Levi Valentine 3/10/14
While college basketball and March Madness pools rightfully dominate the fantasy and games discussion in the month of March, baseball fans everywhere are gearing up for another season of fantasy triumphs and tribulations. While researching minor league players, tracking injuries, and reviewing projections for the upcoming season are all keys to a successful draft and setting yourself up for a season of glory, it’s just as important to make sure you understand your league rules. For those of us not fortunate enough to live in sunny Florida and Arizona, this is the closest we’ll get to the real thing until opening day, so let’s dive in.
Yes, reviewing your league’s rules can be boring. However, it is critical in a game where a single run can be the difference between popping champagne in the clubhouse and drowning your sorrows with a bottle of cheap whiskey while pondering what might have been. Ask the Texas Rangers, who ended last season with a loss to Tampa Bay in a tiebreaker game for the final spot in the American League playoffs. In order to help with this process, we’ll provide a brief overview of the most popular types of leagues.
Roto, or rotisserie, is the most common way to play fantasy baseball. In this scoring type, teams are ranked from first to last in each of the league’s stat categories. Points are then awarded based on these category rankings and totaled to determine an overall score and league rank.
This type of league requires a team to be balanced. While having a team loaded with great power hitters will undoubtedly help you in the homerun and RBI categories, you’ll find yourself struggling to stay competitive without a few contact guys who can produce in the steals and runs categories. Similarly, you’ll need a balance of pitchers who can get strikeouts and those who pitch to contact but maintain a low ERA. Categories for rotisserie leagues can vary greatly, so be sure to double check your league settings and use them to craft your draft strategy.
Head to head has several variations, including points, each category, and most categories. The points variation is similar to fantasy football, where both positive and negative plays by your player affect your point total and the highest point total at the end of the week wins. Meanwhile, in head to head each category you earn a win or loss for each category chosen by your league commissioner. Finally, ‘most categories’ is similar to ‘each category’, except instead of a win for each category, you get a point and the team with the most points for that week wins.
Things to keep in mind with a head to head league include the variable number of games your players, especially pitchers, will have in a week. For example, it might help you to start a good pitcher who has two starts in a given week (if lineups can only be updated weekly, not daily) instead of a great pitcher who only has one start. Hitters similarly will have differing number of games, which is something to keep in mind as you set your lineups.
Points-based scoring allows you to assign a given point value to each individual stat category (ie. HR=4, RBI=1, etc.). Standings are based on the accumulation of points covering all stat categories and combined into one total points column. The team with the most overall points at the end of the season wins.
Ever wanted to build a team full of great homerun hitters? How about a team full of dominant pitchers? With points scoring, there’s no need to have a balanced team if you don’t want to as all that matters is the number of points they accrue, not how they do it. However, it’s important to keep in mind that your league’s scoring may favor a certain type of player with the way the scoring is set up. For example, if a homerun only earns your team two points but a steal is worth four, you’re going to want to load up on guys who can steal 30-40 bases instead of slow power hitters.
Whether you’re a fantasy rookie or a seasoned veteran, it’s critical to know your league rules. While fantasy players could debate the merits of each scoring type endlessly, all can agree that knowing the ins and outs of how your league works is imperative to having a successful fantasy season. For those of you who use keeper leagues, stay tuned for our next article which will guide you as you make those critical choices. And, of course, stay tuned all season long for advice that will help you fight your way to the top of your league. Good luck!