How I lost my first fantasy baseball league

Streaming.  I hate it and have hated it since I realized such a strategy could exist.

In fantasy baseball, pitchers get five stats: wins, Ks, ERA, WHIP and saves.  Saves are a stat exclusive to closers and not relevant to streaming.  This leaves 4 categories that pitchers compete in.  Two of them are averages and two can be accumulated through sheer mass.

Pitchers pitch once every five days, meaning they can only get Ks and wins once every five days.  Streaming is a strategy where you have very few ownable pitchers and you drop them every day in exchange for pitchers pitching that day.  Basically, it is a strategy for people who have terrible pitching.  Terrible pitching should be rewarded with terrible point totals…right?  Isn’t that what fantasy baseball is all about?  Getting the best players and winning a league?  Wrong.

A team without “good” pitchers can’t possibly be the best team in the league.  If your pitching staff has a high number of free agents, you don’t deserve to do well.  Hypothetically, a team with Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Chris Carpenter, C.C. Sabathia and Josh Beckett could get less points than a motley crew of such pitching forces as Kevin Correia, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Nick Blackburn and Fausto Carmona.

By having pitchers pitch every day, streamers basically automatically win wins and Ks.  While the quality of the pitching is low, the other two categories are averages, so they don’t automatically preclude streamers from points.  Last year, YankeeHater realized his pitching was subpar and began streaming.  He ended up winning the league, giving me my first fantasy loss ever.  Team Cy Young did the same thing, finishing 4th with a bad team.  Both teams finished with 9 or 10 points in Ks and wins, only losing to each other.  Neither finished lower than 6th in either of the average categories.  Jabula is already applying this strategy this year (YankeeHater and Team Cy Young at least had the self-respect to wait until the second half)  While this takes a modicum of skill to pick the best pitchers on a given day, it is a strategy best relegated to amateur fantasy circles.  The goal of fantasy baseball is to have the best team win.  Any strategy that does not allow this is one that should be regulated.

There are multiple solutions to the problem of streaming.  One is a weekly league.  This is not a good option.  Weekly leagues often lead to apathy among owners who don’t follow their team as often.

The best solution is an innings cap on teams.  No team should have pitchers throw more than, say, 1800 innings.  This would ensure that every team had to own a consistent roster of pitchers instead of just owning members of the free agent pool who happened to be pitching on a given day.

Comment with your thoughts on streaming…are you ok with the fact the best team might not win the league?

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jay Bee on April 20, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Sir, why 1800? Doing a little bit of quick math, if you factor in extra inning games and you want a nice round number, let’s round up and say a MLB team will play approximately 1500 innings a season (the league average is ~1444). If you want to eliminate the possibility of streaming and really want to emulate a typical baseball team through fantasy baseball through an innings cap, I’d say the innings cap should be closer to that number and then have the league settings where you have 5 starters and 6-7 relievers. I’m not saying that this is the way to go, it would sure be interesting though, but it’s just a thought.


  2. Posted by Holgash on April 20, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    I actually agree with this. I think an 1800 or 1900 innings cap would be good, it would prevent streaming which is kind of annoying.


  3. Posted by Patrick O'Keefe on April 20, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    This is actually how I WON my first fantasy baseball league. I have the pleasure to say that I thought of the concept completely independent of any outside sources, deployed the strategy, and consistently and methodically ripped apart every team thereafter (my infield was Teixeira, Utley, A-Rod and Hanley, traded Adrian Gonzalez for Teixeira at this magical time last year exactly when Teixeira went nuts and Gonzo went impotent), quickly lost friends and was the basis for massive controversy, at which point our commish almost ended the league due to all the little babies gripping and crying over it.


  4. Posted by Jeff from College Park on April 21, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Can’t say I hate it. I mean, it is strategy (actually, more of a loop hole). But to emulate a real team, I agree there should be a cap (on a different note, the O’s may actually get better if they streamed pitching). Also, I have Halladay, Lincecum, Garza, Lester, and co. on my pitching staff and a nice stable of closers. So I guess this year they should definitely spontaneously adopt a cap.

    And admit it, you lost because you had Mets (wait, already a topic of another post) and Nick had ridiculous HR power.

    Collin and Ethan, this blog is wonderful, with such witty sarcasm and posts like “Scutaro for $15” (ahh, that was a great moment). ESPN (or another wealthy source) should discover you and pay you to write, kind of like the next Bill Simmons.


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