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Code of Hammurabi

NL & AL Only leagues - Why? Rationale and Support?

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First let me start by saying im a relative newbie to fantasy baseball. I have been playing for about 5 years now. I am not one of these long time vets like many on these boards. Some of y'all are dinosaurs on here with 15 years+ experience. Kudos!

For the life of me I cant figure out the need and why anyone would want to play AL and NL only leagues. Whats even more interesting to me is that this league split structure is intrinsic to ONLY Baseball. For example we dont see NFC/AFC only leagues in football and Eastern/Western Conf leagues in baseball. What about baseball is so special that this league format has emerged and become some popular.

Some arguments i hear about why people play NL/AL leagues.

1) Its harder and you need to know more about the Game to be a successful Gm. Doesnt larger leagues like 16 and 20 team leagues serve the same function?

2) The AL/NL leagues are a "traditional" format and represent the roots and genesis of the structure of early baseball leagues.

3) Somehow AL/NL leagues duplicate the game better. For example most 4/5 starters in AL/NL only leagues are actually 4/5 starters in MLB.

I have asked this before maybe 2 years ago or so, but still find myself puzzled as to why anyone would want to play in this format.

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I suppose it's all about the challenge. I'm in both an NL Only, and an AL Only. It's a different dynamic, unlike a mixed league where most everyone has an all-star type of lineup. It's fun to have to use your noodle and decide which scrub you add to your team, even though he may not get many AB's for the time being.

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This is all valid rationale, but dont deeper leagues achieve what I have bolded below?

I suppose it's all about the challenge. I'm in both an NL Only, and an AL Only. It's a different dynamic, unlike a mixed league where most everyone has an all-star type of lineup. It's fun to have to use your noodle and decide which scrub you add to your team, even though he may not get many AB's for the time being.

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First let me start by saying im a relative newbie to fantasy baseball. I have been playing for about 5 years now. I am not one of these long time vets like many on these boards. Some of y'all are dinosaurs on here with 15 years+ experience. Kudos!

For the life of me I cant figure out the need and why anyone would want to play AL and NL only leagues. Whats even more interesting to me is that this league split structure is intrinsic to ONLY Baseball. For example we dont see NFC/AFC only leagues in football and Eastern/Western Conf leagues in baseball. What about baseball is so special that this league format has emerged and become some popular.

Some arguments i hear about why people play NL/AL leagues.

1) Its harder and you need to know more about the Game to be a successful Gm. Doesnt larger leagues like 16 and 20 team leagues serve the same function?

2) The AL/NL leagues are a "traditional" format and represent the roots and genesis of the structure of early baseball leagues.

3) Somehow AL/NL leagues duplicate the game better. For example most 4/5 starters in AL/NL only leagues are actually 4/5 starters in MLB.

I have asked this before maybe 2 years ago or so, but still find myself puzzled as to why anyone would want to play in this format.

I think the point is to make the game more challenging. If everyone has a stud player then what's the point of researching and doing the draft if you can just replace a struggling player off waivers? That said, I only play in one league with friends so I have not had the opportunity to play in one. I can see it being frustrating though especially since you have to focus so much on crappy players, guessing playing time, and inability to improve your team that much during the season.

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This is all valid rationale, but dont deeper leagues achieve what I have bolded below?

In deeper leagues, the player base is larger. Significantly.

In NL and AL Only leagues, the pickings are few and far between. Especially in my leagues where we have 13 mgrs in each.

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I think the point is to make the game more challenging. If everyone has a stud player then what's the point of researching and doing the draft if you can just replace a struggling player off waivers? That said, I only play in one league with friends so I have not had the opportunity to play in one. I can see it being frustrating though especially since you have to focus so much on crappy players, guessing playing time, and inability to improve your team that much during the season.

I guess, in my case at least, if I win a league title in one of these very competitive leagues...the Championship means more to me than it would in a Mixed League.

Both types of leagues are fun, no doubt.

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I think the point is to you can have a deeper league while still retaining fewer, competitive players. Sometimes it's difficult to get 16 or 20 competitive and dedicated players together. If you only have 8 guys, but still want a deeper league, you run AL or NL only

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I've been in an AL only league for many years now. It's just the way we've always done it basically. I would prefer to make it AL/NL but the other 11 guys want to keep going the way it is. I really like all the guys in my league and we have fun with it so there's no way I'm leaving the league. Filling out a roster is a real challenge. Usually you have to accept weaknesses that are far more glaring than in a AL/NL format the trick is to balance your strengths and weaknesses against everyone elses. Also, if one of your strenghts turns into a weaknes you have a tough time overcoming it (last year Arod killed me but he wasn't the only one, Kendry Moralez and Jake Peavy just plain never came around but I made trades for future players (Lawrie and Hosmer and Montero) and started planning for this year as soon as it was obvious that my injured players were too much to overcome. I'm in a bunch of other AL/NL leagues but this league is the one that requires the most concentration/research although the best draft I ever had was literally on one hours sleep, hungover in Las Vegas so maybe I need to turn my brain off for it this year. Hmmm.

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I don't play in one, but I think some of the rationale was that before inter-league play, they functioned as basically two separate baseball entities with different rules and different ways to build a franchise. Typically, the AL was the offensive league and the NL was the pitching or defensive league. Therefore there were stark differences in the player pool. In the NFL or NBA, there aren't any differences in the style of play or at least they're minimal (especially with domes in the NFL) because the conferences are inter-related and play each other so often. Even with inter-league play that broad difference in the style of play (better bats in the AL b/c of the DH, better arms in the NL b/c lack of one) exists and some folks may want the player pool to be as uniform as possible......Just a thought.

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I think when Dan Okrent originally put together the first Rotisserie League, I think his intent was to recreate an actual MLB roster, drafted by the 10-11 players in his league. At the time this was done, there was a vast divide in AL vs NL, the leagues completely operated under different rules (i.e. different umpires, no interleague play, DH/no-DH & the AL had a cutoff time that no new inning could start beyond 2am). In order to recreate a "MLB Roster", Okrent needed to limit his 10-11 person league to selecting from 1 league (at the time the NL only had 12 teams, has since added Florida, Colorado, Milwaukee & Arizona).

It's just a format that has survived the 30 years since the game began, nothing "better" or "worse" involved with it, it's just different, if you don't like them don't play. Larger 15-20 team mixed leagues have become more and more common over the last few years, where as these NL- and AL-only leagues seem to be dying out except for some older and/or die hard leagues. Getting 15-20 people together who had never even heard of fantasy baseball was probably little more daunting in 1980 than it is in 2012.

Edited by RespectMyAuthority

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I understand the appeal of them because of the challenge they provide but I don't enjoy playing in them because-

1. The draft is 80% of the season basically, there isn't much to do in season with limited players available.

2. It becomes a war of attrition, whoever's team gets the least fluke injuries ends up at the top of the standings. When one of your studs goes down you replace him with nothing or a guy who plays twice a week. So there's a lot more luck involved in the injury aspect.

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this is the best rationale i have seen so far.

I think the point is to you can have a deeper league while still retaining fewer, competitive players. Sometimes it's difficult to get 16 or 20 competitive and dedicated players together. If you only have 8 guys, but still want a deeper league, you run AL or NL only

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I understand the appeal of them because of the challenge they provide but I don't enjoy playing in them because-

1. The draft is 80% of the season basically, there isn't much to do in season with limited players available.

2. It becomes a war of attrition, whoever's team gets the least fluke injuries ends up at the top of the standings. When one of your studs goes down you replace him with nothing or a guy who plays twice a week. So there's a lot more luck involved in the injury aspect.

Item #1 is true, the smaller the player pool, the more importance the draft/auction carries.

However, item #2 is garbage. NL-/AL-only leagues are typically auctions, so you can put your team together however you want, no one is forcing you to put your cash into a few big players. If you check out the LABR NL results from this weekend you can see that the players who are borderline draftable in a 15-team mixed league are costing teams $10-15 in the Only leagues, because those guys are the last guys with solid AB totals.

In a 15-team mixed, the last few guys are all MLB starters, but they are bottom end starts who cost $1-$3 in the auction, when you have to pay $10-15 for these guys in Only leagues it sucks, but if you don't want a Top/Bottom heavy roster, you have to go balanced salaries in Only leagues, if you go with a few big studs, you are gonna have some MLB backups filling starting roster spots for you and open yourself up to a single injury to a stud impacting your roster a lot more than if you had spread the wealth.

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Well we have 9 in our NL-only and we use 1 league because we're not enough basically. Having both leagues with only 9 managers will mean everyone's team will be stacked. In one leaguers, it seperates the men from the boys, forcing you to find more diamonds in the rough sort of speak to come out on top. Guys like Berkman and Luebke last year. Anyway that's our take on it and we enjoy the challenge. The reason why we use the NL is because "Nos Amours" the Expos played in it.

Edited by FUM

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Our NL only league uses a free agent acquisition budget (FAAB) so any player traded from the AL to the NL goes into the free agent pool...All teams submit sealed bids and the team with the highest bid adds that player to the active roster...If you bid more than $25 you are forced to keep that player...This element definitely adds to the game and makes AL to NL trades extremely interesting...

Using half the Major League to build your team makes you appreciate the value of a good bench...4th outfielders, utility men and middle relievers actually have value...Our NL only league still does the draft live and in person at a local restaurant, which makes for a better experience and a whole lot of fun...Plus, we don't know 20 people who would be willing to participate in a live auction...Hope this sheds some light on why NL only is so enjoyable...

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Item #1 is true, the smaller the player pool, the more importance the draft/auction carries.

However, item #2 is garbage. NL-/AL-only leagues are typically auctions, so you can put your team together however you want, no one is forcing you to put your cash into a few big players. If you check out the LABR NL results from this weekend you can see that the players who are borderline draftable in a 15-team mixed league are costing teams $10-15 in the Only leagues, because those guys are the last guys with solid AB totals.

In a 15-team mixed, the last few guys are all MLB starters, but they are bottom end starts who cost $1-$3 in the auction, when you have to pay $10-15 for these guys in Only leagues it sucks, but if you don't want a Top/Bottom heavy roster, you have to go balanced salaries in Only leagues, if you go with a few big studs, you are gonna have some MLB backups filling starting roster spots for you and open yourself up to a single injury to a stud impacting your roster a lot more than if you had spread the wealth.

Well yes you can go with the balanced route and just go for AB's but my point that if a player goes down you essentially can't replace him still stands. It would lessen the blow if you have a balanced roster rather than a top heavy one I guess... I just don't think its very fun to play in a league where there are no replacement options for injured players.

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I did an AL only league in the mid 90's that was the catalyst for our change, though we did ours in mixed format. It was actually a $130 auction with 12-keepers 23 active spot roto. Contacts were up to 4 years, price didnt have to change for 3 years, could add a 4th year if 1.5 increase year 3 and 4. I loved the depth of it and as others have mentioned that is the lure of it. In our mixed, we once got it up to 19 owners and that was cool, but these days we just have a solid and committed to a live auction about 13 owners.

My biggest complaint about the "only" format was:

1. Trade to another league.

2. Breakout flukey guy had a much greater impact than they do in mixed leagues because of the depth issue and Im not talking prospects here Im talking about guys like Jeff Francouer throwing up a 20-20 or Asdrubal Cabrera or even a guy like Ellsbury having a power breakout.

3. Pick up process control I think is important because you are often taking on a very valuable player and dropping a complete scrub. So that has to be a real fair process, if I were in an "only" again, I would certainly want some sort of blind bid system and more of a weekly than simply a by the seat of your pants format.

Its a little bit of those head shakers that really swing the league.

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That is an excellent point. i hadnt considered that before.

I did an AL only league in the mid 90's that was the catalyst for our change, though we did ours in mixed format. It was actually a $130 auction with 12-keepers 23 active spot roto. Contacts were up to 4 years, price didnt have to change for 3 years, could add a 4th year if 1.5 increase year 3 and 4. I loved the depth of it and as others have mentioned that is the lure of it. In our mixed, we once got it up to 19 owners and that was cool, but these days we just have a solid and committed to a live auction about 13 owners.

My biggest complaint about the "only" format was:

1. Trade to another league.

2. Breakout flukey guy had a much greater impact than they do in mixed leagues because of the depth issue and Im not talking prospects here Im talking about guys like Jeff Francouer throwing up a 20-20 or Asdrubal Cabrera or even a guy like Ellsbury having a power breakout.

3. Pick up process control I think is important because you are often taking on a very valuable player and dropping a complete scrub. So that has to be a real fair process, if I were in an "only" again, I would certainly want some sort of blind bid system and more of a weekly than simply a by the seat of your pants format.

Its a little bit of those head shakers that really swing the league.

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The other thing with 'only' leagues: the waiver wire actually has some bearing during the season. Say player A gets traded to the NL...obviously, in an NL Only, you're going to want to save your waiver priority so you can beat your league-mates in the rights for same Player A.

Some managers in my leagues are notorious for holding onto their waiver spot for over a year or two...waiting to get that 'difference maker' that just came over from the other league.

It just seems, in my experience, that overall strategy comes in to play more-so in the 'Only' Leagues. That's why I prefer them.

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The other thing with 'only' leagues: the waiver wire actually has some bearing during the season. Say player A gets traded to the NL...obviously, in an NL Only, you're going to want to save your waiver priority so you can beat your league-mates in the rights for same Player A.

Some managers in my leagues are notorious for holding onto their waiver spot for over a year or two...waiting to get that 'difference maker' that just came over from the other league.

It just seems, in my experience, that overall strategy comes in to play more-so in the 'Only' Leagues. That's why I prefer them.

I disagree with this premise. What your calling attention to is the relative depth or shallowness of a league, not increased strategy. A 8 man league specific format with 25 man rosters isn't going to be as deep as a 20 man mixed league with 28 man rosters with farm teams. I agree that in today's world, a lot of leagues like to create depth of a league by closing the pool of players by half, but these are generally standard size leagues (8-12 people). If you want to challenge yourself, then a big league (16-20) with deep rosters and a full complement of players that you have to know, study and analyze would be more strategic than a standard size league specific league......You can have fun in either and challenge yourself regardless......

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I disagree with this premise. What your calling attention to is the relative depth or shallowness of a league, not increased strategy. A 8 man league specific format with 25 man rosters isn't going to be as deep as a 20 man mixed league with 28 man rosters with farm teams. I agree that in today's world, a lot of leagues like to create depth of a league by closing the pool of players by half, but these are generally standard size leagues (8-12 people). If you want to challenge yourself, then a big league (16-20) with deep rosters and a full complement of players that you have to know, study and analyze would be more strategic than a standard size league specific league......You can have fun in either and challenge yourself regardless......

See, to me..the usage of the 'lack of player depth' in a shallower league, is what I'm referring to as strategy.

You better know your scrub bench players if you want to compete. The "Only" leagues more so, than Mixed Leagues....unless like you say about the bigger 16-20 manager Mixed Leagues (which are about as un-common as the "only" leagues).

Edited by lavaman

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I also had the same question. There's so many more variants to fantasy baseball than other fantasy sports.

I don't want to hijack this thread, but as someone who's been coming from fantasy basketball/hockey/football (I've played h2h, lineup locks weekly in all of them), what kind of league should I be aiming for in fantasy baseball? h2h seems to be a lot more luck based in fantasy baseball, since those meager games you get from pitchers pretty much decide all of your pitcher categories. It also seems much more hands-on as I haven't been finding many lineups-locking-weekly leagues, which means I'd have to stream players based on matchups myself or fall behind.

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The NFBC runs a bunch of leagues from $150 to $10,000 entry. The majority of their leagues are 15-teams, but they been adding a lot more 12-team leagues the last few years.

In their leagues, rosters lock on Monday, but you can edit your hitters each Friday. So pitchers are locked all week, while there are 2 hitting periods (M-Th & F-Su).

They used to allow you to remove a pitcher on Friday if they were on the DL, but this opened a loophole where teams would have a marginal 2-start pitcher who they didn't like the first start (i.e. at the Yankees or something), but the pitcher's second start was a good home matchup -- teams would put a pitcher who was on the DL into their starting lineup for the M-Th session, then put in the non-injured pitcher on Friday for his better of the 2 starts, rather than having to suffer the "bad" start to also get the "good" one.

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I did an AL only league in the mid 90's that was the catalyst for our change, though we did ours in mixed format. It was actually a $130 auction with 12-keepers 23 active spot roto. Contacts were up to 4 years, price didnt have to change for 3 years, could add a 4th year if 1.5 increase year 3 and 4. I loved the depth of it and as others have mentioned that is the lure of it. In our mixed, we once got it up to 19 owners and that was cool, but these days we just have a solid and committed to a live auction about 13 owners.

My biggest complaint about the "only" format was:

1. Trade to another league.

2. Breakout flukey guy had a much greater impact than they do in mixed leagues because of the depth issue and Im not talking prospects here Im talking about guys like Jeff Francouer throwing up a 20-20 or Asdrubal Cabrera or even a guy like Ellsbury having a power breakout.

3. Pick up process control I think is important because you are often taking on a very valuable player and dropping a complete scrub. So that has to be a real fair process, if I were in an "only" again, I would certainly want some sort of blind bid system and more of a weekly than simply a by the seat of your pants format.

Its a little bit of those head shakers that really swing the league.

I see your points, which means being in a great league is really important. My current NL-only league has been around since 1988, and eight out of the twelve owners have been in the league since 1995. With that degree of continuity, you can really build up a set of case law and rules that make it all work. Plus, some great long-term friendships.

It's really easy to solve #1. Player who gets traded out of your league to the other league remains eligible for the rest of the season (no getting hosed when a big trade goes down). Similarly, player traded into your league from the other league remains ineligible for the rest of the season (no dogfights to pick up the newcomer).

I totally disagree with you on #2. Predicting breakouts is all part of the game, and what makes it fun. What's more interesting -- trying to predict whether Vance Worley will break out, or whether Hanley Ramirez will slump? In a shallow mixed league, you only have to think about Hanley. In a deep league, you have to predict the Vance Worleys and Jeff Francouers of the world.

No one player will make or break a good team. The team in my league that spent 1/5 of their budget on Pujols won last year. That's because they were smart enough to get 70 SB out of Jason Bourgeios and Emilio Bonifacio. Breakouts and slumps offset. There is good luck and bad, but over time, skill will beat both.

#3 is solvable but more tricky. Once again, if you embargo players who came over from the other league in-season, it gets easier.

I much prefer NL-only to mixed, and have tried both. I just don't find the question of whether to spend my money on Michael Cuddyer or Brett Gardner very interesting. I'm much more interested in figuring out Pedro Alvarez vs. Devin Mesoraco.

--Ben

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I will never forget reading these forums a couple of years ago: some member was wondering if he should pick Ichiro off of the waiver wire. I play in a 12 team AL only league, and I NEVER want to play in such a shallow league where the 2010 version of Ichiro is on the waiver wire. Enough said.

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