When it comes to TV numbers, NFL is king. According to cable.tv, all 17 weeks of the NFL regular season, the highest-rated game of that day was also the highest-rated of any show in its time slot. The NFL does so well in TV, in fact, that even a Sunday Night Football can top a competing World Series matchup.
The same applies to fantasy, too. According to Hollywood Reporter, fantasy football is a billion-dollar business consisting of 27 million players each year. Compare that against the 11 million that play fantasy baseball and it’s not even close. Most of the unbalance is due to the NFL’s popularity, but a large portion falls on the heavy statistics behind the game of baseball. "Knocked Up" famously poked fun at the sport with the line, "it’s just a bunch of nerds playing fantasy baseball," but it turns out that those who rely on math alone may be getting it all wrong.
If I flipped a quarter 10 times in a row and landed heads each time, what would you bet for the next flip? Gambler’s law states that, while you might think the quarter is destined to land on heads just one more time, the previous outcome weighs no bearing on future outcomes. If a running back finishes a season with more than 2,000 yards rushing, they’ll likely be the No. 1 pick in most drafts the next year (though Chris Johnson makes us think twice about that now).
But in baseball, you can’t rely on consistency as a determining factor when making selections. For example, throughout the past four seasons, only one player scored 100 runs and also drove in another 100 in each of those seasons – Ryan Braun. Justin Upton’s highest career batting average at any field is Chase, where he hit .307. His second highest is .293 at Turner field where he’ll be giving run support to the Braves instead of hitting against them. So those "variables" have to be considered when looking at past statistics.
NFL draft orders are like clockwork. Given enough mock drafts and a league consisting of players who know what they’re doing, you could almost predict each pick and they’re falling in line. With baseball, it’s chaos. No amount of mock drafts can prepare you (completely) for the randomness of a fantasy baseball draft. Two keys factors with this: injuries and the farm system. Injuries in baseball are more sporadic and random than most sports, and the farm system pushes players into the available position that were never considered in a mock draft the previous week.
The Curious Case of Mike Trout
Mike Trout’s rookie season was one of the most unique in baseball history with a .326 average, 129 runs, 30 home runs and 83 RBIs. Oh, and add almost 50 stolen bases to that lineup. ESPN’s 2013 predictions are realistically lowered as no rookie in the history of baseball has repeated like that in his sophomore season, but it’s still likely that Trout will go number one in most drafts this year.
Not saying he isn’t worth it, but if you’re lucky enough to have that first pick— remember Chris Johnson.
Guest post by Craig Wolf; a TV and sports writer