Written by: Ray Butler
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Are you in a super-committed deep keeper or dynasty fantasy baseball league with a group of people you know relatively well? Looking for a way to increase parity and give the basement dwellers a chance at quick redemption?
Your league should try a Rule 5 draft.
Now I’m not saying that a fantasy baseball Rule 5 draft was our idea. I can’t prove it, but I’d be willing to bet there are several fantasy baseball leagues around the world that do their own version of the draft. I do, however, want to outline what the Rule 5 draft in my fantasy baseball league will look like.
Our league has been open and operating (though we changed platforms from Yahoo to Fantrax because we strongly disagreed with Yahoo’s methodology behind making Shohei Ohtani two separate players) for around a month. Most of our rosters are comprised of 23 players (a few owners have more due to DL’ed players at the end of last season).
The first critical aspect of our two-round Rule 5 draft: Each owner had the right to select 16 of their players PLUS 3 additional NA (prospect) players to protect. That means that most of our owners selected 16 active players and 3 prospects to protect. Rebuilding teams may have selected 13-14 active players and 5-6 prospects to protect. Regardless. Protected players, obviously, cannot be selected by opposing teams in the Rule 5.
All owned but unprotected players (both active and prospects) form the pool of players that can be taken in our two round draft. With a couple of hang-ups… (Note: In March when our league does its normal draft, owners who keep a full allotment of players make their first draft selection in Round 19. The first 18 rounds are normally comprised of players who have simply been kept by owners.)
- In the first round of the Rule 5 draft, if owner A selects an unprotected player from Owner B’s team, Owner A must forfeit their 19th round draft pick to Owner B in exchange for Owner B’s 20th round pick.
- In the second round of the Rule 5 draft, if Owner A selects an unprotected player from Owner B’s team, Owner A must forget their 20th round draft pick to Owner B in exchange for Owner B’s 21st round draft pick.
- In addition to an exchange of normal draft picks, an owner who selects a player in the first round of the Rule 5 draft must forfeit $30 FAAB (30% of our $100 allotment) to the original owner.
- In addition to an exchange of normal draft picks, an owner who selects a player in the second round of the Rule 5 draft must forfeit $15 FAAB (15% of our $100 allotment) to the original owner.
- Last but not least, if a player who was selected in either round of the Rule 5 draft is dropped at any point during the season, the original owner gets top priority to claim that player in exchange for $15 FAAB (for a player who was selected in the first round) or $7 FAAB (for a player who was selected in the second round).
- Owners do not have to make a selection in the Rule 5 draft. They can simply “pass” during their time slot in order to maintain their entire FAAB and current draft picks.
- Unprotected players eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft who ARE NOT selected are simply returned to their original owner and will be eligible to be kept leading up to our normal draft shortly before Opening Day.
The order of the Rule 5 draft is simply the reverse of the final standings from last season. We on the same page?
Now, does any of what you’ve read so far mean ANYTHING if the pool of players is crappy? Of course not. And honestly, when the idea of a Rule 5 draft was floated in our league GroupMe last season, I was skeptical of what a hypothetical pool of unprotected players would look like.
Let’s just say my skepticism was *slightly* unwarranted.
Here’s the pool of players we’ll have the opportunity to choose from:
C Carson Kelly C Robinson Chirinos
1B Dominic Smith 1B Albert Pujols
1B Justin Smoak 1B Miguel Cabrera
1B Justin Bour 1B Matt Olson
1B Eric Thames 1B Ian Desmond
2B Jurickson Profar 2B Willie Calhoun
2B Whit Merrifield 3B Kyle Seager
SS Paul DeJong SS Troy Tulowitzki
SS Nick Gordon OF Brett Gardner
OF Dustin Fowler OF Dustin Fowler
OF Austin Hays OF Carlos Gonzalez
OF Alex Kiriloff OF Corey Ray
OF Clint Frazier OF Jorge Soler
OF Odubel Herrera OF Steven Souza Jr.
OF Adam Duvall OF Hunter Renfroe
OF Mark Trumbo OF Lorenzo Cain
OF Mitch Haniger OF Adam Eaton
SP Mike Soroka SP Jharel Cotton
SP Brandon Woodruff SP Matt Harvey
SP Jordan Montgomery SP Patrick Corbin
SP Dinelson Lamet SP Ervin Santana
SP Tyler Skaggs SP Blake Snell
SP Yadier Alvarez SP John Lackey
SP Martin Perez SP Jason Vargas
SP Jimmy Nelson SP Lance Lynn
SP Zach Davies SP Marco Estrada
SP J.A. Happ SP Carlos Rodon
SP Michael Wacha SP Aaron Sanchez
SP Ian Anderson SP Franklin Perez
SP Tanner Roark SP Bartolo Colon
SP Luis Perdomo SP Josh Tomlin
SP Jake Odorizzi SP Amir Garrett
SP Daniel Mengden SP Johnny Cueto
SP Drew Pomeranz SP Alex Wood
SP Joe Ross SP Tyler Glasnow
SP Francis Martes SP Mike Montgomery
SP Parker Bridwell RP Brent Suter
RP Brad Peacock RP Zach Britton
RP Alex Colome RP Fernando Rodney
RP Brad Hand RP Seung Hwan Oh
RP Archie Bradley RP Greg Holland
RP Wade Davis RP Edwin Diaz
RP Raisel Iglesias RP Felipe Rivero
RP Cody Allen RP Roberto Osuna
RP Ken Giles RP Shane Greene
RP Corey Knebel
I’ve talked to folks in my league who are *salivating* over some of these names. Because my league mates and I work and are busy throughout the day, we’ve allotted each owner a four-hour time limit to make a selection when their turn arrives (beginning at 6:00 AM each day and ending at 10:00 PM). In a twelve man league, we plan on the two round draft taking about six days. Of course there’s no draft room that can simulate what we’re attempting to accomplish, so we’ll make selections in our GroupMe while updating a live Google doc with selections and a compensation summary.
Yes, it’s complicated. Yes, it takes a minute to understand (we’ve been tinkering on the process for over six months in hopes of perfecting, and I’m sure we’ll tinker some more after it’s all said and done). But take another look at the player list. Consider the agonizing decisions that took place when deciding who to protect and who to leave up to fate. If you consider your league elite in its baseball knowledge, you should welcome different, unique ways of putting your fantasy skills to the test.
I’ll be tweeting updates throughout the next week of our progress, and I plan on recapping the process in a new post once it’s all said and done.
Questions about our Rule 5 draft? Comments on our process or eligible player pool? Feel free to tweet me!
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