FB101 – How To Play Fantasy Baseball

05/20/2007 1:00 AM - 

FantasyBaseball.com University Series
Contributed By: John Diaz  

This is an introductory course for a fantasy baseball beginner.  While anyone is invited to read this, a novice will gain the greatest benefit from this article.  Still, an intermediate player who is looking for a new league to join, or a person who has been playing fantasy baseball for maybe a year or two and wants to refresh, there will be lots of content in this article that could be helpful for you. 

The tips and tricks in this piece will not only save the beginner the stress of trial and error, but also maximize the enjoyment of fantasy baseball for owners of all levels.

Fantasy Baseball is comprised of taking real Major League Baseball (MLB) players, using these players with a bunch of friends in a fantasy baseball league that you create and dividing them up into teams with a draft and using their playing statistics to determine a winner.  In a more concise explanation, fantasy baseball is using real life MLB players to create your very own baseball franchise where you hire, fire and trade MLB players to acquire the best baseball team you can.  Fantasy Baseball is a way for a baseball fan to invest more in the game and enjoy it from a totally different aspect – a truly interactive experience.  

The statistics these MLB players generate in their real games are collected, and fantasy points are awarded based on these numbers — the better a player performs, the more fantasy points he accrues for his owner’s team.  In fantasy baseball, these points determine a winner.  The team that accumulates the most points or victories over the course of the season is declared the league winner.


But you may be wondering, how I play the game already!?  Well, the first step is to join a fantasy baseball league.  There are two basic options for doing this. You can find an online fantasy baseball league, or you can gather up a team of friends and/or co-workers to start your own league.


How do I join a fantasy baseball league?

If you don’t have a group of friends or co-workers to join or start a league with, the best option is to find a public league on the Internet.  Here, you can meet baseball fans like yourself from across the country or even the globe.  You can get to know them and in the future, maybe even be in a private league with them for years to come.  That is the beauty of fantasy baseball in the Internet age.  No longer do you need to depend on people that you know in person to be in a league with.  The whole world has opened up with the Internet and there is no doubt that you can meet likeminded baseball fans like yourself to enjoy the fantasy baseball experience with.

Traditionally, when fantasy baseball was first introduced in New York in the early 1980’s, the Internet was not around, so baseball enthusiasts had to keep score of the MLB players on their fantasy baseball teams by hand.  Now, the Internet has taken over and real-time statistics for your team’s players can easily be had for free or for a very affordable cost.

As a beginner to the world of fantasy baseball, paying for a franchise in a public league may not be the most attractive option, but there are benefits and detractors to both free and pay websites that host fantasy baseball.  I will do my best to list them and whatever course you decide on, that decision is yours to make.


Yahoo! (http://www.yahoo.com) is the standard for free public fantasy baseball leagues.  Of course, while they are the most reliable, they are virtually the only website that has free fantasy baseball leagues.  While a free option is a very good idea to try, especially for your first time trying fantasy baseball, you must be aware that there are caveats attached to this.  Many people join free Yahoo leagues because of precisely that – they are free.  Meaning, they are not going to take them seriously, and if they drafted a bad team, they may give up on their team quite easily.  You may find yourself in a league with other owners who don’t care about their teams and as such, never check the league webpage.  This can end up making the experience quite frustrating and unmemorable.


For this reason, that is why I suggest trying a pay site for a public fantasy league.  There are many reputable sites to choose from and if you feel strange about sending your credit card number through the internet, they will give you an option to mail the money in as well. 


People who pay money to play in public leagues will more than likely choose to remain active all season long and interacting with fellow baseball fans as well as being the general manager of your own baseball team is what the fun of fantasy baseball is all about.  Not only that, but if you meet a good group of guys, you very well might be invited to join their league and that league might be free to join and participate in


Types of Scoring in Fantasy Baseball

There are two types of methods for scoring in fantasy baseball – Rotisserie style and Head to Head.  In Rotisserie scoring, each team finishes at the end of the year somewhere between 1st and last in each of the scoring categories that you choose.  The most basic and most used categories are:

  • home runs
  • runs batted in
  • runs scored
  • stolen bases
  • earned run average
  • wins
  • saves
  • WHIP (walks + hits divided by total innings pitched).
  • Strikeouts (for pitchers)

In a 12 team league, the winner of each category gets 12 points, the runner-up 11 points, and so on. The fantasy league champion is the team that finishes with the most points at the end of the year.


In a head to head system, scores are based on the same ten categories listed above, but teams each week play a game against another franchise. Teams get one point for each category they win, with tied categories thrown out or counted in a certain way.  At the end of the regular season, the top teams advance to the postseason to determine the league champion.


These are the most basic types of scoring that you’ll find in fantasy baseball.  Rosters will usually include 23 players from MLB teams and to initially get these players onto your team, you will participate in a draft with your new league mates.  A draft order is randomly determined by the website that you choose for your league and owners take turns selecting players until each team has 23 players. In most leagues, the draft order is reversed for the even-numbered rounds.


Now that you have drafted your team and know how the scoring will happen, it’s time to get to know your new league mates and start meeting fellow baseball fans!  Enjoy and have fun.  Welcome to the world of fantasy baseball!

Click Here to check out the entire FantasyBaseball.com University Series!


Comments are closed.