Ballbusters vs. Stritz-4-U – 6 F.J. 116 (April 30, 2014) – Fantasy Baseball Trade Review (J,Hamilton/T.Hunter/J.Rollins)

SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT

Ballbusters vs. Stritz-4-U

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE JABRONI LEAGUE

Decided April 30, 2014
Cite as 6 F.J. 116 (April 2014)

Factual Background

A rotisserie fantasy baseball league called the Jabroni League (hereinafter referred to as “JL” was established in 1999 and is hosted on CBS.  The JL is a 12-team mixed AL/NL keeper league where teams are permitted to maintain a maximum of six (6) players.  GM’s can either retain players under a one-year contract or a three-year contract.  If a player was acquired during the auction draft, his value escalates $5.00 the following season.  If a player was acquired via free agency, his value escalates $8.00 the following season and then $5.00 every subsequent year capped at three years of keeper eligibility.

The JL uses a standard 5×5 format for its 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.

All trades made between GM’s are subject to review.  Due to the fact that the JL is comprised of several clusters of family members and close relatives, the commissioner has the sole authority to submit all trades to the Court for review to avoid any potential conflicts.

The commissioner has submitted a trade to the Court for review to determine whether it should be approved or rejected.

Procedural History

The Ballbusters traded Josh Hamilton (OF-LAA) and Jed Lowrie (SS-OAK) to Stritz-4-U in exchange for Torii Hunter (OF-DET) and Jimmy Rollins (SS-PHI).

Issue Presented

(1)   Should the trade between the Ballbusters and Stritz-4-U 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.

The JL is a keeper league which can lead to a different evaluation of a trade as opposed to a non-keeper or redraft 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).

At first glance, the trade of Josh Hamilton and Jed Lowrie in exchange for Torii Hunter and Jimmy Rollins looks fair and equitable.  None of the players in this deal are considered elite for purposes of requiring additional scrutiny merely because of how valuable they are.  Steelers vs. Patriots, 3 F.J. 216, 220 (November 2011).

This trade involves the even exchange of a shortstop an outfielder.  As such, there are clearly no specific positional needs being addressed outside of mere upgrades and changes at the same positions.  See Moneymakers vs. Logan’s Heroes, 6 F.J. 92, 93 (April 2014).  GM’s in roto leagues are free to prioritize which categories they want to pursue improvement in when making trades and managing their rosters.  Team Sabo vs. 4 Ponies, 5 F.J. 167 (August 2013) (approving a trade where a team higher in the standings traded Mat Latos for Homer Bailey because he needed improvement in the WHIP category despite Bailey having better statistics with wins, ERA and strikeouts); Joba’s Mustache vs. Obtuse Wardens, 5 F.J. 40, 41 (May 2013); Stud Muffins vs. Cajun Crawdads, 4 F.J. 61, 63 (May 2012).

The best player in this trade is Josh Hamilton who is currently on the disabled list after undergoing surgery to repair a ligament in his thumb.  Hamilton has been out since the second week of the season and is expected to return by the end of May if his recovery and rehab go well without any setbacks.  As such, Stritz-4-U is taking a chance on Hamilton by knowing for sure he will not be available over the next four weeks, and possibly longer.  Hamilton was having a resurgence over the first week and a half of 2014 seeming to avenge his horrific 2013 season.[1]  It remains to be seen whether his thumb injury will affect his swing when he does return.

In exchange for Hamilton, the Ballbusters are acquiring the ageless Torii Hunter who continues to defy Father Time.  Now 38-years old, Hunter is still productive as ever with a .306 batting average along with three home runs, 13 RBI, 10 runs scored and one stolen base.  He won’t put up power numbers or run production the way Hamilton can, but he is a healthy, consistent, and reliable outfielder.

When comparing the two shortstops being traded for each other, the only conclusion the Court can reach is that they are unquestionably comparable to each other.  Despite the fact the JL is a keeper league, neither Jed Lowrie nor Jimmy Rollins are likely to be one of six players retained by either GM.  That being said, we can evaluate their value and performance based on what has occurred and what will likely occur during the current season.  Jed Lowrie is batting .285 with two home runs, 11 RBI, and 18 runs scored.  Jimmy Rollins is batting .250 with three home runs, 15 RBI, 12 runs scored and four stolen bases.  Overall these two players are evenly matched despite Rollins’ edge in stolen bases and Lowrie’s edge in batting average.

Even without knowing the teams’ rosters, this deal appears to make sense from both teams’ perspectives.  See Los Pollos Hermanos vs. Little Stumps, 3 F.J. 192, 195 (October 2011) (holding that a trade will be rejected when the Court cannot objectively ascertain any benefit to one of the teams and the net result in no way makes a team better now or in the future).  The two shortstops are an even match despite both having propensities for superiority in certain categories.  Hamilton is a better fantasy option than Hunter, but he is currently injured.  His potential upside is a desirable asset to have on behalf of Stritz-4-U while the Ballbusters are obtaining Hunter’s current production.  Based on the foregoing, the Court approves the trade between the Ballbusters and Stritz-4-U.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


[1] Through eight games and 27 at bats, Hamilton was batting .444 with two home runs, six RBI, seven runs scored and one stolen base.

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