Rotohelp Site Philosophy
by Jessica & Timothy Polko
We obviously cannot include all of our beliefs in this space, but the concepts expressed here adequately embody our core philosophy. We have developed these principles over years of study of first the game of baseball as fans, and then the game of fantasy baseball as participants committed to the pursuit of winning strategies.
You will find additional details of our opinions in our daily articles where we frequently air out our views on the innumerable issues that hover around baseball and fantasy baseball.
Baseball is fun. The sport is fun, discussing the sport is fun, and even playing with a physical baseball itself can be fun. Nobody says, "Work ball" to start a ballgame.
Fantasy baseball is fun. Millions of people grow up wanting to play professional baseball and everyone believes that they can make better decisions than the lucky knuckleheads that run their favorite team. We all need to believe that we wouldn't have traded Brock for Broglio - this is the essence of fan participation.
Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. A cliché, but then all clichés have some truth in them. We can make educated guesses on the best course of action to take when we possess the background information on the circumstances surrounding our decisions. The history of baseball lies in numbers.
Statistics are the lifeblood of baseball more than any other sport. Numbers like 56 and .400 are embedded in our collective American unconscious. Even evolving milestones like 714 to 755, and 60 to 61 to 70 to 73, evoke events that a majority of Americans probably can describe in detail. Years like 1927, 1961, and 1998 echo our triumphs in peace like 1776 and 1945 instantly recall our victories in war. Baseball statistics are the history that binds the sport to the American ideal.
As we believe that every person has inalienable rights, so we must acknowledge that every player has value. A Major League Baseball player is one of the top 750 people in the world in his profession. At minimum, players in the big leagues are athletic enough to field some position if every other player is injured or otherwise out of that game. For fantasy baseball, even a Colorado 5th starter has value to a team that needs 1 more IP to qualify for ERA points, and every player has a chance to contribute in the quantitative categories like Wins and RBI.
Once a player displays a tool, skill, or tendency, that player always has a chance of displaying it again. Tools include batting power and fastball speed, sometimes only shown crushing 500 foot batting practice home runs or by hitting 98 mph while warming up in the bullpen. Skills include measurements of strike zone judgment (BB/K) for batters and command and control (K/BB) for pitchers. Tendencies describe what a player has historically done with their tools and skills. A player can tend to hit around twenty home runs per season, but he can always exceed that number.
Players can also display an overt lack of aptitude in many areas but still possess the knack for remaining on a major league roster regardless of that player's overall ability. Even if you don't perceive a particular player to have any value to either a real or fantasy team, major league service time is a valuable commodity, and while you might think other players are more deserving, anyone who fills a 25-man roster spot has obviously impressed someone at some time. You can even learn as much about a player from a lack of demonstrated skills as from his effective ones.
Certain statistics are more valuable tools for prediction than others. Strike zone judgment is a better indicator of whether future batting averages will increase or decrease than looking at the actual batting average trend. An increase in a team's offensive capabilities will help contribute more dramatically to an increase in the number of wins a starting pitcher records from one year to the next than any improvement in the pitcher's abilities.
Minor league statistics have predictive value. Ballparks can significantly distort statistics. Hitters likely will have their peak seasons between the ages of 28 and 32, and pitchers between the season of 30 and 34; this is true for both the majors and fantasy baseball.
Stick to the plan at the draft, and make sure that plan includes waiting for some bargains. Target players who are likely to exceed their predicted values. Avoid chronically injured players. Don't be afraid to gamble on rookie hitters in good lineups and rookie pitchers on teams with good offenses in friendly ballparks. One good bargain player can win you any league, but more are even better. Make sure you have contingency plans in case you aren't able to execute your preferred draft strategy.
If your team has injuries, off years, or even if you just drafted horribly, never be afraid to rebuild in keeper leagues if you don't believe you can finish solidly in the money. When you realize on Memorial Day that your team can finish 4th place if everything breaks your way, you should target players to help next season. If two other teams started rebuilding on National Income Tax Day, then make the best of what's still available. You should never need to rebuild two years in a row; if you find yourself doing this, contact us for help.
Don't be afraid to make numerous trade offers. You can't complete a deal if no one initiates discussions. Be willing to accept deals grossly in your favor. There are three types of owners in keeper leagues: those playing for this year, those playing for next year, and those building dynasties for every year. Each owner has different needs and wants so be willing to objectively "overpay" at times if a player fills a specific need for you: the harder to get can be the better to have.
Celebrate when you win. Use your winnings for something special for yourself and your loved ones, and count your losses as entertainment costs…on second thought, keep reading our site every day, and you shouldn't have many losses.
The following people and organizations have influenced the formation of these philosophies over the years, and we encourage our readers to visit their websites and search out their publications.
The Rotisserie League and Rotisserie League Baseball
Speaking of John Benson,
Baseball Headquarters, and the BaseballHQ.com Staff
Moreover, Baseball Forecaster is easily the most useful addition to any novice fantasy owner's bookshelf. After reading our first copy several years ago, we went from winning about one league a year to annually finishing in the first division in most of our leagues. Any serious roto participant simply must peruse this book; you cannot make a more cost-effective investment in developing your personal strategy.
BaseballHQ also hosts an annual symposium in Phoenix during the Arizona Fall League. The symposium provides a great opportunity to meet fantasy experts, learn valuable strategy information, and even watch a few baseball games full of prospects.
Will Carroll, Joe Sheehan, Rany Jazayerli, and the
Baseball Prospectus Staff
Rotoworld easily remains the best free baseball update site on the web, and we have found that visiting at least daily is vital to stay aware of the most recent player information.
Rototimes provides an excellent compilation of breaking news and analysis from major media outlets across the web, including every significant daily newspaper.
Minor League Baseball now offers the web's best set of minor league stats after a complete site revamp, which even resulted in the addition of splits data for every player if only for their current team.
Minor League Splits emerged as one of the best sites around in 2006, featuring a variety of statistics, splits, fielding stats, and even MLE data for every minor leaguer in affiliated baseball.
Yahoo! Baseball probably is the single most useful site for us. They are the best site we have found providing wire updates, and they post The Sporting News writers' only relevant columns.
ESPN Baseball delivers the highest volume of baseball information on the web while featuring such noted columnists as the aforementioned Rob Neyer, Peter Gammons, Jayson Stark, Keith Law, Jim Caple, and occasional pieces by many from among their well-known on-air talent.
Fox Sports remains useful primarily for the columns of Ken Rosenthal, heir to Peter Gammons' best baseball reporter title.
Baseball Think Factory provides a great source of interesting but sometimes relatively obscure articles from around the web in their newsstand area. More importantly, they provide a remarkably high caliber of user comments below most linked articles. Unlike the message boards used on the vast majority of sites, BTF usually hosts some of the most informative and nicely-argued discussion available anywhere on the web.
Baseball America publishes much of the magazine's content on-line, but also adds unique features like "Ask BA", which poses questions to BA writers, as well as frequent, in-depth chats with their writers. While other sites now offer more minor league statistics, BA still retains a useful database.
Major League Baseball, although frequently full of articles with which we disagree, still offers a great multitude of baseball information since the thirty teams unified their websites five years ago. MLB.com has now established itself as the best resource for current rosters, transactions, and other similar reference material.
Cot's Baseball Contracts remains the best source for current player contracts, usefully sorted by team and even including the status of key front office personnel.
Finally, if you ever need to find specific statistical information about a player or team, please visit Baseball Reference, which contains the most thorough database of player statistics available on the web.
Daily Fantasy Rx
Out of the Frying Pan
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