Instead of doing your basic 5X5 Roto league or using the standard fantasy point system, I thought we should come up with something that reflects our current interest in advanced baseball statistics. Sabermetrics, if you prefer. The idea behind the league is to come as close as possible to replicating the results of two of my favorite advanced statistics, wOBA and FIP. Why wOBA and FIP? Because they are the two main components used for WAR (Wins Above Replacement), which is a value-driven stat on sites like Fangraphs or Baseball-Reference. What are they? Well...
wOBA stands for Weighted On-Base Average. It was originally invented by uber-sabermetician Tom Tango*, and it attempts to measure a hitter's overall value by placing weights on each specific offensive event. Basically, the idea behind it is that doubles are worth more than singles, triples are worth more than doubles and home runs are worth more than triples. Seems obvious, but it's something that is totally missing in both Batting Average and regular old On-Base Percentage. The weights change each year slightly based upon league averages, but for 2011 the formula for wOBA that FanGraphs uses is:
wOBA = (0.69×uBB + 0.72×HBP + 0.89×1B + 1.26×2B + 1.60×3B +
2.08×HR + 0.25×SB -0.50×CS) / PA
2.08×HR + 0.25×SB -0.50×CS) / PA
So a single is worth slightly more than an unintentional walk or a hit-by-pitch, and then you see the weights for doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases. Everything is then divided by plate appearances and you get an average that has a relation to the old OBP. A player with a .400 wOBA is a top-tier guy. .370 is great, .340 is above-average, .320 is average, .300 is poor, etc...
The challenge became translating that formula into a point structure. I think I've accomplished that by assigning positive point values to BB, HBP, H, 2B, 3B, HR and SB. Then negative point values are assigned for AB (to represent outs created) and CS. The results pretty closely mirror the wOBA leader-board from last year. I'm still in the process of tweaking it, and I have a friend helping out. But I think it's pretty close.
FIP stands for Fielding Independent Pitching. It measures what a pitcher's ERA should look like over a given period of time assuming performance on balls in play and timing were league average. The idea is that balls in play (calculated as Batting Average on Balls in Play, or BABIP) can swing wildly from one season to another for a given pitcher, and it might not be the fault of the pitcher at all. Luck and the fielders playing behind him are big reasons for the fluctuations. So we should try to measure a pitcher's effectiveness by measuring what they can control. And those things are walks, strikeouts and home runs. Mostly. Here's the 2011 formula for FIP on Fangraphs:
FIP = ((13*HR)+(3*(BB+HBP-IBB))-(2*K))/IP + constant
So pitchers are penalized, heavily, by the home runs they give up and walks (netted of intentional walks) and how often they hit batters. Then they are given credit for strikeouts and the innings that they pitch (or the outs they get). The constant at the end changes yearly, and it's for bringing the formula into a more recognizable ERA form. This one was a little more difficult to translate into a point structure for a league, but I think I came close. You'll notice that there are no points awarded for Wins, Losses or Earned Runs. Those are "team" statistics that are often over-valued in the traditional world of baseball statistics. So we are going to ignore them in this league. I am going to throw a bone to closers by awarding points for Saves, but I'm not happy about it. Saves, as a statistic, suck. But a concession must be made, so...
So it's going to be a bit more complex, and hopefully rewarding, than your traditional fantasy baseball league. If the three of you (RW, Paticus and Sybil Law) who were initially interested in joining the league are still interested, I will follow up with you via email. If this scared you off, well...I understand. There are going to be a handful of stat geeks in the league, if the folks who download our radio show is any indication. So it should be competitive. I still want it to be a free league, with maybe a prize of some apple pie moonshine for the winner, but we will discuss that as well.
So exciting!!! More to follow...
*Tom Tango is actually a pseudonym for either a single man or several baseball analysts. Not really sure about that. His site is really interesting, though. You should check it out.