Roto Graphs Survey Results

On Friday, I asked for our reader’s input on a few topics and here are some of the results. Thanks to everyone that filled out a survey (over 330 filled out) and hopefully we can use the information to better serve our readership:

5 categories for each pitching and hitting: 58%

Even with the expansion of other types of fantasy leagues, the basic 5×5 league is still the most common.

Types of Leagues
Roto 46%
H2H 50%
Other 4%

There was almost a 50%-50% split between head to head and roto. We may have not been giving the H2H format enough credit, so there may be more content on them in the future.

Average Number of Teams in a Mixed League:12.4
10 Team League: 24%
12 Team League: 43%
14 or more teams: 20%

Leagues are generally small in number with 2/3 of the leagues having between 10 to 12 teams. This fact leads us to our next bit of data:

% of leagues with a player over 50% owned in all leagues, but still available on the waiver wire: 75%

I have seen many comments on waiver wire articles that the players covered were not available in their leagues. These owners must be the vocal few and players over 50% owned may be popping up more in WW articles.

Percentage of leagues with 1,2, or 3 DL spots: 73%

The number of DL spots for leagues seems low. Long term DL stashing doesn’t seem like a viable option for many owners useless it is a top tier player.

Days for position qualification
1: 2.%
5: 39%
10: 39%
20: 5%

These number are fairly common.

Designate a difference between SP/RP: 77%

With the high number of H2H leagues and those that have SP/RP designations, we should write more articles on starting pitchers with RP qualifications.

Weekly Lineup changes: 24%
Daily Lineup changes: 74%

Mixed League: 89%
AL Only 6%: 6%
NL Only 4%: 4%

Nothing ground breaking with the 2 previous results.

Keeper League: 62%

This was probably the most surprising number out of the whole survey. Almost 2/3 of the leagues are keeper leagues. This off season we will look into more strategies/rankings for these leagues.

FAAB Budget: 20%
Reserve Roster: 30%

I am actually surprised that the numbers are this high for these two results. More future content may be coming on these two topics.

Auction League: 27%
Draft League: 70%

This seems about right with the ease of running a snake draft

Well that is all for today. I may cut and sort the data a little more, but the preceding is a nice snapshot of the current Rotographs readership. In the future we hope to direct more content for the types of leagues and rules readers use. Finally, thanks again for everyone that participated in the survey.

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

22 Responses to “Roto Graphs Survey Results”

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  1. Max says:

    What is a reserve roster? I think I answered yes for each of my three leagues but after your comment I’m not sure that was the right answer. And if I was confused, it’s possible that others may have also been confused.

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    • Toffer Peak says:

      Yeah, I think Rotographs is using a different definition than I or CBS does. CBS uses Reserve and Bench interchangeably. How is Rotographs defining it?

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  2. Drew says:

    I play in a hitters only league, so I was unable to answer the question about minimum/maximum number of pitchers (zero was not an option).

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  3. strongbad56 says:

    The 50% or more results might be a little misleading, as I said yes, but there was only one player (Placido Polanco) on the waiver wire that was owned in 50% or more, and most of the rest are under 30%.

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    • mcbrown says:

      Yes. There are two kinds of leagues this year: those that have given up on Adam Dunn and those that haven’t. His presence on the wire is not necessarily indicative of league depth.

      Having said that, I welcome more of a mix between high ownership and low ownership waiver wire content. Players with c. 50-70% ownership are often very reasonable trade targets even if they aren’t actually on waivers.

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      I figured there would be just be a couple higher players, but 5% of the leagues have players that are owned in over 90% of the leagues.

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      • Drew says:

        Struggling pitchers (Scherzer, Billingsley, Chacin) often get dropped in my H2H league out of desperation streaming (stupidity?). Those guys have ownership close to 90%. After that handful of pitchers, there’s a fairly large amount of unowned OFs and 1Bs with 60-70% overall ownership. Also, Geovany Soto.

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  4. mcbrown says:

    Thanks for doing this!

    One additional observation I would make is that for the small number of AL/NL-only leagues they sure do get a lot of attention. For example outfield rankings are largely split by league, which seems a rather arbitrary distinction for 89% of readers. Not that I care much about rankings personally, but still.

    Also I’m glad to see I’m not the only person who enjoys H2H leagues. They seem to get a fair amount of hate, but personally I think they offer many advantages to the forward-thinking player by creating the opportunity to radically alter tactics from week to week and day to day without fear of losing ground in season-long rankings.

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    • Max says:

      I agree with this. I realize that there are a lot of OF and SP to rank, but separating them into two posts for AL and NL leads to uncertainty. Even if there was just some consistency between the corresponding posts that would be better; I keep seeing tiers named after bands or landmarks and other random things and it’s hard to compare, you know?

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    • batpig says:

      plus 1,000….

      the AL/NL split for pitchers and OF is silly, especially given the results above.

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  5. Mike says:

    I’m in both h2h 5×5 and roto 6×6 but hate having Loses as a pitching category (OBP as the 6th hitting). What do other people use that is a counting stat since I want to keep it even (4 counting, 2 ratio)?

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      Holds, gets more RP involved.

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      • Max says:

        Yes, holds. Also Quality Starts is a fairly common 6th category. But I prefer holds, because of what Jeff said, rather than QS, which just magnify SP’s.

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    • Matt says:

      I like using K/BB in my h2h league. High walk pitchers are punished for more than just whip, which is especially good since my long time league-mates will never let me add xFIP or anything more challenging as a category.

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    • David says:

      We use “Decisions”, which is W + QS – L. We forgo saves (and holds) entirely. The effect has been that RPs are useful (we don’t distinguish between SP and RP) in that you put some of them in your line up every single day, rotating starters through based on their schedule. Crappy “closers” don’t get used, but non-closer RPs with good skills (e.g. Venters, Robertson,…) most certainly do.

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  6. pbo says:

    Mike, you could use quality starts instead of losses. I almost want to get rid of wins in my league because they are so arbitrary.

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  7. Matt says:

    For me the H2H vs Roto debate came down to the fact that I play fantasy baseball (and football) primarily as a social activity, in a league that features only close friends of mine (and occasionally their brothers). Because of this, H2H is a much better format because it keeps everybody more active and involved in the league throughout the season. In the first couple years when we had a roto league, everybody but the top 3 or 4 lost interest by the end of July, only making basic roster moves and few trades. Roto is a better format for simulating the decisions that a real life manager has to make. It is a vastly superior exercise of baseball acumen, and I enjoy a few leagues full of players on the internet from all over the country. H2H is very reliant on small sample size and can be majorly influenced by luck, which makes it run counter-intuitive to a lot of sabr ideals. But in terms of playability among a group of friends, it is way better. Trash talk is common, and even when someone is out of the running for the title, people want to play spoilers and block others from winning. That is an element of fantasy sports that Roto lacks in all but the most serious leagues, and the social aspect is a major reason why fantasy football has exploded in popularity while fantasy baseball has merely become sort of socially acceptable. So while I enjoy roto more as a baseball-centric game, I have a lot more fun in my H2H league, and I think a lot of other people do too.

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    • jon says:

      Agreed with the above. One interesting twist (which we do) is to make a sizable regular season cash award which is not based on H2H records but rather on Roto scoring. Therefore the best team is guaranteed to win something. But there is still the fun of H2h and playoffs and trash talking and whatnot.

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      • Matt says:

        Indeed. We don’t have an official monetary value on it, but major bragging rights go to the roto champion, who can (and will) brag to everybody that they had the best team all season, even if they lost in the end.

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  8. Ben says:

    For 5×5, you shouldn’t assume that the traditional Roto categories are being used. Our league uses OBP instead of AVG, and Net Steals. On the pitching side we use INN, WHIP, K/9, HR/9, and a highly modified pitching decisions category.

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  9. jon says:

    Regarding the question “How many have players who are owned in over 50% of leagues but available”, I think that is still misleading. I play in a deep 16 team league and there are players over 50% available. But the WW is stretched very BARE. Its just that hot starting or highly ranked (but currently useless) players get abandoned on many people’s teams I guess. Even Brett Anderson is owned in 45% of leagues says Yahoo right now and he’s been out for months already.

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  10. mcbrown says:

    Just thought of an interesting (to me) question that the survey didn’t address but could perhaps be posed in a future survey:

    Do you play mostly with strangers or “real life” acquaintances?

    I am only in fantasy leagues that are run by and primarily comprised of people I have a close-ish relationship with (coworkers, friends, friends of friends), and I would have thought this was the norm. But from the occasional discussion I see over trade disputes, which often use lack of real-life relationships as evidence against collusion, I get the impression that playing with strangers is more the norm.

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