By Jason Chilton
FAN Token Worldwide: The Fan Controlled Baseball League
The FAN Token Worldwide Series illustrates how the Fan Access Network (FAN) Platform and FAN Token could be used to drive fan engagement and enhance experiences in sports besides football and leagues around the world besides the Fan Controlled Football League.
NOTE: This series does not state or imply that FAN Token will eventually be deployed in any or all of these scenarios. Instead, it is simply intended to provide a vision for the possible future of fan-controlled sports.
A FAN Token Fan Diary – Hyun-Woo and The Fan Controlled Baseball League
March 18, 2022: In the midst of the Fan Controlled Baseball League’s Pre-Draft Tryout Camp in Busan, South Korea, Hyun-Woo Park is watching every pitch of that afternoon’s exhibition game. The FCBL team he supports, the Knights, finished third last year during the league’s inaugural season before bowing out of the playoffs on a dramatic walk-off home run. Two of their best international players are no longer with the Knights this season, however, so Hyun-Woo knows that they’ll need an influx of quality talent if they want to insure a return to the playoffs.
The FCBL is a high-scoring league – in its inaugural season, it averaged almost as many runs per game in its shortened seven-inning format as the Korean Baseball Organization did in its nine-inning games. Hyun-Woo feels like the middle of the Knights’ batting order is strong enough to contend, but he wants the team to improve its below-average defense and pitching to keep opponents from putting up too many big innings this season. A member of his team’s Virtual Scouting Department, Hyun-Woo has been submitting player scouting reports to his team’s Player Database throughout camp. Of the seven reports he’s submitted so far, six of them have been focused on shortstops, center fielders and relief pitchers. As he’s about to log off, Hyun-Woo sees that the league has dispensed some FAN Token into his FAN Wallet for creating his scouting content.
April 1, 2022: In the second round of the FCBL Player Allocation Draft, Hyun-Woo covets a speedy center fielder and is working to convince some of his team’s other superfans to see things his way.
The FCBL gives each team a set number of premium salary slots for signing and retaining the best players. During the Allocation Draft, teams take turns nominating players to sign to one of their premium salary slots before filling out the rest of their roster with standard-salaried players. Once a player is nominated, another team’s fans can vote to sign that player to a higher premium salary slot – if they do, they’ll get that player’s services unless the nominating team chooses to offer that player a higher salary slot. If two or more teams are each offering the same level of salary slot to a player, their fan bases each bid with FAN Tokens and the highest-bidding team receives the player.
Hyun-Woo had staked the required amount of FAN Token to become an official member of the team’s Fan Executive Board, and he contributes a portion of that FAN Token supply to his team’s bid. He manages to convince the other members of the Knights’ Fan Executive Board to make bids as well, and the Knights end up winning the player.
Most of the FAN Tokens in the winning bid go to the player with the FCBL returning the rest to its FAN Token Marketing Fund. But Hyun-Woo and his fellow Board members will get something more for their bids than just the satisfaction of helping to improve their team. They also receive an allotment of the player’s personal tokens, which are created by the FCBL for every rostered player. The players trade some of their personal tokens to fans in exchange for FAN Tokens and retain the rest. The league pays out additional FAN Token for player-specific performance bonuses as well as postseason bonuses, and that FAN Token accrues to the holders of the player’s token. If Hyun-Woo’s instincts about the Knights’ new center fielder are correct, he’ll stand to earn back his bid and then some by the end of the season.
April 25, 2022: As camp draws to a close, Knights fans are choosing the makeup of the team’s final roster. Fans submitted their own preferred rosters, and the full fan base is now voting on the three finalists which received the most upvotes in the first round. Hyun-Woo’s chosen lineup is one of the three finalists. His lineup added one extra relief pitcher in place of a position player due to Hyun-Woo’s belief that the ability to use specialized relievers in high-leverage situation will save the Knights more runs than a reserve outfielder will generate with his bat.
May 9, 2022: One week into the season, Hyun-Woo downloads a range of player movement, batted ball and play results data from the FCBL’s open data API. He believes that better defense is a key to victory, but quantifying defensive skill is still a challenge for baseball’s most dedicated sabermetricians. Hyun-Woo has some ideas on that score, though, and begins building a couple of algorithms and structuring the data to see what kind of insights he can generate.
June 3, 2022: In the bottom of the 6th inning with the Knights clinging to a one-run lead, Hyun-Woo considers his vote for the reliever’s next pitch. He isn’t the only data-savvy Knights fan – one of his fellow Fan Executive Board members has built a pitch selection algorithm that factors in data from each pitcher and batter’s previous performance to suggest the best pitch for each situation. He agrees with the algorithm’s selection – a slider low and away – and makes his vote. All the votes are tabulated and the system determines the winning vote. In the stadium, a device on the catcher’s wrist vibrates to give him the call, and he relays it to the pitcher and sets up low and outside. Strike three!
After the game, Hyun-Woo receives a Skill-Based Bonus for his pitch votes – on the 33 pitches where his vote matched the winning pitch call, Knights pitchers enjoyed a stellar Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) mark of 3.22.
June 21, 2022: Hyun-Woo is watching a Knights game on the FCBL Twitch Channel and laughing so hard that he can barely breathe. Two weeks earlier, Hyun-Woo appeared on his friend Syung-Yeop’s Twitch channel. Syung-Yeop is an avid eSports player with a sizable following on Twitch, and he’s also a rabid Knights fan who has started co-streaming some of the FCBL’s Twitch broadcasts and adding his own commentary. After a Knights player doubled off the wall, Hyun-Woo had made up an on-the-spot cheer in the vein of the raucous, organized chants that echo throughout the stadium during FCBL games. He was just being silly, but the comments section of Syung-Yeop’s channel immediately exploded in appreciation. The next day, a thread about the cheer complete with a .gif popped up on one of the Knights’ most popular fan message boards. Three days ago, the hosts of the Knights’ pre-game show performed the cheer during one of their segments. And now, Hyun-Woo sees that the Knights have created a custom Cheermote from the original .gif that fans can use to cheer on the team in the channel’s chat window!
July 18, 2022: Kyun-Woo beams with pride at the output of the algorithm he’s been developing using the FCBL’s data API. Called Vector and Position-Adjusted Playmaking (VAPAP), it takes into account players’ starting positions on the field relative to the vector (speed and direction) of each ball hit in their area as well as the result of the play (base hit, fly out, throwout or error) to determine which players at each position are truly the best at covering ground, preventing hits and making outs. He’s excited to see that his intuition on his team’s speedy rookie centerfielder paid off, since he ranks third among all FCBL outfielders in Kyun-Woo’s algorithm.
He also uses insight from the algorithm to suggest a trade. Another team in the league, the Monarchs, has a shortstop with a mediocre defensive ranking on outs in his general zone but who looks much better on VAPAP. The data shows that he has great range and makes plays on balls that would normally get into the gap, but that he’s facing harder-hit line drives than most players and probably also suffering from poor pre-pitch positioning that makes it harder to reach certain balls. Hyun-Woo makes his case on the team’s message board and proposes a trade. Monarchs fans agree to the trade, and the Knights have themselves a defensive upgrade at shortstop.
July 23, 2022: On the day before the FCBL trade deadline, Hyun-Woo is considering a trade proposed by another Knights fan who has created an algorithm of her own. The proposal is to acquire the backup catcher from another team who has been sitting based on a poor defensive reputation – he is regarded as below average at calling games and “framing” borderline pitches for strikes, and he also has a mediocre throwout rate for runners stealing second base.
However, Eun-Jiu, the Knights fan who proposed the trade, makes a compelling case. The catcher’s poor game calling skills aren’t much of a factor in the FCBL since the fans are calling almost every pitch! What’s more, pitch framing is a less important skill in the FCBL since a committee of Fan Executive Board members holds weekly review meetings with the league’s umpires to review made and missed calls. According to the data, FCBL umps have gotten much better about not being “fooled” by pitches that were out of the strike zone but framed well. The real kicker, though, is what Eun-Jiu’s algorithm says about the catcher’s throwout ability. Her algorithm called Glove To Tag (GTT) simply measures the time between the impact of a pitch in the catcher’s glove and when the tag is applied by the fielder to the runner attempting to steal. It strips out how well or poorly a pitcher holds runners on second and whether the catcher has faced an unusually fast set of base stealers and focuses entirely on what’s in the catcher’s control – quickly delivering an accurate throw to second base. On that metric, while the sample size is somewhat small it appears that the catcher in question may in fact have one of the best arms in the league! Convinced, Hyun-Woo votes in favor of the trade.
August 12, 2022: The last day of the FCBL regular season fell on Hyun-Woo’s birthday, and so he decided to treat himself. He had bid some of his FAN Token on a unique experience – the chance to take batting practice with the Knights in their final game before the start of the playoffs. He had the winning bid, and so finds himself at the plate with the team’s third base coach throwing from the mound behind a screen. After a couple of foul balls, Hyun-Woo lines the third pitch sharply into left center. He then hears a commotion in the first base dugout, as several of the Knights’ players have started performing the cheer he created! As he steps out of the batters’ box with a grin splitting his face, Hyun-Woo thinks,
“Some days, it’s good to be a fan.”