33579296a]C. Young ($1.70)[/color:f33579296a] Michaels ($1.70)
19. Kapler ($1.24)
20. R. Roberts ($1.60)
21. [color=darkred:f33579296a] Bloomquist ($0.86)[/color:f33579296a] Guerrero ($0.86)
22. Roenicke ($0.56)
23. Doumit ($0.51)
24. Hammel ($0.94)
25. Winn ($1.79)

Here's what I submitted for Waivers Claims:

1. [color=darkred:f33579296a] Bourn ($5.80) for Brantley ($1.79) [/color:f33579296a]
2. Span ($6.16) for Brantley ($1.79)
3. Wilson ($2.24) for S. Drew ($3.26)
4. Theriot ($1.22) for Michaels ($1.70)
5. Bonifacio ($0.56) for Guerrero ($0.86)
6. Calero ($4.00) for Hammel ($0.94)

[color=darkred:f33579296a]* did not pick up[/color:f33579296a]

After a couple of moves post-waivers, I ended up with this:

Final Roster

Pitchers (10)

1. J. Johnson
2. Sabathia
3. Wolf
4. Garza
5. Masterson

6. Calero
7. McClellan
8. Cordero
9. Roenicke
10. Choate

Hitters (14)

1. V. Martinez
2. Doumit
3. Fielder
4. Cano
5. R. Roberts
6. A-Rod
7. Bonifacio
8. Wilson
9. Theriot
10. Borbon
11. Beltran
12. J. Drew
13. Winn
14. Kapler

[b:f33579296a][size=18:f33579296a]I. PITCHING[/size:f33579296a][/b:f33579296a]

[i:f33579296a]”All the fat guys watch me and say to their wives, ‘See, there’s a fat guy doing okay. Bring me another beer.’”

Mickey Lolich[/i:f33579296a]

In brief: The Secret Formula is a blend of veteran clichés with what I’ve called “salary construction”. Salary construction as you’ll see it laid out here is taking the highest paid pitchers from the 20 Championship teams, adding them up and dividing by 20 to give you the average price for a number one starting pitcher on a Championship team. I continue the process all the way thru the lineup to give you the average cost of every player at every position.

While I have had some personal luck with a three stud starter strategy this year, that particular pattern has not been evidenced in my 20 finished leagues. Also demonstrating less impact is any kind of low budget starter strategy (although a conversation for a later date can be had about two stud starters with four sub $1.00 matchup starters).

This year, the numbers lingered very closely to this pattern (check your own leagues for additional confirmation):

[b:f33579296a]The Secret Formula Staff[/b:f33579296a]

1. $7.58
2. $5.96
3. $4.19
4. $2.51
5. $1.07 ($21.31 total)

Sidebar: With 80 sampled top four starters, there has been an over 70% preference for * SPs this year. This has not really been the case in any meaningful way in years past. Just sayin.

With regard to relief pitching, the salary construction chart looks like this:

6. $3.86
7. $2.51
8. $1.13
9. $0.87
10. $0.68 ($9.05 total)

Although a couple of these teams succeeded with all sub $1.00 RPs, that $9.00 area for a complete bullpen seems to be fairly ideal for a conventional starting rotation.

[quote:f33579296a="Theory in Action: J-Pav"]

I. Salary Construction (Pitching)


Suggested Actual

1. $7.58.....$7.25
2. $5.96.....$6.76
3. $4.19.....$4.01
4. $2.51.....$2.12
5. $1.07.....$1.29
_______ _____
$21.32.....$21.43 (How’s that for close?)


Suggested Actual

1. $3.86.....$4.00
2. $2.51.....$2.34
3. $1.13.....$1.89
4. $0.87.....$0.56
5. $0.68.....$0.55
________ _____

Total Pitching

Suggested Actual

$30.37..... $30.77 (Close here, too!)[/quote:f33579296a]

[b:f33579296a][size=18:f33579296a]II. HITTING[/size:f33579296a][/b:f33579296a]

[i:f33579296a]"I have observed that baseball is not unlike war, and when you get right down to it, we batters are the heavy artillery."

-Ty Cobb[/i:f33579296a]

Once again, I simply rank order the salaries for all 20 teams from high to low and average them out across the board to see [i:f33579296a]"How much salary is spent on the highest salary player? The second highest? The third?"[/i:f33579296a] and so on.

The Secret Formula Hitting Chart looks like this:

1. $8.39
2. $7.28
3. $6.56
4. $6.09
5. $5.30
6. $4.51
7. $3.31
8. $2.32
9. $1.64
10. $1.00

(Bench: $2.57)

This familiar pattern has held up exceedingly well year after year, although this year I have had some personal luck with a four stud hitter strategy (surrounded by a cast of $1-2 role players and platoons). A shout out to [b:f33579296a]Riggo[/b:f33579296a] for turning on that light bulb for me! :idea:

[quote:f33579296a="Theory in Action: J-Pav"]

II. Salary Construction (Hitters) for the Theory in Action team:

1. $8.39..... $8.45
2. $7.28..... $7.35
3. $6.56..... $6.36
4. $6.09..... $5.86
5. $5.30..... $5.37
6. $4.51..... $5.32
7. $3.31..... $2.24
8. $2.32..... $1.79
9. $1.64..... $1.60
10. $1.00..... $1.24

Bench: $2.57..... $3.53

________ _____
$48.97.....$49.11 (Wow, close again!!)[/quote:f33579296a]

[size=18:f33579296a]III. MIDDLE DEFENSE[/size:f33579296a]

[i:f33579296a]"If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even considering if there are men on base."

- Dave Barry[/i:f33579296a]

Here's on average the range/errors for the 20 Championship teams:

2B: 2e10 avg (four managers chose ones, 13 chose twos, and three chose threes).

SS: 2e14 avg (six managers chose ones, 12 chose twos, and only two chose threes).

CF: 2e4 avg (four managers chose ones, 15 chose twos, and only one chose a three).

This looks a lot like years past.

And like last season, 90% of the time, Championship managers had either ones or twos at these key defensive positions. I repeat for emphasis to those who insist on remaining stubborn: when a Championship manager is choosing a player at the key defensive positions of 2B, SS and CF, in NINE cases out of TEN he will choose a one or a two. Proceed differently at your own risk - you have been duly warned.

[quote:f33579296a="Theory in Action: J-Pav"]

III. Middle Defense


2B: 2e10.....2B: 2e12
SS: 2e14.....SS: 1e19 (slightly more w/ a Theriot platoon)
CF: 2e4.......CF: 2e4

Thoughts on middle defense: none, the box is checked.[/quote:f33579296a]

[b:f33579296a][size=18:f33579296a]IV. SCORE RUNS AND DO NOT ALLOW RUNS[/size:f33579296a][/b:f33579296a]

[i:f33579296a]"Your chances of winning, I've got to believe, are really, really small when you score one run in 18 innings."

- Clint Hurdle [/i:f33579296a]

If you take no other lesson from this post with you, try and remember this one thing:

Championship teams average around 749 runs scored, or 4.62 per game. They surrender 661 runs for a net runs advantage of about 0.54 runs per game. The moral of the story is that you need the hitting salary to score five runs per game, while maintaining enough pitching salary to allow only four. Do not get caught up in trying to turn the five into a six. You are highly unlikely to score 850 runs while giving up only 650 with your $20 mil low-budget staff. You are much more likely to give up 825 and go 83-79 than you are to give up 700 and go 100-62. Do not spot the field a $7 mil *SP and a $4 mil RP.

[quote:f33579296a="Theory in Action: J-Pav"]

IV. Score Runs And Do Not Allow Runs

I averaged out the runs scored of my players in each of their previous five seasons to give myself a general idea of what I might expect from my offense. I could potentially see about 775 runs scored, if my forecast has the same luck as last year. I should have the power to compete in the big hitter's parks and the oba/speed to compete in the pitcher's parks.

A sub four ERA will likely hinge on Johnson's stats, as for whatever reason his card seems subject to wider swings than his salary would suggest. Still, my conventional rotation and bullpen set-up (combined with the defense) looks pretty solid, and if five previous seasons of stats are any indication, I might make a stab at approaching 600 runs allowed.

[b:f33579296a][size=18:f33579296a]V. BALLPARKS AND PLAYERS SUITED TO THOSE PARKS[/size:f33579296a][/b:f33579296a]

[i:f33579296a]"The most beautiful thing in the world is a ballpark filled with people."

- Bill Veeck[/i:f33579296a]

Like last season, there has not been much evidence to show that ballpark effects are impacting the leagues the way they did prior to 2009. The average Championship ballpark is a surprisingly average 9-10-10-9. When I bother to add up the ballparks in one of my individual leagues, despite a healthy mix of unique venues, the averages are often either a mundane 9 or a vanilla 10.

Still, anytime you can take advantage of a slant like Oakland’s 2-2-12-3, it’s probably worthwhile to do so. Despite this, Oakland had only two rings to show for itself out of my 20 leagues. I was a lefty pitcher/lefty hitter back in the day, so I’m sort of subconsciously drawn to lefty favorable teams. Still, my six rings have come in six unique ballparks, including the entire spectrum of options available (even a righty favorable park!)

[quote:f33579296a="Theory in Action: J-Pav"]

V. Ballparks And Players Suited To Those Parks

I actually mapped out the Average Ballpark I'll be facing over all 162 games (including 81 games at home). It follows very closely my home ballpark of PNC (15-9-10-4) and comes out at (12-9-9-6) over the entire season. The road is slightly pitcher friendly at 9-8-8-8. I’m lefty heavy in a lefty friendly park, with another PNC in my division to boot. 11 unique stadiums and two PNCs here![/quote:f33579296a]

[b:f33579296a][size=18:f33579296a]VI. WORSHIP HAL[/size:f33579296a][/b:f33579296a]

[i:f33579296a]"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."

- Robert McCloskey [/i:f33579296a]

I was planning on using this section to simply rant. In my tour league #4 team’s roller coaster odyssey, I climbed from six weeks of lingering in the basement to showing signs of pulling away from the division. With a starting rotation of Lincecum, Greinke and Johnson, I was bound to catch a hot streak and managed to do so at exactly the right time. With six games to go, I needed only one win to clinch. My opponents would have to beat Lincecum twice, Greinke, and Johnson, where I was [i:f33579296a]the home team [/i:f33579296a] for both the final two series.

Well, it wouldn’t be rant if I won. Not only did I lose all six, I finished in a three way tie for the playoffs where I lost the tiebreakers to both the division winner and the wildcard.

To add insult to injury, in my autoleagues I had just run a streak of four consecutive Finals losses with the last two of them coming after winning the first two games! Woe is me –

It really felt like HAL just had it in for me.

But He didn’t. Four leagues for me is about one percent of the leagues I’ve participated in overall. The only surprise is that I haven’t remembered a string of bad luck like that from the past! What if those four leagues were my first four and not teams 300-301-302 and 303? Would I ever play again?

Another GM wrote an f-bomb laced, profanity filled league message when his irrationally successful but rationally average team started cooling off with a week to go in the season and he missed the playoffs. One team! Pipe down rub-a-dub. If you play more than a five pack in your lifetime you’re going to see a lot worse.

Learn to love HAL.

[quote:f33579296a="Theory in Action: J-Pav"]

VI. Intangibles and HAL

1. Mine is a pitcher’s park oriented division, while the other two divisions are more hitter friendly.

2. It will bode well for me if HAL should choose to love A-Rod (Inj 3) and Beltran (Inj 4).

3. Josh Johnson - Which one shows up for me: The one who provides a 3.31 ERA, 1.12 WHIP or the one who turns in a 4.80 ERA, 1.39 WHIP? HAL will ultimately decide.

4. HAL still [i:f33579296a]absolutely hates [/i:f33579296a] pre-season posts like this (peace be upon Him).


5. This might be my most well rounded TSF effort in years: Reliable *SPs, strong bullpen, power, speed and defense from the everyday lineup with good platoons and spare parts virtually matching the suggested salary construction line by line. I managed to avoid roaming away from the TSF suggestions, although I spotted a few things that started tempting me down the path to being overly clever.

6. Power at the top of the order, speed at the bottom of the order. Lefty heavy in a lefty park with some bats that can help overcome some mediocre pitching starts. [b:f33579296a]Qksilver[/b:f33579296a] would be proud![/quote:f33579296a]

[b:f33579296a][size=18:f33579296a]VII. WIN YOUR DIVISION[/size:f33579296a][/b:f33579296a]

[i:f33579296a]"Unhappy is the fate of one who tries to win his battles and succeed in his attacks without cultivating the spirit of enterprise, for the result is waste of time and general stagnation."

- Sun Tzu [/i:f33579296a]

I hadn’t even launched my TSF team when I rushed out and bought a $40 mil pitching staff team based on a likely delusional insight I had yesterday morning. I can’t even post the annual TSF without going out the next day and doing the opposite of everything I just said to do! But that’s cultivating the spirit of enterprise my friends.

Now get out there and win you some credits people!

[b:f33579296a][size=18:f33579296a]Good luck to all![/size:f33579296a][/b:f33579296a]
Posts: 55
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:34 pm

Postby theClaw » Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:01 am

Thanks for the post J-Pav! I agree with just about all you wrote but put extra emphasis on middle defense. The better the middle defense less money needs to go to pitching especially in pitcher parks. I have a team starting in Petco Monday with 1's across the infield with 20.18 mil spent on pitching. Another plus is only neutral/pitching parks in my division and only two or three hitter parks in the whole league. That formula has worked well for me in the past. We shall see.

Good luck to you in your league.

Last edited by theClaw on Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby J-Pav » Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:29 am

Thanks Dave. I agree with spending less on pitching in Petco. I've seen a couple of guys go all sub $1 starters this year and still manage to get their share of wins.

The problem with less salary on pitching, as I see it, often surfaces in the playoffs. More games on the road in a hitter's park can undo a whole season. Vice versa for hitter's teams visiting Petco in the playoffs. Of course, you can get the rolls you need and have great success. But I think the wild dice of a short series just makes things harder the further you venture from the middle.

If you get a chance, post a couple of teams!
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Postby theClaw » Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:37 am

here is the team starting on Monday...

You are right about your latest assessment, the times we have met in the playoffs in earlier sets bore that out.

I have only played two earlier leagues with this set. Here is one in Oakland, I love this park. Lost in the finals to jeep. He had a strong team also.
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Postby J-Pav » Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:52 am

[b:b9dc92ab77]Jeep[/b:b9dc92ab77]'s been playing a lot this year. I'm sure he'll be checking in - hopefully he can tell us about that collection of rings he's been gathering...
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Postby Supersore » Sat Dec 18, 2010 2:32 am

I don't have the experience of other managers, but here is a recent team of mine that won 101 games and the championship:

I was strong up the middle and had a good spread of salaries among my starters. But the key to the team was Andrew Bailey. Big salary, but huge results -- 10 wins, 40 saves in 46 attempts. He was Cy Young and MVP winner. In the playoffs, he had 2 wins and 4 saves. :P

The Secret Formula doesn't provide for the super reliever, but it worked for me, at least on this team.

Please give me your thoughts on this approach, J-Pav.
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Postby J-Pav » Sat Dec 18, 2010 9:42 pm

It's a great team - $32m SP, $10m RP, 2s at 2B and SS w/ a 1 in CF, scored 750 runs, gave up just over 600 in a pitcher friendly park. Your offense was more the Stud Four variety, but you got the job done even though Thomas, Jones, Rasmus and Vizquel are not among my preferences in the low range.

You can't argue w/ success - and 100 win seasons w/ a ring are pretty good evidence!

As to the superreliever, 176 innings aren't really indicative of a superreliever, but the Bailey/Howell combo appeared to be very, very effective for you. Sometimes it works out this way. I've had Bailey teams do not so well. I like the low end closer this player set - just my personal preference. And I like to keep garbage innings away from guys like Springer and Arias and give them to a $1m S5/R3 guy, but obviously it didn't appear to set you back much.

Your approach was a good one - keep it up! :D
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Postby Jeepdriver » Sun Dec 19, 2010 1:05 am

Love the Dave Barry quote :lol:

At the risk of over-simplication I have no magic formula. I think my strengths are being a good auto-drafter and being able to put players in the right spots in the line-up. I also spend a LOT of time micro-managing and I've been a baseball fan all my life, therefore I know a lot of the nuances of the game. Then there's the luck factor, some years you don't have it some you do.

That's about all I can add J-Pav to your excellent (as always) annual thread here. Great job as always.
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Postby toronto50 » Sun Dec 19, 2010 4:48 pm

My "secret formula" to winning:
1. Dominate right-handed pitching since you will face righties @70% of the time.
2. Keep your total range of 2b, ss, and cf below a sum total of 4.
3. Have pitchers and a catcher that can keep runners at first base.
4. Don't overspend on starters especailly aces. If a guy is only going to play 25% of the games why spend so much on him?
5. Pound the ball over the fence. Even Rollins and Ichiro can't throw Cust out when he hits over the wall. And you find some great cheap homerun hitters when in the right park.
6. No wasted money. If u have a 4 SP* rotation why not get a 4th starter who can also relieve and is a hard lefty or righty (Johnson, Laffey).
7. Have role players who have some multi-purpose function. Barrajas as a backup cathcer can also be a good DH vs. lhp in a homerun park. A pinch runner who is also a hard lefty or righty can also be a pinch hitter or defensive replacement.
8. Expensive closers are overated. Often a sub-4mil will outperform a 6 million closer.
9. Find the players that are great cheap deals so that u save money for some other "stars".

Maybe this is a strategy rant. Maybe it's just redundant. But its just my 2 Canadian cents worth. However...winning is winning.
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Postby toronto50 » Sun Dec 19, 2010 4:55 pm

Point #6... I meant a 5th starter
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