HEAD-TO-HEAD: Using rotisserie standings to gain a competitive edge


Fantasy baseball strategies differ greatly by format. But can studying one format provide insight into a completely different one? In the case of head-to-head fantasy baseball, analyzing your league's rotisserie stats and standings can provide tremendous insight into performance.  Many fantasy sports service providers offer head-to-head gamers the ability to see what their league's aggregate rotisserie stats and standings look like. This information is incredibly useful and can be used to gain a competitive advantage on a variety of fronts, including in your weekly matchups, trades, and in analyzing your own team.

The Standings

Below are examples of aggregate hitting and pitching statistics in a fictitious head-to-head league. This league has 12 teams and uses the standard 5x5 categories. The snapshot below is from approximately 6 weeks into the season.


Team     R   HR   RBI  SB   AVG
======  ===  ===  ===  ===  ===  
Team 1  242  77   247  21  .280
Team 2  240  66   226  24  .266
Team 3  237  69   215  27  .257
Team 4  235  58   225  35  .272
Team 5  229  70   213  18  .252
Team 6  226  61   226  39  .285
Team 7  200  56   177  31  .258
Team 8  199  57   209  25  .250
Team 9  194  58   187  27  .238
Team 10 192  53   166  31  .253
Team 11 186  54   193  24  .269
Team 12 179  64   227  20  .240


Team    SV    K    ERA   WHIP   W
======  ===  ===   ===   ===   ===
Team 8  35   455   3.74  1.20  21
Team 11 33   439   3.05  1.09  21
Team 2  29   527   3.28  1.14  27 
Team 6  29   444   3.97  1.14  21
Team 9  20   368   4.19  1.35  18
Team 12 20   410   3.64  1.25  23
Team 5  20   456   3.71  1.26  25
Team 7  19   444   3.74  1.27  35
Team 3  18   489   3.61  1.19  24
Team 1  15   433   3.45  1.21  27
Team 10 13   582   4.30  1.33  40
Team 4  13   406   4.08  1.33  27

These tables are packed with information about a given team's strengths and weaknesses. For instance, Team 1 looks like an offensive juggernaut, leading the league in runs, home runs, and RBIs. However, their pitching is not quite as good, and they rank in the middle-to-lower part of the league in saves, strikeouts, and WHIP. How can you use this information to your advantage if you are playing Team 1? Or if you want to trade with Team 1?

Matchup Analysis

The first way that this information is useful is as a weekly matchup tool. Prior to playing a team, assess its strengths and weaknesses. What categories should your team win? What categories will you likely lose?  Try and get an understanding of how your team should fare in advance of a matchup. 

Next, look for exploitable matchups. Let's say Team 2 is playing Team 1 this week. Team 2's lineup has also been producing, but not to the extent of Team 1's. Team 2 has to decide who to start in its UTIL spot between Mallex Smith (OF, TAM) and Christian Villanueva (3B, SD). Team 2 notices that it has a slight edge in stolen bases (24-21) when compared with Team 1. The smart play is go with Smith in an effort to try and win steals for the week. Smith may also help more in the runs category, where Team 1 and 2 have essentially even production on the season.  

Do your diligence on how a team is built. For instance, Team 10 leads the league in strikeouts and wins. However, these counting statistics have come at the expense of the team's ERA and WHIP, which are the worst in the league. What does this mean when you play Team 10? Well, expect to face an uphill battle winning strikeouts and wins. But we know that Team 10 is vulnerable in the pitching ratio categories. Rather than roll the dice with your more  inconsistent starting pitchers, bench those starters this week. You can find a pitcher's PQS DOM%/DIS% here for NL starters and here for AL starters. Team 10 is also weak in saves. In the event that your team gets a comfortable lead in that category, it may make sense to bench a more volatile closer later in the week.

Trade Analysis

Roto stats are also useful in determining both (1) what your team could use via a trade and (2) what a trade partner's team needs are. For instance, Team 2 knows that its lineup just falls short of Team 1 in most hitting categories. In a H2H playoff matchup, it could use a little more firepower. It makes sense for Team 2 to try and acquire a slugger to bridge the gap.

On the flip side, when engaging a team in trade talks, target a team that will have the ability to trade from a category of strength and improve a category of weakness. It is easier to convince someone to make a deal when you can say to them, "You're dominating the league in saves. You can afford to trade a closer to improve your HR production, where you are ranked 10th." The rotisserie standing stats provide an objective barometer that can be leveraged in a manner that comes across as fair and logical. Use these stats to highlight a potential trade partner's strengths and weaknesses.

Roto stats can also be used to make your team more homogeneous. Determine which categories your team is competitive in, but not quite at the top of the standings. Typically, this will be categories where your team is ranked in the #4-6 range. If you're fourth in home runs, it makes sense to try and add a power bat to get closer to the top of the standings. It goes without saying that teams at the top of a given stat category will be more likely to win those categories. The goal is to solidify your team's dominance in those categories, which will lead to more consistent week-to-week production.

Team Analysis

The final way that roto standings can be useful to H2H players is to perform a self-assessment of one's own team. For instance, if your team is at the top of the standings in HR, RBI, and runs, but you find yourself in the bottom third of the head-to-head standings, a deeper dive into the roto standings may be necessary. Check to make sure that you're not sacrificing your ratio categories at the expense of accumulating counting statistics. That is frequently the downfall of teams built on free-swinging sluggers or pitchers with lackluster command (i.e., Team 10 above). If you are rostering too many hitters with low averages, figure out how to trade some of that power for hitters who make better contact.

Whether your team is over-performing or under-performing, there is also a component of luck involved with H2H play. You may have the second-highest HR total of the week (15), but happen to be playing the team with the highest (16). Roto standings can help you evaluate if your team has been lucky or unlucky. They eliminate the week-to-week snapshot and instead show year-to-date performance relative to other teams in the league. This information can be reassuring during those weeks when you lose a close matchup.


Rotisserie-style statistics and standings provide tremendous helpful intelligence to head-to-head players. Savvy players should use this information to their advantage to make weekly roster decisions, leverage trades and analyze their own team.

Click here to subscribe

  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.