The Birth of “OFIS”

By Jeremy Sickel

Geoff Ratliff, Editor

For those of us who play Fantasy Baseball every spring, we rely on multiple sites and publications to supply us with their rankings and predictions designed to assist us with our drafts and help us manage our teams throughout the season. This makes managing a fantasy baseball team a much more informed process because all of the information is available to us for the taking, but I have always had too much time on my hands and wanted to create my own way to rank players, so I did just that.

In 2009, I created a formula to rank offensive players using the standard batting statistics used in Fantasy Baseball (runs, home runs, runs batted in, stolen bases and batting avg.). Instead of simply looking at a player’s stats or projections for the season, the formula takes the player’s stats and equates them to every other player in each of these five categories. I had a very difficult time naming my baby, but one day it literally hit me…I named it OFIS (Overall Fantasy Impact Score). It just made sense to me and is easy to say so it stuck. Such a proud poppa I was!

To illustrate how OFIS works, I scoured the Internet for data in an effort to find the best offensive seasons in baseball history in terms of OFIS. It’s not shocking to know that Babe Ruth came out on top, but would you have guessed that Ruth’s 1920 season actually would have had more of an impact in fantasy baseball than his 1921 season, which is widely regarded as the greatest single season in the history of baseball? Let’s take a closer look…stats provided by http://www.baseball-reference.com/

1920 season: 158 runs, 54 home runs, 137 rbi, 14 stolen bases, .376 batting avg., 458 official At Bats.

1921 season: 177 runs, 59 home runs, 171 rbi, 17 stolen bases, .378 batting avg., 540 official At Bats.

You would easily take the 1921 season and be happy with it, but what OFIS does is factor in efficiency, thus pointing out that the 1920 stats were put up in a mere 458 official at bats. Babe’s 1920 season has an OFIS of 7.093 while his 1921 season’s OFIS is7.04. At first glance, the OFIS on these two seasons seems very close and doesn’t make a difference at all, but when you have hundreds of players available league wide, trust me when I say it really is as simple as going with the highest score.

Fantasy Baseball is not just about the offense though, so this past spring I went about creating the OFIS for pitchers. The task turned out to be more daunting than the hitter’s version in that pitchers, while they accumulate the same stats, have different roles. I was eventually able to finish it, with the only difference being that the hitter’s number is a static number that does not continually increase as the season progresses; it fluctuates based on performance. Since you want to give more credit to guys that are pitching more innings, the pitcher’s OFIS, while still based on performance, will always increase with accumulated stats until the end of the season.

I also found the best season for a pitcher and dug up the second best season for comparison purposes. Nolan Ryan’s 1973 season carries an OFIS of 6.42, while Randy Johnson’s 2001 season was rated at 6.23.  Here are the raw stats:

Nolan Ryan 1973: 21 wins, 383 Ks, 1 save, 2.87 era, 1.227 whip, 326 innings pitched

Randy Johnson 2001: 21 wins, 372 Ks, 0 saves, 2.49 era, 1.009 whip, 249.2 innings pitched

You might be willing to take the 11 less strikeouts in order to get the significantly lower ERA and WHIP with Randy Johnson but when you factor in the innings pitched it makes Nolan Ryan a bit more valuable over the full season.

Again, I have way too much time on my hands but that is only to the benefit of myself, and whoever would like to take advantage of the OFIS which will be available for the 2012 season and beyond. Pop Fly Boys will be doing a lot of work this offseason to get the inaugural OFIS report ready for you, which will include a 3 year snapshot of all fantasy relevant players, complete rankings, positional rankings, OFIS above average, projections and much more. Stay tuned!

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