2020 WLB Roadmap

We’re just about halfway finished with our first season in OOTP. We’ve experienced a few bumps. The learning curve also has been difficult for a few people. The worst part, however, has been the loss of a few good members who weren’t interested in learning the game and/or adjusting their approaches to the new sim. Nevertheless, I view the experience positively due to how so many of you are enjoying OOTP.

As I expected, the game change has produced a much more competitive league. We currently have half the league with a strong chance to make the playoffs. Although luck will have an impact, decisions (and indecisions) the rest of the way will certainly determine who makes the postseason dance. Good luck to you all; no injuries.

Although the 2019 season is still ongoing, it’s important that we think about the future, so teams can include the league’s setup into their long term planning. With that in mind, now is a good time to share my plans for next season.

Most of what follows has already been discussed. A few of the other changes are more cosmetic (like renaming the minor leagues) to make updating easier for me. Lastly, some changes are in the works to simplify some stuff. Anyway, I’ll breakdown the changes by topic.


Expansion

My goal has always been to have a 24-team league. With that in mind, we’ll proceed to that goal by expanding by two teams at the end of the 2019 season. Tentatively, we will expand by two more teams after the 2022 season and again after the 2025 season.

When the 2019-2020 Expansion takes place the league will be converted into two leagues with two five-team divisions each.

Click this link to read about how our Expansion will be conducted.


Ownership Changes

A few of the remaining owners still aren’t completely comfortable. As guys who’ve embraced the change can confirm, once a person gets experienced using the game, the time/effort it takes to run a team is much, much less than it used to be in Dynasty League. When people grasp some of the available options (like being able to manually trigger the AI on demand), the time demand will shrink even more. Over the next few months I will try to help our less comfortable owners get a better grasp on the new game.

Not unrelated is an issue with a few teams being on full AI and not keeping up with the league on the web site and Slack. This combination isn’t good.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a problem with a team being on full AI. Rickey has been on almost full AI almost all year. At the same time, though, he pays attention to what’s going on, responds to trade requests, exports on a regular basis, monitors his team activity, and votes on league polls. Being on full AI by itself is not a problem. Being on AI and not paying attention, however, is a serious issue.

So I know teams are being monitored, GMs are expected to view Slack and export at least once a week. Incentive Points are being rewarded for teams which meet this requirement.

Going forward, teams which don’t meet the requirements outlined in Owner Responsibilities may place their league membership in jeopardy. Be sure to read the document and act according. Again, please pay particular attention to the REQUIREMENT to export at least once per week.


Franchise Financing

To encourage teams to stay active, to create an orderly way to handle ownership changes, and to help make Budget differences more equitable, I’m expanding the game’s economic system to include a real money component.

Nutshell Explanation

When you enter the league you pay a Franchise Fee (approximately $56-$90 in 2020, depending on your Budget and Cash) to the league. If you usually make profits, your Franchise will increase in value. If you lose money, your Franchise will decrease in value.

As Budgets and Cash ebb and flow, profitable teams can either keep their profits in the game (for future economically down periods) or cash them out; teams which are not profitable may have to periodically inject more cash (say $5-$15 in a year) to make up for any shortfall.

If your team is in “good standing” and you decide to leave the league, your team’s current value will get paid to you. (So, if you generally turn profits in the game, your original money, plus whatever profits that you’ve kept in the league, will get paid to you.) If you aren’t in “good standing” and your franchise gets taken away by the Commissioner, you won’t get anything back. Your investment will get dispersed to the league.

Teams will also need to pay a $10 League Fee to defray the cost for StatsPlus and to help offset inflation in OOTP’s economic system. (The League Fee is a completely separate payment and is never refunded.)

To recap, you pay $60-$100 the first year. From year-to-year, you either make a little money, break even, or lose a little money (which you’ll have to offset out of pocket). If you are a responsible league member, you get your Franchise Fee back (or possibly more) if you leave; if you aren’t a responsible league member and are removed from the league, you lose what you’ve put into the league.

Although you can supplement your Cash using your Incentive Points (IP$), there is no ability to up your team’s Budget by paying extra money into the league. Your team’s Budget will still be controlled by the game’s engine.

A more detailed overiew of the new system will be provided later.


New Owners and Franchise Moves

Wayne is in the process of retaking control of the Phillies. Guy Desrosiers has already been added to Slack and will return as an Expansion team in Baltimore at the end of the year. Kenny Sebastiao (a friend, coworker, and baseball nut) will start participating in a few weeks.

Transfers of Team Ownership

IMO, it’s best that we have two different processes for changing ownership, In-Season Transfers and Off-Season Transfers.

In-Season Transfers

To help continuity and to foster competition, the Commissioner believes it’s best to fill ownership vacancies as soon as competent replacements are found.

When this happens during the season, and after the Commissioner vets the prospective owner, a new owner will be allowed to immediately assume ownership of a vacant team after paying the team’s Franchise Fee. Upon payment, the new owner will gain full control of the organization.

Depending on when vacancies happen, and the strength of the candidate, the Commissioner, at his sole discretion, may defer an ownership change from in-season to off-season.

For example: if someone quits (or is removed) late in an ongoing season (say September), the Commissioner may elect to have the change follow the off-season transfer rules instead of making an in-season transfer.

Off-Season Transfers

If team ownership vacancies exist at the start of the Off-Season (game), existing owners may elect to place a bid on an open franchise. The minimum bid will be $25 more than the current Franchise Fee. If more than one owner plans on biding on the vacant team, the Commissioner will conduct a Blind Auction. The team with the highest bid will pay $1 more than the next highest bid. Again, the minimum bid will be $25 more than current Franchise Fee.

Prospective new owners will be allowed to participate in the bidding.

If the outgoing owner is in good standing, any excess money raised will be given to the exciting owner; if he’s not, the money will be added to the league account and will be used to offset inflation.

If a current owner wins a bid on a vacant team, he will assume ownership of the team (including the team’s financial position). The process will be repeated for his previous team and will continue until no one wishes to bid on an open team.

If no current owner bids on an open existing team, a new owner assumes the vacant team for the current Franchise Fee.

Once the Free Agent season begins the Off-Season Transfer period is over.


Major League Realignment

The league will be realigned into two leagues with two divisions of five teams each. The realignment will be made based on geographical proximity. Tentatively, one league will consist of the East / South divisions and the other West / Mid-West divisions.


Minor League Realignment

To help the underlying game engine, the levels will be split into real-life leagues. For example AAA will be split into the International League and Pacific Coast League.


Ratings and Free Agent Updates

As previously announced, at the end of our season players who played in MLB will be updated to OOTP 20’s end of season live ratings. Any player who played in MLB and doesn’t exist in our player pool will also be added.

OOTP 19 has a feature whereby players can get updated during the season based on their real currently. Currently this feature only works with MLB leagues started during the current season. I’ve requested that they make the feature available for leagues like ours. Based on your feedback, if the feature is added to OOTP 21, we will all move to the new game in March and use this update feature starting at the end of April.

All other players will be updated in March when OOTP 21 is released. Updates will be 50% of the current ratings and 50% of OOTP 21’s ratings. (This will keep some element of your team’s player development relevant.)


Amateur Draft

Tentatively, the Amateur Draft pool will be released after the MLB’s deadline for signing Amateur Draft players (usually around the second week of July).

The Commissioner will do his best to include as many top real draft picks from OOTP’s pool as possible.

Our Amateur Pool will also contain any players included MLB Pipeline’s and Baseball America’s Top 30 Preseason Top Thirty lists, who have not previously appeared in our league. The Commissioner will provide a list of these player names to all owners as soon as possible.

The Amateur Draft will be conducted approximately three weeks after the MLB signing deadline. The draft will consist of 35 rounds. Ten rounds will be conducted live. The rest of the draft will be completed using StatsPlus’s draft system.

Miscellaneous Rule Changes

Major League Changes

Active Rosters will be increased to 26 players. In September, Active Rosters will be capped at 28.

Players who are out of options or who have five or more years of major league server will be able to refuse assignment to the minor leagues. Players who refuse assignment are immediately placed on waivers. Teams which select the player on waivers assumes the player’s salary. Players who clear waivers are free agents and any guaranteed salaries gets paid.

An All Star game will be scheduled around the real All Star break.

Players suspended or placed on the restricted list for extended periods in MLB will be suspended for a similar period in WLB. Shorter suspensions will not be reflected in our game. (Added on 7/4/2019.)

Minor League Changes

Rosters for leagues above Rookie League will be expanded to 28 players. This change is getting implemented to make it easier to deal with injuries.

Winter Leagues

In OOTP players’ development can progress positively during Winter Leagues. Players will not regress. Players can be injured. Players can gain experience playing a new position.

The Arizona Fall League will play in November. Criteria for eligibility will be release. This league is primarily a prospect league.

The Caribbean Winter League will play in January and February. This league will primarily be for higher level minor leaguers and younger major league players.

Teams will lend players to the teams. Participation is optional.

I am here to help!

OOTP requires much less time than DLB. This is particularly true once you get a handle on the mechanics and AI options of the game. Of course, you have to invest some time and effort to learn those options.

I have made myself available, and continue to be available, to help GMs learn the game. I’ve posted a few tutorial articles and videos. I’m planning on adding more. Please do both of us a favor and contract me for tips and tricks on OOTP.

An active league is a fun league. Just so there is no misunderstanding…unless I’m told of special circumstances, teams which aren’t doing at least the minimum on a regular basis will put their team ownership in jeopardy. If your Incentive Points are hovering around 50%, you will surely get contacted.

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Bob Ferreira

The amateur draft…that starts this season, like in late July or early August?