During one of the fantasy drafts I was involved in, I mentioned to the other team owners that I’ve never understood why so many people who pledge allegiance to sabermetrics still play in the typical 5×5 league? One of the other owner’s mentioned that this sounds like a topic for Please Explain. So here we are.
If you not familiar about what a 5×5 league consists of here you go.
Offensive categories: runs, homeruns, ribbies, batting average, stolen bases.
Defensive categories: wins, saves, strikeouts, era, whip
Now, I’m not blaming Daniel Okrent and the guys who developed rotisserie baseball back in 1980, as these were the stats that ruled the game at the time. It’s just as many of these numbers have been exposed as being empty categories over the past couple decades that I wonder why so many baseball fans continue to play in these leagues. What is really mystifying to me is when there are fantasy baseball challenges conducted between writers who cover the game, they always seem to be 5×5 leagues.
I have always joined "sabr-type" scoring leagues, which generally use OBP, SLG, Runs, RBI’s for offense, with Wins, Saves, ERA, WHIP for pitching categories. While I know there is no perfect stat to judge players (yes, even SWOBODA), being concerned about batting average and stolen bases just seems hypocrital. How can sabermetrical experts be involved in public leagues where these categories count for so much? It’s like Al Gore owning stock in Haliburton. There seems to be a major conflict of interest here, as you are rooting for something that you find as a negative to your most central beliefs.
Now, I know some would knock the merits of runs batted in, wins, and saves, but if you just had an OPS category, it wouldn’t make for a very interesting game. While a "sabr-type" league has flaws in its categories, at least it doesn’t give a player like Juan Pierre too much credibility like 5×5 does.
If you follow baseball from a sabermetrical viewpoint, Please Explain why 5×5 fantasy baseball has merit.