New Competitive Balance Picks to be Awarded!

Smallest Market WLB Teams to Get a Little Help! 

Our economic system, compared to MLB, is designed to compress the differences between the largest market team (the Yankees) and the smallest market team (the Marlins) to about 60% (when both teams have a Fan Interest of 100%). It works pretty well, but I always thought adding something to help the smallest revenue teams build their teams would be nice. 

Recently I did a deep dive into how the Competitive Balance Pick system works in MLB. I’ve never really paid much attention (and the picks have been around since 2012). After researching the way it works, I believe it’s something we should add to our league to help the lowest-level teams compete and to make those markets more appealing for GMs. (Teams don’t make as much revenue but they get an extra pick to offset the difference.)

It’s not automatically available in OOTP, so I’ve come up with something that works and doesn’t add too much extra work for me. (I have to manually update our draft order anyway.)

How MLB Competitive Balance Picks Work in MLB

In MLB the bottom 10 teams in an MLB/MLBPA market rankings and the 10 teams with the lowest revenue in a year (the lists overlap quite a bit) get Competitive Balance Picks either between the 1st and 2nd rounds or between the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Since there is a lot of overlap between having a small market and revenue, typically there are about 14 or 15 Competitive Balance picks each year. 

Once the list of eligible teams is generated MLB splits the teams into two groups, Group One picks after the first round and Group Two picks after the second round. The picks within groups are ordered based on Winning Percentage (higher gets a better pick). Group One contains six teams. Group Two consists of the other teams getting picks. 

The groups flip-flop between the 1st/2nd round and 2nd/3rd rounds every other year. Since market size doesn’t change much, Group One pretty much doesn’t change. It’s the same six teams in Group One and mostly the same teams in Group Two.

We have similar info available to us so it’s possible to replicate the process in WLB.

WLB Competitive Balance Pick System

Starting with the 2023 Rookie Draft (held in December 2023), we will award Competitive Balance Picks.

Because we have 24 teams, instead of the 30 in MLB, and because we compress the revenue range, fewer teams will be eligible for the picks in WLB.

My market estimates will be used as a proxy for MLB’s market rankings. 

(History: our market revenue rankings are based on extensive research I did on OOTP before we started playing. I ran a huge number of test season simulations and did a bunch of regressions on that data to ascertain the relative value of Market, Fan Loyalty, and Fan Interest. I then created a formula to project revenue based on that research. Finally, I tested the estimates with another round of season simulations in OOTP. My formulas did an excellent job of projecting team revenues. I’ve monitored our year-to-year team revenue since then to verify the viability of the estimates. I’m happy to say they have worked out quite well.)

Here are the market estimates for 2023:

In looking over the Revenue ranges and Budgets since we started using OOTP, there is no clear boundary between the worst teams and the next group. From year-to-year, however, a noticeable gap does seem to exist somewhere between the four to six bottom revenue teams. Choosing six teams (with the six bottom revenue teams slightly changing from year to year) looks like a fair place to start.

Example of Picks if CBP were Awarded in 2022

The six smallest markets are currently: MIA, MIN, PIT, BAL, SD and MIL. The six smallest revenue teams (using Budgets instead of Revenues because of the expansion teams for this example) were: SEA, CHW, PIT, MIN, CIN, MIL.

That would give us MIA, MIN, PIT, BAL in Group 1, and SD, MIL, SEA, CHW, CIN in Group 2. The teams would be then ordered by best record (which I won’t do here because the Expansion Teams haven’t played yet). Group 1 would pick between 1st and 2nd round in odd-numbered years and Group 2 would pick between 1st and 2nd round in even-numbered years.

Final Thoughts and Info

I’m implementing this system for our next (2023) Rookie Draft because I truly believe it makes things a bit fairer for smaller market teams and makes those smaller markets more appealing.

MLB Competitive Balance Picks can be traded. Because we draft later in the year than MLB, these picks can’t be awarded until our season completes. Since we don’t allow picks or recently drafted players to be traded, I’m inclined to not allow these picks to be traded as well. On the other hand, since the Rookie Draft is right before the Rule 5 Draft, it might make sense to let these picks be traded for players (not cash) to give CBP teams an option to get a more WLB-ready player. (MLB doesn’t allow the picks to be retraded.) We can discuss and vote on this option.

If any GM feels this change unfairly helps the smallest market teams, rather than helping to balance things out, he is free to move to CLE, TB, and KC (the three smallest market teams that are currently available) at the end of the 2022 season (and beyond).

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