A Year of ottoneu

One of the coolest things about ottoneu Fantasy Baseball is that it is a game that runs all year.  Plenty of other fantasy baseball league sites will shut down once the MLB regular season is over, but at ottoneu that is where the fun begins.

Arbitration

As soon as the MLB regular season is over and a league winner is crowned, owners have to begin evaluating rosters for next season.  The first step is to send players to arbitration, a unique ottoneu experience that helps both long-term competitive balance and represents player interests.  Each owner can vote to determine who they believe is the lowest paid, highest production player on each team.  These players by definition are being paid too little, and deserve the opportunity to go back to auction to receive a more fair salary. 

By putting these players back at auction, teams that were in the lower half of the standings get an opportunity at talent from teams in the upper half of the standings.  The original owner of a player sent to arbitration will get a $5 discount towards their salary at the auction, so there is a better than 50-50 opportunity to re-sign the player, but the player will almost certainly be paid a more fair salary.

Off-Season Trades

After arbitration voting is complete, the off-season trade window is wide open.  Usually at this point of the year, there are a few teams that went for broke trying to win in the previous season and are now well over the $400 base salary cap.  Since there are in-season loans to facilitate trading prospects and lower cost keepers for expensive superstars, some teams can end up adding a lot of non-keepable, very expensive talent for the stretch run. 

These loans go away as soon as the season starts, and the reverse process ensues – teams who finished towards the bottom of the league but have more cap space are willing to take back some of the expensive superstars, but the teams with cap space have much more leverage this time around.

The Keeper Deadline

The keeper deadline is next, usually in early March, to allow leagues a full month over the course of spring training to complete their auction drafts for the upcoming season.  As the keeper deadline approaches, teams have to declare who they want to keep for the upcoming season and cut loose everyone else.  There is no penalty for cutting players here, and generally this leads to a lot of superstars going back to the auction year over year, giving everyone a great opportunity at putting together a winner in any given year.

Between the keeper deadline and the auction draft, there is the option for two more penalty-free cuts, which was originally placed as a safety net against major injury, but has turned into a neat way to extend trade talks right up until the auction draft.

The Auction Draft

At some point in March, the auction draft comes around.  Auction drafts have a very basic pro/con list.  The positive is that they are a more fair, more fun way of distributing players than a snake draft.  The negative is that they can take a long time. 

ottoneu Fantasy Baseball has a draft page that some of you have already seen that tries to speed up and simplify the auction draft process, and there is also an option to hold a live auction draft and have a commissioner manually add players to teams.  If you use the draft page, the auction start with a given team who can then nominate a player.  The player nominated starts with a minimum bid and can be bid on by any other team. 

Once a bid is not topped for 15 seconds, that player is added to the team with the highest bid and the next team can nominate.  Once all teams have full rosters or the league agrees that they are done putting together their rosters for the upcoming season, the draft ends.  The auction draft can be paused and resumed by a league commissioner at any time.  Organizing and running an auction draft does require patience and communication between all league members, but it is absolutely the most fun you can have distributing players for a fantasy league.

In-Season Auctions

Only now have we reached the regular season.  Everyone has their teams and some owners have cap space.  As prospects are signed or emerge, or as that player no one saw coming starts majorly mashing, owners will want to add free agents.  The in-season auction for ottoneu Fantasy Baseball is a 2 day blind auction.  Once a player is nominated, the league is notified that an auction has started and owners have 48 hours from the when the auction has started to submit a bid.  At the end of 48 hours, the team with the highest bid receives the player and has to clear cap space for this player if necessary.

In-Season Trades

In-season trading in ottoneu Fantasy Baseball is a different beast as well.  Since each player has a salary association, trades have another dimension in addition to pure production and positional needs.  Keepers and prospects are swapped for expensive superstars as teams either begin the rebuilding process for next season or make the aforementioned push towards victory.  It can be a lot of fun if you are one of the teams at the bottom who has a high production, high cost player that two or three competitors want to add, as jockeying for next season is only slightly less important than competing in the current season.

Still Fantasy Baseball

Everything else you have come to expect from fantasy baseball games are also part of ottoneu Fantasy Baseball, from daily lineups to live scoring to trading blocks and a trade wizard.  The awesome integration with FanGraphs leaderboards is a great research tool as well, and I just added a dead simple league message board last night that I hope can help league owners communicate throughout the whole year. 

Feature Suggestions

If there are tools that might make your life easier as a commissioner or an owner of a team, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at help@ottoneu.com or on our brand new forum. As requested in an earlier comment thread, here are some screenshots of some of the league tools, taken from the original ottoneu league.

Screenshots

Join Now

The annual fee is normally $19.99, but it is only $9.99 from now until March 1st, so join or create a league today!




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49 Responses to “A Year of ottoneu”

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  1. Telo says:

    All this looks great, but I have zero desire to play fantasy if there isn’t a prize. See you next year!

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  2. hunterfan says:

    Shouldn’t this be in a banner at the top of my screen?

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  3. TdotStandup says:

    make it free…

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  4. Shizane says:

    Telo,

    Can you elaborate on what “prize” you are looking for? I play in a very complex CBS league and the site charges a fee to administer it. There is no prize from the site at all; the only winnings come from the player league entrance fees & transactions less the CBS admin fee. What other sites offer prizes (and what are they)?

    FYI – I am not for or against the site….just curious of what you expect.

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    • superhans says:

      Well, I don’t have 20, 12 or even 8 friends who know “saber” baseball well enough to want to pay $10 or ($20!!!) for this game. I was excited when I first saw this because I assumed I’d be able to play in a league with people who enjoyed advanced stats, AND gamble on it, but unfortunately, there’s just no reason to pay money to play a game where I can’t win anything. If i had all day to play fantasy games then maybe I’d consider it…

      To me, and this is certainly one man’s opinion – fantasy sports are meant to be gambled on. It’s hard for someone who plays a handful of fantasy games every year, with money riding on each one, to play a fantasy game (no matter how good it is), for free against a bunch of people I don’t know. This game looks very well done, but I’d have zero emotional attachment.

      I’m guessing most of these public leagues will have pretty low activity by the end of the season… as most public leagues do when there’s no money riding on it.

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      • superhans says:

        (Telo=superhans. Just registered so I could see more about this game)

        That being said, I am genuinely very excited to play next year. I’m sure they will iron out the kinks, as undoubtedly there will be some, add the gambling feature to it, and it will be a nice addition to my fantasy sports lineup…1st round draft pick, for sure. But it has to spend some time in the minors.

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      • superhans says:

        Oh, and for an example of a publicly run fantasy game with gambling, see: Rinkotology.

        Granted, I didn’t like the way they did their payouts, but it can’t be that hard to set up if these guys could do it, legally speaking.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        Maybe I’m crazy, but isn’t ‘gambling’ usually done on a league to league basis? For instance, I have two money leagues this season both with varying payout structures. Both leagues also encourage side betting in a number of ways. I don’t see why this isn’t feasible with ottoneu.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        Also, I believe explicit gambling would be illegal. What you’re looking for are “league dues”.

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      • superhans says:

        @ Brad

        Right, as I said:

        “Well, I don’t have 20, 12 or even 8 friends who know “saber” baseball well enough to want to pay $10 or ($20!!!) for this game. I was excited when I first saw this because I assumed I’d be able to play in a league with people who enjoyed advanced stats, AND gamble on it, but unfortunately, there’s just no reason to pay money to play a game where I can’t win anything. If i had all day to play fantasy games then maybe I’d consider it…”

        It’s not like you can collect 50 bucks from a bunch of random dudes on the internet. I don’t have 20 friends who want to play this (and pay $10/20 to do so). I can’t imagine many people do. And if the do, they are probably entrenched in a keeper league on a different site.

        And to your second point – yes, you can gamble on fantasy sports. See Draftstreet, Rinkotology, etc.

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      • superhans says:

        “How is this legal?

        The United States Supreme Court has defined fantasy sports as a “Game of Skill”. As a result, any wagering on DraftStreet leagues is not considered gambling and is fully legal. “

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      • Johnson says:

        There is no reason why Otteneu could not collect $100 (for example) per team and distribute prize money to the top finishers using those funds collected. There is a tremendous opportunity for fantasy basball hosting sites to provide public money leagues. It is probably not worth it for the big boys (ESPN, CBS, Yahoo) to offer this as it can be construed as gamblng, even though it was ruled a game of skill in 2006.

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      • superhans says:

        @ (Not Brad) Johnson

        Yup. I can imagine it being a boatload of extra administrative work, but you’d think they would be incentivized… maybe they didn’t think the extra draw of users would be enough this year to defray the cost. Hey, if you can get a bunch of people to plunk down 20 bucks to play fantasy anyway, maybe it’s not worth the extra hassle. But you lose guys like me.

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      • Niv Shah says:

        We have looked into exactly that – higher priced tiers with very large percentages of the fees returned in the way of league prizes. Unfortunately, there are legal restrictions in a number of states about doing this, and we were not able to resolve the legal issues before our launch date.

        I understand the interest in prizes and I am definitely in favor of prize leagues, but I am hoping that the FanGraphs community and our new ottoneu Forums will assist in this matter, allowing users to sort out prizes amongst themselves, as leagues see fit. Prizes are not for everyone, after all.

        I am glad to see the interest in higher-priced, high-return prize leagues, and I hope that we can speak directly to this in the near future.

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      • superhans says:

        Yea, that makes sense. But I can’t see a way to organize dues with random people on the internet. Even if you have leagues that are specifically designated as “intend to pay additional dues” leagues, I’m having trouble imagining a scenario where I would be comfortable sending money to someone. Are there any 3rd party vendors/systems/sites that could act as escrow? I can’t think of any.

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      • Niv Shah says:

        Not that I am at all qualified to endorse them or anything, but I have heard fantasysportsvault.com is trying to get into this business. I have never used them, but in combination with the very lively community here at FG, this might be what you want superhans.

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      • superhans says:

        Thanks, Niv, much appreciated. I’ll check it out.

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  5. Bryce says:

    As long as you’re messing around with fantasy baseball formats, why not eliminate the hassle of an ascending auction with a revenue-equivalent and much simpler second price auction?

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    • Niv Shah says:

      Could you elaborate a bit on how that would work?

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      • jacob says:

        everyone bids a closed price. the person who bids the highest amount wins the auction at the second highest price

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      • jacob says:

        ebay uses something that is very close to the second price format. most oral auctions are second price, but instead of everyone bidding at the same time bidding takes a while. in an engineering/economics/math world people know how much they will bid before the bidding starts.

        in fantasy baseball it’s a bit different though (and this is why second price is a bad idea here). you bid more money depending on who you are up against for a certain player.

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      • Niv Shah says:

        Ah, this is basically what our in-season auctions look like. If there is interest in doing this for the auction draft, I would be open to making it an option in the future.

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      • Niv Shah says:

        I agree, it does remove some of the art and strategy from the preseason draft, but it also would help the number one problem of these things, which is how much time they take.

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  6. Brad Johnson says:

    Now there’s an interesting idea.

    Even better offer a franchise mode tied to WAR and pythag records. Teams do a season long battle for a 162 game W/L record. Record determines revenue, player contract determine expenses. A similar system to the Rule IV and V drafts can be put into play while free agent (although more frequent than real free agency) can be done via contracts. Worst record teams get first pick in the Rule IV/V. To simplify free agency, the contract with the highest expected present value “wins” the auction with a max contract length of 4 or 5 years. The free agency auction can be conducted during the entire offseason, if no owner betters a bid within 10 days, then a contract is signed.

    Going back a bit, clubs would have 40 man rosters and 25 man rosters and all players would have a set number of options (probably 1 or 2). Players with more than 2 years “in the minors” would have to be promoted to the 25 man roster or exposed to the Rule V. All minor leaguers not previously drafted or signed to amateur contracts (via waivers) are eligible for the Rule IV draft.

    Too much? You can find my email by clicking my name if you want to talk more/dream on this a little.

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    • superhans says:

      I think what you are moving towards is that insanely intricate and realistic league that Jonah Keri was talking about a few chats ago. Can’t remember the name right now unfortunately… It’s literally a simulation of a baseball season… exactly. I was blown away. You have to find a nice middle ground for fantasy sports. Something that rewards good decisions and talent evaluation, but doesn’t have a 10000 page constitution.

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      • Niv Shah says:

        I think this is correct. There are sim leagues for people who want to play sim leagues, but this is not one of those sim leagues.

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      • ttnorm says:

        When playing for prizes, how do you get around the collusion problem?

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      • superhans says:

        You set it up so that you are blindly and randomly placed into leagues. So, you’ll pay your $100, then a week later you get an email with the league you are in. That eliminates 99% of any collusion right there.

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      • Niv Shah says:

        Collusion is a tricky thing with this game. Teams will be making trades that are unlike the trades you’ll see in other leagues, as teams will be planning for competing next season if they aren’t able to compete this season. Just something to note, as in the 6 years of playing this game with some friends, but also with some people who I have never met, we have never seen any collusion.

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  7. mkirshenbaum says:

    At the risk of sounding less hardcore than everyone else here, would there be any chance of having a version of ottoneu that has a standard MLB roster size (or customizable) rather than a full 40-man roster. I absolutely love everything I’ve read so far about the game and would very much like to give it a shot, but I just can’t see having the time to really know that much about so many minor league players to be able to adequately compete. I know that level of depth is part of the appeal of the game for many, so I’d understand if this isn’t an option. But I’d love if there was a slightly less intense version for those of us who are roto-mad, but maybe not roto-bonkers. Thanks!

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    • Niv Shah says:

      Again, if this is an option people are interested in, please let me know via email or on twitter. I am definitely open to introducing variations if there is enough interest.

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    • philosofool says:

      If I understand correctly, you only have to roster 23 players to have a qualified team: 5 RP, 5 SP, 2 catchers, 7 other IF, plus an extra MI and one more batter from any position. Everything else is extra space on your roster. You would probably want an extra couple MLB regulars as reserves in case of injury, and then a few prospects. After that, however, most of your extra roster spaces should probably stay open, and even once full don’t really have a lot of value.

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  8. Mario Mendoza says:

    Is a head-to-head format in the works?

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  9. yceberg says:

    The annual fee is normally $19.99, but it is only $9.99 from now until March 1st.

    My one question is, will those that join at the reduced rate be grandfathered in for their annual renewal at the reduced rate or renew at full price? Sounds like a great idea and will look forward to more options and features in the future like fully customized saber metric scoring options such as, wOBA, FIP, tERA, ISO+ and the like…

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    • Niv Shah says:

      While there will be many, many promotional opportunities in the future, there are not plans for a formal grandfathering in at this discount.

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  10. William B says:

    Niv,

    I’d like to see you a brief writeup of how you will address year over year attrition in keeper leagues. In my 10+ year live draft league any team that trades future draft picks or prospects has to pay for the next calendar year then and there.

    Scenario: Team A drafts well, pingponging back and forth for 1st. Team A trades most of his prospects for top shelf talent and trades future cap space for the moment. In mortgaging his future he ends up winning or coming in 2nd, but bails on the 2012 league.

    How do you avoid the above scenarios and why would anyone want to take over his depleted team in 2012? How does his league stay together if a few of his leaguemates go the same route?

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    • Niv Shah says:

      I will definitely be addressing this in a future post. I understand it is a major issue for this game format, but I think we have a couple of things in place to help this out.

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  11. ducat2 says:

    I have a similar question to yceberg’s. I joined an ottoneu league at the discounted price ( I wasn’t one of the first 100). There is a link to renew for next year which brought me to Paypal. The description of the sale is “ottoneu $20 team; item price $9.99. If I purchased this would it truly take me through the 2012 season? Is this the way to grandfather us in at the discounted rate?

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    • Niv Shah says:

      Any renewals at $9.99 will most likely be refunded, as there are no plans at this time to grandfather users in at the $9.99 price.

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  12. nini2287 says:

    Is anybody looking for a spot in their league? I’m interested in playing.

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  13. nchouinard says:

    I’d be more interested in joining a private league since the chances for stable owners are probably better there. How can I learn more about the private leagues?

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  14. William and/or Harry says:

    I have a question regarding the draft. Is it live? And if so, what dates/times? Do we get to choose upon signing up? I’d love to participate, but I live in London, and seeing as how we’re at least 5 hours ahead of anybody in the States here, I can’t really participate in a draft that starts at 8 PM Eastern time and won’t end for several hours.

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    • Niv Shah says:

      Thanks for the interest! We generally allow league owners a lot of flexibility around draft dates and times. We know that scheduling these things doesn’t always work out well, so once you all decide on a date and time that works for you, you can just enter the draft page and start from there. There is always the option to pause and resume the draft, so you are not at all expected to complete the entire draft in one sitting if it does not work for your league mates.

      Hope that helps!

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  15. dbake005 says:

    Can someone who is familiar with this league or with any insight explain why an At-Bat is -1 points?

    Thank you very much

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    • Niv Shah says:

      Thanks for your interest!

      Taking away a point for each AB is essentially taking away points for getting out. If a player gets a hit or otherwise gets on-base, the PA immediately becomes a net positive, but if the player simply gets out, the entire appearance is worth -1.

      Let me know if this makes sense. I haven’t played this game style, but I know a few people are around here who have, and I believe the man who balanced this game style himself will be writing for RotoGraphs very soon!

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  16. dbake005 says:

    Thank you thank you!

    It makes perfect sense when you take the other PA possibilities into account, but my mind was stuck on, “How is that fair?” by itself. I appreciate you clearing it up, a clever way of accounting for outs. Fooled me.

    Thanks again

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