We know that running a Scoresheet team isn’t for everyone. Many baseball fans and even hardcore fantasy players are perfectly content with a traditional fantasy format, where you don’t need to keep track of the Mets’ middle relievers to nearly the same degree. But for some who stumble across this format, with its labyrinthine draft and rich simulation engine, it feels like the perfect fit. Of course, there’s the occasional person, who when faced with the same constraints, may remark, “I wish there was something even more complicated.” Dear reader, these are their stories.
Scoresheet’s private leagues have many variants of play. This week, our Scoresheet podcast team interviewed Nate Stephens. Not only is Nate a longtime Scoresheet owner, a former contributor to Rotoworld and current participant in the Scoresheet Talk and annual Mock Draft forums, and a general mensch, he is also the co-founder of a couple of leagues that use an auction format. The concept was born from a Scoresheet league that used to conduct a live auction, which ended up taking about a day and a half. As fun as that can be, it’s hard to carve out enough time in many players’ schedule to devote to a player-by-player auction that accommodates Scoresheet’s unusually deep rosters. A new system was built and refined over time.
Running a Scoresheet-friendly Auction League
While there are many ways to adapt an auction league to Scoresheet, these mature leagues have developed a format over time that allows for ease of use and still provides the depth required to run a simulation. In the first year of the league, each owner is given $100 million to spend on players (that’s fantasy dollars, not real dollars, Mr. Buffett). The trick is to run weekly rounds of simultaneous play-by-email blind auctions.
In the first round of the auction, an owner may bid some amount of that money on up to ten players. Then, in the second round, owners bid on up to ten additional players and rebid on their own players. Owners who had the high bid in the first round are exempt from this phase. The owner with the highest bid on a player in the first phase, and the owners with the three highest bids on that player in the second phase, then all compete in the final phase of the auction. The winning bid gets that player. This process is then repeated for each player in that round of the auction.
The auction continues for eight rounds, unless all owners either reach the salary cap, the roster limit of 35 players, or choose to pass. Players are then signed to contracts at their auction price. Rookies are signed to minor league deals that allow the owner to keep them in perpetuity. Major leaguers are signed to deals of up to four years, and the contract structure inflates incrementally each year.
To mimic Scoresheet’s supplemental rounds, owners are given an additional $10 million after the initial March draft and five additional roster slots. In auctions held each month, they may nominate an additional four players using the same system.
Benefits of an Auction Format
Many fantasy owners prefer to use an auction format in their leagues to make pricing feel more realistic than in a draft. This model lends itself well to Scoresheet and its simulation engine, by implementing a mock salary system that is as robust as the mock gameplay.
With a salary format, offseason decisions better mirror those made in real life. While in standard continuing leagues, top players can be drafted and protected on a team for most of their careers, in a contract league, these players are returned to the free agent pool after a time. Then, just as in real life, owners can sign veteran free agents to compete each year, work instead on building a farm system, or do both.
The format then feels like a hybrid of a one-year format and a continuing league. Just as in a continuing league, you can build a roster and find value in minor leaguers. Due to the indefinite rookie contract, minor leaguers are even more valuable than in a traditional league. On the other hand, owners can also expect to be competitive each year, and to have the opportunity to draft Joey Votto, Troy Tulowitzki, and other players who are off-limits in Scoresheet’s standard format.
How to Run an Auction League
The biggest challenge of an auction league—or any non-traditional Scoresheet format, for that matter—is that much of Scoresheet’s functionality must be run outside of Scoresheet’s own web application. This infrastructural challenge requires both a strong constitution and a strong commissioner. In Nate and our mutual league, NL Who’s The Boss, we have both. Our WTB commissioner, Ben Zalman, was kind enough to share this league’s constitution with anyone who is interested in adopting or modifying it for their leagues.
Undoubtedly, there are many other skinned cats running around the Scoresheet universe, and we’d love to learn about other Scoresheet private league house rules in the comments. Feel free to share unique features of your league’s constitution, and maybe some of them will spark an interest from others!
In the podcast:
This week, the Outcomes meet their frequent league rival, Nate Stephens, on the one true battlefield: recorded audio podcasts. There, they discuss Scoresheet lineup and draft strategy, and introduce auction Scoresheet leagues to people who feel that their passion is not already geeky enough. The Outcomes also take on the best things they saw this week, and agree that guilty feet ain’t got no rhythm.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now