Fantasy Baseball Round Table: Tout Wars mixed replacing BA with OBP

by Todd Zola, on February 13, 2013 @ 11:37:48 PDT


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This season, Mixed Tout Wars is going to replace batting average with on-base percentage. The American-League- and National-League-only auctions are staying with batting average, at least for 2013. We invited a member of the Tout Wars LLC, Peter Kreutzer, to join us for a discussion on the rule change and the role of Tout Wars as an industry showcase league in general.

Here's the question as posed to the Knights of Lord Zola's Round Table:

New York Yankees OF Curtis Granderson
Grandy difference between BA, OBP

As some of you know, Mixed Tout Wars is replacing batting average with on base percentage this season. How do you feel in general about using OBP instead of BA? What do you think about Tout Wars making the change? For those playing in Mixed Tout this season, how will this impact your preparation?

Brian Walton, NL Tout Wars participant

It's about time. Here in 2013, who would argue that BA is a better measure than OBP? It is not like the idea is so revolutionary that it should require years of testing. Do it across the board and set the trend.

Peter Kreutzer, NL Tout Wars participant

I think we're all in agreement that OBP is a far better stat category than BA. I don't want to be rude, but anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong (unless they have some other way to value bases on balls). When this came up as an item at the Tout rules meeting, the four of us said something like, um, "Yes." We all think OBP should extend across the Tout leagues. The issue for Tout was how to make this change, which isn't revolutionary but is a significant difference for many existing leagues that have always played with BA. 

My home league, the American Dream League, had its rules meeting today. I've advocated OBP for years, but didn't bother to bring it up this year. Tradition is traditional. We don't have the votes to change it.

We introduced the Swingman into the AL and NL leagues last year, an experiment that went very smoothly. I thought some people would object to messing with the game, but in fact those who spoke up were very supportive. And as a result I met people who played in leagues that had been doing this for years. What felt like aggressive (and clever) change reflected what home leagues were already doing. And gave leagues that weren't doing it an alternative. 

We didn't add a Swingman in Tout Mixed because it didn't make sense (actually, we tried to add it but the Mixed owners pointed out that the problem the Swingman was meant to solve was an AL- or NL-only problem, so we withdrew it), so we decided to introduce the OBP change in the Mixed League this year and incorporate reactions when we start it in the AL and NL leagues.

I know that all four of us on the LLC think OBP is better than BA, but we're also conscious about melding the Tout Wars experience with the leagues other people play in and making the values relevant. 

But apropos Brian's comment: I hate the idea that this slower rollout makes Tout conservative. I think in this case we are, but our goal is to be progressive. To push the boundaries that other Expert Leagues (I really wanted to say So-called Expert Leagues) don't. And if we don't we'd like our followers to let us know.

Don Drooker, defending Xperts Fantasy League Champion

There is no argument that OBP is a better reflection of player productivity, but BA has a 100-year head start. The XFL has used OBP since its inception ten years ago and the research does require some adjustment, as the mainstream pundits use BA to determine their dollar values. I participate in a couple of traditional Rotisserie (auction) leagues and they are hesitant to change for two basic reasons ... 1) the owners don't want to do the extra work ... 2) they are keeper leagues and player values would be altered. If I was a decision-maker in a re-draft (or new) league, OBP would definitely be a category.

What is the industry's responsibility?

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About Todd Zola,

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, 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 and, 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. Fantasy Baseball

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