Fantasy baseball: Here's who will boom, bust during the 2023 baseball season

Eddie Brown, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Baseball

In sports and gambling there, there is a (mistaken) belief that a player who is performing better than normal will continue to play well.

We humans sometimes fail to appreciate statistical independence — i.e. two events are independent when the occurrence of one doesn't change the probability of the other.

There have been several scientific experiments to document the "hot-hand" fallacy in basketball. A player could make several shots in a row, but their shooting percentage will eventually return to their long-term average. In finance, it's called mean reversion.

Similarly, when gamblers are winning, they tend to keep betting, ignoring probability while mistakenly believing they are more likely to win a future wager because they have won previous ones.

Also in gambling, we call the inversion of the "hot-hand" fallacy the "Monte Carlo" fallacy. It's named after a 1913 incident during a game of roulette in a Monte Carlo casino where black came up 26 straight times. Gamblers lost millions of francs that night, reasoning incorrectly that the inconceivable streak was causing an imbalance in the randomness of the wheel, and that it had to be followed by a long stretch of red.

Assuming everything was on the up-and-up, the odds of that streak were around 1 in 66.6 million.


Simply put: most of us aren't fond of math, which causes us to develop a reliance upon estimation, guessing and assumptions when numbers are present. This isn't conducive to developing a reliable strategy for something as data-driven as fantasy baseball.

So I've developed a number of rules over the years to keep me from "over-thinking" things come draft time. One that has never failed me: Never pay for a career year.

Before every season, I create a list of players I can draft during later rounds and still reap a solid value (sleepers) and a list of players I shouldn't draft at all (busts).

Distinguishing the two will make all the difference in establishing a foundation for your fantasy squad.


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