On March 31, Eno Sarris posted a RotoGraphs article analyzing what his fantasy settings and preferred players say about him. If fantasy settings were beer, Eno appears to view deep, auction format h2h keeper leagues with the same affection he holds for a High-ABV Pacific Coast Double IPA.
However, most fantasy baseball writing and analysis is tailored to a far more mainstream palate. The “standard 5×5” settings– shallow (10-12) mixed league rotisserie scoring on AVG, RBI, R, HR, SB x ERA, W, K, SV, WHIP–are the Coors Light of the fantasy world.
I created a simple Google Form to poll RotoGraphs readers on our preferred fantasy settings. After about a week and nearly 150 responses, I have first results to report. With even more data this year–or collected across multiple years– we may be able to identify trends in the way fantasy baseball is played by, if not the public generally, the average RotoGraphs reader.
Based on the first 148 responses, 26.3% are only in 1 league for 2014. 62% of respondents are in 2-5 leagues. While there are a dedicated few of us who are in more than 5 leagues, the overwhelming majority is clearly more capable of achieving a healthy fantasy baseball-life balance.
Here is a basic breakdown of the data as of April 4:
Total Leagues: 470
Head to Head: 205
Deeper than 12 teams: 140
OBP or OPS instead of AVG: 222
Holds or Saves+Holds: 156
Bonus Questions (that Eno didn’t ask himself)
Leagues using FAAB: 136
Leagues with Minor League Reserves: 126
- Yahoo!: 67
- ESPN: 60
- CBS: 27
- Ottoneu: 15
- Other: 11
The primary takeaway, based on results as of this writing, is the number of non-“standard” leagues reported. One respondent is in 17 leagues, and all 17 are standard 5×5 format. That’s great for this sir or madame who is clearly an advocate of the more-is-more approach, but he’s really skewing our poll here by being so far from the mean. If we remove his response, the results show only about 35% of the league settings reported are standard 5×5. More data about the specific settings used, and the demographics of the respondents, would embiggen our collective understanding here. It may be that the responses captured are not from a representative sample of RotoGraphs readers.
But scientific rigor and caution have never been effective barriers when it comes to anonymous website readers providing criticism or opinion. So allow me to extrapolate wildly based on this extremely limited data set:
5×5 is a dinosaur. It is a relic. Dinosaurs and relics are a lot of fun, and can be pretty awesome, and really everyone loves dinosaurs and relics both. Just like most red-blooded humans can shut up and stomach an ice cold serving of the Silver Bullet on a given day, and some days feel refreshed.
There is a type of person, though, who is content to leave dinosaurs and relics in museums, and to tolerate a vent-mouth can of the taste of the Rockies only when it is the last option available in your brother-in-law’s fridge. Let us call this person “the RotoGraphs reader.” He or she is more apt to try a new taste, to reach for something a bit more complex and perhaps even more challenging. The stats represented in the standard 5×5 format no longer represent how this RotoGraphs reader evaluates the baseball player, genearlly. The brand of fantasy baseball she or he plays reflects this. Standard is no longer the standard.
And perhaps, just as the statistical revolution has won in the real measurement of performance for actual game of Baseball, it is on the cusp of a major victory in the virtual game of Fantasy Baseball. AVG and Saves have long been abandoned as helpful or relevant stats by discerning fans and front offices alike. For the RotoGraphs reader these stats are less relevant every day to his or her enjoyment of the fantasy game.
What do your settings say about you? This is the question Eno, in his wisdom, posed to us. Each of us will have individual answers, but collecting those answers can reveal possible answers to a bigger question: what do our settings say about the state of the game?