I almost always agree with Ray Flowers, but… (Or why h2h leagues are great)

In Ray Flowers (@BaseballGuys) latest mail bag, he wrote, in essence, that head-to-head (h2h) fantasy baseball is bastardizing the game of baseball completely.

Ray’s first point: “Baseball is a marathon with 162 games. H2H turns that marathon into a sprint.”

I’m not sure how h2h turns the 162-game schedule into a sprint. h2h leagues run for the entire season. Sure some of that includes the fantasy play-offs, however, aren’t there play-offs in baseball? Isn’t the World Champion the winner of the play-offs? Do they give the regular season winner the World Series trophy? Nope. The best team is decided by a play-off. h2h has that, roto doesn’t.Neither is exactly like real baseball, each have their similarities and differences.

Ray’s second point: “Baseball is about consistency and working through the grind as much as anything. When you play H2H you remove that aspect of the game completely.”

His main argument, I think, is that Pujols alternating good weeks with wretched weeks would ruin you in h2h, but not roto. Well, that kind of runs against his point. In roto, all that matters are stats at the end of the year, you don’t have to weather slumps at all.

In h2h, your entire team has to produce. If Pujols slumps, other members of your roster have to step up. Your team has to be good week-in and week-out across several categories. One bad week in roto is meaningless and you don’t have to worry about it. In h2h, you have to work through the grind every week, worrying about categories. You can manage roto on autopilot a lot of the time.

Ray’s third point: “we’re not rewarding the fantasy owner who rostered the players with the best skill.”

I’m not sure I agree with this but I do understand it. You can win h2h with some bush league looking squads, that’s true. However, to me, that’s an indicator of who managed best. You have tougher decisions to make in h2h than roto. Roto will likely reward the best team (that’s a given), however h2h rewards the best manager who worked every week to maximize his categories.So it’s really a preference thing.

Obviously, two start pitchers are incredibly important in h2h and I agree wholeheartedly with Ray that leagues where you can rush to the waiver to pluck two-start pitchers doesn’t take much skill. That said, I don’t know many leagues that allow that, many have weekly/yearly move caps or innings caps. There are certainly ways around allowing the streaming two start pitchers.

Further, I don’t see why it’s problematic that two stats from Gavin Floyd could be worth more than Dan Haren when roto has a similar issue. If you are down in steals in roto, you’d trade Jay Bruce for Juan Pierre. Would you ever do that in real life? No, nor would you in h2h. Because you have to continually be good in categories, you can’t just give up on power. In roto, if you are dominating HRs, trading power for steals makes sense. It doesn’t in real life, nor does it in h2h.

Each version of fantasy baseball has its pluses and minuses. I play in all kinds. I like h2h the most, but could never do more than two leagues because it is more time intensive. I love playing roto because I just set my line-ups and am done. It’s nice to have my team and not have to worry about anyone else’s squad.

That said, to say one bastardizes the game of baseball makes no sense. Fantasy baseball isn’t an approximation of the game of baseball (if you want that, play Strat-O-Matic and I suggest you do).

Lastly, anything that gets more people involved in baseball, which h2h does, is a good thing. Ray is beginning to sound like those people who rail against interleague play and the DH rule.

In all seriousness, this is a fun debate to have, with, I believe no right answer.

Follow me on twitter (@h2h_corner): https://twitter.com/h2h_corner

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4 responses to this post.

  1. I agree that there may be no right answer but I personally cannot stand h2h leagues in any sport. Might as well flip a coin for every team that did not finish with the most points or the fewest points. They are the only ones guaranteed a win or loss.

    Reply

  2. In football, i totally agree with you.

    However, baseball has a long enough season where the cream rises to the crop. If you have 20-23 weeks, randomness gets sorted out far more.

    Agree that pnts/roto leagues get the best team, but i do think an argument can be made that h2h requires managers to do more, which i like.

    Thanks for reading!

    Reply

  3. I completely agree with you. H2H leagues are by far more enjoyable – they keep more people involved, a new weekly matchup keeps things fresh, you have the ability to employ more strategy than roto leagues, and in my experience, the teams that would have done well if it were setup as a roto league, generally finish high in the H2H setup. It is the strategy (and admittedly some flukiness) that shakes things up…but for me, that is just part of the excitement.

    There are ways to mitigate ‘bush-league’ tactics, like streaming pitchers, and all the H2H leagues I play in have move limits and minimum roster time (if you pick someone up, they must remain on your roster for x number of days) to prevent that. And really, this makes developing strategy more involved, because you use your moves more wisely. If I know I’m facing someone who excels in stealing bases next week, I’ll drop/bench someone for a speed guy. If I see someone who has a lot of two-start pitchers, maybe I’ll limit my squad to the very best pitching matchups so I can win the ratios.

    And there is flukiness in baseball, it’s true in roto leagues too. Who knew Melky Cabrera would blow-up? Who knew Hanley Ramirez would stink up the joint? And weekly H2H can have a lot of flukiness too…my team is an offensive juggernaut, but is stinking up the joint against a crap H2H team who is having a lucky week…I get this.

    But, strategy can still help you out here, because it is a marathon. In my H2H leagues, we’re trying to beat the other team in 10 categories…so the goal is to use strategy, look at your player’s matchups, see who’s playing in doubleheaders, check out pitching splits, check out injury call-ups, etc…to put a team that may lost in a fluke, but not lose 0-10…just go 4-6.

    Anyway, I’m starting to blather…but I do like H2H. Enjoyed the article.

    Reply

  4. Appreciate the comments. I love h2h, obviously, it’s what got me into fantasy. I’ve played other versions and like them as well. I dont think there’s a right/wrong answer as to what’s the best type of fantasy league. but to say one version bastardizes the game of baseball just doesnt make sense.

    Thanks for readin!

    Reply

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