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Fantasy Baseball - It's Out of (Your) Control!

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Fantasy Baseball - It's Out of (Your) Control!

Postby Sticky Spice » Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:23 pm

I really enjoyed the intro/foreword/whatever in Baseball Forecaster this year. Shandler talks about something that became clear to me about five years ago and it changed my perspective of fantasy baseball. I'd be interested to see if there are many others out there that have come to these same conclusions about fantasy baseball.

It actually started with fantasy football. I started to realize just how luck-based h2h fantasy football really is. A guy in our league finished with season high points, yet missed the playoffs. Isn't the point of the game to prove that you know more than the others - that you can score the most points? And for some reason it never hit me until then that you can have the most points in a league and finish with zero victories. Not to mention the luck of injuries, player matchups, and guessing who to play from your own roster in a given week.

About that same period I was having a frustrating season of fantasy baseball. I realized just how luck-based it really is, and it helped me to calm down because it took the responsibility away from me to be always be the winner. Up until that time I was pretty high strung. Since my start in pre-internet 1993 when I would insanely channel surf looking for any highlight and any tidbit of information, when I would have trouble sleeping until the paper hit my doorstep so I could be absolutely sure what my players did, and when I would look at each and every box score each and every day, I had been taught that being insane led to success. Back then just paying attention got you ahead of the rest. Of course the internet happened and oodles of expert advice gave even the dumbest owners the chance at a winning season.

My revelation was that there's only so much I can control. There's only so much I can learn before the draft before I hit a wall. Once you're at the wall you've learned enough to have a chance at a successful draft, but anything beyond the wall is just wasted energy. This revelation didn't make the victories any less sweet, but it did make the defeats much easier to swallow. When I would have terrible luck I wouldn't get pissed and cuss and cry about my bad luck like a little biotch, I would just let it roll off my back and patiently look at how I might improve. I started to have more patience with under-performing players and I started to value the outlying years of player contracts more.

So that leads me to this year's Baseball Forecaster. Shandler talks about not relying on precise forecasting, instead focusing more on things like predicting trends before they happen, playing time, injury risk, etc. And I swear gut instinct is part of this too. I'm not saying I'll swear off studying because it's that studying that gets me that gut feel. Sure, you'll be wrong part of the time, but I think that in the big picture you come out ahead. I think these strategies are the the key to success. I almost have to believe that because...

I'm not a very bright guy. I like to look at FanGraphs on occasion, but I can barely understand what's going on over there. I never do anything beyond a single simple calculation. But here's a simple calculation - how many teams are in your league? How many of those owners are intelligent owners? I don't mean as intelligent as you, or as good an owner as you, just intelligent. There's only one team that can win and only x number of teams that can win a significant amount of money. There's just not enough room at the top, and luck is going to have a hand in the decision. I have had a lot of success in my years, but it wasn't because I was smart. I just put myself in a position to succeed by making a good effort at all aspects of the game (drafting, keepers, trading, etc) and had some luck along the way. The scary part is that this describes most owners out there and somebody's got to lose.

I'm not saying this has made me a better owner - there are pros and cons. I now have the awful habit of only paying attention to my players. For example, I was astounded when I saw Jhoulys Chacin's numbers. Not just at his success, but that he pitched that much last year :-D If you threw out a player I used to always know what fantasy team he was on, his salary, and contract status. That helped a lot with trades. I can't do that anymore. But this revelation has helped me to take a step back, see the big picture, relax, and just plain get more enjoyment out of this pastime. And it hasn't made me any less successful.

Again, I'm just interested to see if others have come upon this revelation on their own, and how/when it happened. I also hope that those of you out there that were insane like me can take it down a notch and perhaps get more enjoyment out of fantasy baseball. I hope you eventually feel the relief of realizing that there's only so much you can do - the rest is out of your control. Is there a zen emoticon?
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” --Henry David Thoreau
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Re: Fantasy Baseball - It's Out of (Your) Control!

Postby Skin Blues » Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:36 pm

H2H is one thing, but there's no excuse to do poorly in roto!

Sorry if I'm tempting you to abandon the wagon. Really, it's not that important anyway. It's just your pride and/or money after a year of preparation and execution.
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Re: Fantasy Baseball - It's Out of (Your) Control!

Postby CBMGreatOne » Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:40 pm

I don't think there's any question that the more you know about the most players you can, the better chance you have to win.

That said, I think it definitely serves one well to relax and not put so much pressure on oneself to nail every pick, to win every matchup, etc. I always play roto baseball and at first I used to sweat literally every at bat, get pissed when a hitter of mine struck out or a pitcher of mine gave up a run. This is just no way to be. It's more fun to just sit back, relax and enjoy the game. Getting caught up in every AB as it pertains to your fantasy team just isn't a productive use of your emotional energy.

That isn't to say that I don't want to know the outcome, just that I don't need to sweat the outcome of every single situation. I think that's where the taking a step back and relaxing thing comes in.

But during the year, I'll typically look at the FA hitters and pitchers rankings almost every day, seeing who is at the top of the list over the last 7, 14, and 30 days and finding my opportunity to improve my roster.

In short, I'm more analytical, but less emotionally invested these days. It's a long season anyway.
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Re: Fantasy Baseball - It's Out of (Your) Control!

Postby wingman3110 » Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:48 pm

Luck is involved in a lot of things. Unfortunately that includes fantasy baseball, but if you do your research and know your stuff then luck doesnt play as an important role. ;-D
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Re: Fantasy Baseball - It's Out of (Your) Control!

Postby Padsin05 » Wed Feb 02, 2011 12:29 am

I dont believe in luck.

everything is just a series of mathematical equations
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Re: Fantasy Baseball - It's Out of (Your) Control!

Postby BitterDodgerFan » Wed Feb 02, 2011 12:58 am

i think if you play roto with decent amount of teams (14 or so) and pretty deep rosters (CI, MI, extra OF and UTIL + extra pitchers), you can minimize the luck factor. still, it's not like you can let your superior baseball knowledge take you all the way because lets face it, a huge part of a successful season is putting in the work day in and day out (in daily leagues), making roster adjustments and maximizing your rosters. in fact, i think getting through the daily grind and not being lazy is more of a factor than having superior knowledge in a competitive league because a lot of managers are savvy and knowledgeable anyways.
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Re: Fantasy Baseball - It's Out of (Your) Control!

Postby MTUCache » Wed Feb 02, 2011 1:10 am

I'm going to completely disagree here...

Luck, or "variance" as I prefer, does make for huge swings in results when looking at the short-term, there's no denying that. But a baseball season is long enough that by the time you get to the end a lot of that variance has been tempered. Everyone in the league will have starters get hurt, sluggers in slumps, closers who lose their jobs, prospects who miss, etc, etc... by the end of 162 games it comes pretty close to leveling out for everybody. Sure, a huge variance (like, say, your #1 draft pick going on IR in April) is probably going to be a huge hurdle to overcome (and you may never get past it), but most standard variances will even out with everybody elses in the league.

Football is not the same. First, it's usually H2H, so everything is short-term and variance is huge week to week. The season almost always hinges on who's starting RB gets hurt, who has the backup/handcuff, and/or who's QB/Kicker has a favorable matchup for weeks 14/15/16. With only 16 (or less) weeks, it's the very definition of variance.

I've posted most of my opinion here on fantasy baseball, but it really comes down to how slim the margins really are for winning in a roto league. The added value of having Pujols over a replacement level 1B seems huge on draft day, but it's really not much compared to the added value of simply making sure you use all 162 games-played at that position instead of missing out on 20 of them because you're too lazy to check your lineup. If you miss out on even a dozen games from one of your starters you probably lost out in 50% of whatever value you thought they had, no matter how dominant they are. Baseball is a game where margins are that thin.

Anybody who is willing to set their lineup everyday can be competitive in fantasy baseball.
Anybody who is willing to put in just a little bit more work and set their lineup for favorable matchups will probably be in the top quarter of their league.

In fact, I'd be willing to bet that most posters around here could finish in the top-3 of a casual roto league even if they didn't have a draft pick in the first five rounds (maybe ten). All it takes is the commitment to make that daily lineup change. It's a grind over the season, but the results are fairly easy to produce.
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Re: Fantasy Baseball - It's Out of (Your) Control!

Postby Neato Torpedo » Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:53 am

^Actually, not everything stabilizes over a full season.

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.ph ... -reliable/

Note that only none of those are counted in fantasy (though HR rate is directly correlated with HR, obviously).
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Re: Fantasy Baseball - It's Out of (Your) Control!

Postby Sticky Spice » Wed Feb 02, 2011 8:11 am

Great point to those suggesting it's about not being lazy, daily upkeep, paying attention, etc. To that end it's not out of your control. But how many owners in your league fit this description? How many in a Cafe Challenge League, for example? Only one can win.

A lot of my experience comes from my 20-team mixed keeper league where, up until about five years ago, we had no bench. We do now have a 2-man bench, but I can see in a league with more bench players how daily upkeep is a huge deal.
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Re: Fantasy Baseball - It's Out of (Your) Control!

Postby thejusman1 » Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:29 am

I disagree that fantasy baseball is out of your control. Even with the huge variances in H2H, it's all about keeping your roster up-to-date, making timely FA/WW pick-ups, and using educated information for sit/start decisions for hitters/pitchers. Usually, the best teams will make the playoffs over the worse teams.

H2H playoffs is a completely different story, however. Any given team can win in any given week. Once you reach the playoffs, it's all luck.
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