Welcome to the Anti-List Wacky Leagues, where I’ll be competing in three not-so-standard fantasy baseball competitions. One of the things I love about fantasy baseball is that with all the different formats, there’s a little something for everyone. Weekly H2H leagues are great competitive fun, rotisserie leagues are perfect for all the masochists out there, the list just goes on and on. But I felt like there was still something missing. Something to make it worth getting out of bed in the morning when it’s July and the dog days of baseball are here. Something so wild that even Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn would be surprised. And in that craziness, that was where the Wacky Leagues were forged and molded.
Grand Theft Baseball
“I only race for pink slips.”
-Sean Boswell, Tokyo Drift
The first of these leagues is Grand Theft Baseball, where you have extra incentive to not lose any given matchup. What’s that extra incentive, you’re wondering? Well, the winner of each week’s matchup gets to steal one player from the team that they defeated. The more you win, the stronger your roster becomes, and the more you lose, the harder it will be to catch up.
Now, we do have some rules here about stealing players. We may be barbaric, but we’re at least civilized barbarians. At the start of the season, we’ll only have 5 players from our opponent’s team to choose from to steal, meaning that if you lose week 1, it’s probably not the end of the world. That will ramp up though, to the point that once you get to Week 12, more than half of your active roster will be up for grabs. By the time the playoffs roll around, no one will be safe.
This league will feature 9 of our best Pitcher List contributors and me. The following staff members are competing, in order of team name awesomeness:
Nathan Mills – Grand Theft Votto
David Fenko – Need Profar Purchase
Dave Fisher – That Pirate Booty
Austin Perodeau – Vlad to the Bone
Brandon Lundberg – Stolen CarGo
Dave Cherman – Mr. Steal Your Base
Hunter Denson – Sticky Bandits
Dan Wist – Too Lame to Come Up with a Team Name (for shame!)
Beat the Waiver Wire
“Championships aren’t won on draft day.”
-Sun Tzu, The Art of Wins Above Replacement
We’ve all heard this before. When I was a kid, just 12 years old, playing in my first fantasy baseball league, I remember my dad drilling this into me, just like my grampappy did to him when he was a kid. There are many a cautionary tale about getting too high or low on your team on draft day, and we’re all reminded of the same things. “It’s a long season, anything can happen, don’t forget Aaron Judge was undrafted in 2017, your mother and I weren’t planning for you, leagues are won on the waiver wire.”
We’ve all heard this, but is it true? Are fantasy baseball leagues really not won on draft day? I say it’s time to find out. It’s time to put this adage to the test and see if it is indeed the case. How, you ask? By doing research, by seeing how championship teams are constructed and using that to determine the best method of building a winning team? Of course not, silly! The only way to prove it is to actually play out a league without drafting at all, and trying to win a fantasy baseball championship!
I recruited our Pitcher List Patreon supporters to help me answer this question. We created a head-to-head categories league, standard 5×5 scoring settings, with 10 teams and 27-man rosters (to simulate what will typically be out there on the waiver wire). I set up my queue to draft the most useless players possible, guys like Salvador Perez and Blaze Alexander, and let everyone else get a 270-player head start on me for this league. We get 10 acquisitions per week (not including trades), and my goal is to win a championship. Can I do it?
“I think you will be around 7th-9th all year. One team is usually decimated by injuries, so you will be able to beat them, but if everyone stays relatively healthy, I can’t see it.” –Game of Throws owner Joseph L.
“I looked at the waiver wire… you’ll be okay. [With] the naturally more volatile nature of H2H, you can make the playoffs.” –Vanilla Waiver owner Tim A.
“Normally I think you’d have a decent shot to get to .500, but every week whoever you’re playing against is not gonna want to get embarrassed by you. You’re gonna get everyone’s A-game and focus every week. That’s gonna make it more difficult to get wins than initially expected. A loss to the waiver wire team would bring shame to my family. I can’t handle that.” –Sea 2 Shining Seager owner Frankensteezy.
Some great points raised by my fellow league-mates, and it doesn’t seem like they have a lot of faith in me. But I’m determined to prove that championships aren’t won on draft day; that just because your team got blown up before the season even started, even if your first two picks were Shohei Ohtani (the pitcher only) and Salvador Perez, you can still come back to win it all. Stay tuned all year long as I keep you in the loop as to what my strategy is each week and how on Earth I’m going to scrape together a roster capable of running the gauntlet that we call the fantasy baseball season!
My whole team isn’t pictured above, but I’m pretty sure you get the point that I don’t exactly have a whole lot to work with. So let’s do this!
“There’s two rules to this league. 1: Be poop. 2. Have playing time.”
-Joshua Botelho, Snapes on a Plane manager
Welcome to the greatest league of them all, Pitcher List’s WorstBall. This is a weekly H2H points league, but the points reward all the negative things a player can do. Hitters striking out or grounding into a double play? Great! Your pitcher beans a batter and then gives up a home run? That’s 15 points! We’re out here looking for the best of the worst, the cream of the crap, you get the picture.
For those of you familiar with the BestBall format, this is nothing like that. This is most similar to your standard points leagues, with weekly matchups and the team scoring the most points in the given matchup will get the win. It’s going to be all about finding that unique combination of really sucking at what you do, but also still getting regular playing time for whatever reason. In 2018, the highest scoring hitter was Chris Davis, as evidenced by his .539 OPS and 192 strikeouts. For pitchers, that honor went to Lucas Giolito, who despite having a 6.13 ERA was still out there every 5th day, getting absolutely obliterated. These are the types of players who thrive in the WorstBall format, and these were the players we were trying to identify in our inaugural draft.
We decided to keep the roster construction simple, since the rest of the league would be anything but. 16-man rosters with 6 starting spots on either side. For hitters, you would need a catcher, corner infielder, middle infielder, two outfielders and one utility slot for the worst remaining bat you could find. We kept the 6 pitcher slots open to either starters or relievers, but starters dominate this format, as most teams don’t keep trotting out bad relievers over and over (can someone tell Dave Roberts this?), and it was hard to find a way to make relievers valuable without going too crazy on points. With 12 teams in the league, that meant we would be rostering 192 players that we hope really just don’t perform whatsoever. Take a look below at our draft and let us know your initial thoughts!
Throughout the draft, many of us noted how difficult it was to keep identifying players who would be trash and still have promises of playing time. Some of us took the route of taking players who may not have stable playing time but should be bad if get the chance, like Ben Palmer with Sam Gaviglio, Mac Williamson and Spencer Turnbull. Others, like myself, went the route of taking established players with steady jobs, but who have a high chance of falling hard on their face. Even though guys like Jon Gray, Rick Porcello, and Cole Hamels all have a chance at being solid pitchers, they also have a ton of downside (or upside in this case?) and could very easily be some of the worst pitchers in baseball this year.
While a lot of us struggled to fill out our roster, Justin Paradis said his last pick was a no-brainer. “This is the first time I’ve ever owned Trout,” Paradis said of his 16th round sleeper pick.
The following Pitcher List contributors and Patreon members are competing, again ranked in order of team name awesomeness:
Alex Isherwood – Cashner’s Engels
Joshua Botelho – Snapes on a Plane
Frankensteezy – Buck FarmersOnly.com
Myles Nelson – Fister Negative
Nate Watt – Coffee’s for Doziers
Collin Carlone – Ureña Pickle
Donny Moskovits – Dark Knight Falls
Kevin Dalby – Elbow Discomfort
Scott Chu – Big League Chu
These three league members haven’t come up with team names at the time of writing, and so we must shame them accordingly.
Justin Paradis – Our awesome graphics guy who did all the graphics in this article, so I won’t shame him too hard.