POSTED ON FEBRUARY 13, 2016

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I’m a relatively newbie myself compared to some of the old-timers, but in the past few years, I’ve learned a few things. I’m no expert by any means and I don’t claim to be. Whether you play in our league or somewhere else, hopefully this information will come in handy. I would not have survived my first year playing without others sharing their knowledge.

Where did the name rotisserie even come from? It makes me hungry.

Back in 1980, a group of guys and a gal met at a New York City restaurant named La Rotisserie Française, where its founders played the game for the first time over lunch. Yes, there was a woman owner in the first fantasy league. Apparently, they interviewed her like she was applying for a job. It reminds me of my first invite into a baseball fantasy league. Although fantasy baseball was played in other forms prior to that, the granddaddy of fantasy sports as we know them today was born there. There’s a great article over at ESPN Insider about this. Yes, you need to pay for the full version but even half of it is excellent.

Why those categories?

Dan Okrent, one of the founding members, decided on the basic categories: average, home runs, RBIs, steals, wins, saves, ERA and WHIP. It was an NL-only League (booo). He prototyped the 6 previous seasons, and realized that using those stats, it seemed to track close to the actual standings. They also used an auction to divvy up the players. It was arbitrarily decided that pitching and offense would be 50-50.

According to Wikipedia, “Ironically, despite having been credited with inventing fantasy baseball he has never been able to win a Rotisserie League he has ever entered.” I’m guessing his competition is pretty good. He seems pretty smart.

(Did you know Dan Okrent also created WHIP? I did not know this.)

Ok, enough with the history lesson. I’ve only played Head to Head because it’s awesome. Now I gotta play my grandpa’s game. How do I score?

It’s not hard. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll keep the categories old school and the team numbers small. I’m going to back up a little. When we say 5×5, that means we have 5 hitting categories and 5 pitching categories. 6×6, 6 hitting categories, 6 pitching categories. (I’m not trying to be condescending–I don’t know your level, so I’m starting at the beginning. It’s a very good place to start.) The original roto people did 4×4.

So, let’s say we have 12 teams and we’re playing 5×5 with the following simple basic categories: R/HR/RBI/SB/AVG/W/SV/K/ERA/WHIP. Since we have 12 teams, the maximum available points per category is 12 points–12 teams, 12 points.

This is a scoring sample. This first table are the actual statistics, pretty straight forward.

BA R RBI HR SB W SV K ERA WHIP
Team 1 .283 825 884 241 99 85 146 1226 3.70 1.26
Team 2 .276 835 798 201 120 81 143 1285 3.58 1.26
Team 3 .277 816 850 225 60 101 116 1119 3.64 1.24
Team 4 .266 817 669 163 160 103 6 1285 3.46 1.22
Team 5 .277 764 628 117 212 90 71 1195 3.42 1.19
Team 6 .275 856 869 231 119 71 75 1204 3.75 1.31
Team 7 .255 792 769 167 109 81 46 1184 3.38 1.21
Team 8 .274 825 664 150 109 99 54 1141 3.61 1.26
Team 9 .280 787 757 205 121 81 1 879 4.01 1.27
Team 10 .264 701 788 175 63 87 53 922 3.48 1.26
Team 11 .276 761 764 191 68 81 99 1122 3.71 1.32
Team 12 .270 774 704 193 155 62 157 852 3.93 1.35

Using the batting average column, Team 1 has the best BA total, .283, and receives 12 points.  Team 2 has the second best BA total and receives 11 points. Team 3 and Team 5 are tied at .277. They receive 9.5 points each. Team 2 is tied with Team 6 and they receive 7.5 points each, and so on. Team 7, as the worst scoring in the BA category at .255, receives a single point. This is what it looks like (please correct me if I made a typo with the numbers, as that will be confusing):

BA R RBI HR SB W SV K ERA WHIP
Team 1 12 9.5 12 12 4 7 11 10 5 6.5
Team 2 7.5 11 9 8 8 4.5 10 11.5 8 6.5
Team 3 9.5 7 10 10 1 11 9 4 6 9
Team 4 3 8 3 3 11 12 2 11.5 10 10
Team 5 9.5 3 1 1 12 9 6 8 11 12
Team 6 6 12 11 11 7 2 7 9 3 3
Team 7 1 6 7 4 5.5 4.5 3 7 12 11
Team 8 5 9.5 2 2 5.5 10 5 6 7 6.5
Team 9 11 5 5 9 9 4.5 1 2 1 4
Team 10 2 1 8 5 2 8 4 3 9 6.5
Team 11 7.5 2 6 6 3 4.5 8 5 4 2
Team 12 4 4 4 7 10 1 12 1 2 1

Finally, these are the standings. Team 1 = 12 + 9.5 + 12 + 12 + 4 + 7 + 11 + 10 + 5 + 6.5 = 89 points! Team 1 kicks ass.

Points Points Behind
Team 1 89
Team 2 84 5
Team 3 76.5 12.5
Team 4 73.5 15.5
Team 5 72.5 16.5
Team 6 71 18
Team 7 61 28
Team 8 58.5 30.5
Team 9 51.5 37.5
Team 10 48.5 40.5
Team 11 48 41
Team 12 46 43
SOURCE: FANTASY BASEBALL FOR BEGINNERS: THE ULTIMATE “HOW-TO” GUIDE. HENDRICKS, SAM.

Hopefully, this helps to explain the scoring basics. You can also see why roto can be bit discouraging at first. When you’re one of the teams at the bottom, it can be a bit daunting. There is also another way to score roto, but this is the most popular way.

Here are some tips I got when I was brand new at this, and I hope they help you:

  1. Know our rules through and through. Read them. I’m serious. I know it’s boring. Did I say read all of them? All. If there is something you don’t understand, ask. It will bite you in the butt if you don’t.
  2. Do NOT drink or get high and draft. I had a friend who did this. His team was shit. It took him weeks to semi-fix it and it was really never right.
  3. Have a plan and strategy for the draft. Tiers are great (ranking players by talent groups).
  4. Know who is hurt/suspended/retired. Study. The software keeps track of who has already been drafted, but pay attention.
  5. Set a legal line-up. If someone is hurt or not playing, replace them. It’s fair to everyone else playing. Remember to restart them after a day off. I forget to do this ALL THE TIME.
  6. Try to improve your team through free agency or trades. No one wins on draft day.
  7. Get help. Again, study. Use web sites. Rotoworld, CBS, ESPN, Yahoo etc. I like magazines too, but they are quickly out-of-date.
  8. Trust no one in your league ever for advice on who to add/drop/trade. No one. Especially @longfootlefty. Seriously, they might think they have your best interest at heart, but c’mon, man. C’mon. No.
  9. Trust yourself. Believe in the numbers, but trust your gut.
  10. Don’t get impatient with good players who have a cold start. Yes, excellent players have off years (thank you, 2014 Bryce), but beware of small sample sizes. Patience. Patience. Patience. Ride it out.

This is a lot for our first lesson, and I’m sure our old-timers have lots to add. It seems like a lot of work, but once your team is set, it’s really not that bad, and it is a truly rewarding and addicting hobby that makes you a better student of the game. I know it’s helped me better analyze talent and appreciate the game even more than I did before I played, which I didn’t think was even possible.

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