Wednesday, July 15, 2009

5 Differences between Draft Bug and Benchwarmer Baseball

I will be participating in the 2nd Draftbug Blogger Invitational on this Friday, July 17th. For those of you that may not be familiar with Draft Bug, I wanted to lay out the main differences between the play styles for that game versus the format generally discussed on this blog: Benchwarmer Baseball.

The styles are drastically different, with these aspects being the most significant:

1. Lineups: Daily v. Weekly

In Draft Bug, a manager purchases players for that day's games, and that's it. The focus is on maximizing expected points per salary dollar. In Benchwarmer, players are also purchased based on their salaries, but are kept for the whole year on a 40-man roster.

2. Scoring

Draftbug is scored using a point system as follows:

1B = 1 pt
2B = 2 pt
3B = 3 pt
HR = 4 pt
R = 1 pt
RBI = 1 pt
BB = 1 pt
SB = 2 pt
K = -1 pt
W = 10 pt
L = -3 pt
SV = 7 pt
IP = 3 pt
H = -1 pt
K = 1 pt
ER = -1 pt
BB = -1 pt

Benchwarmer is scored using a model that incorporates not only all of these same counting statistics for a team's players for a given game, but also those of the head-to-head opponent for that given game. Additionally, Benchwarmer lineups are built like in real baseball. The lineup order is critical in the scoring calculation as a Run scored in a MLB game will not count in the BWB game unless someone has an RBI lower down in the order.

3. Salaries

Draft Bug player salaries are driven off of supply and demand as in a secondary securities market, and change on a daily basis. This would be similar to having a daily auction draft in order to determine prices. Benchwarmer player salaries are generated once a year and are based on the past 2 years' performance.

4. Rosters

In Draft Bug, a team consists of 9 position players with 1 starting pitcher and 1 closer. In Benchwarmer, a team consists of a starting lineup, bench, full starting rotation, bullpen, and minor leagues.

5. Transactions

There are no add/drops or trades in Draft Bug as each team is dissolved after each day. Players can stay on teams for years in Benchwarmer Baseball as 28 keepers are allowed and transactions run during both during the season and in the off-season as well.


The biggest take-away from this is that over a whole season, a given MLB ballplayer will perform within a reasonable range of expectations. However, in one given day, the player will either: 1. not play at all (bad outcome), or 2. perform within a very wide range of potential outcomes (not very helpful). This means that luck is a much greater factor for any given daily contest. We can be fairly confident that Prince Fielder will hit more home runs than Mike Napoli over a full season, but for a daily match-up, confidence drops precipitously.

The strongest of the Draft Bug players utilize forecasting models in order to determine which daily match-ups in the MLB games for that day are the most attractive, and then build a team within the salary constraints. Given the large luck factor, the utility of these models is diminished over a one-game period, but should provide an edge over many games played during an entire season. Much like a game of poker, a player with skill has very little advantage in any one hand, but an increasingly larger advantage over longer and longer time periods. In order to play this many hands, a systematic approach becomes a necessity.

Since I am only playing one game, building a team using models is probably not completely necessary, as it probably cannot overcome the luck factor. However, I did go through the effort of building my own model as the information will provide me with a window into what the model-driven players' preferences. Armed with this intelligence, one can (hopefully) build a differentiated (and winning) team.

I will be posting my final lineup at 7:00pm Friday July 17th.

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