Why Wins and Batting Average Are Obsolete Stats in Fantasy Baseball
Fantasy baseball is an exciting game. However, some of the categories we have been using for years are becoming irrelevant and out of date. You could say that our community has been dealing with a couple of obsolete stats for a while now.
Once upon a time, batting average was viewed as the best way to assess a hitter’s offensive ability. A hit was a hit, no matter how it was achieved. It could be a screamer to the pull side or a slow chopper that somehow found its way to center field. It counted towards the batting average anyway.
Once upon a time, a pitcher’s ability to win a ballgame was the be-all and end-all. It didn’t matter if the score was 9-8 and he pitched five innings with seven earned runs allowed: if he got the W, it would be the best possible outcome. Heck, it would even help him at the moment of receiving end-of-the-season awards and Hall of Fame recognition. It still helps in the minds of some voters.
The thing is that batting average and wins are obsolete stats, and the baseball and fantasy communities are finally coming around on that idea.
Obsolete Stats Should Be In the Rearview Mirror!
In the case of batting average, we now know the things that may support a trend or at least some of them. We know that high exit velocity, lots of liners and consistent hard contact are better indicators of future performance than the old BA. There are other factors, as well, that enter the equation.
A speedy guy with virtually no power hitting choppers and grounders may steal base hits frequently enough to push his average to the top of the league, but that doesn’t make him an elite offensive performer. The same occurs with a hurler that pitches 200 innings of a 4.30 ERA (or FIP or any other advanced metric, if you will) but gets so much run support – and his team has a good bullpen, too – that he wins 18 games. That doesn’t mean that the pitcher is elite, or even good.
Wins and batting average have become obsolete stats because they include so many variables that escape from the hitter’s or pitcher’s hands. In the case of batting average, the luck factor comes into play more than in any other fantasy stat. When it comes to wins, the pitcher actually depends, in most cases, on other hurlers’ ability to finish off the game while limiting run-scoring damage.
In fantasy baseball, we like skill and talent, not luck or randomness. That’s why wins and batting average should be slowly left behind when commissioners and league managers set up stats and categories.
Wins Don’t Show the Whole Picture
Are you going to tell me that Jacob deGrom should fall in draft boards because he has won only 21 games in the last two seasons? He won the Cy Young award both years. I don’t think that fantasy owners should endure having – arguably – the best pitching asset around and not being able to reap the benefits like they could. Wins are not always fair. They seldom are, really.
Consider this fact: deGrom has 16.0 fWAR in the last two seasons, leading the league, and he only has the aforementioned 21 wins. Marco Gonzalez has less than half his fWAR at 7.1, yet he has accumulated 29 wins. Rick Porcello has 31 wins and a 4.87 ERA. You get the point.
Other pitching categories that could be better than wins are Quality Starts (QS) bases on balls per nine innings (BB/9) or strikeouts per nine innings (K/9.) Hey, I realize that they are not perfect. Some may even argue that they are obsolete stats themselves, as well. Quality starts, which is the one I’ve been using to replace wins in my leagues for a while, has its flaws. But I’ll gladly take it over W.
OBP Is Better than Batting average
You are not going to tell me that Pete Alonso is an undesirable fantasy asset because he hit .260 in his rookie season, right? God, I hope you are not, because if you do, I may lose respect for you.
The thing is, he is extremely desirable, not only because of his obviously immense power (he hit, after all, 53 home runs last season) and a healthy dose of counting stats but also because he can walk.
Getting on base is a good thing, even in fantasy! That’s why I prefer OBP leagues rather than having to deal with the unpredictability surrounding batting average. A player with a good eye and plate discipline will have a high walk rate. That’s a skill.
I will put it like this: as far as middle infielders go, I’d rather have Cavan Biggio and his putrid, horrific, unsightly .234 average in 2019 than batting champion Tim Anderson. And that’s in standard leagues, folks. In OBP ones, the gap is even higher in my view. You may disagree with me, but that’s my opinion.
If it were for me, batting average and wins would disappear from fantasy baseball. They are obsolete stats, and it’s time to move on and leave luck and randomness behind.
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