It’s no secret that I’ve been smitten by the daily fantasy baseball format. While I admit the format isn’t for everybody, I’m a bit taken aback by some of the comments I have heard and read about the game – some of which was in personal correspondence.
Cutting to the chase, the primary issue is how much luck is involved with daily fantasy baseball. There have been multiple contentions that it’s gambling and not fantasy baseball with some even claiming they are insulted that their sacred game has to share the name with such non-worthy variant.
As my compadre likes to say, chill out – it’s a game based on a game.
But it really is more than that. Equating daily fantasy with gambling is at minimum myopic with some bridging into an elitist arrogance. Honestly, I’m quite surprised with some of the comments I’ve read on various message forums and heard in conversation.
Maybe I’m the one that is naïve because I’m having a modicum of success and am justifying my participation. Not that I need to justify it, it’s just that some are questioning that I am now writing a lot more about daily and prefer I stick to traditional fantasy.
Here’s my take. Distilled down to its core, both daily and traditional fantasy entail predicting then quantifying player expectation. In traditional fantasy, the currency is auction dollars or a draft round. In the daily game, it’s a salary set by the site. The bottom line is the same analytic methods used in traditional fantasy are apropos for daily.
When I’m looking at a pitcher to use in my daily lineup, I look at the same strikeout and walk rates I use when projecting for the year-long games. I compare the hurler’s real ERA to his expected ERA to find options that are underpriced since most sites set the salary based on outcomes. I look at hit rate to find unlucky pitchers that other may avoid. Again – the same metrics are evaluated.
The same idea holds true for hitters. Unlucky batters are likely to be underpriced. Everything that goes into evaluating player performance for six month goes into researching players for use that night in daily.
For the sake of argument, let’s say I’ve convinced some proponents the above is true. The follow-up will no doubt be something like…
“That’s all well and good, but the success rate of projecting a season’s worth of performance is much greater than predicting out performance for one day. Projecting a sample as small as a day is almost luck. Therefore winning at daily fantasy is almost all luck.”
Look, I’m not going to deny that luck plays a major role in deciding daily contests – it does. But you know what? It also has a significant influence on the result of year-long contests, just ask those that picked up Jose Fernandez last year. And don’t even pretend you thought he’d be that good.
There’s no doubt that in order to take down a large entry tournament you’re going to need to hit on a player or two that has a highlight reel night. But without a supporting cast that does their job, the surprise production that game would have gone to waste.
Hmmm – sounds just like the dynamic of the sacred traditional format.
An argument to which I do concur is volume playing is an unfortunate repercussion of daily games. As I’ve admitted, there’s more variance in daily games. One way to mitigate the variance is to play in multiple contests– and by multiple I mean hundreds a night.
I understand this feeds into the gambling narrative and I have no retort. A major element of daily games is bankroll management with the underlying understanding odds and probability. Entering a team into a daily contest definitely has a betting feel when you take this aspect into consideration.
But I ask, what’s wrong with that? Seriously, why is this an issue? So it’s not baseball. Is being a good trader baseball? (Insert the high stakes arena and my league doesn’t allow trading here.) There are skills other than “knowing baseball” necessary to compete in the traditional format. And there are skills other than knowing baseball that are part and parcel to the daily format.
I realize some are not going to get over the perceived luck and gambling element of daily fantasy sports.
I just don’t get some of the vitriol. If you don’t like a TV show, you don’t watch. If you don’t like a song, you change the station. If you don’t like some food, you don’t eat it.
If you don’t like daily fantasy baseball, don’t play.