The future of fantasy baseball is on its way. It is just around the corner. Close your eyes and picture yourself about 7 years into the future. It’s March 2020, you just left your league draft and start to think to yourself that you have all but locked up another league title. How can you lose with a pitching staff led by Jose Fernandez, Archie Bradley, and Carlos Rodon. Your offense is looking stacked with Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Carlos Correa. You hop into your teleportation tube (because its 2020), and transport yourself back home.
Once home, you get right to work studying your team, because you know a great fantasy manager’s work is never done. You start to look at what categories might give you trouble over the long haul of the baseball season. At this point in time, people still love the league set-up of 10 categories with rotisserie style scoring. But the categories have actually changed. The 5 pitching categories are still ERA, Whip, Saves, and K’s, but W’s (wins) have been replaced with QS’s (quality starts) (we will get more into that later). Your 5 batting categories are still HR’s, RBI’s, R’s, and SB’s, but BA (batting average) has been replaced with OBP (on-base percentage). This futuristic move from BA to OBP has helped us improve the fantasy game while making it more comparable to real baseball. There are a few reasons why this move will be considered beneficial and more realistic.
Some of you might have noticed Joey Votto’s amazing stat line on Monday night. It read: 0-0 with 5 walks. Votto was able to reach base 5 out of 5 times without ever putting the ball in play. Do you think this performance contributed to the Reds winning this game 3-2? Of course it did. Votto would get my vote for MVP of this game. Now compare Votto’s performance to that of Jack Hannahan. Hannahan did not enter the game on Monday for Cincinnati. So, it should be clear who contributed more to the Red’s victory between Joey Votto and Jack Hannahan right? Then someone please answer this question for me: Why do we value these two batting performances the same in fantasy baseball? One teammate reached base 5 times, the other never played, but both contributed an underwhelming 0-0 in batting average. This is a great example of why using OBP rather than BA would be a much better way to equate a batter’s real game value to the fantasy world.
If I was managing a real MLB franchise, I would value my batter walking and getting to first base the exact same as I would if he were to get a single. Both at-bats resulted in the same outcome, a runner on first base. But as a fantasy baseball team manager, when you see that your favorite fantasy batter just walked, you feel like that was a wasted at-bat for your fantasy team. Why do the fantasy and real baseball worlds value the walk so differently? It is time for change, and that change should be replacing batting average as a category with on-base percentage.
Playing fantasy baseball gives us regular people the chance to become the manager and live out our "fantasies" by enjoying the taste of victory or the agony of defeat, just as we believe our favorite players and coaches do. Any changes that can be made with the intention of improving our fantasy baseball leagues by making it more comparable to real baseball should and eventually will become the norm. Replacing BA with OBP also gives us a better indication of what a player is actually worth in real baseball and helps us make our fantasy game more in line with the real game. The future of fantasy baseball is on its way. Will your league be changing their categories next year, 5 years, or 7 years from now? It’s coming people, how ahead of the curve will your league be?