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ICSE > ICSE Articles > Recreation & Sports > How To Increase Your Fun In Playing Fantasy Baseball

How To Increase Your Fun In Playing Fantasy Baseball

In 1986, while working at KCBS-TV, Channel 2 in Los Angeles, California, my newsroom buddies and I made up a "fantasy" basketball game, drafting a bunch of NBA players, using their real life stats and vying for the title of best basketball owner in our workplace. However, because baseball was my favorite sport, I remember saying to the guys in my league, "It's too bad we couldn't figure out how to do this with baseball!" Well, wouldn't you know it, the power of suggestion kicked in, and the very next weekend after saying that, I was browsing through a bookstore in the mall and found a book entitled "Rotisserie Baseball". I took it off the shelf immediately, and read the whole thing while still in the bookstore. I was hooked. I purchased the book, took it home, and the following Monday at work announced to my guys, "Hey, I know how to do this now for baseball."

For the past two decades, I've been having the time of my life as commissioner of many different types of fantasy baseball leagues. Expanding from the "classic" version of roto-ball...you know, using those original 8 statistical categories, to a full-blown version of playing a 162 game schedule of head-to-head competition in a league of eighteen teams, waking up every morning to daily standings and box scores generated by our fantasy players using real life statistics.

Are you a fantasy baseball player? If not, would you like to be? If you are, are you completely satisfied with the way your final results and league champions are determined? Are you looking for new challenges in your game? Do you have the courage...and the skill...to take it to the next level? I believe all versions of the game are great. If you're having fun playing your own type of "Hot Stove" baseball, then that's all that really matters. Of course, if there are ways to boost your fun to much higher levels, and you just aren't aware of how to do so, you may not know what you're missing.

Using the classic eight categories of Batting Avg., Home Runs, RBIs, Stolen Bases (for hitters), and Wins, ERA, WHIP and Saves (for pitchers) was always a blast. But hey, for a baseball afficionado like myself, I was always searching for ways to enhance the pleasure of playing this incredibly enjoyable recreational sport. More categories, such as On Base Avg., Slugging Percentage, OPS (a combination of the preceding two), Winning Percentage, picking a major league manager and using his real life record, picking a major league team, and somehow incorporating its home attendance into your salary cap, are all options available in playing fantasy baseball.

Does it ever bother you though, knowing that one bad outing by one of your starting pitchers can destroy your ERA or WHIP for the entire season? In major league baseball, a pitcher may have a couple of bad outings, but that won't necessarily prevent his team from winning it all at the end of the year. Is it the best way to build a team by stockpiling hitters who slug tons of home runs and collect loads of RBIs, or to load up on closers? Those are very common strategies to winning in many forms of fantasy baseball.

Have you ever built a fantasy team where every hitter in your starting lineup, from the leadoff guy, to the cleanup hitter, to the 8th guy in the order, each has equal importance? Do you think MLB GM's consider these types of things to be vital? Have you ever built a fantasy team where your middle relievers are every bit as crucial to your success as your starting rotation and your closer? Just watch a major league game today, and you can see just how critical it is to have those middle relievers who can either keep a lead for you, or keep you close enough to get into a position to win, while setting things up for your closer to come in and hopefully slam the door on the opposition. How about your defense? Does the ability of your fielders to catch and throw the ball matter to your team's success?

How do you mix all of these elements into a fantasy baseball game? Imagine not only being able to do so, but also doing it 162 times every season, and again in the post-season if you're good enough to make it to the playoffs. There are plenty of computer simulations out there which will allow you to do this, and they, too, are great fun. That is, if you don't mind your team's or players' success relying upon the computer's "roll-of-the dice", or "spin-of-the-wheel" in generating the outcome of your game.

For the ultimate experience, I suggest you consider finding a way to play your fantasy games where the stats your players generated in real life the day or night before, have a direct and immediate impact on what your team does the very next day. Where every phase of the game is critical, hitting for average, getting on base, hitting for power, driving in runs, base running, fielding, fielding range, throwing out base runners. All of these elements are accurately measurable through a science known as sabermetrics, using linear weighted values, made popular by baseball statistics researchers like John Thorn, Pete Palmer and Bill James, just to name a few. When you assign linear weighted values to offensive events in baseball, you can predict the total amount of runs any major league team will score in a given season within about a five percent margin of error.

Wow! Well, isn't baseball all about scoring more runs than the other team? If you could predict, scientifically, how many runs a team should score, or prevent from being scored by a team's pitching staff and its defense, would that be a most viable and dynamic way to play fantasy baseball? Where every offensive event, and a pitcher's pitching index (total innings pitched...times the league ERA divided by nine...minus the pitcher's earned runs) are absolutely critical to the outcome of your game. You can absolutely play a game where all of these things, and much, much more are determined, every day of your season. If you'd like to learn more about how to do that, I invite you to visit my website. And hey, no matter how you play fantasy baseball in the upcoming seasons, I hope you continue to have as much fun as I do.

About The Author

Tony Hernandez, President of Reality Fantasy Baseball, Inc.

I am a retired TV and radio sportscaster of 36 years, including doing play-by-play of Los Angeles Dodgers' games, who also has been a league commissioner of fantasy baseball leagues for the past two decades. Imagine playing a fantasy baseball game where your team plays a 162-game schedule of head-to-head competition against other teams in your league, using real life major league statistics from the day or night before to determine the outcome of your game today. I invite you to visit my website and explore the next generation of fantasy baseball, or Reality Fantasy Baseball, "Where Fantasy Meets Reality':


Date Posted: May 18, 2007

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