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HOW TO: Create a Constitution
by Pat Luft

I guarantee that if you are the commissioner you will here the response "I thought the rules said ...", when in fact they aren't even close.  So, let's cover as many of the issues as possible.  This may seem tedious but it will become very important when towards the end of the season.

I am going to describe as many of the sections as possible and give you some ideas of what you can put in each section.  Both types of leagues will be used in the examples, the Rotisserie (Roto, based on placement in each scoring category) and Fantasy League (based on a point scoring system). 

Roto Constitution information is loosely taken from John Benson's book The OFFICIAL Rule Book and Draft Day GuideRed highlighted text will define a normal Roto League rule or clarificationGreen will signify a Fantasy League value.

I. OBJECT: This will describe to the prospective owners the league and league rules.  Make sure there is information listing then how many players will make up the teams, number of teams and which players will be available for the Auction/Draft (AL, NL, or Both).

II. TEAMS and ROSTERS: This section will define how may teams the league will be made up of and how many players each team will contain.  Rosters should also define if all players picked are on the active roster.  Will there be a reserve list and how do you get put on it (ie, injuries).  Do you have a Minor League Player Draft as well.

III. FEES:  They come in 2 formats: the Entry Fee and the Transaction Fees.  Everyone wants to know this.  You can use what ever figure you want and this will usually head us into the next section about Prizes, where most of the money ends up.  Head-to-Head: this is usually what ever you think the other owners will pay.  There are many variations and you charge anywhere from $10 to $100 pretty easily.   Roto: Either $260 in AL leagues or $280 in NL leagues, although if that seems too high for your league, it is very normal to scale this down.  Some leagues use $26 and $28, so they will not have to try to calculate player dollar amounts for each player (explained later).

There can be many Transaction Fees and you need to get them all defined.  Here are the most common without explanations which will be covered in later topics:

1. Entry Fee:  Self-explanatory

2. Transaction Fee:  Is can be any amount from $.50 to $1.00 to $10.00.  It will be the amount charged when ever a player is traded, activated, and may include the signing of free agents.

3. Call-Up From Free-Agent Pool: This value can either be the same as the Transaction Fee or can be split out on it's own as in Roto a $25 fee is charged.

4. Reserve/Activation: These can be separate fees or part of the Transaction fee.  Roto = $10 each

5. Farm System:  This is usually the same value as a Call-Up price. Roto = $10

6. Waivers: If not broken out this will generally be the same as the Call-Up price. Roto = $10

7. Roster Expansion: This varies if you implement the rule.  Roto = $50

IV. PRIZES:  How much of the entry fee will be disbursed.  Define when all the money is due (draft day, week 3, etc).  Don't let this drag out too long as some owners may decide they team is so bad it would be easier to not pay you and never show up again as to paying for a bad team.  You may also want to impose some fines for teams not paying on time (not allowing that team to pickup free-agents until paid, etc).  You may want to give all the out as prizes or you may want to retain some of the money for league expenses (such as trophies, payment of stat services, etc.)  Roto breaks their league down like this:  1st place 50%.  2nd place 20%.  3rd place 15%.  4th place 10% and 5ht place 5%.

V. DRAFT PROCESS: Explain which format you will be using for your draft. Head-to-Head: this is usually done by a draft because it is quicker, although I prefer an auction.  Here are some considerations for a draft league:

1.  Who draft first?  It could be done randomly selected from a hat or based on last years standings?

2.  What order will the draft follow? It could be same order for every round (1-20 for the 1st round then 1-20 for the 2nd round) or it could be serpentine (1-20 for the 1st round then 20-1 for 2nd and 1-20 for the third, etc.)

Roto: is primarily done through the auction process and have a lot more restrictions.  Here are some of the considerations:

1.  Who gets to throw out the first player for bidding?  Does last years winner or loser do it or is purely random.  It really doesn't matter.

2.  How will the progression of the rounds go?  Does the player winning the last player have to throw out the next player for bidding or does it just circle around the room?

3.  Usually during the draft the once a player has been picked he must be declared a position, he may be switched during the draft but he should be declared, and this should be included. 

4.  No team may bid on a player he cannot afford. 

5.  Usually players who start the season on the DL are not eligible for selection. 

VI. POSITION ELIGIBILITY:  Players should be assigned a position going into the draft so everyone knows where a player is eligible to play.  Typically this is done by using the total number of games played from the previous year.  Roto uses 20 games at a position the previous year before he can qualify for that position.  Once the season starts they must play at least 1 game at any position to be re-qualified.   I have tried this and the 1 game rule is a little too easy.  For example in 1998, Colorado used Larry Walker at 2B and Vinny Castilla at SS during a late extra inning game.  This made a few owners very happy and a few a little upset.  I would suggest using a 5 game in season rule if you want to allow players to switch.  Also it is not uncommon to not have an in-season position adjustment. 

VII. STANDINGS AND SCORING:  You will need to determine your scoring system and how to determine the winner.  The scoring will be determined by either a weekly performance or accumulated season totals as well as using Fantasy Point Totals or ranking based on performance.

Fantasy Points:  The scoring is based on a combination of different statistics with a point value assigned to that category.  Usually Fantasy Points is used with a Head-to-head weekly game, but can be played by accumulating all the Fantasy Points for the season and the winner is the team with the most points.   In either case you will need to assign a value for each category used, check out our HOW TO: Build a Fantasy Points Scoring System for alternatives.

Teams are ranked from first to last in each of the categories used for scoring and points will be assigned based on those positions.  The team score will consist of the total of all category points.  The team with the most points wins.  For example, in a 12-team league, each team is ranked in batting average with the highest average getting 12 points and the lowest average getting 1.   This will occur in each scoring category.  Listed below are the standard scoring categories for a 4x4 (4 hitting and 4 pitching categories) and a 5x5 (5 hitting and 5 pitching categories) Roto league:

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Requirement for categories.  Typically when you are using a total for your stats it is a good idea to put requirements on the league such as 4250 at bats to qualify for hitting category or 900 innings pitched to qualify for pitching categories.  This will eliminate an owner from drafting the all the top players in hitting or pitching and abandoning the other categories, which usually doesn't work but it has been tried and hence rules have been formed.

Tie Breakers.  It is also a good idea to put a tie breaker system in to affect in case you have a tie in either type of system.  For weekly scoring you may have a weekly tie-breaker as home team or most hitting points, etc.  For the cumulative scoring most Roto leagues will add up the total at bats plus three times the number of innings pitched and the team with the highest total wins.

VIII. PLAYER SALARIES:  The salary of a player is determined by the time and means of his acquisition and does not change unless the player becomes a free agent or is signed to a contract.

A player's salary is initally set to his auction price.  The salary of players picked up as free agents during a season, claimed off of waivers or activated from a farm system shall all be $10 or a prorated value of that.  Players called up as a Roster Expansion from the free agent pool to supplement the current roster is $25 or a prorated value of that.

IX. STATS:  There are really two methods for scoring your league.  You keep the stats yourself (yeah right) or you have someone else do it for you.

If you do want to keep stats yourself, then the USA Today Baseball weekly publishes weekly stats through the previous Sunday, you can enter the daily games, or you can download the fantasy stats from Yahoo.com who creates a comma delaminated file for downloading pretty much every day.  Any way you will have to enter the data into a spreadsheet and create calculations to arrive at your scores.  This has been done, actually by most of us up until the the past couple of years.

You could also select a stat service.  There are many out there, in fact DraftHelp.com offers On-Line League manager services from the DraftHelp store.  The old days of Free services are pretty much gone but if you you are playing a standard Roto league, Yahoo does still offer a free service.

X. SIGNING FREE AGENTS:  The following players are considered in the Free Agent pool and may be picked up at any time:

* Active major league players not on any other team roster.
* Any minor league player promoted to the major league roster.
* Waived players who have not been claims (see rule XI)
* Players traded into the league, if playing AL or NL only leagues.

This may changed you may want to put a deadline on when Free Agents can be acquired.   This may include the start of the playoffs in a weekly points league or the All-Start break a cumulative league.

Twists.  You may want to limit the number of transactions free agent transactions, this can be be done in a couple of different ways.  First, you can just set a limit to the number.  Second, you can have a Free Agent Acquisition Bugdet (FAAB) for requesting players. 

The FAAB is a supplementary budget of $100 (for Roto purposes) used in the acquiring of free agents.  A bidding process should be used during the acquisition of players when using the FAAB.  This will insure the player being requested goes to the highest bidder.  In the case of a tie the team lowest in the standings from the previous week will be awarded the player.  Minimum bid should be around $5 of the original $100.   If a player is purchased with a value over $10 that player could be awarded a guaranteed contract.

For every player picked up a player must be waived or moved to a reserve list.

XI. WAIVERS:  Most Roto leagues use a waiver process as well as a released status.   The waiver status is given when a player is dropped from the current roster, either active or reserved.  The waiver status is given for a full week and the player who is lowest in the standings and has requested to pick up the player shall be awarded the player.  If he isn't claimed he will be tossed back into the Free Agent Pool.

Waiver claims usually take precedence over a normal