Fantasy baseball enthusiasts are fine-tuning strategies for their annual drafts by sifting through zillions of statistics, weighing the impact of real-life roster decisions and trying to divine injury issues. You know, Nate Silver stuff.
Some folks think that's a ton of fun. But many fans, who might otherwise enjoy a little fantasy competition, think it's just too time-consuming, especially considering the care and feeding required for managing a season-long fantasy baseball team.
Enter RotoDerby, the fantasy competition website for fans who have other things to do with their summers besides worrying about replacing their fantasy team's middle relief pitcher.
RotoDerby -- a new fantasy sports website advertising on the satellite radio station that caters to the hobby -- offers a streamlined version of the fantasy baseball experience, based primarily on power hitting. Longball Derby is sort of a fantasy version of home run derby, or perhaps fantasy sports with training wheels.
Participants pick 10 everyday players, six infielders and four outfielders, against a statistics cap (more on that stats cap later). The roster is locked in for the entire season, so there's no sense fretting about it after Opening Day. Each roster player gets five points for a home run, one point for an RBI and minus-1 point for a strikeout. That's it.
There are three price points for entering a RotoDerby contest: $99, $29 and free. The deadline for entering is March 31. But before going any further, there's a caveat. At the moment, the website does not accept Maryland participants for the cash-game contests, and while Marylanders can get into the free contest, the website is looking into whether it will be able to award the cash prizes to state residents. In full disclosure, PressBox may participate for free, but we're not optimistic about a high finish.
John Rotondo, one of the principals with RotoDerby, said his website would be reviewing the Maryland law passed in 2012 that allowed state residents to participate in fantasy competitions in which prizes are distributed. Some of the most popular daily fantasy websites, such as FanDuel, have been accepting Marylanders since October 2012.
RotoDerby participants select their 10-player teams against a stats cap, which is also pretty simple. The cap ceiling is 220 home runs, based on last year's results. So if a participant wants Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, who hit an MLB-best 53 home runs in 2013, then Davis counts as 53 against the stat cap, and the rest of the nine players can't have more than 167 homers among them from last season.
If one of your players gets hurt, tough luck. There are no replacements. But if he's a popular player, there's solace in that a bunch of your opponents are going to have to do without him as well.
For the $99 buy-in derby, the guaranteed prize pool is $60,000 for the season. An interesting wrinkle is that a portion of the prize pool will be awarded every month with the top five fantasy teams getting paid a total of $8,250 ($5,000 for first). For season-long totals, there are prizes for the top 10 finishers and $6,000 for first. There is a requirement that the cash contests have a certain minimum number of participants. Naturally, the prizes for the $29 contest and the free contest are more modest.
Looking ahead to football season, RotoDerby has a Touchdown Derby planned, in which the statistic that gets rewarded most highly is -- you guessed it -- touchdowns. The lions' share of points will be for touchdowns, followed by 50 yards of accumulated yardage, and the minus statistic will be fumbles lost. There are also plans for basketball, which would have a 3-point field goal derby, and ice hockey, which would have a goal derby.