Playing in the online world of Dynasty League Baseball you make a lot of great friendships with people from all around the country. Two of the great friendships that I had made were Chris S – then from Portland, Oregon and Bryan R from Boise, Idaho. Playing in a league together of current player cards we had discussed positive and negative aspects of “replay” leagues, and in all honesty, there were a lot more negatives noted than positives. One day I decided to put down on paper all the things that I had learned from my friends about replay leagues that had played in on DLB, and I added to that information that I had learned running historical replay leagues that I had run previously on other platforms for NFL football and NBA Basketball. The next step was simple: how do I solve each major problem without creating new minor ones.
The single biggest complaint that happened recurrently was that managers would horde players for specific seasons, so teams would be super teams for a single year, and then horrible in other years. It took all the fun out of managing/coaching the game, and simplified the General Manager aspects of the game because you just want all your players to be “good” in 2001, and don’t care how bad they are in 1999, 2000, or 2002. You were rewarded for losing to build a super team. That became the focus of the design. I started doing research on baseball-reference.com to look through teams in each season to try and find patterns that were relevant and predictable. After a few days of trying different things, I read a story about Mike Trout and his WAR numbers showing that he could be the greatest player ever if he kept up his current pace. I went back to the website and found my pattern. Most terrible teams ended up with a team WAR rating around 32.5 to 35, and most championship teams ended up with a WAR between 48 and 54.5 each season. No one wants to coach terrible teams, but then again super teams are what we are trying to avoid. Additionally, over a period of seasons, it appeared that these teams had 32 to 36 players who were major contributors to their season. Knowing that I needed round numbers, that meant that we would draft teams of 35 players.
Now that it became apparent that WAR was the number needed to base the league around, it became time to take on a new replay issue. Teams lose in order to get the known 15-to-20-year superstar. They hold onto that player over and over, and that player NEVER comes up to be picked up again by another team. So I started tracking some of the all time great players of the 90s and 2000s. What would cause someone to have to release a Barry Bonds, an Alex Rodriguez, a Pedro Martinez, a Greg Maddux. In a regular DLB league, you have $300 DLB dollars to build a team and the auction determines the value of a player. If you spend $60 to get a superstar, it drastically limits your ability to acquire some other player, or trade that player if the card underperforms in future seasons. The auction salary works as a deterrent or an advantage. The pressure of that number affected everything after that. That was what WAR had to become. Since top WAR numbers in a season usually end up between 8 and 10, and the team war number had to be between 35 and 45 the number became 40 for each team. Now, there will be times when it’s better for your team to drop the superstar. There are going to be times when a really good player is not worth drafting because of the weight of his WAR. The general manager aspect of the game now requires our GMs to build a team each year, that is likely to have some flaw to overcome, because you can’t build a superstar team for 40 WAR. Super Teams have WAR near 50, but you only get 40.
The obvious positive that showed up in managing games was that managers choices become much more important in each individual game. Every team had strengths and flaws. A single injury could be devastating as it would expose a hole that had not been filled. The fight for playoff spots encompassed a lot more teams, and a 3-game losing streak could drop your team 4 spots in the league standings all the teams were so close. The goal was to have a true manager experience where every team was a challenge and every series was meaningful. By creating a set of circustances where there were no terrible teams rebuilding and no super teams the managerial aspect of each game met our goals.
The extent of the positive choices from a General Manager sense did not reveal itself until we started trying to set up our initial teams and found that every player and every choice from a WAR standpoint truly mattered. Finding a player who had a specific or special skill within the DLB cards and a higher negative WAR number (-1.6) was a more important player to add to your organization many times than a decent all-around player who had a war of 2.5. The General Manager aspect of the game became really interesting and fun, because you had to stay at 40 WAR or under at all times during the season, and then at the end of the season, you had to cut players to get your team below 40 before you could trade. You could cut every player and go back to zero. You could keep 22 players at 39.6 WAR. It is completely up to each GM to determine what is best for their organization. Each GM can have a unique plan - a goal we were trying to meet.
Career Records and Seasonal Records