Joba’s Mustache vs. Obtuse Wardens – 5 F.J. 40 (May 13, 2013) – Fantasy Baseball Trade (P.Fielder/J.Grilli/J.Nathan)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Joba’s Mustache vs. Obtuse Wardens

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE KC FANATICS FANTASY BASEBALL LEAGUE

Decided May 13, 2013
Cite as 5 F.J. 40 (May 2013)

Factual Background

A rotisserie fantasy baseball league called The KC Fanatics Fantasy Baseball League (hereinafter referred to as “KCFFBL” is a 12-team mixed non-keeper league utilizing an auction-style draft and transaction platform.  As with many rotisserie leagues, the KCFFBL uses the standard 5×5 scoring categories to determine the standings and prize money.  For offensive players, the five categories are: (1) batting average; (2) homeruns; (3) runs batted in; (4) runs scored; and (5) stolen bases.  For pitchers, the five categories are: (1) wins; (2) earned run average; (3) WHIP (walks+hits/innings pitched); (4) strikeouts; and (5) saves.  Statistics are cumulative throughout the course of the season and there are no head to head games contained within the league.

The KCFFBL is not governed by a written constitution.  However, pursuant to the league’s internal settings, trades are permitted between teams and subject to the commissioner’s approval or rejection.  The KCFFBL commissioner submitted a proposed trade between two league members and seeks an opinion on whether the trade should be approved. 

Procedural History

Joba’s Mustache traded Prince Fielder (1B-DET) to the Obtuse Wardens in exchange for Mitch Moreland (1B-TEX), Jason Grilli (RP-PIT), and Joe Nathan (RP-TEX).

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between Joba’s Mustache and the Obtuse Wardens be approved?

Decision

The Court has consistently ruled that people who participate in fantasy leagues should be given the freedom to manage their teams according to their own preferences.  Whether success is bred from that individual’s decision-making is purely left to some skill, luck, dedication, and savviness.  See Gangrene Master Yoda vs. Team Dizzle, 4 F.J. 284, 285 (October 2012); 4 Ponies vs. Carson City Cocks, 3 F.J. 13 (May 2011).

When presented with a dispute over the fairness or equitability of a trade, the Court will evaluate the objective merits of a deal and ensure that the integrity of the league is maintained.   Victoria’s Secret vs. C-Train, 2 F.J. 32, 35 (October 2010).  Typically, the approval or rejection of a trade is based on whether the deal was made without collusion, has equitable consideration, and comports with the best interests of the league.  See 4 Ponies vs. Beaver Hunters, 3 F.J. 26, 27 (June 2011).  The virtue of a trade is measured in both quantifiable criteria and subjective needs of the teams involved.  Carson City Cocks vs. Stud Muffins, 3 F.J. 23, 24 (May 2011).

No evidence has been submitted indicating any alleged collusion or malfeasance.  As such, the Court will operate on the presumption that there is no collusive conduct between the parties.

At first glance, the trade of Prince Fielder in exchange for Mitch Moreland, Jason Grilli, and Joe Nathan looks fair and equitable.  Fielder is considered an elite fantasy player given his consistent annual production of power numbers combined with a solid batting average.  Any trade involving a player like Fielder would require additional scrutiny simply because of how valuable he is.  See Steelers vs. Patriots, 3 F.J. 216, 220 (November 2011). 

The KCFFBL is a non-keeper league which means we must evaluate this deal only in terms of its value for the current season.  When analyzing a trade in a non-keeper league, there is no need to consider the long-term benefits for either team.  Willie McGee’s Beauty Parlor vs. Sizemore Matters, 4 F.J. 29, 30 (April 2012).  Of course, in a keeper league a trade that may look uneven on its face could pass muster due to the need to consider long-term benefits and needs.  Here, the value of the players exchanged is limited solely to the present season. 

Prince Fielder is one of the preeminent fantasy players in the league with consistent production in homeruns and RBI on top of a solid batting average.  Joba’s Mustache clearly gets downgraded at first base by swapping Fielder for Mitch Moreland.  Moreland has not established himself as an everyday player due to his deficiencies hitting against left-handed pitchers.  However, he has played better of late sporting a .291 batting average with six homeruns and 14 RBI.

Despite the downgrade at first base, Joba’s Mustache has also acquired closers Jason Grilli and Joe Nathan.  Grilli currently leads the league with 15 saves and a dominant ERA of 1.15 and WHIP of 0.83.  Nathan has also been impressive with 11 saves along with a 1.93 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.  The record is devoid of any information regarding each team’s position in the standings or the composition of their respective rosters.  However, the Court can draw conclusions that the acquisitions of Grilli and Nathan will greatly improve Joba’s Mustache’s point totals in at least three pitching categories.

In terms of the Obtuse Wardens, they have acquired a premier power hitter.  While the Court doesn’t know whether they have other closers on their roster, it is reasonable to accept that the Obtuse Wardens have strategically decided to sacrifice some of their pitching points in exchange for a boost offensively.  This is one of the many strategic decisions that go into playing in roto leagues.  See Stud Muffins vs. Cajun Crawdads, 4 F.J. 61, 63 (May 2012) (holding that fantasy owners in roto leagues are free to prioritize which categories they want to pursue improvement in when making trades and managing their rosters). 

The net effect of this trade will likely have serious implications in the standings.  Again, the Court was not presented with any facts or details about where these teams are in the standings.  However, because of the nature of the players involved in this trade, both teams are likely to receive boosts in various categories assuming these players remain healthy and productive. 

There are discernible benefits to both teams involved in this trade.  Joba’s Mustache suffers a significant downgrade at first base or corner infield, but they obtained two of the top closers in the league.  This will clearly benefit them with saves, ERA and WHIP.  On the other hand, the Obtuse Wardens have traded away that pitching luxury but acquired one of the league’s best and most durable power hitters.  Based on the foregoing, the Court approves the trade between Joba’s Mustache and the Obtuse Wardens.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

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