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Monday 18th Dec 2017

This is one of those times of the year when understanding your league rules is especially important. Further, if one or more of those regulations don’t make complete sense and could benefit from adjustment, use your current situation to illustrate the problem, then bring it to your league commissioner.

In each of the last two weeks, differences in league rules between two leading industry leagues, Tout Wars and LABR, have crossed up two owners – including yours truly.

Example 1 occurred in the first transaction period following MLB’s non-waiver trade deadline. The rule in question is whether or not players currently on their MLB team’s disabled list are eligible to be acquired in weekly FAAB bidding.

I have to admit that in my first year in the LABR, I did not know that such a move is prohibited there. I assumed the rule was the same in both leagues – that DLed players can be picked up - as did league leader Derek Carty of ESPN.

After all, there is a penalty built into the Tout Wars implementation. All players added via free agency must spend the first week on the active roster. Seven days of having to take zero stats keeping an injured player active leads to an appropriate level of reservation in some situations.

Carty, with the second-most amount in his kitty, $86, passed on new Dodgers outfielder Josh Reddick, instead going after Reddick’s new-old teammate Rich Hill. Carty thought he used $68 to secure the services of the lefty. The move made a lot of sense, as he earlier lost L.A. ace Clayton Kershaw to injury, so Carty was likely looking for Hill to help fill some of the slack.

Despite MLB rules allowing a player on the disabled list to be traded from one team to another, Hill is ineligible to be selected in LABR until activated by the Dodgers. A finger blister that has kept Hill on the shelf also still keeps him on the league’s untouchable list.

Apparently because his high FAAB balance assured him of getting Hill, Carty did not make any contingent bids. It was a bad break for Carty, who successfully added Hill in National League Tout during the same transaction period.

You have to decide which approach you like, but if your league does not follow the process you prefer, perhaps you can help your case with a Carty-like example.

The second example of a rules “gotcha” occurred to me in this same time frame. The cornerstone of my draft-day strategy and the center of my offense in both leagues – Miami outfielder Giancarlo Stanton – went down with a season-ending injury.

The FAAB reclaim rules in both leagues – which I have always thought are too liberal – allow full FAAB reclaim for players out for the season - if the request is made prior to the All-Star break. 100 percent seems too much in the case of a player injured in early July, for example. After all, the original owner does not have to give back a half-season’s worth of results.

Anyway, where the two league rules differ is after the break. Tout allows a 50 percent rebate until the end of the season, but if an injury occurs one second after the mid-season deadline, the LABR owner is totally out of luck. In my opinion, the razor’s edge difference between feast and famine in LABR is far too extreme.

If I was starting with a fresh sheet of paper, I might consider a rule that allowed 75 percent return for a player out for the season before the break and 25 percent after, or something like that.

Anyway, the current difference between the two leagues’ implementation is considerable. For cashing out Stanton in Tout, I received a welcome sum of $195 – half of my original purchase price of $39 divided by two, times 10. The latter calculation is required since Tout has moved from a FAAB base of $100 to $1000. The $195 represents almost 20 percent of one’s full-season FAAB bankroll.

Knowing that money was coming to help me over the final five to six weeks also enabled me to use my last $7 in the most recent bidding period to acquire Stanton’s replacement, since crediting of FAAB return money always lags a week behind. (I wonder who benefits from the float?!?)

All I could do in LABR is shift Stanton to the disabled list. With an unlimited DL in size, there is no reason to release him. In the highly unlikely event of a miraculous recovery, at least I would still be able to salvage something from Stanton to close the season.

Adding insult to injury, I had to dip into my dwindling FAAB to roster a replacement outfielder.

I guess that one way to look at these examples together is that one of them hurt the first-place team in LABR in Carty and the other inconvenienced my second-place squad. Still, the penalty to the latter is far more severe.

Whenever Hill is finally ready to be activated by the Dodgers, Carty still has his money. With a current FAAB balance over three times that of the next-closest competitor, Carty is assured of eventually getting his man if he so desires. No such relief is coming for my doubly-painful loss of Stanton – no stats and no FAAB reclaim.

When I have the opportunity, I will definitely discuss this rule with the commissioner. Being new to the league, however, I need to understand more about the history and background. How long has this approach been followed? Has a change been considered or tried in the past? And if so, what was learned? But when it gets right down to it, I will get my point across that a change for a more even-handed FAAB rebate process would be welcomed.

If a rule has bothered you, it probably has irritated others as well. If you have an open-minded league leader, he or she will hopefully share that information and be willing to discuss alternatives.


Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 17-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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