Expanding your league: Tips for existing owners

by BaseballHQ.com on January 5, 2010 @ 00:00:00 PDT


One major factor controls the stability of most Rotisserie leagues - continuing league ownership. GMs can debate and tinker with rules, have lots of suds at frequent meetings and make numerous trades all year long to keep interest high. But owners quit, and it often takes several years before a league reaches its optimal number of owners. The first of this two-part essay will examine the veteran owners' perspective on expansion issues.

League Approaches - The first question concerns your league's approach to the draft. When your expansion involves more than one team, some leagues hold a preliminary draft. Before the full draft gets underway, the rookie GMs spend their salaries against each other until one or all their rosters reach a designated total (usually seven). This seems less sportsmanlike than simply having the entire league jump in the water together.

When a single owner drops out and a replacement owner is found, the league can vote to either award the defunct franchise to the rookie owner or dump the entire roster back into the draft's free agent pool. A more welcoming gesture might be for the league to offer the choice of the pre-owned team or an empty roster with a full salary cap to the new owner.

Effects on the Categories - Not every category will be affected the same way by expansion. Generally, the range of the averaged categories (batting average, ERA, and WHIP) will not fluctuate much with Rotisserie expansion. They will, however, tend to follow MLB trends, such as rising ERAs.

Wins, saves and steals are harder to adjust for expansion. Because these categories are so easily affected by a few premier players, a GM who wants to corner the market can skew any projections. In these categories, distinct groupings tend to occur - the "haves" versus the "have-nots", especially in keeper leagues. Expansion could exaggerate those distinctions, so be wary of getting stuck with a "have-not" team.

That leaves home runs, RBIs, runs scored, and strikeouts. These are more easily diluted by Rotisserie expansion, so reduce your category projections by the percentage your league is expanding.

Position Availability - Obviously, position availability will be reduced, as well. Having two new owners means at least 46 more free agents. An additional $520 (in a $260 league) will be spent. Ten more outfielders and 18 more pitchers off the bottom will be bid on. If owners are initially cautious about the expansion, and the first three or four players brought up are undervalued, target a primary need immediately. If the bids start high, however, wait for the drop in value to occur.

The End Game - Expansion adds emphasis to the end game, magnifying the need to track everyone's salary. With more players in demand, everyone will be edgy about filling roster spots. Get a few big names out at some competitive position and feed that anxiety early. And bid up the expensive players. At a position where a young gem or two is hidden, put other players into bid early. You'll help to fill someone else's roster at that position, lower the cost of your young gem, and have more dollar value later.

Reading the Rookie Owner - During the draft, watch for these rookie tendencies:

  • Note the players the rookie brings up and the ones he ends up with. If a rookie is signing the players he puts into bid, encourage his bidding an extra dollar or two on those players.
  • If the rookie goes after the big names, as they often do, offer a few yourself early in the draft. And help him bid so you will have more money for that lull sure to come.
  • Note the categories and/or positions he seems most anxious to fill, and offer up a few overvalued, aging stars.
  • Most rookies find power attractive. Help them spend their money.
  • Many will target a big name in each category. Again, encourage the bidding on those players.
  • Is he over-bidding categories or positions that are well-stocked? That shows a lack of knowledge about position availability and drafting strategy. If he were under-bidding well-stocked areas, of course, he might have actually studied the economics of the draft.
  • Is he over-bidding across the board? Take advantage, because he may not grasp the economic reality of Rotisserie yet. If he's under-bidding, however, he could be waiting for a lull in the bidding or just being prudent with his salaries until the end game. Or he could be in trouble.

Read Part 2 of this article.

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