My goal is to reinvigorate the fantasy baseball space. I previously touched on the issue in What is Wrong With Fantasy Baseball?
I was pretty darn surprised that so many folks seemingly thought that nothing was wrong, despite overwhelming evidence that there is an issue of lagging interest in season-long fantasy baseball. I mentioned in that piece my desire to see fantasy baseball reinvigorate itself by coming up with a new format to catch folk’s attention (I offered numerous ways this might be accomplished). In what follows I will add some nuance to one of the possible exceptions for folks who deem the seasons just too damn long.
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THE TWITTER POLL
So I asked, would you want to play a league that included two halves, without playoffs? While the “winning” vote total was cast for YES, the category didn’t even get half the votes.
I was asked, on multiple occasions, why I would even want to do this – break the season in two? My answer was — injuries. Oddly, I got a lot of pushback on that point of view (way more than I anticipated). It’s one thing to lose because you get beat. It’s another thing to lose because everyone on your team is on the injured list (I’ve personally had as many as 12 players on the disabled at one time in a league this season). I heard from folks lots of ‘just get guys off waivers to cover the loss,’ and while I understand this point of view, it does confuse me a bit. The deeper you get into the player pool, the greater the risk. For every Yordan Alvarez that explodes on the scene we get failures like Alex Reyes, Luis Urias, Forrest Whitley, Garrett Hampson, Brendan Rodgers, Jesus Luzardo etc. Hitting on the callups each season is completely random. Winning or losing a league because you guessed correctly hardly seem to me to be a provable way of being a better fantasy player.
Second, I would love to know how many folks who believe that you can easily overcome injuries are in shallow leagues? When you’re in a 15-team mixed league with 29-man rosters, waivers are thin. It’s simply not easy to go and find an All-Star caliber performer on waivers.
Third, and more directly for me, one of the biggest complaints I hear is goes something like this on May 17th – ‘my team is already sunk by injuries – I’ve got no shot this season.’ I know the feeling as I’ve experienced this feeling of loss acutely the last two seasons. If you draft a good team, and they all break down, is that really your fault? Maybe it is if you drafted Giancarlo Stanton, but not if you drafted Justin Upton. My point should be obvious – injuries blow, and despite your best efforts, there are sometimes seasons that are ruined by mid-year because of a cavalcade of injuries, and there is nothing you can do about those efforts. Why battle all season long just to feel victorious by finishing in 5th place? Why not redraft and get another go at it?
Here are some of the responses that were received when I posted the above poll.
Totally in for 1st half. I get burned out the 2nd half though. So, I’d probably skip out the 2nd half.
My only concern would be the last week of the 2nd half being such a gamble on playing time and probable starting SP’s that maybe there should be a 13-week season followed by a 12-week season. Don’t play the 26th week.
Should have keeper option. Some of the guys you got right in the first have can stay.
No way. Full season is the only way to go for me.
I love playing the entire season but I would be open to trying this. Love the idea of having another draft mid-season.
The lack of playoffs is a killer for me. Otherwise this is intriguing
So, it sounds like some folks are in, but multiple responses alluded to the desire for a playoff, so let me address that.
1 – Going with two halves of 81 games seems like a pretty obvious break point. Fifty percent of the games in the first and fifty percent of the games in the second stanza.
2 – Having a slightly longer first half than second makes sense because of the natural break point of the All-Star Game. I could see plenty of leagues doing their mid-season draft during the Home Run Derby, during the All-Star Game, or doing it the day after the game. It’s a natural break point, though it would require a shorter second half.
3 – How would we handle the playoffs? Ideally, I would like to set it at 12 weeks for the first half, 12 weeks for the second half, and then two weeks for the finals. However, and obvious problem could arise – what if teams are using the same players? Don’t forget that we would be operating, in essence, with two different leagues, but there could be a good deal of player overlap among both “winning” teams. I guess those of you down for the playoff setup would just take the crossover of players in stride? However, there is a second issue that is much bigger – does the team that “won” the first half only be able to use their first half players? What if three of your pitchers from the first half team went down in August with injury? Since you stopped managing that team at the All-Star Break you wouldn’t have rostered any replacements, which means you would get crushed in the playoffs by the winner of the second half who has been managing their team up until the day the playoff start. Are we going to ask folks to continue to manager two teams? Seems like a lot of work to me, and it would also necessitate a non-existent provider who could blend first and half teams. This seems needless complicated, if not outright impossible to achieve.
I’m not sure how we could overcome this concern? My guess would be that we would overcome the concern by simply removing it.
Here were two options offered that tweaked my original proposal a bit.
Ray we have done this for twenty years but with a slight difference. We do NOT redraft. We just zero out the stats. With injuries and waiver wires thing change over the course of the year. Keeps everyone interested and rarely same three win both halves. SO MUCH BETTER. Try it!
This is interesting. It certainly eliminates the concerns about roster makeup for the playoffs, since it ties each of us to the team we’ve been managing since Week 1. At the same time, if you owned Kluber/Carrasco/Stanton/Andujar as some of your foundational pieces in Week 1, just how high would your shot be at winning the “second half”?
If you do this (I’ve talked about it for years). To me you do 1st half winner 2nd half winner plus an overall winner for most points total.
I like this idea. It’s possible you could come in second place in both halves, but still have the most roto points at the end of the year (we already do something just like this in the playoffs for fantasy football in most leagues with the team that scored the most points without qualifying for the playoffs being granted the final playoff spot). This might not settle things for the folks that want the juice of a playoff, but I do think it does a really nice job of getting to the heart of what we are trying to accomplish with season-long fantasy baseball.
I’d like to keep tweaking how we can improve fantasy baseball with the hope that we can reinvigorate a portion of the fantasy game that is losing steam. Head over to the Live Advice chatroom to continue the conversation (you can still sign up for just $12.99 if you don’t’ have access yet)Ray Flowers can be heard Monday-Thursday 8-10 PM EDT, and Friday’s from 10-12 PM EST on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). Follow Ray’s work on Twitter (@baseballguys) and be sure to listen to his podcast work too