Fantasy Sports: Baseball

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Fantasy baseball might not be as popular as other sports, but it has a lot to offer. It’s fun and you have a good chance to make money. Did you know that fantasy baseball is the very first fantasy sport ever created? Daniel Okrent came up with the rules in the 1970s. Although the rules have changed quite a bit, it set the foundation for not only fantasy baseball but all other fantasy sports too.

The beginning of fantasy baseball

In the early years of fantasy baseball, the stats and categories were much simpler than it is today. In the late ’70s, computers were not advanced so all fantasy stats had to be added manually. Therefore they used a basic format to keep things manageable. Although the rules today are still similar, many different categories and types of fantasy baseball have been added.

The rules

The basics of fantasy baseball are the same for other fantasy sports. You draft a team of players to compete in a league with other participants. Then you start accumulating points depending on your player’s performance. The point system used varies depending on the type of contest that you participate in. Fantasy sites communicate the contest’s conditions beforehand. That means you’ll know the total number of participants, entry fee, prize money and so on.

Types of fantasy baseball

The first important distinction to make in fantasy baseball is whether you want to play a season-long league or a one-off contest. The latter is also called ‘daily fantasy sports’. You’ll find a lot of different daily fantasy baseball options with a variety of entry fees. The same goes for season-long leagues. On some sites, you can start your own league to play with friends. When you’ve decided on the type of league, there are some different options to draft your team. Don’t want to spend a lot of time crafting a line-up? Then you can let the system select one for you. However, many fantasy players are in it because they have good expertise in the sport. In that case, it might be smarter to pick your players manually.

Daily fantasy baseball

Daily fantasy baseball offers many new contests every day. There are contests for different budgets and interests. Fantasy sites communicate the entry fee beforehand, so when you click on a contest you’ll instantly see how much it costs to participate. Entry fees can be as little as $2 to $10, $50 or more. To get a good idea of what a contest offers, make sure you know how many prize winners there will be, what the total prize money is and how many participants the contest has.

How it works

Fantasy sites use similar point systems for baseball, but sometimes it differs a little bit. Make sure you read through the point system, so you know how many points a home run or a single accounts for. Pick those players which you believe perform well in each category. Then make it your mission to put together a well-balanced team of players.

Point System

Fantasy baseball has 3 different point systems. Rotisserie, Points, and Head-to-Head


The most common type of point system in fantasy sports, not just baseball, is rotisserie. This is the traditional name, but sometimes it’s also called categorical. “Traditional” name because this is what Orkent named the point system when he created fantasy baseball. The Roto point system has several categories in which you can earn points. The participant with the highest number of points in most categories wins. In baseball, for example, you will find categories for strikers, hitters and earned runs.


Unlike Rotisserie style, the point system doesn’t divide points into different categories. The principle of the point system simply is: whoever gets the most points wins. You can imagine that the type of players you draft in a point system is quite different from a roto system. That’s because to score well in all categories, instead of just scoring home runs, requires more all-rounders rather than players that excel at one thing.

Head to Head

The head-to-head system can be implemented in either Roto or Point system, its basic principle is that in a league you compete with one person. The person who wins will go on to the next round in the league. Who wins the league is the person with the most wins. The way those wins can be counted is either through points being awarded in categories or just the plain a simple total number of points collected. In baseball, the commonly used format is Roto, so the focused on categories.

League options

As with most other sports, baseball has more than one league. When playing fantasy baseball, that means that before playing you have to decide what league you want to play in. Will you choose the American League or National league, for example? A good way to determine your best fit is, of course, the league and players you have the most knowledge of. Some sites also offer the chance to play in a league that incorporates both leagues. However, it’s not recommended per se. The advantage of sticking to one league is that it’s easier to oversee your options and best picks.

Player picks

When it comes to the number of players to draft in fantasy football, there is a traditional format. That is the one where you have 9 pitchers, 2 catchers, a total of 3 basemen, a shortstop, a middle fielder, a corner infielder, 5 outfielders, one DH (if you play AL) or one utility player (pick any hitter the NL). Then aside from the standard draft, most leagues also allow for back-ups. Usually, that’s a number between 3 and 5. This comes down to picking a total of around 28 players, which is quite a lot. It’s true that fantasy baseball is quite time-consuming in that sense because if you want to craft your team with precision, you need time.

Salary cap

Most fantasy sites allow a salary cap when it comes to the players draft. That exact amount differs per site, but it’s pretty similar. The difficulty with the salary cap is that some players are more expensive than others. So if you make a mock-draft with your favorites that are all-star players, chances are you won’t have the budget for it. Anticipating who you can buy with your budget and your first, second and maybe even third choice is what can set you apart in the draft process. Preparation is key.


Strategy in fantasy baseball differs depending on what point system your league uses, but there are a few general ways to pick hitters and pitchers that always apply.


Winning points in fantasy baseball depend largely on big bats. For that reason when you play fantasy baseball, you’ll want to look out for the good hitters. The 3 most important qualities those players should have is their power, how much discipline they show and how fast they are. Of course, everyone interprets these qualities in different ways, but I’d say generally if we know a little about baseball, we’ll assess it correctly.

Picking hitters

Pick the players who perform most stable in all these 3 categories and you will likely make the correct choices to enhance your team. Pay attention to the stats fantasy sites give out for baseball players. But be cautious not to be misled or too impressed with plain batting average. Just high stats here for a player essentially won’t mean much for their overall performance. The quality of the statistics fantasy sites give out today are accurate and detailed, but only useful if you know how to differentiate between a useful and a useless stat.


When picking your pitchers, look at the following 3 things. Their ability to earn strikeouts, allowing a low number of long balls and their value as starting or relief role. When you do your research about which pitcher to pick, the stat numbers of each of these categories is particularly relevant.