As we bask in the return of proper baseball with a proper number of regular-season games and proper fans in proper seats, it’s also time to return to the land of whimsy. Wacky Leagues: They’re Baaaaack. From the twisted mind of PL’s illustrious Myles Nelson, we are running a whopping 14 leagues across 7 different formats. We’re still in the midst of the first scoring period for everything, so this week’s article will serve mostly as an intro to the various formats, as well as briefly recap some drafts. Let’s get weird!
These leagues are made up of a mix of PL staffers and PL+ members, so if you haven’t already, head on over to the PL+ sign up page and get on the Discord so you can start prepping for the 2022 Wacky Season.
The Guillotine Leagues
In some ways, I feel like the Guillotine League format best represents the entire spirit of the Wacky Leagues in that it almost seems like a “normal” fantasy baseball league at first. It’s a standard snake draft, the scoring system is standard points, and there’s rolling waivers with $1000 FAAB per team. But oh wait, there are 18 teams. Also, there’s no seasonal standings because points go back to 0 every week, and whoever scored the lowest gets eliminated and their entire team gets added to the waiver pool.
So in effect, you have an incredibly cutthroat and high-pressure snake draft to build your team initially since you need to guarantee your survival in week 1, then you get to have incredibly cutthroat and high-pressure miniature auction drafts every week after that until you’re down to just one team. The last few weeks are absolute super-teams just trading blows and employing roster management tricks to survive to the end.
Here’s the scoring:
Given the format’s quirks, this league is also singular in that it will only run for 18 weeks, so you’ll be seeing the playoffs a little sooner than you would expect, just a heads up.
This year we have two leagues, both of which did slow drafts to fill the initial rosters. And I do mean slow. In League 1, PL+ member Matt Nielson noted that the draft took was “so long I forgot to draft a 2B.” He added Adam Frazier off of the wire, who did put up a 10-point Opening Day, but as of the time this article was published, Matt is avoiding Week 1 elimination by a mere 13 points, so we’ll see if he gets a chance to rectify his keystone problem with that FAAB money. League 2’s draft was even longer and was described as “Sets a new standard for slowwwww draft.”
I polled both leagues to get a feeling for the early favorites, and there was no decisive winner in either one. League 1 was a three-way tie for the teams of staffer Mary Ankenbruck and PL+ members SABRtoothTigers and KingHippo. All three managers downplayed down their skills and just said they were honored to be picked by their peers. They both also emphasized the importance of focusing on starting pitching. SABRtooth got into the specifics of his thinking: “In points, I like to supplement SPs with good closers, but I realize now that this isn’t the best strategy in this format for 2 reasons: 1. While quality closers should be stable over the season, in a format where you need to perform at peak right out of the gate, they may not get the points you need in the first couple of weeks; and 2. That stability is more valuable in weekly formats than daily lineup formats.” KingHippo made his case much more simply: “Pitching wins in Guillotine.”
Mary, on the other hand, is currently in last place as of Wednesday afternoon which is a bit of a quick fall from grace. She summed up her thoughts on the matter with some choice unprintables, but admitted that her Mike Soroka and Sixto Sanchez picks didn’t help in a format like this and as far as the team she did assemble goes “good thing [the other managers] liked it because they’ll all be able to have whichever players they liked on it in like a week or whenever waivers run after the first cut.” Fantasy baseball can be a cruel one, sometimes.
League 2 was a two-way tie between graphics-maker extraordinaire Justin Paradis and PL+ member Silversnail. Silversnail had a simple plan going into the draft: “I wanted to leave the first 3 rounds with an Ace, a SS, and an OF and I was able to do that with Cole, Seager, and Ozuna.” Now that the season is underway, he’s feeling confident: “I think I have consistent producers that I can rely on. If I can survive the first few weeks, anything can happen.” Silversnail also noted that he specifically looked at early pitching matchups to craft his team, for sure a Nick-approved draft strategy.
Grand Theft Baseball
Last year Myles described the GTA leagues as “the simplest of these leagues at first glance” which seems pretty accurate. It’s 10-team H2H baseball, with no eliminations or inverted scores, or positional weirdness, or other sports worked in. But, and this is a big “but,” every week, the winner of each matchup gets to steal a player from their opponent’s roster. Each manager gets a number of players they can protect each week, with the number dwindling to zero as the weeks progress.
As you can probably tell, this means the snowball effect can be quite serious, as wins beget more wins if you’re shrewd with your steals. The lists of stolen players on the teams that went into the semi-finals last year could, themselves, have formed formidable lineups, and then you consider that they’re being added to rosters that are already winning weeks.
This year we have four separate leagues in GTB, two category and two points. Look forward to wild win streaks, and potentially huge swings as an underdog can win and snipe a top performer if the Baseball Gods smile upon them at the right time.
And when it comes to drafting, Christopher Reeves remains on another plane, jumping onto Discord on Opening Day to let the other managers in league 2 the following:
“This ain’t gonna look good for me….. but I didn’t know this was a points league lmaoo”
(As of publishing this, he was winning his week 1 matchup though, so maybe this is the energy we all need when we draft.)
League 1 (Categories)
League 2 (Points)
League 3 (Categories)
League 4 (Points)
Have you ever thought “I like my fantasy team, but they’re too good at baseball!” when you look at your roster? Then I have the leagues for you! WorstBall is exactly what it says on the tin: Get worse outcomes than your opponent each week in a fight to the bottom. In many respects, WorstBall plays the most like a standard league week-to-week, as it is in all respects normal H2H baseball, just with truly deranged categories. Where it really wrinkles the brain in is how you have to invert your thinking, and walk the line between somebody bad enough to help you win, while also being good enough to get the playing time you need.
Just like last year, we’ll be running two WorstBall leagues, one using points and one using categories. In the categories draft I managed to mess up on the top of the rotation, guessing wrong on the uh, erstwhile resurgence of King Felix as an Oriole, although the entire rotation (well, as of spring training days) was drafted with priority. With plenty of challenge picks made by managers across both leagues, this will be an exciting season of limping to the finish.
Here’s the scoring for the points league, and I desperately hope somebody wins a week just because of a 10 point balk:
The most fun you can have online with a partner! I ended up in two blind drafts this year, and I absolutely loved both of them. The way it works is that a bunch of us all throw our names into a hat and paired off to co-manage a team. One manager from each team gets assigned either the odd or even round. Only, you don’t know who your co-manager is and you aren’t allowed to communicate with them at all. Here, I’ll let Myles explain it and also show you some of the best examples of how this works out during the draft:
(Ryan McMahon is doing his absolute best in this early going to prove Eric Cross wrong, and for that I thank him.)
Now, the fun of these leagues are, as the name implies, pretty much all in the drafts. One league is bestball, so there’s no in-season management, and while the other league is going to be actively co-managed, it is just straight-up fantasy baseball at that point.
A true Myles special here, and one that might not last much beyond this year if you believe the universal DH rumors. In a league that really lives up to this site’s moniker, you only get to draft starting pitchers. But also you still have offensive categories on the day that your guy pitches. How’s your nose for pitchers who rake? Or do you just assume that no pitcher can hit worth a single dang and try to weep the pitching categories? I’m looking forward to how this one plays out since it seems like a total crapshoot, honestly.
League Of Leagues
I’m gonna be honest here: This format terrifies me. I barely know anything about baseball, and here’s a bunch of utter lunatics betting they can beat each other in three sports. Winners are determined in each sport’s league through standard seasonal play, with points awarded for where you end up in the standings. However, each team is made up of a super-roster of 51 players across MLB, NBA, and NFL pools. Oh, and you also draft all 51 players at the same time in one big mega-draft. So you’d better have one heck of a plan since you need to fill three sports worth of rosters. This year in both leagues the first overall pick was Christian McCaffrey, and Juan Soto was the first MLB player off the board (go go Childish Bambino!)
While you don’t have to worry about cross-sport implications in your normal day-to-day management (as much fun as it would be to somehow simulate Saquon Barkley playing the outfield and Aaron Judge playing center (NFL or NBA, take your pick!)) it does mean trades can take place across and between sports. How does a manager value an NFL player in July when they need a pitcher? Or a pitcher in December when they need a WR? Only one way to find out…
This is, clearly, a big commitment, so there is a return of a league that started in 2020 (keepers and all) plus a new, 2021 league.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)