If you’re familiar with our work here at the Dynasty Guru, you’re likely already aware that we are both actively excited by, and not afraid to dip our toes into, very large undertakings. We just finished the second annual Dynasty League Rankings by position (and the Dynasty 500 will be dropping later this week) and in the past I’ve written extended series about both Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster and drafting one from scratch.
This is no different. The idea for the league had been kicking around ever since I started the site back in 2012, but was never feasible to start heading into the 2013 season. This year, we made it feasible and I started by enlisting friends of the site (and of Baseball Prospectus). Before we knew it, we had an extensive roster of smart fantasy minds representing big fantasy sites to go alongside the minds you already know and love here at The Dynasty Guru. So before I jump into talking about what this league is and why it exists, here are the owners that make up the 20 teams involved and their site affiliations:
1) Bret Sayre, TDG/Baseball Prospectus
2) Craig Goldstein, TDG/Baseball Prospectus
3) Ben Carsley, TDG/Baseball Prospectus
4) Craig Glaser/Tom Trudeau, Bloomberg Sports
5) J.D. Sussman, Bullpen Banter (RIP)
6) Nick Shlain, Rotowire
7) Mike Rosenbaum, Bleacher Report
8) J.P. Breen, Fangraphs
9) Jake Ciely/Chris Mitchell, RotoExperts
10) Chris Cwik, CBS
11) Mike Newman, RotoScouting
12) Ian Kahn/Tim McLeod, RotoRob
13) Jason Hunt, Fake Teams
14) Chris Crawford, MLB Draft Insider/ESPN
15) Wilson Karaman, TDG
16) Andy Barnes/Noel Baldwin, TDG
17) Alex Kantecki, TDG
18) Luke Chatelain/Adam Sonnett, TDG
19) Mike Buttil/Paul Clewell, TDG
20) Nick Doran, TDG
So we know it’s going to be a competitive league.
Let’s take a step back though and talk about what we’re setting out to accomplish here. This is not just a league where writers gather together to play each other in a highly competitive environment–it’s more. This is going to be a very public and very see-through league where all of the readers can not only follow along with standings, transactions, etc, but there will also be constant coverage throughout the season on the site here. That coverage will include weekly transaction write ups, trade analysis and full draft coverage (both initial and ongoing). And this will include commentary from the owners themselves when they make a move which is noteworthy. You’ll see the thought process that goes into the moves that happen in this league so that you can take that information with you to your own league.
The League Settings
We all know how complex some dynasty leagues can get, but the TDG Experts League (yes, I’m aware that it’s like saying ATM Machine–you’re just going to have to deal with it) is going to be kicking it old school. No contracts, no salaries, just players. Each roster will consist of 23 active players, 7 reserve players and 10 minor league players. Those active players break out in a standard format, with the differences being that we will play with one catcher and two utility spots. The league format will be a standard 5×5 rotisserie in order to be most helpful to the most number of people (those of you who use QS, OBP, SLG, HLD already know how to translate knowledge/values back to your leagues. Besides those basics, here’s more of what you need to know about the settings:
- Owners will keep 35 players of their choosing from year-to-year (including both major and minor leagues)
- Each pre-season, there will be a five round draft to fill out rosters that will be a line draft ordered from worst to first.
- Only players who have signed contracts with MLB organizations will be eligible for the player pool. Any new entrants to the player pool must enter through the draft (the player pool locks at the start of each draft)
- Each team will have a $100 FAAB budget to pick up players throughout the season and transactions will run weekly (Sunday night for Monday’s games). There are no artificial limits on transactions and minor leaguers under contract at the beginning of that year’s draft may be picked up at any time.
- Lineups will be set weekly prior to the start of games on Monday.
- There are no limitations to the number of minor leaguers you may own on your roster, although your minor league spots must consist of players who are ML eligible (less than 130 AB or 50 IP) or players who are actually in the minor leagues.
Like I said, it’s pretty straight forward. However, it wouldn’t be fun without a little bit of a wrinkle, so that comes in for our next section.
The Initial Draft
We will be starting this draft tomorrow (Wednesday) morning and will be drafting all 40 players (including major and minor leaguers) in one long slow draft, as it is meant to be. However, we’ve all run into this problem before when setting up leagues: how do we make the initial draft order more equitable than just determining it at random? Fortunately, we’ve got you covered here at The Dynasty Guru. The system we implemented, which I am now calling the Invisible Hand, was a byproduct of a conversation between myself and Craig Glaser (one of the other owners in the league) about what sort of advantages the team that picks first has. Even in a snake draft like ours, the person who picks first will have a big advantage over everyone else because he gets to take Mike Trout. In a 20-team league, the emphasis on those big, high-end superstars is more prominent because there’s a much bigger difference between the #1 pick and #16 pick than there is between the #25 pick and #40 pick.
Here are the basics of the Invisible Hand system:
- Each team is allowed to bid 2014 keeper slots to acquire a draft slot of their choosing for the entire snake draft. For example, a team may bid eight keeper slots on the #1 draft slot. This means that the team will only be able to keep 27 players, instead of 35 at season’s end.
- Any price in keepers paid for a draft slot only applies to the first season of the league and will not count in future years.
- Bidding for draft slots is entirely optional.
- All draft spots not won by bid will be determined by random draft order, and all tiebreakers in keeper bids will also be broken by the random draft order.
- The teams who lose keepers at the end of 2014 will participate in a supplemental draft after the standard five round draft is completed, in reverse numerical order of the draft slots won.
- Keepers spots are only lost for winning bids. If you bid and lose, you stay at 35 keepers.
- There is no Vickrey system here. If you bid 10 spots and the next bid is 4, you lose 10 keeper spots
In the end, we got some very interesting (and widely ranging) bids for any number of spots. In all, 14 teams bid on draft spots and 61 total keepers spots were sacrificed for draft order strategy. Here is the final draft order with how many keeper spots were paid to acquire it:
1) Mike/Paul (15 keepers paid)
2) Craig/Tom (8 keepers paid)
3) Alex (6 keepers paid)
4) Nick S (8 keepers paid)
5) Jake/Chris (15 keepers paid)
6) J.P. (2 keepers paid)
7) Ian/Tim (2 keepers paid)
8) Chris Cwik (2 keepers paid)
9) Wilson (1 keeper paid)
10) J.D. (#1 in random draft order)
11) Bret (1 keeper paid)
12) Nick D (#4 in random draft order)
13) Crawford (#6 in random draft order)
14) Mike R (#8 in random draft order)
15) Ben C (#9 in random draft order)
16) Andy/Noel (1 keeper paid)
17) Mike N (#11 in random draft order)
18) Jason (#12 in random draft order)
19) Goldstein (#15 in random draft order)
20) Luke/Adam (#17 in random draft order)
Mike will actually be following this with an article on Thursday about why he made the bid he did and what he thinks the ramifications will be. I also imagine he’ll touch on whether he’ll take Grady Sizemore or Kyle Drabek with that number one overall spot. Additionally, Mike Newman at RotoScouting.com wrote his take on this process yesterday and how he approached the decision of how much to bid on the top spot.
So keep an eye out on both the site here, the representative sites of the other writers involved and on Twitter, where we will be using the #TDGX hashtag throughout the draft. This whole league is meant to be interactive, so join in the conversation at any juncture. Let us know what you think of our teams. Ask us why we made certain decisions. The more information we provide to you, the better equipped you’ll be when it’s time for you to make a similar choice in your league–and that’s what we’re here for. This is just another fun avenue for it.
Follow me on Twitter at @dynastyguru.