So you and 11-29 of your closest friends have decided to take the plunge and start a fantasy baseball dynasty league. Congratulations…we’ve been waiting for you. Since you enjoy pain, you’ve volunteered yourself as the league’s commissioner. There was much rejoicing, but now the parade is over and you’re left sitting in front of your mom’s computer wearing a Burger King crown wondering what the hell you’ve gotten yourself into. First of all, stop crying. It’s unbecoming. Second of all, that’s what I’m here for buddy! Let’s take a look at how I go about forming a dynasty league from scratch. Hopefully this post will help your league keep the arguments and bloodshed to a minimum and you’ll avoid dying alone. You’re welcome.
- Write a constitution
This might seem like a lot of unnecessary work, but in dynasty leagues it will save you a ton of headache in the long run. Write down everything you can think of that might be an issue and isn’t already listed in your host site’s settings. That way if there’s a dispute, you hopefully already have it covered in writing. Let the other league members be a part of this process if it’s doable. The more involved they feel, the more likely they’ll hang around for more than one season. This is the biggest key to being able to also play in the league you are commishing. Instead of coming up with rules on the fly, you take yourself out of the equation and simply become an enforcer of the constitution. Much easier.
- Design a draft
Get all of the little kinks out before draft day and make sure everybody knows what’s up. Who’s eligible to be drafted? Is it a hybrid draft of MLB and MiLB players? Personally, I think the hybrids are more interesting, but some leagues keep their prospect drafts separate. After your first season, make it clear how many rounds the supplemental draft will be and again who will be eligible to be drafted. Slow drafts can be tiresome, but they’re usually the way to go for supplementals. Draft pick trading and in-draft trading are other things to think about prior to the draft actually starting. Oh, and if you are trying to use a system that doesn’t have all the latest prospects, you’ll need to figure out placeholders for the players who aren’t in the player pool yet.
- Decide on your keepers
In my mind a true dynasty is when you keep 75% or more of your roster. Anything less and I’m looking at it more as a keeper league. In both cases, you’ll want to make sure everyone is clear on who can be kept. I typically make DL players count towards the keeper limit. If your league is going the auction route, there may be salary inflations and contracts to think about. Do you want somebody else to be commissioner yet? We’re not even halfway done.
- Rock the vote (sometimes)
As I mentioned before, giving people a sense of ownership helps keep them active and promotes goodwill. Nobody likes a dictator. I usually let the league vote on rule changes in the offseason. This is a great way to get loopholes closed and keep making your league better. Don’t go overboard though. Voting on every little thing is annoying and the commish needs to have some balls once in a while. And for Pete’s sake don’t vote on trades or veto trades unless there is collusion suspected. The trade veto stuff in dynasties is not only lame but it’s a great way to get everyone to hate each other really quickly.
- Know what prospects are and what to do with them
Most dynasty leagues have some sort of farm system that allows you to carry prospects. MLB defines a prospect as a player with less than 130 at bats or 50 innings pitched. This works just fine, but it doesn’t have to be what your league uses. Just be up front about the cutoff. You’ll also want to be clear on whether prospects can be stashed on the active roster or if they are just limited to the farm. Once a prospect exhausts his eligibility, what happens? Do they have to be brought up immediately? Next season? Does a team have “options” with prospects who have yet to lose their eligibility?
- FAAB, waivers, or the wild west?
Even in a dynasty league where a ton of players are rostered, there are still going to be free agents everybody wants. You could do a free agent acquisition budget (FAAB) where people bid on players. You could also do a traditional waivers system based on standing. Or you could have a free-for-all (not recommended). It should also be clear who is eligible to be taken in free agency. Some leagues allow you to pick up anybody…others require a player to have signed an MLB contract prior to the season starting. In my opinion, this latter option makes the supplemental draft more interesting.
- Track the draft picks
For the love of all that is good and holy please keep track of any draft picks that are traded if that’s what your league allows. It take two seconds to make a spreadsheet. There is nothing worse than getting an email the week before your supplemental draft that reads, “Does anybody remember which round pick I got for Player X back in June?”
- Have an anti-tanking clause
I’m pretty lackadaisical when it comes to tanking, but it’s important to have something in your constitution that addresses the issue. People will naturally tank if they have the opportunity, and it is a lot harder to deal with in-season if you don’t have something in your rules about it. It should be clearly defined, since each league has a different idea of what “tanking” is and is not.
- Know your audience
This is the one that I think most commissioners forget. If you’ve filled your league with a bunch of dudes at your office who never watch baseball and elderly relatives who “needed something to do” then you shouldn’t create a mono league with 75-man rosters. And can we please just have normal categories? I hate getting an invite to a dynasty league and then find out it’s 12×12 scoring with “fielding % during day games” as a category. To me, having ridiculous categories does not make the league more challenging. Fill your league with knowledgeable people and thin out your free agent pool. That’s how you make a league tough.
- Enjoy yourself
Fantasy baseball should be fun. Remember…it’s like sex. If it doesn’t feel good, you’re probably doing it wrong. Don’t take things personally. Don’t make the league so complicated that you burn out in two years trying to keep track of everything. Fill the league with people you actually like and get along with so you don’t get an ulcer every time you enter the chat room.
If you read all this and STILL want to be a dynasty league commissioner…godspeed.