Fantasy Baseball Round Table: OBP over BA all around in Tout Wars

by Todd Zola, on March 19, 2014 @ 13:06:56 PDT


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For the first time, all of the Tout Wars drafts will substitute on-base percentage for batting average. Most of us are either playing or were part of the recently Mixed Tout Wars draft league. How did you alter your preparation and strategy to deal with the shift?

Perry Van Hook (Mixed Draft)

The TOUT Mixed draft used OBP last year but I did make a more conscious effort to incorporate it in my rankings (of course assisted because Mastersball has hitting rankings that include OBP projections).

My projected OBP of .3393 for the team I drafted last week would have finished fourth on league numbers from last year, so I am happy with that improvement (I finished next to last in 2013 at .3214). Of course when the first pick was Mike Trout I was glad to add Miguel Cabrera's monster OBP (.411) next to start the draft but I did add Carlos Santana and his projected .377 with my pick at 5.02.

Tim Heaney (Mixed Auction)

New York Mets 3B David Wright
Lord Zola takes temp with Wright

Without revealing too much for the upcoming mixed auction, which made the switch to OBP last year, I have forced myself to change my outlook on a lot of the midrange options (and even some normally regarded as "studs"). I experienced a solid run for much of last year's contest, and given the experience with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association leagues, I felt comfortable. The FSWA games (my draft took place last week) also use OBP, but they go further and substitute SLG for home runs. It'll be somewhat normal in this universe because the familiar HR category will be in play, and that'll provide a better delineation on the value of power.

From my experience, OBP isn't based as much on luck as batting average; though sometimes walk rates can be influenced by lineup factors (being pitched around because your teammates are terrible, a la Giancarlo Stanton), and obviously BA does connect in some way to OBP, BABIP starkly influences how BA can jump up and down. A typically bad OBP guy more often than not needs a ton to go right to make a leap in the category. A player's value in that column is more static, which clearly defines tiers.

Nicholas Minnix (Mixed Auction)

A lot of players who run really often don't necessarily have great OBPs (imagine that), so I think it's much more beneficial to spread out your sources of stolen bases in those types of leagues -- a Shin-Soo Choo, a Shane Victorino, a Norichika Aoki, etc.

Based on my experience, it seems like replacement players have a negative effect on your team OBP more so than when the category is BA, which makes sense in my head, at least, since those players tend to walk a little less as well as hit poorly. In an auction, that would prompt to shift even another percentage point or two of my budget to hitters, too.

Lawr Michaels (AL Auction)

As I noted in my Hotpage earlier in the week, I have looked to OBP over BA pretty much ever since I started playing roto ball. This is something I learned from playing Strat-O-Matic: that if guys get on base, the percentages are greater that something good will happen.

And, generally, a good OBP points to a good average anyway.

Todd Zola (NL Auction)

My initial thoughts are to treat the higher OBP guys like closers in that I'd like to know what the market price is for OBP. Much like I try to take the temperature on the upper tier closers to discern if I'm a buyer at the top, I'll likely test the waters with some hitters that are well known as better at OBP than BA -- like Joey Votto and David Wright. Maybe the room pays a premium for OBP in which case I'll stand down. But if the room doesn't seem to be pricing the better OBP into their bids, I may be an early buyer.

The reason is I'll want to know right away if I can secure someone like Votto or Wright early, as that may allow me to spend a little more on pitching. The third tier may as well be called the TJS tier which may up the price of Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Cliff Lee, etc. If the room is underpricing OBP, I may be able to be a player for a top pitcher and not be behind with hitting.

More: "The inverse can easily be true, too. ..."

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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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