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We ran two polls in the past week to understand in which types of leagues that Razzball readers will be playing in 2012. We got an overwhelming response (2,500 total responses between the two polls).

The volume of the response wasn’t the only surprise.  Other surprises include:

  • Only about 15% of Razzpondents plan on playing in a MLB league with 15, 16, 18, or 20 teams.  We expected more.  It must be that the people in those league formats disproportionately comment.
  • More Razzballers use Yahoo (and its default roster format) vs. ESPN and is a very close 3rd.  We like and use all three services (and have used a few of the smaller ones too) but assumed a higher percentage were using the classic roster standard used by ESPN (C/1B/2B/SS/3B/5 OF/CI/MI/UTIL/9 P).  I’ll have a post this pre-season on how ESPN vs. Yahoo roster formats impact player rankings/values and will produce Point Shares for both the ESPN and Yahoo format.  (I’ll also note the impact of 1 catcher vs. 2 catchers).
  • The biggest surprise was how many Razzpondents play non-5×5 formats.  Only 47% play 5×5 and several stats (OPS, OBP, Holds, Quality Starts) are used in at least one league for over 20% of you.  We’re thinking about how we can tailor our content to better reflect this breadth in categories.  (FWIW, I prefer 5×5.  I know the sabermetric flaws in just about every hitting stat but I don’t find using additional or alternate stats are any more fun.  And I haven’t found a 6th pitching stat that I like…)
  • We knew Head-to-Head was popular (and we play in a Yahoo!-sponsored expert H2H) but we were surprised that H2H edges Roto as the most popular format amongst Razzballers for their fantasy baseball leagues.

See below for all the survey results:

From Around The Web

  1. JR Ewing says:

    I’d like to request a formal investigation into the role hanging chads played in the low number of 5×5 format votes.

    I would also like to propose that instead of counting the actual votes the tabulation be for the number of Quality ballots or for xFielding Independent Votes, which apparently are more important than actual votes these days.

    • @JR Ewing, Shocker that someone using a Dallas alias would invent a greater drama/conspiracy around our poll :) I suppose I could’ve put a field in there for commenter username which would then let me weight the data based on # of comments and……oh well, maybe for the 2013 poll…

  2. shibboleth says:

    Hey Rudy, thanks for this. I love analyzing survey results almost as much as I love analzying Shandler. I seem to have a problem with the iframe, though.

    FYI, though you surely already tried it, but my leaguemates finally settled on 6×6 (OBP/SLG, QS/Holds). So far, so good!

  3. T.J. says:

    I’m in a Yahoo! 6×6 (R and OPS, K and QS), 16-team MLB league. Middle relievers are almost totally worthless, and closers are only slightly less worthless. It overcorrects for the 4×4 emphasis on closers and middle relievers.

    • @T.J., but who doesn’t love closer and middle relievers! I like adding OPS in that it weighs down the value of SB which feels overstated.

  4. mauledbypandas says:

    My main league runs 7×7 OBP and OPS (redundant much) and QS instead of wins adding K/9 and K/BB which adds a nice balance factor.

    Though 5×5 is good enough for me. Surprised how many Yahoo users there are. I didn’t care for their site much when I played there.

    • @mauledbypandas, Peer pressured into 7×7. Sounds like maybe OBP was a gateway stat. The only thing I don’t like at Yahoo! is that you can’t adjust the position eligibility limit – I like 20 more than 10.

  5. Raj says:

    I’m in a head-to-head, points league – which means I have two answers to the scoring format question. That question may have revealed more accurate results if split into two questions. First question: weekly head to head v. full season roto. Second question: stat categories or points. Just something to consider if you run a similar poll next year. Keep up the good work!

    • @Raj, Yup, it’s a good point. I have the raw responses so could see if H2H players have different league rules vs Roto players. I could see that H2H would skew more towards points. I didn’t want people who play in multiple formats to have to fill each format out individually though….

  6. Miguel says:

    My league was 16 and now it’s a 14 team H2H keeper league 12×12 format and one of the things we’re always discussing/fighting about is how “expert opinion” should be taken with a grain of salt because the majority of the ranks are for 5×5 leagues where 20% of the offensive and pitching numbers are SB/SV which I consider weak and one dimensional stats.

    Our league cats are as follow:

    AB – R – H – HR – RBI – SB – BB – K – TB – AVG – OBP – SLG

    IP – W – L – SV – ER – BB – K – HLD – ERA – WHIP – K/9 – QS

    Would love to see some rankings for different type of leagues, I know it’s hard to cater to all type of leagues but it’s cool you are at least thinking about it. Keep up the good work guys.

  7. My favorite league uses these stats – R/H/HR/RBI/SB/BA/OBP/SLG & W/S/K/ERA/WHIP/K:BB

    Probably excessive, but when you devote a good chunk of your life to imaginary sports, excessive isn’t a concern.

    • The Talented Mr. Dope Man says:

      @ChrisV82, so that’s an 8×6 then? Really de-values any pitchers.

      • @The Talented Mr. Dope Man, Oops, my bad, I forgot Quality Starts

  8. The Talented Mr. Dope Man says:

    am i the only one that is confused as to why the %’s don’t total to 100%?

    Question # 1 = 137%
    Question # 2 = 132%
    Question # 3 = 116%
    Question # 4 = 131%
    Question # 5 = 225%
    Question # 6 = 126%

    • JoeC says:

      @The Talented Mr. Dope Man, Because the survey allowed people to choose more than 1 option. So I could be in a 4×4 league and also in a 5×5 league, for example.

      • The Talented Mr. Dope Man says:

        @JoeC, perfect that makes sense…

  9. Matt says:

    My league switched to 6×6 with OPS and Holds a few years ago. We were 12 teams last year but we’re back to my preferred number of 13 for 2012. Twenty-five man rosters. We have one Util spot but there are no CI/MI spots and the OF spots are position specific LF, CF, RF.

    I think that a fringe benefit of Holds is that you need to allot roster space to the non-closing bullpen players. And those top setup guys get to be coveted and are even traded for. We currently use ESPN. Still miss the good days of TSN, though.

    • TheNewGuy says:

      @Matt, Me too man me too…sportingnews rocked.

    • TheNewGuy says:

      @Matt, Me too man…sportingnews rocked.

  10. The Talented Mr. Dope Man says:

    BTW. I’m a 5×5 guy myself, but would greatly prefer QS over Wins for a pitching category (although it’s almost impossible to make a change).

    • @The Talented Mr. Dope Man, QS would save the grief of getting my starter’s win blown by the bullpen….but then you miss out on the sweet sweet vulture win by one of your relievers!

  11. Hats For Bats says:

    @Rudy – i notice most non 5×5 leagues like HOLDS. I would love to see a more detailed piece on middle relievers. In my 12 team league, most teams have 2-3 holds guys (extended SAGNOF). Thus the league drafts about 30 middle relievers. Can we get a ranking based on projected holds and explanations of whom to expect getting the most opportunities?

    • @Hats For Bats, I’ll kick that one to Grey. Seems like there’d be some appetite for a MR Report like we do for a Closer Repor.t. Maybe it’s the Hold Me report as that segways nicely into Closer…

      • Steve says:

        @Rudy Gamble, If memory serves, Smokey did some rankings for Holds guys last year,…

        • @Steve, Smokey was on(to) something!

      • Hats For Bats says:

        @Rudy Gamble, Hold Me Closer should be the name of it

  12. ashtonkorver says:

    We run 6X6 roto TB/OBP/R/HR/RBI/SB & QS/ERA/WHIP/K/HLD/SV, we also have a secondary round robin tourney during the last quarter of the season. It helps maintain interest and limits sandbagging because money can be won in both formats.

    QS limits overvaluing MRs, we have honed this over many years and it really seems to do the trick.

    • @ashtonkorver, Seems like a solid group of stats. The hitting is definitely more representative of real offensive performance and I kind of like TB vs. SLG to reward active owners who max ABs. Get QS over W – as i mentioned in another post, I think it’s like being on Valium compared to the mood swings that come with Wins (Vulture! Blown Save – grr!)

  13. Fitz says:

    Interesting that more people are playing H2H and yet almost every fantasy baseball blog/help is geared towards Roto.

    • JoeC says:

      @Fitz, I think that’s because most FB experts are fanatics. And there’s nothing more fanatical than roto scoring with daily lineup changes.

      Head-to-head is interesting in its own right, but it requires nowhere near the time nor the amount of obsessiveness that roto does.

      To each their own though.

    • 3FingersBrown says:

      @Fitz, I’m surprised by that. From reading the interwebs I figured Roto was still more popular. I play in both but I prefer the twists and turns of a H2H campaign. I’d heart seeing more H2H content.

      Nothing like a weekly matchup coming down to the wire to make an otherwise meaningless Sunday night ESPN game entertaining.

      @Rudy, Nice work with the poll. It’s cool to see you guys put a lot of thought into finding out what the readers want. Just one more reason why Razzball is the champagne of fantasy baseball sites.

      More OBP talk would be bomb.

    • chata says:


      i can understand ‘why’ all the cbs points-league players
      are looking elsewhere for their information .

  14. JBoy says:

    If youre thinking about adding a Pitching Category… Quality Starts is the way to go. Love it!

  15. Fitz says:

    I understand that and I get that Roto is thought of as the standard for Fantasy Baseball . Roto seems to be the more pure form of FB where H2H embraces the idea of some luck coming into play. Also, you have results measured in a week to week basis against just one opponent rather than simultaneously facing off against all 12 people in your league and adding it all up at the end of the year and whomever stands on top wins. I can see how some would think it takes more skill or expertise to come out on top in Roto than H2H and in some aspects I agree. I however prefer H2H and have always been in daily leagues and would consider myself to be quite fanatical as I’m sure most everyone who visits this site does the same regardless of which format. I also understand that in general those who play FB without the die hard attitude that most on this blog share tend to favor H2H.

    • @Fitz, I like H2H but my issue w/ it is the same as w/ Fantasy Football – I hate the luck involved w/ the playoffs. If I was in a money H2H league, I’d want the regular season champ to get maybe half the pot and the other half to the playoff winners.

      • Rabbit says:

        @Rudy Gamble, I just replied to another post by 3FingersBrown and Steve B below that laid out my reasons for muchly preferring roto over H2H. The luck element is key to my dissatisfaction with H2H–in my football fantasy league this past season my team had the best power ranking throughout the season, and actually maintained that top ranking through the end of the playoffs, but I lost in the semis to another team that had its best showing (by far) of the entire season against me that week (including getting 39 points from its defense). I find that really frustrating and it detracts from the game–and if I were on the other side (the lucky team), I wouldn’t find that result particularly gratifying, because it was dumb luck, not any great move or strategy by me, that gave me the win.

        This issue reminds me of the reason I found duplicate bridge to be the best card game there is. (And no, I’m not 75 years old–I played bridge with friends in college, and one summer a college buddy and I played duplicate in a local club–we were 20 years old, and the next yougest people were about 65. But they sure knew how to play cards.) In duplicate, you have numerous tables, and the cards for each table are dealt out at the beginning of the night, and the cards stay the same throughout the night for the table. Each team moves from table to table, so that you play different cards each hand, but–and here’s the key–you play the same cards that other bridge teams played either earlier or later that night. At the end of the night, your score is determined by whether you did better–or worse–than other teams playing the same hand. So if you made “game” with one hand, and no other team did, you got the most points. The key is that it took luck out of the equation–with most card games if you get dealt a lucky hand you can beat a better player, but with duplicate you play the same hand as everyone else, so it’s totally about the skill, and nothing about luck. To me, that’s what makes an interesting game, and that’s why H2H can never be as good as roto–too much luck.

        Because Razzball is about getting more and better infomration than the other guy, and is not about just getting lucky, I’d suggest you guys keep focusing on roto rather that H2H.

        • 3FingersBrown says:

          @Rabbit, I’m not saying one style is better than another, simply that I enjoy H2H more – precisely for the reasons you dislike it. In sports, luck is a big part of any championship team. Ask the Super Bowl champion NY Giants or last year’s Cardinals.

          While there is luck involved (I have a secret – there’s luck involved with roto too: ask anyone who drafted say Ryan Zimmerman last year) in H2H, there are also different strategies involved which make for a different style of play. That’s exactly why I believe Razzball should cover H2H more – as you said “more and better information.”

          For the same reason you play Bridge, I play Texas Hold ‘Em and dabble at the dice table. I like to gamble. That said, in ’09 and ’10 I won back to back championships in a competitive 12-team H2H keeper league. Last year I lost in the finals. In 5 years in the league, I’ve never failed to make the playoffs. Tell me it doesn’t take some kind of skill to consistently succeed in a competitive H2H league. I dare you. I double-dog dare you!

          Anyway, that’s my rant. Razzball is the king of fantasy sports sites regardless of what formats you cover!

  16. SwaggerJackers says:

    Another good question would be daily lineup changes versus weekly. I’ve been in several weekly leagues in the past but last year in the RCL was the first time I participated in a daily league.

    Also, waiver types would be interesting. I used free agent dollars last year for the first time. Everyone started with $1000 and the default bid was $0.

  17. SwaggerJackers says:

    Adding OBP and QS projections would be awesome by the way.

    • Eddy says:


      I wouldn’t think anything too drastic changes with QS. The good pitchers just get better, with a few rare mediocre ones getting a large boost (Mark Buerhle, Tim Hudson, Wandy, Dempster).

      Not going to lie, QS in place of W makes you miss those rogue RP wins that’d win you a week in H2H.

      • SwaggerJackers says:

        @Eddy, You lose just as many matchups with those rogue RP wins too……

  18. Eddy says:

    I’d have to say that OBP over AVG is the first step for those wanting a little change. I changed it for my H2H league last year and many were reluctant. In the end, however, everyone loved it.

    Best way to champion OBP? It doesn’t render HBP and BBs useless like AVG does. Now players who walk are rewarded a lot more. Off the top of my head the only player who doesn’t benefit from this change is Adam Jones, who normally has around a .280 AVG but a .310 OBP. I’m sure there are others, but it’s different.

    It also adds massive value to other players. Teixeira has a .363 OBP int he last three years, with .341 in 2011 being his lowest in a long time. Those in AVG-only leagues won’t benefit.

    It’d be nice to see a post of how Grey’s rankings alter with OBP instead of AVG. I’m not expecting an entire re-ranking, just maybe 20 notable names or maybe 4-5 per position.

    Im surprised you wouldn’t consider permanently switching to OBP, Rudy. I can understand a lack of desire to change for pitching (nothing out there suits me), but OBP instead of AVG gives players more value and has you cheering when your player walks!

    • SwaggerJackers says:

      @Eddy, OBP also does wonders for guys like Reynolds too. Anyone else come to mind?

      • TheNewGuy says:

        @SwaggerJackers, Carlos Santana!

      • Eddy says:


        Uggla is another good example. At the very least, it mitigates the damage of ultra low AVG guys. Danny Espinosa and Drew Stubbs, while wailing away in the .250s, have an OBP in the .320s. Not the greatest, but it won’t drown you.

    • @Eddy, i think OBP for AVG makes sense. if i had one league, i’d def consider it. but we do so many leagues that it’s more efficient to stick with the same 5×5.

  19. Wake Up says:

    Looks like we are in the majority. I prefer AVG + OPS. You still get OBP in there but the SLG really helps to negate the otherwise worthless SB-only guys.
    We also add in QS which helps good starters on bad teams and makes guys like Capps and Fuentes less valuable, just as they should be.

  20. Wilsonian says:

    16 Team H2H Keeper where we keep 5. You can keep anyone forever if you want. I have the 13th pick in the first round. These are my keepers as of right now:

    SS – Tulo
    OF – Stanton
    3B – Lawrie
    SP – Lester
    RP – Kimbrel

    I could possibly swing Lester and my 1st or 2nd round pick for Moore and the 2nd overall pick. Would that be wise? Or should I shoot for me sending a worse pick? Or should I avoid it altogether?

  21. steve b says:

    I dont like cbs because its weekly.I like to have control of my players everyday.And ESPN is kind of klunky and I dont like their draft app.The player ratings seem off too.I dont see how you can say roto is more realistic.Teams dont add up at the end of the year who has the most points.They have to win more games than the other teams and adjust for slumps,pitching matchups and so on.You have to figure out a way to beat the team your playing.Yea the playoffs are tougher but the best team doesnt win in the real playoffs either all the time…I play more roto than h2h but h2h is more real to me

    • 3FingersBrown says:

      @steve b, I agree. H2H matchups make for what I feel is a more authentic experience of managing a baseball team. The best team doesn’t always win. H2H matchups against opposing teams become more important and injuries impact more. It also allows you a little more patience for players off to slow starts.

      • Rabbit says:

        @3FingersBrown, I gotta disagree with you guys on this issue–I find roto _much_ more enjoyable that H2H. While it may be true that H2H mirrors the luck factor in the real MLB playoffs, I don’t think that makes it better format–the luck factor in the playoffs may make it much more entertaining from a spectator’s perspective, but I would think it makes it much more frustrating from an owners/GM’s perspective. In Moneyball (the book–haven’t seen the movie so I don’t know if this made it into it) Billy Beane says that he finds the playoffs frustrating, because there’s so much luck involved in winning a playoff series so his sabermetric-based approach doesn’t necessarily work better (not enough games in a series for the statistical approach to win out in the long run). Given that most (all?) serious fantasy baseballers are heavy stat-heads that adopt some variation of the sabermetric approach, I would think most (all) would prefer the system that minimizes luck and rewards the owner who uses stats to win in the long run. So, I found it surprising that so many Razzball readers participated in H2H leagues.

        Overall, on the issue of H2H being more authentic, I’d say that sometimes authentic isn’t always better. When I was in grad school, there were a bunch of people I knew who loved this one little Mexican restaurant in Providence because it was “authentic” Mexican–you could get goat meat tacos there, the menus were all in Spanish, the wait staff didn’t speak a lick of English, it was unclear what many of the sauces on the table were made out of, etc. I actually hated the place–goat meat actually tastes shitty, and the food in general there seemed like it was made from lesser-quality ingredients. I have no doubt that that restaurant was more like a real neighborhood restaurant in Mexico City. But that didn’t make it good, just “authentic.” I’ll take Chile’s instead any day, and twice on Muesday.

  22. TheNewGuy says:

    Reading all these H2H comments it makes me sure I wanna join one a H2H league for the first time this year. Meant to last year but ended up with only rotos…anyone in any H2H leagues they recommend with spaces? Would prefer a little money to be involved to spice things up.

  23. Arod's Frost says:


    In a 7×6 league where the offensive categories are:
    H, R, HR, RBI, OPS, AVG, and SB how highly would you value high average guys?

    Do Sandoval and Mauer types go up a couple rounds to you?


    • @Arod’s Frost, Nope, doesn’t change anything. Think of classic Ichiro as a 3/5th guy (great on R/AVG/SB, bad on HR/RBI). Now he turns into a 4/7th guy (add H to numerator, add H and OPS to denominator). That goes from 0.6 to 0.57.

      I think the only thing I’d focus a little more on is high AB guys since that should help H/R/RBI. I don’t trust Mauer to put up high ABs…

  24. chata says:

    one of the major drawbacks with the h2h is that owners who quit the
    league have a greater and disproportionate impact on the results , than
    if they were quitting on a roto league .

  25. Disco says:

    Hey Rudy, in your last thread I mentioned I was in a league that added Outs as a pitching category to a weekly set lineup of 4 SP 2 RP and 2 P. You suggested going with starters in both the P spots because of the new category, taking this a step further would you think going with Neftali or some other RP-eligible starter in one of the relief spots is a good idea? It would almost certainly sew up outs, and I can still compete any given week in saves from the right closer.

    • Eric Riptide says:

      @Rudy, You mentioned that you couldn’t find an extra pitching cat that you liked. CBS offers a stat called “Innings Divided by Games Started”. It’s a fun category because the big innings eaters are given a little more focus in the draft. After all, going eight innings is more impressive than going 6. Rewarding it is fair. It almost makes Carl Pavano worth starting. Almost. The things that make this category aggravating are the very long rain delays that end your pitcher’s day after a few innings. That, and pinch hitters in the 5th or 6th inning. Yet, all that stuff happens to everyone over the course of the year.

      I like quality starts, but it drives me crazy that 6 innings pitched and 3 earned runs is a quality start, but 9 innings and 4 earned runs is NOT a quality start despite being a half-point better in ERA.

      • @Eric Riptide, hmm. i like it isn’t a counting stat (like QS) which just further incents shitty staffs to load up on SPs for W/K. I prefer leagues with IP caps or weekly transactions to avoid this. But adding this rate stat provides the opposite incentive. You minimize starts to only good ones to max ERA/WHIP/this stat. so i’d prefer 5 stats with ip cap… .

    • @Disco, yes i like that idea

      • Eric Riptide says:

        @Rudy Gamble, I guess it won’t be a good cat for straight roto leagues because of innings caps and the like. My league has 14 categories (7×7) and is a weekly start league because we all have jobs, kids, and wives (lame, I know. And we’re not Mormons, so it’s just one wife per owner). It’s an eleven team league, and during each scoring period you play against every other team. Each category is a win, so going 70-70 is a .500 week and going 140-0 is perfection. If you started the season with 3 weeks of 70-70, your record would be 210-210. It’s sort of like a head to head league and a roto league had a one-night stand and produced a child.

        As always, a few guys near the back of the pack will implement their cruise-control settings in late July or August. Since you play every team every week, there is no advantage to be gained by anyone. And since there is no roto scoring, no one can simply just leapfrog the dead teams in certain categories to be able to catch you just because others have abandoned their teams.

        We have five SP slots and 2 RP slots. Starting marginal pitchers because they have 2 starts that week may seem appealing because of the chance for more K’s, W’s, or QS’s, but the damage they do to ERA, WHIP, and Innings divided by games started will make all owners think twice.

        I agree that innings divided by games started isn’t as good for straight roto as it is for our strange bastard-child of a league.

  26. steve b says:

    @chata.All my leagues are estabished so no one quits.I dont play public leagues anymore because that always happened

  27. Muchaco says:

    Interesting H2H discussions here. I’m 100% a roto guy and have never understood the draw of H2H with Fantasy Baseball, I almost think it’s spill over from Fantasy Football. I completely get H2H for Football as it mirrors the weekly setup that the sport has, but for MLB, a sport with 163 games (as opposed to 16) to me, lends itself much more to Roto.

    Great idea to do this Rudy – I know it helps you and Grey focus your content more to your readership, but this is interesting data for us readers to see as well. Thanks

  28. JP says:

    I play H2H points and I think that the reason it is gaining popularity is because of fantasy football. My league is a spin-off of my ffootball league, and people were just more familiar with that format. I doubt we will ever go into roto.

    It would be great to see a series on H2H points (strategy, ranking, tips, etc).

    I am a avid follower of your site. Thanks and keep up the good work!

  29. Greg says:

    I think the poll is a little biased in the since that what leagues actually do doesn’t always reflect what some participants would want. I know that at least 5 out of 12 of the people in my head to head keeper league have strongly advocated for Rotisserie to no avail. The others like head to head better because of the “weekly excitement” and since we need them to have any league at all we concede. Just thought I’d make you aware in case you didn’t think about this possibility. Love the site, keep it up.

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