The league’s scoring categories have changed slightly over the past six years but the emphasis remains the same – the scoring system should accurately reflect the modern game of baseball.
Runs Scored, RBI, and Strikeouts have remained consistent hitting categories since the league was formed in 2010. In that first year, we also used On-base Percentage and Stolen Bases.
After analyzing the league for three years, we determined that hitters were overvalued compared to pitchers and we made changes. We added a category to penalize batters who hit into double plays and we changed stolen bases to net stolen bases. The changes helped level the value between hitters and pitchers.
Two years later, we made another minor change to the hitting scoring categories by replacing GIDP with plate appearances. The league’s owners felt the GIDP was too random and some owners were leaving the second catcher position on their roster empty to avoid double plays and strikeouts. Plate Appearances elevated the importance of the second catcher.
The pitching categories have changed once in six years. In 2014, the Strikeout category was replaced by K/9. This helped elevate the importance of relief pitchers, which play a big role in today’s game.
While slight changes have been made, the goal of the scoring system is to reflect the modern game of baseball. Starting pitchers that go deep into games are valuable but championship teams must have a bullpen that can protect a lead in the late innings. Hitters must possess a command of the strike zone, base running acumen, and power to all fields. Here is a list of the league’s current scoring categories.
Plate Appearances – This category rewards players that stay healthy and hit higher in the lineup. Pitches per plate appearance would be preferable but that scoring category isn’t currently offered on Yahoo!
Runs Scored – Scoring runs is the primary objective in baseball. Rewarding players that score often makes sense.
Runs Batted In – Yes, the RBI is a flawed stat, rewarding players on good teams with regular opportunities to drive in runs. But it also measures clutch hitting. Not every hitter is capable of taking advantage of the opportunities.
OPS (On-Base Percentage + Slugging Percentage) – This measures a hitter’s ability to both reach base and hit for power. It’s possibly the best statistical measure for a hitter’s success.
Strikeouts – A strikeout is one of the worst outcomes for a hitter. By putting the ball in play, a hitter at least has a chance to reach base. In our attempt to equalize the fantasy value of hitters and pitchers to better reflect the Major Leagues, we needed a negative stat for hitters. Striking out is one of the worst outcomes for batters.
Net Stolen Bases – About six years ago, this stat began gaining momentum in the fantasy baseball community. A study by James Click illustrated that if a player, on average, isn’t able to steal successfully about 73 percent of the time, the stolen base attempt isn’t worth it. Not penalizing a player who is caught stealing now seems antiquated.
Innings Pitched – The ability of a starting pitcher to pitch deep into a game saves his team’s bullpen. Because lineups are set weekly in this league, teams can’t stream starting pitchers to accumulate more innings thus it makes sense to reward a workhorse on the mound. Veteran right-hander Scott Feldman recently told FanGraphs that the best statistic to assess starting pitchers is Innings Pitched.
Quality Starts – There is plenty of debate in fantasy baseball circles regarding this stat but it works in this league. Completing six innings while giving up three or fewer runs isn’t as easy as it seems.
Net Saves/Holds – Major League managers are using bullpens differently in today’s game. Over the last century, the average number of innings a Major League starting pitcher throws has fallen significantly. Today, pitchers average less than six innings per start. Bullpens are protecting leads for longer periods and setup men often face the highest leverage situations in the seventh or eighth inning.
Walks + Hits Per Innings Pitched (WHIP) – Many baseball statisticians consider WHIP a more accurate indicator of a pitcher’s worth than the traditional ERA. Major League catcher Tyler Flowers sums it up well. “Limiting the number of opportunities for runs to score per inning seems like a good measuring stick for pitchers as a whole.”
Earned Run Average (ERA) – This is one of the oldest stats used to measure pitching success and it’s still valuable. This is what Clayton Kershaw told FanGraphs when asked to name the best stat to evaluate pitchers. “I feel like innings pitched are important because if you’re pitching deep into the game, that’s good, but the only way you’re doing that is if you’re not giving up runs, and ERA shows that.”
Strikeouts per Nine Innings (K/9) – A pitcher’s effectiveness is largely measured by how good he is at striking out batters. Starting pitchers benefit more if this is a counting stat while relievers receive a boost when it is turned into a rate stat. Because Innings Pitched already favors starters, we use the rate stat.