Looks like there's been a lot of interest in the fantasy baseball leagues; PhoenixFly's Division II appears to have reached capacity, but we're going to see if we can expand the top tier a bit, in order to squeeze a few more people into the second division. In the meantime, however, after the jump, we'll talk about the scoring system and give some pointers towards a successful draft.
There will, of course, also be the plug to sign up for CBSSports.com's fantasy baseball. And to sweeten the pot, if you do so, we'll link to your league's results in our reports, and will even spring for a blog-branded shirt for the winner of any championship that signs up through the link which can be found after the jump. Hell, even I don't have a SnakePit shirt, so you're getting a chance at something truly unique
Our leagues run head-to-head, 5x5, standard rotisserie scoring. If you have no clue what that means, let me enlighten you. Each week, you set your line-up of players. For all the ones you pick, five hitting categories and five scoring categories are counted. At the plate, those are BA, HR, RBI, Runs and SB; on the mound, the categories are Wins, Saves, K's, ERA and WHIP. The total for your players is accumulated to give an overall team total. Each week, you take on one of the other teams in your league, and in each category, your total is matched against theirs - whoever comes out on top e,g most home-runs, lowest ERA, gets one point.
The scoring system obviously plays into your choice of players, because some things that make for a good player, do not necessarily make for a good fantasy player. For example, the ability to draw a free pass is valuable on the park, but is basically meaningless for our purposes, because we do not count walks in our league. A base on balls is hardly distinguishable from an out, because it's one less opportunity to homer and drive in a run, categories which do count [okay, a slight exaggeration, because you can still steal and score after a walk, and it doesn't hurt your BA, but you get the idea]
The head-to-head factor also plays into things. In "regular" rotisserie, it's your season total that matters. Each category counts equally, with last place being worth one point and first place, say, 12 in a 12-team league. Add up the points for all the categories and whoever has the most points is the winner. But in head-to-head, you are playing 25 mini-seasons - indeed, it's more important to finish strong than start strong, because in our league that last couple of rounds are playoffs. Your record to that point is largely irrelevant: just like in real baseball, everyone who makes it, starts the post-season at 0-0.
There are various tactics people adopt as far as the individual categories. Some will "punt" categories like SB or Saves - basically surrendering those categories, in order to pick players who will help them in multiple, other categories. Instead of using early picks on closers, taking middle relievers who may be better pitchers overall, but just don't pitch in the ninth, will improve your ERA and WHIP, and they sometimes grab "vulture" wins as well. For example, you may not have ever heard of Alfredo Aceves, but he won ten games last year - the same as Barry Zito, Scott Kazmir or Cole Hamels - with an ERA of 3.54 and a WHIP barely above one.
You should also know the depth of the various categories. For example, there are many more valuable first-basemen than there are catchers - the #10-ranked first-baseman is Kevin Youkilis, but the #10-ranked catcher is Mike Napoli. Behind the plate, defense counts for nothing, and if you don't get one of the big three (Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez and Brian McCann), then the drop-off to the next level is significant, and there's no point in using an early pick on your catcher. The positions up the middle usually have a few elite players, then there's a gap, though you should remember there's no separation among outfielders - LF, CF and RF are all just outfielders.
Weekly scoring also present possibilities for the savvy manager. Some opt to trawl the waiver wire of unsigned pitchers, looking for those who are scheduled to make two starts in the week, with obviously increased possibilities for some categories. The pitchers can then be dumped the following week; of course, the downside is, the quality of such pitchers, being unselected by any team, is likely to be lower than average, so this tactic can backfire, unless you carefully watch who you pick, and who/where they are pitching. Similarly, you may want to look at your opponent's roster when selecting your team. If they have three regular closers, it may be to your advantage to load up on starting pitchers instead, and target Wins and K's.
Much like baseball, the fantasy version is beautiful in its basic simplicity, yet infinite in its complexity and scope for analysis. It certainly adds interest to the season, because otherwise meaningless games between teams you don't care about, can become vitally important - will those Astros hold on against the Pirates, and get your middle-reliever a victory? Admittedly, this can be a double-edged sword, when one of your starters is going against the Diamondbacks - our wrath will be terrible if you ever admit to mixed rooting tendencies, for fantasy baseball purposes!
Still, if your interest has been piqued by this, you can get 50% off the regular price for the CBSSports.com Commissioner Version by going through this link. That reduces the cost to $89.99, and as noted above, if you sign up for a league through the link, we will give the winner a free SnakePit shirt. Heck, on that basis, I am tempted to sign up for one myself. Looks like there is still plenty of interest and wannabe managers here if you need some more players!
[CBSSports.com is an SB Nation partner and paying sponsor of the SB Nation baseball communities. This post is one of a series of sponsor endorsed posts related to the CBSSports.com Fantasy Baseball Commissioner League.]