Thursday, February 28, 2008

Annoying fantasy league formats

I typically limit myself to two or three fantasy leagues per year. Sadly, one or two of these leagues -- at least over the last few seasons -- seem to suffer from one or more annoying league settings that ultimately ruin my experience. Here are a few mistakes I often see commissioners making.

1.) No transaction limit in leagues with a waiver wire. Please don't let owners churn through players with the sole goal of removing them from the free agent pool. It's way too hard to determine if an acquisition was made in good faith or to prevent someone else from plugging a hole. If you're going to have a waiver wire, put a transaction limit on the league. (I recommend 80-90.)

2.) No " innings pitched" maximum or minimum. Let's address the latter problem first. Particularly in leagues with more than five categories for pitchers, the temptation can be overwhelming to go the "all relievers" route. Avoid SPs altogether and you can probably win saves, ERA, WHIP, K/9, Walks, other esoteric stats, and perhaps even scrub together a few points in Ks. This isn't an evil or "wrong" strategy, it's just annoying. An innings minimum avoids this problem. An innings maximum prevents the opposite problem: the obnoxious streaming of pitchers on a daily basis. This strategy is seldom effective, but is hugely annoying (particularly in H2H leagues with no weekly transaction limit).

This is less of an issue in terms of position players. I've only seen one league with no "games played" limit. I railed against this decision, but thought to myself, "How bad can it be?" It was absolutely horrid. I gave up monotonously streaming and monitoring players by the second month, as the grind became overwhelming. Please set this at 162. Always.

3.) Large rosters but few position slots is one of my pet peeves. Why do I have an eight man bench but no MI or CI slots? Why do I have a 1500-innings-pitched limit, but only six pitching slots available? Do you really expect me to tediously monitor and rotate starters every single day?

4.) More than one UTIL slot. Even one UTIL slot dramatically changes roster flexibility and draft strategy. More than one is just too much. I've played in a league with four. It was obnoxious.

5.) More than three OF slots. If you want folks to start more than three OFs, you need to change the format to LF/CF/RF/X. The idea is to pretend you're fielding a baseball team, and nothing breaks that illusion more than seeing five RFs on someone's team.

6.) Position eligibility that is too high or too low. I've seen the arguments in favor of a "one game started" rule. If a manager felt a player could start at a position, rather than be an emergency fill-in, why can't you reach the same conclusion? Well, that rationale can lead to truly hideous results. I've also seen the "one appearance at a position" rule, which is even worse. Yahoo's "five game rule" also seems a bit low, particularly given how many DHs have suddenly become 1B eligible. I like a setting of "10 games started" or "15 appearances," myself. Also annoying is when rookies are assigned "UTIL" positions until they've played X number of games, or when the minimum is set above 50 games.

7.) Allowing folks to squawk about the vetoing or non-vetoing of trades. Non-collusive trades should go through unless they absolutely demolish the competitive balance of the league. This is not the same as trash talking about a trade, which should be encouraged.

8.) Leagues that are too shallow aren't fun, as good players are continuously available on the waiver wire. That isn't particularly challenging, and it helps mediocre owners who don't plan ahead. If you can't come up with at least ten teams, you need to play an NL or AL-only league (unless you have gigantic rosters).


Anonymous said...

hey man, good post. I 100% agree with most of it, every yr our games played limit is too high. The savvy vets want it lower, for your reasons and to increase competitive balance. Each year the proposal is voted down and one of its proponents (3-4 managers) wins, yet again. Give 'em hell, I say.

Mike Bock said...


How high is it? I think it should be exactly 162, but I sometimes see 180 ... which I can live with, but don't prefer. Anything higher than that is just absurd.