May 14, 2021

Fantasy baseball’s lasting legacy (ESPN)


It’s the 40th anniversary of the launch of Rotisserie baseball, which as sports fans we can celebrate as the moment when fantasy sports went from a nascent hobby to something that mainstream society could embrace. However, that’s not all — 2020 is also the year we just saw two former interns of sabermetric think tank Baseball Prospectus become Major League Baseball general managers, in Boston and Houston. And the thing is, these two things are interrelated.

Sabermetrics and fantasy baseball are full-blooded siblings that reinvented not just how we enjoy sports as fans, but also how we see them played and how they’re played on the field. How did this symbiotic relationship arise, giving us not only a fantasy sports market now worth almost $70 billion-with-a-B dollars, but also changing both the game on the field and the interpretive lenses through which we all view it?

Rotisserie baseball was invented by Daniel Okrent and friends, arising at the exact moment that sabermetrics was gaining critical mass as a field of serious inquiry. This shouldn’t be a surprise since, at the same time, Bill James was self-publishing “The Baseball Abstract” and selling it through ads…

Read “Fantasy baseball’s lasting legacy” at ESPN