ASFBL started in 1992. The league has 30 owners/managers — 90-percent of whom return each year — one for each real life major league club. ASFBL hopes to have active, excited managers who enjoy learning about baseball by participating in a dialogue- and interaction-rich fantasy simulation league. There are no transaction fees, so that everyone can make the maximum number of moves without any financial penalty. The initial entry fee of $100 is designed to compensate for administrative and ergonomic expenses, and reward those who finish in an award category. That having been said, keep in mind that nobody has ever gotten rich playing fantasy baseball. If you want to have fun with a great game, play with us. If you want to get rich, give Vegas a try.
How does ASFBL work? Well, the features of ASFBL are:
- It uses a computer simulation rather than a point system;
- You start with the Opening Day roster of an actual major league team, rather than a draft;
- You can use AAA players;
- There is a Wins Above Reality prize category in addition to the traditional Postseason prizes; which means that at least
- Eighteen of the thirty owners are eligible for prizes.
If there is anything that you still feel fuzzy about after reading this League Description, feel free to email Leo Leckie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The league has thirty owners, one for each real life major league club. ASFBL hopes to have active, excited players who enjoy learning about baseball by participating in a dialogue and interaction rich fantasy simulation league. There are no transaction fees, so that everyone can make the maximum number of moves without any financial penalty. The initial entry fee of $100 is designed to compensate for administrative and ergonomic expenses, and reward those who finish in an award category. That having been said, keep in mind that nobody has ever gotten rich playing fantasy baseball. If you want to have fun with a great game, play with us. If you want to get rich gambling, go to Las Vegas (and you’ll probably come back poor :)).
How the League Runs: The Basics
If you are already familiar with simulation games like Strat-O-Matic, APBA baseball, Major League II, or the simulations they run in the Baseball Weekly, you will probably want to skip this section. If you are not quite sure what the difference is between a simulation and a point-based league, this section is for you.
Normal fantasy leagues operate on a point system, where the owners get points for performances on a field. For example, the league might award 4 points for a homer, 3 for a triple, 1 for a strikeout, and so on. These leagues have two basic limitations:
- First, there are no Pennant races to speak of. The teams are ranked in various categories, but there is no Pennant stretch, where you can win or lose the division, and there are no playoffs.
- Second, the point systems do not always reflect the true value of a player. Vince Coleman might get you a million points in stolen bases, for instance, when no real manager would touch him because he never gets on base and plays no defense that matters.
As the pinnacle of absurdity, in most point-based leagues, Rafael Ramirez would be a more valuable shortstop than Ozzie Smith.
In a simulation game, the computer takes the players’ statistics as input and then plays an imaginary game with them. All the things that can happen in a real game can happen in the computer simulation game — stolen bases, defensive substitutions, strikeouts, errors, bad plays, poor base running decisions, and so on. Middle relievers are important because they let you get to the closer; utility infielders are useful because they can pinch hit and stay in the game late; starters who can absorb lots of innings are doubly valuable because they can rest the bullpen.
The nuts and bolts of the system are based on probabilities. Imagine that a batter comes to the plate with a .250 average against a pitcher who allows an average of .200. The computer will figure that the batter has a .225 chance of getting a hit and then determine the outcome for that play: 22.5% of the time that the batter comes to the plate against that pitcher he will hit safely. The same basic system determines the rest of what can happen: the batters’ home run percentage is compared to that allowed by the pitcher; if the ball is hit in play, each fielder will have a certain chance of making a great play and robbing the hit, booting the ball, or making the routine play.
Sound complicated? Actually, it makes the game much easier to play. You do not have to figure out complicated point formulas. If you know about baseball, you already know how to play this game. Just put the best twenty-four guys on the field. Follow all the normal standards of baseball: bat the fastest guy with a good on-base percentage leadoff, put a good contact hitter in the number two spot, get some speed in the outfield, maximize the number of innings your good pitchers get, and so on.
Best of all, you track how you are doing compared to your team’s actual standings. The season can literally come down to the last game. And an owner/manager who has juggled her or his starting rotation to put the ace on the mound that day has a better chance of getting into the playoffs.
How this Simulation Game Works
You start with the actual Opening Day roster of a major league team, and the rights to all of the affiliate AAA players. You can then make all the changes you think that the real club should make. Are you a Cub fan who thinks that Mark Grace should be shipped out for a good starter (probably based in Atlanta) because there is some AAA phenom ready to go for the Cubs at first? In our league, you get to call up the Braves owner and make the trade pitch. If you can swing the deal, you get to call the guy out of AAA, put him in your lineup, and see how the club would do if you were the GM.
Each week, you will be able to view the box scores for every game your team played, the waiver wire, the standings, team rosters and player statistics, league leaders, and trade transactions. Of course, you can also post notes about who on your team you want to trade or who you are looking for.
There are only a few limits. The AAA players have their stats adjusted, based on Bill James’ formula, to reflect major league performance, and you can only use three AAA players at a time (one pitcher and two position players). And Major Leaguers with just a few innings pitched or at-bats but terrific ERAs or batting averages have their stats adjusted to reflect how they would do if they were used more often in ASFBL. Other than that, you are free to alter your team in whatever way you want.
Watch the waiver wire, fill in your holes, and try to put together a great starting eight or nine, a deep bench, a strong starting rotation, and a shock-proof bullpen.
Afraid that this might not be the year for your favorite team? Don’t worry; there are two separate sets of standings/award categories. The regular standings work just like the actual baseball standings, with six divisions, three division champs in each league, and a wildcard team that makes the playoffs. The second set of standings is called “Wins Above Reality.”
These standings chart how your fantasy team is doing against its real life counterpart. If you took the Marlins and produced an 83-79 record, while the actual Marlins went 74-88, you would be nine games ahead of the actual team and competing for a top Wins Above Reality performance. In addition to the awarded eight playoff teams, the top ten Wins Above Reality teams also receive prizes (with nobody doubling up on award categories).
Postseason prizes are awarded for World Series Champion, World Series Runner-up, NLCS and ALCS Runners-up and NLDS and ALDS Runners-up.
Wins Above Reality prizes are awarded at approximately $10 for each game an owner’s fantasy team is better than the real-life counterpart. For example, if the ASFBL/fantasy San Diego Padres finish 90-72, and the MLB/real-life Padres finish 70-92, the ASFBL owner of the Padres would be 20 games better than the real-life counterpart, and win approximately $200.
Our general rule of thumb is to make sure the NLCS or ALCS runner-up receives a slightly higher award than first place in wins above reality, and that the NLDS or ALDS runner-up receives a slightly higher award than second place in wins above reality.
Who We Are and the History of the League
ASFBL Commissioner Jon Bruschke wrote the computer program back in 1988, and he and then co-Commissioner Shawn Whalen began the league in 1992. Since then, the league has undergone some name and programming transformations that more accurately reflect the realism of Major League Baseball. And the ASFBL that exists today represents the culmination of all those years of fine tuning. Today, Jon Bruschke and Leo Leckie operate as Co-Commissioners, and Shawn Whalen serves as League Arbitrator.
Leo Leckie, Coordinator for Diversity Initiatives at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, is in charge of downloading the real-life stats to the program, running the simulation games and downloading the results each week. His job is to maintain his very Type A personality at all times.
Jon Bruschke, the aforementioned “designated computer grunt,” is a Professor at CSU Fullerton. His job is to create new and dynamic programming that makes ASFBL the top-of-the-line simulation league that owners keep returning to year after year and be available to Leo whenever he panics over programming questions. The Commissioners overall attitude about the benefits of ASFBL is well summarized by the following excerpt, taken from a July 30 newsletter of years past, entitled “Top Ten Reasons Fantasy Baseball is Better than Real Baseball”:
(10) No wave.
(9) Easy parking.
(8) Players never arrested for hitting a seagull with a baseball.
(7) No rainouts.
(6) No Astroturf.
(5) Trades are never held up because teams can’t agree who will pick up which part of the salary.
(4) Lower risk of being hit by a ball because you’re not paying attention to the game.
(3) Bleacher seats and box seats cost the same.
(2) All Star game has never ended in a tie.
(1) No strike.