Stud Muffins vs. Cajun Crawdads – 4 F.J. 32 (April 11, 2012) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (F.Freeman/D.Hudson)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Stud Muffins vs. Cajun Crawdads 

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM THE INCONTINENT LEAGUE 

Decided April 11, 2012

Cite as 4 F.J. 32 (April 2012) 

Factual Background

A rotisserie fantasy baseball league called The Incontinent League (hereinafter referred to as “roto league” or “IL” is an 11-team NL-only keeper league utilizing an auction-style draft and transaction platform.  Teams are permitted to maintain up to ten (10) players during each off-season with individual players allowed to be kept for a maximum of three (3) consecutive years under contract.  Each team is also permitted to keep two minor league players which are in addition to the ten players kept.  This roto league also has a $26.00 draft salary cap, as well as a $36.00 in-season salary cap that is applicable for all teams.   

As with many rotisserie leagues, the Incontinent League 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 Roto league.

The Incontinent League submitted a proposed trade between two league members and seeks an opinion on whether the trade should be approved.

Procedural History

The Stud Muffins made a trade with the Cajun Crawdads.  The Stud Muffins traded Freddie Freeman (1B-ATL, $0.50 with one year left under contract) to the Cajun Crawdads in exchange for Daniel Hudson (SP-ARZ, $1.30 and will be a free agent at the end of the season).

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between the Stud Muffins and the Cajun Crawdads be approved?

Decision

The Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment typically favors individual fantasy sports participants and teams’ ability to make moves, transactions, and trades.  People pay money to participate in fantasy leagues, and generally they should be afforded the freedom to manage their team accordingly.  Whether success is bred from that individual’s decision-making is purely left to some skill, luck, dedication, and savviness.  See 4 Ponies v. Carson City Cocks, 3 F.J. 13 (May 2011).

It is well documented that there is a different analysis of trades in a keeper league as opposed to a non-keeper league.  A trade that may look facially uneven or lopsided could easily pass muster in a keeper league.  Trades made between teams in a keeper league need to be analyzed by other factors besides merely comparing statistics.  Grave Diggers vs. Chilidogs, 4 F.J. 5, 8 (January 2012).  These other factors include salary cap flexibility, contractual status of players, and long-term planning at the expense of the current season.  Smittydogs vs. Moneyball, 1 F.J. 32, 33 (June 2010); Winners vs. Seven Shades of Shite, 3 F.J. 97, 102 (July 2011) (holding that team owners in keeper leagues with no hope of contending in the current season must make critical roster management decisions of whether to trade established players to help build for the future).

The Court will evaluate the objective merits of a deal and ensure that the integrity of the league is maintained.  See Victoria’s Secret vs. C-Train, 2 F.J. 32, 35 (October 2010).  The Court will not undermine a fantasy owner’s ability to manage his/her team unless a deal is unfair or inequitable, ripe with collusion, or not in the best interests of the league.  Whether a trade is objectively   intelligent or popular will not be part of the analysis.  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 Freddie Freeman in exchange for Daniel Hudson looks fair and even.  Neither player can is considered an elite fantasy option, so there are no red flags raised during an initial “sniff test.”  They are both young and emerging players with upside, but neither can be objectively viewed as quantifiably more valuable.  Freeman, the runner-up for the 2011 National League Rookie of the Year, is a power-hitting first baseman.  On the other hand, Hudson is the number two starter on a young and talented Arizona Diamondbacks team.  They both have great upside and are valuable commodities.  According to www.mockdraftcentral.com, their average draft position (“ADP”) was only separated by 36 spots.  This data covered over 100 mock drafts conducted in 5×5 roto leagues during the past two weeks.  With Hudson at number 82 and Freeman at number 118, this is a good indicator that the two players are close enough in value to appear fair and equitable for each other.

When analyzing the fairness and equity of a trade, the Court will consider each team’s individual needs to assess whether the trade subjectively made sense from each team’s perspective.  See Cajon Crawdads vs. Carson City Cocks, 1 F.J. 41, 42 (June 2010) (upholding a trade for Jason Bay because of the Carson City Cocks’ desperate need for a starting outfielder due to the demotion of Cameron Maybin).  This trade involves a first baseman in exchange for a starting pitcher, so clearly positional needs were a factor in the parties’ rationale for making the deal.  The Stud Muffins were able to trade Freeman because they have Michael Cuddyer who can play first base.  The motivation appears to be improving his pitching staff with Hudson, who will join the likes of Johan Santana, Trevor Cahill, Bud Norris, R.A. Dickey and Edinson Volquez.  On the other hand, the Cajun Crawdads have added Freeman to an impressive infield offense which includes Jose Reyes, David Wright, Brian McCann, Ike Davis and Dan Uggla.  Freeman will slide into the corner infield position.  It appears that the Cajun Crawdads decided to load up on infield offense since their outfield is statistically weak with Juan Pierre, Travis Buck, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Gerardo Parra and Nyjer Morgan.  However, the Cajun Crawdads are sacrificing their pitching at this point because his staff is left with the likes of Josh Johnson, Jhoulys Chacin, Aaron Harang and Jair Jurrjens. 

In terms of the contractual and financial ramifications of the trade, it makes sense on both sides.  The Stud Muffins are adding $0.80 to their salary cap in the deal, but Hudson is a free agent at the end of the season.  His acquisition clearly falls in the “win now” mentality for the Stud Muffins.  On the other hand, the Cajun Crawdads do save $0.80 which they can use during the season, and they can keep Freeman for another year if so desired. 

Based on the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby decides that the subject trade is fair, equal, and free of collusion.  There is a rational basis for both teams to make this trade with respect to roster management and the teams’ short and long-term goals.  The trade should be approved as it comports with the best interests of the league. 

IT IS SO ORDERED.

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