The modern version of Fantasy baseball (and all fantasy sports for that matter) is based on the concept originated by Magazine writer/editor Daniel Okrent, who along with several friends innovated the concept of “ownership” where the players would draft baseball players from the active Major League list and then they would follow the statistics during the season to keep track of their scores. The draft was based on who the owner predicted would play the best during the season. This concept was called the Rotisserie League after the restaurant La Rotisserie where Okrent and his friends gathered to eat lunch. Contrary to popular opinion, Okrent did not create the league there and they did not participate in it there either, though Okrent believed the name was catchy and so did not argue the point.
The standard rules of the Rotisserie League are based on the total points system, where all the players in the league are scored and the top scorers win their leagues, or in the case of the very popular modern Internet fantasy boom, cash prizes. There are some point variants, though typically the rules call for one point for every base hit. That is, a double would be two points and a home run would be four. Another point is scored for each Run Batted In. After these very basic rules there are many options. Most leagues allow you to utilize pitchers, scoring points based on strikeouts, wins, or other more esoteric stats. There are also leagues that allow team scores to count along with the individual players.
The total points system entails that there is a measurement period. Often this is a week or two weeks. As games are scheduled inconsistently, this might mean that some players will have more games during the scheduled period. Some leagues compensate for this by abandoning the time measurement and simply use a number of games format. This bogs down if and when a player doesn’t play or is injured, and the mechanical rules for this are quite diverse. Some require instant replacement when a player is injured, but not when they simply sit for a game. Also this mechanism is tough to add position players and pitchers, who do not play every day. Thus the scoring mechanisms are in some cases quite complex.
To maintain a league then, the most important elements are to settle on a rule base that you will score all participants by. It is critical that these rules not be modified on the fly, else the entire league would be invalid. Due to the complexities of the scoring, it is highly recommended that new leagues utilize tried and true rules set up by the fantasy giants, such as ESPN’s well-developed system. There are literally hundreds of sites that will keep track of stats and enforce rules for the new fantasy league, and nearly all are free, though you generally have to put up with watching some ads while accessing your data.
Once the rules are in place, maintaining the league is best assisted by one of these free agencies also. They have scoring presentation formats and are easy to update, considerably faster and more efficient than doing it on your own. Once you have spent a season or two running with this pre-set system, then you can attempt to manage it on your own if you so desire. If and when you decide to do this, you should have been exposed to the different rule and scoring variants that are most popular with your fellow players in the league. However, some of the most popular variants are quite complex, and the time commitment is considerable. Beyond that it is very easy to make a mistake, which will inevitable result in charges of favoritism or cheating.
While some other fantasy sports, particularly football, are relatively easy to score, the original rotisserie fantasy baseball league is as complex as the thousands of baseball purists and their stat-obsessions would have it be. Take the easy road and use an impartial web-based system to run your league. If you choose to keep track of all this yourself, at the end of 162 games, you'll wish you hadn't!