How We Play Fantasy Baseball

9TH_Bryce_Harper

Let the games begin!

The SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League isn’t necessarily unique. In fact, the league settings and rules are pretty standard. But each year, as you enter a new fantasy baseball season, it’s prudent to remind yourself how we play this game.

It starts with each team designating five players from last year’s roster as “keepers” for this season. This provides the league with some season-to-season consistency. I know that when I play Eric Brown’s team, I’ll be facing Mike Trout. We designate keepers in mid-March. The deadline to designate keepers for the 2017 season is Sunday, March 19 at 5pm.

The other 21 players on your team will be drafted at the end of March in an online draft conducted on Yahoo. This is the penultimate event of the fantasy baseball season. You can draft your players or you can allow Yahoo to draft your players. At this point in the season, you can still talk trash because you haven’t lost a game.

This year, the Major League Baseball regular season begins on Sunday, April 2. Each week during the regular season, you’ll face an opponent in a one-week series that normally starts on Monday and ends the following Sunday. You need to set your starting lineup prior to the first pitch of the first MLB game each week. Once the first pitch is thrown to start the week, rosters are frozen and the players in your lineup are the only ones that can score for your team.

You’ll “win” or “lose” each of the six hitting categories (Runs, RBI, Strikeouts, OPS, Net Stolen Bases, Plate Appearances) and six pitching categories (Innings Pitched, ERA, WHIP, K/9, Quality Starts, and Net Saves/Holds). Your place in the standings is determined by how many categories you win or lose over the course of the season. As an example, if you win three hitting categories and four pitching categories your record for the week will be 7-5.

You play every team in the league once, but you play your division rivals three times. Week One is a Rivalry Week. You’ll open the season against your biggest rival, who you’ll face four times during the season.

The four division winners qualify for the playoffs along with the four teams with the best records that weren’t division winners. Teams are seeded in the playoffs with the top seed playing the #8 seed in the opening round and so on.

As general manager, you control your team’s 26-man roster. Each week, you can replace underperforming players with up to three free agents. You can add up to 40 free agents over the course of the season. We use “continuous” waivers, which are explained here. You can make an unlimited number of trades with other teams but you can’t trade future draft choices. The final day to make trades is Aug. 14. If you believe a trade is unfair, you can vote against it. We’ve never had a trade vetoed in the history of the league.

There is a strategy to using the waiver wire. You can add hitters with favorable matchups or two-start pitchers to maximize your innings pitched. Your bench is a revolving door during the season. ESPN, CBS and other sites have weekly previews that can be valuable “scouting” tools.

Each week, I’ll write a preview using Baseball Monster projections for each series. The projections establish a favorite for each series, but, as long-time general managers can attest, a hot hitter or pitcher can change everything. The anomalies make the game fun.

Above all else, the narrative makes the game fun. You are encouraged to participate in the banter on email, Facebook, or Twitter. I’ll post daily Facebook posts highlighting the previous day’s best player, injuries, or Bartolo Colon losing his batting helmet on a wild swing. The best owners aren’t measured by wins and losses, they’re measured by their willingness to contribute to the narrative.

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