Debating Rule 1a In Ottoneu Baseball

Ottoneu is one of the best fantasy platforms available but some of the rules (roster limits, player position eligibility, etc.) are critical to understand before you get started. Use this thread to ask and discuss questions regarding Ottoneu rules.
https://ottoneu.fangraphs.com/rules

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Let’s start off this topic with a little rule 1a debate! In one of my leagues there is a team with all positions filled except he only has 2 RP. What do you think, legal or illegal? Also, feel free to add any other points you think are relevant to rule 1a.

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If you’re going by a strict interpretation of the rules, that is probably illegal. If you’re using a “spirit of the rules” interpretation, it’s probably legal. I absolutely despise these gray areas by the way, I don’t mind leaving certain things up to the discretion of a league and its commissioner, but rule 1a offers no suggestions for enforcement, and no clarification about when it should be enforced. Am I illegal if I only have one catcher and he goes on the 15 day DL? Am I illegal if I started the season with five RP and one just got demoted to AAA?

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Rule 1a

Just for reference here is the actual rule 1a:
a. Each team should maintain at all times a roster of 22 major-league players that can fill out a starting lineup. The remaining 18 roster spots can be used for reserves, consisting of both major and minor leaguers.

Enforcing this rule has been debated several times on Slack. Here’s a link to some archived discussions.

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Yeah that major-league caveat seems important to me, and it’s why my personal interpretation of the rule as a commish is to only enforce it when an owner has fewer than 22 major league players.

To address this rule specifically, does “major-league players” mean:

  1. a player who is currently at the major-league level
  2. a player who will be assigned $2 in offseason allocation due to major-league service time

Example: Greg Bird. Is he a major-league player in 2016?

this might be long winded but here goes:

1: to answer your question, yes it’s illegal, but nothing should be done. He’s actively hurting himself in trade value by not picking up the $1-2 Justin Wilsons of the world that can become a little lubrication in a trade or dumped at years end. SP/RP to me should be “are they reasonable?” Because it’s innings instead of games played.

2: as long as the player isn’t disrupting the league by wildly not having a roster (i.e. He has 12 major league players and 10 open spots like a guy in a league I took over did) there shouldn’t be a punishment. Obviously a judgement call but you know when it’s bad for the league to have dead space.

3: the rule is there for good reasons. Because that kind of play literally ruins leagues like this. As a matter of fact that rule being there is the sole reason I moved over to Ottoneu from a couple of 3-4 year dynasty leagues. in particular, when your “stud minor league” team that everyone is supposed to envy ends up basically average, you’re not likely to stay in the league. People have huge misconceptions of what a good minor league ball player ends up as. Everyone envisions that top minor league talents all end up as Bryce Harper or Kershaw, reality is though that mostly they end up as somewhere between Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis.

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I agree with literally everything @Chickensoup just said.

This is a good debate and I think @eamuscatuli nails the real issue: while the rule is almost clear, the enforcement is not at all. This is intentionally by Niv because he wants individual leagues to police it themselves, but it leaves commissioners in a bad spot when they ultimately have to rule on how to enforce if a team decides to intentionally tank a season to rebuild and choose not to follow the spirit of this rule.

I’ve had the discussion with my leagues and many others on Slack enough to believe there’s really no solution that helps interpret the rule or enforcement perfectly. I’ve suggested it be replaced with a GP and IP min instead, but good chance I’m in the minority on that.

Short of changing the rule, I do have a suggestion that we’ve implemented on one league (52) that could work with others: We’ve adopted a league rule that at the end of each season, all 12 owners will vote whether to remove or keep each of the other owners in the league. In other words, it’s a league-wide relegation vote (anonymous) from every person in the league, every season. That essentially leaves flexibility for owners in the league to interpret rules like 1a how they like and vote accordingly (can vote to remove someone for just about any reason you want, but you’re only one vote). This may not help all leagues, but it’s how our league has decided to address some of these ambiguous rules without disrupting the active season.

For this specific situation I believe as long as you have 10 major league pitchers on your roster it’s legal. Otherwise you run into another grey area of starters being put in the bullpen and visa versa in real life. For example you have Erasmo Ramirez as one of your 5 starters and now he is a reliever is your roster illegal only till he is back in the rotation?

Capturing this comment from @Chickensoup because I think he’s spot on:
https://ottoneu.slack.com/archives/ottoneu/p1461189046000276
https://ottoneu.slack.com/archives/ottoneu/p1461191119000339

You never have to roster Jose Iglasias if you don’t want to. If your rebuilding you likely have enough money that you never have to go below replacement level on any position.
The rule is there to keep a league actually going and make it less likely that players just quit. Nothing ends long term dynasty/keeper leagues faster than a “rebuild team” that ends up failing on their team of the future. Going for a no-MLB type of roster has such a small success path anyways.

So no offense, but the only thing you accomplish by rostering 18 minor leaguers is paying $1 too much for about 13 of them after increases. You don’t speed up your rebuild either, you simply increase your odds of hitting on one of the prospects. That said, the top 36 middle IF should always be rostered and playing. However as soon as 2 players decide not to roster properly, all of a sudden that number becomes 30. And more often than not, the teams at the top own 1-5-8, not 12-23-36. Which creates less parity. That’s the guy who trades me Robby cano for Franklin baretto and a loan.

This is the part I always have gray area issues with.

  1. Does starting lineup mean offense? Or offense and 10 pitchers? Or offense 5 and 5?
  2. I’m not forced to start a player every night, so how do I force someone as a comissioner to have a C that’s not on the DL? You literally can play until about June with NO catcher, then pick up or trade for three of them and fill 162 games before September call ups.

So strategy HAS to be considered, right?

  1. Think about this. I own a $3 Plouffe In three leagues. I’ve played him once this season because I own better 1B, U and 3B options everywhere. Do I need to own a C to hold down a bench spot right now? Instead of plouffe?

I really hate this part of the rule.

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From @chy924:
https://ottoneu.slack.com/archives/ottoneu/p1461190802000329

i think its totally fine if leagues want to set their own restrictions on this (or set no restrictions) but the rule is meant to ensure a) competition stays strong in the current year and b) we follow the same general rules as an MLB team. there is a side effect that rebuilding with no mlb players is probably a terrrrrrrible idea due to prospect bust rates and the low value of the 25th prospect you would be stashing in ottoneu

I think this is on target. While I don’t think many teams roster 19+ MiLB players, I also don’t love the extreme argument that any player “should” be able to do so if they choose to rebuild that way. Again, it’s stated in the rules you need 22 MLB players at minimum, it’s probably bad for the rest of league economics, and most importantly, it’s poor strategy. The odds of hitting on a majority of MiLB players all at the same time (2+ years later) is really, really slim.

Definition of starting lineup per rule I. e.:

e. A team’s starting lineup consists of one slot at each infield position (catcher, first base, second base, third base, and shortstop), five outfielder slot, one additional middle infielder (second base or shortstop) slot, one additional hitter from any position (utility slot), five starting pitcher slots, and five relief pitcher slots.

Yep, very gray, which is why the biggest issue here is how to enforce, which puts commissioners in a bad position. My personal preference would be to set a very attainable minimum IP and GP target for every team (like 65% of the maximums), and then disallow a team from participating in arbitration if they don’t hit it. Then they can run/build their team any way they like but have a very straight forward requirement that makes sense, and the commish doesn’t have to do anything. If they miss the minimums, that’s fine, but then they know up front they also set themselves back by not participating in arbitration.

I’m all for IP and GP minimums but I’m not a fan of not allowing a team to arb. That’s just not good for the economic sanctity of the league. I’d much prefer there to be a vote off for one of his or her players at majority rules.

That could work too. The larger point is that it needs to be more clear up front, at the beginning of the season, both what the rule is and what the consequence for breaking the rule is. Today neither are clear enough IMO, but leagues can address that as they see fit under the currently written rule. My league has adopted an annual relegation vote by owner because that was the only open-ended way we could figure out how to address an ambiguous rule

Rule 1c

For those in new Ottoneu leagues, I’d encourage your commissioners and owners to also discuss this rule:

1c. At no time should a team willingly go over roster and salary cap limits. If a team knowingly does this, they will face penalties at the discretion of their league’s commissioner.

Why? Because it has similar vagueness of enforcement as Rule 1a. Again, this is by design, to allow leagues to police themselves, but it’s important to discuss this up front with your leagues so the commissioners can be clear about what the discretionary penalties are or will be if a team intentionally runs an illegal roster for a period of time. This has also come up in a few leagues, so good to be aware of it up front.