Fantasy Baseball Round Table: Tout Wars mixed replacing BA with OBP
Nick Minnix, AL LABR and Mixed Tout Wars participant
The fashionably late dude (and it's not because of his wardrobe) in the peanut gallery is in agreement with Mr. Walton on all fronts (except maybe one). It sounds like everyone agrees on most aspects of the introduction of OBP as a replacement for BA. Valid concerns, varying levels of rationale. I expect that the most advantageous way to bring about change in the fantasy community's mentality is just to publish projections, values, rankings, etc., as suggested. I think it's neither good nor bad that OBP is the standard in Tout Mixed only, to start, however. A year or two to convert all leagues makes no difference, really. Change is change; to me the important thing is that it has started. Kudos to the LLC for recognizing that perception of how a change comes about may be a factor in people's attitudes toward it. Is it necessary? Probably not. Is it helpful? Perhaps. Perhaps works well.
I agree completely with Todd's philosophy on writing, but that approach, unfortunately, works for only a select group of readers, just like it does for any population. How big is that group? I'm not sure, but I'm sure that I wish it was bigger. In general, casual players prefer that you tell them what to do, not show them how to do it.
Anyway, most people, by nature, are averse to change, so to help them adapt, you implement what you think is good for them. How sinister is your opposition? At some point, BA die-hards may be motivated to paint you as radical, evil, a scapegoat for the source of the disadvantaged's problems in some manner, and prey upon the emotions that fuel their fears. If Yahoo!, ESPN and CBS just switched defaults from BA to OBP, brains would melt. Nothing wrong with that (not brains melting; sweeping change), but most people need time to get used to an idea. If resistance is strong enough, the sweeping change will backfire, and then it will be harder to bring about change in the future, regarding OBP or anything else, because the last change left a bad taste in people's mouths (to say the least). Whether they're correct isn't the point, especially when your product is involved.
I figured that a switch to OBP would be easier in AL and NL leagues precisely because traditional and experienced players seem to have a greater appreciation for what OBP indicates. Casual players play in mixed leagues, mostly.
Tim Heaney, Mixed Tout Wars and Mixed LABR participant
I think there's a bigger desire than what's being let on for the average player to try something new. In my years of writing in this industry - not as much as most of you, but significant enough to notice such things - the rate at which I encounter alternative formats, via Twitter questions and the like, has increased. My personal dynasty league uses OPS along with BA - redundant, perhaps, but still acknowledging the impact that OBP has on a player's value and that SABRmetrics isn't voodoo. And, as mentioned, the FSWA leagues add an intriguing dimension to their categories.
As the complexity of player analysis by most fans grows, it's clear they'll recognize if they play in an OBP format that players like Adam Dunn boast different values in OBP leagues than they do in BA leagues.
The challenge, as mentioned by a few of you, is how we relay this in our fantasy advice to the commonplace, say, 5x5, head-to-head or points league. Our contention that OBP is the better judge of a player's plate skills might take a few years to alter the default landscape, but in this Internet age, this goal might be easier to accomplish.
Just as vital in promoting this is the direction of Tout Wars' role, whether it's a paragon of how the game should be played, or at its base level an example of potential alterations.
In whatever form, more discussion on OBP vs. BA - and how Tout Wars participants and board members are constantly looking to evolve - expands the minds and toolboxes of what our readers can do.
Lord Zola's Wrap Up
There's a lot to think about here, mostly with respect to Tout Wars' role in pushing the envelope as everyone is in agreement on-base percentage is a better category than batting average.
Nick brought up a very salient point and that is, perhaps the AL and NL only leagues would have been a better place to enact the change, since those still playing in those formats are more likely to be agree with the assertion OBP is better.
As my Knights often do, we strayed into a couple of tangential topics. Most of the time it hits the proverbial cutting room floor. But this time we felt it was worthy of additional bandwidth. So later this week, on www.ToutWars.com, we will post the ensuing comments discussing other alternative categories, along with Mack the Knife.
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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