Tipping Pitches: Five Steps to the Perfect Family Fantasy Baseball League


Monday, March 29, 2010

Five Steps to the Perfect Family Fantasy Baseball League

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I'm a dad. I'm a stat nerd. I'm the father of three boys, two of which are at various levels of baseball stat nerd-dom (the third is a baby nerd). I want to encourage this nerd-ocity, and there are few better vehicles than fantasy sports.

Fantasy baseball is also a good way to get the competitive juices flowing with the family. Nothing serious, but good, clean fun. Of course, the ultimate challenge is making the league fair. As you know, I'm a baseball genius (go ahead, roll your eyes). My eight-year-old Michael is the heir to my Nerdery. After that, my wife Lisa and five-year-old Ryan (aka Pee Wee, P-Dubs or PW) are still figuring it out.

But I'm happy to say that we are running our second fantasy baseball league and the fourth fantasy league in all for the family. And I've only won once. In fact, I've had some pretty shabby showings as well.

Go ahead, laugh. But this is good for the league. The last thing the Loomer Family Fantasy League needs is a Yankees franchise with a built-in advantage.

It's great, great fun, and several sneaky lessons built in unsuspectingly. Here are the keys to the perfect family fantasy league:

1) Simple Draft. In our house, youngest drafts first and the oldest draft last. No snake draft, we go with the same order every round. Each round, we draft the same position. This knocks off a lot of the more complicated drafting strategy. No concerns about position scarcity or any of that crazy stuff. Everyone's picking a catcher in the first round. I also provide everyone with cheat sheets from ESPN.com so that there aren't any surprises about who is and isn't good. To avoid multi-position confusion, I also assigned a single position to all players.

2) Head to Head Scoring. Come on, you can't do Roto or Points Based with your family. It's just no fun. Even if a team is having a bad season, they can always look forward to taking on their brother or kicking their mama's butt. We go with H2H Categories, but only because I haven't thought of a good H2H Points system that is simple to understand and functional. I think H2H Points is better for football or even basketball, where you can make the final score seem like a real game score. We also make it so that each category is a win. No real reason. That's just how we roll.

3) No Transactions. When I say no transactions, I mean it: No Trades, No Waivers, No Lineup moves. In other words, No Bench -- everyone drafted will play. To some, this makes it boring. But again, we're playing with various levels of understanding here. There's a five-year-old playing. And I'm the only one logging in, so no one is putting in waiver claims. And since it's casual, I doubt we'll be checking our teams during the week (although P-Dubs has already been filling out some sheets of unknown purpose, so they may surprise me). And you know allowing trades is bound to cause problems. No vetoes, no arguments, just sharing a lot of love.

4) Everyone's in the Playoffs! I know, I know. This is dumb in a competitive league. But this isn't a competitive league. It's all for fun. We only have four teams, people. Having everyone make the playoffs actually backfired last football season when I won one game the entire regular season and won our Super Bowl. Of course, this inspired everyone to request the rule to be changed so that only the best two teams make the playoffs (you know this never would have been a request had such a miracle finish happened to anyone else!). Well, Yahoo! (our service of choice) has a four-team minimum. And since we only have four teams, our decision was either everyone's in or no playoffs. We've elected to stay with everyone's in. Even if the regular season means nothing, it's good to have that exciting final two weeks.

5) Make it Fun! Own it, baby. Every Monday morning following the week of match-ups, I'll gather everyone together so that I can announce the prior week's results. Plenty of suspense, of course. Sometimes I'll print off the results and post them in the family room. Play for some sort of prize. Doesn't have to be big, just something to make things interesting (and, no, I don't mean gamble). I think the greatest way to make it fun and instill baseball in your children is to watch games together. Make no mistake, this is a baseball family. We have the MLB Extra Innings Package (greatest purchase of all time). And while we will be watching mostly Brewers games, we'll pay close attention to who owns whom.

Loomer Family Draft Results
Sunday was an awesome day here in Colorado, so we took advantage of it by holding our draft in our driveway. Sat in a circle on lawn chairs, everyone with cheat sheets and pens in hand. I had my laptop on my lap, the Brewers game playing over my speakers while I logged the results in my incredibly awesome spreadsheet (you wish you had these spreadsheet skills!). We drafted 30 players (most allowed by Yahoo!), and the draft was over within an hour.

You'll note that P-Dubs, having the first pick, almost always went with the best Brewer. In some cases (Braun and Fielder), this wasn't such a bad strategy. In others (McGehee over A-Rod), it was not so smart.

Position P-Dubs Michael Mama & JJ Dada
C Joe Mauer, MIN Brian McCann, ATL Jorge Posada, NYY Victor Martinez, BOS
C Russell Martin, LAD Yadier Molina, STL Geovany Soto, CHC Matt Wieters, BAL
1B Prince Fielder, MIL Albert Pujols, STL Miguel Cabrera, DET Mark Teixeira, NYY
1B Ryan Howard, PHI Adrian Gonzalez, SD Justin Morneau, MIN Joey Votto, CIN
1B Todd Helton, COL Carlos Pena, TB Nick Johnson, NYY Kevin Youkilis, BOS
2B Rickie Weeks, MIL Chase Utley, PHI Dustin Pedroia, BOS Ian Kinsler, TEX
2B Aaron Hill, TOR Robinson Cano, NYY Placido Polanco, PHI Brandon Phillips, CIN
2B Clint Barmes, COL Brian Roberts, BAL Luis Castillo, NYM Ben Zobrist, TB
3B Casey McGehee, MIL Alex Rodriguez, NYY Evan Longoria, TB Pablo Sandoval, SF
3B David Wright, NYM Ryan Zimmerman, WAS Aramis Ramirez, CHC Chone Figgins, SEA
3B Chipper Jones, ATL Ian Stewart, COL Adrian Beltre, BOS Gordon Beckham, CHW
SS Alcides Escobar, MIL Hanley Ramirez, FLA Troy Tulowitzki, COL Jimmy Rollins, PHI
SS Derek Jeter, NYY Jose Reyes, NYM J.J. Hardy, MIN Yunel Escobar, ATL
SS Miguel Tejada, BAL Ryan Theriot, CHC Alexei Ramirez, CHW Elvis Andrus, TEX
OF Ryan Braun, MIL Carlos Gomez Matt Holliday, STL Matt Kemp, LAD
OF Corey Hart, MIL Carl Crawford, TB Ichiro Suzuki, SEA Justin Upton, ARI
OF Dexter Fowler, COL B.J. Upton, TB Jason Bay, NYM Jayson Werth, PHI
OF Conor Jackson, ARI Curtis Granderson, NYY Adam Lind, TOR Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS
OF Carlos Lee, HOU Manny Ramirez, LAD Grady Sizemore, CLE Adam Jones, BAL
OF Ryan Ludwick, STL Hunter Pence, HOU Coco Crisp, OAK Adam Dunn, WAS
OF Seth Smith, COL Cody Ross, FLA Alfonso Soriano, CHC Andre Ethier, LAD
OF Andrew McCutchen, PIT Josh Hamilton, TEX Milton Bradley, SEA Nick Markakis, BAL
SP Yovani Gallardo, MIL Tim Lincecum, SF CC Sabathia, NYY Roy Halladay, PHI
SP Cole Hamels, PHI Zack Greinke, KC Johan Santana, NYM Felix Hernandez, SEA
SP Dan Haren, ARI Adam Wainwright, STL Javier Vazquez, NYY Matt Cain, SF
SP Ben Sheets, OAK Cliff Lee, SEA Justin Verlander, DET Jon Lester, BOS
SP Jake Peavy, CHW Chris Carpenter, STL Jorge De La Rosa, COL Josh Johnson, FLA
SP Josh Beckett, BOS Ubaldo Jimenez, COL Matt Garza, TB Tommy Hanson, ATL
RP Trevor Hoffman, MIL Mariano Rivera, NYY F. Rodriguez, NYM J. Papelbon, BOS
RP Todd Coffey, MIL Huston Street, COL Francisco Cordero, CIN Jonathan Broxton, LAD


Dave Hunter on March 30, 2010 said...

Dude...absolutely love this. Just awesome. My son is 11 now and he's just now starting to get interested. We shared a team two seasons ago, and he drafted a few of my players for me this past Sunday. I need to go with some of your ideas here.

Dave Hunter on March 30, 2010 said...

Forgot to say...P-Dubs is awesome. McGehee over ARod! Talk about a man of convictions, eh?

Jon Loomer on March 30, 2010 said...

Thanks, Dave. I'm not even sure what it was that got them interested. I would say that it was my working in fantasy for the NBA, but we've yet to play a fantasy basketball league. And actually... I think all of our leagues have been post-NBA. Baseball's just such a big part of this house, I guess. It was natural once I figured out a way to make it simple and competitive.

You should try it!

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