Playing With Numbers: Fantasy versus reality

When it comes to figuring out the value a player has to his team, a fantasy owner is going to see things a lot different than your average baseball fan. Let's take Jason Varitek, for example. He was named to the All-Star team by his peers, in large part because of his ability to handle a pitching staff, and the leadership he provides in the clubhouse. While that might well translate to wins for Boston, the last time I checked, there was no category in even the most experimental of fantasy baseball leagues that was able to assign a value to those so-called intangibles. All a fantasy owner sees in Varitek is his ability to contribute statistically to the categories the league has decided to use to determine its champion. And that's simply not pretty. According to ESPN's player rater, Varitek is contributing a negative value (-1.79) to your fantasy team, thanks mostly to a lowly .218 batting average and no stolen bases.