since 2002

The L.I.M.A Plan

By Brian Pelowski

Originally published: Mar 23, 04 at 5:57 AM

LIMA (Low Investment Mound Aces) was invented by the great baseball mind Ron Shandler ( as a draft strategy for traditional 4x4 Rotisserie leagues. LIMA is named after pitcher Jose Lima, whose 1998 performance captured what the strategy is all about. To successfully implement the LIMA plan, take the following steps in your auction draft.

First, set aside $60 max out of your $260 allocated dollars to spend on your pitching staff. No more than $30 of the $60 set aside for pitching should be spent on saves. Depending on what type of league you are in, it might mean drafting 1 stud closer or a few mid-range closers.

Next, determine who to spend your money on. According to Shandler, you should only draft pitchers that meet the following conditions:

In order to calculate these values you need to use the following formulas:

At the auction, draft as few innings as your league allows. This generally means you only draft 2 or 3 starters (you may have to draft more depending on your league's inning limits). You should estimate a starter will pitch about 175 to 200 innings a year and a reliever will pitch approximately 50 to 70 innings a year.

Since you will be spending $200 on offense you should be able to acquire players that will place you at or near the top of every offensive category. Be sure to spend all of your money by the end of the draft, without spending more than $29 on any one batter. If you overspend in one area you are going to have to compensate for that in another.

After the draft, you want to have a team that will win or be amongst the leaders in all the batting categories and in the upper 1/3 of ERA, WHIP and Saves. Ideally, you should also be above the bottom 1/3 in Wins.

In 5x5 leagues, aim to be in the upper half of the strikeout category. Be aware that a 6.0 K/IP ratio may not give your staff enough K's to compete in the strikeout category. In most 5x5 leagues you will probably need to allocate more of your budget to fill your pitching categories. Don't be afraid to modify the LIMA plan according to your league specifications.

To apply the LIMA strategy to a straight draft, spend 10 of your first 12 picks on offensive players while using the other two picks to draft at least 1 closer and a high strikeout producing starter to anchor your staff. Grab LIMA pitchers in the mid-teen rounds and close out your draft with relievers that are solid in ERA and WHIP, who can also vulture wins and saves.

In a competitive league the LIMA plan should allow you to win or finish in the money. With the surplus of offensive talent on your team, you should have no problems trading for pitching later on in the season if needed. Even if you don't use LIMA as your sole strategy it will still help bring you closer to a fantasy championship.

brianM on 02/12/2005 06:12 pm
This sounds like a great strategy. Can anyone give some examples of LIMA players for this year?
bones on 02/12/2005 07:03 pm
depending on how many minimum innings you have to fill according to your leauge setup, draft a couple of starters with nice ratios, a stud closer, and/or a few not so highly valued closers and stud middle relievers with good ratios like otsuka, linebrink etc. to fill up the innings. I stress good ratios cause its essential that you finish near the top in era, whip (and saves) and around the middle of K's. make sure the SP's you draft dont harm your era or whip too much as their numbers will have a much greater effect on your team numbers. in short, any stud MR would be a "lima player", if I understand what you mean by lima players correctly.

its a pretty common strategy. a lot of experienced leagues make their minimum IP requirements higher amongst other things so that no one tries to do this.
bones on 02/12/2005 08:00 pm
I just noticed....

Casperben on 02/13/2005 09:53 am
its ok Bones. Its still relevent with the fantasy baseball season upon us. I think its a great strategy. I might try and tweak it, because its harder and harder to find starters with good era and whip after the 9th round. I might pick one stud starter (schmidt, prior, ect..) and then draft my stud closer, and then get my 2nd starter after the 9th or so.

good lima pitchers...
Odalis Perez
Kelvim Escobar
Oliver Perez
Jake Westbrook
Livan Hernadez
Jeff Weaver
Greg Maddux
David Wells
Adam Eaton
Brad Penny
bones on 02/13/2005 10:33 am
yeah of course its relevant. and can anyone tell me what people mean by "lima players" .... ? ...?
Casperben on 02/13/2005 10:42 am
LIMA - Low Investment Mound Aces

Basically any pitcher that (for whatever reason) you can get cheaper than others, that will be solid in ERA and WHIP. Usually because of lack of Wins. I think Struggling offenses like the Dodgers and Padres feature alot of SP contenders for the LIMA plan.

You want them to be solid in ERA and WHIP, so you dont mess up your ratios that, hopefully, your relievers are getting yo
bones on 02/13/2005 10:47 am
brianM on 02/13/2005 10:50 am
Yeah Casperben covereed it and it's explained in the article too. A friend told me about the lima plan, I had no clue, and googled it. I think I'm gonna try it out this year.

That's a nice list Casperben, thanks for that. The only names I'd be worried about are maddux and escobar (too many runs scored in the AL West). Do you think maddux has another good year left in him?
(unregistered) on 03/24/2009 04:53 pm
Forget about this in 5x5. You're punting wins and K's, which means it has to be executed to near-perfection to have a chance. Works best in 1-league 4x4 against tough competition. Against pedestrian competition, simply maximize the total value of the players you draft.
NYsportsMAN on 03/24/2009 04:58 pm
I run a modified philosohpy, which involves drafting 5 closers, and only mediocre pitching, then picking up as many starters as you can during the week, almost guaranteed to win you wins, k's and saves, but you're dumping era and whip.
By esiason14 on March 21, 2003 09:05 AM

Great article, bp!!

By Chris Wang on March 24, 2004 07:32 AM

Brian... How about a list of LIMA candidates for this year?