Fantasy Baseball: Tumbling Dice

by Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com on December 21, 2010 @ 09:45:00 PDT

 


You've Got to Roll Me

Greetings all, and felicitations of the season all around. Welcome to "Tumbling Dice," my piece of weekly real estate produced by our good KFFL friends.

The idea for this column, and its title, goes back to Strat-O-Matic, as well as the obvious allusion to the great Rolling Stones tune. In Strat-O-Matic, when playing head-to-head in manual mode, three dice are an essential part of play, for the roll of the dice determines the disposition of each play.

Which is really so perfect, for baseball - and its virtual sibling, fantasy baseball, and in this instance I am referring to all formats, simulation games and all - because the game itself is a lovely duel between total probability and complete happenstance. Just like those dice.

Florida Marlins 1B Gaby Sanchez
Passing up Sanchez: a novel (idea)

What I intend to discuss here is just that: how to try and balance that logic - which is represented by a huge body of statistics - with some bones sprinkled with a little fairy dust, and come up with a competitive squad, no matter what the format.

Truth is I play several formats because I like to play games, but also because I am sure that by playing under different sets of rules, we can often see an angle we might not have noticed otherwise.

I can indeed use my early Strat play as such an example, for WHIP and OBP were not really chic statistical categories when I started playing the game, in 1977. But, I quickly learned that players who walked got on base more often than guys who were free swingers, and that the more players who could simply get on base, the greater the percentages that something would happen. And, most of the time, "something" was a good thing, as in a run scoring.

Conversely, pitchers who could keep the number of hits under their innings pitched, had the greater the percentages for success. For, if the opposing team cannot get runners on base, they will have a difficult time scoring any runs.

This simple, for lack of better verbiage, "epiphany," opened up the game in a wonderful way. For, it was easy to see how actual major league teams would be successful embracing the principle of high OBP w/low-WHIP=success equation.

Granted, fantasy baseball does not always translate directly; that is, a good roto team is not necessarily a good MLB team and vice versa. And, a good fantasy player is not necessarily a good baseball player. Still, having a team with a good WHIP is always a good thing.

The WHIP comparison might be an obvious one - though not so much 35 years ago - but it is an example of there can never be too many perspectives, or ways of looking at both numbers, and player performance.

So, in this space, each Tuesday, we will try and look at some angle(s) or aspect(s) of the game of baseball, and its offshoots, that might help us not just understand all the madness and ups and downs that come with playing fantasy baseball, but also help us see things not previously noticed that gives an edge over our fellow owners.

So, with that I want to welcome you all to this regular coffee clutch. Where we can have a latte and a muffin, while trying to understand why in some formats Eric Hosmer is a better sixth-round selection than Gaby Sanchez (which actually has happened in a Scoresheet mock draft that is drafted as a dynasty league).

In the meantime, have yourself a merry, warm, and especially safe holiday this weekend. And I will be back next week trying to work my way through that very Hosmer-Sanchez connundrum.

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About Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com

Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.

Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.

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