Unless you have a cadre of Sabermetricans in your social circle, convincing enough friends to play fantasy baseball can be quite a squeeze play this time of year.
Even with fantasy baseball leagues now mimicking the head-to-head fantasy football format, which requires only weekly lineup adjustments, casual sports fans still can’t commit to fantasy baseball. The 162-game season is too long. There’s a litany of statistical categories to monitor.
What if you started a league with only one stat to follow?
Try a wins league.
Wins leagues require five managers who each pick six of the 30 MLB teams in a snake draft. You can ratchet up the strategy with weekly, monthly, or once-per-season “lineup” adjustments. The only stats to watch are wins. It gives you a daily rooting interest when watching games on TV or simply checking the score tickers.
Here’s how it works.
Determine a draft order amongst five friends. Conduct a snake draft and write down each manager’s selection until all 30 MLB teams are picked. Manager A holds picks Nos. 1, 10, 11, 20, 21, 30. Manager B picks Nos. 2, 9, 12, 19, 22, 29. Manager C picks Nos. 3, 8, 13, 18, 23, 28. Manager D picks Nos. 4, 7, 14, 17, 24, 27. Manager E picks Nos. 5, 6, 15, 16, 25, 26.
Total Wins Rule
There are several formats you can use to increase the strategy; otherwise, no action is required until October and the manager whose teams have the most combined wins at the end of the season is the champion of the wins league. That’s it! League commissioners can choose to count postseason wins as well.
But if you want more strategy and lineup adjustments, here are a few options.
By the end of the day on July 31, MLB’s non-waiver trading deadline, all five managers are required to designate one of their six teams to “flip” its record and count all of that team’s overall losses at the end of the season as wins instead of its wins. This affects draft strategy as well. If a manager thinks a team will have more losses than any team’s wins, that team is taken high in the draft. For example, last season the 111-loss Houston Astros were a wise first overall pick.
This rule requires a league commissioner to tally points and managers to submit lineups either by the start of every week or the first of every month. Managers set a lineup of five “winning teams” and one “losing team” from their own six teams for each week (or month). All wins from their “winning teams” count as one point and all losses from the “losing team” count as one point. Whoever has the most points at the end of the season is the champion of the league.
Unlike the Total Wins Rule or the Flip Rule, you can’t use teams’ final records to keep track; points are collected based on wins and losses during the specified weeks or months that a lineup is set.
Same rules apply as the 5+1 Rule but managers set a lineup of four winning teams and two losing teams.
Same rules apply as the 5+1 Rule but managers set a lineup of three winning teams and three losing teams.
Strategy for the 5+1, 4+2 and 3+3 Rules can be interesting especially when two of a manager’s teams are playing each other during a week and managers can double their points.
Around friends at the tailgate party before your favorite team’s Opening Day game is the perfect time to conduct your annual wins league draft. It’ll keep even the fairest of fair-weather fans interested all the way through October.