Shandler Park Monthly Game Overview

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With the inaugural April games wrapping up, it is time to turn our attention towards planning for the May monthly game. Before we completely dive in however, get caught up on how this new and exciting game works.

The variety of game formats available to fantasy baseball players has continued to grow since the early days of Rotisserie Baseball. The increasing popularity of head-to-head and daily fantasy baseball has shown a large portion of the fantasy baseball community enjoys the shorter sprintstyle results over the 6 month rotisserie grind. For me, full-season, rotisserie will always be king, but I'll admit, I've dabbled in daily fantasy sports as well.

I actually quite enjoy daily fantasy football as the luck factor seems to mesh well with the one and done style of daily play. Daily fantasy baseball on the other hand has been a struggle for me on numerous fronts.

First, I play rotisserie over head-to-head for a reason - I prefer the full season journey over smaller, weekly, match-ups, where my players performance can vary greatly. In the daily game this variance is even greater and can be quite maddening in my opinion. Adrian Beltre at home versus Jason Vargas sounds like a can't miss pick... yet it can... and does... and I suppose that's just part of the game.

I also found the number of sites providing the games, the varying roster requirements, salaries and league types to be an overload. My first priority when it comes to fantasy baseball is my full season leagues. Between those, work, family, friends and well, just non-fantasy baseball things,the amount of time to be truly successful at daily fantasy baseball just seemed like too much for a person in my life position.

Lastly, how did I define being successful? In a daily head-to-head match up of course beating your opponent (and winning some money) would qualify. But what if I entered five head-to-head match ups with varying rosters and won 3 of them? Some would say I was successful, but there was always an empty feeling behind those wins. That feeling grew as I entered 50-50 tournaments, where half the field doubles their money (minus a small entry fee). Was finishing in the top half and doubling my money an act of success? Sure, but it still felt more like an activity based on money and not for the thrill of the game. It was missing the sense of ownership over your roster and the journey to the title (or prize), in my opinion.

Fortunately, the great Ron Shandler, whose work I've followed for years in the form of the Baseball Forecaster and recently as a Baseball HQ subscriber, is always looking for new and improved gaming formats.

Enter Shandler Park.

A common ground between full-season and daily fantasy sports, Ron and the team at Shandler Park recently introduced Monthly Fantasy Baseball Leagues. Complete rules and league sign ups can be found at the link above.

The setup for these leagues could not be better in my opinion.

With 15 teams per league, the competition level remains high. The 15-team mixed format is quickly becoming my favorite full-season league style and it transitions beautifully to the monthly game. With a salary cap replacing the snake draft or auction, the higher number of teams also provides the chance a greater number of unique players will be rostered.

The scoring is a modified rotisserie 4x4 setup. The categories include:

  • Home Runs
  • Stolen Bases
  • Runs Produced (Runs + RBIs - HR)
  • On Base Average
  • Wins + Quality Starts
  • Saves + Holds
  • ERA
  • Strikeouts

Ron nailed the modifications used in his scoring setup. Including Holds, Quality Starts and On Base Average (all popular changes in full season leagues) further sets his game apart from the daily game in my opinion. The combination statistics (Runs Produced, Wins + Quality Starts & Saves + Holds), also opens the door for many different strategies to be used in building your team.

The Shandler Park leagues use traditional rotisserie rosters (2C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, MI, CI, UTIL, 5 OF, 9 P) and also include a 9 man reserve roster. All 32 players must be purchased within each owner's $300.00 salary. Salaries are based on the previous month's performance, which will create yet another strategic avenue for owners to explore.

As mentioned above, full rules and details can be found at Shandler Park. Rather than continue to run down every detail, I'd like to touch on a few of the aspects of the monthly game I enjoy the most.

  • More Drafts - This also happens to be the first item listed on Ron's"Why Should you play a one-month game"post, but is the most obvious and one of my favorite. Draft day is by far one of the greatest days of the year for me. While the salary cap doesn't quite hit all the twists and turns of a snake draft or auction, it does provide the eternal hope that building a fantasy baseball team provides prior to the start of the scoring period. Everyone's in first and believes their squad has what it takes. No longer does this feeling have to be saved for late March or early April.
  • More Championship drives - Being in contention late in a full-season fantasy baseball league is a rush. Every roster decision, FAAB acquisition and statistic counts during the home stretch. However in full-season leagues, May to late August statistics all kind ofblend together.With a monthly league, the championship push starts two weeks in.
  • Multiple Transaction Periods - While there are no trades or free agent additions during the month (also a great setup for full season leagues), owners are allowed to change their lineup twice a week - once on Monday and once on Friday. Again, opening up numerous strategic possibilities.
  • Payout structure - I've never understood the top-3 payout setup in fantasy sports, especially in deeper leagues. I've always pushed for at least a top-5 payout system and Ron takes it one step further, with prizes being distributed to the top 7 finishers. This style won't make you rich, but it will give you a league full of active owners scratching and clawing for whatever rotisserie points they can, as they attempt to climb from 10th to 7th, or 6th to 4th.
  • Entry Price Points & Prizes - Not only does about half the league win a prize, but depending on the type of league you join, you could be rewarded with cash or entry into another league the following month. The $9.00 entry fee -Upper Deck League pays out an entry into the $299.00 -Gold Level League, for its winner. Second and third place in the Upper Deck League, receive an entry into the $39.00 -Field Box League. Finish fourth through seventh and you can play the $9.00 -Upper Deck Leagueagain for free the following month. That's pretty awesome if you ask me. Oh yeah, the payout for the winner of a Gold Level League is still $599.00, so money can be made for those who place the highest priority when playing fantasy sports on their bottom line.

If you're not convinced to try out the monthly games yet or feel you don't have the time for one more team, don't worry, we'll have you covered here at Fake Teams. In the coming weeks I'll take a look at schedules for all Major League Baseball teams. This analysis will include a breakdown of total games played for the particular contest (for May 2014 this would mean all games played between May 5th and the 29th), including the number of games played at home and away for each club. I will also incorporate data such as home/road park factors and opponent pitching and hitting power rankings to help determine which pool of players you should be purchasing for the coming month.

One thing I've learned from years of reading Baseball HQ is you must always be willing and open to learning new things. No one is an expert at this style of play, which makes jumping into the game at this point even more fun. The month time frame of the game allows for us to analyze data and come up with various strategies as we put together our team. Let's see what works and doesn't work together.

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