Tagged: Fantasy Baseball

2016 MORPS Projections

2016 MORPS projections are finally ready.  Unlike the baseline projections published several weeks ago, these projections include all players projected to win a MLB roster spot on opening day.  I have also included a number of impact rookies who are projected to join a roster early or mid-season in 2016.  Rookie projections use stats generated during either minor league or international play.  Factors are applied to adjust the stats to MLB equivalent stats.  MORPS projections also account for expected adjustments in personal playing time.

The excel version of the projections include a key tab that defines all headings used in the projections.  In short, fantasy baseball players that play in rotisserie leagues should key on the R-ROTO and ROTO columns.  ROTO is a point value derived from weights on the categories in a standard 5×5 rotisserie league.  R-ROTO is the player ranking based upon the ROTO point values.  If you league uses a customer scoring system, you can use the projections in the categories of interest to customize your rankings.  Fantasy baseball players that play in a more realistic format like Baseball Manager or a similar simulation league should reorder the pitching based upon OERV and the batting based upon RC.  OERV stands for Out Earned Run Value.  This stat attempts to value a pitcher by combining ERA with the value of number of innings pitched.  This is a way for fantasy managers in simulation leagues to compare the value of a relief pitcher with a starter or a starter who pitches 200 innings with one that pitches 100 with a slightly lower ERA.  RC is Runs Created.  A league like Baseball Manager uses RC as a basis for the points they generate in their daily games.  The more realistic the simulation, the closer the hitting will align with RC.

2016 MORPS Batting Projections (XLS)

2016 MORPS Batting Projections (PDF)

2016 MORPS Pitching Projections (XLS)

2016 MORPS Pitching Projections (PDF)

For those who like to resort the projections for their own fantasy system, make sure you filter out the players with a roster status of “N”.  These players will most likely not make an opening day 25 man roster.  Those players who were still in competition for a position were included with a roster status of “Y” in most cases.  I posted the “N” players for those managers who have keeper leagues or deeper rosters that may want to pull one of these folks onto their list.

Team projections for 2016 will be posted within the next week.

Play Ball!

Final 2014 MORPS Projection Updates

Most opening day rosters are set which means its time for the final 2014 MORPS projections.  If you’re a Braves fan, you have to be wondering why your city is cursed.  First its the traffic jam to end all traffic jams.  Next, it’s all your pitchers getting hit by the injury bug.  I’m hoping that some minor adjustments this year will yield even better results for this year’s projections.  We’ll check in October to see how the numbers mapped to real stats.

For those who play Fantasy, remember to sort your stats for your scoring system.  Baseball Manager (BBM) managers should sort batters by Runs Created (RC) and pitchers by OERV.  This should yield the best results for simulation leagues that use real stats for nightly scoring.  Roto leagues should use the projections as presented below.

MORPS updates for pitchers and batters are as follows:

2014 MORPS Batting Projections 20140327 (XLS)

2014 MORPS Batting Projections 20140327 (PDF)

2014 MORPS Pitching Projections 20140327 (XLS)

2014 MORPS Pitching Projections 20140327 (PDF)

Feel free to leave comments or suggestions.

2014 Updates for MORPS Projections

Spring Training always adds unexpected twists for projection systems.  This year is no different.  Injuries, position battle updates, and unexpected player transactions lead to changes in player projections.  During the year, this simply leads to variance from projected player performance.  During Spring Training, projection systems have a chance to make last-minute corrections to account for all these changes.

MORPS updates for pitchers and batters are as follows:

2014 MORPS Batting Projections 20140313 (XLS)

2014 MORPS Batting Projections 20140313 (PDF)

2014 MORPS Pitching Projections 20140313 (XLS)

2014 MORPS Pitching Projections 20140313 (PDF)

Feel free to leave comments or suggestions.

Obie

2014 MORPS Roto Draft Tool

I came across an excel tool two years ago from Razzball that automated much of the draft process for ROTO leagues.  I modified it with MORPS projections and added a bit more functionality.  It worked well for my ROTO drafts the last two years.  Thus, I decided to use it again this year.  I also decided to share the modified tool this year with MORPS followers.

2014 MORPS Roto Draft Tool

Take time to check the instructions page.  It highlights what needs done to complete your preparation.  The User Input page allows you to customize the tool for your own league, goals, etc.  The only other page you will need to alter in any way is the Players page.  During the draft, you update players taken on this page with a drop down team selection that uses the teams you entered on the User Input page.  Players are automatically marked as taken in the dashboard by stat and the dashboard by position.  This allows you to see next available players based upon position or any of the standard 5×5 roto stat categories.  The War Room is where all the player draft data is consolidated together to give you a running overview of your team and the other teams in your league.

Feel free to make suggestions for improvement.  Hopefully everyone else finds it as useful as I did with my own drafts.

2014 MORPS Projections

MORPS projections are late coming this year.  I’ve delivered a set of baseline projections several weeks ago.  However, you’ll find that the actual projections have some drastic differences.  I’m always amazed by the amount of player movement during the off season.

2014 MORPS Batting Projections 20140227 (XLS)

2014 MORPS Batting Projections 20140227 (PDF)

2014 MORPS Pitching Projections 20140227 (XLS)

2014 MORPS Pitching Projections 20140227 (PDF)

Batting Projections

The Major-League Obie Role-Based Projection System (MORPS) uses four years of player performance data for all hitters. Since I started playing with Sabermetrics using Tango’s Marcel system, the first iteration of MORPS four years ago used the same formulas. After learning the basics, the batter formulas were adjusted to include the most recent four years of performance data. Adjustments were also made for player age, home ballpark data and expected playing time. The most complicated part of the system is the regression formulas. Tango provided formulas for his three year model. I had to crack open the math books to figure out how to transition the formulas to a four year model.

One of the most time consuming tasks in developing the system was determining the proper mean for player regression. If the goal was to ensure that the mean of all the projections competed favorably with end of year player means, the task would have been straight forward. However, my goal was to make the actual player projections as accurate as possible. “Role-Based” means that the player projections are regressed to position specific means. National League means are also separated from American League means.

While conducting research, I noticed that most projection systems used minor league stats as well as any available major league stats to project the future performance of young players. There are even formulas that anticipate player regression when entering the majors. The interesting thing is that Tango’s Marcel system does just as good at predicting rookie performance as other projection systems and he doesn’t use any minor league stats. Some players are great in the minors and simply can’t make the jump to the major leagues. Some players start out great, but find that major league pitchers start exploiting weaknesses they never knew they had. Others outperform all expectations. By calculating the reliability of a player’s projection using only major league data, MORPS adds a proportional dosage of a player’s positional mean to complete a rookie’s player projection. Since we are focused on individual player performance, I didn’t see the point of including all minor league stats when the results don’t seem to provide significant value. The last year of a rookies minor league or international season is included, with appropriate adjustments for competition, if no major league experience exists.  While efforts have been made to adjust projections to reflect anticipated playing time, players who have a roster flag of “N” are projected using baseline projections only.

Pitching Projections

The formulas used to create pitcher projections are very similar to those that we have already discussed with batters. MORPS uses four years of data to create a pitcher projection. Adjustments are made for age, home field and anticipated role. The reliability of a projection is calculated based upon the amount of data available for a particular player. Someone with low reliability will regress more to a position specific mean than someone that has faced a lot of major league batters over the last four years.

The big difference between projecting pitchers and batters is the usage disparity between relief pitchers and starting pitchers. A good relief pitcher may face 350 batters in a season. A top end starting pitcher may pitch to 900 batters in a season. The plate appearances for position players are typically not dependent on role. A first baseman and shortstop may both have 600 plate appearances over the course of a year. Their position means will be different. First basement will typically have higher power stats while shortstops have higher speed stats. But, they are similar enough that their projections can be calculated using the same basic formulas. The disparity between relief and starting pitchers forces them to be calculated very differently. For months I struggled with pitching projections. When I finally figured out that starting pitchers and relief pitchers had to be calculated separately, everything fell in place.

2014 MORPS Baseline Projections

I’ve received several emails asking about 2014 MORPS projections.  My day job now includes travel which has left me less time to work on these projections.  In the interest of time, I have put together a quick and dirty baseline version of 2014 MORPS projections.  “What does this mean?” you may ask.  Well… the short story is that the projections do not include any player team changes or role changes.  I also did not error check.  Will Cano’s stats go down in Seattle?  Absolutely, but this set of projections have not accounted for his change in venue.  You will need to take this into account if you are preparing for an early draft.  Those things being said, the projection engine is the same one I automated last year.  This means that the projections are still based on four years of data, positional mean regression, etc.  In most cases, the numbers are fairly close to final values.  Time permitting, I hope to publish a set of updated projections during Spring Training that include player roles and team changes.

Baseline 2014 MORPS Batting and Pitching projections are available in excel and PDF formats.  Follow the links below to download your copy.

2014 MORPS Batting Projections Baseline (XLS)

2014 MORPS Batting Projections Baseline (PDF)

2014 MORPS Pitching Projections Baseline (XLS)

2014 MORPS Pitching Projections Baseline (PDF)

If you player Roto baseball, you will find the projections already sorted in Roto Rank order.  If you play a more realistic version of fantasy baseball, like BBM, you will need to resort the XLS spreadsheet in RC order for batters and OERV order for pitchers.

Play Ball!

2013 MORPS Roto Draft Tool Update

The latest MORPS updates are now incorporated into the 2013 MORPS Roto Draft Tool.  The tool was updated found within the first posting at the following link – click here.

One major change was an update to how the ROTO value and ROTO RANK are calculated.  I found in a number of my drafts that MORPS projections were suggesting picks like Mark Reynolds and Adam Dunn well before other lists on the market.  Players were getting “points” for number of homers, runs, and batting average; however, I was not showing the negative impact that a player could have with a rate stat like batting average.  Adjustments were made to the formulas.  Players with low batting averages will now show negative impact on your fantasy team as well as their positive impact within certain counting stats.

The Dynamic Value Draft @ Baseball Manager

Since publishing “What is the best type of fantasy baseball draft for me?” I have received several questions about “dynamic value drafts”. Managers that primarily play rotisserie or point leagues have never heard or played fantasy baseball using this draft format. My purpose with this article is to explain this draft format in more detail. I will use questions from readers as a starting point for the discussion.

What sites use the “dynamic value draft” format? The only site that I have found that still uses the “dynamic value draft” format is Baseball Manager (BBM). This site has been in operation since the early 1990s and touts itself as the longest running fantasy baseball game on the Internet.

Why was the name “dynamic value” used to describe this draft format? One of the unique things about this draft format is that the managers for an individual league determine the salary of each player by a sequentially ordered draft list. It is “dynamic” because the values are not known prior to the draft. The draft engine determines the salaries of each player based upon their collective ranking by the league managers. The draft engine then processes the draft using those same draft lists. I have seen some very interesting draft strategies that both influence player value(s) and the subsequent drafts. See the draft strategy question below for more details.

Your article said that players are drafted one position at a time. How exactly does that work? Each league drafts starting pitchers followed by outfielders, first basemen, second basemen, shortstops, third basemen, catchers, and relief pitchers. Most leagues choose to spread these individual position drafts over the course of eight (8) nights. This allows managers to adjust their strategies in between each positional draft based on factors like draft order, remaining budget, anticipated player values, team needs, etc. Many BBM managers refer to the mornings of draft week as the “eight (8) days of fantasy baseball Christmas”. It is like unwrapping presents each morning. Although most managers apply strategies to narrow the possible list of players they will draft, you really don’t know until you look at the draft results the next day. Sometimes you “get your guy”. Sometimes another manager uses a strategy you weren’t expecting and you end up with a player you weren’t expecting. At the beginning of the draft, every manager has an opportunity to target any player. Your ranking of players and positional budgets, combined with anticipating the actions of other managers, will ultimately decide whether you truly “get your guy”.

How many players are drafted at each position? Six (6) starting pitchers, relief pitchers and outfielders are drafted. Two (2) first basemen, second basemen, shortstops, third basemen and catchers are drafted. Drafting multiple players at each position each night creates some interesting strategy opportunities. See the draft strategy question below for more details.

How is draft order determined? For the first positional draft, starting pitchers, the draft order is determined randomly. Total remaining budget determines the draft order for the other position drafts. The team with the most budget remaining always picks first. An interesting twist that makes the dynamic value draft much different from a traditional snake draft is that draft order is reset after each team selects a player. For example, let’s say that team A picks first because they have the most money remaining prior to the outfield draft. Team B picks second with one million dollars less than team A. Thus, team A will get the first pick and team B will pick second. If team A picks a player that is more than one million dollars more expensive than the player that team B picked, they jump in front of team A when the draft engine picks the second player for each team in the outfield draft. You’ll notice that I didn’t say that team B has first pick for the second player because it is possible for one of the other eight teams to jump ahead of them if they drafted an even cheaper player that resulted in their total money remaining to be greater than team B. The ordering of a manager’s draft list not only impacts player values and their draft picks, it also impacts draft order for each positional draft and within each positional draft.

How are player salaries determined? As stated above, the managers within a league dynamically determine player values based upon player draft order. Each league has ten (10) managers. If Tulowitzky is ranked first by every manager for the shortstop draft, he would be valued at 5 million dollars ($500,000 x 10). If he was ranked second by every manager, he would be valued at 4.5 million dollars ($450,000 x 10). Each position lower in the rankings subtracts $50,000 from the value of the player. The combination of the values of each player for all ten (10) managers determines a player’s salary. The minimum salary for any player is $100,000 ($10,000 x 10). Any player ranked outside of a manager’s top 10 is given a salary of $10,000 from that manager. Let’s look at a typical scenario in a first base NL draft for a player like Helton from Colorado. Five (5) managers ranked him 9th while the five (5) other managers ranked him 5th, 7th, 8th, 11th and 13th. We would add $20,000 ($10,000 x 2) to his salary for the 11th and 13th rankings, $300,000 for 5th, $200,000 for 7th, $150,000 for 8th and $500,000 ($100,000 x 5) for the five (5) rankings of 9th. His total salary would be set at $1,170,000 for whatever manager ended up drafting him. The salary valuation method outlined above is used for all the infield positions (1B, 2B, SS, 3B) and catcher. Starting Pitchers and outfielders are similar. The difference is that the top 25 players are awarded a salary over $10,000 from each manager. Instead of reducing player salaries by $50,000 for each reduction in ranking, player salaries are reduced by $20,000. Thus a pitcher ranked 2nd by all 10 managers would have a salary of $4,800,000 ($480,000 x 10). An outfielder ranked 19th by all 10 managers would have a salary of $1,400,000 ($140,000 x 10). Relief pitchers are the same as starting pitchers and outfielders in the sense that 25 players are assigned a salary over $10,000. The difference for relievers is that the max salary for any reliever is $2,500,000 ($250,000 x 10). Each reduction on a managers draft list reduces a reliever’s salary by $10,000. Thus, a reliever that is ranked 2nd by all 10 managers would have a salary of $2,400,000 ($240,000 x 10).

How does the draft engine decide who gets which player? Once player salaries and draft order is determined, the draft engines drafts a player for each manager based upon their ordered draft list and their positional budget. For example, let’s say that Manager A set his second base budget at 2.5 million. The draft engine would look for the highest ranked available player on their draft list that has a salary of 2.4 million or less. Why 2.4 million you might ask? Because $100,000 is always reserved for future picks within each position. Since two players are selected in the second base draft, $100,000 is reserved for the second pick and 2.4 million is available for the first pick. If Jeter is the highest ranked player on Manger A’s list that is under 2.4 million dollars, he is selected. If his dynamic salary was 2.1 million, Manager A will have $400,000 available for his second pick.

What are some of the draft strategies that veteran managers use to draft their team using a dynamic value draft format? I asked this question on Baseball Manager’s discussion board. I have highlighted several strategies that managers use below.

  • Use a minimum position budget (3.5 million) for Starting Pitchers – The Poolboy stated “the trend has been to minimum budget SPs and position for a balanced offense with a top 3 or top 5 pick among position players” (remember that remaining budget determines future round draft order). UMP stated “low ball the SP round so not to be picking near the bottom of the key offensive rounds.”
  • Remove as many free agents as possible – Bruno stated “if the majority of the league goes with min caps, don’t be afraid to spend on hitters. Remove as many potential free agents as possible”. Any player that is not drafted by a manager during the draft is available to managers after the draft as free agents with a minimum salary of the dynamic value that was set for that player during the draft.
  • Try to draft a key offensive player – Adam Shaw stated “A good strategy in AL used to be to go for A-rod but this year everyone will probably be gunning for Pujols/Fielder/A-gon & a great 2B, 3B.” Managers tend to use minimum salaries for starting pitching and outfield if they want to have the most remaining money for the first base draft.
  • Maximize the production you get for the money you spend – Humin’bird stated “in some cases it’s prudent to spend money on a top 3 player at a position, but you’ll wind up with a weak backup probably. If you can get two reasonably productive players for the same money as a top 3 player with a weak backup then you might come out a bit better. One of your two reasonably productive players might have a career year, whereas the top player might get hurt and leave you with nothing”.
  • Use sleeper picks to spread out your draft dollars for SP, OF and RP – Many managers choose to move one or two players up their draft list as “sleepers”. If the manager used a budget of 3.5 million for starting pitchers, a sleeper may allow them to spread their dollars between more than just a few top 25 players. Assuming that one manager’s rankings are similar to another, a straight draft list is more likely to result in the selection of a player that barely fits within their established budget. Subsequently, the next players will need to be very cheap to fit within the remaining budget. A sleeper allows a manager to select someone at a lower dollar value which will leave more money for later picks. Three 1 million dollar pitchers may give you better results than one 3 million dollar pitcher and a bunch of $100,000 guys.

The strategies that managers use in this draft format are only limited by their imagination and courage on draft day. If they mess up, they could end up with a team that needs serious help in free agency to compete. If they do well in the draft, they could start the year in a very strong position.

What is the best fantasy baseball draft format?

How do I decide?

This is the second piece in a series focused on equipping fantasy managers with the tools they need to pick their optimal fantasy baseball league. The first article was titled “What fantasy baseball game should I play?” It focused on choosing a fantasy format based upon personal interests and format characteristics. The next step is to choose the type of draft you want. Five questions will be presented to guide you to a draft format best suited to your interests. Before we get to the questions, I need to give a brief history of the different draft formats. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding the types of fantasy drafts available, strengths of each and also the weaknesses.

The oldest, and most common, fantasy draft is a serpentine draft. You may also hear it called a snake draft. Each manager is assigned a draft position (1 to X). The person in the first position picks the first player in the first round and the last player in the second round. The last manager chooses the last player in the first round and the first player in the second round. This back and forth selection of players occurs until all rosters are filled. The first fantasy baseball serpentine drafts were conducted using pen and paper in the early 1980s. Computer based software automated the process in the 1990s. Most serpentine drafts today use web based draft rooms. All rotisserie and most point leagues offer the serpentine draft format. With time limits on individual draft selections, serpentine drafts tend to take the least amount of time to complete compared to other draft formats. They also tend to be the easiest from a preparation perspective. Some managers can simply load their draft lists into the web draft room along with some basic position draft rules and let the system select their players. The negatives of a serpentine system are that draft order significantly influences player selection and it just isn’t all that exciting.

In the early 1990s, dynamic value drafts were introduced. You may also hear them called contract drafts. Each manager ranks the players on positional draft lists. The system asynchronously processes the draft lists, typically one position each night. Player salaries are set dynamically based upon manager rankings and players are selected for each manager based upon their draft list ranks /salary cap. The order that players are selected is determined by the amount of money remaining for each manager. For example, six starting pitchers may be selected on one night. At the beginning of the first SP selection, Manager A has the most money remaining. Thus, he picks first from his draft list. If the first player on his list has a value (based upon the ranking from all manager lists) that fits within his established position cap, the system selects that player for his team. After all managers have picked their first SP, the selection order is determined for the second SP based upon the updated order of most money remaining. After all SPs have been selected, the draft results are delivered to each manager within a draft results web page. The only site that uses this draft format today is the simulation league Baseball Manager. The negative of this format is the asynchronous/daily nature of the draft. The positives are the unique challenge of managing dynamic player valuations, a positional/global salary cap and multiple positional drafts over the course of a week. Another positive is that a manager is not tied to a specific draft order. If they want to get in a better draft position for the third base draft, they can choose to spend fewer dollars on players at second base and shortstop to bring their draft order up since it is based on remaining budget.

Over the last 10 years, auction drafts have become extremely popular. In an auction, each manager has a certain imaginary cap they can spend (i.e. $260) on a certain number of players (i.e. 26). Each manager nominates or introduces a certain number of players within a given timeframe or order. Once a player is introduced, all managers can bid or make offers on a player. The highest bidder signs the player to their roster. Most rotisserie and point leagues offer auction drafts in addition to their standard serpentine draft formats. However, auction drafts come in many flavors. Real time auctions typically resolve bidding one player at a time. Extended auctions resolve bidding X hours after the last bid on that player. Regardless, auctions will always take longer than a traditional serpentine draft. There is also a much greater chance that the competitive balance within an auction league will not be as consistent due to the complexity and strategy that each manager must employee. An auction draft does tend to be more exciting than a serpentine draft and does require more preparation and strategy. That being said, an auction draft also allows you to go after any player you want. Everyone has a chance to sign the number one overall player.

So…, without further delay, the questions that you need to ask yourself when you want to choose a fantasy draft format are as follows:

1. What fantasy format have you chosen to play?
a. Rotisserie – You can choose between serpentine and auction.
b. Simulation League – Dynamic Value Draft @ Baseball Manager.
c. Head –to-Head point league – You can choose between serpentine and auction.

2. Do you want to draft real time or extended over a period of days?
a. Real Time – You can choose between serpentine and auction.
b. Extended – You can choose between serpentine, auction or dynamic value

3. What is more important to you – simplicity or access to all players
a. Simplicity – Choose a serpentine draft
b. Access to All Players – Choose an auction or dynamic value draft

4. How important is strategy to you within a draft?
a. Shut up and Just let me pick my players – Serpentine draft
b. Strategy is Important – Choose an auction or dynamic value draft

5. What is more exciting to you?
a. Finishing the Draft – Choose a serpentine draft.
b. Hand to Hand Conflict for your player – Choose an auction draft.
c. Opening up Christmas presents for 8 days – Choose a dynamic value draft.

Hopefully these questions have helped you choose the fantasy draft format that best fits your needs. Feel free to offer comments if there are other things that you found important when making your choice of draft formats.

What type of fantasy baseball game should I play?

Which format should I play?

Every year the top search engines see tons of web searches trying to determine the best fantasy baseball game to play. There are so many choices and so little unbiased information regarding each of these games. The purpose of this blog post is an attempt to narrow some of this information gap. At the end of this post I will share five key questions that you need to ask in order to figure out the correct fantasy format for your own personal interests. Before I get to the questions, I need to give a brief history of fantasy baseball. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding the types of fantasy formats, strengths of those formats and also the weaknesses.

It is generally accepted that the first fantasy baseball format that used live performance results was Rotisserie. It was started in 1980 by Daniel Okrent. The name comes from the place where the league met – a New York City restaurant called “La Rotisserie Francaise”. Rotisserie baseball is typically referred to by the number of batting and pitching categories that are monitored. A 4×4 roto league tracks 4 batting categories and 4 pitching categories. This format became popular because one could easily add up their player’s stats using weekly data information that was published in the USA today. In a 12 team roto league, the top manager would get 12 points in a category they lead, 11 points for second, etc. By adding all the category points together for those players you started that week, you derive the leaders (and eventual winners) of your league. Simplicity is the biggest strength of this format. You can run it just like a fantasy football league. Waivers are processed on one day. Weekly standings are published at the end of the weak. Etc. Etc. That is probably why this has become the largest fantasy baseball format. The negatives are the game does not reflect real individual player performance. Team stats like RBIs, Wins, Losses, etc. are dramatically impacted by the strength of a player’s team in lieu of their individual performance. Roto also doesn’t emphasize the daily nature of baseball. Everything is done on a weekly basis. In other words, the simplification that makes it popular to casual fans has also made it unrealistic for baseball purists. As real-time stats have become more accessible, many rotisserie variations have popped up. Head-to-Head leagues use rotisserie categories to award team wins, losses or ties on a weekly basis. Some leagues have even replaced traditional roto categories with sabermetric calculations.

Before rotisserie, a game called Strat-o-Matic (created in 1963) was the baseball diehard’s game of choice. Many didn’t consider this real fantasy baseball because live stats were not used. It was actually a tabletop game that used historical player data recorded on player baseball cards to simulate games and even seasons. Some sites still exist today that are built upon either historical or fictional player performance. All of these games have their roots in Strat-o-Matic. The pro of this format is that mangers often play a full 162 game season that has the daily feel of major league baseball. The obvious negative is that the game does not use live performance data. Thus, you are not really playing “fantasy” baseball.

In the early 1990s, a new game called Baseball Manager teamed with prodigy to create the first online fantasy baseball game. In order to recreate the real baseball feel of Strat-o-Matic and combine it with the live performance data associated with rotisserie, Baseball Manager chose to use newly created sabermetric projection systems to simulate daily head-to-head baseball games. The game engine combined live performances of players that played that day with banked performances that had not already been used in a head to head game. A fantasy manager’s team offensive performance was calculated by running their players thru the Bill James Runs Created formula. Defensive performances were a combination of pitcher ERAs and player’s fielding performance. A daily head-to-head game would be decided by comparing the offensive and defensive performance of each team. A daily sports page was published each evening for participating managers that read just like your local newspaper. Managers chose their daily lineups based upon pitching matchups (LH/RH); established their pitching rotations three days in advance like a major league manager and even simulated travel to an opposing team’s park to play a 3 game series. Although the game has obviously matured from the days of prodigy (web based), the basic idea of the game is still the same. The major positive of a simulation format is baseball realism on multiple levels. That is also the negative. Managers looking for simplicity or a draft and go type of league should not play simulation leagues. It isn’t a huge time commitment. But, you do have to spend some time on your team every few days. Over the last several years other simulation games have popped up that compete with Baseball Manager. Based upon second hand information, these other formats have resolution formulas that are not based upon sabermetric theory. However, I have not played these leagues so I don’t feel qualified to evaluate them within this post.

The last format that began emerging over the last 10 years is the head-to-head point leagues. These are very similar to roto in the sense that you draft your team and play baseball on a weekly basis. The difference is that the games use a resolution formula to award points for individual player statistical categories in lieu of ranking them from 1 to X. In a sense, they have attempted to use resolution formulas like the simulation leagues while maintaining the weekly format of roto. The positives and negatives of this format are really the same as roto. Simplicity, weekly formats, team based stats, etc. It is just a different way to represent the results.

You’ll notice that I did not discuss the various draft formats. I’ll attempt to cover that subject in another post since it seems that I have been typing on this topic for a while. Once you pick a format, this may be a differentiator for some managers.

So…, without further delay, the questions that you need to ask yourself when you want to choose a fantasy game are as follows:

1. How important is being part of the “main stream” of fantasy baseball?
a. Important – You should play rotisserie
b. Doesn’t Matter – Go to the next question.

2. What is more important to you – Simplicity or Realism?
a. Simplicity favors weekly formats like rotisserie and point leagues.
b. Realism favors simulation leagues.
c. Doesn’t Matter – Go to the next question.

3. Do you get bored with fantasy baseball within a month of finishing your draft?
a. Yes – You may want to try a more realistic version of fantasy baseball.
b. No – Go to the next question.

4. How long do you want to play – Full Season or Partial Season?
a. Full Season fantasy baseball is the standard for all fantasy baseball formats. Go to the next question.
b. There is only one format that offers a partial season – Simulation Leagues. Baseball Manager offers a lightning version that is 54 games in lieu of the standard 162.

5. How important is the level of competition that you play?
a. If you want to play the very best competition, you have three choices.
(1). Rotisserie winner leagues – Some sites allow managers who win within a public league to play in a winner league the next year.
(2). Money leagues – Managers typically only put big money into a league when they are serious about winning. Almost every format has money leagues.
(3). Progression Leagues – This is unique to the Baseball Manager Simulation leagues. In essence this is a fantasy pyramid scheme. There is one Tier 1 league, two Tier 2 leagues, four Tier 3 leagues, etc. If a manager wins a lower level league they are promoted to a higher tier the next year. The two bottom managers at the end of each year in each league are demoted to a lower tier. This is the only format I have played that has consequences for winners and losers. As a result, I have never seen an abandoned team in a progression league.
b. If you just want to win, public rotisserie and point leagues may be your best choice. Many of these sites suffer from abandoned teams and only a handful of quality managers per league. But, winning is certainly much easier in these formats.
c. If you really don’t care or you just want to have fun, you may want to go back and consider one of the other questions when choosing your type of league. You can always find a group of friends to play any format if fun is your goal.

I’m hoping these questions help you choose the fantasy baseball format that best fits your interests. Feel free to offer comments if there are other things that you found important when making your choice of formats.