Baseball Draft Kit: An Essay on Game Theory

Baseball Draft Kit: An Essay on Game Theory

This article is part of our Baseball Draft Kit series.

IT'S A THURSDAY NIGHT. YOU'VE HAD A LONG WEEK. You decide you want to go to a bar and have a few drinks. The problem is, you know it's going to be crowded at the bar. Which can be annoying if it is too crowded. Maybe you should stay home instead. That could be more fun. You are so torn — what to do.

What if I told you figuring out whether to go to a bar on a Thursday night is exactly the decision-making process you need to use to figure out your approach to roster construction for your 2021 fantasy baseball drafts? You might say I have already had too much to drink (not true, yet). You might also say why would anyone go to a bar during the pandemic (very fair!)

Bear with me.

The El Farol Bar Problem is a game theory problem articulated by economist William Brian Arthur that I think has direct applicability to fantasy baseball given the landscape in 2021.

Let me start with the problem itself and then I will draw it into fantasy baseball, I promise.

Here's the scenario: every Thursday night 100 people decide independently whether to go to a bar in El Farol, Santa Fe, for a fun night out. Each person knows they will only have fun if a certain number of people show up. Specifically:

If less than 60 go to the bar, they'll have more fun than if they stayed home; but

If more

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rob Silver
Rob talks baseball on the Launch Angle podcast. He writes about baseball at Baseball Prospectus and was the 2016 NFBC Main Event winner. He talks politics on CBC's Power and Politics.
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