In Benchwarmer Baseball, Not Having A Bench Kills

I learned the hard way how important it was to have a good bench in Benchwarmer Baseball. On top of just providing protection against injuries, it protects you from having a “Benchwarmer Batter” or “Pinesitter Pitcher” in your lineup. These subs can kill your chances.

How Benchwarmer Substitutions Work

Benchwarmer uses the actual box scores from MLB games to determine the winners of its’ games. If one of the players in your starting lineup doesn’t play, then substitutions are made. First, they check if the person at DH could cover the position, and then the DH spot is backfilled by a bench player. If the DH can’t cover it, then they look for the first bench player that can play the right position and that played in that game. If no one on the bench can cover the open slot, then you are stuck with a “Benchwarmer Batter”. They go 0-for-5 with two errors. Likewise if you don’t have a starting pitcher available, a “Pinesitter Pitcher” in inserted that goes three innings and allows five runs. You can also get a Pinesitter relief pitcher. Read the rules for the full description of how substitutions work. To simplify the wording, from this point forward I’m going to refer to Benchwarmer Batters and Pinesitter pitchers as “Benchwarmer subs”.

Benchwarmer Subs Are Worse Than No Player At All

This is a critical difference between Benchwarmer Baseball and counting stat fantasy games like Yahoo!. If you have an injured player in a counting stat league, it’s not good, but at least you and your opponent are starting out each category at 0-0. In Benchwarmer Baseball, it’s like you are starting out the game already behind. It is possible for a regular player to have a terrible game and do even worse than a Benchwarmer sub, but it rarely happens.

The errors and earned runs tacked on by having one of these empty spots filled by one of these subs are killer. The two errors by a Benchwarmer Batter basically add on an earned run to your defensive score. The five earned runs over three innings from a Pinesitter Pitcher put you in basically a 2.5 run hole, and expose your bullpen.

Did Benchwarmer Subs Kill My Season?

One of my teams last year seemed to have a lot of these subs, especially down the stretch. I looked back at their games to see how badly it affected their season. It seemed really bad at the time.

In this table the Runs Scored per game and Runs Allowed per game are the average raw hitting and raw pitching score of my team. It doesn’t reflect the actual game score, which would take the other team’s performance into account. The first row of the table is what my team did for the entire season. Then the subsequent rows just look at different games where Benchwarmer subs were involved.

Benchwarmer sub stats2

Looking at the second row, there were 22 games where my team had a Benchwarmer sub, and my team went 6-16 in those games. The third row shows there were 41 games where my opponent’s team had a Benchwarmer sub, and my team went 29-12 in those games. So it turns out I was wrong. This team actually had a lot fewer Benchwarmer subs than their opponents. My team’s bench was probably a strength and not a weakness. You can see how much it changes things. If you combine these two records, the team with the Benchwarmer sub went 18-45, a winning percentage of 0.286. It’s a huge disadvantage.

There were five games of overlap where both teams had at least one Benchwarmer sub. This is shown in the fourth row of the table. My team went 4-1 in those games. At first glance that seemed lucky. You’d expect those games to reflect your team’s normal record. However, my team did not have any Pinesitter Pitchers in these games, but my opponents did. Pinesitter Pitchers have much a bigger impact on the outcome of a game than a Benchwarmer Batter does. That’s probably the reason for the good record in these games.

If you take out those five games and only look at the games where one team had a Benchwarmer sub and the other one didn’t, the impact is even larger. This is shown in the last two rows of the table. My team went 2-15 in games where they had a Benchwarmer sub but their opponent did not. My opponents went 11-25 in games where they had a Benchwarmer sub but my team did not. Combine those two records, and the team with a Benchwarmer sub playing against a team without one went 13-40, for a winning percentage of .245.

Impact To The Season

My team’s winning percentage was 0.487 overall. All things being equal, you’d probably expect the team to go 9-10 or so over a stretch of 19 games. However, in the games where my opponent had a Benchwarmer sub and my team didn’t, my team’s winning percentage was 0.694. So instead of 9-10, my team went 13-6 in those games. By having fewer Benchwarmer subs than their opponents, this team won four extra games.


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