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Baseball Hacks by Joseph Adler

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Start or Join a Fantasy League

Test your skills at picking winning players by managing your own fantasy team.

In the late 1960s, a set of professors at Harvard University (led by sociologist William Ganson) invented a new game based on baseball statistics. Each “manager” made up his own team of baseball players. The manager with the best team won. They ranked the teams based on the individual player’s statistics—batting averages, runs batted in, and strikeouts.

One of the professors, Bob Sklar, moved on to the University of Michigan and passed the game on to one of his students there, a writer named Daniel Okrent. Okrent introduced this game to a set of his writer friends at a restaurant called La Rotisserie Francaise in Manhattan in 1980, and modern Rotisserie baseball was born. (Incidentally, Okrent wrote the article in Sports Illustrated that introduced Bill James to a wide audience. He also wrote one of my favorite books about baseball: Nine Innings [Houghton Mifflin], about a single game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Baltimore Orioles on June 10, 1982.)

Today, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, more than 15 million people participate in fantasy sports. There are many subtle variations on fantasy baseball games, from traditional Rotisserie–style games to sabermetric-influenced games. Some games are played for bragging rights, others for money (hence, the complicated set of fees for transactions in Rotisserie baseball).

The Basics

There are three steps to ...

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