The three stories dominating the fantasy landscape to this point of the season are Jose Bautista, the continued dominance of pitching and the plethora of injuries. Today, I would like to spend some time talking about the third point, injuries. Specifically, I am going to use this space to bring to light something that I feel is an inequity in our NFBC competitions and then propose a solution.
To illustrate the depth of the injury situation, let us take a look at how many disabled players there are on the average in an NFBC 15-team league. In my NFBC Classic league, there are currently 46 players flagged with that nasty pair of red letters, DL. That is, on the average, three per team. I play in a couple of satellites where there are 38 and 42 disabled players. So it is safe to say there are about 42 injured players populating each league’s rosters.
I know injuries are part of the game. I realize luck is a significant element of the competition. But here is my issue with the current roster setup. Our rules lead to the fantasy baseball equivalent of the rich getting richer. Not only does a team enjoy good fortune because they are mostly injury-free, but they have more available reserve spots to better manage their roster. This imbalance is further amplified with the advent of the Friday activation rule for hitters.
For every injured player, the unfortunate owner can roster one fewer reserve hitter to deploy during a good matchup, one fewer starting pitcher to spot, one fewer speculative closer or one fewer Minor League prospect. It is already bad enough that the injury necessitates substituting a lesser player in the active lineup. But in addition to losing a reserve spot to a hurt player, the owner is handcuffed as they do not have the same inventory of healthy players to manage their team compared to teams with fewer injuries. The rich get richer.
My proposal is thus: trim the draft to 27 or 28 players meaning we all have four or five reserves. Then, allow each team a separate disabled list to house injured players. In addition, open up the eligible free agent pool to be everyone on the 40-man roster. If the holdup is the concern that owners may hoard injured players, then set a maximum number of disabled players.
At least early in the season, this should make free agency more interesting as there will be 30-45 fewer drafted players. You will need to really decide what to do with your four or five reserves. Plus, why have the Friday activation rule if there are a ton of teams that cannot carry a backup at every position since they are sporting so many injuries? If everyone has the exact same four or five reserve spots to work with, at least that inequity is eliminated. By this point in the season, on average, that is how many we have anyway. Let's get rid of the "on average" and make sure everyone is playing with the same arsenal.
The primary drawback I see to the idea is policing of the rosters. Truth be told, what I am proposing is quite commonplace. The standard rule is you get one week’s stay of execution after the player is reinstated from the DL. Of course, you are free to activate him his first week off the DL, but you have one transaction period to take action. In regular leagues, monitoring this is the duty of the commissioner or the secretary of waivers and transactions. It is unreasonable to ask our buddies Greg and Tom to police every single NFBC league for DL activations. That said, I am quite sure our friends at STATS Inc can concoct the necessary code. What we would need is for the site to track when the player comes off the disabled list, notify the owner and automatically drop the player if no action is taken after the second transaction period off the DL. The tracking is already done, as that unsightly red DL appears and disappears. We just need STATS Inc finest to tie that to a warning, then an automated drop after the second transaction period off the DL.
Who’s with me?