Anatomy of a Keeper League Part 1

For the last 5 years, I’ve run a Fantasy Baseball Keeper League. As a result, I’ve learned quite a few things about Fantasy Baseball, opponents, and running a long term team.

Over the season, I’ll be evaluating various aspects of fantasy baseball, and specifically keeper leagues.

This week, I’ll cover fantasy baseball terminology and the set up of my league.

League Set Up and Rules
I mirrored this league off another keeper league I was playing in. The league was great, but I had issues with how the league was run. The owner would change the rules often; when I joined, he said any rule changes would be voted on by the league.

So, the first thing I did was draw up our league rules. Any changes that happened afterwards were voted on by the league (I set it up on a free forum, where we could create polls for voting).

Here is our current Official League Rules:

10 team league
30 man rosters, 15 keepers
15 man minor league roster

Roto Scoring – 6×6
Hitting – Avg, R, HR, RBI, SB, OBP
Pitching – ERA, K, W, Sv, WHIP, Hld

C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OF, 3 Util, 4 SP, 3 RP, 3 P, 2 DL spots

Major League Draft:
To be drafted in the Major League Portion of the draft, a player must have 1 Major League At Bats or 1 Major League Innings Pitcher. The draft order will be reversed of the previous season’s standings; it will be worst to first in the first 5 rounds, then snake after that. All teams will be required to update their roster throughout the draft.

Minor League Draft:
Any player under 300 AB or 150 IP and isn’t on a Fantasy Major League roster can be drafted in the Minor League draft. All new foreign players will be drafted in the Minor League draft (not the Major League draft. This is for players like Kenshin Kawakami in Atlanta last year). The Minor League Draft will be in order of reversed standings and will snake. You don’t have to fill in positions in the Minor League draft, just draft who you want. All teams will be required to update their minor league roster throughout the draft.

Major League Rosters:
We will have daily transactions in the league. Once the draft is completed and Yahoo opens their fantasy baseball site, add/drops can start. Per Yahoo’s guidelines, there is a restriction on games per position; there is no limitation on pitchers (I think, I’ll check into it). Rosters will be frozen the day after the season ends. All owners will be required to copy and paste their rosters in their team thread.

Minor League Rosters:
Minor League Rosters will be maintained by the individual team owners. If a player reaches the stat plateau (300 AB or 150 IP), they will have to be activated. There will be no grace period. A player may be brought up before they reach the stat restrictions, but they may NOT be sent back to the minor league roster. Any player not brought up before they hit the limit will be subject to waivers.

Any trade made will be subject to a vote. If 4 teams or more veto a trade, it’s a dead deal. When off-season trades are made, we will have a poll for voting purposes on the forum. Draft picks can be traded.

Free Agents:
Once the Yahoo site is open, free agent transactions can begin. If a player is on waivers, they will be subject to a 3 day waiver period. Standard Yahoo rules will be used for waivers. Starting waiver priority will be given based off final standings from the previous year.

Position Eligibility:
We will follow Yahoo’s ruling on position eligibility, which I believe is 15 games at a position from the previous season or 5 games from the current season.

Rule Changes:
The rules are always open to change, pending league vote. All changes will occur in the off-season.

These rules are posted on our message board.

One of the difficult parts of a league like this is finding dedicated people who will actively participate in the league. Of the original 12 members, we have 4 left. Most either are in over their heads and quit, or they just don’t pay attention. This past off season we had 1 team that didn’t come back, so we’ve hit a point where we’ve got a good group of owners.

Another decision I made before starting the league was using OF rather than specific positions (LF, CF, RF). With an in depth league, this was a good way to make it a little easier for the other owners. There is less strategy in finding 3 outfielders rather than finding a left, center, and right fielder. There is enough other stuff to worry about.

The amount of keepers was another issue to for me. I wanted enough keepers to build a team around, but I didn’t want so many that the draft was irrelevant. I decided on 15; enough to build on while still having 15 draft picks. Plus, keeping upto all of your minor leaguers gives you some options.

In future columns, I’ll look at determining keepers, drafting, strategies, and general day to day operations.

Roto League – Roto leagues use total stats for your team; a point value is given based off your ranking per stat. If my team has the most home runs in the leauge, I’ll be given 10 points; if I were in last place in home runs, I’d receive 1 point. The team with the most points wins the league. There are no playoffs in this format. Yahoo uses a similar method for their head to head league (your stats versus your opponents stats for a given week).

6×6 – 6 hitting stats and 6 pitching stats. The standard roto league is a 5×5 league, with the standard stats being Avg, HR, RBIs, Rs, SB, W, Sv, Ks, ERA, WHIP

Keepers – Keepers are the players that are held over from year to year. We can keep half of our team from year to year. That may sound like a lot, but it is hard to decide which players to keep (which you’ll see in the future).

Util – One position is a Utility position; any hitter can be in an active roster spot under the utility spot.

P – This is the utility position for pitchers; you can use a starter or reliever in these spots.

Position Eligibility – When a player plays multiple positions, they will end up qualifying for that position in fantasy baseball. Ben Zobrist is a good example; last season, he qualified for 2B, SS, and the OF. Most leagues have a rule of 15 games at a position from the previous season, or 5 games from the current season.

Next Time…
Next, I’ll look at building a team through trades. I’ll use my own team as an example.

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