No other sport utilizes statistics the same way baseball does. The reason for this is unclear: perhaps it’s the slower pace of the game which gives more deliberation to every play, or maybe it’s just the way statistics are gathered by the teams themselves. Maybe it’s something else entirely. But for whatever reason, baseball fans have a preponderance of data to mine when predicting the outcomes of games. With this in mind, there are a few reasons why baseball is the quintessential sports fantasy game.
When you want to show that you are a die-hard fan because you know your sport inside out, it’s a bigger statement when your sports is necessarily more complicated. Being able to predict the happenings of a machine with many moving parts is a greater accomplishment than making an accurate prediction of something less complicated. Baseball has an undeniably greater wealth of statistics to mine. There are numbers on everything imaginable, and even partially on what’s unimaginable. The question becomes, what do you do with these numbers?
Here is where the sports gut comes into play. If everyone has access to the same statistics, to gain the edge on everybody you must know which statistics are important, which are not, which can be dismissed altogether, and which numbers are undervalued. This is the key behind the movie Moneyball, about the manager of a baseball franchise with a smaller budget than the competition, and in order to beat the teams with more money he has to look at the same statistics from another perspective altogether. This forces him to be resourceful, and think outside the box. Sports fans can do this in their fantasy leagues. After spending years watching baseball, there’s a certain intuition concerning the sport that’s acquired, and it’s this sense of the game that has to direct the statistics.
When the sports gut and the cold, hard numbers interact, that’s top level fantasy league thinking! In a way, this is what makes fantasy leagues so special: it cannot be won by having either a pure instinct for the sport, or an accountant’s ability to crunch numbers. Both must be used together. Die-hard sports fans must also do their homework, because they are competing against fans just as passionate as they are, but who also put the time in to go over the numbers. In this way, fantasy sports require not just heart, but the brains behind the game, too.
No other sport emphasizes statistics the way baseball does, and even the casual fan will be exposed to more numbers than casual fans of hockey or soccer. They’re shared freely by baseball announcers who have them at the tip of their tongues, and more devoted fans are the same. It’s this heightened emphasis on the statistic that gives baseball a privileged place in sports fantasy leagues, as winning bets on this sport requires a formidable knowledge from a wider pool than any other sport. Winning takes passion and homework.