The Journey to True Competitive Balance
It is one of the most talked about discussions in team sports, the ability to create a landscape of true competitiveness among all teams involved. In major sports we remember the dynasties; the Jordan Bulls, the Patriots, the Yankees. I see the positive in dynasties, as a fan you grow to love or hate those involved. In wiffle you either love or hate the WSEM Dads, you root for or against Gashouse Gorillas. It builds history, rivalries, and watch ability, but I wanted to take a completely different direction when i created LWA. I wanted a league that from top to bottom had a chance to win every single game. A league that had parody from the top to the bottom, so let's dive in.
We begin with the Salaries, in all sports aiming to have some type of competitive balance, a salary cap is necessary. When determining a player's salary i needed to make sure each week player's are getting the same amount of action. I decided to use only batting and pitching stats only, not fielding. For one I didn't want errors and to waste my time deciding whether plays were errors or not. Second, it is impossible to average fielding stats among the league. You can field for a dominant pitcher who throws 3 strikeouts and never make a play, while you can field for a below average pitcher where the ball is in play every time. I left fielding stats out and enforced a Pitching lineup that matches the batting lineup. This means your batting and pitching lineup are identical. If you bat first in the lineup, you will pitch the first inning as well. If you bat second, you pitch the second. No substitutions, although their is a max runs allowed per inning. This insures every player will pitch at least one inning a game.
With everyone getting at bats and innings pitched I can begin creating a player's salary. I begin with using 12 categories; 6 Batting and 6 Pitching.
1. Runs Batted In / At Bat
2. Runs Scored / At Bat
3. Home Runs / At Bat
4. Strikeouts / At Bat
5. Hits / At Bat
6. Total Bases / At Bat
1. Runs Allowed / IP
2. Strikeouts / IP
3. Hits Allowed / IP
4. Homers Allowed / IP
5. Win/Loss Ratio
6. Save/Blown Save Ratio
Every player who has played for the year will be put into each category and will get an amount of points for each category. Each category is averaged at 5 for the league, which is a total of 30 for Batting and 30 for Pitching. I take each of those numbers and divide it by 2 to determine a player's salary. Basically above 30 is above average, and below 30 is below average. This means that every time a player plays their first game of the year, an additional 30 points get added to the total.
Each team will start the year with a $126 salary cap. If you have a roster of all average players it would be $120, i multiplied that by 1.05 and got $126 to give some team's some extra room. A player must play 4 games before that are given a salary, once they have played four games they can be signed to a team's main roster. This also allows the player to participate in the playoffs as well as allows them to be drafted in the next year's first 3 rounds of the draft. Once a player is signed to a roster the salary sticks, and is considered "Salary Hit".
This year i implemented 2 new things to the league. First, adjustable salary caps. A team's salary cap will adjust every single week based on numerous things. Team's will be penalized for messing up the score sheets, not having enough players, changing lineups, and so on. I realized that after a few weeks of penalties the league average cap would descend so low we would be unable to sign high end players. So, the league average will always be $126, this mean's if a team is hit with a $1.00 penalty, the other 10 team's will be given a $0.10 raise to their salary cap. This will benefit the team's and owner's who put extra effort into managing the team and getting players that participate and our reliable.
The second thing i implemented is expanded rosters. Starting June 1 this year each team was able to have a main roster of 4 guys and 2 Kermit Players. Those four main guys must be under the salary cap, and must have played 4 games in the current year or the previous year. The 2 "Kermit" Players they have can be anyone they want, they are basically free agents that the team has the rights to. Teams may sign and release Kermit players at any time without penalty, they are basically two roster spots to make sure you can field a team of 4 on game day. This will also allow newcomers to be signed to a team and get a feel for the league. Once a Kermit player has reached 4 games played they will be available to sign to the main roster of a team based on waiver wire. When he reaches four games he will have an adjusting salary week to week until signed to a main roster. A team must field four players under their team's salary cap so if one of their Kermit players is substituting and his salary pushes them over the cap, the team will be hit with salary penalties. A new player and someone who hasn't played four games with have a $0.00 salary. Owner's have more options and can play any of the 6 players in their roster. Starting in 2019 we will have a 5 round draft. Owner's will be the team's first roster spot and must stay on the main roster. The next 3 rounds the team must select 3 players with a salary and that have played 4 games in 2018. Between the owner of the team and his first 3 picks he must be under the salary cap. The next 2 picks in the draft can be anyone that has registered for the 2019 season those players.
Each team page will have a graph shown similar to this in the next few days.
The 4 main roster players each have 2 columns, the first column is "Salary Hit" which is the amount they were signed for. The player will keep that salary until they are released, when they are released they will be signed for the next column which is 2018 performance. The 2018 Performance is how they are performing this year. If the performance is greater than the Salary Hit that player is playing higher than expectations, if it's lower the player is playing worse. Again i want to remind everyone 30 is the league average. The first 2 columns are the Team Average, this is only the average of the 4 players on the main roster. The first column is the average "Salary Hit" each player is, the second is the average of how the team is performing. If the 2nd column is lower than the first the team is performing lower than they should, if its higher than they are performing better. The goal is obviously to sign players and have them exceed their expectations, sometimes that means releasing players that are performing under expectations.
The two players are the right with an asterisk behind their name are the 2 Kermit players who can be used for substitutions. If a player hasn't played four games then their first column will be zero, once they play four games the column on the left will show their salary. The column on the left shows their performance even if they played 4 games or less. Since they are basically free agents that the team has rights to, the salary will fluctuate from week to week, these 2 players also can be signed to other team's main roster each week. The team owner has to field a team of 4 players that fit under the salary cap using the 1st column for each player.
Once the playoffs have began each roster may have 4-6 players on a team. They must have 4 players on the field and they must be under cap. When the playoffs start the 2 Kermit players become part of the main roster and their salaries become fixed. The team owner must field a team with 4 players in the playoffs that fit under the team salary cap.
Although complete competitive balance is impossible i think this set of rules does many things for the league. First off, the team's change year in and out. Every year you play with and against a new set of guys and build new friendships, with all the games being played in the same location and same time you can still hang out with your buddies. Second this creates the most competitive roster's with a slight edge to owner's and team's who put an extra effort to show up, clean up, and do the score sheet properly. It also allows new players to get an opportunity to play and be a part of a team right away even if it isn't a huge part. Once they get a feel for it they can make a serious impact for any team right away if they desire. It also helps to determine who the best players are each year giving some insight to the owners without having to look deep into the stats or watch videos. It not only creates competitiveness but also competition as players strive to get better and improve their salary year to year.