Fantasy Baseball

Alternative Fantasy Baseball League Ideas

A.J. Pierzynski

Your teams are all drafted. Your rosters are tighter than Dick’s hat band (that’s one you don’t hear often enough). Your lineups are set and your rotations are locked. There’s only one thing left to do once Opening Day (truly) begins on Wednesday — have fun. Did he just say, “Have fun,” like my Aunt Maureen always used to tell me before church? Does he not realize I have more money invested in my leagues than I do in my kid’s college fund? Who are we kidding, he has roadie written all over him. Why is he making me think in italics? You need some new Fantasy Baseball league ideas.

OK, sorry about that shock to your system. Let me explain what I mean.

It seems like as each year passes, we find ourselves joining more and more leagues, stretching our Fantasy attention/dollars across several formats/websites/scoring systems, and before we know it – we’re rooting for and against every player in the majors.

So for those fun addicts out there, here are a few Fantasy Baseball league ideas to change up your Fantasy fix, as a side dish to your regular Fantasy meal.

 

AL-only vs. NL-only = Awesome-only

Eight years ago, when I worked at CBSSports.com, I created a league called the BIGS (Baseball in Grand Scale). Basically, it’s a 20-team Head-to-Head Fantasy Baseball league.

But in order to make this league a little different from the rest, our content staff came up with this idea. There are 10 teams that draft AL-only players, and 10 teams that draft NL-only players.

During the regular season, the BIGS NL teams (yes, they get a DH) play against other BIGS NL teams, and the same goes for the BIGS AL teams. But during interleague play during the real MLB schedule, the BIGS also goes through interleague play, pitting AL vs. NL clubs for four weeks of the regular season.

After 20 weeks of regular season play (with interleague play mixed in at Weeks 7, 10-12), four teams (two division winners and two wildcards) in each league battle in the playoffs for the right to face the other BIGS league’s champion in the finals. The BIGS World Series is a three-week event. We’ve found that the three-week evens out any two-start weeks advantages one team might have over another.

We have to have our drafts separate (can you imagine 20 teams in one draft room trying to draft AL- or NL-only players in a mixed lobby?), then mesh the rosters into the master league. One fun twist we threw in this year was whichever league got done with their draft quicker gained a three-point home field advantage in Weeks 1 and 3 of the BIGS World Series.

Some might wonder if NL teams have a distinct advantage over AL teams since there are 16 rosters to choose players from compared to the AL’s 14. But in the six years of the league’s existence, there have been three AL BIGS World Series winners and three NL. I think the fact that the AL has designated hitters to choose from, adding more power to their lineups, helps even the difference. Plus, the AL is cooler.

 

Gordon Beckham, White Sox

Gordon Beckham would likely be a first-round pick in Bizarro leagues this season, considering his low average, mediocre power and ability to strike out often. That's gold!!! Photo Credit: Keith Allison

I bet you like this next idea!

Many people play Fantasy sports for money or prizes, but just as many play for pride and for bragging rights. So here’s a great way to supercharge those bragging rights moments.

When you play someone in Head-to-Head play, think about offering up some different wagers.

If your team beats their team, you get to take over their avatar in the league for one week. Just think of how awesome it would be to beat the Red Sox fan in your league, then make them post a picture of Derek Jeter as their avatar. Or better yet, you take down the overly macho guy and you get to post a extra feminine picture as his new team avatar.

You could also use “renaming a team” as a winner’s bounty, allowing the winner to rename their opponents’ team for a week. Again, plenty of comedy can be had here. This could even be a league-wide rule, making the standings a crazy mix of team names for the entire season, changing from week to week, depending on the creativity of the winners.

And finally, my favorite “friendly” wager is one that really pushes people over the edge. If you beat a team one week, you get to take over their Facebook profile status for 24 hours. I won this bet three years ago and had the absolute best time ruining someone else’s day. Obviously, you have to have limits, but the way this works is – the other person gets to post the status after you send it to them. That keeps things private and gives them final approval in case you try to “out” them or say something about their mom. That’s no good.

The trick is – they aren’t allowed to tell anyone that they lost their “status” control. Here are a few statuses you can think about dropping on your enemies’ profiles:

  • “I can’t believe I forgot to shower again this morning.”
  • “Finally! The third season of The Gilmore Girls on DVD arrived at my house!”
  • “From what I’ve been told, it’s OK. It happens to all guys sooner or later.”
  • “I heart negative pregnancy test results!”
  • “If I had a nickel for every booger I stuck under my desk today …”

And of course, the key to making these look genuine is for you to immediately go in and comment on their status, something like, “You know, when you told me this earlier today, I thought you were just kidding. But then I saw you meant it in your eyes …”

 

When being bad is good …

Another fun twist to add to your Fantasy portfolio is to join a Bizarro league. These types of leagues reward bad players rather than good players, giving you reason to be happy when A.J. Pierzynski grounds into yet another double-play.

The way you want to set up your Bizarro league is to make it so teams want to draft players that aren’t just bad – but that are bad and still play a lot. Drafting a player that just sits the bench is no fun. You want a guy that’s going to get 550-plus at-bats, but still hits just .240 for the year, making every one of those 450-plus outs worth every point.

That means you give positive points for at-bats, strikeouts and GIDP, but negative points for hits, HR, RBI and SBs. And obviously, for pitchers, this means you want to reward earned runs and hits allowed (and obviously losses), while penalizing for strikeouts, innings pitched and those dreaded wins.

 

So I hope these little Fantasy Baseball league ideas gave you something to think about for this season or possibly next season. You can add even more fun to your Fantasy life with some tweaks, by playing in an ultra-league like BIGS, to making friendly wagers to Bizarro opposite play.

Well, until next week, hello! 

David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Adam

    December 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    This idea is awesome! I was thinking of doing a league like this for 2013. My only problem is how do you handle interleague trades and the waiver wire free agents?

    • Gonos

      December 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm

      Are you talking about the AL vs NL league idea? If so, waivers take care of themselves, since AL guys can only pick up NL guys and vice-versa. The way we handled interleague trades was when they happened, you could trade your players for other players that were also traded into your league. So in other words, if in June, you had an AL pitcher get traded to the NL, you’d have to bench him, wait for a trade where an NL guy moved over to the AL, then make a trade offer.

      It REALLY made the trade deadline much more exciting, as players frequently changed leagues making for good trade talks.

  2. Adam

    December 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Yes, the mixed AL NL idea. I love it, and have been thinking about it for some time.

    I was thinking of all players that go undrafted just being free agents. And having the league be free from restraints due to league affiliation after the drafts and letting anyone take anyone off of waivers allowing NL first crack at NL players in waiver order and then AL.

    Maybe even letting them make inter-league trades. I’m not sure though, I don’t want to ruin the spirit of Al/NL only by allowing interleague trades and such…just brainstorming.

  3. eddie

    January 9, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    I was googling this idea and that’s how i found this article but cannot find any website that will allow me to customize a AL only vs NL only league. Does anybody know of one? Thanks!

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