League Rules

PCL Redux League Rules

Overview

If you can’t make time to read all these rules, here is a brief overview of what they are and what they set out to accomplish:

  • This league is a historical PCL replay with a “twist”; the “twist” being that the PCL breaks the color line in 1921 and soon after attains Major League status. With some exceptions, in this league each PCL team starts out each season with the players it had in real life. This is to retain some of the flavor of the historical PCL. 
  • There is a limited draft (five rounds) before each season. Some players who were not actually in the PCL in real life (mostly Negro League players, some MLB players) are eligible to be drafted, as are players who were in the PCL the previous season but whose contracts have run out. 
  • Each team has six “slots” with which to hold Star Players. This is to prevent any team from getting too strong or too weak. If a team has an extremely good season, it will temporarily lose one or more slots. If it has an extremely bad season, it will temporarily gain one or more slots. There are different types of slots to hold different types of players (Negro League, MLB players from the western U.S., minor league stars, etc.). 
  • OOTP’s player development is used, but is regulated by the Commissioner. Mostly, the regulations favor players who played for a long time; they are generally not allowed to get too much worse than they were in real life, while players with short, undistinguished careers are generally prevented from becoming stars.

Premise

Ambitious and forward-thinking Pacific Coast League owners, determined to achieve the prestige and financial rewards associated with “big league” status, elevate their circuit’s level of play by infusing its ranks with major league-quality African-American players beginning in 1921. Before the decade has ended, the National and American Leagues’ owners have recognized the PCL as a third major league, instituted a three-league post season championship, and have begun integrating their own clubs.

OOTP runs all three leagues, but we have GMs/managers for the PCL clubs only; the AL and NL are run almost entirely the computer. The Commissioner may intervene if necessary to ensure that the computer-run MLB clubs have sufficient personnel and aren’t doing anything too goofy. In the event that we are unable to assign a GM to a PCL club, the Commissioner will take an active hand in maintaining that team until a GM is found (drafting, roster moves, trades, etc.).

Sections

1 Rosters

2 Free Agent Draft basics

3 Additional roster/draft rules

4 Player development procedures/rules

5 GM duties

6 Miscellaneous rules/procedures

1 Rosters

1.1 Roster construction/player eligibility

Rosters are based on the team’s real-life roster for that year (per baseball-reference.com).

  • Players on that real-life roster who don't meet the following minimum requirements are ineligible:
  • Players whose date of birth is unavailable
  • Players born in California, Oregon, or Washington with fewer than 300 career at-bats or 150 career innings pitched at the AA level (Pacific Coast League, International League, American Association) in real life
  • Players not born in California, Oregon, or Washington with fewer than 600 career at-bats or 300 career innings pitched in the Pacific Coast League in real life
  • Teams add to or subtract from their rosters via trades, post-draft free agent signings, and the annual Free Agent Draft (see Section 2—Draft basics)
  • The league uses a 25-man active roster limit (expanded to 32 each Sept. 1) and a 5-man reserve roster limit

Prior to each draft an updated Excel file with the rosters as they currently stand is updated (available here; may not be current if draft is not in progress).

1.2 Roster conflict/resolution

  • If a player was on two or more PCL teams during a season in real life, he goes to the team that had him first that year (per baseball-reference.com, unless there is a good reason to believe their info is incorrect, which it sometimes is) 

  • If a player was on a PCL team and another minor league team in another league, he goes to the PCL team 

  • If a player was on a PCL team and a major league team, he goes to the PCL team (an exception to this would be if he was clearly a major league player, but did a brief stint in the minors to rehab or something)

1.3 Post-draft Type-D free agent signings (during regular season)

  • Free agents may only be signed during the Free Agent draft, unless they are designated as Unrestricted Type-D free agents (see Section 2.4—Contract status definitions). Unrestricted Type-D's may also be signed during the season on a first come, first serve basis (generally this should be done by notifying the Commissioner in Slack)

  • Marginal players (non-starters, generally) released by MLB teams may be signed as well, subject to the Commissioner’s approval, if they played in the real-life PCL, and/or were born in California, Oregon, or Washington. The Commissioner will typically disqualify any non-marginal MLB players and put them back on a MLB roster (OOTP, in defiance of logic, often releases good players while retaining marginal players).

1.4 Trades between two or more PCL teams

  • May violate Star Player slot limits (see Section 2.1—Star Player slots) if the trade is conducted during the regular season; any Star Player slot limit violations must be rectified immediately following the end of the postseason (i.e., any team that received a surplus of Stars in a trade must release players as necessary). A team which vacates a Star Player slot by trading away a player must wait at least one full off-season to become eligible to draft that player.

  • Will generally always be approved unless the Commissioner deems them extremely lopsided or an attempt to circumvent a rule

1.5 Trades between a PCL and a NL or AL team

  • May not violate Star Player slot limits (see Section 2.1—Star Player slots 

  • Should not, except in very rare cases, involve stars, and should generally not have long-term effects (e.g., except in extraordinary cases, you can’t trade for a MLB player who was a starter for several seasons). PCL teams are expected to address their major roster needs in the draft or by trading with other PCL teams. 

  • Must be approved by the Commissioner 

  • The Commissioner will act as an advocate for the NL/AL team, and will consider all relevant criteria as if the NL/AL team were a team in our league, including value-for-value, “real world” plausibility, and “crystal ball” ramifications 

  • Trades involving the Commissioner’s team (Angels) can be vetoed by any other member of the league

1.6 Roster miscellany

  • Placing a player on the 60-day DL takes him temporarily off his team’s roster. That team may sign a free agent to replace him.

  • When the injured player comes off the DL the roster limits must be observed (meaning players must be released as necessary) When a player is acquired via trade, he stays with his new team for the duration he would have been with the team that traded him (see Section 2.3—Contracts)

2 Free Agent Draft basics

The Free Agent draft is conducted outside of OOTP. We do not use OOTP’s financial system. There are rules that prevent teams from having too many stars, and rules that make it difficult for teams to have too few.

A list of players eligible to be drafted is updated and made available before each season. The current list is here; may not be current if draft is not in progress).

2.1 Star Player slots

Teams have six slots to hold players designated as Stars. Each team has one Negro League Star slot, one Regional Star slot, two PCL Star slots, and two Flex slots (Exception: see Section 3.1—Parity Rule).

  • Negro League Star slot—holds a star player from the Negro Leagues 

  • Regional Star slot—holds a star Major League player born or schooled in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, or Wyoming. 

  • Minor League Star slot—holds a player who was on a PCL team and left to go to another minor league team in real life (any minor league team, PCL or otherwise; Minor League Star slots cannot be used to retain players who went to MLB).

  • Flex slot—can be used for any of the following:

    • a Negro League Star

    • a Regional Star

    • a Minor League Star

    • a player going from a PCL team to a MLB team who does not qualify as Regional (he is eligible to be drafted only by his most recent PCL team, and only in the draft that immediately follows the player’s last year with the real-life PCL team).

Players may be shifted from one Star Player slot to another, as long as they qualify for that slot.

2.2 Other player designations

  • Buddy—Competent Negro League player (not a star) who may be selected whenever a team drafts a Negro League Star player during the draft. Buddies may also be exchanged during the draft for free agent Buddies. There is no limit to how many Buddies a team may have (they can be traded without restriction), but a team that already has one Buddy for each Negro League Star on its roster does not get an additional Buddy when it drafts a Negro League Star.

  • Freebie—Generally, a player has been added to the draft by the Commissioner specifically to be drafted as a Freebie, or who has been released by a PCL or MLB team. Not all players who are released become Freebies (See Section 1.3—Post-Draft Free Agent Signings and Section 3.2—Star Player Release Rule). For additional information on Freebies, see Section 2.4—Contract status definitions.

2.3 Contracts

  • Negro League players (including Buddies) have lifetime contracts; so do Major League players who are in Regional Star slots or Flex slots. They stay with their teams unless they are traded or released, or until they retire. 

  • Players in Minor League Star slots (or minor league players in Flex slots) sign contracts that last for as long as the player’s real-life stint in the minor leagues (or until he retires in our league). 

  • Other PCL players (those who aren’t in Minor League Star slots) have contracts that last for the length of the player’s stay on a real-life PCL team. Whenever he changed teams in real-life, his contract is up. 

  • MLB players who aren’t in Flex or Regional Star slots (Freebies, generally) have contracts that last as long as their real-life MLB career. Exception: a player who has significant gaps in his real-life MLB career signs shorter contracts. He gets a new contract each time he goes from the majors to the minors or vice-versa.

2.4 Contract status definitions

  • Under Contract (player is shown in GREEN on the Excel sheets)

    • The player was on that real-life team this year and is not eligible to be retained by another team, OR

    • The player is occupying a Star Player slot, OR

    • The player has been acquired via draft, trade, compensation, etc.

  • Free Agent Type-A (player is shown in PURPLE on the Excel sheets)
    • The player is a draft-eligible Star Player from the Negro Leagues or Major Leagues

  • Free Agent Type-B (player is shown in RED on the Excel sheets)
    • The player was on that real-life team this year but is eligible to be retained by another team (he was on their real-life team last year, or was acquired by them). A Type-B Free Agent may be retained by his previous team only by using a Minor League Star or Flex slot. If his previous team declines to do so, he goes to the team he was on that year in real life. Retaining a Type-B Free Agent with a Star Player slot requires the team retaining the player to compensate the team that would otherwise have gotten him (see Section 3.4—Compensation).

  • Free Agent Type-C (player is shown in BLUE on the Excel sheets)
    • The player was on a PCL team last year but is eligible to be drafted by another team (his “contract” with his most recent team has run out). A Type-C Free Agent may be drafted by any team using a Minor League Star or Flex slot. If no other team drafts him, he remains with his previous team (as long as they have room for him, or unless he is released).

  • Free Agent Type-D (player is shown in BROWN on the Excel sheets) 
    • An eligible player who has been released, or who has been made eligible as a Freebie by the Commissioner. 
    • There are two types of Type-D free agents.
      • Unrestricted Type-D free agents may be signed and used in any manner the GM chooses, without penalty.
      • Restricted Type-D free agents must become starters when signed. The penalty for signing a Restricted Type-D free agent and not starting him is the loss of a premium Star Player slot (Negro League, Regional, or Flex) for two years. A pitcher chosen as a Restricted Type-D free agent must receive at least 25 starts to avoid the penalty. A position player chosen as a Restricted Type-D free agent must start 125 games to avoid the penalty. Injuries will be taken into account.
    • Buddies are brown on the Excel sheets as well, even though they’re not technically Freebies (you need to draft a Negro League Star to get one). They are similar to Freebies in that they do not require a Star Player slot.

3 Additional roster/draft rules

3.1 Parity Rule

Teams will temporarily gain or lose one or two Star Player slots when their previous season’s record is above or below a certain percentage. A team that is compelled to drop a Star Player or Players may choose which Star Player(s) they drop.

  • Teams with a winning pct. of .650 and above will lose two Star Player slots;

  • Teams with a winning pct. between .615 and .649 will lose one Star Player slot;

  • Teams with a winning pct. between .375 and .399 will gain one Star Player slot; and

  • Teams with a winning pct. of .374 and below will gain two Star Player slots.

This penalty/relief only lasts for as long as the team qualifies (it would be rare for a team to qualify in consecutive seasons), so when a team loses a Star Player slot, they will generally get it back the following season.

Teams that are compelled to drop players under this rule do so before the draft begins. Those players are eligible to be drafted by other teams.

The Commissioner’s team (LA) forever waives its claim to the “welfare” portion of the Parity Rule. When the Angels are good, they may lose a slot; when they’re bad, they are exempt from gaining one.

3.2 Star Player Release Rule

Players who were occupying Star Player slots prior to being released do not become Freebies. Major League and Negro League players who are released from Star Player slots are eligible to be drafted by other teams as Type-A free agents (they still require an appropriate Star Player slot). A player who is released from a Minor League Star slot goes to his real-life PCL team (if he had one); otherwise he becomes a Type-C free agent (with no attached matching rights; see Section 3.6—Matching rights).

3.3 Star Player Status Downgrade Option

A team that has an aging Star player who is both near the end of his real-life career and no longer substantially more productive than a replacement player may petition to have that player’s Star Player status removed (thus keeping him on the team while freeing up a Star Player slot for a younger, more valuable player). It is at the Commissioner’s discretion whether the conditions “near the end of his real-life career” and “no longer substantially more productive than a replacement player are met prior to approval.

3.4 “Overslotting”

A Minor League Star slot has slightly less value than the other types of Star slots because in all but the most extremely unorthodox cases, players who are typically drafted to fill Negro League Star and Regional Star slots are better players than those who were only eligible to fill Minor League Star slots.

There are times when “overslotting” a player—holding him in a slot that is more valuable than one for which he is eligible—is desirable. Overslotting is legal.

An example of when overslotting would be desirable: A player (in real life) was in the Major Leagues but went to the PCL briefly, then returned to MLB and had a stellar career. A team may have drafted him using a Regional slot during the first leg of his MLB career, and during the time he is supposed to go to the PCL the team may not have a vacant Minor League Star slot for him. The team may choose to keep him in the more valuable Regional slot during the time he would otherwise be going to a rival PCL team (they would still need to compensate that team; see Section 3.5—Compensation).

3.5 Compensation

When a team uses a Minor League Star or Flex slot to retain a Type-B free agent who was bound for another PCL team, it must compensate that team with the player’s real-life replacement.

  • Sometimes there will only be one reasonable candidate for the “real-life replacement” (e.g. starting catcher for starting catcher); however, if it’s an outfielder or a pitcher, or a player who split time between two or more positions, some choice will be involved. Whenever possible, the compensatory player must be comparable to the slotted player in real-life playing time for that year.  If the slotted player had 700 AB, a player who had only 300 is not legitimate compensation. The two players need not be comparable in quality (and typically they would not be, as that would entail an unwise use of a Star Player slot). 

  • Compensation is necessary each year that the slotted player changed PCL teams in real life. The compensation would occur prior to the draft each year the player changed PCL teams. As some players played for many different PCL teams, this may eventually become too costly for the team that slotted the player; at any time, they may give up the player to the appropriate historical team rather than compensate (see Section 3.2—Star Player Release Rule)

  • No compensation is necessary for retaining a Type-B free agent who is bound for a non-PCL minor league.

3.6 Matching rights

In certain situations one team is given preference over another team in free agent signings.

  • When a Type-A free agent is slated to go from a PCL team to the major leagues, any team may draft him, but the team for whom he most recently played may “match” the other PCL team’s offer and retain the player (they need an open Star Player slot to do this; if they don’t have one, they may release a player from a Star Player slot to free one up)

  • A Type-B free agent may be retained by the team for whom he most recently played if that team offers him a Star Player slot. However, the team for which was otherwise destined (i.e., the team he played for in real life that year), may "match" the offer of a Star Player slot, in which case he will go to his real-life team.

  • A Type-C free agent may return to the team for whom he most recently played, no Star Player slot is required. However, another team may also draft him using a Flex or Minor League Star slot; in this case the team for whom he most recently played has the option to retain him by “matching the offer” (i.e. placing the player in a Star Player slot).

3.7 “Cup of Coffee” major leaguers

A player who went from a PCL team to a MLB team becomes a Type-A free agent if he meets at least one of these requirements:

  • Had at least 100 AB or 100 IP in MLB during the upcoming season, OR

  • Stayed in the majors for at least three consecutive seasons

If he fails to meet either of these requirements he becomes a “Type-C” free agent (or a Freebie, if the Commissioner deems him suitably sub-par).

3.8 Star Player slot reduction 1927–

As a measure to reduce the number of superstars in the league and to bring the level of competition in the PCL closer to that of MLB, each PCL team will go from having three Flex slots to having just two. As a parity measure, some will get to keep theirs a little longer than others. Teams that have been more successful during the league’s first seven years will lose theirs first.

  • Prior to the 1927 draft, the two teams with the best overall record from 1921 to 1926, Portland and Los Angeles, will lose their third Flex slot.

  • Following 1927, the two teams with the next highest W/L pct. over the seven years will each lose their third Flex slot.

  • At that point half the teams in the league will have lost the slot. From this point on one team a year will lose their third Flex slot until each team has lost one.

    • Exception: if a team makes the playoffs and hasn’t yet lost their third Flex slot, they immediately lose it at the conclusion of the postseason.

  • The existing Parity Rule is suspended during this time, as it would just add confusion. The Parity Rule will be reinstated when all teams are down to two Flex slots.

4 Player development procedures/rules

The OOTP option “Player Development” is activated for this league, but we have procedures that limit the extent to which Player Development affects players.

4.1 Reset-eligible players

Some players are “safe” from the OOTP player development engine wreaking too much havoc with their careers. Players who meet certain criteria will be reset by the Commissioner prior to each season if their performance ratings dip below a certain level (details here.)

4.2 Commissioner override

Sometimes a player meets the real-life minimum requirement (100 IP or 100 AB) for eligibility in the league, but has a limited statistical record that, in the Commissioner’s opinion, would produce unrealistically good ratings for the player if he was rated purely based on his statistics. The Commissioner may choose to “dumb-down” the player’s ratings. This is to discourage GMs from using marginal players as if they were stars.

The Commissioner might also, in rare cases, choose to “enhance” a player’s ratings to encourage his use. Typically this would be a player who was a long-time regular in the PCL but whose real-life stats are less impressive (perhaps misleadingly, due to park effects or other factors).

Players affected by this Commissioner override will be marked with a (CO) next to their names on the Excel sheets.

5 GM duties

Not much in the way of hard and fast rules here, just a few things that are expected of those brave souls who deign to be called GMs in this league:

  • GMs are expected to make fairly regular team exports. GMs should notify the Commissioner whenever they know they will be unable to make regular exports. If a GM misses several exports in a row without explanation, the Commissioner will nag him with annoying e-mails.

  • GMs are expected to be aware of what is going on with their team, and to make necessary adjustments (e.g. using the disabled list, using the reserve roster, making decisions regarding unproductive players, initiating trades/responding to trade proposals, expanding the roster on Sept. 1, etc.).

  • GMs are expected to know (or at least want to learn) a little bit about:

    • the era in which we’re playing (i.e. the differences between the way baseball was played then and the way baseball is played now)

    • the historical PCL

    • Negro League stars

  • GMs are expected to make an attempt to manage their teams as appropriate to the era and to the real-life stature of their individual players

  • We are still figuring the best settings to direct OOTP to use a pitching staff in the most 1920’s way possible. The current wisdom follows; the first bullet point is mandatory; the others are highly recommended:

    • Mandatory: At least a 5-man rotation (6-man in a week with two or more doubleheaders)

    • Use “Always start highest rested” or “Strict, on occasion highest rested” (never “Strict Order”).

    • Allow SP in Relief

    • A 7- or 8-man staff is usually sufficient (except in Salt Lake City)

    • If you use 7-day lineups, do NOT put pitchers in the lineup, and make sure “Allow sub if starter is tired” is selected

6 Miscellaneous rules/procedures

6.1 Reserving Star Players from PCL Mk I (1921 Draft only)

(Note: this rule existed only at the time of this league’s initial draft. The rule can no longer be invoked, but its long-term effects are still in play.)

  • Each team was able to reserve a maximum of two Star players from the league's previous incarnation.

  • Each reserved player filled a slot (Negro League Star, Regional Star, or Flex, whichever applied). Non-Regional MLB players did not qualify.

  • Reservations had to be announced prior to the start of the 1921 draft. 1921 was the only year GMs were able to reserve players from the league’s previous incarnation.

    • If the player was eligible in the 1921 draft, he became his team's first round pick in the draft. If the team reserved two eligible players, they become the team's first and second round picks in the draft.

    • If the player was not eligible in the 1921 draft (i.e., his real life career started after 1921), he will become his team's first round pick in the year he becomes eligible. In the meantime, that slot has been “reserved” for him; it can’t be used for anybody else. The slot will not be available until the reserved player becomes eligible and fills it.

6.2 Negro League player eligibility

Negro League players won’t be added to the Free Agent Draft eligibility list until their second year in Negro League ball. This is to simulate the lack of an established system to scout black players for a newly-integrated PCL; scouts would not have the knowledge or resources to locate the best amateur African-American players, and would only become aware of a black player once he was already playing in the Negro Leagues.

6.3 Postseason

With this league representing an evolving alt-history, the postseason setup will not mimic that of real-life, and will change formats from time to time. A change in postseason formats will always be announced prior to the regular season. Currently, the first-place team in the PCL plays the second-place team in a seven-game series for the Governor’s Cup. The PCL champion does not play the AL or NL champion (yet!).

6.4 Park Factors

We have some park factor data on historical Pacific Coast League parks (more on some than on others), and most of our parks use the data we have, but we do allow GMs to customize their parks if they so choose, within the following guidelines:

  • Overall AVG factor must be between .950 and 1.050

  • Overall HR factor must be between .500 and 1.500

  • Maximum split difference between RHB and LHB factors for AVG: .050

  • Maximum split difference between RHB and LHB factors for HR: .300

  • Park factor changes must be submitted prior to Spring Training

I have found that in OOTP park factors give the most accurate results when a league’s park factors average 1.000. To achieve this, if any park changes its park factors, all parks must adjust theirs as well. The park factors you submit will as a result not be the ones that are entered into the game, but will be adjusted proportionately along with the league’s other parks to achieve a league average of 1.000.