Fantasy Baseball Round Table: Tout Wars mixed replacing BA with OBP
Perry Van Hook, AL LABR participant
I think however that TOUT can (although I doubt they will) use this as an instructional vehicle to get more people familiar with OBP - it would require an explanation from several writers in several venues about the stat and why it is a better measurement of a batter's plate appearance. If they could properly reach people in their home leagues who could see this and follow it this year (with good explanations throughout the year and perhaps some comparisons of popular players) then there might be several leagues across the country adopting OBP next year.
The good news is that Mastersball projections include OBP, and Tout Wars, the focus of this discussion, is a re-draft league. Especially given the participants are industry leaders, shifting the Touts' mindset to OBP should be easy. As you noted, the XFL, which includes a number of common participant names with Tout, has been using OBP successfully for a long time.
Perry, do you think the challenge is really education? Don't you think most fantasy players already understand the basic advantages of OBP over BA? I think it is primarily a comfort zone issue that will take some people years to get past. Seems to me that to drive change, some have to lead.
For example, this is one for Peter. In next year's Fantasy Baseball Guide, why not add OBP projections alongside BA and offer a second set of dollar projections that include OBP instead of BA? It would certainly be more work, but it could give your magazine a competitive advantage over its competitors on the racks.
Todd, we could do the same with our projections – offer an OBP flavor. IMO, this kind of concrete action would help the casual fan in the transition far more than us writing a bunch of articles explaining why one is better than the other.
YES, absolutely there are thousands of fantasy players who have no idea what OBP even stands for much less how that affects the evaluation and ranking of their hitters. OR why it is a better stat to use in their leagues. It is a comfort zone as Don said from what they know to what they don't - that is why Tout Wars participants should educate them and help them get comfortable with the measurement.
Todd Zola, NL Tout Wars and Mixed LABR participant
FWIW, our Customizable Value and Ranking Calculator already has the option to use OBP in lieu of average, but I don't have any essays talking about where the market deficiencies might be. Adam Dunn could be the poster boy for this, but he's so obvious, he could actually be overvalued in OBP leagues for those that rely more on gut than a spreadsheet (not that there's anything wrong with that).
Every year, I run OBP values for our XFL auction and try to identify some sneaky OBP plays. Granted, that's in November so writing about it then would have limited utility, but there's no reason I couldn't emulate the exercise in the spring.
I'd like to applaud Tout Wars for taking the trendsetting approach and not being concerned about the public backlash, though there must be some pause or all three leagues would have converted this season.
There will no doubt be some complaints that Tout Wars should model the most common leagues so it can be used as a source for dollar values and the like. My feeling here is we as an industry need to do a better job explaining the utility of a league such as Tout Wars and LABR. If the audience believes the best use is to price Curtis Granderson at $21 because that's what he went for in AL Tout, we're collectively not doing our jobs as writers and analysts very well.
Personally, I think we should do our best to turn the focus more on the game theory and execution than the player evaluation role of showcase leagues. The catch here is my old partner and I used to have a saying - no one cares about your team but you - so the trick is presenting the information in a more global sense (something our own Brian Walton does as well as anyone, for what it's worth).
About Todd Zola, MastersBall.com
Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for fantasybaseball.com, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.
Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at MLB.com and SI.com, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums.
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