This article may turn into more like a personal aside. First of all, that is not my intention. Recently, a friend of mine approached me with a business opportunity of entering a high-stakes league as a team. Initially, my excitement was envisioning a boxer/promoter relationship. He would front the costs, I take care of the winning, and we would split the profit.
You’re thinking win-win situation, right? Well, I can’t really say that’s necessarily the case. I would have been stupid not to accept the invitation into a league where I make money without any risk of losing it.
After very little convincing, I signed on the dotted line. Then things got a little fuzzy. Now, I have competed in several leagues crossing all kinds of depth and competition levels. I consider myself an equal opportunity fantasy gamer. One of the most stringent restrictions I have placed upon myself is to compete in standard scoring leagues whether that be roto or head-to-head.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy categories like OBP and OPS. Bring on the doubles or quality starts. I even can enjoy a holds category every once in a while.
As you can probably gather, I opened the league’s browser this week, and my friend’s league follows a completely different set of rules than what I was accustomed to. In fact, it’s called a head-to-head, points-based system. I know some of you guys are far more familiar with this kind of format than I. Here is the scoring system those of you not as familiar.
Batting Categories 1B – Singles 1 point 2B – Doubles 2 points 3B – Triples 3 points BB - Walks (Batters) 0.5 points CS - Caught Stealing -1 point CYC – Hitting for the Cycle 20 points HP - Hit by Pitch 0.5 points HR - Home Runs 4 points KO - Strikeouts (Batter) -1 point R – Runs 1 point RBI - Runs Batted In 1 point SB - Stolen Bases 1.5 points Pitching Categories BBI - Walks Issued (Pitchers) -0.5 points BS - Blown Saves -3 points CG - Complete Games 5 points ER - Earned Runs -1 point INN – Innings 0.5 points K - Strikeouts (Pitcher) 1 point L – Losses -7.5 points NH - No-Hitters 20 points PG - Perfect Games 30 points QS - Quality Starts 3 points RL - Relief Losses 3.75 points RW - Relief Wins -5 points S – Saves 5 points SO – Shutouts 10 points W – Wins 10 points WP - Wild Pitches -0.5 points
Call me a purist, but the moment I saw wild pitches as a stat category, I threw up a little bit in my mouth. The addition of perfect games, no-hitters, and cycles only furthered that distaste.
Upon strategizing for the upcoming draft, I started to calculate by hand my own version of projections for a league of this kind. To my surprise, some names from 2010 that I liked more than ESPN’s player rater were ranked more accurately to their effect on the prior season.
Roy Halladay, for example, was the No. 1 player in this points-based league. ESPN has the ‘Doc’ ranked a disrespectful seventh as a thank you for his stellar 2010 campaign. Robinson Cano is seeded ahead of Carl Crawford, as he rightfully should have been. Guys like Ryan Braun and Matt Holliday get more love in the points-based league, and Carlos Gonzalez loses three spots from being tops in ESPN to fourth in this CBS league. On-base percentage and strikeouts caught up with him in this league, just like it will catch up with him in 2011.
My largest disagreement came in the form of the system’s Vernon Wells’ love as the 19th-best fantasy player for 2010. I don’t think anybody in their right mind would give Wells that distinction. He flourished in this points-based league due in large part to its non-inclusion of batting average, where Wells sported an unimpressive .273.
Earlier this year, I prospected on the possibility of future exploits from Vernon. His change of scenery may suit him well as an overall ballplayer, but I can’t allow myself to concede another 30+ home run season.
Here are some other interesting facets to this league that I found rather intriguing: ten dollar flat fee for trades, four dollar charge for most acquisitions, and two matchups in each period of one week. Pretty standard stuff for a high-stakes H2H league. The financial aspect just adds to my hesitation towards acceptance of the point-based way of gaming. There seems to be so many balls in the air at the same time, half the battle will be in finding a way to juggle them all.
I have decided to keep an open mind. For the past 13 years I have primarily only competed in the standard 5X5 format. Occasionally, I have ventured into other standard leagues with more numerous categories, but as a well-rounded fantasy player, it’s time for me to be more adventurous.
I say this until some guy throws a perfect game on me, and I lose the week. That week, I assuredly will curse the league and pray for my comfortable, macaroni ‘n’ cheese settings back in the 5X5.
As I put this rant to close, I want to say how encouraged I have been by the involvement of the readership at THT. When I signed up to start writing for The Hardball Times, I didn’t realize that there would be such a large number of positive but differing opinions.
I am going to go a little off the reservation here. This is my call to the readers. Teach me the ways of the point-based league. My knowledge of sabermetrics and linear weights can only go so far in this completely foreign realm of competition.
Someone once said, “The secret to teaching is to appear that you have known your whole life what you just learned this morning.” I am not going to be a fantasy writer that acts like I have all the answers to all the questions. Please pardon my unfamiliarity, and help to educate me this week.
Also, next week my piece in “The Preparation: H2H” series will be the 1-50 section of my top 300 rankings. So, if you are competing in a head-to-head format, this will be a “can’t miss” series of articles in March. Just hold on for four more days. Spring training games begin Friday. That means drafts are just around the corner.