Baseball Reflections

How to Get Started in Fantasy Baseball

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In the last thirty years, fantasy baseball has seemingly taken over baseball fandom. Yes, you can be a baseball fan without playing fantasy baseball. But you can bet that you can’t watch baseball without at least hearing about fantasy baseball. 

All of this exposure is likely to make many people curious about the “sport” of fantasy baseball. Is it a real sport? What does it involve and how do you play? What do you win? These are all valid questions and ones this article seeks to answer.

What is fantasy baseball?

Before discussing how to get started in fantasy baseball, we need to define it and provide some history. Modern fantasy baseball uses real-life players in made-up teams. The teams in each fantasy baseball league compete against one another using the real-life player’s stats. The better the chosen players perform, the better your team ranks. Most leagues also use salary caps to help control the players each person is able to choose. 

Some form of fantasy baseball has been around for a long time. There are even examples of famous writer Jack Kerouac playing a fictitious version of fantasy baseball as a child. It wasn’t until 1989, however, that fantasy baseball competitions began encompassing the entire nation. The first national fantasy baseball competition was the Dugout Derby, and it is also noted for being the first fantasy competition that used real game statistics in its scoring system. 

Most modern fantasy baseball is played online. There are also a number of different categories of fantasy baseball. The way you play, and the frequency of the games are the main dividers. 

You can choose to either play head to head or rotisserie style. Head to head involves a single team playing against another individual team every week. The teams that have the most wins by the end of the MLB season are pitted against each other in playoffs. Rotisserie fantasy baseball, on the other hand, pits all the fantasy teams against each other. The team is ranked based on the statistics of each player. The highest-ranked team at the end of the season wins. 

Both of the categories described above are considered full-season fantasy baseball. This is probably the type of fantasy baseball you picture when you think of the game. However, you can also choose to play daily fantasy sports (or DFS). DFS is growing in popularity. They work similarly to full-season fantasy sport, but the timeline is very accelerated. The competition may only last a week or even a single day. 

How to get started in fantasy baseball

Initially, you will need to decide on the type of fantasy baseball you want to play. That decision will help you determine the league you want to join. You can also choose to set up your own league. But, you should probably find someone more experienced with fantasy baseball to be in charge. 

Fantasy baseball leagues can have anywhere from eight to thirty teams. It is probably best for beginners to look for leagues with anywhere from ten to fifteen teams. The more teams, the more competitive the league. And, you don’t want to get frustrated your first time playing. 

Once you have joined a league or set one up yourself, it is time to begin drafting your players. Developing a strategy is crucial. There are three main strategies that most fantasy players choose from. 


With this strategy, you use the majority of your salary cap to purchase three-star pitchers. The three-star pitcher strategy will ensure you get some points. But, if all of your pitchers have a bad game or two, you can drop quickly in the ratings. 

2-Pitcher, 2-Relief

In the 2-pitcher, 2-relief strategy, you purchase two-star pitchers. The third pitcher will be a less expensive option. This way you still have some cap room left for a few star hitters. If you are looking for a good even-keeled and safe strategy, this is the one to choose. 


Finally, there is the hitter strategy. This is the opposite of the 3-pitcher strategy described above. In this one, you use all of your cap room for great hitters. You only go after decent pitchers. This strategy probably has the biggest point returns, but it also comes with the most risk. 

The fantasy baseball strategy you choose is really up to you. It will take a while to really get comfortable with fantasy baseball. So, give it time and be patient. You will find a winning strategy eventually. 


There are many reasons for the rise of fantasy baseball in the last thirty years. The greatest of these is probably the fact that it can be very fun. Playing fantasy baseball well takes effort. But, the bar to entry is very low. And, with the rise of DFS, you can get your feet wet without committing to an entire season. 

With the risks so low, you really don’t have a reason not to try your hand at fantasy baseball. You can even find a lot of great free leagues here. 

About Mike Epson: I’m an investor, author for, and all-around sports fan. In my free time, I love writing about baseball and sports. Please let me know what you think of the post below.

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