We have rules in place for positional qualifications in baseball. Some leagues use this number, others that number, but we all have a number. Ray Flowers will talk about the traditional setup and how we will need to adjust those levels in 2021.
I’m a stickler for the rules. You probably all know that by now if you have followed my work for any period of time. I was the kid who said ‘fellas, we can play in the park cause its 6:15 and the sign says the park is closes at 6:00.’ OK, I would never have said that about playing ball since they would have had to have pulled me off any court or field if there was a game to be played. But the point is valid. I like rules, and I think we should set baselines that we all agree to.
In the fantasy game we have rules in regards to how many times a player has to play at a position to qualify at that spot. Here are the setups used in most leagues.
One Game: This is a horrid setup to be in and most leagues understand that at this point, but there was a time back in the 1990’s where we would run into an issue like this, some outfielder playing an inning at third base in an extra inning game, and all hell would break loose.
Five Games: League still use this one today, and it’s a bad idea. It’s simply too low.
10 Games: Lots of leagues have settled at this level and I still think it’s thin. I get leagues wanting to bring diversification so players can be moved around, but this is such a low level that issues can still arise. A prime example of this was what happened with Anthony Rizzo a few years back. In 2017 he “played” second base 10 times, so he qualified at the position in 2018. Never mind that Rizzo, get this, played just 4.1 innings at second base in ’17. Yep, Rizzo played 13 outs at second base, yet in 10-game setups he qualified at second base in 2018. Awful.
15 Games: A happy medium perhaps, as it sits above the 10-game level and below the traditional 20-game setup.
20 Games: This is the industry standard. It’s always surprising to me to learn from folks that they have no idea that this is the number that has been used for decades. It’s the number leagues should use, in my opinion, and is the generally accepted baseline.
THE 2021 SEASON & OPTIONS
All of the above assumes that Major League Baseball is playing 162 games. What should we be doing in 2021, given that we will only be playing half that many games in 2021?
Let’s just wipe out the one game thing. It’s just stupid.
What about 20-games? I mean, I’m a stickler for the rules and the rules say “twenty.” However…
Twenty games out of 162 is roughly 12 percent of the games.
Twenty games out of 82 is roughly 24 percent of the games.
That’s a massive increase and would be akin to a guy needing 40-games played in a traditional season to acquire a defensive position.
Twenty games is too much for this special season.
This still seems thin to me. That’s probably because it would equate to 10 games in a full season. One would have to think that with less games in play that managers will be handling the game differently. There is likely to be a more ‘go for broke’ attitude with each game with managers going for the throat each time out. There could be more in-game managing. There could be more in-game maneuvering. There could be more mixing/matching. What I mean, directly, is that it might be pretty easy for some guys to pick up five games (it’s such a small number). Let’s say a guy starts three games at a position. Then just twice, in the other 75+ games, he comes in for a couple of innings at the spot. It’s just too easy to get to five games, even with only half as many games available.
It would be easy to say – we use 20 for 162 games at 12 percent of the games. Therefore, what is 12 percent of 82 games? The answer is roughly 10 games. So, if we wanted to keep the 2021 qualification rules the same as usual, we would just say that a guy will need 10 games played in 2020 to qualify at a position in 2021. By the way, I’m fine with that, but let’s take this to another level.
In 2020, the injured list has been moved back to 15 days, after seeing it reduced 10 days (see New Rules in 2020). A scenario. Player A goes on the IL. Player B takes over his spot for 15 days and plays 11 games at his position. Player A returns to the lineup, and Player B goes back to his normal spot in the field. So, for just two weeks of games, Player B has picked up a new spot. Does that seem right to you? It doesn’t to me, but that’s me. I can’t tell anyone what or how to think, though at times I sure wish I could.
Did you see that a pair of signed Air Jordan’s recently sold at auction for $560,000.
How about we find a happy medium.
I’m personally out on one and five.
I think 20 is asking too much given how we normally play the game.
That would seem to leave the happy-zone as somewhere in the 10-15 range.
I know folks like their zero’s and five’s, but I think we should come to a mid-point compromise.
Again, it is simple to go 10 games since the season is half as long, but as I noted with the health-related example above, I feel like it’s too thin.
Fifteen games, already in use in some places (like Tout Wars), is probably to heavy handed.
So, I’m going to propose going with 12 games. It’s a bit close to the halfway point of 10 without going too heavy handed. It is possible that I’m overshooting things here instead of just going with the simplistic number of 10. However, I think the expanded rosters this season will open up more players to being pinch hitters or defensive replacements. I also think that managers will be much more aggressive with their rosters being that the season is only half as long. That number – 12 – seems like the most reasonable approach to me given what we know as I write this, even though I’m sure that most leagues will just go with 10 games and be done with it.
Finally, in a worst-case scenario, the doomsday scenario of no games being played, we would be forced to revert to the 2019 games played qualifications for players. By the way, here are those basic player qualifications from 2019 for the 2020 season.