The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

Fantasy Baseball: Ten Rules for a Successful Season

If you’ve read past the title of this blog post, chances are you are either a Fantasy Baseball veteran, or, at the very least, you have a morbid curiosity about the kinds of people who waste so much time on this stuff.  Either way, I hope you find this post useful.

Here is some straight-forward advice, wisdom accumulated by someone (yours truly) who has been a member of the same fantasy baseball league since 1993.  That’s a lot of wasted man-hours.  It’s also usually the most fun I have all year that costs next to nothing.

Here are ten basic ground-rules for a successful fantasy baseball season.

1.  Know your leagues’ scoring system inside out. If you are in a points-based league, make sure you know how many points a blown-save is worth.  Is a strikeout by a hitter a negative half a point, a full point, or does it not count against a hitter?  Information like that will make a difference when trying to decide when, or if, to draft players like Mark Reynolds or Adam Dunn.  When you read a box-score, you should be able to roughly add up the totals of your players’ points in your head.

2.  Stay away from personal prejudices.  If you are a Red Sox fan and you hate the Yankees, you have to remember that as an owner of a fantasy team, your job is to put together the most formidable franchise in the history of your league.  If you begin by excluding one or more franchises that could supply top-tier talent to your team, you are simply reducing the chances of enjoying a championship season.

3.  Never be vindictive towards another owner. There are practical, as well as ethical reasons for not doing so.  Fantasy Baseball can be highly competitive, and everyone wants to win, but if you take this hobby too seriously and lash-out at another owner, or attempt to collude against someone who irritates you, look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself why your life is so small that this should be so important to you.

And, from a practical standpoint, that owner that you have decided is your enemy might just have the one player on his team that you would like to trade for to help put your team “over the top”.  Good luck doing that if you’ve been acting like a jerk.

4.  Don’t overrate your own players. This is a common mistake in fantasy baseball, especially with less experienced owners.  Most people involved in fantasy baseball have a pretty good working knowledge of the relative value of every player on someone else roster.  If you start with the premise that all of your players are future Hall of Famers, you’ll never be able to engage in any potentially helpful trades, and you’ll just sound like an ass.

5.  Don’t propose insulting trade offers. An extremely common, and annoying, strategy is to offer anywhere from two to five of your own average players for another team’s superstar.  Considering that there is usually enough talent available on the waiver wire, why should someone take on your mediocre players?

Moreover, with limited roster space, the person you are making the offer to would have to drop one or two players just to consummate the deal, and those players might be better than or equal to the players you are offering.

6.  Don’t ignore trade offers. Even if someone does offer you a stupid, ridiculous trade, just politely respond with a “No thanks for now,” response.  No use offending anyone that could potentially help you down the road.

7.  Don’t whine or complain about bad luck. No one wants to hear about it.  Conversely, don’t denigrate another fantasy owner’s success by writing it off as nothing more than good luck.  Success, as someone once said, is the residue of preparation.  Every team experiences injuries.  A successful fantasy team adapts to changing conditions throughout the season.  If you think you are done actually managing your roster on draft day, you’ve got another thing coming.

8.  Try to stay engaged in an on-going dialogue regarding your league, and baseball in general, throughout the season.  Every season in our league, we end up with “hidden” owners who we know exist because they submit weekly line-ups, but they are virtually absent as actual humans participating in a six-month long marathon hobby with several other humans.  That’s like joining a book-group and just sitting there reading, never engaging in a conversation about the book itself.

9.  Don’t let fantasy baseball take over your life. If you find yourself still awake in front of your computer at 2:15 a.m. trying to locate the box-score of some west coast game, turn off the damn computer and go to bed.  You’ll feel better in the morning, and you can always turn on SportsCenter when you wake up.

10.  Don’t forget that you love real baseball first, fantasy baseball second.  Therefore, when you are watching a fantastic pitcher’s duel featuring two young aces, and the only player you have in that game on your fantasy roster just went 0-5 with four strikeouts, you didn’t just watch a crummy, disappointing game.  You may have “missed” (even though you just sat through it) one of the best games of the season.

In my next blog post, I will write more specifically about strategies and tactics that have met with success in fantasy baseball throughout the years.

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3 thoughts on “Fantasy Baseball: Ten Rules for a Successful Season

  1. The Souc on said:

    These “10 commandments” certainly cover the gamete of all that can be of good clean American sportsmanship. As someone that has often entered a fantasy baseball season trying to follow in theory these rules I can respect Mr. Miller’s comments. I am torn however by my #1 rule of having fun and not being vindictive toward other owners which is about ½ the fun for me!!

  2. Ohio is Nowhere on said:

    I think I broke all 10 of your rules at one time or another.

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