Franchise Tag Concept (League 100)

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Those findings are incredible, man. Thanks for putting that quick math together.


After $300 of arbitration, you’ll be at $267 arb-eligible surplus, then adding back the $226, you have $493 surplus remaining.

With that league’s arbitration coupon setup, you’d start with the same $801 surplus, subtract $300 for arbitration allocations, then add back $57 of surplus in the form of coupons, ending up at $558 pre-auction surplus.

(Note: Found $8 of my $12 discrepancy today in D’Arnaud’s remaining surplus. Corrected and increased the gap in remaining surplos between franchise tag and arb coupon methods.)


So proceeding further down this rabbit hole, ranking teams roughly on tiers of pre-franchise tag surplus, and allocating to their non-franchise players based on contribution percentage to their team’s remaining surplus, you end up with this ranking of post-arb surplus by team:

Shwoing my work on allocations, with each player’s remaining amount of surplus after arbitration:

WAR Horse - $11 of $11 remaining allocated, final surplus $10:

    1. Jim Johnson - $4 ($0 remaining surplus)
    1. Melky Cabrera - $3 ($0)
    1. Brian Dozier - $1 ($0)
    1. Mike Trout - $1 ($0)
    1. Kenley Jansen - $1 ($0)
    1. Pedro Strop - $1 ($0)

Plenipotentiary to the Stars - $29 of $47 remaining allocated, final surplus $32:

    1. Pedro Alvarez - $8 ($5 remaining surplus)
    1. Aroldis Chapman - $5 ($3)
    1. Kenta Maeda - $4 ($2)
    1. Ryan Braun - $4 ($2)
    1. Jonathan Villar - $3 ($2)
    1. Brandon Maurer - $3 ($2)
    1. Yadier Molina - $1 ($1)
    1. Charles Blackmon - $1 ($0)

Chin Musicians - $27 of $42 remaining allocated, final surplus $24:

    1. Justin Turner - $5 ($3 remaining surplus)
    1. Gary Sanchez - $4 ($2)
    1. Yu Darvish - $4 ($2)
    1. Tyler Thornburg - $2 ($2)
    1. Yasmany Thomas - $2 ($2)
    1. Brad Miller - $2 ($2)
    1. Victor Martinez - $2 ($2)
    1. Nick Hundley - $2 ($2)
    1. Nick Castellanos - $1 ($2)
    1. Dustin Pedroia - $1 ($1)
    1. Stephen Vogt - $1 ($1)

Siamese Dream - $33 of $92 remaining allocated, final surplus $86:

    1. Jedd Gyorko - $4 ($7 remaining surplus)
    1. James Paxton - $4 ($7)
    1. Andrew Miller - $4 ($7)
    1. Daniel Duffy - $4 ($7)
    1. Carlos Gonzalez - $4 ($7)
    1. Josh Reddick - $3 ($5)
    1. Pablo Sandoval - $3 ($5)
    1. Michael Saunders - $2 ($4)
    1. Alex Colome - $2 ($3)
    1. Carter Capps - $2 ($3)
    1. Grant Dayton - $1 ($2)

London Silly Nannies - $33 of $60 remaining allocated, final surplus $66:

    1. Daniel Murphy - $9 ($7 remaining surplus)
    1. Seung-hwan Oh - $7 ($6)
    1. Matt Moore - $5 ($4)
    1. David Dahl - $4 ($3)
    1. Greg Bird - $4 ($3)
    1. Adrian Beltre - $3 ($2)
    1. Andre Ethier - $1 ($0)

Jokerit - $16 of $20 remaining allocated, final surplus $23:

    1. Kenneth Giles - $6 ($1 remaining surplus)
    1. Khris Davis - $5 ($1)
    1. Nate Jones - $4 ($1)
    1. Lonnie Chisenhall - $1 ($0)

High & Inside - $33 of $69 remaining allocated, final surplus $71:

    1. Jonathan Gray - $5 ($5 remaining surplus)
    1. Jose De Leon - $5 ($5)
    1. Zach Wheeler - $4 ($4)
    1. Jayson Werth - $4 ($4)
    1. Dellin Betances - $3 ($4)
    1. Noah Syndergaard - $3 ($4)
    1. Giancarlo Stanton - $3 ($3)
    1. Adam Duvall - $2 ($2)
    1. Blake Snell - $2 ($2)
    1. Lance Lynn - $1 ($1)
    1. Trevor Plouffe - $1 ($1)

PTBNL - $29 of $34 remaining allocated, final surplus $29:

    1. Adam Ottavino - $7 ($1 remaining surplus)
    1. John Lackey - $6 ($1)
    1. Jean Segura - $5 ($1)
    1. Yasiel Puig - $4 ($0)
    1. Ryan Madson - $3 ($0)
    1. Curtis Granderson - $2 ($0)
    1. Sam Dyson - $1 ($0)
    1. Elvis Andrus - $1 ($0)

If You d’Arnaud, Now You Know - $20 of $20 remaining allocated, final surplus $22:

    1. Santiago Casilla - $5 ($0 remaining surplus)
    1. Mark Trumbo - $4 ($0)
    1. Josh Hader - $3 ($0)
    1. Lucas Duda - $3 ($0)
    1. Jonathan Lucroy - $2 ($0)
    1. Mike Napoli - $1 ($0)
    1. Kyle Seager - $1 ($0)
    1. Albert Pujols - $1 ($0)

Sir-Plus None - $12 of $12 remaining allocated, final surplus $26

    1. Troy Tulowitzki - $4 ($0 remaining surplus)
    1. Tyson Ross - $2 ($0)
    1. AJ Pollock - $2 ($0)
    1. Mike Moustakas - $2 ($0)
    1. Tony Watson - $2 ($0)

Brinskmanship Federal Credit Union - $20 of $41 remaining allocated, final surplus $21:

    1. Edwin Diaz - $7 ($7 remaining surplus)
    1. Jake Lamb - $4 ($4)
    1. Lance McCullers - $4 ($4)
    1. Garrett Richards - $2 ($2)
    1. Seth Smith - $2 ($2)
    1. Matt Shoemaker - $1 ($1)

Raleigh Capitals - $33 of $119 remaining allocated, final surplus $86:

    1. Tyler Skaggs - $5 ($12 remaining surplus)
    1. Michael Pineda - $4 ($11)
    1. Aledmys Diaz - $4 ($10)
    1. Aaron Nola - $3 ($8)
    1. Andrew Benintendi - $3 ($7)
    1. Tommy Murphy - $3 ($7)
    1. Charlie Morton - $2 ($6)
    1. Brandon McCarthy - $2 ($5)
    1. Shawn Kelley - $2 ($4)
    1. Vincent Velasquez - $2 ($4)
    1. Drew Pomeranz - $1 ($4)
    1. Matt Holliday - $1 ($3)
    1. Rick Porcello - $1 ($3)


If you take every player above that was allocated $2 or more, and ended up with $2 remaining surplus or less, there are 41 players (give or take one or two) that would have been arbed into cut status next season, assuming their value held steady ahead of annual salary increase.

WAR Horse, Jokerit, PTBNL, If You d/Arnaud, and Sir-Plus None all project to lose all non-franchise players.


Did you run this against an expected outcome of the coupon system we already have in place @ahix24? I’m curious what the difference in impact might be.

This is great, by the way…


I figured I’d wait until arbitration and coupon allocations are done, and compare against the actual results.


Good call. Thanks for doing this.


Here are net arbitration results for league 649 using the extremely early surplus calculator values used above:

And here are the results using the post-Steamer surplus calculator values posted last week:


So, after giving this topic intermittent thought since going through the comparative exercise between franchise tag and arbitration coupon allocations, I generally think @joecatz original ideas about the franchise tag are right on the mark.

I’m not crazy about the amount of pressure that protecting the top surplus players in season one will put on the lower-middle class of keepers, or that benefit to teams can be disproportionate based on how their surplus is distributed across their rosters. I also think it’s somewhat undesirable to completely prevent opposing owners from hitting top players if they really want to, but the notion of taking $57 out of a league’s collective salary obligations every year (as scheduled to happen in Brinksmanship) is a little scary long-term.

I also think that Joe is right that the number of tags being given out in League 100 is probably excessive. The purpose is to incentivize season-long effort from teams, not hand out salary relief. I think you can motivate teams sufficiently with just the carrot of two max tags, though to be fair, I can’t say that I have figured out how to make just one- and two-tag tiers pull teams through that many standings positions.

Maybe a lottery… And there’s always 5MiLB draft positioning for right-thinking leagues! .


This is only true though if you’re benchmarking the difference against a regular/standard Ottoneu league, correct? Certainly the coupons will have some economic impact, but that is bad compared to what?

I do really like the franchise tag idea. I think I could be persuaded long term that it’s one of the better “custom” league ideas, though I agree @ahix24 that finding the right tier to earn them is tricky if the max is two. Maybe the simple answer is earning one tied to GP thresholds, and the other to IP thresholds?


I’m still not sure why place of finish shouldn’t be used to determine franchise tag/arb coupon awards. I don’t think there’s any effective way to maximize point totals without actively managing GP and IP. To the extent that you can do so using trade-offs between the two, go for it, but straight points worked great in Brinksmanship in season one, and it’s easier to track in general.

Fair point about comparing salary-affecting customizations to the standard Ottoneu model-- the standard rules may be elegant, but they’re not sacred. However, if you buy into them as relatively optimal, you’d want to disrupt them less rather than more. And don’t we have history of excessive arb coupon allotments tilting scales too far in the first coupon leagues? (Legit question, as I was not in those leagues.)


We will be doing Franchise tags for the first time in league 100 in the next few weeks. So far, 7 teams will be awarded tags.

One first thought: It’s harder to hit the game caps than hitting the points mark required to qualify. As of yesterday, I had an average of 148.7 games per position, and I am just finished crossing the 1400 innings mark last night. It’s definitively a challenge to be that engaged all season long. The 10DL threw more than a few for a loop.

Anyway, will keep you posted how this pans out. Pretty psyched at the chance of keeping a few of my stars at a low price.


How are the Tags going? Our league introduced tags last year with only the rule of you couldn’t tag the same player consecutive years. We also have a tag deadline in season to make you basically place your tag on who you think will be your most valuable asset. I like where you guys went with your tags as it ads a competitive balance aspect to it as well. Just so long as it doesn’t promote mid season tanking by owners giving IP and GP to less deserving players.


It adds another layer to the game in the sense that you hold trades because there’s a guy you own that you can tag and keep for cheap. In the offseason, people traded with that in mind…get a guy so they could tag that player. It’s been good so far, and having the change of tagging players has helped people from selling off in May, I’d think. I am actually in the last place in that league and I am not tanking, and looking forward to tagging guys.


Update on the franchise tag concept for those interested.

Coming up on the second offseason of League 100’s Franchise Tag experiment, here are my observations:

Trading has decreased. People consider tags a lot before making a trade, even if that trade would result in more points for this season, thus, a higher rank in the standings by season’s end. Some teams have given up earlier than anticipated, others are just buying their time to get to meet the thresholds to enter tags. I believe the bottom 3 teams in the standings as of today won’t make it to 15.5k points, but I am not good at math, so I could be wrong.

This concept was also adopted by league 301, where things are much more interesting, and the byproduct of tags is somewhat more alarming. At this point, I should come clean and admit that in that league I inherited a 6th place team, I moved a few pieces and decided to rebuild this year by picking breakout players during the season. I started the season with 3 starters and was counting on Alex Reyes and Michael Kopech to arrive early and help me fill innings. That didn’t happen, and by some miracle, I managed to pick enough guys off the wire that I will hit all my games and innings by season’s end. One thing that I found interesting is that even if that league was a three-man race, selling to those folks has been hard, as from my interactions they would much rather stay put and tag guys, than trading for what could be enough points to win the league. Other owners are just fine hitting the minimum threshold in order to get tags, even if their team is good. In other words, I know for a fact that owners have stopped setting lineups just to hit certain point mark, which is the opposite of what this concept was meant to do. Gaming the numbers, pretty much - One has to wonder if adding tags is a good thing or if it’s just a waste when you realize folks do that.

Going into 2019, I am not sure I will continue playing in leagues with this concept. I am also not sure folks in league 100 are 100% into continuing doing so. I run that league and I already have a few ideas if folks decide this is just not good. League 100 is a 7-year league, and it’s the first league I joined in 2011. Inflation is an issue that’s becoming hard to ignore. For the sake of clarity, I should also disclose that coming into this season I had already made up my mind that the aspect of Ottoneu I liked the least was trading, so this year I have not made as many trades as I had in previous years. I sat down and checked all the trades I have made since 2015 and more than half of them were trading for the sake of trading, and not because there was a need or impact I needed. That being said, sometimes you need to trade…and this is where this concept bothers me: I am not sure that Franchise Tags encourages trading or if it even encourages as much competition from owners as I thought it would.

Anyhow, just figured I would throw my two cents in the pot since I spent hours with Tom, trying to come up with something that would make people excited to play Ottoneu based on Joe’s idea. A year and change later I have come to realize that if folks want to play and be engaged all year, they will…and that it is pretty hard to keep that enthusiasm year after year with multiple leagues going. In sum, Franchise tags, as a concept is really interesting…In practice, I am not sure if it killed some of the fun in the two leagues I am in where the system has been implemented.


Interesting comments for sure. I think that personally part of the issue is that the number of tags and the points required to obtain them are too high and too low respectively.

It should be noted that 10 out of 12 teams in 301 are on pace for 1450 innings and general engagement has been stellar all season.

I’m one of the players who, in August, is trying to massage my point total to hit three tags instead of two. It should be noted that I’m setting lineups every day and still have to accumulate 1450 innings and 1800 games played. At 1000 points back though, adding a third tag and finishing at 16,499 points is probably better than picking up an extra 500 points and only getting two tags.

So essentially I think the issue is more about discussing point totals and tags available. As I mentioned earlier in the season, I felt after last year in 100 that the point totals were too low and the number of tags were too many. I still feel this way.


Regarding league 301:

I’m one of the players who, in August, is trying to massage my point total to hit three tags instead of two. It should be noted that I’m setting lineups every day and still have to accumulate 1450 innings and 1800 games played. At 1000 points back though, adding a third tag and finishing at 16,499 points is probably better than picking up an extra 500 points and only getting two tags.

This exchange is why I think this concept is flawed. Dudes will game the system, so what’s the point of having a system that will be gamed if it’s gonna affect trading and arbitration?


I’m in 301, and I didn’t even know we had tags until like a month ago, but I’m surprised (though I do have the benefit of hindsight) that anyone would have expected any other result.

If you give a larger reward for hitting a lower threshold, and a lower reward for hitting higher threshold, why you would expect anyone out of contention (which is basically everyone choosing between those two thresholds) to target the higher threshold / lesser reward?

If you turn your stove on, it’s gonna get hot.


The number of tags too would put a lot of allocation money on players not deserving and they could be cut. I like the tags in our league because it is just one per team and can’t be used consecutive years. The competitive balance aspect looks like a great idea but looks to need more fine tuning on the number of tags and requirements to get them.