THE Fantasy Baseball Question: Who to Root for, Pitcher vs. Hitter

Paul SwaneySenior Analyst IMay 12, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 29:  Johan Santana #57 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch against the Florida Marlins on April 29, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Marlins defeated the Mets 4-3.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

For some reason this season I decided to join four fantasy baseball leagues. Inevitably this has caused certain conflicts in my baseball viewing.

The most common issue that must be resolved for anyone with a fantasy team is the moment when one of your pitchers faces one of your hitters. I have struggled with this for several years, and finally decided to sit down and do some calculations.

Let me start by saying that I fully realize that every fantasy league is a little bit different, so individual numbers may vary. I used my primary fantasy league as my baseline with analysis of statistics over the past five completed seasons.

Nearly every situation where a win or a save is on the line for one of your pitchers, then you want to be rooting for your pitcher. The only exception to that general guideline would be a triple from one of your hitters. 

Now for the more complex issues. The first is batter vs. pitcher, no one on base. In these cases you want to root for your pitcher, but you don't want a strike out. The lack of a strikeout by your hitter is 26 percent more valuable than a pitcher K.

A single, double or walk all hurt you more than they help you. A home run on the other hand, would benefit you as a fantasy owner as it would help not only your homer total, but also runs, RBI, BA, and OBP.

To summarize, the following results with no one on base would be beneficial to your fantasy team: home run, triple, or a non-strikeout out. So there's your focus.

With runners on base it's no more complicated. Unless runs become unearned, you only want your pitcher to give up a score in the case of a home run or triple. The only other caveat that comes into play with runners on base is when it's one of your fantasy players is also on base.

In those cases, where one of your players knocks in another fantasy team member against one of your pitchers, it is slightly in your favor overall. You get about a 2 percent return in those rare cases.

I hope this helps. Let's face it, life is tough enough without having to worry about who to root for on your fantasy team in a given moment. So relax. Watch some baseball and enjoy (as long as the result is a home run, triple, or non-strikeout out).