Last week, I kicked off my new offseason series on custom league designs with a 2×2 roto format. It pits quantity against quality. This time around, we’ll shift towards an uncommon draft style that already exists in the fantasy ecosystem: the Split Auction.
Draft Type: Dual Auction
Teams: Any number
Positions: Any configuration
Hitter Categories: R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG or similar
Pitcher Categories: W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP or similar
Waivers: Any type
As you can tell from the above parameters, the Split Auction isn’t a fully imagined league. Most of the specifics are highly flexible. Instead, you can think of it as a modular twist to any standard auction format. Even the auction component is highly customizable.
Typical auction leagues conduct one draft for all players – most commonly with a budget of $260 for about 24 players. This gives owners the freedom to choose how they allocate their resources between position players, pitchers, and areas of perceived scarcity. Owners usually allocate about 70 percent of their budget to hitters for a variety of reasons. Pitchers soak up around 30 percent of the budget. In the industry, we call this the hitter/pitcher split.
On occasion, there are reasons to use a very different hitter/pitcher split. For example, I have a head-to-head league where I know my leaguemates prize elite pitchers even though they still use a 70/30 split when competing in the auction. So I use a 25/75 split. It’s a highly volatile strategy made possible only because I’m the only owner doing it and our league features a relatively shallow set of offensive positions.
A Split Auction divides the league into two drafts – one for hitters and one for pitchers. In this way, the hitter/pitcher split is predetermined. Again, the exact mechanics are flexible. I like to add a layer of confusion by using $200 for both the hitter and pitcher auctions. This forces owners to build custom valuations or at least find the FanGraphs auction calculator and do a lot of tinkering. Alternatively, a $130/$130 would match the common $260 auction budget while $182/$78 would codify the commonly prescribed 70/30 split. This last approach allows owners to continue using published valuations.
To set up the dual auction, simply create two leagues on your platform of choice – one with only hitter positions/categories and one with only pitchers. A free vendor like Yahoo is preferable. Mock sites like Couch Manager or RTSports could potentially work.
From there, you have a couple options. My preferred approach is to run the leagues separately, thus preventing any hitter-for-pitcher exchanges. Simply add the results at the end of the season to determine the winner. Alternatively, most fantasy platforms allow the commissioner to change positions and categories after the draft. Choose one of the leagues, edit it to reflect the desired league design, then ask owners to grab all of their drafted players off waivers.
Some platforms are too inflexible to accommodate the Split Auction. Paid services may double charge you, although you could work around this by using Yahoo or another free vendor for the draft and then importing the results manually. In cases of imported rosters, the commissioner may have to do some handholding. This works best with a courteous group of owners.
- Concurrent dual auction – run both drafts at the same time
- Use in conjunction with another highly custom league design – like 2×2 roto
- Snake draft
What’s missing? What did I fail to consider?
A related poll is available on my Patreon.