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Home : Fantasy : Perspectives

Fantasy Judgment - The Commish Speaks

Fantasy Baseball - Rotisserie is Meant for Chicken

September 16, 2009
Author: Michael Stein

Rating: 5.6 out of 10
Total votes: 11

Any fantasy sports enthusiast owes a debt of gratitude to Daniel Okrent, a magazine editor who is credited with inventing Rotisserie League Baseball in 1980.  The name is derived from a New York restaurant called La Rotisserie Francaise where Okrent and some colleagues would meet to participate in fantasy baseball’s infancy.  Originally, the concept was where the league owners would draft Major League Baseball players and utilize their statistics to compile scores during the course of the season.  And that was the birth of fantasy sports.


In the fantasy baseball world, there are generally two types of leagues you can participate in – Rotisserie (“Roto”) or Head-to-Head (“H2H”).  While both are considered fantasy games, they are oceans apart when it comes to being close to baseball reality.  And this is where I conclude my homage to Mr. Okrent and Rotisserie Baseball – your efforts are much appreciated.


In a Roto league, fantasy teams are ranked from first to last in each of several statistical categories, including, but not limited to: batting average, homeruns, RBI’s, runs scored, and stolen bases, wins, saves, ERA, strikeouts, and WHIP (walks + hits per inning pitched).  Each fantasy team receives points in each category based on how they rank in the league. Each team's category points are totaled to determine their overall rotisserie score.  Rotisserie standings reflect cumulative season stats and not any single-day accumulation of stats.  Your rotisserie total may rise or fall from day-to-day depending on how your rank in each category was impacted by the addition of stats from the most recently completed day.


On the other hand, a H2H league has demarcated weeks which run from Monday – Sunday where players’ statistics for an unlimited number of categories is calculated based on a point value system.  Teams play one on one against each other, and by the end of the week, the team with the higher accumulation of total points wins.


So why am I dumping all over Roto leagues?  It is really quite simple – when Juan Pierre, Michael Bourn and Scott Podsednik are considered valuable fantasy baseball players, then something is seriously wrong.  Because there are only a limited number of categories to win in a Roto league, people tend to hype up stolen bases and salivate over the players who provide them.  In reality, Pierre, Bourn and Podsednik are marginal starters at best and more likely 4th outfielders.  They have no extra-base power and have questionable plate discipline. 


I have run an 18-team H2H fantasy baseball league since 1999.  Each team has a roster of 22 players.  That means that 396 players were drafted this year.  Guess what…Pierre, Bourn and Podsednik remained on the waiver wire after the draft.  That is because they have no value in a points league, which is more representative of a player’s worth and value than in a Roto league.  Sure, Albert Pujols is the undisputed #1 pick in any format.  But that is where the similarities end. 


Another example of why H2H leagues are better because they are more representative of real baseball is batter strikeouts.  In Roto leagues, there are no negative points.  There is no accountability for players when they strikeout.  In comparison, H2H leagues usually have a statistic for negative points when a player strikes out.  So, players like Adam Dunn and Mark Reynolds have polar opposite values in Roto leagues compared to H2H leagues.  In a Roto league, people only care about the 40+ homeruns that they hit.  They may even be a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick.  However, in a H2H league, their 200+ strikeouts could mean -200 points over the course of a season.  In my league, a homerun is worth 5 points.  If Dunn and Reynolds each hit 40 homeruns and strikeout 200 times, do the math – the net result is 0.  That is much more representative of their own value within the ambit of Major League Baseball – free swinging sluggers who are all or nothing. 


One last gripe about Roto leagues is that just about all of the fantasy baseball magazines and websites that exist are geared towards Roto leagues and values.  I understand that Roto leagues came first, but there needs to be more consideration for H2H leagues.  I cannot rely on magazines or websites to help evaluate players before I draft because the rankings don’t take into consideration all of the stat categories that are encompassed in a H2H league – batter strikeouts, caught stealing, multi-hit games, earned runs allowed, losses, blown saves, grand slams, cycles, no hitters, etc. 


If you want your fantasy baseball experience to be more representative of real baseball, then try a H2H points league.  You will find that your managerial experience is much more rewarding when you can evaluate players for what they really are as opposed to pigeon-holing yourself into five lame categories. 

If you need any advice or assistance in resolving any issues within your fantasy league, please visit or email me at

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