Categories of a 5×5 Fantasy Baseball League

Fantasy baseball league scoring is based on a set of statistical categories. Knowing and understanding each category is one of the most important aspects of fantasy baseball.

Statistics are compiled through the performance of fantasy roster players in real Major League Baseball (MLB) games. Categories used by fantasy leagues are typically associated with either hitting or pitching. Usually leagues compete with five offensive and five pitching categories, commonly known as a 5×5 system.

Keeping all levels of baseball knowledge in mind, the remainder of this article gives a quick explanation and analysis of each 5×5 fantasy category.

Batting Average – Player batting averages are the result of a total number of hits divided by total at-bats. A fantasy team’s average is calculated the same, except total team hits are divided by total team at-bats. One point to remember about average is that sacrifices, hit batters and walks do not count toward total at-bats.

Runs Batted In (RBI) – A hit ball causing another player to score is considered an RBI. Hitters also earn an RBI for drawing a bases loaded walk or crossing home plate themselves after home runs. A high RBI total may not always be indicative of good hitting, since surrounding circumstances play a big role.

Runs Scored – Every time a player crosses home plate, another run scored is tallied for him. Just like RBI total, a high amount of runs scored can also be a bit deceiving. It does mean the player has a knack for getting on base, but the actual act of scoring usually hinges upon teammate performance.

Home Runs – A home run is usually the most exciting aspect of baseball since the hit ball leaves the field and scores everybody, including the batter. Hitters with high home run totals are often coveted in fantasy baseball. Not only does a home run count in its own category, it also directly contributes to the three mentioned above

Stolen Bases – Stolen bases are awarded when players advance a base while a pitch is thrown. Top MLB base swipers generally lack home run power and get limited RBI opportunities. Therefore, fantasy owners usually consider them “specialists” who contribute strictly to the stolen base category.

Earned Run Average (ERA) – To determine a pitcher’s ERA, his total number of yielded earned runs is multiplied by nine and divided by total innings pitched. Fantasy team ERA is determined this way as well, but the total of earned runs and innings of every pitcher is factored in. ERA is a good measure of pitcher efficiency since it omits certain external factors affecting performance.

Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched (WHIP) – Individual WHIP tallies a pitcher’s walks and hits, then takes that total and divides it by innings pitched. Fantasy team WHIP is calculated with all pitchers considered, just as fantasy team ERA is. A pitcher’s WHIP gives an even more in-depth look at efficiency, since it factors out runs allowed.

Wins – Starting pitchers are credited with a win after completing five innings with their team ahead and the club maintaining that lead until game’s end. In certain situations relief pitchers will get credited with a win. Since a team’s hitting performances can outweigh its poor pitching at times, high win totals do not always reflect talent.

Strikeouts – Pitchers retiring a hitter on three strikes are given a strikeout. Several strikeouts from one pitcher usually indicates a high level of talent. Despite this, it also means they are probably throwing extra pitches and may get tired early in a game.

Saves – A relief pitcher known as a closer earns saves by protecting team leads. Closers usually just appear in the ninth inning. Because leads are necessary for attempting saves, closers on poor teams get limited chances and sometimes end the season with a low save total because of it.