Warning: I’m in the process of revamping this rulebook. Please contact the Commissioner for rules information.
Table of Contents
- Roster Rules
- Eligibility to Sign Contracts
- First-Year Player Draft
- Annual Selection of Players
- Whalehead Economics
- Rating Updates
- Changing GM Jobs
- Incentive Point System (IP$)
- Winter Leagues
- Winter Meetings
- Franchise Relocation
- Trading with AI Teams
- Minor League Schedules
- Playoff Format
- Team Market Values
- Special Roster Rules
- WLB Ownership System
Rule 1 – Introduction
The Whalehead League was created over thirty years ago as a test of real-life baseball knowledge. With that goal in mind, we incorporate as much realism as possible.
Moving to OOTP was a huge step in that regard. Things that used to be handled outside the game are now self-contained within OOTP’s game engine.
OOTP isn’t perfect for our purposes, however, so we tweak some things to better align the game with our goals.
1.1 – League Type and Description
The Whalehead League is a standard, “shadow” MLB league. It’s has a standard MLB setup including five minor league levels (AAA/AA/A+/A/R). The league also has three Winter Leagues, Caribbean Winter League, Arizona Fall League, and a Rookie Development.
The league closely shadows MLB player development, with some differences due to OOTP’s development engine and the league’s configuration.
Roster protection is in a dynasty format.
1.2 – A Short History
The league was formed in 1990 and has completed 29 seasons. (There was a three-year hiatus in 2009-2011.) The league has used Pursue the Pennant, Strat-O-Matic, Dynasty League Baseball, and, starting in 2018, OOTP Baseball as its simulation of choice.
There are still three original members and four other members with 20+ years of playing time. Another handful of owners are nearing 10 years of experience. For good measure, we added some new blood when we switched when we began using OOTP.
The league is comprised of hardcore, competitive, but friendly, baseball fans.
1.3 – Powers of the Commissioner
The Commissioner can act in the best interests of the league at any time, with any means at his disposal.
1.4 – Owner Responsibilities
There are seven base responsibilities involved with participation in the Whalehead League:
- Roster Management
- Lineup and Rotation Management
- Disabled List Management
- DFA Management
- Personnel Management
- Participation in Discord and Whaleheads.com
The Commissioner will contact GMs neglecting any of these responsibilities, but Incentive Point (IP$) penalties will be lost by GMs who neglect Exporting, Roster Management, and DFA Management responsibilities. Continued neglect could result in an additional IP$ penalty. Repeated violations can result in the forfeiture of your league membership.
Details of these seven responsibilities are found below:
Every GM should strive to export at least once every week (seven days) of the regular season sim and off-season, regardless of whether or not they have moves to make. To encourage this behavior, the league has implemented an Incentive Point System (IP$). GMs who regularly export will be rewarded with IP$ that can be converted to rewards that benefit their team.
An online export tracker is available to assist members. The Commissioner will provide notification, in Discord in the #wlb_schedule channel, of the league’s upcoming schedule. When a new league file is ready for download notification will be sent in the #lg_file_schedule channel.
Exports may be submitted at any time during a sim cycle. To avoid last-second hang-ups that may prevent you from exporting, all members are advised to send a “safety export” immediately upon importing a new league file. A more thorough export may be submitted later in the cycle. (Getting into the habit of sending a “safety export” is good practice.)
Members agree to contact the Commissioner if they will be unable to export each week. WLB members should recognize that timely exporting is the most basic and essential requirement of a smoothly running league. In turn, the Commissioner recognizes that life responsibilities/emergencies can and do occasionally conflict with the exporting process.
Unexcused and excused missed exports will be handled thusly:
Unexcused: If you fail to export two consecutive weeks without explanation, you should expect a message from the Commissioner checking on your status.
Excused: To gain excused status (and still earn Incentive Points) you must contact the Commissioner at least a week sim in advance (unless it is a true emergency). Briefly explain why you will be unavailable for one or more weeks. Assuming the reason is valid (and most reasons will be accepted as valid), you will be excused from your exporting responsibilities. Members who will be absent for one or two weeks should also set the in-game AI for their teams’ affairs.
Excused absences are meant to be temporary in nature. Members who need to miss an extended period should contact the Commissioner directly.
Each sim, every GM will ensure the rosters of all teams of all levels meet player limits listed below:
As the WLB is meant to mimic real-life baseball conditions, teams are expected to have service-time appropriate rosters. Failure to meet these requirements will result in auto-assignment by the Commissioner (which may not be to your liking). Illegal players on rosters will result in a loss of IP$ as outlined in that section of the league rules.
GMs are expected to have all applicable lineups, rotations, and depth charts fully set up for each team within their organization while that team’s league is in season. Minimum requirements include:
- Appropriate batting orders completely filled out
- Depth charts that are reasonably set up to utilize all hitters on the roster
- At least 4 pitchers slotted as SP
- At least 5 pitchers slotted as RP
As leaving injured players on a roster increases the risk of injury to other players on the roster via overuse, GMs are expected to adjust for injuries (use the Disabled Lists as appropriate) and take other roster movements as needed.
If GMs choose to manage their line-ups, it’s important they keep up on the task between sims. If a GM is too busy or unavailable, turn the task over to your Bench Coach.
Disabled List Management
Players must be removed from your DL within three days (game) of returning to full health and serving their minimum DL stint. Note that the number associated with each DL (10/15 or 60-day) represents the minimum time the player must remain there, not the maximum.
Designated For Assignment List Management
Players will be placed on a team’s Designated For Assignment (DFA) list for one of three reasons:
- Demotions of a player from the 26-Man who has no option years remaining and has not previously cleared waivers.
- Attempts to remove a player from 40-Man who has not previously cleared waivers.
- All newly acquired players with major league contracts who have not been assigned are automatically placed on the DFA list.
Players who are designated for assignment may stay on the DFA list for up to 8 days during the regular season and off-season. GMs must assign, trade, or release a player before his allotted time on the list expires. Failure to do so will result in the player getting assigned to the AAA Roster (if there is room and the player accepts the assignment) or getting released by the Commissioner.
GMs are expected to keep all teams in their organizations fully staffed while in season. Any organization which is not fully staffed at the beginning of the season will be given a warning. Failure to have your organization fully staffed within 2 weeks (game days) following the warning will result in a $500k fine per open staff slot. The Assistant GM slot is the only slot that is not required to be filled.
Members are required to participate in several league events and functions. These include:
- Participating in the First-Year Player Draft
- Participating in the Winter Meetings
- Voting on End-of-Year Awards
- Providing opinions or votes on Commissioner posted rules questions
- Participating on Discord and Whaleheads.com
The league also has several special events. Most special events are considered optional (the First-Year Player Draft being one exception). The Commissioner will spell out any participation requirements in advance of these events.
The league rewards GM participation using its Incentive Point System (IP$).
Rule 2 – Roster Rules
2.1 – Roster Limits
- Major League Club Limit – 40 players – No service limits
- Active Roster –
- 40 players between World Series and Opening Day
- 26 players from Opening Day through August
- 28 players in September
- Active Roster –
- Minor League Limits
- AAA – 28 players – 0-50 years old – No service limits
- AA – 28 players – No service limits
- A+ – High A – 30 players – 5 years service max
- A – Low A – 30 players – 4 years service max
- R – Rookie/Short Season – 35 players – 3 years service max
Counting the 15 40-Man players optioned to the minor leagues, we’ll have 151 minor leaguers.
Minor league roster limits are enforced all year.
2.2 – Roster Expansion
On September 1st of each year, the 40-Man Roster expands to 28 players.
2.3 – Playoff Rosters
Playoff roster eligibility is determined by OOTP. To be eligible for the playoff roster, a player must be on the 26-man major league roster or DL by the day prior to a league’s roster expansion. If less than 26 players are on a team’s active roster on the listed dates, the vacant roster spot(s) must also remain vacant during the playoffs. Roster moves cannot be made while a playoff series is in progress. Ineligible players on a playoff roster will be removed by the Commissioner. Their vacated roster spot may not be filled for the duration of the current playoff series.
2.4 – Playoff Injury Replacement Rules
- If a playoff-eligible player is injured between league roster expansion and the start of the playoffs, he may be replaced on the playoff roster by any playoff-eligible player.
- A player who is injured during the course of the playoffs may be replaced between series by any player who was on a roster in your organization prior to your league’s roster expansion.
Rule 3 – Eligiblity to Sign Contracts
The player pool will consist of existing real MLB major and minor league players.
3.1 – Adding Free Agents
3.1.1 – Players with No Whalehead Experience
Players who Appear in the Real Majors
Players with no history in the WLB who appear in a real major league game will be added to our Free Agent List at the completion of the World Series. The Commissioner will provide a list of such players prior to their addition.
Posted International Professional Players
Players posted by real-world professional leagues will be immediately added to the free-agent list if they are acquired by a real-life team during our off-season.
3.1.2 – Players with Whalehead Experience
Retired players who appear in a real major league game will be unretired at the completion of the World Series at the discretion of the Commissioner. (There is no reason to unretire players who don’t have value in the WLB, particularly players who were retired by the game engine.)
The Commissioner will provide a list of such players prior to their addition.
3.1.3 – Service Time Considerations
The service time for returning/unretired players will be their prior WLB service time.
3.2 – Removing/Retiring Players from the Player Pool
At the end of the year, after updating the ratings, I will retire/delete any player who doesn’t exist in the most recent OOTP season roster. Players listed as Free Agents in the most recent OOTP season roster will have their real-life status checked (time permitting). Those not on affiliated rosters will be removed. Players with playing time in our league will be retired. Players with no playing time in our league will be deleted.
Any player who retires in real MLB immediately retires in our league. If he returns to MLB, gets unretired in WLB, and missed a full WLB year, he comes back as a free agent regardless of his prior contract.
Any player who dies in real life immediately retires in our league.
As the Commissioner finds players whom he knows for are out of professional baseball with an affiliated league, the Commissioner will:
- immediately retire them, if 1) they have history in our league and are free agents, or 2) they are rostered and the league is in the offseason (period between the World Series and the start of Spring Training);
- immediately delete them, if they have no history in our league;
- add them to a list of players to be retired at the end of the current season, if they are rostered and the league is in season (start of Spring Training until the World Series ends).
If there is a decent possibility a player might re-sign with a team, he will remain in the league.
3.3 – Players who are Retired by the Game Engine
Players who are retired by the game engine but are not retired in real life (Albert Pujols is one example) are handled on an individual basis.
If his team doesn’t want him back, he stays retired.
If his team wants him, I unretire him and return him to his previous contract status.
Rule 4 – First-Year Player Draft
OOTP’s Rookie Draft will be the primary mechanism to add new players into our player pool.
We will draft approximately 20 players during the draft, which will start around November 15th. The pool will be a mix of new minor league Top 30 prospects, top MLB Amateur Draft players (from the most recent MLB Draft), and top international prospects.
A tentative draft pool will be released in OOTP and StatPlus approximately one month before the draft. (The number of draft rounds may be adjusted due to a lack of eligible players.)
Top 30 Prospects & Top International Prospects
Any player with no history in our league and who is listed on preseason or midseason Top 30 Prospects Lists from Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, and Fangraphs (list isn’t all-inclusive) will be eligible for the draft. 17+ year-old J2 players listed in these publications will also be eligible for the draft.
As soon as this list is developed the Commissioner will provide the names of all players.
MLB Amateur Draft Players
After compiling the list of Top 30 Prospects and recent top international prospects, the Commissioner will add sufficient players from the most recent MLB Rule 4 Draft to create a draft pool of 600 players.
Service Time Considerations
The service time for new players will be their MLB service time (the OOTP information).
Rule 5 – Annual Selection of Players
Rule 5 Draft info goes here.
Rule 6 – Whalehead Economics
Rule 7 – Rating Updates
The Whalehead League tethers the development of players to their real-life development.
Player game ratings get updated twice a year: 1) at the end of the Whalehead World Series, and 2) when a new version of OOTP is released (March, in real life).
End of Season Update
Major League Players
All players with 130+ PA or 30+ IP in the most recent MLB season or 1+ years of experience in our league are considered Major League players. All Major League player ratings in our league file (except positional Experience) are updated to OOTP’s end-of-season Live Ratings at the completion of the WLB World Series. This includes both Current and Potential Ratings.
A list of all major league players will be provided by the Commissioner.
Minor League Players
Minor League players are not updated.
OOTP Game Release Update
Major League Players
Major League players are not updated, using the same list from the previous End of Season update.
Minor League Players
Potential ratings (except positional Experience) are updated for all minor league players.
Due to our update plan, OOTP’s in-game development has a different impact than typical OOTP leagues. Over the long haul, players’ values will closely shadow their real-life values.
Over the short term, in-game player development will influence major league players’ ratings only from the time players are updated at the end of one year until the next annual update.
Minor leaguers’ ratings, on the other hand, are more directly impacted by the game’s development engine as their current ratings are more traditionally tied to the game’s development engine because, until the player either becomes a major leaguer in real life or the player accumulates over one year of WLB major league service, his prospects’ potential ratings are the only ratings that get updated.
If a player falls short of a full year of WLB major service, a WLB team may get almost two full years of quality play in WLB before the player is shifted to a full major league player update schedule.
One issue with our update plan the last two years was pitchers whose roles changed from starters to relievers weren’t having their stamina adjusted with the live stats updates. This led to too many real relievers being used as starters. To fix the issue I came up with a system to adjust the stamina based on pitches per game.
All players who meet the following criteria are adjusted.
Players are adjusted using the following formula:
=IF(PPG>40,45,IF(PPG>30,40,IF(PPG>20,35,IF(PPG>10,30,25)))) PPG = Pitchers/G
Internal stamina will be updated as follows:
The Basis for Stamina Update
Injury Proneness Adjustments
All players whose Injury Proneness ratings in the game are different than the end of the season OOTP ratings will have their underlying injury ratings updated to the MLB ratings. This is a boring manual task for the Commissioner.
A list of all update players will be provided.
Changing GM Jobs
A human GM may petition the Commissioner to change jobs in the Whalehead League at any time. All teams headed by AI GMs are considered available positions.
There is no set timeframe for a GM to change positions. The Commissioner will consider each request on a case-by-case basis. He will consider all prior interaction with the other franchise and the GM’s track record in the league in making his decision.
(One sure way to have your request denied will be to make a bunch of bad trades with your prospective new team before making the request. Another way will be a pattern of running teams into the ground and then changing jobs.)
Once a change is approved, the GM must sign a contract and remain in the position for a minimum of three years with his new team.
We’ve always allowed teams to move to open markets. The moves have fostered competitive balance as weaker divisions invite stronger teams to move into their geographic area, which equalizes things quite a bit. With the combination of the OOTP’s economic system and the inclusion of AI-run franchises, the process is more complicated than with previous games we played. Despite the impediments, the Commissioner favors having a process available for franchise moves because, ultimately, it’s all about the actual humans having fun.
Teams may only move once every three years. Human teams must pay 75 IP$ to move their teams. Teams that aren’t active don’t earn incentive points, so they may not move.
Teams may only move to an open market.
Teams must announce the intention to move before the World Series ends.
Announcing a move before the playoffs will impact Fan Interest as outlined in WLB Economics. The benefit of announcing the move earlier is to lock in the market. The drawback is a loss of revenue in the current market. Ultimately, however, the early announcement gets balanced by an increase in revenue at the new location as season ticket sales increase.
Announcing a move during the playoffs triggers the following provision: Fan Interest will be reduced by 40% from the day of the change until the start of Spring Training. (This replicates the inability to promote the team for season ticket sales.) All other provisions stay the same.
The league will realign teams every three years based on the shortest travel schedule for all teams. The realignment will be set one year prior to the change (as of the start of Spring Training).
Realignment will take place at the completion of the 2023 World Series. It will then take place in 2026, 2029, 2032, etc.
Teams that move between the realignment assignment deadline and the implementation date will still be placed in the division assigned at the deadline.
Trading with AI Teams
Human GMs are allowed to trade with teams controlled by AI GMs.
The Trading Difficulty setting, which ranges between Easy and Hard, is set to three clicks from the middle toward Hard. Trading preference, which ranges between Veterans and Prospects, is set to the middle. These baseline settings get adjusted by particular AI GM ratings.
Players lose rookie status with 75 days on a WLB roster, 130 PA, or 50 IP.
WLB Ownership System
All Owners in the WLB are set to the same owner settings: 1) Tolerant, 2) Economizer, 3) Hands Off, and 4) Balanced.
In OOTP owners are rated for four factors:
|Patience||Controls how quick an owner is to fire you when your team is performing below the owner’s expectations|
|Fiscal Personality||Controls how your owner behaves regarding the team’s budget|
|Season Expectation||The owner’s expectations for the team in the current season|
|Opinion on Performance||The owner’s thoughts on how the human manager is performing so far|
I have turned off the impact of owners’ control of budgets and their ability to fire you. I have also set all owners to the following settings.
In OOTP you have your Budget and your Cash. Your Budget is based on the previous year’s revenue. Your Cash consists of any money you have leftover at the end of a season (after subtracting Expenses from Revenue), adding/subtracting Revenue sharing, and Cash from the Owner. If you have more than the Max Cash limit ($20 million in 2022), the owner takes that money as profit.
(If there isn’t a Max Cash limit, the extra money can lead to wild salary inflation as the players know how much money is available and up their salary demands accordingly.)