Fantasy Baseball

How to use Sabermetrics in Fantasy Baseball



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Numbers game

Baseball, more than any other professional sport, is analyzed for it's statistics.  Some of the most famous records in professional sports reside in baseball, and fans are more likely to examine the baseball box score than they are most other statistical measures.  Of course, statistics is a funny word because numbers can interpreted many different ways.  Baseball is still a sport that involves people, which means that a certain amount of unpredictability will always be present.  Some individuals have spent a great deal of energy over the years analyzing the statistics of baseball in order to better understand the game and ultimately make better predictions for the future.  Therefore, here are a few thoughts on the interesting category of fantasy baseball called sabermetics.

More than personality

In general terms, sabermetrics attempts to evaluate players and teams with objective evidence, which is typically found in statistics.  This has developed as a methodology because people can often get distracted by the personality or profile of a player.  For example, some players are very popular with the media and with fans, and they can develop into "stars."  This can also occur when players accomplish particular feats on the diamond, which can create a "wow" factor for the fans.  However, this does not mean that the player is necessarily the best person for the team to sign to a contract.  Nor are they always the best player to put into a fantasy situation. 

Popular statistics are not always the best

What sabermetrics also attempts to do is get beyond "popular" statistics and numbers that are cherished by the common fan.  For example, fans and general managers alike enjoy the home run.  People who can hit the ball a long way are exciting and intriguing, and nothing gets the fans more into the game than a clutch home run.  However, sabermetrics will say that a "power" hitter may not be the best fit for a team.  A home run hitter may hit a ball out of the park every 2-4 games.  However, they may also strike out 6-8 times during that span and fail to reach base.  This means that the player is exciting and highlight-worthy, but not necessarily the most "productive" player.  Another example is a pitcher that strikes out a lot of batters.  This may be fun for the fans to watch, but if that pitcher also gives up a lot of walks and hits, they are not necessarily a package of complete productivity. 

Obscure statistics

The person who studies sabermetics is looking at the overall value of a player.  This goes beyond hits, home runs, and runs batted in.  It includes things like On Base Percentage (OPS), which is the percentage of how often the player gets on base in general.  The theory with OPS is that teams need to score runs to win.  Therefore, a player who gets on three times during a game may be theoretically more valuable than a player that goes one for five with a home run.  In addition, sabermetics looks at things that contribute to the overall value of a player such as sacrifices and assists.  In other words, what does the player do overall to help their team win? Sabermetics includes a wide variety of acronyms that stand for various measures, including WHIP, DIPS, LIPS, and EQA. 

Does it "work"

Whether sabermetrics is an effective tool for forecasting is not without some discussion.  It is clear that sabermetrics is used by historians, writers, and fantasy experts to predict how certain players will perform in the future.  There is also evidence that certain baseball executives use aspects of sabermetics or sabermetic philosophies when they are evaluating players.  In general, baseball is a game of statistics, and when people analyze numbers in connection with human behavior there is a certain amount of predictability.  However, there will always be a human element to baseball, and when that player steps into the batter's box, anything can happen. 

http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2007/05/how_sabermetric_1.php

http://www.sabr.org/

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/01/bill-james-answers-all-your-baseball-questions/

More about this author: Todd Pheifer

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