How do some of your favorite (and least favorite) leagues handle the disabled list?
I participate in several leagues that deploy widely-varying implementations when dealing with injured and out-of-action players. These rules range from the strictest – no disabled list at all – to unlimited DL moves. (Of course, even the latter is limited by the number of players actually out!)
The XFL, or Xperts Fantasy League, does not use a disabled list. In all fairness, there is a very good reason. With 40-man rosters, owners have enough flexibility to decide how to balance roster management among current-year players that can contribute, today’s prospects (and hopefully tomorrow’s future low-cost stars) and finally, injured players simply too valuable to drop.
I have several of the latter, including Adam Wainwright, who will be a $19 player in 2012. I lost his entire $16 season of 2011, but have weathered the storm so far with a third-place showing currently in the 15-team mixed keeper league.
Other hurlers out on my roster include Chris Perez, Bartolo Colon, Fernando Rodney and John Danks. Tommy Hanson just came off the DL. With three prospect pitchers also on my roster, it remains a challenge to field a nine-man staff of available players each week. Forget about matchups.
One potential gotcha is that with monthly free agent transactions only, a first-week injury without a back up rostered or a run of injuries at one position could mean multiple weeks of a dead roster spot.
Still, all things considered, I believe this format is fair in its deployment of the disabled list.
Then, there is my local league, a 10-team mixed format with daily transactions. This season, my brother-in-law/commissioner cut down reserve spots to five to try to eliminate player hoarding. I am totally on board with that.
However, this league only allows one DL’ed player at a time per roster to be parked without the penalty of trading off an active player. This short-sighted view means owners are regularly forced to make sub-optimal decisions.
Recently, I would have had to run with no reserve spots because I had Chase Utley, Pablo Sandoval, Vernon Wells, Carl Crawford, and Jonathan Broxton out. That would be a killer in a daily transaction league.
I had already jettisoned Wells when Twins first baseman Justin Morneau headed onto the 15-day DL. And, Morneau followed, going over the side in return for a player who had a chance of contributing regularly.
I grabbed new Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall. I am hoping that he performs and with Alex Rodriguez and Sandoval already rostered, I can then make a nice trade from my surplus at arguably the scarcest position this season, the hot corner.
Falling behind in saves, I also had to dump Broxton when I read of his recent setback. It was a stretch, but Dodgers’ sort-of closer Javy Guerra is now on my roster.
With the smaller benches, there have actually been a handful of trades this season in a league where most owners previously did not see the need. As frustrating as trading can be at times, there is no better feeling than successfully pulling off a deal that improves one’s team.
Though it is not the primary focus of this article, it is a worthy effort to ensure your league rules do not eliminate the incentive to make one’s team better via the trade route. I am pretty sure the thought did not cross anyone’s mind when the bench size was originally set.
The other end of the disabled list spectrum is Tout Wars, which allows unlimited moves of disabled players. These injured players do not count against an owner’s active roster of active and reserved players. To me, this is the most sensible and fairest approach.
One downside is that in a year of a lot of rostered players having suffered unfortunate maladies, one’s fantasy team can look more like a hospital ward than a group of active contributors.
When Albert Pujols went down last week, effectively his replacement on my active roster was Washington’s Brian Bixler. No wonder at least one of my league mates tweeted a speculative comment about my misfortune and its potential impact on the standings.
Worse, I had $95 of my original $260 Tout Wars stipend on the DL in just five players. That included my entire corner infield contingent from draft day – Pujols ($42), Ike Davis ($21) and David Freese ($14). Replacements included Xavier Nady, Josh Harrison (since returned to the minors) and Miguel Cairo. Ouch!
That did not count several of my $1 and $0 bit players also hurt, including my draft-day corner infield reserve pick of Nick Punto. That left my active roster of 23 players having cost just $149 in total. If they would all have been great bargains, that would have been one thing, but as noted, the replacements were not of the same quality.
In fact, just among disabled St. Louis Cardinals players, I had an entire infield on the shelf consisting of Pujols at first base, recently second-base eligible Allen Craig, shortstop Punto and third baseman Freese.
Let’s face it. Every fantasy player has to deal with injuries, but as you review your league constitution for 2012, make sure the disabled list clauses do what you want them to do. Remember, they are your rules and they need to work for you, not against you.
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 13-year history. He is a 2009 NFBC league winner and finished in the top 25 nationally in both the NFBC and NFFC that season. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.