The Highly Custom League series is back with, well, something silly. Previous entries covered 2×2 Roto, Split Auctions, Roto-to-Head, Rotating Divisions, WAR wars, Category Wars, Public Trade Negotiations, If Only, Elimination, Home Team, and Owners & Managers.
Last night, I stumbled upon this hungry Ray Flowers tweet.
How many catcher spots should be used in #FantasyBaseball?
— Ray Flowers (@BaseballGuys) February 13, 2020
The whole “one or two catchers” debate has been raging since the beginning of time. I am, frankly, over it. Just do what you want. But this also gave me an idea… for a 10-team, battery-only league.
Draft Type: Any, auction preferred
League Type: Redraft
Teams: 8- or 10-team
Scoring: Any, 5×5 perferred
Waivers: Rolling FAAB, minimum $1 bid
Compatible Modules: Must Cut (not yet published)
A battery-only league means we’re working with just pitchers and catchers. Hey! They’ve reported to Spring Training!
This is meant as a challenge mode for advanced players – ideally friends who interact on a regular basis. It’s a small league designed to test who can best navigate the muddy waters of competing with the least competitive position. An auction is recommended to force participants to reckon between elite pitching and the few stud catching forces.
My recommendation is to set the league to roster and start around 40 catchers. No need for a bench. So, whipping out my third grade maths, that’s five catcher slots in an eight-team league and four slots in a 10-team league. Pitcher settings can be flexible. A typical nine pitcher format is acceptable.
Eligibilities should be set as low as one game to qualify as a catcher. We want as large of a pool as possible. A one-game qualifier also opens the door for mid-season additions to the player pool. While that might sound like a low bar to be eligible, the auction calculator claims it only increases the catcher pool from 76 to 78 players – most notably Kyle Schwarber who played one measly inning.
How much of your budget should go to J.T. Realmuto? In 2019, he could have singlehandedly won the stolen base category with nine swipes. He also led catchers in runs and RBI while ranking fourth in home runs and eighth in batting average (three ahead of him had fewer than 130 plate appearances). Is 50 percent too much? Probably not!
If the bidding for the the top catchers gets too fierce, perhaps you can instead invest nearly all of your budget in elite starting pitching while attempting to find value with catchers like Austin Barnes, Stephen Vogt, and James McCann. They would have combined for a coveted double-digit stolen base total last year even if they left you hanging in other categories.
Streaming should be encouraged but limited. For example, a $100 FAAB with rolling waivers and a minimum $1 bid would force managers to pick their spots. Do they hoard their wealth in case a Schwarber gains eligibility, run a revolving door with their last catcher slot, or pile up extra innings on the pitching side of the ledger.
To increase the gamesmanship involved, eschew innings minimums and maximums. Let owners decide for themselves if they’ll try to compete on volume, quality, or both.
Battery can be adapted to use a different position – for example outfield, middle infield, or corner infield. Indeed, these alternatives would probably make for a richer experience since the player pools involved aren’t so deeply infiltrated by terrible, uni-dimensional hitters. However, the purest and most challenging form of this league is with pitchers and catchers. They report first.
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