Ever found yourself on a Saturday afternoon questioning the line-up of your favorite Major League baseball team? With the boys of summer back in action across the country for the 180-day, 162-game 2013 season, you can do more than watch you can manage your own team of players through fantasy baseball. Fantasy baseball is the largest fantasy sports played, with estimates that over five million Americans play every summer. And even though the 2013 season is underway, it’s not too late to get in on the action. So put on your favorite baseball hat, and get to it.

Pick Your League

You might want to first to pick the kind of league that you would like to be in. There are many different types, some are free other leagues have prizes. The most common types of leagues are Rotisserie, where the players’ real stats are used to score points for your team. Each Rotisserie league can limit the type of play based on the number and kind of stats used. For example, there are leagues that are called the 5X5, where they use 5 pitching and 5 hitting stats in order to determine points. Other leagues are set up with more eccentric and fun limits in mind. For example, some leagues limit your selection of real players to those with black hair, players with facial hair only, players that come from certain states, or only players that have never broken the law. If you have a particular subset of players that you think would make for an interesting fantasy baseball league, you can always form your own league too.

Build Your Team and Play

Fantasy baseball is fun because it replicates the Major League Baseball experience and puts you in the driver’s seat. You take on the role of team owner and team manager to build your own fantasy team made up of real baseball players and their statistics. Consider yourself a George Steinbrenner/Billy Martin duo all mixed up into one superstar owner/manager (for non-Yankee fans, sorry, but it works). You can even wear your favorite baseball jersey while playing. Once you have selected your team of players that will take you all the way then you need to get your statistics together. There are a lot of statistics to gather. Depending on your intensity level you can take the basic stats like a player’s batting average, earned runs, home runs, stolen bases or on-base percentages. As you watch, record and analyze how your players’ stats change over the course of a few weeks or say 10 games, you should start to get a feel for how your team is shaping up. This is when the fantasy starts to get very interesting. The best part about fantasy baseball is that if you don’t want to keep a player or two, you can get involved with trading. Depending on the league rules, you can go for a waiver wire, where owners can make changes, or you can try a trade. Of course, trader beware, for rookie players, and experienced fantasy baseball pros alike, the risks can often outweigh the rewards; but the experience of reshaping your team will always be exciting even if a trade does not always work out.

Have Fun

The more you know about baseball, the easier it will be to translate that knowledge into a point scoring lineup that will rival the best of them. If you are a rookie, and preparing for your first season or just thinking about getting in now, be patient. There is a lot to learn about baseball and a lot to learn about fantasy baseball league rules. The good news is that just about any other fantasy baseball player will help you out and learning by trial and error is half the fun. The other half is just knowing that no matter how good or bad you are at fantasy baseball, you team is playing in the major leagues, all summer long.

Sports Pundit member @saxy15

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    Most important, know your sronicg system within your league. Example, a QB is less valuable in a league that credits him with 3 points per TD and 1 point per 50 yards thrown as opposed to a league that credits him with 6 points per TD and 1 point per 25 yards thrown. Don't assume that the stats from a prior year are going to carry over to the next season. Older running backs that saw a lot of work in the prior year have a tendency to slow down or get injured. Major personnel moves on the offensive line may affect offensive players, particularly RBs and QBs. The loss of two to three key defensive players will affect a defense.Factor in injuries from the prior season. Especially for running backs. Major injuries may cause a decline for at least the first half, if not the entire season for a player. A guy like Ronnie Brown is someone that I'm very cautious about this year.Pass on rookie WRs and QBs. They very rarely do well, and in the case of QBs usually don't even start. Rookie RBs can do well, but look at the teams that drafted them to see if they're going to end up in the dreaded RBBC (running back by committee).Factor in player movement. A good example was Edge James going from Indy to Arizona. His yards per carry, receiving yards, and touchdowns have dropped in 2006 and 2007 as opposed to his last three years 2003-2005 with the Colts. His value is definitely down in a Cardinals uniform.Most people use a formula for drafting like RB RB QB or RB RB WR, etc. I don't. Based on expected points per game, I factor in prior seasons, personnel moves, and whether I think that player can repeat; I'll draft the best player available. I typically draft a RB in the first round, but if the seven RB's on my short list are gone, I'd take Brady if he's still there or Moss. I'm more likely to take two RBs and two WRs in the first four rounds. I've typically waited to draft a QB until round 5. I will skip drafting a QB in round 5 or even beyond if I can't find one