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What % of winning fantasy baseball is luck and skill?

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Re: What % of winning fantasy baseball is luck and skill?

Postby fantasyfiend » Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:15 am

There was a time I used to think it was ALL luck.

Year in and year out, no matter how much I prepared, no matter how hard I sayed on my team, I always finished in the middle.

Last year, I took a break from my league (it's a deep redraft league I do with a group of hardcores), and joined 6 yahoo public leagues.

I didn't go easy because it was yahoo public. I did my normal hardcore/spreadsheet/cheatsheet routine, customized my rankings, followed my teams all season, did several mock drafts, etc.

I ended up coming in first place in 4 of the 6 leagues, and in the top 3 in the other 2 (i was hit hard by injuries, and was experimenting with a pure-speed/avg lineup in those other 2 leagues). It proved to me that there's a lot more 'skill' than it seems.

You simply have to get creative when everybody is as hardcore as you are. Find a market inefficiency-- the same way major league baseball teams do.

Going after steady 300/30/100 type hitters, going pitching late, and hoping to pick up saves & sbs on the waiver wire doesn't work as well when everybody in the league is doing the same thing.
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Re: What % of winning fantasy baseball is luck and skill?

Postby Izenhart » Sun Mar 10, 2013 11:03 pm

I'd say luck is 90% injuries and 10% fluke bad years (Oh yes fluke years aren't always good, right Tim Lincecum?) When my teams stay healthy I do well, so I'd say skill plays the larger role. The real skill in any league is keeping up with your team as much as possible during the year; it's not all about the draft like some people make it out to be. Don't draft a team where a lot of players have recent injury history, make the right pickups and play the right matchups and you could take a bad draft and make the team contend.
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Re: What % of winning fantasy baseball is luck and skill?

Postby lambo1203 » Sun Mar 10, 2013 11:38 pm

I tend to believe it's closer to 85% skill (which sounds high) but hear me out. When you're building your team (pre-draft, draft, post-draft but pre-season) you're realizing your team's strengths and weaknesses, along with those of other teams. You target players you think will have good years but may not be as valued by other owners (an example I've seen in a lot of leagues this year is Nick Markakis...no one seems to like him which means I can get him cheap.) If you can convince another owner they're getting the benefit of the trade you're offering them, that's skill not luck. You make sure you have enough bench in case a player gets hurt (and a lot of times, while we can't predict if a player will get hurt, we prepare for him to be hurt since we know his injury history from doing pre-draft studying.) If you're riding on a couple big stars only and they both get hurt, I tend to think that's the owner's fault for putting all their eggs in one basket and not building a complete team. I think about half the 15% luck comes into play when you have a great, balanced team but several players get hurt, eliminating the protections you built into your roster to counter if one or two players gets hurt. The other part of the luck comes with your schedule (if you're not in a roto league.) I've seen several teams (including my own a few times) finish with the most points or second most points in the league but simply played the wrong team at the wrong time and didn't even make the playoffs.

And talking about finishing in the top 3-5, I have two different owners in my leagues who are perfect examples of luck and skill. The first owner has never finished worse than fourth in 8 years, drafts right, makes great trades, knows how to work the WW and is just overall a smart fantasy player (wish I were talking about myself here!) He's only won the league twice out of eight years. The second owner, in those same 8 years, has won the league 3 times and has finished either last or second to last in the other 5 years. He refuses to trade, picks up players based on "gut" feelings and never seems to have players injured but opposing players go down like flies when they play him. He's the luckiest SOB I've ever met and probably couldn't name half the players on half the rosters. So while he finished first more often, he isn't consistent and his lack of skill lands him in an all or nothing situation, while the first owner is guaranteed a good season because he knows how to play the game.
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Re: What % of winning fantasy baseball is luck and skill?

Postby msing » Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:38 am

Depends on the league settings

A.For leagues containing more than 10 managers
Concerning Draft order?
Luck. First and second slots usually win league, even with snake drafts. The disparity is seen more in larger leagues than smaller leagues.

A.For leagues, containing 10 mangers, and using a shifting snake*** draft order
More Skill. Any sort of modified snake order should create a more equal playing field.

AA. Auction. Pure skill.
AA. Live Drafts. skill. Simple enough, you can correct on the go. Takes skill to know who's good and will likely fall, and etc
AA. Autodrafts luck. Silent drafts? Everyone ends up with a meh team in the end.

B.H2H has more luck, depends how streaky a player gets
B.Roto has more skill, stats accumulate

C.FAAB has more skill
C.Rolling list has more luck

D.Normal Free Agency has is more luck. (Where was I at that particular time when that closer got injured)
D.Continuous Waivers has more skill.
---Both have the question of (who of the next relievers is next in line)
Although the luck can be mitigated if the person has online access 24/7

E. Setting up rosters daily as to not miss a surging star
Skill. That is to best optimize the roster, and preparing a solid roster as to not have this problem overall.
E. Attending the roster daily
Skill. More you're active, more likely you're going to win
F. Finding the right player from free agency?
Skill, but that's dependent on the luck of the surging player.
G. Making the right trades
Skill.
H. Sure the drafted player doesn't get injured or have a down year
Luck.
H. Removing slumping players when time is appropriate. Knowing when to cut ties.
Skill
************ Competition. Other internet managers, will they be active or inactive?
Luck. Truly. People can win leagues if everyone else is inactive. It's hard to win leagues when all 10 guys are active.

*** Shifting snake
Code: Select all
1st Round: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
2nd Round: 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
3rd Round: 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-1
4th Round: 1-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2
5th Round: 3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-1-2
6th Round: 2-1-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3
7th Round: 4-5-6-7-8-9-10-1-2-3
8th Round: 3-2-1-10-9-8-7-6-5-4
9th Round: 5-6-7-8-9-10-1-2-3-4
10th Roud: 4-3-2-1-10-9-8-7-6-5


So my ballpark numbers
H2H Yahoo Public Leagues: 15% Draft Order - Luck, 10% H2H format, 10% Drafted Player Injured, 5% Rolling Waivers, 10% Free Agency chase ===== 50% luck 50% skill
Roto Yahoo Public Leagues: 15% Draft Order - Luck, 10% Drafted Player Injured, 5% Rolling Waivers, 10% Free Agency chase ==== 40% luck 60% skill

Now. Is there such thing as skilled fantasy baseball players?
Yeah, they win leagues, win winner's leagues, have trophies all over their profile.
For a regular autopick yahoo public league, I'd say it's around 50/50.

How to lower luck?
Roto, <10 man league, Live drafts, Shifting snake Draft Order, Continuous Waivers with FAAB, Active managers
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Re: What % of winning fantasy baseball is luck and skill?

Postby Ender » Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:38 am

I have a H2H league we've had for like 9 years now. The top 3 players almost always finish in the playoffs and one of them almost always wins the regular season. The order of finish varies quite a bit. There is usually one "cripple" owner who makes the playoffs and then there is a pool of 4 or 5 guys who are decent but not great and 2 of them usually flesh out the playoffs.

Winning your league is largely luck but being good should consistently put you in the top 5 in most leagues.

There are all kinds of little things that have an effect as well. Like playing in a daily league means the game is more about having free time or access to your roster and less about skill. Same thing with open waiver wire vs FAAB. We try to eliminate anything that requires time as a substitute for skill when we can. The guy playing in US time who gets to watch every game live gets a huge advantage over the guy from EU in an open WW list since every time a new closer pitches a game he gets to jump on him etc.
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Re: What % of winning fantasy baseball is luck and skill?

Postby OaktownSteve » Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:44 pm

Check out the track record over at the NFBC. The same names show up at or near the overall main event leaderboard year in and year out. Luck dictates that the best players cannot guarantee themselves a win, but they are going to be closer more often.

In the broadest sense, if you believe in a rational universe, then no one person is any luckier than any other. Luck will even out over sample size. So if you are talking about anything more than a single season in a single league, then you could argue that it's all skill.
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Re: What % of winning fantasy baseball is luck and skill?

Postby Ender » Mon Mar 11, 2013 3:21 pm

Luck will even out over sample size. So if you are talking about anything more than a single season in a single league, then you could argue that it's all skill.


This is true given a large enough sample but in fantasy baseball that sample is going to be multiple seasons. Give me 10 years and I'll win my league more than an owner that isn't as good as me. Give me 1 year and it might be close to a coin flip. It is a lot like poker. Over a million hands one guy has a huge advantage over another, over the number of hands in a single tourney it is impossible to tell much of anything.
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Re: What % of winning fantasy baseball is luck and skill?

Postby OaktownSteve » Mon Mar 11, 2013 3:37 pm

Ender wrote:
Luck will even out over sample size. So if you are talking about anything more than a single season in a single league, then you could argue that it's all skill.


This is true given a large enough sample but in fantasy baseball that sample is going to be multiple seasons. Give me 10 years and I'll win my league more than an owner that isn't as good as me. Give me 1 year and it might be close to a coin flip. It is a lot like poker. Over a million hands one guy has a huge advantage over another, over the number of hands in a single tourney it is impossible to tell much of anything.


You skipped the first part of the post. Check out the NFBC. Same guys at the top a lot. Mr. Lindy Hikleman won the overall Main Event two out of three years. You don't just show up and beat 400+ high stakes players and win a $100,000 through luck.

I think if you're in a league where there are owners of relatively equal skill then luck is going to appear to be more of a factor. But I really do think there are players of exception skill who significantly increase their chances through play every season. Now the challenge is how do you become that guy? Takes a lot of work, for one thing.
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Re: What % of winning fantasy baseball is luck and skill?

Postby Ender » Mon Mar 11, 2013 4:03 pm

Lets be honest here though, nobody is saying pure luck. We are assuming a large group of competent players I would assume. I mean my son could never win a league because he knows nothing about baseball or fantasy baseball. The difference between two really good players might be as simple as which one got Trout. I remember reading a story on one of the sites about how over 50% of their leagues were being won by the team that owned Trout. Out of the teams that owned Trout and McCutchen the number was over 90%.
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Re: What % of winning fantasy baseball is luck and skill?

Postby OaktownSteve » Mon Mar 11, 2013 4:46 pm

Ender wrote:Lets be honest here though, nobody is saying pure luck. We are assuming a large group of competent players I would assume. I mean my son could never win a league because he knows nothing about baseball or fantasy baseball. The difference between two really good players might be as simple as which one got Trout. I remember reading a story on one of the sites about how over 50% of their leagues were being won by the team that owned Trout. Out of the teams that owned Trout and McCutchen the number was over 90%.


We're not too far apart. Just points of emphasis. I still feel like it's mostly skill and obviously a little luck. A couple of things come to mind. First, Trout seems like a black swan outlier. We may never see another season like that again by a player who was likely undrafted or at best reserved on a fairly deep bench in most redraft leagues when the year began.

The second question I have is, was owning Trout a kind of a skill. There is a lot of talk in fantasy circles about the importance of "in season management" (as opposed to draft). Is there a reason why a particular owner with a certain management style or skill might have ended up with Trout when 14 others did not?
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