Monday, March 19, 2012

David Bobke - Idiot's Intro to Roto or How I Learned To Love Being a Stat Freak

For the true fantasy baseball beginner.....

Last season was my first year of Fantasy Baseball (henceforth known as FB, because I love shorthand.) I joined a friend's points league and learned a lot of valuable lessons very quickly. For those of you familiar with my work on this site, I'll fill you in on how the season ended.

I wound up 3rd in my head-to-head points league. Thanks to guys like Mike Kuchera (Suck-up? Me? You bet!) and a steady supply of other well-discerned fantasy baseball advice, I won the postseason tournament in my very first go.

What I never told you about on this site...I actually played in a roto league as well. I joined that more for the experience than to actually win. I finished 7th in that 11 team league. Not bad considering I didn't pay close attention to it until the last month and a half of the season.

As it is my nature to start things and not necessarily finish them (i.e. why I disappeared in the 2nd half of last season!), I felt I should take a whack at explaining this concept of “roto” ball to those of you who don't get it. Maybe you asked someone to explain it before and it was just too weird or complex. I'm gonna take a shot at breaking this down in a simpler fashion.

For comparison's sakes, I'm going to explain Points Leagues for a second. Points Leagues are like Fantasy Football leagues, you can make up for a low number of rushing yards with a ton of receiving yards or a couple extra TD's. Thusly, you don't NEED to fill the rushing category in FF; you can get a couple pass-catching RB's. It is virtually the same thing in FB Points leagues, you hit on the home run hitters and strikeout-heavy pitchers, you can make up for deficits elsewhere because you're scoring so many points in other areas.

In Roto however, you can't cover a weak point by REALLY sticking it to opponents in another category (I will note though, when you become familiar with Roto-style FB, you actually can cover a weak point like this to some extent, but it's like I learned in English class, you can't break a rule of grammar until you fully understand it. When you know how and why you can get away with breaking the rule of “tossing” a category in Roto-ball, then you can do it; if you're just starting out, don't even think about it. Accept my rule. Trust me!)

Second thing, you should know what you're looking to draft. In line with my first point, you can't just try to load up on home run hitters and trust that you'll play the hot hands at the right time to get by. You need power, yes, but you need speed, you need batting average...bottom line, you need to know what you're doing.

When you do any draft, you know you need to fill certain positions. You have to get yourself a starting First, Second, and Third Baseman, Shortstop, and so on. It's the same thing with categories. You have to get yourself some guys who can get home runs, steals, hit for a high average, and so on. It's a two-dimensional thing, the draft is. You aren't just drafting a roster, you're drafting statistics.

You have to realize that certain players may off-set each other. A great home run hitter usually won't help you in stolen bases and vise versa. It's like going out with a celebrity like, oh say, Erin Andrews (yes, I will divulge into male piggishness to make a point here).

Ms. Andrews scores well in categories like “Looks” and “Sports Knowledge,” but if categories like “Being Around Every Friday Night” and “Not Being Followed by Paparazzi” are important to you, she will not score well in those. If you were crazy enough to have a second girlfriend, maybe she's weaker in the areas Erin is strong in, but she's solid in those where Erin is weaker.

I should mention at this time that I do not condone trying to date two women at the same time. It hurts. A lot. Not that I know from experience, but...let's just say I've watched enough crummy sitcoms to know that these situations never end well.

I trust my point is made though? Know not only where you're helping yourself when you draft a certain player, but know where you may be hurting yourself. I'll try to explain this further next time. Just remember, I'm trying to boil this down to the lowest common denominator of beginners. The examples might get stranger.

David Bobke

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