Monday, August 31, 2009

On Catchers in the Hall of Fame

Given my Random Forest analysis did not do a very good job at classifying players at the Catcher position because of apparent positional consideration by BBWAA voters, I thought I would provide anyone reading this with an interesting list of Catchers at Beyond the Boxscore. Here, you can see 8 Hall of Fame Catchers (all 7 by the BBWAA that my analysis misclassified are in the Top 14) and their career "Wins Above Replacement". While I have some reservations about converting WAR into value in $$, I think it can be used as an indicator of how good these catchers were in their era compared to other catchers (assuming they're compared to a set level from their own era, not necessarily what is used for today's player).

With that said, I'm not sure how the level of 'replacement' was calculated. The entire "Replacement Theory" has its foundation in a good place, but I think it goes astray in certain areas. Unfortunlatey, the arbitrary nature of it makes me question it's applicability across time, among other things. I don't really know what the 'Wins' are actually 'Above', especially in this case.

All in all, if we feel that these really are the best catchers ever, the BBWAA has done a nice job of inducting them, and it's likely that somehow controlling for position in the Random Forest analysis could greatly improve it's accuracy.

Chula Vista On The Juice?

No. Not likley. But I have a serious question for Little League: why are the fences so short? When I was 11 and 12 years old, we had a fairly novel rules structure that allowed for 70 foot bases and leading/stealing. I won't say that it's an optimal structure (you could pretty much just steal every time), but the fence at our home field was only 220 feet. Our field was known as one of the smaller fields in our Travel Select League. Honestly, it was kind of a joke. In fact, our team would have Home Run Derbies at the field at practice and put on our own show.

The fences in Williamsport are just 225 feet (and league rules state that they must be a minimum of 165 feet, which is a complete joke). Also, the distance must remain constant for the entire extent of fair territory. But why? Balls generally travel farther to the gaps (I think), so why should they be the same distance all the way around? This makes no sense, and the Little League WS has turned into a sideshow act in my opinion. Chula Vista hit 52 home runs in a span of 10 games (I believe they blasted 38 during the tourney). A lot of the time, the outfielders are standing at the fence just waiting for the ball to drop over. If they can cover that much ground, and they can hit that many home runs, why are the fences so short?

The game has become a contest of who can strikeout the most batters and who can hit the most home runs. I understand there is a wide distribution of talent at this age. But these are the best ones in the World. The Little League rules don't make any sense to me. Does anyone know WHY the outfield fences are required to be the same distance the entire way around? I'd love to hear it.

Rich Rodriguez and Mandatory Practice

I just watched Rich Rodriguez's statement regarding allegations that he was having mandatory practices for more hours than allowed by NCAA in the off season. Generally, he said a whole lot of nothing, but I'm not here to criticize that. It was mostly a speech about the great academic performance of Michigan football players this year. Okay, whatever. I don't really care.

Rodriguez claimed he would never ask a player to miss a class to do something athletically. That's a stretch. I'm not saying Rodriguez is a bad guy, I'm just saying that he's like any other college coach (especially in Division I).

In college, even as a Division III baseball team, we practiced well beyond the maximum supposedly allowed as "mandatory" in the offseason. Our coach implied they were "non-mandatory", but that was a crock of shit. If you didn't show up to optional practice, you weren't committed. That was that. The same exact thing occurred in high school. In college, we were also required to have ONE day off per week, no matter what. We ususally got that day. Outside of Division I Football and Basketball, I think this is absolutely how it should be. Players are mostly there for academics. But talking to some of my friends playing at other schools at the same level, I realized that we were probably one of the only teams doing it. My coach and my undergraduate institution were very academic-oriented. There were no revenues for St. Mary's College Baseball. We weren't even any good. But even there, if you decided you wanted to be a Biology or a Chemistry major and have lab classes in the afternoon, you were probably going to get cut. It was a major factor in my decision to stay away from becoming a pre-med student. In retrospect, that was the right decision...but I don't think it was for the right reasons.

This is a bit of a different situation than our coach at St. Mary's making less than $50,000 a year. I can't imagine the pressure you're under when you're making $4 million a year. There's some serious incentive problems there, and it seems like just another consequence of the NCAA sending mixed messages to college athletes. They want players to compete with professional leagues, but not get paid. The coaches ARE paid and they're paid to do one thing: WIN. While they do have a responsibility as mentors to such young kids in my opinion, there is more pressure on them to have a good football team than to create good young men. That's just how it is.

I doubt Rodriguez had "mandatory" workouts (he's not an idiot). I am 100% sure that there were plenty of hours of "optional" workouts that really weren't optional. Coaches would absolutely hold it against players if they didn't show up to those. Not only that, but players would likely fall behind by not participating in extra workouts. I gaurantee this happens at every school. There is going to be pressure (whether or not it should be there) to practice more and more. As a resident of Ann Arbor, and a student at Michgan, I can tell you that most of the football players here are here to play football...not go to class. Whether or not that's right is a different question. I have to say most because there are exceptions and I don't want to make too much of a generalization. But when I say most, I really mean most.

This whole situation has been blown out of proportion. Some guys complained they had to practice a lot. Likely Rodriguez is killing these guys at practice, given the fact that they were bad enough to lose to Toledo last year. Someone got a hold of that and stretched it. I really believe that's all that went on here. And I don't think Rodriguez should be singled out in any way. If we really want college athletes to play for 'free', then the investigation here needs to be in all of mainstream college sports, not a single coach. There are pressures like this all over NCAA, and Rodriguez is simply following suit. I'm not saying it's right (I think it's a huge problem), but I am saying this Michigan-specific situation is not as big a story as people think.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

My New Favorite Player

Some guys like to root for knuckleballers, others like flamethrowing strikeout kings. I was always partial to the pitchers with brains. As a player, I learned early how to hit my spots and change speeds. I always prided myself in my ability to outsmart the other guy. Growing up and to this day, Greg Maddux was always my favorite pitcher. There's not a single one that comes close to him. Brian Bannister is known as a statistics-oriented pitcher, but he's not Greg Maddux.

Well. I think I found a new guy to root for. I have to tip my hat to JC Bradbury at Sabernomics (through his Facebook status) for this (with a secondary hat tip to Joe Posnanski). Kansas city Royals Triple-A pitcher "Disco" Hayes gets professional batters out with a fastball that tops out at 78 mph. And he's been doing it in the closer role of all places! Here's the article by Joe Posnanski. As someone who never threw quite hard enough to impress people, I love this stuff.

Please, Kansas City, let him play in the majors. What have you got to lose?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Memory of Baseball Cards

Today is fairly slow and I've been busy getting some paperwork done for Committees I apparently need to put together. Anyway, after the news that MLB has awarded Topps exclusive rights to produce its baseball cards, there have been a slew of 'Why baseball cards died' articles. Many of them are by guys just a bit older than I, and I think I have a little bit different generational view of it. Much of what the older guys despise--complete sets, lots of player cards, inserts--were what really got me into the collecting game to begin with. I had always collected baseball cards, though. And with the implementation of 'Inserts' by Upper Deck, it turned into an obsession.

One of the rarely discussed areas of baseball card collecting in the 1990's was that it had the ability to turn mere children into gambling addicts. There is no other way to explain it. Card companies even posted 'Odds' of pulling specific 'Inserts' on the back of the packs. This was my first introduction to probability. I couldn't get enough. When peeling open a pack, the same adrenaline rush came over me that comes over a complusive slot player when they see the wheels start to spin in the machine. Getting a 'Wax Box' was like going all in at a No Limit Poker game. Looking back, it's scary to realize the feelings I had opening a pack of baseball cards. As someone who got into poker in college, I now recognize what those feelings really were.

Soon after inserts came the 'Game-Used' cards: swatches of jerseys, bats, balls, gloves, bases, hats, socks, cleats, pants, and even DIRT on the card. Unfortunately, I never saw a "Jock Strap" swatch card (I can picture the back: "Congratulations! You've just pulled a 1-of-a-kind Game Used Jock Strap card! We personally gaurantee this piece of cloth sat directly next to Todd Helton's left testicle!"). Many of these cards brought a serious premium if you pulled one, and resale value was pretty high. The business of producing sports cards became an arms race. Every company trying to out-do one another and no one really gaining ground. In fact, the financial numbers tell us that overall card revenue was significantly decreasing at this point.

It started out that you would only find a swatch 1 in every 5,000 packs (I believe this was 1997 Upper Deck with the Griffey card netting a solid $5,000 according to Beckett at that time). Things started heating up with Fleer, Pacific, and Topps and they each had numerous 'Sets'. If Upper Deck could do a swatch 1 in every 5,000, Fleer could do it every 2,500. Then Topps could find a way to make sure there's an autograph in every box, only to be countered by Pacific who began putting a swatch of bat or jersey in every pack. Finally, the companies were producing mass sets of cards with multiple swatches and autographs in every pack and charging in excess of $150 for one of these 3 to 5 card packs!

Then it all came crashing down. The card companies saturated the market with these cards, and any 'investment' opportunity baseball cards brought to some was completely gone (if you can even call it that in the first place...I wouldn't). The 'scarcity' was destroyed by the very companies that had artificially put it in place. You'd pay $150 for a pack of 3 cards you could maybe sell for $25 each. And that's if you found the right buyer on Ebay.

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BACKTRACK: Of course, the original downfall of card scarcity was because we didn't put our cards in our bicycle spokes. Older cards, like Mantle's Topps Rookie, developed value because of their scarcity. My dad and his friends used them for games, bikes, and who knows what else (toilet paper?). They didn't know people would pay thousands of dollars for them if they had stuck them in a case and left them there for 30 years. What fun is that anyway?

But here's the catch: now that people were preserving them, there really wasn't any value. Everyone that would see any value in having those cards would preserve them to sell later. The problem was, the only people that would want to buy them are the same ones that are preserving them. And the general scarcity of the cards was no more, since no one threw them around like Gambit from the X-Men. Anyone who liked baseball cards would simply buy them now, at their cheapest value--rather than later, when they thought the value would be dramatically increased. This is what many bloggers feel sparked the initial decline. Woops.

I imagine that's where Inserts originally came in. The companies may have seen this problem coming. Once 'Complete Sets' were being preserved, Upper Deck decided Inserts could create secondary market value in the cards and increased interest in the scarcity of the cards not included in their complete sets--though I still have the cynical belief they had a motive of getting kids involved in an adrenaline rush similar to mine. But then it got to the point that nothing was rare. There wasn't anything left to bring on that adrenaline rush. Great. I got a Derek Jeter autograph. I'll put it with my other 20.

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Slowly collectors started having to specialize their collection toward a single player or team. There were just too many otherwise. Unforutnately you had to be rich and unemployed (not a common combination) to afford them and have time to find all of these cards. People that paid $150 for a pack didn't want to sell their A-Rod 1-of-1 Autograph Jersey card for $100. I feel like exchange became stagnant while everyone held onto their cards. The only people buying packs were the hobby shops. There were so many cards out there, what was the point of buying packs anymore? Not only did a kid like me no longer have that adrenaline rush, it was too expensive to buy from the producer AND from the secondary market. It was a bad combination for the card companies.

Between gifts and my own spending, I probably shelled out well in excess of $8,000 on baseball cards from the age of 5 to 16 (I was nerdy enough to keep a meticulous log of every pack I opened). I finally got out of collecting because of the reasons I mentioned above and one other: by 15 or 16, I was pretty sure that if I brought a girl to my house and she saw piles of baseball cards sitting in my room, I wasn't going to get to Second Base...even if I had done so numerous times on the baseball field. Not that I was smooth enough to actually get them there in the first place--I was pretty sure it didn't help though. So I stopped cold turkey and sold them all by my Senior year of high school. I had about 35,000 of them. The entire collection sold on E-Bay for a whopping $1,190.

Every now and then I'd pass by a baseball card shop to see where the industry was going from there. It looked as though it was getting even worse. Turns out that was the correct evaluation, and MLB finally recognized it. I'll likely never go back to collecting cards, but I hope Topps restores some sanity there before they reach the point of no return.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blatant Disregard for My Memories

When I was 12 a rather large kid, Josh, moved to my area in Ijamsville, MD. He was tall and lanky and apparently played baseball. Josh was good friends with a lot of the guys on my Select Team, as well as the other Select Team that came out of our area. I didn't really hang out with those guys very much or even the guys on my team. I was a shy kid. We were both very good teams, but they had recently won the Babe Ruth World Series. We only scrimmaged them once in a close game, so I’ll give them the significant benefit of the doubt when it comes to who was better. I can name 3 or 4 guys off the top of my head that eventually got drafted at some point from that team. Anyway, this kid had planned on trying out for our team. He came out to one tryout and threw what could only be called--for lack of a better word--Cheddar. If it wasn’t there, then that memory is actually from dodgeball games in gym class. Either way, he was good. He was going to make the team. We had even tried to talk his parents into having him on the team. Then his family moved again after only being around for 7th and 8th grade, or really just one season.

I forgot about him for the longest time. It was only this week I realized who that kid was thanks to an old friend of mine telling me about how he went to the Nationals game last week to watch the Marlins' starter pitch. Don’t get me wrong. I think the guy is a fantastic pitcher, but I wasn’t sure why this fact was so important to attend a Nationals game (not that they have an attraction themselves). "Why?" I asked. "You know. Josh. He went to Windsor Knolls with us. The big tall kid we all knew." I opened up my yearbook and sure enough, on the same page as Millsy in the 1998 WKMS Yearbook, there was Joshua Johnson with curly dyed bleach blonde hair. He looked a little younger of course, and didn't have the goatee. And he was big, but not quite yet 6'7" and 250 pounds. But it was him. I checked the 8th Grade superlatives and he didn't even win "Most Athletic". What a crock. Is it too late to change my vote?

As an avid baseball fan, I can't believe this fact had eluded me.

Tort Law and Sickening Parents

Though I'm not usually a Rick Reilly fan (his writing often comes off as 'whiney'), I have to say that this article on ESPN is a good one. As someone who has had a personal experience with family in a legitimate personal injury/workers compensation case (faulty wiring on a commercial jetliner electricuting a family member to the point they can no longer work or do many every day activities...yeah tell me about it), nothing sickens me more than frivolous lawsuits. Nothing. I'm with Reilly when he states that he wouldn't be opposed to shooting these people into space.

As a masters student, we were required to take a class in "Sports Law". I don't have much clout to comment on intricate legal details of tort law, but I can say that from what I know, these types of cases are generally not that uncommon. And it's not that uncommon for the plaintiff to win them. Even if a waiver is signed, parents complain that they, "Didn't really understand what they were signing." And this can sometimes get passed off as evidence. Ugh. The kid probably slid because you've been grooming him to be a Major Leaguer since he was 2, despite the fact that he has no hand-eye coordination and is slow as molasses. He was hustling for YOU.

Overall that class was terrible. The worst class in my then 5 years of post-secondary school (and still to this day). We focused on torts more than anyone would have liked, despite Sport Law being much more than that in my eyes. My interests were more along the lines of sport policy, antitrust, contract law, etc. But no. We had to hear about the kid standing in the 'no standing' section of the track meet and getting hit with a broken javelin...for 3 hours a night every Thursday night. And we all know Thursday is the best Happy Hour day.

Okay, enough ranting. I'm not sure I really had a point there (unless someone from Michigan administration is reading this) other than these lawsuits happen way too much. I don't know the details of WHY the family was awarded $125,000. I can't imagine any judge in their right mind would award this amount just because he got hurt playing baseball (the bags were the right kind apparently, the coach taught him how to slide correctly, etc.). Unfortunately, all the way through the high school and college ranks this has become a concern for coaches. I coached for a year at my former high school and I can't even count the number of times we were told we would be sued, were sent threatening letters, and so on from parents simply because we weren't playing their kids. And we actually won the conference and made the regional championship! There really wasn't much argument for their kids playing, not to mention the off-field and on-field (mis)behavior of said kids.

I highly encourage parents to let their kids play sports, but do so with a reality check. Kids get hurt. However, I bet kids get hurt less than they did when they were playing outside every day (perhaps Nintendo Wii has recently reversed that trend). There's just not as much jumping out of trees and such. Let them have fun. Just because there's someone that is at a possible LEGAL fault because of some loopholes doesn't mean you have to 'find justice'. If the coach stomped on your kid's ACL because he struck out, then you have a lawsuit. If a metal bat breaks and hits a 9 year old in the head, then you have a lawsuit (against the bat manufacturing company).

In the end the case went on for 5 years, and the $125,000 settlement most likely went to the lawyer. Nothing was resolved or justified. Not to mention the embarrassment to the kid. He probably never played a sport again. I say sue the parents for emotional pain and suffering.

Addendum: The article contrasts with a player that received the Sportsmanship Award for Little League this year. I don't want to overshadow his accomplishment. Nice kid. I hope he becomes a Major Leaguer.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Future of Analysis

While I get somewhat bored with Pitch F/X and Fielding Metric articles, something I saw this morning (written yesterday by THT's Pat Andriola--this is a 'link to a link') got me pretty excited. Once this technology really starts to make its place in the world of analysis, I'll probably get into it. Hopefully not too much that I forget I have other things to do. I'm glad they didn't have this when I played in college...my team would have likely had the worst range in college baseball. Fortunately for us, NCAA computed Fielding Percentage, and we finished 13th in all of Division III in 2004. It was really easy to accomplish: just let any balls to the left or right go to the outfield and the pitchers will just have to 'deal' with thier ERA.

(SIDE NOTE: I hope all my old friends on the St. Mary's College ball team can have fun with these comments. I don't think we have anyone too sensitive. We also were #2 in defensive GDPs per game. That just means us pitchers let way to many runners on first base.)

What to Eat at the Ballpark

I know when I go to Camden Yards, I have to stop by Boog's BBQ and get a sandwich. Others love the freshly made pretzels just inside the stadium from Eutaw Street. They even serve crabcakes at Camden Yards--though I would recommend heading to a nearby seafood restaurant to get a real taste of Maryland Blue Crab. Anyway, Chow.com has made up a list of the best eats for you if you plan on visiting some new baseball stadiums this season. On the second page they have some pictures of their favorites. It's making me hungry. Check it out.

Delaware Sports Betting

Yesterday, a federal appeals court ruled that sports betting in Delaware is illegal. My question is: Why? It makes no sense to me. Sports betting has such implications on interest in sports AND the state/federal government can tax it. There is an ENORMOUS amount of illegal sports betting going on. Hell, Fantasy Sports is technically gambling! If the government simply made it legal--along with, say, marijuana--they could probably fund social healthcare on those revenues alone (don't hold me to that). But it's apparently my job to fund the lifelong smoker's lung cancer because that is being "morally" right. Bah.

I can say 100% I would not pay attention to March Madness unless I filled out a bracket. And I'm terrible at it. I can't imagine how interested I would be if I knew what I were talking about when it comes to basketball. Unfortunately, the actual sport itself does not entertain me in the least (with exceptions for LeBron James and Michael Jordan).

I had a lot to say about this topic, but given the recent lengthy posts, I'm not going to. I'm going to toss it up to one of my favorite blogs, The Sports Economist, since they beat me to the punch in the first place. I've got to say I didn't even think about the incentives the NCAA has against the betting: low-to-no wages. Humphreys is much funnier than I am anyway, and I recommend checking out the blog.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dynasty Rules Under a Revenue Model

Below is the leauge I designed this month. I'm still refining things and making sure there aren't any loopholes. If you have any suggestions, comments, or concerns, please let me know. I'm not sure I have time to commish this league, but I'd love to play in it with some help, and would love to find others that are willing to participate. One of my favorite features: there is no salary cap in the auction!

DISCLAIMER: These rules are very long. Skimming through it will give you the gist if you're short on time.

The Dynasty League Constitution

Teams: 20
Type: Keeper Head to Head Roto 8x8 (Daily Transactions and Lineup Changes)
Season: 10 2-week Regular Season Scoring Periods for 160 games
Player Pool: Mixed (All MLB)
Playoffs: 8 Teams will make the playoffs; 3 2-week Periods
Divisions: 4 Divisions of 5 teams each.
Draft: Slow Auction
Minor League Draft: Preseason 5 Rounds; Midseason 2 Rounds
Salaries: No Cap—‘Revenue’ Paid for ‘Wins’ and Playoff Series
Hitting Categories: H, AVG, HR, R, RBI, OBP, SLG, SB
Pitching Categories ERA, WHIP, K, HD, SV, W, L, QS
Positions: C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, 3 OF, DH, 5 SP, 4 RP, 12 BN, 3 DL, 10 Minor League
Rosters: Rosters must have 25 Major League Players
Pitching Min/Max Per Session: 9GS/65IP (min); 22GS/160IP (max)
Keepers: 6 Keepers (CANNOT trade these as ‘slots’)
Minors Keepers: 3 Minor League Draft Slots (CAN be traded)
Entry Fee: $9 for CBS League Fee
$10 Pick’Em Fee
$10 for Minor League Activation Fee
$16 for Free Agent Moves
$40 Playoff Entry Fee
$1 for each Dollar bid on player salaries up to $260
$2 for each Dollar bid over $260 ‘Luxury Limit’ (100% tax)
$4 for each Dollar bid over $300 ‘Yankee Tax’ (Not Recommended)

***There is a minimum player salary of $200. If Total Salary does not meet or exceed
this amount, the owner will be forced to pay a $2 fine for each dollar under the $200 minimum. This amount will be placed in the Overall Salary Pot for redistribution at season’s end. I do not foresee this being a problem.***

Eligibility: Players are eligible at their primary position, plus positions they’ve played 20 games last year or 5 games this year. Pitchers gain eligibility at SP with 5 starts last year or this year. Pitchers gain eligibility at RP with 10 relief appearances this year or last year. All hitters are eligible at DH. Pitchers’ hitting stats do not count toward hitting categories.

Money Pool: 3 “Pots”

1) Overall Salary Pot: This is where all the money from the auction is placed. This will be used to calculate payouts for ‘Wins’ in the regular season and can vary from year to year based on the total payroll of the league.

2) Playoff Pot: This is a fixed amount of $800 ($40 from each team). Each playoff team receives $40. Each Wildcard Game winner receives another $40. Each Divisional Round winner receives $80. The Dynasty Champion receives $160.

3) Team Revenue Pot: This pot contains the reward for winning regular season games. Each team has their own Revenue Pot. Each win will reward a team with a certain $$ amount depending on the size of the Overall Salary Pot. For example, if every team spends exactly $260, there will be $5200 in the Overall Salary Pot. Because we have 20 teams at 160 games each, that’s 1600 total wins (160*20/2). Therefore, the $$ per win will be $5200/1600 = $3.25 per win. This is a flat rate simulating ‘equal market size’ for all teams. Therefore, if a team has 95 wins, the owner will receive $308.75 (pending transaction costs) for the regular season. With 95 wins, it is likely that the owner will also make the playoffs, resulting in another $40 plus any further winnings. That’s a return of about $30 without winning a playoff game (assuming 10 free agent moves at $10, $260 salary, and $40 playoff entry, and $9 CBS fee). In the past, in this 160 game format (without the ‘Win’ payoffs), regular season win totals have ranged from 42 to about 110. This was when teams were significantly bailing on the season to ‘rebuild’ for the next year with no incentive to keep winning Regular Season games. Rebuilding is a must, but the reason for the reward of Regular Season winning is to keep all teams as competitive as possible, as far into the season as possible. It is likely that win totals will be closer together (60 to 100), given the incentives to win regular season games even if one does not make the playoffs. A .500 team (80 wins) will break even with salary (in an equal payroll league), but will not get back the $40 entry fee unless he/she makes the playoffs. Trades made that have salary transactions will be calculated at the end of the year and added/subtracted from each teams’ Revenue Pot once the winners have been decided. If an owner does not use all of his/her Free Agent Moves, or move up 10 Minor League players in the season, the remaining fees will be returned at the end of the season as well (For example, if the Fredneck Flyers move up no minor league players, but use 14 Free Agent moves, they will receive $12 back from their original fees). With a $260 salary, if a team wins 100 games and the Championship, the team would profit about $300 or so with all payrolls equal.

Scheduling:
Each team will play every team in his/her division 2 times during the regular season (once Home and once Away). There will be 2 non-divisional games for each team which will be decided at random (one Home and one Away). There will be a total of 10 regular season session (2 weeks each). Therefore, each team will have 5 Home and 5 Away games. There are 16 total ‘Wins’ that can be awarded per session. In the event of a tie in a category, the Home Team will be awarded a ‘Win’ for that category. Divisions will be decided randomly using a random number generator in the R statistical platform. In subsequent years, divisions will be determined using the previous year's final place in the standings (including playoffs). East Division: 1, 5, 9, 13, 17 West Division: 4, 8, 12, 16, 20 North Division: 2, 6, 10, 14, 18 South Division: 3, 7, 11, 15, 19

Playoffs:
All 20 teams will pay a ‘Playoff Entry Fee’ of $40 to begin the season for a total of $800 in playoff payouts. Payouts are specified ealier in the Constitution. There will be 8 teams in the playoffs and 3 playoff rounds (Wildcard, Divisional, and Championship). The 4 Divisions will be called North, South, East, and West. There are also 2 ‘Leagues’. The North-South League will be called the “Equatorial League” and the East-West League the “Prime Meridian League”. The 4 Division Champions (North, South, East, West) will get an automatic bid to the playoffs as the #1 and #2 Seeds in their respective leagues, while each ‘League’ will have 2 ‘Wildcards’. The Wildcards in the Equatorial League can be either from the North or South Division, with no constraints on how many come from each Division. Similarly, the Prime Meridian League Wildcards will come from the East/West Divisions. However, there are no constraints on only having 1 Wildcard team from each division. It could very well be that both Prime Meridian League Wildcards come from the East Division, along with the Champion of that Division, resulting in 3 teams from the East in the playoffs. Wildcards are decided only by the top 2 non-Division Champion records in each respective league. Teams will be seeded 1 through 4 for each league, with the highest seed in each matchup gaining Home Field Advantage. For the Championship, Home Field Advantage will be decided by the Regular Season records of the 2 Championship Teams. In the event of ties in the seedings or division championships, Home Field will be decided as follows:

1) Head to Head Record
2) In-Division Record
3) In-League Record
4) Number of Ties Lost
5) Number of Remaining Free Agent Moves

Playoff Matchups Will Be as Follows:

Equatorial:
Wildcards: Game #1: 1 Seed (Home) vs. 4 Seed (Away)
Game #2: 2 Seed (Home) vs. 3 Seed (Away)
Divisional: Game #5: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner (High Seed is Home)

Prime Meridian:
Wildcards: Game #3: 1 Seed (Home) vs. 4 Seed (Away)
Game #4: 2 Seed (Home) vs. 3 Seed (Away)
Divisional: Game #6: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner (High Seed is Home)

Dynasty Championship: Winner Game #5 vs. Winner Game #6 (High Seed is Home)

Consolation Tournament:
For the 12 teams that do not make the playoffs, there will be a consolation tournament. The consolation tournament will match up teams from Divisions and Leagues similarly to the regular playoffs, but without a Championship Game. The top 4 (places 9-12 from the regular season standings) of the remaining teams will receive a Bye. The Home/Away decisions will be determined by regular season record. If records are the same, then they will be decided by Head to Head matchups. If, again, there is a tie, the team with the best ‘Breakdown’ record as defined by CBS will be the higher seed. The winner of each league championship (Equatorial and Prime Meridian) will receive a choice between A) 1 Extra Major League Keeper Slot or B) 1 Extra Minor League Keeper Slot. These slots will only be good for one year! The slots do not allow teams to sign a 7th Long-Term Contract. The 7th slot must be indicated when keepers are announced and cannot be more than an Option Year Contract (not a problem unless the owner already has 6 long-term contracts). As usual, the MLB slot cannot be traded. The minor league slots won in the consolation CAN be traded.

***In the event of an 8-8 tie in any game in either of the playoff tournaments, the tiebreaker will proceed as follows for the playoffs ONLY: In cases of ties in an individual category, the home team wins the category. BUT if it comes down to an 8-7-1 score with the away team leading even if the tie makes it 8-8, the team that went 8-7-1 wins regardless of home field advantage.

Disabled List Rules:
Only players on the MLB Disabled List can be placed in Injured slots on the Major League Roster. Those players can remain on the list for an indefinite period (even after being removed from MLB DL). However, once moved off the Injured roster slot and MLB DL, the player cannot be placed back on the Injured slot unless he returns to the MLB DL.

Minor League Draft:
The Minor League Draft will be held via message board beginning on a date specified by the Commissioner. The Minor League Player Draft shall follow, whereby each team may acquire players who still have official rookie status, as defined by Major League Baseball.

NOTE: The MLB rule reads: "A player shall be considered a rookie unless, during a previous season or seasons, he has A) exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the major leagues; or B) accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a major league club or clubs during the period of a 25-player limit (excluding time in the military service)."

Rookie eligible players that have not yet been available in a Fantasy Minor League Draft (midseason MLB drafted players before OUR midseason draft cannot be picked up from Free Agency before the Fantasy League’s midseason draft). In addition, no Amateur player can be drafted/kept on a Minor League Roster through an offseason. However, in the Nomination Round of the auction, owners are free to nominate any player under professional contract. If the player is dropped while retaining Rookie Status (as described above), he will be eligible for our Fantasy Minor League Draft the following season. Players won in the Nomination Round may ONLY be kept as a Major League Keeper, despite their rookie status. If a minor league player is dropped by the team who bought him in the Nomination Round, and picked back up by that team or another team, his Nomination Round winning salary is binding for either (and he is not eligible for the Midseason MLD).

For example, in 2009, Steven Strasburg could not be picked up until after the MLD (assuming no one drafts him in our MLD). Only players signed to a professional contract can be drafted in the MLD (no college, high school, non-pro Cuban players, etc.). However, for the Mid-Season draft, players that have not yet signed with the team that drafted them this season CAN be drafted in the Fantasy League MLD. However, if the player never signs with that team before the time keepers are due, he must be released back into the minor league player pool, as he is still an amateur player. He cannot be picked up until the next MLB draft (and subsequent midseason fantasy MLD), or upon signing a Free Agent contract with an MLB team (for example, Cuban players who are not eligible for the MLB Amateur Draft like Dayan Viciedo…though his contract was signed in the offseason, making him both MLD eligible and auction eligible).

If a player signs a FA contract with MLB, he can be picked up at any time during the Fantasy season (regular and playoff). Of course, if still rookie-eligible, they can also be chosen in the Minor League Draft (as well as nominated in the Nomination Round of the Auction if the contract is signed before this time). Any player under professional contract outside MLB or MiLB can be drafted in the Minor League Draft as well. For example, in 2009, Yu Darvish is eligible for the Minor League Draft in the fantasy league. HOWEVER, U.S. independent leagues do not fall under this category. In addition, any non-affiliated U.S. (Puerto Rico) or Canadian professional league player may not be kept as a minor league player and is considered ‘Ameteur’ for the purposes of the Fantasy League.

Selection takes place in 5 rounds of a simple snake draft, not an auction. Order will be determined by random number generation rankings on http://www.irony.com/webdice.html (dice settings to be determined by the League Commissioner)
In subsequent years, the selection order in each of the 5 rounds is determined by the order in which the teams finished in the previous season - in order to further discourage trade-deadline ‘dumping’, the picks will be in this order:

9th place – 1st pick
10th place – 2nd pick
11th place – 3rd pick
12th place – 4th pick
13th place – 5th pick
14th place – 6th pick
15th place – 7th pick
16th place – 8th pick
17th place – 9th pick
18th place – 10th pick
19th place – 11th pick
20th place – 12th pick
8th place – 13th pick
7th place – 14th pick
6th place – 15th pick
5th place – 16th pick
4th place -17th pick
3rd place – 18th pick
2nd place – 19th pick
1st place – 20th pick

Teams shall have 6 hours to make their selection. If a team's time elapses, the team will be skipped and the next team will be on the clock. The team skipped can make its selection any time thereafter, but no longer has priority to any player drafted after his/her 6 hours have elapsed.The price and subsequent salary upon activation of each farm system player drafted is $1 and will be taken from the team’s preseason Minor League Activation Entry Fee of $10. If no players are moved to the team’s MLB Fantasy Roster, then the full $10 fee will be returned with the team’s Revenue Pot at the end of the season.Another (Midseason) Minor League Draft will occur during the All-Star Break lasting 2 rounds. Order will be determined by place in the standings after Session 7 of the regular season (see below). Again, players selected must be under contract of a professional baseball team or drafted in the most recent draft and negotiating a contract with a professional team who has exclusive rights to that player.

20th place – 1st pick
19th place – 2nd pick
18th place – 3rd pick
17th place – 4th pick
16th place – 5th pick
15th place – 6th pick
14th place – 7th pick
13th place – 8th pick
12th place – 9th pick
11th place – 10th pick
10th place – 11th pick
9th place – 12th pick
8th place – 13th pick
7th place – 14th pick
6th place – 15th pick
5th place – 16th pick
4th place -17th pick
3rd place – 18th pick
2nd place – 19th pick
1st place – 20th pick

Compensation Picks: For players with expiring contracts, the team that must release such player back into free agency will receive compensation based upon said player's salary and performance in the following preseason Minor League Draft. For players not under contract or under an Option Contract, the team that must release such player back into free agency will receive compensation based entirely upon said player's salary. Players released during the season do not qualify for Compensation Picks. For expiring long-term contracts, the player’s compensation pick will be based on the CBS League Value Rater as follows: Any player in the top 10 is a Grade A. Any player ranked between 11-25 is a Grade B.

Salary evaluations will be as follows: Grade A: $60+ Grade B: $55-59 Any player with a Grade A rating will reward the owner a pick at the end of the first round of the preseason draft. Any player with a Grade B rating will reward the owner a pick at the end of the second round of the preseason draft. Players will assume their highest grade, whether it be through performance or through salary. Order of Compensation picks will be worst to first in previous year's standings. If teams have more than one such player with the same grade, the second compensation pick will be after each team has been rewarded their first pick, then the draft order will start over again. Compensation picks will be rewarded following the declaration of keepers. They may be dealt any time after the end of the auction.

Keeper Options:

1) Major League Option Year—The owner declares to keep a player at current salary for one year only. This player must be released after the single year. For example, if Evan Longoria was won for $25 in this year’s auction (2009), you can keep him at his $25 price for one more year (2010).

2) Major League Contract—Owners sign a player for X years at $4 per year added to current contract. Owners must decide number of years when signing contract. For example, if Evan Longoria is at $25 in 2009, you decide to sign for 5 years, each of those following 5 years his contract will be $45 ($25 + $4 + $4 + $4 + $4 + $4 = $45). In this case, you have Longoria for the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons at $45 per season.

3) Minor League Keeper: Each team has 3 minor league keeper ‘Slots’. These slots can be used to keep minor league players won in the Minor League Draft from preseason or midseason. These slots CAN be traded, but each team has a limit of 8 for the offseason. Players picked up in Free Agency cannot be kept as Minor League prospects, as they immediately take on a $1 Major League roster salary when added. Players must be Rookie Eligible (as defined by MLB) in order to be drafted in the minor league draft. If a player is moved up during the regular season to a Fantasy Roster Major League bench spot, he cannot be kept using a minor league slot and immediately takes on a salary of $1. To cover this cost, each owner will put $10 in the ‘Salary Pot’. If less than 10 players are moved up from the Minors, the remaining salary will be returned to the owner at the end of the season along with that team’s ‘Revenue Pot’. However, he can be signed long-term if the owner so chooses (see above rules for contracts). If a Minor League Player is already in an owner’s Minor League System but no longer qualifies for Rookie Eligibility (for example, David Price is in a Minor League System all year and is no longer Rookie-Eligible next season), he can be kept for $0 using a slot indefinitely as long as he REMAINS in the owner’s Fantasy Minor League System.

EXAMPLE:
You draft Evan Longoria in the Minor League Draft in 2008. He costs $1 when you activate him to your MLB roster in 2009. Signing Longoria to an option year contract for 2010 may not be optimal because you would only retain his services for 1 year at $1. You want to sign him to a guaranteed long-term contract. You decide to sign him through 2014. Longoria’s salary zooms to $21 per year ($1(2009) + $4(2010) + $4 (2011) + $4 (2012) + $4 (2013) + $4 (2014)), but he's yours through the 2014 season. If he continues to mature as a ballplayer, you've got a bargain. You draft Melvin Mora in the 2008 Auction Draft. He costs $7. You want to sign him to an option year contract for 2009 since he may retire or hit a serious age decline soon. At $7 you think he’s got decent surplus value. So you retain his services for another year at $7, but must release him at the end of 2009. (NOTE: Mora will not qualify for a compensation pick even if he appears in CBS’s Top 25 because he is under an Option Year Contract and his salary has not reached the level of Grade A or B at only $7.)

Free Agent Pickups:
16 FA pickups are allowed per season beginning once rosters are set through the final day of the season. Each FA pickup (if not originally won in auction by another owner) will automatically receive a salary of $1. FA pickups can only be kept as a salaried player. If pickup is a rookie as defined by MLB, that player CANNOT be kept as a Minor Leaguer. However, if released, the player can still be drafted in the next year’s Minor League Draft. $16 is paid preseason and put into the general pot. If an owner does not use all 16 moves, he/she will be awarded $1 for each FA move not used at the end of the season. FA transactions are locked for the period between the final regular season game and the end of the preseason Minor League Draft.

The initial Free Agent pool will be a bit different. There will be a 2 day waiting period using a Waiver Claims approach once rosters are set. This is to keep from having teams with the fastest internet connection from claiming all usable players at the beginning of the season. Waiver order will be determined as follows: 1) Money spent in the auction (least to most) 2) Number of roster positions available (25 being the first, 30 being last) 3) The previous year’s standings (if teams are tied in the first two specifications). The first year of the league will require a random placing of the 3rd tiebreaker for Waivers using the same dice method as mentioned earlier. Once a team is awarded a waiver claim, they are sent to the bottom of the list and priority is based on this procedure for the remainder of the season, though no waiting period is required for any player not recently released by another owner (2 day Waiver period).

If a starting pitcher lands on the disabled list, the owner of such a pitcher may choose to release him and sign a free agent starting pitcher without penalty of a free agent move. There is also no salary penalty as normally required for a FA move. However, the owner eats the original salary of the released pitcher. For subsequent seasons, the pitcher acquired in the “Injury Move” assumes the normal $1 unless originally won in auction, in which case he assumes the winning salary. This exception is only available for the SP position. Relief pitchers (RP) cannot be added or dropped using an injury move unless they have Starting Pitcher eligibility as defined by the league constitution.

Waivers:
Players dropped must remain on Waivers for 2 days. The Waiver Order is decided by the CBS platform for the fantasy league.

Dropping a Player:
If any player in the final year of a contract, in an option year, or not under contract is released, the owner of that player MUST still pay the full salary of that player for the remainder of the season. If that player is picked up on Free Agency by another owner, there is still a $1 pickup payment. However, if that owner wants to sign the player to a contract or option, he/she MUST use the original Auction Salary as the baseline for signing the player. For example, if Adam Lind is won by the Flyers in the 2009 auction for $9 and released mid-season, the Flyers owner does not receive a refund of pro-rated salary. If the Cowards pick up Lind from Free Agency, he must pay the $1 Free Agent Salary Fee from his pool of $16. However, if he wants to option Lind for the following 2010 season, he must pay Lind the original $9 as per the auction. If he wants to sign Lind to a 3 year contract, he must pay $9 + $4 + $4 + $4 = $21 for the next 3 seasons. If the Flyers pick up a player that was dropped earlier in the season by his own team, he must still pay the $1 Free Agent fee, but the future salary baseline for Lind remains at $9. This future salary baseline also applies to a pitcher picked up using an “Injury Move”.

Dropping a Contracted Player:
If an owner drops a contracted player outright, he/she must pay the full remaining salary for the season dropped, as well as a penalty of 50%, 25%, 12.5%, etc. of the salary originally agreed to for the remaining years of the contract. For example, if the Flyers signed Carlos Quentin in 2009 to a 4 year, $40 contract, but dropped him in the first year at midseason, he would not be refunded the pro-rated $20 salary. In addition, the owner of the Flyers would owe $20 (50% of $40) to the Overall Salary Pot for the following season of Quentin’s contract, $10 in the 3rd year, and $5 in the final year of the contract, despite the fact that he does not play for his team.

If Quentin is picked up in the season he is originally dropped, the owner picking him up only pays the $1 Free Agent move fee. However, that owner has the right to sign Texiera to a new contract. That contract will have a baseline of 75% of the originally contracted salary. In this case, if the Cowards picked up Quentin after the Flyers dropped him at $40, he could keep him at $30 for an option year the following season, or sign him long-term with the baseline of $30. A 3 year contract would result in a $42 salary for the next 3 years. Either way, the Flyers are still responsible for the $20, $10, and $5 “Half-Life” penalty.

Penalty Dollars from Dropping Contracts:
Penalties received from dropping a contracted player CAN be traded. This can ONLY be done in the offseason. These ‘Penalty Dollars’ will be added to the owners’ payroll in successive years for the owner who dropped the contract. HOWEVER, teams MAY NOT subsidize one another through any means besides these penalty dollars. Trading of money CANNOT exceed the total number of penalty dollars from these releases! Obligations from these penalties will be tallied separately. Owners trading these penalty dollars must report this when announcing the trade.


Trades:
Trades are unlimited (though no team may have more than 6 contracts that extend past the current season). For the remainder of the season, the acquiring team must pay 60% of the pro-rated amount of the current salary, depending on the number of games remaining in the season. For example, if the Fredneck Flyers trade Mark Texeira ($40/4 years) to The Atlanta Cowards at exactly the midpoint of the season, the Cowards must put .6*40*.5 = $9.60 into the Flyers Revenue Pot for the 2009 season (rounded to $10). The Flyers then essentially paid $30 for a half of a season from Tex. There cannot be agreements for the team receiving a contracted player to pay MORE or LESS than 60% of the pro-rated contracted salary. This regulation is to ensure that severe ‘dumping’ does not take place near the trade deadline.

EXAMPLE: If the Flyers received Adam Lind in the Tex trade at $9 and ‘signable’ (a.k.a. he was won in the auction THIS season), he must pay .6*9*.5 = $2.70 rounded UP to the nearest dollar to the Cowards’ Revenue Pot this season (rounded to $3). As a whole, the net trade is Tex for Lind and $7 cash transferred from Cowards’ Revenue Pot to the Flyers Revenue Pot,($10 from Tex transaction minus $3 from Lind transaction). The monetary transaction will be awarded at the end of the season when ‘Revenue’ is dispersed. $7 will come out of the Cowards’ Revenue Pot and placed into the Flyers’ Revenue Pot directly. Adam Lind CAN be signed to a contract by the Flyers if he/she so chooses, but at the original baseline salary of $9 (+ $4 + $4 + …).

Minor Leaguers and Minor League Slots can be traded. However, no team can have more than 8 Minor League Keeper Slots, or 10 Minor Leaguers on their in-season roster at any given time. There is a trade deadline on August 1st. No trades will be allowed if they are announced after 11:59:59 pm on July 31st. Pending trades can be executed after the deadline for review if necessary.

Offseason Trades:
Offseason trades will be allowed starting January 1st and will be locked from the day keepers are due (usually around February 21st) until the end of the MLB Auction (preceding the preseason MLD). All offseason trades are under the same rules as regular season. Obviously, pro-rated contracts are not applicable in the offseason and cash will not be transferred in trades (unless specified as penalty dollars from dropped players). In this case, there is no fee for the transactions, and trades are under no regulation unless suspected of collusive agreements. During the offseason, teams may have more than 6 long-term contracts on their roster; however, only 6 of these may be kept and the dropped contract will receive the full ‘Half Life’ penalty as described earlier.

Cash trades are not allowed in the offseason unless they consist of dropped contract penalty dollars. Subsidizing contracts is not allowed (taking on cash to get a trade to go through).

Auction Draft:
Our Auction will be a slow auction held on the League Message Board, and will begin near the end of February. The date will be determined by how fast everyone gets their entry fee to me ($40 playoff entry, $16 FA pickup fee, $10 Minor League Moves fee, and $9 CBS fee due BEFORE auction begins--$75 total). I will publish a list of all players along with the times and dates they will be put up for Auction. For example on the first release date there will be 30-40 players put up for active bidding (a few players from each position). Then each owner who wishes to acquire a player can place their bid on the Message Board by replying to that player's thread. If nobody ups the bid for 24 hours then that player goes to the high bidder. During the first couple of weeks of the Auction I will wait 3-4 days before releasing the next group of players, however some players may remain active in the bid cycle even after the following group is released. So you must manage your bids well. There will be NO trades allowed during the Auction. The minimum bid will be $1, and all bids will be in whole numbers (no fractions), i.e. $1, $2, $3 etc. (Any calculations involving payroll that results in a fractional value will be rounded up if the fraction no matter what the decimal, ie--$4.01 will be rounded to $5. This usually happens in trades and dropping contracted players.)
Auction Side Notes, Penalties, Fines, and Taxes: No team may have more bids outstanding than they can afford under the roster restriction. In other words, no team may exceed their maximum roster total of 30 players at any time in the auction; this includes players kept (except minor leaguers), players won, and outstanding bids. Each team must acquire a minimum of 25 players and a maximum of 30 players at a total cost of no less than $200. For payrolls above the $260 Luxury Tax limit or $300 Yankee Tax limit, taxes will be collected accordingly before the start of the Regular Season. If bidding on a player puts a team beyond its tax limit, that owner SHOULD NOT start bidding $2 for every $1. The fines for overbidding will be assessed AFTER the auction takes place. For example, if you have 28 players at $260 and then win Pablo Sandoval for an additional $30, you will be assessed a $30 penalty after the auction. A $30 bid from this owner DOES NOT imply that he/she values Sandoval at $15. This is in place to avoid confusion and ensure the dollars bid in auction are all of the same value.Prospects may be bought through the Nomination Round Auction, but they are not eligible for your minor league roster and the same keeper rules apply to them as major leaguers. Amateur players (as defined earlier) cannot be bought/nominated in the auction. As a rule, no player with Rookie status will be listed in the original auction threads. They can, however, be nominated in the Nomination Round as long as they are not Amateur players.

If an owner acquires 25-30 players for less than the $200 minimum at the close of the Auction, that owner will be fined $2 for each dollar under the $200 payroll minimum. For example, if the Fredneck Flyers have a 28 man roster at the end of the auction with a $190 salary, the owner will be fined $20. This $20 will be placed into the Overall Payroll Pot for end of season redistribution.

If an owner spends more than the $260 Luxury Tax limit, he/she will be taxed $1 for each dollar over the $260. For example, if the Atlanta Cowards have a 30 man roster for $280, he/she will have to add $20 to the Overall Payroll Pot for end of season redistribution. As mentioned earlier, no team should make bids with the assumption that their auction dollars are now only worth 50 cents. To avoid confusion, dollar values will remain constant in auction and tax penalties will be assessed at the close of the auction.

Similarly, if an owner exceeds the $300 Yankee Tax limit, he/she will be taxed an additional $3 for each dollar above that $300 limit. For example, if the Crumpton Roches spend $310 on a 25-30 man roster, the owner will be charged $40 for the Luxury Tax, and another $30 for the Yankee Tax on top of the $300 salary. That means the owner will be placing a $380 payroll into the Overall Pot. Assuming he/she uses all the FA moves and does not move up any minor leaguers, the entry fee will be $380 + $6.50 + $40 + $16 = $442.50. Just to break even (assuming all other rosters are equal payroll around $260), the owner would have to win around 105 games and the Wildcard Round in the playoffs. Remember, that’s with only $310 worth of players.

If a contracted player is dropped, that owner is responsible for paying 50% of the players salary for each of the remaining years on the contract (‘Half-Lifed’ at 50% per year as explained previously). These penalty dollars CAN be traded and go toward the Overall Salary Pot for each of the year(s) in which they are paid.

Rules for the Nomination Round of the Auction: IF a player is not listed (including professional prospects), you can nominate that player in the Nomination Round after the Auction. In the Nomination Round, each owner is allowed to "nominate" twice as many players as their remaining roster spots, i.e., if you have 28 players (2 roster spots left) you can nominate 4 players. Nominations are sent by email to the Commissioner.

After the final list of Auction Players is released, each owner may then email a list of players they would like to acquire for no less than the auction’s minimum bid of $1 to the Commisioner. Please include the players’ full names, parent club, position, and the priority of each nominated player (1 meaning the highest priority player).

This emailed list of Nominated players MUST arrive in the Commissioner’s email BEFORE 12:00 am on XX/XX/XXXX. Also, you will only be allowed to send ONE email list to the Commissioner - so don't bombard my email with a dozen "change my mind" lists of players you request, as I will only accept the first list you send. As mentioned before, the maximum number of players on the list you email to the Commissioner can be twice as long as the total number of roster positions you have remaining at the time of the email. For example if by auction’s end you have acquired 24 players through the regular Auction, then you could email a Nomination list with up to 12 players. 30 max.roster - 24 = 6, and so 6 x 2 = 12. Be sure to list the player, position, team, and priority.

NOTE: Nominations are not to be posted on either message board! Once I receive all the nominations I will post all the players that have been nominated, along with all the teams that are eligible to place silent bids on that player. Only those teams that nominated that player can bid on him. Any other team cannot bid on that player. Owners will send silent bids to me by a single email similar to a FAAB system (once more DO NOT post this on either message board). I will announce the winning bids, and those teams with the highest bids will win that player. When making bids, you MAY NOT bid on more players than the number of remaining roster slots on your team!

Remember: Normal taxable payroll rules apply!On XX/XX/XXXX the Commissioner will review all the submitted emails and then reply telling each owner which of their requested players they had the highest blind bid on. For example, say the Unfathomable Cycle had a 25 man roster and bid on players A, B, C, D, E. If after comparing his requests to the requests made by the other owners -it was determined that the Unfathomable Cycle had the highest bid on A, B, C and D, the commissioner would send the Unfathomable Cycle an email telling him he now has the rights to A, B, C, D to his roster at the amount bid, but was not awarded Player E. These players MUST be added to the roster at the bid amount.

If an owner is the sole nominator of a player, he/she will be asked if they would like to keep that player at $1. If so, the player will be added to that roster immediately. If the owner declines to keep the player, then he will be put back into the player pool.

In order to compete in this final Nomination bidding process you must still have space available on your roster to accept the player you are bidding on. In other words, don't bid if you have already filled your roster to 30 players. This also includes outstanding bids!In the event of a tied blind email bid from competing owners, the Commissioner will award the player to the team with the player as the highest priority on his/her list. If there is still a tie, then the Commissioner will award the player to the team who has the fewest players on the roster. A further tie will result in the team with the least players at the Nominated Player’s position on his/her roster. Further ties will be awarded to the team with the lowest current Payroll for the given season.

League Pick'em:
Because CBS offers a 'League Pick'Em' Option, I have allowed for this to take place during the season. It's a simple matchup picking and will add a $10 fee. The payouts are at the end of the season with the "Team Revenue Pots": $125 for 1st Place, $60 for 2nd Place, and $15 for 3rd Place. If owners do not want to participate, we can simply get rid of it or not pay money for it.

Beginning the Season
For preseason Free Agent pickup rules and Waivers, please see the preceeding sections on these respective topics. Rosters will be added manually by the Commissioner at the end of the auction. Following this, Divisions and schedules will be announced.

Current Fantasy Models vs. Revenue Model

In the previous post, I briefly explained the problem with long-term keeper fantasy leagues. There was one aspect of the league structure that I left out: the tournament model. A tournament model is often used in sports like Golf and Tennis in order to incent only those players who guage their probability of winning the tournament to participate as reasonable, or about as high as everyone else in the tournament. The tournament finds a balance where the payout is large enough that people with a 'relatively' smaller chance still do participate (Tiger Woods vs. Rich Beem). Among the obvious reasons of 'they won't let me because I just plain stink', the PGA understands that golfers like me would not bother entering in the US Open because there is literally a zero probability of me winning. Mulitplying that probability by the payouts, and I still have a $0 return on participating. I therefore have no incentive to put forth extra effort. So who participates? Only those golfers that feel they have a legitimate shot at winning. The 120th ranked golfer still plays in the US Open because of the large payout, since their probability of winning is MUCH higher than mine, and the payouts are large enough. This incents 'effort' as well, which is exactly what the PGA wants. The best players playing at their highest level. In order for everyone to put forth this effort, the tournament also must bring together the players with the closest skill set, and closest (relative) probabilities of winning. If players mostly see their chances of winning as being equal (more or less), they will all make sure to try as hard as they can. If one golfer feels he has no chance, he won't try. If one golfer thinks he has a 100% chance of winning, he also won't try. The trying and high absolute quality are what creates revenue for the PGA.

The interesting place that we seem to see the 'low effort' hypothesis take place is actually in the PGA, when Tiger Woods plays in a tournament. According to one study, by Jennifer Brown at Berkeley, players average 1 stroke worse over the course of the tournament when Tiger plays than when he doesn't. He likely affects their evaluation of the probability that they win the tournament, and they--apparently--put forth less effort (though it could be nerves, or just random chance still, but it seems significant and has some application here). For more information and a manuscript of this study, go here: http://www.slate.com/id/2182671/.

Because of the time and money that one needs to put into practice, equipment, etc. in order to compete at that level, I watch from my couch. There is a cost to participation, whether it be time or money. Because my probability of winning/advancing multiplied by the payouts does not surpass the cost to my obtaining that higher probability of winning/advancing (or at least does not surpass it by a significant enough amount), I do not participate, or bother to try (extreme example). However, this is assuming an efficiently structured tournament. If one makes the payout TOO big (winner gets a trillions zillion dollars), everyone with a .0000000000000000001% chance will participate, desipte low odds of winning. Perhaps that's good for some things, but I'm not sure it would be ideal for the PGA.

In the Fantasy World, the entire league participates to some effect. So where does the 'not participate' decision come in? Well, it comes in at the trade deadline. Staying competitive can be viewed as the participation, while dumping would be viewed as non-participation. Unfortunately, the 'non-participation' here actually involves participating in the competition and having unintended effects on the balance of the league. These undesirable effects are our externalities, as explained in the previous post. And because there is also NEXT season, the payouts become skewed. If you increase your chance for next season, you have expected value for THIS season AND next season coming into the beginning of each year (and the next, and the next, etc.). So our payouts may become too large, or not distributed correctly (a marginal increase in performance this year for Rebuilding Team creates $0, where a large increase for next year creates $50 and costs the team $0 this year if the entry fee for this year is thought of as a sunk cost).

The league payouts are often similar to a tournament model (No payout for the bottom teams, small payouts for the better teams, huge payout for the winner). So at the deadline, with payouts of $10 for advancing to the playoffs, $20 for winning the first round, $50 for winning the next round, and $500 for winning the final round, owners make an educated guess at their probability of winning (it is now educated given the length of season passed), and decide to continue competing, or play for next year. Why? Because if they can increase the probability of winning NEXT year's tournament by enough, they would make enough money to cover not only next year's entry fee, but possibly even this year's thanks to the large payouts. By treating this year's fee as a cost to be allowed to play next season, they can reevaluate their expected payout. They could even simply see this year's fee as a sunk cost (and with a low enough probability of winning this year, should be thinking of it in that way), in which case it becomes even easier for them to begin dumping players and trying to marginally increase their expected value for the following season alone. This creates a situation where probabilities of winning the Championship can vary too widely, and create incentive problems for owners (just like the sure winner or loser in the golf tournament). In the end, it's not so much to the rebuilder's disadvantage, but the integrity and fun of the league is at stake.

Let's look at a simple extreme example:

Right before the trade deadline, Team X has decided it has a 1% chance of winning the championship in a league that gives all the money to the winning owner. In a 20 team league, at $50 per team, that's $1000. What is the 'expected value' of the season for Team X? It's simply $1000*.01=$10. It just wouldn't be profitable for the owner of Team X to continue to compete this year (though without a keeper league, competing would be better than punting the season). However, WE are talking about next year as well.

Let's say Team X's owner decides that if he trades Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez and CC Sabathia (contracts expiring) for Evan Longoria, Tim Lincecum and Andre Ethier who have very cheap contracts for the following season, he could increase his chances of winning NEXT year by 200%. By doing this he also decreases his chances of winning this year to 0%. Then, when deciding to dump, he will also take next season's expected value into account (we'll assume a 0% inflation rate). Assuming all teams have a 1 in 20 chance beginning the first, non-keeper depleted season, that's a 5% chance of winning when the league starts. Team X feels his chances are now 15% thanks to his blockbuster trade. Given this evaluation, his expected value for next season is $150! Not only does that cover his entry fee next season ($50), but it also covers his investment for this season ($50) plus a profit (another $50).

So the problem is the ROI this season for continuing to compete and the easily evaluated likelihood of seeing a payout. How can this be resolved? We could increase the return for continuing to compete despite a low probability of winning the championship and/or decrease the ability to guage whether or not an owner can win the league. In most leagues, there is no return on investment for hanging on to Albert Pujols through the end of the year only to release him back into the player pool unless he will help win the ultimate Championship prize. So how do we create this?

There are multiple ways to improve the return for doing so, as discussed earlier, but there is one I am quite partial to and recently developed myself (others may have had this idea, but I have yet to see it anywhere and I honestly created this at my computer based on the problems we've had in our keeper league with the help of our current league rules designed by my friend--and Law Student--Jesse). It's a fantasy league based on a revenue model. In this model, ROI is based on the marginal production of a team's players. In other words, a slight advantage does not result in enormous payouts. In a 2-team league ($500 entry fee), if one team has a 900% chance of winning, while the other has a 10% chance, the end results is not a difference of $1000. That is where the tournament model incents undesirable behavior (though my previous examples showed when a team decides dumping is better by using a more extreme case). In a revenue/marginal production model, the 10% team would produce $100 of league output, while the 90% team produces $900. These teams would be paid accordingly.

Heres' the key: Using a payout structure that gives owners ROI continuously through the season would incent them to continue to participate, rather than focus on the end result. We can design this to create the same expected payouts as the tournament model (and true payouts, if the tournament were repeated), but in a way that allows for the league to operate correctly. In addition, we can include a tournament at the end, as to not lose the gambling/excitement aspect of the league...and allow for all the trash talking to continue. So how do we do this? Check out the next post.

New Dynasty Fantasy Baseball League Model

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about Fantasy Baseball Keeper League rules and punting a current season in favor of improving for future ones. I have run into this problem in my own keeper league and it has become of central importance to league survival. Because it is a Head-to-Head 8x8 league, dumping on a season and rebuilding can have serious implications on the competitive balance of the league.

In a normal roto league, if a team dumps, it does not necessarily change the chances of other teams winning the league--in fact it should equally increase it for everyone, with some exceptions based on where certain teams are in category rankings. Everyone has an equal shot at trading with the 'dumping' owner, and there are no direct implications on competition. In the end, assuming everyone makes a trade with a dumping owner, competitive balance should remain the same, while the absolute quality of each of the competing teams should increase thanks to the raiding of the dumped players.

But as I said above, in a Head-to-Head competition, owners that give up on the season and make trades can have externalities involved. Wikipedia describes what an externality is much better than I:

In economics, an externality or spillover of an economic transaction is an impact on a party that is not directly involved in the transaction. In such a case, prices do not reflect the full costs or benefits in production or consumption of a product or service. A positive impact is called an external benefit, while a negative impact is called an external cost. Producers and consumers in a market may either not bear all of the costs or not reap all of the benefits of the economic activity. For example, manufacturing that causes air pollution imposes costs on the whole society, while fire-proofing a home improves the fire safety of neighbors. Standard economic
theory states that any voluntary exchange is mutually beneficial to both parties
involved in the trade. This is because if either the buyer or the seller would not benefit from the trade, they would refuse it. However, an exchange can cause additional effects on third parties. From the perspective of those affected, these effects may be negative (pollution from a factory), or positive (honey bees that pollinate the garden).


That's a pretty lengthy definition. You may be asking yourself, "So what?" Well the problem lies in the Head-to-Head competition. Because teams often wait until more than half the season is completed to decide to rebuild or continue to compete, the rest-of-season schedules are unbalanced. This results in some teams having the advantage of playing a rebuilding team late in the year, while others have to continue to play stiff competition. The externality here occurs when Team X plays Rebuilding Team, and the game results in 14 wins, instead of the 9 or 10 that would have resulted for Team X had Rebuilding Team decided not to punt the season.

In my 20 team league with 8x8 categories, our trade deadline occurs after the 6th or 7th session. There are 4 divisions (5 teams each), and each team plays the other team in its division twice, along with 2 non-divisional games. If a team, or 2 teams, in a single division decides to punt the season, that boosts the chances of teams in that division significantly more than any other team(s).

This has been a downfall of our league in recent years, and we have instituted rules in which to attenuate the problem. There are a number of options to do this including changing the trade deadline date to an earlier time to make it more difficult for owners to guage if they have a chance, restricting minor league and keeper rules more stringently, allowing for trade voting for vetos (I do not like this idea), having a 'consolation tournament', among others. Eriq Gardner of THT and FBJ plays in the league, and describes the Consolation Tournament in his Hardball Times Fantasy article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/fantasy/article/designing-a-better-league/

I chime in with the first comment (which I will discuss in the following post). It seems like this isn't a problem confined to our 20 team keeper league--though I have yet to find a league that is more affected by the balance change in dumping situations. In the end, we're talking about aligning incentives (as Eriq points out). While we could simply ban trades of this sort from happening in the league, I'm more of a free market person. I really think that the idea of the keeper league is to weight this season's chances with next season's and decide what's best for your investment. I also think this type of transaction mirrors real-life events in Major League Baseball. Cliff Lee for who? So the idea here is not to keep people from rebuilding (that's the most interesting aspect of a keeper league), but to limit its effect or the severity of the balance change when the deadline passes.

In the following post, I will explain why this happens in the broad fantasy model, and how we may solve the problem (at least the model I think would best solve it).

2010 Mock Draft: Final Rounds

We finally get to the last day of the draft. One of the best picks here was probably Brandon Webb, though it is a risky pick. With Webb's surgery coming so late, his return at the beginning of next season is questionable. If he returns to 100% of his previous form, this is the best pick in the draft. Unfortunately, I didn't make the pick.

I took Scott Baker here, who has shown significant improvement over the course of this season. Baker has allowed 2 ER or less in 5 of his last 7 outings and maintains a solid K-rate. Coming into this season, a lot of people were high on him. Due to his rough start, people jumped off the bandwagon quickly. Scott has put things back together and looks like a frontline starter for the Twins.

My final pick was another young pitcher: Jair Jurrjens. While Jurrjens doesn't have the same strikeout potential as the rest of these guys, he has done quite well pitching for the Braves this season. He continues to impress and has stayed healthy for much of the past few years. I think the Braves are an improving club, and should provide him with some run support in 2010. My first choice in this round would have been Rich Harden, but someone swiped him just before my Scott Baker pick. Jurrjens is a flyer pick, but I think if he doesn't work out, there could be someone on the waiver wire in this league that will break out some serious skills next season.

Summary: All in all, I think I have BA under control and all but locked up. My pitching is underrated, and I feel could come out in the middle to top of the pack in WHIP, ERA, K and SV with good seasons from Gallardo and Peavy. Wins are pretty unpredictable, and none of my SP play for top-tier ball clubs. But I think it's reasonable to say my pitching is good enough for the middle of the pack in all but the Wins category, if not better. I should compete for Top 3 slots in R and SB. My power is lower than I would like, but I think it's also underrated. With Manny-Beltran-Lee-Cabrera, I could be looking at 130+ HR from those guys alone. And Geovany Soto has more power potential than most catchers. I think the big thing in a league like this is I didn't make any crucial mistakes. There isn't much room for error when all the picks are such quality players, and taking someone like Mark Reynolds 5th overall could really hurt you (unless he repeats .280-45 with 30 SB...unlikely but not impossible).

I was disappointed with the number of votes I received, but I think people are low on my pitching. Then again, maybe it's good I value players differently than all of those voters. You can't win a fantasy league without finding inefficiencies everyone else misses...and, of course, you cannot win without a little luck. The teams in this draft are so even, I imagine this league would be more decided by luck than anything else.

2010 Mock Draft Middle Rounds

At this point, you're probably thinking, "Well what about pitching!?!". I've had success with picking high upside pitchers fairly late in both points and roto drafts. Looking at the pitching numbers, the only SP that stands out to me is Tim Lincecum. He was drafted in the 1st Round, and was the only pitcher in my Top 20. With only 40 SP going off the board, I felt that I could put together a very strong pitching staff even if I watied. Plus, there's always a guy on the waiver wire that busts out a great season (Andrew Bailey, Randy Wells, Happ, Randy Wolf, etc.). So...I waited until the 7th Round to pick up my first pitcher. Because this was such an early draft, my goal was to find young pitchers with very good skill sets and much room for improvement, as well as high strikeout rates. I picked up Yovanni Gallardo in the 7th Round, who I think can rival Lincecum next season for the NL Cy Young. While my first choice was Felix Hernandez, Gallardo has put together similar improvements in a shorter time, as well as maintained a high K-rate this season.

Following Gallardo, I had to go for positional depth again. Third Base has unfortunately been much shallower this season, and apparently going into next season, than it has in the past. I took Michael Young at 3B in the 8th Round. Though I'm not very happy with this pick--and probably would rather have had another high-K pitcher--Young has had a resurgent season after moving to 3B for the Rangers. He's almost a lock for a .300 average, and will score runs and drive them in with such a loaded Texas lineup. Still, I give this pick a B-.

My next pick was probably the best value I had in the entire draft. Though I wanted to slant my staff toward younger pitchers, I could not pass up Jake Peavy in the 9th Round. With much of the SS depth taken (as mentioned earlier), there was not a large dropoff at that position for the rest of the draft, so I made Peavy my #1 Pick for this round of autodrafting. The 2007 Cy Young winner has been injured much of the season, but still had one of the highest K-rates before being injured. The questions lie within Peavy's ability to return from injury, pitch in the American League, and pitch outsdie the spacious Petco Park. I'll take my chances with the stuff Peavy has, and maybe I'll have 2 frontrunning Cy Young candidates on my roster without picking a pitcher before the 7th Round.

I took Soto with my 10th Pick and will be brief here. Though he has been horrendous this year, he has an extremely low BABIP and a lot more power potential than most catchers (as well as a starting job almost gauranteed). I can afford a low-average catcher with my other high-average players, and I think Soto is due for some rebound (though he won't ever repeat his 2008 campaign).

I finally went for a SS in Round 11. Gordon Beckham has shown immense improvement in his skills since being called up to the White Sox. Since SS is listed as his primary position, he was eligible for SS in our draft. I think his power will continue to improve, and he's going to be an everyday player for the White Sox. I look for a .285-15-80 season from Beckham next year, which warrants a pick here in my opinion.I felt like there were only a few 'sure thing' (if there is such a thing) closers available.

Because we only have 1 Closer slot, and saves are 100% dependent on 1 player, I felt that this was the time to take one, and only one. Jonathan Broxton has shown an incredible strikeout rate this season. Because we only have 5 pitchers, a difference of 40 strikeouts from my closer could be very important in a Roto league. That's not to mention playing for the NL Leading Dodgers and in the spacious NL West parks. I was extremely happy with this pick at Round 12. Broxton's ERA has seen a jump late this season, but I think it has more to do with an unlucky HR rate (more than 3 times what it was last season) than a decrease in skill or command. I look for a sub-2.5 ERA, 90 K's, and 35-40 Saves from Broxton next season.

The final rounds and draft summary will follow in my next Prince of Slides post.

Fantasy Ball Junkie 2010 Mock Baseball Draft

Recently, the blog Fantasy Ball Junkie (edited by Eriq Gardner, also of The Hardball Times Fantasy) ran the very first 2010 Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft. The idea behind this was to let owners know how players may be valued next season in a standard league. I was chosen as one of the participants as the team He Thrills B. Mills (it should be noted that I know Eriq through a very competitive fantasy league I play in ). In the draft, 10 teams participated for a standard 5x5 Roto format. Each team rosters 14 players (8 position players, 1 DH, 4 SP, 1 RP). I ended up with the 8th pick in the snake draft format. The draft was run over a 7 day period, with 2 rounds being completed each day. Owners of each team in the draft sent Eriq a list of their top 20 players for each 2 rounds, and he did an 'autodraft' format. This unfortunately led to the inability to adjust to previous picks for each round. However, there was the ability to adjust the lists each day in order to take into account the previous 2 rounds. Overall, I think it worked out quite well.

He Thrills B. Mills turned out as follows:

C: Geovany Soto
1B: Miguel Cabrera
2B: Aaron Hill
SS: Gordon Beckham
3B: Michael Young
OF: Carl Crawford
OF: Manny Ramirez
OF: Carlos Beltran
U: Carlos Lee
SP1: Yovani Gallardo
SP2: Jake Peavy
SP3: Scott Baker
SP4: Jair Jurrjens
CL: Jonathan Broxton

My first overall pick was Carl Crawford, which was not ideal. I felt like I was forced to put Crawford where he was, and really did not want him on my team. I generally lean toward not paying so much for the Stolen Base category. With the premium placed on stolen bases, chasing them can really hurt a team in other categories like BA, RBI, and HR. Crawford is a possible exception here, given he does not take too much away from other categories. Still, my HR and RBI numbers could suffer from this pick.

Following Crawford, I really like my picks. I got Miguel Cabrera in the second round, who in recent years has essentially been an 'Albert Pujols light' (this year excluded). I followed that pick up with Carlos Beltran (a great 5-tool player who I think was overlooked due to his injury this year), and Manny Ramirez. I'm not sure how I got Manny in the 4th Round. I think this was a fantastic pick, and really saved my team from falling too far behind in the power categories. I don't see Manny's production being affected by his suspension, and I may have gotten a .315-30-120 guy very late.

After these picks, I really had to go after low positional depth areas. I took Aaron Hill in the 5th Round. I think this was about right for this pick. Currently, Hill is equaling Chase Utley (a top 5 overall pick) in production, if not surpassing him. I don't think Hill will repeat as a 35 to 40 HR threat. However, before his injuries in the previous season(s), he was showing a very solid skill set. Remember, this is an early draft, and we can't completely deny the fact that he has 29 HR at a notoriously powerless position.

I followed up Hill with what I felt was the best player available at this time. The top shortstops were off the board, and the ones left were almost all equal in ability (guys like Yunel Escobar, Stephen Drew, Gordon Beckham, etc.). Because of the lack of bench spots, I did not have to worry about losing out on a decent shortstop from someone picking up a backup. The best player available in my mind was Carlos Lee. This is a perennial .300-30-100 hitter. As a 6th Round pick, I think there is great value there.

The next 2 entries will finish up the draft.

Introduction to The Prince of Slides

In my everlasting search for the answer to every sports (among other topics) question imaginable, I decided to create this blog. While there are a number of very advanced sabermetric, statistical, economic, legal and fantasy sites around--Statspeak, Dataspora Blog, The Book Blog, The Hardball Times, Fantasy Ball Junkie, The Sports Economist, Sabernomics, Shysterball, Sports Labor Relations--I will try to present something different. I plan to investigate questions that are, well, a little more fun. I honestly glaze over when reading articles about park factors, replacement players, and projection system analysis. My goal here is to ask more broad questions, and try to answer them with multivariate visualizations, logical economic thinking, and even my sometimes bold, unwaivering (and likely incorrect) opinions.

Unfortunately, one of my favorite bloggers, Pizza Cutter, has recently resigned from Stat Speak. I loved his blog entries and analysis because they differed in many ways from the traditional projection systems, WAR analysis, fielding metrics, and park factors we see every single day on blogs all over the internet. My inspiration for some of the techniques used comes from Pizza Cutter; however, my breadth of knowledge and my skill as a writer fall far short and I look forward to any type of return from him in the future. I am not a 'subject matter expert' in any academic field discussed (that includes sabermetrically). However, I pride myself in my knowledge of the game of baseball from both an old-school scouting POV, as well as a progressive, statistical POV. While the latter is most objective, it can be lost without the former.

In my quest to question everything, and my inability to answer anything, I hope that readers will contribute their opinions to entries posted here. I have found discussion to be the only road to truth and I search for it through any means possible. The posts here are to, hopefully, encourage and enhance discussion. They are not to be taken as the end-all answer to a specific topic.

A LITTLE ABOUT MYSELF:

I go by Millsy on the internet and am a somewhat active commentor on a number of the blogs listed on the sidebar. I'm currenlty a PhD student in Sport Management at the University of Michigan. I have a BA in Psychology as well as an MA in Sport Management. I am focusing on linking econometric/statistical/sabermetric topics directly to management and policy in professional sport. I am also in the process of pursuing graduate degrees in Statistics and Applied Economics (with specializations in Labor Economics, Econometrics, and Industrial/Organization Economics). I played baseball in college, as a pitcher, but always thought I was a better hitter. Most likely I was wrong in that evaluation, despite not even being all that good on the mound. I'm a pretty avid fantasy baseball player, and dabble in football as well. Hopefully I'm a better writer than baseball player, and a better graduate student than undergraduate.

SIDE NOTES:

1. Because I am a grad student, posts may be somewhat sparse during non-summer months.
2. I may not get too in depth with some topics, as my work toward publishing in academic journals (maybe I'll get one soon) takes precedent over this blog. But that's good for readers, because academic publications tend to be boring and super nerdy.
3. The title of this blog stems from my favorite book, The Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy. The alteration to that title (Slides) comes from my apparent involuntary reflex of always sliding in my softball games. The old men hate it.