FB104 – Roto vs H2H Scoring Basics

05/20/2007 12:00 PM - 

Roto vs. Head-to-Head (H2H)
Contributed By: Craig Davis

As you begin your fantasy baseball adventure, one decision that might be taxing is whether or not you should play in a basic roto (rotisserie) league or a head-to-head league. You wonder what your best option is. Is it better to participate in an old-school roto-type league where you don’t worry about weekly lineups… or, do you want to play like the fantasy football boys do – week-to-week hoping that your fantasy starting lineup is good enough to get you into the playoffs?

When I say head-to-head, I’m simply referring to a league in which teams face off against each other, usually on a weekly basis. It’s very similar to fantasy football except for the fact that you only win "a point" for beating your opponent in a category like RBI or home runs. Whether you win by one RBI or 21, it’s still only one "point" or "win" for your fantasy squad. Depending on the number of categories your league includes, your fantasy baseball team could end up as good as 10-0 for the week, or, if you have a horrible performance, 0-10.

Consider a head-to-head league the equivalent of 25 or more mini-seasons. It’s not a matter of how your team does over the course of the regular season; it’s how they do week to week. Do they get hot at the right time? Will it matter if your fantasy team hits 5 home runs one week and 25 the next? Do you want consistency or do you want a roller coaster ride? In a rotisserie league, those questions are not asked. In a head-to-head league, you might be "right on" in your projections, and you might have the best fantasy team in your league, but because of some "off weeks", you don’t make the playoffs or you lose in the first round.

In a rotisserie league, projections mean more. Projections are not done on a week-to-week basis; they’re done over the course of the year. Timing is not nearly as important. It doesn’t matter if your team gets 5 wins on Opening Day, right before the All Star Break, or on the last day of the season. It all counts the same… towards your season total. However, in a head-to-head league, if you get 5 wins in the first week of the season but are held without a win in the final week… you’ll get a "W" or a "point" for the wins category in Week 1, but you’ll likely take a loss or not get a "point" in the final week for the wins category. See how that works?

Baseball purists enjoy rotisserie style fantasy baseball, only because it’s the original. It was around long before the head-to-head format was created. However, there is one solid defense for H2H leagues that can’t be said for roto baseball – randomness. Just like real MLB baseball, H2H formats allow the feel of hot and cold streaks. Any MLB team can appear to have the "best team on paper", but if they get cold down the stretch and forget how to hit or pitch or field, they’ll fail to reach the World Series. Trust me, I know. I’m a Yankees fan. In H2H leagues, you can have the best statistical team through Week 23, but your hitters can all get cold at the same time, costing you precious offensive numbers. It could mean the difference between winning and losing the first round of your playoffs… just like real baseball.

Fantasy baseball is great because it can use all sorts of statistical categories, both offensively and defensively. In most leagues, however, the following categories are usually standard:

Hitting

  • Average
  • Home Runs
  • RBI
  • Runs Scored
  • Stolen Bases

Pitching

  • Wins
  • Saves
  • ERA
  • Strikeouts
  • WHIP (Ratio… Walks/Hits per IP)

In a standard 12-team league playing a roto points format, the team that has the most "points" at the end of the day is in first place. Stats are tabulated on a daily basis, and the leaderboard can change drastically on any given day. Points are given based on each team’s ranking for every category. For instance, in this same 12-team league, the most fantasy points one team can receive for each category is 12. The leader at each of the 10 categories gets 12 fantasy points (per stat category). The team with the second best statistics gets 11 fantasy points (per stat category) and so on. So, the team bringing up the rear in each category gets how many fantasy points? If you said, 1, you are catching on.

Let’s look at the table below to better define how roto points scoring works:

TEAM

AVG

HR

RBI

RUNS

SB

WINS

SVS

ERA

K’S

WHIP

PTS.

A

.285/12

45/10

122/6

100/6

27/9

16/9

6/3

3.77/12

88/8

1.66/4

79

B

.277/9

44/9

111/3

102/7

30/11

8/3

12/9

3.89/11

101/12

1.37/11

85

C

.266/6

43/8

150/12

99/5

31/12

20/12

2/1

4.05/2

100/11

1.77/1

70

D

.255/2

42/7

140/11

98/4

29/10

19/11

3/2

4.04/3

95/10

1.72/2

62

E

.257/3

41/6

137/10

110/12

26/8

10/4

7/4

4.03/4

93/9

1.70/3

63

F

.271/7

40/5

136/9

109/11

25/7

7/2

8/5

4.02/5

85/7

1.60/5

63

G

.272/8

47/12

133/8

108/10

24/6

18/10

9/6

4.00/6

84/6

1.55/6

78

H

.261/5

46/11

125/7

107/9

23/5

6/1

10/7

3.94/7

82/5

1.50/7

64

I

.258/4

37/2

118/5

105/8

22/4

15/8

11/8

3.93/8

80/4

1.49/8

59

J

.243/1

38/3

116/4

95/3

21/3

14/7

13/10

4.06/1

79/3

1.44/9

44

K

.280/10

39/4

109/2

94/2

20/2

13/6

14/11

3.91/10

78/2

1.41/10

59

L

.282/11

33/1

108/1

93/1

19/1

12/5

15/12

3.92/9

77/1

1.25/12

54

The numbers to the left side of the slash are the actual stats. The numbers on the right side of the slash is the fantasy points earned for that category. Notice that Team A has the best team batting average (.285). That gives them 12 fantasy points for average. Team J had the worst team batting average (.243) and therefore earned only one fantasy point. However, Team J had 13 saves and got 10 fantasy points for it. Although he was nearly worthless in team batting average, he had good enough closers to draw 10 fantasy points.

As you can tell from the column on the right, Team B leads this league with 85 total fantasy points. Team A is in second with 79, followed by Team G with 78. Team J is bringing up the rear with only 44 fantasy points. The great thing about a roto league, however, is that all these teams still have a shot at the title. If Team C started to get better pitching in his WHIP category and traded for some closers (to get saves), he could instantly move up to third or even second place. There are no playoffs. You play to the bitter end. The final regular season game is the final game of your roto season.

On the other hand, in a H2H league, these same statistical categories are used in a weekly manner. After a week is complete, all the stats from the previous week are erased. They mean nothing. So even if your fantasy squad compiles the best overall stats for the season but ends up playing a very tough H2H schedule, it could mean missing the playoffs or being eliminated in the first round.

For instance, if Team B (best roto team) played Team J in Week 1, it’s feasible that Team J could actually win the week. There are 10 statistical categories. Each category won by a team is considered a win or a "point". So, if Team J ends the week with more HRs, RBI, Runs Scored, SBs, Wins, Saves, and Ks but ends up with less batting average and a worse ERA and WHIP, he wins the week, 7-3. Yeah, that’s right, he beats Mr. Dominant pretty handily. And the great thing (or terrible thing, depending on how you look at it) is that you could actually win 7 categories by just one increment and lose the other three by a large amount and still win the week. Let’s see:

TEAM

AVG.

HR

RBI

RUNS

SB

WINS

SAVES

ERA

Ks

WHIP

TEAM B

.299

10

48

41

7

4

4

2.44

43

0.95

TEAM J

.266

11

49

42

8

5

5

4.55

44

1.45

Notice the domination from Team B in average, ERA, and WHIP. But despite their domination in those categories, it’s still worth only one win. The other categories were all taken by just one increment. HRs was 11-10… it was close, but the win went to Team J. Same with the other stat categories. So after Week 1, the best team in roto baseball (Team B) is trailing pretty heavily, 3-7. If all the other teams play in tight matchups for Week 1, Team B could actually be in last place. Not likely… but very similar to real baseball.

Although H2H leagues are becoming more and more popular, I’m not sure they will ever overtake the popularity of rotisserie baseball. Both have their advantages, but roto baseball rewards more for a complete team that performs well over the course of the season. When drafting a rotisserie team, one must draft well for all categories. If a team focuses on building a team based on hitting but leaves little to be desired in terms of pitching power, that team will find itself in trouble around mid-May. You need to balance your team across the board in order to be competitive. In a H2H league, one can draft a team focused on winning 6 categories every week. The owner can draft a team full of power hitters that score runs, and pretty much guarantee winning three of five hitting categories each week. He doesn’t care as much about stolen bases or average because he knows he can expect big numbers in HR, RBI, and runs. Same goes with pitching. An owner can focus on drafting a bunch of closers (if there are no IP requirements) hoping to win saves, ERA, and WHIP each week. That assures this owner that each week he’ll have a great chance to win 6 of the 10 categories.

So, in closing, it’s completely up to the commissioner and the teams playing in the league whether or not you go to the new H2H format or stay with the traditional rotisserie league. Playoffs are fun and exciting, but do you really crown the best team the champion? Is that even the goal of your league? The choice is yours. Batter up!

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