Last week, we witnessed one of the more bizarre potentially season-ending injuries ever when Kendry Morales broke his leg in the process of an innocuous jump onto homeplate while engaging in a completely routine celebration of a walk-off homer. This instance reminded me to share with you, what I think is a helpful rule that was instituted a few years ago in my main keeper league.
Before revealing the rule, I would like to talk briefly about the Morales injury. This is not related to fantasy baseball, but please indulge me for a paragraph here.
There’s been a fair amount of chatter about whether Morales’ injury will, or more appropriately should change the way teams celebrate walk-off wins, especially walk-off homers. I can only attribute this to the existence of this debate to the 24-hour news cycle, which compels media to grasp for inane content and manufacture controversy. What happened to Morales was a freak accident. His team mobbing him at the plate wasn’t even responsible for the injury. It looked like he landed awkwardly on his leg. This was a celebration-related injury only to the extent that jumping on to the plate is part of the walk-off homer celebration, yet it seems like many of the commentators are gravitating to the team mobbing a player as the dangerous part of the celebration. This makes no sense. Again, this was a freak accident, period! This should not change anything!
Oh, and I suppose some may oppose the walk-offcelebrations on the grounds that they are tasteless or overly exuberant. That’s a totally different argument, and I am not addressing the proponents of that argument. …Chillax, grandpa – did you know that you don’t have to wear a hat and tie to the ballpark anymore either? OK, now I’ve addressed those people.
To the rule. A couple of years ago, my league instituted what we call a conditional, “keeper DL spot.” We had a couple of instances in which a player an owner was planning to keep got hurt for the remainder of a season, thereby forcing the owner to either occupy one of his two DL slots with a player who would never return, ostensibly cutting in half the number of DL spots he had, or in the case of an owner with already full DL, burn a roster spot to retain a player who has no chance of returning or drop the player outright and basically forfeit a keeper. This didn’t seem fair. It’s bad enough to lose one of your core players for an extended period of time, but for the injury to also manifest as an albatross on your roster management is just cruel and unusual. So, we instituted a very simple rule. This rule as written below is my idealized version of the rule, the actual rule in place in my league is a bit different, as it lacks the more stricter clauses of item No. 3 below.
If one of your players goes on the DL, you can, at that point, label him as one of your keepers for the following year and enact the keeper DL clause.
1. Upon enacting this designation, this player must be kept the following season. Surgery goes wrong and six months later you find out he won’t be ready for the following season’s Opening Day, too bad.
2. The player’s owner can then drop the player outright and nobody else in the league is allowed to pick him up. Despite sitting in the free-agent pool, his keeper owner retains his rights.
3. If the player returns from the DL prior to the end of the season, the original owner is not allowed to play him, though he must, at that point, roster the player again within three days of his activation, or the player becomes an actual free agent. The keeper DL rule is set up specifically to apply to players on the DL, and mainly for those who are out for the season. Therefore the player/owner is only protected as long as the player is actually on the DL. The preclusion on using that player in the starting line-up along with the penalty of him then becoming an actual dead roster spot is to ensure owners don’t use this feature as a free, additional DL-spot for any keeper with only a moderate injury – i.e. it’s really only worth it to use this option if your keeper is really out for the season and your DL is already full.
4. The player is still eligible to be traded in the offseason; he does not have to be kept by his previous season’s owner, so long as that owner is able to find another owner who is willing to keep him. Ostensibly, my designating the player as a keeper at the time of injury does not imply that he must be my keeper.
5. Once the keeper designation is made, it is not reversible. For example, Morales’ owner in this league also owns Beckett and Rollins, who occupy his DL spots. This owner can’t enact this option for Morales and subsequently pick him back up when he has room on his DL (say, Rollins returns) in order to revert Morales from keeper-DL to normal DL.
That’s pretty much the extent of it. In principle it is very simple and it doesn’t really have all that many technicalities. Like any good amendment to a league contract, we’ve written it out intending to cover all possible scenarios, but intuitively it is very simple and the “fine print” rarely comes into play.
I’ll sign off this week with two questions to the readers.
1. Have any of you heard of or used a rule like this before, or do you have you own measures to protect against DL-ed keepers handcuffing a team’s ability to make roster moves?
2. Generally speaking, how do you handle your DLs. How many spots do you think is optimal, relative to roster and/or league size?