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BWB Procedures for 2020

With MLB in a unique season, BWB is going to attempt to run a championship season in 2020.  We're going to make some modifications to allow considerations for larger MLB rosters, players opting out of the season, and possible disruptions to rosters and the season itself by outbreaks of the virus.


Above all, we're going to try to have some fun this season, while attempting to limit any long-term damage to BWB rosters and franchises.


It's going to take some time to outline all of this - and we have to expect some changes along the way if needed.  Not all decisions are set as this page debuts on July 16.


Here are the most recent updates listed below:

  • 10/3/20 - Regular season tiebreakers updated
  • 9/8/20 - Playoffs will use the expanded roster settings we've used in the regular season
  • 8/24/20 - Updates to BWB team finances for cash distributions and game performance.  I'm a little nervous about handing out buckets of cash to teams that already have large cash balances - but some teams are close to zero and with roster churn I'd rather err on the side of teams having flexibility
  • 8/24/20 - A ruling on when 2020 first round draft picks will enter the BWB system
  • 8/24/20 - An update on BWB team fees


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BWB Season

Regular Season

MLB’s 60 games translates to 55 possible BWB games (we need the first 5 games of the season to build up the pitching queue and bullpen stats).  So, 2020 will be a 54-game season – 9 weeks of 6 games each.


The breakdown:

  • 6 games against each of the teams in your division (18 total)
  • 5 games against the other 4 teams in your conference (20 total)
  • 2 games against the 8 teams in the other conference (16 total)

We’ll step out of the normal sequence of 3-game series to get this done – since our players aren’t actually traveling we don’t have to mirror that part of real life this year.

Regular Season tiebreakers

Added 10/3/20: For the divisions that end in a tie, we'd typically use MLB Game #60 to play BWB Game #55.  However, because Detroit and St. Louis did not play their final 2 games, BWB has decided to use random MLB games (1-58) for the tiebreakers for hitting stats and relief pitcher stats.  The starting pitching performance will be the next pitcher up - in the P5 slot - using the next queued start.  (Note, for any game picked that would be before MLB Game #6, the relief pitcher stats used will be games 1-6).


For 3-way playoffs, see the regular rules for the normal setup.  However, because our next BWB Game is #55, our next pitcher up in the rotation is P5 - so the pitching uses will change a little


Round robin schedule:


Game #


Starting pitchers


A vs. B

A: P5 - B: P5


A vs. C

A: P1 - C: P5


B vs. C

B: P1 - C: P1


If all teams go 1-1 in the round robin process:  

Game #


Starting pitchers


Team #3 at Team #2

P2 for both teams


Winner of 58 at Team #1

Team #2/#3: P3  --  Team #1: P2


We’ll run that using random games from the full MLB season, rather than what we usually do as Games 81-160.


Update 8/2/20: BWB may adjust the high value of the random game range if one or more MLB teams do not play a full 60-game season.  BWB will have to examine how many MLB teams are affected and how many games were lost to set a number.  It is possible that the random game range might not cover all 30 MLB teams.


Update 10/3/30: Since Detroit and St. Louis didn't get all 60 games in, the range used for random games for playoffs will be 1-58.  Starting pitchers will be pulled from the full range of 1-60.  If any game is picked that is before MLB Game #6, the relief pitcher stats used for that playoff game will be pulled from games 1-6.

Playoff Structure

Added 8/2/20: 2020 is a strange season, so we're going to run the playoffs differently.  This year, all teams will make the playoffs and we'll set up a 16-team tournament to play for the league championship.


Normal tiebreakers will be used for determining seeding.  If divisions end in a tie, a single game tiebreaker will be played as Game #55.  This will use the next queued start for each team's P5 and the hitting stats from MLB Game #60.  Should the MLB season end early - or if it is clear that one or more MLB teams won't play a full 60-game schedule, BWB will select a random MLB game to use for the tiebreaker for both hitters and pitchers (as is used in the playoffs).  Whether to pick a random game will be a judgment call and may involve checking the rosters of the teams involved.

  • All 16 teams will play in the tournament.  Teams will be seeded 1-16.
  • Division winners will have the top 4 seeds, ranked in order of winning percentage.
  • The remainder of the 12 teams will be seeded 5-16 based on winning percentage, regardless of division/conference.
  • The random game selection will reset every two series:  We'll play the round of 16 and the round of 8 with one set of random games, with no repeats of the same game.  Then for the semifinals and championship, a new set of random games will be selected.  The random games will be different for each league.
  • All series in the championship bracket will be best of 7.
  • The tournament will be reseeded each round.
  • In the first round only, BWB will try an option a few people have suggested in the past - all division winners will begin with a 1-0 game advantage.  The division winners only have to win 3 games to advance - their opponents must win 4.
  • The 8 teams that lose in the round of 16 will be the participants in the Bottom Feeder Open.  The 4 teams that lose in the round of 8 will play for the Gore Cup.
  • The final team that survives in a conference will be considered the 2020 conference champion.  Should all remaining teams in a conference lose in the same round, the winner will be determined by the team with the best winning percentage and using normal tiebreakers.
  • Update 9/8/20 - The 2020 BWB playoffs will use the expanded rosters setting that we've been using for the regular season.

MLB Players Opting Out in 2020

One of the guiding principles in 2020 is to not screw up franchises in future seasons (as much as possible, at least).  Players opting out of playing in 2020 is a situation outside of the normal injury scenario and BWB teams should be able to retain these players if they desire without needing to tie up a roster spot - much like MLB teams will.


Update 8/2/20: The rules below are adjusted to account for players who opt out after the season has begun and for players that decide to come back.  New/modified text is in red.


The official list of opt outs for BWB will be at Baseball America, but we'll compare to other sites.

  • For consideration of which players are eligible for the BWB opt out rules, only those players listed by the opening day for their team in 2020 will be considered.  If the opt out list grows once the regular season starts, those added players will be treated as an injured player and the BWB team will need to consider accordingly.
  • For consideration of which players are eligible for the BWB opt out rules, players who opt out on or before BWB's Week 7 deadline (currently 9/7/20) will be pulled from BWB rosters.  Any players that opt out after Week 7 will remain on the roster so they can remain eligible for the BWB playoffs.
  • Players that opt out for Covid-19 reasons:
    • If the opt-out occurs before the BWB Week 7 deadline, they will automatically be removed from the BWB rosters (the first set of players removed was done just prior to the start of processing the Week -2 transactions) at the next transaction deadline.  They will be removed and their salaries refunded before that week's normal transaction period - and will not remain in the team's lineup for the week being set.
    • Teams will receive a full prorated refund of that player's 2020 salary if it was paid this year (and not part of a long-term contract signed in previous seasons).  The prorated amount will use the salary percentages of the previous week, and that refund percentage can be greater than the typical maximum 80%.  For example, players who opt out between Week Zero and Week One will have a 100% salary rebate.  A player who opts out between Weeks 6 and 7 will have a 33% rebate.
    • Players removed from BWB rosters that are under contract will have their contracts extended by one season.  8/12/20 Clarification: Players that opt out after August 31 will not have contracts extended (this rule was orignally designed for players who opted out of the entire season - by this point, a player opting out will have been available for 2/3 of the season).
    • Players removed from BWB rosters will not be part of the roster for the BWB playoffs.
    • These players cannot be part of any other transactions until the 2020 season is over.  BWB will modify the free agent pages so that these players cannot be chosen by BWB teams to sign.
    • BWB will display those players on the team roster pages so the teams know they still have rights to those players.
    • Once the BWB Playoffs are complete, the players will be placed back onto the BWB rosters.
    • If not under contract, the BWB teams will need to pay those players' salaries in 2021, just as with any other player.  Teams will be able to choose whether to keep them or not in the off season.
    • For players removed from BWB rosters, the 2021 salary and position for these players will be the exact same as 2020.  Players who opt out after the Week 7 deadline will have their salary and positions determined by 2020 stats.
  • New on 8/2/20: If a player on the Covid-19 list decides to rejoin his MLB team:
    • The player will be immediately added back onto BWB rosters (as soon as possible), and will be eligible to be placed into the BWB lineup/rotation/bullpen for the week currently being set.
    • Because the player's 2020 salary had been refunded, the team will need to pay a prorated amount of the remaining salary - as determined by the salary percentages for the most recently completed transaction deadline.  This percentage may be below the 33% minimum salary for free agents that lock in at Week 6.
    • If a player had a contract extended for a year when removed from the BWB team and is reinstated back to the team at or before the Week 5 deadline, the extra year of the contract will be nullified.  Players who come back after Week 5 will still have the extra year of the contract.
    • Adding the player to the roster and charging the remainder of the 2020 salary may cause an immediate roster limit violation or a negative cash balance.  BWB will work with the team owner as necessary to fix this at the next transaction period.

Roster Adjustments for the Covid-19 Season

There are a number of things to consider during the 2020 season that will affect fantasy play

  • Increased MLB roster sizes, particularly at the start of the season
  • Unknowns about how many innings pitchers - particularly starters - will log in early action
  • Unknown effects of the short training period in early July
  • Unknown effects of how the 60-man pool will come into play about players moved between active/inactive status - and how MLB teams will manipulate that
  • Anticipation that MLB players will be affected by Covid-19 - both in positive tests that will likely put them into quarantine and the strong potential for players to become sick for extended periods or perhaps missing the remainder of the season.

Injured Reserve

Available spots on IR increase from 1 to 3.  Players who opt out after Opening Day will not be considered as part of the Opt Out List as mentioned above.  This allows a team to reserve the players who may opt out later on or become sick during the season and will end up missing a large amount or the full remainder of the season.


Typical IR rules apply - most notably that a player put on IR cannot be activated by that team again in 2020 and that there is a filing fee of 250.  Yet to be considered is whether the duration of time on IR before the IR fee is refunded will be changed.  As of 7/16, BWB is leaning toward no change, but hasn't really thought about it yet.

Taxi Squad

For 2020, the Taxi Squad will increase from 4 to 10 slots.  Effectively this increases the active roster size from 40 to 46.


There's a temptation to make that larger - but for now will hold at 6 new slots.  BWB reserves the right to increase the number of Taxi Squad slots later in 2020 after seeing what happens in MLB.


Update 8/1/20: The Taxi Squad will increase by 4 more slots to 14.  This makes the total roster size 50 players.

Minors and Prospects

No changes here - still 10 minor league slots and 5 prospect list slots

Roster Summary

  • Active Roster - limited to 50 players:
    • Mandatory 9 starting position players/DH
    • Mandatory 5 bench slots for hitters
    • Mandatory 5 pitchers in starting rotation
    • Mandatory 5 pitchers in bullpen
    • Mandatory 2 spot pitchers that can be used in either starting or relieving situations
    • Optional 14 taxi squad players
    • Optional 10 minor leaguers, must have salary of 250 or lower
    • Totals: Minimum 26 players, Maximum 50 players; Maximum level of players with salary greater than 250: Total: 40, Hitters: 28, Pitchers 26
  • Injured Reserve - Optional list of up to 3 players, who do not count against the active roster
  • Prospects - Optional list of up to 5 players, who do not count against the active roster; Limited to players with salary 100 and who have not yet appeared in an MLB game at the time of being placed on the list.


BWB Lineups and Scoring

Expanded Rosters

Because there is the likelihood for sudden and widespread moves to the Injured List because of a) the virus and b) the odd nature of the 2020 season, BWB will operate in "expanded rosters" mode for the entire 2020 regular season, as it does every year in Weeks 23-25.


This means:

  • After the lineup-setting process is complete, if there are any Benchwarmer Batters or Pinesitter Pitchers in the lineup for that game, BWB will attempt to fill the holes:
    • From the taxi squad.  Teams will have the opportunity to rank taxi squad slots 1-10 and those players will be checked in order to see if they can fill in for an open slot.  Taxi squad players not ranked will be chosen randomly after the ranked ones are checked.
    • Then, from the minor league roster - again with a potential rank of preference by the team.


BWB reserves the right to try to fix the lineup setting process during the season that will treat taxi squad/minor leaguers as though a normal part of the bench (this would allow players already placed in the lineup to potentially switch positions - right now these players on the expanded rosters can fill only the holes left after the normal pass on the lineup).  It's doubtful I can spend the time on that during the season, but it's possible.

Game Scoring Changes

BWB is considering changing the scoring formula for games to allow for more relief pitchers in a game as the expectation is that starting pitchers will throw fewer innings at the beginning of the season than normal.  This might pave the way for permanent or further changes based on the "opener" concept if that continues to spread.


Because BWB will be operating with expanded rosters, there is no immediate need to change the lineups to add more bullpen slots.  That will be handled by:

  • Spot pitchers consulted first for eligible relief stats
  • Then checking relievers on the taxi squad
  • And finally, if needed, looking for qualified relief performances from the minor league roster


More to come on this topic

BWB Team Finances

There are a number of considerations - some of which have already been implemented:

  • To cover the extra 6 taxi squad slots added to BWB rosters, 6 million in cash (6000) was added to team balances after the Week -2 transactions
  • For the maximum team cash balance allowed at Week Zero, the limit will be raised from 5000 to 11000 to cover the extra cash just distributed
  • As mentioned above, players moved to the Covid Opt Out list will have their 2020 salaries refunded to teams.  For the first set of players, this refund was credited before the Week -2 transactions
  • There is still to come a cash distribution of 2000 in Week Zero

Yet to be determined/implemented - with updated answers on 8/24/20

  • Should the Week Zero cash distribution of 2000 be increased?
    • Answer - no, this was not done
  • How best to handle the elimination of 16 weeks of game play and the financial awards that come from wins and division placement.  I expect that there will be additional cash, but not sure yet on how much and when.
    • Answer - In the 1st 15 weeks of the season, an average of about 3187.5 per team is distributed for wins and division placement.  During the Week 5 transactions, each team will receive an extra 3200 in cash.
  • The wins/placement schedule to use during the 9 weeks of BWB game play this season.
    • Answer - for the entire 2020 season we'll use the middle range of financial awards for performance that normally occur in Weeks 16-20: 75 per win; 100 to 4th place team, 75 to 3rd place team, 25 to 2nd place team

Additional financial consideration updated 8/24/20 - Each season, teams are given an extra 1000 in cash the week before the deadline for contract extensions in July.  In 2020, the contract deadline is Week 9, so that extra cash will go out during Week 8 transactions.

Changes to Transactions - Week -2 and Beyond

I apologize for the short notice on some of these changes - several were implemented without warning during processing of Week -2


Week -2

Here's how Week -2 was handled:

  1. Players on the Covid-19 opt out list were removed from team rosters - they will be added back to their teams after the playoffs.  Doing this before the transactions processed allowed for roster slots to open up on those teams in case the players had been listed for cuts or IR moves.  The desire here is to allow teams to retain those players in 2021 without being forced to use up a precious 2020 roster spot or make the choice to cut them.  They don't have to be kept in 2021, but this move allows that decision to be deferred until after the 2020 season.
  2. Salaries for players removed from rosters because of opting out were refunded for their 2020 values - assuming that the salaries were paid this season and not as part of a multiyear contract signed in 2019 or earlier.  Doing this before the transactions processed allowed teams to realize the salary rebate that they might have been expecting if they had cut the player this week.  The financial results of those refunds are posted with date 7/11/2020.
  3. All transaction submissions submitted in Week -2 for players on the opt out list were thrown out - again, letting teams defer their decisions on whether to keep these players until after the season - and particularly because no one new about the Covid opt out list at that time.  Mostly this included cuts, contingent releases, and IR moves, but it did mean blocking a trade in the Home of the Brave League that involved David Price.
  4. Week -2 transactions handled normally, that included:
    1. Keeping roster limits at the 40-man number before the expansion of the taxi squad
    2. Keeping cash balances normal before the distribution of the extra 6000 in cash
    3. Both of those points were to prevent teams from lucking into an extra player or spending additional cash before anyone knew about the rule changes
    4. The financial results of Week -2 transactions can be found with posting date 7/12/20202
  5. The extra 6000 in cash for all teams was distributed and can be found in the financial results withe posting date 7/13/2020


Weeks -1 and Zero

  • The increased taxi squad and IR sizes are now effective.  Note: BWB cannot guarantee that transaction warning messages will be fixed for the new limits right away - this may take some time.
  • Because of the extra roster slots and perhaps a lot of roster churn that needs to take place, BWB will expand the number of transaction rounds during Week -1 and Week Zero from 4 rounds to 8.  Rounds 5-8 will not be available immediately in the signing screens - it may take until Saturday, July 18 or Sunday, July 19 to implement.
  • Warning messages for the maximum of 5000 cash to take into the regular season may take some time to fix or might not be fixed at all.  Just remember that you have an extra 6000 to work with and the new maximum cash level is 11000.

Week 1 and Beyond:

  • BWB expects the number of transaction rounds per week to go back to 4 with Week 1, but we'll see how that goes.
  • During a normal BWB season of 25 weeks, each week is 4% of the season, so salary assumption/rebate changes 4% each week.  In a 9-week season, each week is 11.1% of the season, so we'll come up with appropriate adjustments for the 2020 season.
  • Players on the Covid-19 Opt Out List cannot be involved in any transactions until after the season.  It may take some time for BWB to implement a way to prevent teams from trying to sign those players.  You'll have to use your own heads to remember that.

Should the MLB season be delayed or cancelled

Added 8/2/20: If there is an interruption to the MLB season, BWB will conduct the transactions for the week that is currently open.  The deadline may be pushed back at that time as appropriate.  If MLB cancels the remainder of the season, the currently open transaction week will be the final one of the BWB regular season and information will be forthcoming about moving into offseason mode.

Player List - Salaries, Positions, etc.

2021 Salaries

Most of the salary formula for players is determined by volume stats (plate appearances, hits, HRs, innings pitched, Ks, etc.).  BWB will extrapolate this year's 60-game MLB schedule to a 162-game equivalent.  BWB will also look at the salary formula to determine what the "rookie" levels will need to be (currently, players who don't meet certain minimums are automatically set with 100 as their current season's component of the salary formula).


As mentioned above, players on the Covid-19 opt out list will be assigned their 2020 salary again in 2021.  Players who miss the season for other reasons, including contracting the virus/disease will be treated as they are in any other seasons.  Yet to be determined - if there are players who opt out after Opening Day - we'll have to see how that works and may have to treat cases individually.


Positions 2020

Yet to be determined is whether there will be any change to the game thresholds to allow players to be authorized for new positions (currently defined as 5 consecutive games or 10 total games).

Positions 2021

Yet to be determined is any change to the formula for setting positions.  Players on the Covid-19 opt out list will have their 2020 position(s) carry over into 2021.

2020 First Round Draft Picks

If we add the draft picks right now to the list, that gives the teams that finished poorly in 2019 the top priority to the players, when typically they would appear around mid-season with the current 2020 standings playing a role in determining transaction order.  BWB will determine at a future date when those players will be added, but it won't be at Week 1.  BWB is leaning toward waiting until the offseason to add these players.


Update on 8/24/20: The 2020 first round draft picks will be added after the completion of the 2020 season.  The first chance to sign those players will be in the 2021 Redistribution Draft.


Exception: 2020 first-rounders who appear in MLB games in 2020 will be added as any other new player to debut in the majors would be.


Offseason between 2020 and 2021

There will be more to come on these topics

Offseason draft/transaction order

Added 8/2/20: Typically, the Redistribution Draft order is determined by reverse order of the previous season's record.  For 2021, we're going to do things a little differently because we don't really know how 2020 will go and don't want to base the next season on factors such as a team giving up in 2020 or a good team hurt primarily by odd Covid-related problems.

If the BWB season completes through the playoffs

  • Pick #1 - Winner of the Bottom Feeder Open
  • Pick #2 - Runner up in the Bottom Feeder Open
  • Picks #3-4: Losing teams in the Bottom Feeder semifinals - in reverse order of 2020 winning percentage
  • Picks #5-8: Losing teams in the first round of the Bottom Feeder Open - in reverse order of 2020 winning percentage
  • Pick #9: Winner of the Gore Cup
  • Pick #10: Runner up in the Gore Cup
  • Picks #11-12: Losing teams in the Gore Cup semifinals - in reverse order of 2020 winning percentage
  • Picks #13-14: Losing teams in the BWB championship semifinals - in reverse order of 2020 winning percentage
  • Pick #15: League runner up
  • Pick #16: League champion

If the BWB season cannot be completed

There will be no Redistribution Draft, but the initial offseason transaction order will be determined via random drawing - most likely via a weighted lottery system.


The transaction order for Weeks Zero through Two of the 2021 season will be set via a separate random drawing - so the team that gets first shot at the new players added in December/January will not automatically be the team that gets the top pick for players added in Week One of the new season.

What if the 2020 season gets wiped out?

I'm very skeptical that MLB can make it through 60 games without having to stop play.  Should the 2020 season be delayed to begin after July 23 or at some point have the season interrupted:

If the season is delayed, but all 60 regular season games are played

BWB will continue as normal - with delays in games and transactions as appropriate

If the 60-game season completes but the MLB Playoffs are cancelled

BWB pulls playoff game stats from the regular season - this wouldn't affect us and we'll run the playoffs as scheduled.

If all or a significant portion of the MLB 60-game season is cancelled

  • BWB will cease regular season play and playoffs for 2020 and the 2020 season becomes viewed as an exhibition.  This is why some of the 2020 rule adjustments are designed to minimize the long-term effects to team rosters based on the needs of 2020.
  • At this point, BWB goes into "preseason mode" for 2021 which will mean basically that the current state of 2020 rosters move forward:
    • All BWB player salaries and positions will roll over into 2021 with the 2020 values
    • All players currently on the roster will be considered paid for 2021 - there will be no reason for a salary cap distribution in December
    • There will be no need for a cut down to 28 players.
    • There will be no Redistribution Draft
    • Players will be moved back to the active roster from:
      • Injured Reserve
      • Prospect List
      • Covid-19 opt out list
    • Because of roster size changes and the reintroduction of Covid-19 opt outs, IR players, and prospects into the active roster, teams will certainly be exceeding normal 40-man roster limits.  Teams will need to get into roster compliance at some date to be determined.  Teams that received salary rebates for players on the Covid-19 list will have to have those salaries charged back to them for 2021, but they will get the opportunity to cut those players before having to commit to them for 2021.  As this is an unexpected expense without the benefit of an annual cash disbursement, BWB may look at workarounds if teams don't have enough cash on hand.
    • All player contracts - even those that would have expired in 2020 - will be extended for one year.
    • All transactions and financial balance adjustments that take place prior to the cancellation of the 2020 season will be binding and will not be reversed.
  • I'm probably missing something right now, so this is subject to change/addition.

What about if we get close to a full season?

Originally, I'm thinking all or nothing.  BWB completes all 54 games or it doesn't count.  But as I write this, I start to think - what if MLB just has to call off a few games - or a week?  Does that wipe out our season?  54 games is roughly 1/3 of BWB's normal 150-game season. Should we be OK to get to a certain number of games and be OK to call off the last week and say we're good?  What's the minimum number of BWB games that we should consider a "full" season (in 2020 terms)....50?  45?  40?  Or do you say "all or nothing?"


Updated 8/2/20: If MLB were to cancel the remainder of its season with just about a week left, BWB may consider the season to be official and continue with playoffs.  If MLB is able to play through Game 53, which gets BWB to Game 48 and the end of Week 8, the BWB season will be considered official.  It's possible that some MLB teams - particularly those who had games postponed due to Covid outbreaks - might not get to the 53-game mark.  BWB will have to use reasonable judgment to determine if the season is official.


It is possible that MLB completes enough games for BWB to start, but not complete, Week 9.  If that happens, BWB will use reasonable judgment to determine the final BWB game.  However, it will try to get as many games as possible, even if that means only a partial schedule in Week 9.

BWB Entry Fees

We're going to play about 1/3 of the regular season plus a full and expanded playoff slate.  There's also a significant amount of normal pre-season work that occurred.  But, I'm going to cut 2020 team fees to 1/3 of the normal price.  Since most people have already paid for their teams, I would prefer for ease of administration to credit those teams in their 2021 fees.  However, if money is tight in this economy and you'd prefer to get a refund in 2020, please let me know.


Free teams for 2020 are for this season only.


People who bought a Season Ticket in 2020 will get a special reduced price for 2021 to be determined (likely somewhere around 1/2 price).