Sponsored by Bloomberg Sports
By Gary Armida
The Fantasy Baseball industry has certainly evolved over the years. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, fantasy leagues were run with a pencil and a whole lot of paper to run the standing reports. With statistics posted once per week in the USA Today, league commissioners would spend hours compiling a team’s statistics and calculating the standings. League owners would prepare for drafts by purchasing a magazine or two and making a draft list from there. Technology has made the fantasy industry even easier to join with sites popping up to host leagues.
The final frontier in the fantasy baseball industry is to see which company can make the best draft day aid. With so many to choose from, a fantasy baseball owner, whether he is new or a 20 year veteran, has the ability to find a draft aid that fits his needs. The plethora of choices all try to accomplish the same thing: give the fantasy owner the tools to have a successful draft. But, with so much competition, the differences between draft aids are mostly negligible. After all, essentially, a draft aid is a list. Perhaps there is a separate list of sleeper candidates or bust candidates, but there shouldn’t be too much of a difference between companies.
In order for a product to distinguish itself from the rest, the product must have three qualities. It must be easy to use. No owner can afford to be slowed down during a draft because of a draft kit’s inefficiencies. Secondly, it must be customizable to your specific league. With so many different fantasy baseball formats and owners often participating in more than one league, a draft aid cannot be based on one specific format. Finally, the aid must be innovative enough to actually help in a draft. It is easy for a company to simply give a list, provide some analysis, and use average draft position as the basis of its ranking system. But, that is likely what every other owner is using too.
The team at Bloomberg Sports has been redefining the draft aid market since it debuted its product before the 2010 season. This year, Bloomberg Sports Front Office has released with a litany of new features. If you are someone who used the inaugural product, the 2012 product is light years beyond the initial offering. The development team’s goal for 2012 was simple. It was to make the most thorough, yet most user friendly product on the market. With an engine based on over 35 30 years of financial analysis by financial services powerhouse Bloomberg CorporationLP, thorough analysis is not a problem. And, based on two years of consumer feedback, the team succeeded in making the 2012 product quite user friendly.
Before going into the new features, the most important aspect of Front Office is that it isn’t just a draft day aid. It is meant to be used all season long as it can guide the owner through lineup management, free agent acquisitions, and even trade analysis. It is more than just a list.
But, even as just a draft day aid, Front Office manages to distinguish itself from its competition. Using its association with Major League Baseball, Front Office can sync up to your league, assuming that you play in a Yahoo!, CBSSports.comCBS Sports, or ESPN league. Syncing to your league is quite easy. The owner simply selects the type of league, enters his username and password, and is then connected to his league. This feature allows Front Office to better analyze players available based on the specific league settings and available player pool. Instead of simply having a list, a Front Office user will have an evolving list that matches his league’s rosters and settings. That’s a big advantage over any other application. It is also the most practical. There is no longer a need to update the Front Office rosters. As your league changes, Front Office changes. That allows for better analysis, better recommendations, and better decisions. No other product offers this feature.
As of now, Yahoo!, CBSSports.comCBS Sports, and ESPN are the only types of leaguesplatforms that Front Office supports at the moment. The support team assures that Front Office team is continuing to work with other companies to sync. But, even if an owner is using a site such as Rotowire to host a league, Front Office is quite useful for draft preparation and execution. When a user logs into Front Office, he is sent to the dashboard. The Dashboard is neatly divided into four main sections. First, is the My Leagues section. That is where your synced league would be listed. Underneath are two boxes, the rising and falling average draft position. To the right, is recent fantasy news. Once the owner pushes the draft kit button on the navigation bar, the nuts and bolts of the product appears. First, the user is presented with a draft list ranked by Bloomberg Sport’s B-Ranking, an algorithm devised by the Bloomberg Sports team based on projected performance, park factors, historical data, injury history, and age. From here, a non-synced owner can customize his draft lists.
With a simple click and drag, a user can devise his own draft list and save it. Front Office gives some short cuts with by providing their own lists. Aside from the default list ranking all players, users can click on Front Office’s others lists such as players only, pitchers only, AL or NL only, sleepers, busts and prospects. From there, a user can tweak and save his own customized list. Moving the players up and down the list is simple and can help both the rookie and experienced fantasy owner. There is also a “Fantasy Factors” icon next to each player. Front Office lists evaluates the impact of home ballpark, contract status, team support, durability, career trend, schedule strength, age, luck, and consistency as factorson each player’s projections. The user can also choose to filter a draft list by selecting one or more of the factors. While other draft aids may take these factors into account when ranking, Front Office has them listed and allows the user to further customize his draft list according to preference.
When clicking on a player, the user can then see the individual player card. On the card is a player profile giving a player’s basic information and projected statistics for 2012. The stats tab is what you would expect, but with the Bloomberg Sports’ twist of a line graph view and the ability to select splits such as statistics versus certain teams. There is a game log tab, a fantasy news tab, and a draft tab. The draft tab has a 2012 outlook blurb, along with average draft position, and a suggested draft round to target that player. Like most everything else with Front Office, information can be accessed quite easily and quickly. The 2010 product had a wealth of information but was sluggish. The 2012 product is almost instantaneous in its responsiveness.
Post draft is where Front Office further separates itself. For synced leagues, the free agent list with the potential impact of each move can be measured accurately because it is based on your actual league. The trade analyzer will evaluate trades based on projections from your actual league. The Lineup Manager feature will alert you to better lineup possibilities and suggested your best scoring lineup for a particular day. Another new addition to Front Office this year: Aa user can even get text or email alerts when the playing status of one of his players is hurt or not playingchanges, so he can adjust his lineup accordingly. One of the biggest hurdles for the casual fantasy leaguer is to stay plugged in for the whole season. Something like a text message would help alleviate some of that.
Front Office 2012 hits all three criteria for a quality fantasy baseball league product. Information and advice can be found quickly and easily with just a few clicks. Even the Bloomberg Sports support team responded with an answer to a question within five minutes of clicking the send button. With the ability to sync it to the three most popular fantasy baseball providers on the market, the product is the most customizable on the market. The support team also encourages league commissioners to contact them to see if their league can be synced. Even if it cannot be synced with your league, the ability to produce multiple, customized draft lists is much more efficient rather having to draft from a generic list. And, the wealth of statistical analysis and the ability to break it down further makes Front Office the most innovative product on the market.
While there still isn’t support for auction keeper league drafts and there needs to be more sync ability, Front Office, taken in its entirety, is the most complete Fantasy Baseball product on the market. It is a valuable draft preparation guide, a valuable draft guide, as well as a tremendous in-season companion to help guide your fantasy baseball decisions. The quality of the draft preparation is unparalleled. The fact that your league can be synced and that Front Office can be used over the course of the season is what makes Front Office 2012 the industry leader.
At a price point of $19.95 for the season, Bloomberg Sports Front Office 2012 is a product that can help guide your fantasy decisions based on their analytics for the entire season. For more information, head over to http://www.bloombergsports.com?refr=blsp