There are an infinite number of ways to play fantasy baseball and almost as many favorite types of league setups. Anyone from the most casual fan to the most die-hard baseball addict can find a league that will test his or her knowledge and skill. From 10-team head-to-head mixed leagues to 15-team NL only roto leagues, there is a format out there to give you the test you are looking for and, thanks to the Internet, it’s not too hard to find 9-14 people that are looking for the same type of league as you are. But many of us still have their “home” league.
For many, it is the first league they were ever in and they still are in many years later. This league probably consists of a bunch of high-school buddies or college buddies or some other group of buddies that you know from “real life.” There are probably more things that you hate about this league than you can count, and yet it is the most important league to you. The problem with this league is that you didn’t enter this league because it is based on you preferred style of fantasy baseball. You entered this league because it is the league that your friends are in. Because of this, you may have 10 different guys (or gals) that all have a different opinion of what a perfect fantasy baseball league is and change can be very difficult to achieve.
There are certain types of issues with every league:
A 10-team mixed league has way too deep of a waiver wire. The talent available on the waiver wire really devalues the high-end players and leaves no consequence to making roster moves. If you accidentally drop someone that turns out to have a big season, it is no problem because you can probably find something very comparable on the waiver wire. Additionally, there is so much talent available that there isn’t a lot that separates the good teams in the league from the bad.
A 10-team AL or NL only has its own issues. Many people don’t like the limited player pool, as many of their favorite players are unavailable for drafting. Also, In-season real life trades can cripple a team. For example, had the Brewers been out of contention last year, there is a good chance that they would have traded Prince Fielder at the trade deadline. If he went to the Tigers, you possibly would have lost your best player through no fault of you own. Some teams have a provision for this that allows you to keep said player, but it just doesn’t seem right with that player playing their games in the other league.
The next option for a deep league is to go to a 14-team (or more) mixed league. A league like this inherently has the most problems. For one, it is difficult to find 14, 15 or 16 dedicated owners that you can trust to play out the season. There, most likely, will be a lot of turnover in the league, and teams that do not enjoy it. The league becomes so big and there are so many owners that a lot of the camaraderie and rivalry gets lost. Additionally, for many, the draft is no fun. It takes forever to draft in a league like this. You only get to draft a few players that you get to be excited about. It becomes really hard to plan and predict who will be available when you need to wait upwards of 20 picks until you next pick.
So I wondered to myself, “Which kind of league accommodates to the largest variety of people?” A 12-team mixed league, I suppose, but there has got to be a way to do it better. How do you combine the in-season decision making of a deep league and the excitement of a shallow league draft? And then it came to me.
The Home League
This league is recommended for 8-10 managers.
The Concept: One head-to-head league and one draft where each owner manages two teams; an NL-Only team and an AL-Only team.
The Draft: Each owner is given a draft slot 1-10 (or 1-8 depending on league size) in a snake draft. With each pick, the owner may pick whomever they want from the entire MLB pool. Through the draft the owner will be filling out two separate rosters, but may do so in which ever order they choose.
Amendment: To avoid the possibility of an owner stacking one team while the other is laid to waste, a player must draft at least two out of every five players to each respective team.
I believe it is important to the league that teams are allowed to construct their teams in any manner they choose so long as they are attempting to be competitive in both leagues, so I would not be in favor of saying you have to draft AL, NL, AL, NL or anything like that.
Maybe some sort of consequence could be implemented for finishing first in one league and last in the other.
Team Construction: Each team has C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, 4 OF, 4 SP, 2 RP, 3 P and 4 bench spots. Additionally, the AL-Only team has an additional starting Util position, while the NL-Only team is given an additional P position.
I believe that can bring an unlimited amount of fun and creativity to your draft. You could build pitching-heavy speed team to your NL team while drafting boppers on you AL team. You could build two balanced teams. As the roster rules are more conducive to the AL-team being more offensive, you could go against the grain and send the boppers to the NL team while you build a pitching-heavy AL-team, etc.
In Season Management: As long as both of your teams abide by the roster limitations, there are no additional limitations. For example, if one of your NL players gets traded to the AL in real life, there is no rule against transferring him to your AL team or trading him to the manager of a different AL team. Additionally, there are no rules regarding interleague trades. If Owner A wants to trade Miguel Cabrera to Owner B for Clayton Kershaw, there is no rule against it. But it must be noted that Miguel Cabrera must play for Owner B’s AL team and Clayton Kershaw must play for Owner A’s NL team. Furthermore, there are no restrictions on how any owner manages their players. If an owner wants to package two players from his NL team and one player from his AL team in a trade, there is no rule against this.
I believe that this structure is conducive to constant discussion and trading amongst teams as there are 20 separate teams trying to fill holes on their rosters and each of the 10 managers has twice as many trade pieces to work with.
Regular Season Play: In the regular season the two leagues are handled the same way as in Major League Baseball (before interleague play). The teams from the two leagues do not play against each other and the league standings from each league are kept completely separate.
Playoffs: Playoffs are also handled in a manner similar to Major League Baseball. The top four teams from the AL-Only league make the playoffs. They have the ALDS for a week, and the winners have an ALCS for a week. The top four teams from the NL-Only league make the playoffs. They have an NLDS for a week, and the winners have an NLCS for a week. The respective champion of the AL-Only and the respective champion of the NL-Only leagues play each other in a two-week World Series. One week of the World Series is played with the AL roster rules, and one week is played with the NL roster rules, but the entire two weeks is scored cumulatively.
The playoffs might be my favorite part of the entire concept. With four teams making the playoffs from each league, there is a possibility that as many as eight league members will make the playoffs, but also the possibility that as few as four members will make the playoffs. Also, with the differences in roster rules, teams that have a chance at the World Series have to plan ahead come trade deadline time. The NL teams are going to want to make sure they have a decent bench bat for when they have to play with AL rules, and the AL teams will want to make sure they have enough pitchers to make sure they aren’t out-pitched during NL roster rules.
Note: the roster composition rules may need to be tweaked (possibly smaller bench) to make sure the NL roster rules have the same impact on the game that the AL roster rules do.
Payouts: The payout structure would go as follows: 20% split between the two teams with the best regular season record in each respective league. 50% split between the NLCS champ and the ALCS champ. 30% going to the World Series winner.
This holds the possibility that four owners could potentially get their money back. But, there is also the possibility that one owner could, in truly dominant fashion, take home the whole kit and caboodle.
The Home League gives you little bit of everything that you are looking for in a fantasy baseball league, plus a number of additional features that are more than any other league can give you. Is it perfect? No, there’s no such thing. But it is something different, another style to try, another variation on the game. I think this league would promote a more exciting draft and more active participation in the league throughout the season.
Chad Miller is an amateur Writer, amateur Fantasy Baseball Player, and a Professional at being amateur. You can find him posting nonsensical jibberish at the Cafe under the name lastingsgriller. also, on twitter @chadmiller16
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