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What Is Rotisserie Baseball?

By Jacob Queen
Updated May 23, 2024
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Rotisserie baseball is a very popular fantasy baseball game that uses real life player stats during the season on a game-by-game basis for scoring purposes. It was created in 1980 by a journalist named Daniel Okrent, and it is named after a restaurant called La Francoise Rotisserie, where he initially proposed the idea to the friends who eventually made up the first league. Rotisserie baseball is generally credited as the first fantasy baseball game that relied on real-life daily stats for scoring instead of dice rolls based on statistical likelihood, and in that sense, it revolutionized fantasy sports overall. The original scoring system used by Okrent is still quite popular in modern fantasy leagues, and there are also many variations that rely on the same basic idea.

Baseball has generally always been a sport where the fans were very interested in statistical performance, and this has been one of the driving forces behind the creation of fantasy baseball games. In the 1960s, many people played card-based tabletop games where dice rolls determined game outcomes between teams of real-life player, relying on statistics from previous seasons to determine the probabilities, and these games were fairly popular with some baseball fans. Rotisserie baseball is a similar kind of simulated experience in the sense that it gives the player the feeling of being a manager, but it relies on the day-to-day happenings in the league, which ties it into the overall story of each season. This can have the effect of making baseball more interesting to watch and follow for rotisserie fans, since they often have a stake in the performance of individual players in several games on any given night.

After envisioning the concept for rotisserie baseball in mid-air on a plane flight, Daniel Okrent was rejected by the first group of friends he presented it to, but the second group took him up on the idea, and they created the first league. Initially, most of the people running rotisserie leagues were journalists, but the idea was quick to spread, and it wasn’t long before the game started to gain real popularity. Initially, most players relied on newspapers to get the daily box scores and tabulate statistics, but most leagues now are much more reliant on computer technology and the Internet.

The traditional rules for rotisserie baseball rely on four major batting statistics and four major pitching statistics, with each group of stats having certain point values. Most leagues operate by having participants choose among all the players in the major leagues using a draft to create their own unique team, and as the statistics for each team pile up over the course of a season, the players accumulate points against each other. Many variations on this basic idea exist, including some that rely on a much larger number of stats, and some that drastically change the approach to scoring in an attempt to more realistically judge player value.

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Discussion Comments
By Melonlity — On Feb 07, 2014

Thank you for that. The term "rotisserie baseball" has always seemed odd in the world of fantasy sports. Isn't a rotisserie a spinning rod to which meat is attached to be cooked over a flame? I appreciate the clarification -- makes sense now.

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