Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Economics of Fantasy Baseball; or, how I learned to stop worrying, and love the bomb.

If we have ever met, there are probably two things you learn pretty darn quick: I love baseball, and I really enjoy economics. Usually the two don't cross paths in my heart- I don't often particularly care about the economics of baseball. Quite frankly, they're just boring.

Where the two do cross are in fantasy baseball, which is another of my loves (but really a subset of baseball itself). How, you ask? The margins. 

The very first thing I learned in high school econ came from my summer reading, from a book called Murder at the Margins. It's a cheesy detective story about an econ professor on vacation, where a murder happens, and he solves it based on people's economic choices. Super cheesy, but it taught me that in econ, absolute numbers are less important than the marginal unit of difference. 

Murder at the Margins. Or, an experiment with pictures in the blog. (from

Marginal values come in to play when drafting a fantasy baseball team. You want the best player, sure. But you decide this based on the marginal value of the best player at a position available, compared to other positions. It's how you decide whether to take the best second baseman next (scarcity, another economic issue), or whether to add on a second pitcher. Fantasy baseball, for me, becomes the perfect combination of my two loves that combine in an interesting manner about zero other times.

As the baseball season draws ever so near (four days, thank god), the time for drafts is upon us, and fantasy baseball has returned. In a short format, because this would be far too long otherwise, other reasons why I love fantasy baseball:
- Forces you to keep in touch with people you wouldn't otherwise.
- Gives you something to talk about with friends who also play.
- Allows you to beat your friends, and have proof that you did. Or, to trash talk about how you will beat them, next time, because you got whooped.
- Forces you to care about baseball games you otherwise would not. Kansas City at Detroit suddenly matters to a Padres fan.
- Makes summer less boring.

For these reasons, and more, welcome back, fantasy baseball.

Per usual, TFR.


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