I am currently taking part in a fantasy baseball league that is based on sabermetrics as well as regular statistics. The goal of the league is to compare two teams’ performances based on the different stats and see how they can match up.
The idea to do a sabermetrics fantasy league was brought up a couple years ago by Vince Gennaro, the President of SABR who also advises MLB teams about how to use sabermetrics. He had some college students who were SABR interns start the league, but my friend Max Melamed and I wanted to see how the league would play out depending on which stats were used for the rosters. Max is a10th grader in New York City at the same school I go to, and he started the first ever SABR sabermetrics Club with other baseball and stats fans and his math teacher as their advisor. One of the other participants, Tom Hoffmeister, is an 11th grade student from Baltimore whom I met last summer at SABR 43 at the baseball card session then caught up with again at this spring’s Analytics conference in Phoenix.
Max, Tom, and I started the draft in April. We ran a Yahoo! league for the regular fantasy league and computed stats for the sabermetrics side using Fantrax stats or Excel worksheets that college students and SABR interns Hunter Gilbertson and Herschel Singer helped us develop.
We ran the league for four weeks and plan to run another one again when school starts in the fall. We are also going to do some research projects based on the results we have and share them through SABR.
"I think that the dual leagues are a great opportunity to compare a player's impact in traditional fantasy baseball to a setting that more closely approximates the real game,” Max says. “It allows us to answer the question: Are the best baseball players also the best fantasy baseball players?"
I had a great time and learned a lot from the league. For example, at one point, my team was in first place in the original stats league, but in sixth out of eight places on the sabermetrics side. This shows how important the regular stats are. I also learned from my third baseman, Nolan Arenado, that players might be good sabermetrically one year, and then be good in both categories the following year. This might also show how much environmental conditions factor in: Arenado plays in Colorado where the thin air makes it easier to hit home runs.
You can check out how everything worked by visiting our league blog. We posted our findings and analyses there, and it’s still open for comments.
Max Mannis is a special correspondent for sikids.com and a member of SABR. Catch his posts on advanced baseball statistics. To learn more about SABR and to join, visit www.sabr.org.