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Monday 18th Dec 2017

In last week’s column, I highlighted a major difference when FAAB reclaims are allowed for players won via auction on draft day who are later deemed out for the season, in two key industry leagues – LABR and Tout Wars.

The latter provides 100 percent rebate prior to the All-Star break and 50 percent afterward, while the former goes from all to nothing at the time of the Midsummer Classic.

In fact, Tout rules are significantly less restrictive. Tout allows FAAB reclaim for ANY injured player who was taken on draft day, even ones just out for a short time, on the 15-day disabled list, for example. The protection against funny business is that if the original owner decides later that he or she wants that player back, the new price must be greater than or equal to the draft-day value.

One way is not right and the other wrong – but they are very different.

A second variation is that zero dollar bids are legal for major league players in Tout, but all players acquired in LABR require at least one dollar to be spent.

Also, FAAB can be traded in Tout, but not in LABR. These last two rules combined means that there is no way a LABR team with a zero balance can acquire any additional players via FAAB bidding in the second half of the season. Needless to say, great care must be taken when balances are low.

Yet another difference is in the speculative acquisition of top prospects. One of my favorite features of Tout is that minor leaguers can be acquired via FAAB at any time. The only stipulations are that no zero-dollar bids are allowed and all players must be active for at least the first week.

One rule change made in Tout to help dial this back a bit was the reduction of the size of the reserve rosters from six players to four. That made it more challenging to hold onto a youngster all season long. LABR remains at six.

(I should note that perhaps the most important reason for the change was that in single-league formats, the list of available hitters each week had been short and ugly. Even afterward, the waiver wire candidates are still short and ugly – just a little bit less so.)

On the other hand, if you don’t pick up your prospects on draft day in LABR, you are precluded for bidding until after they actually reach the Majors.

As a result, on draft day this spring in LABR, I acquired pitchers Lucas Giolito and Jake Thompson and I also added shortstop Dansby Swanson after losing out on the bidding for Orlando Arcia and J.P. Crawford.

Theoretically, these differences could mean less FAAB money is remaining in LABR team coffers. Less generous FAAB rebates and more potential bidding wars for callups could be the factors.

Wondering if in fact this may be the case, I looked at the FAAB balances of my two single-league competitions – NL LABR vs. NL Tout – as of August 21.

One other factor has to be taken into account. Tout handicaps teams that finished below 60 points in the standings with a prorated reduction in FAAB the next season. The glass-half-full explanation is to encourage teams to fight for every point until the end. The more prevalent view is that it is being used as a stick.

Seems to me that a better approach would be that if owners stop competing, they would be asked to play elsewhere, but that is a topic for another day.

The relevant point here is to reflect that withheld money for an apples to apples comparison. One other important point is that LABR uses a $100 FAAB base while Tout moved to a $1000 base for 2016.

Here are the relative numbers.

  Budget Dock Original Reclaim Available Spent Current % Remain
NL Tout $12,000 ($330) $11,670 $977 $12,647 $11,363 $1,284 10.2%
NL LABR $1,200 0 $1,200 $39 $1,239 $1,032 $207 16.7%
NL LABR - Rich Hill @$68 $1,200 0 $1,200 $39 $1,239 $1,100 $139 11.2%

We will take them a line at a time.

12 Tout teams x $1000 = $12,000 - $330 taken away from three teams based on their 2015 finishes. Just under $1000, $977 to be exact, has been returned to owners for FAAB reclaims. That increased the total money available to spend this season to $12,647. $1284 or 10.2 percent of that total remained as of August 21.

The math is simpler for LABR with no penalties and just two FAAB reclaims during the entire first half – Devin Mesoraco at $15 and Kyle Schwarber at $24. That total of $39 is just 40 percent of the comparable amount returned in Tout. As a result, 16.7 percent of the available total to spend remains.

However, you may recall that last week, I outlined the trouble NL LABR league leader Derek Carty experienced when trying to acquire new Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill. Had the lefty been available instead of being on the DL, Carty would have spent $68 for him. With that amount added to the LABR total, the difference in FAAB remaining would be within one percent.

So it seems that the respective owners across the two leagues are consistent in their spending, even with different FAAB totals and variances in the rules governing FAAB use.

The moral of the story? Be ready to compete no matter what rules are in place. That is what these industry leaders seem to be doing.


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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