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Rule Changes for 2015

Benchwarmer Baseball Rules Index

As the season and then off season progresses, check here for the latest changes to rules

Last update:  June 2, 2015

The written version of the rule book is also available, but it is a few years old.  If there is a conflict, the online version is now the guide.

Here are the last rule changes in 2014 ...

Listing of all rules changes

Comment on Rules Changes for Lineups

Added 1/11/15

Over the years there have been requests for rule changes on game lineups with respect to:

  • Allowing a bench player to fill in the lineup for a starter who just appears in their MLB game and doesn't have any ABs (or only 1 for many requesters)
  • Allowing a multiposition player in the starting lineup OTHER than the DH fill in at other positions beyond the listed position in the order to prevent a Benchwarmer Batter

I'm looking into the feasibility of these things - as well as fixing the "Call up" rule in Weeks 23-25 to allow for treating minor leaguers as normal bench players and not just filling in the leftover gaps after the bench process is done.

This is a significant rewrite of program code to set lineups and I can't go into the season announcing some sort of change and not sure that I can change and test the lineup-setting code.  So, here's what I'll do -

  • I will try to fit in time in January and February to rewrite and test the code (I've already marked up what needs to change and how I think it can work)
  • I need to keep the game running normally otherwise - running Redistribution and Startup Drafts, trying to fix the bouncing email problems, and making other site improvements and fixes.
  • If I'm not ready by March 1 (unless REALLY close) then we'll shelve the changes for 2015 and check into it for 2016
  • I reserve the right to not implement changes even if it is technically feasible.  Again, March 1 is the intended decision point.

My ideas of the possible changes:

  • The lineup slot of a starting player with zero official AB and no other positive offensive contribution (walk, HBP, run, RBI) will be treated as an open lineup spot.  The player will be moved to the bottom of the bench, so can be put back in to prevent a Benchwarmer Batter if the spot can't be filled.  Right now I'm leaning toward keeping a player with no official AB but commits an error in the lineup.
  • For multipostion players, if after normal lineup/bench processes a position is filled by a Benchwarmer Batter and a starter could switch positions and the bench rearranged to prevent the Benchwarmer, we'll make the switch - but won't consider those extra positions for starters if all 9 spots can be filled via the existing bench process.

1.0 Basics

Entry Fee and Prizes

Modified 12/23/14

See the full rule

Updated 8/16/14: Some changes and clarifications:

  • Basic entry fee now $65.
  • The new "rookie rate" for first-time owners and their first team will remain $35 in 2015.
  • The multi-team discount will be changed to a single amount for all owners (no distinction between owners who joined before/after 2007).  The discount will increase for most owners from $10 to $20.
    • 2014 Price for 2 teams: $60 first team, $50 second team = $110
    • 2015 Price for 2 teams: $65 first team, $45 second team = $110
  • Package rates and Group pricing will also increase for 2015
    • 16-team league = $650
    • 8-team conference = $390
    • 4-team division = $195
  • Season Ticket ($295) and Cooperstown Club ($1000) prices will remain unchanged for 2015.

Updated 12/23/14: Prize for division champions increase from $10 discount in next season's fee to $20.  Conference champion that does not win the league title gets a bump in prize from $10 to $30 in the discount of next season's team fee.


Referral bonus increased as a 2015 Special from $10 to a free team.

4.0 Rosters

Injured Reserve

Added 12/12/14 - Modified 12/23/14

See the full rule

Transaction Charge for IR Moves

Injured Reserve was added as a means to hold on to a player the remainder of a season and not have it count against the 40-man roster limit, particularly if a player's salary was too high to allow him to go to the minors.  There's no actual requirement for a player to be injured - this brings up timing issues and based on how BWB collects stats and tracks player transactions/status there's no practical (and, primarily, affordable) way to keep immediately current with injury status.  In practice, this for many owners has become a legal loophole in the rules to add a 41st roster spot - players are put here first before cutting them as a hedge.  Then maybe traded away or cut with no penalty (other than a slight reduction in the player's salary rebate for the cut).  That wasn't really the intention of the rule and for some owners this is really a revolving door - with a player put on IR one week and then cut the next week in order for someone else to be put on IR.   There's a significant amount of overhead for BWB to process IR moves - largely in checking no other player is on IR or is also cut that week and verification of the "Inj" lineup status.


Starting with the 2015 season, there is a transaction charge of 250,000 Benchwarmer Bucks (250) to put a player on IR.  If a player is on IR for 11 or more weeks or still on the roster/IR at season end, the transaction charge will be refunded after the season. Subtract the transaction week of the IR move from the transaction week of the cut; if 11 or greater, there will be a refund.  Since we're adding a Week 26 Cut/IR transaction in 2015, "still on the roster at season end" means still there after the Week 26 transactions are processed.

For examples:

  • Move to IR Week 14, Cut Week 24 = 10 - so no refund
  • Move to IR Week 13; Cut Week 25 = 11 - refund
  • Move to IR Week 22; Cut Week 26 = NOT on the roster at season end - no refund
  • Move to IR Week 24 and still on the roster Week 27 = refund

Clarification on 12/23/14: The above paragraph and examples were updated to provide the refund of the transaction fee if the player was on IR for fewer than 11 weeks but was still on the roster at season end (Week 27).


Clarification on 6/2/15: Once a team is eligible for the fee refund, it will receive the cash rather than get the refund "after the season."

5.0 Lineups

Rest Between Starts

Added 7/18/14

See the full rule

Reset rotation at the "All Star Break" (Week 16)

Often MLB teams will use the four days of the All Star Break to reset their rotations.  After 15 weeks of signings and releases, injuries, and trades, your BWB rotation may be in a complete mess.  For Week 16 lineups, you can reorder your complete rotation without worrying about how many games of rest from one start to the next.  For BWB Games 91-95, the 5 games of rest will not be used to disallow a starting pitching performance if the previous start occurred in Game 90 or earlier (so, for example, the same pitcher cannot work Games 92 and 94, but a pitcher could pitch Game 89 during Week 15 and then again in 92 during Week 16).


There are still restrictions on statistics dates when moving pitchers from spot starter, minor leagues, or taxi squad into the primary rotation.  That does not change.


This is right at a break in the rotation where P5 has 2 starts in Week 15 and P1 has 2 starts in Week 16.  There's no advantage to be gained here for any pitcher in the number of starts for the remainder of the season.  From Weeks 16 through 25, each rotation slot will come up 12 more times.

7.0 Scoring

Pitching Score

Added 12/12/14

After a correction of the rulebook in 2014 for saves (but not an actual scoring change), I realized there was a conceptual error in pitching score formula.  The fix is in the saves part of the formula. 

The main formula line is: P = ER + (BP * BI) a ( K + BK) ((b * S) / NumBP * BI) + HBB  + c (E)


  • ER = number of earned runs allowed by starting pitcher
  • BP = Derived Bullpen earned runs - defined below
  • BI = Number of innings pitched by the bullpen defined below
  • NumBP = Number of Relievers used in the game - see below
  • K = Strikeouts by starting pitcher
  • BK = Derived bullpen strikeouts defined below
  • S = Accumulated saves by 1st and 2nd relievers (counted only if they are used in a game)
  • HBB = Hits/Walks adjustment - defined below
  • E = Total errors by position players, other than the DH. (Benchwarmer Batters make 2 errors).
  • a = strikeout multiplier = .1
  • b = saves multiplier = .25
  • c = errors multiplier = .5

Here's the Saves portion of the formula: ((b * S) / NumBP * BI)

The idea with dividing the number of saves by the number of pitchers was this...if you only have one relief pitcher participating in a game, you're at a disadvantage if your opponent has 2 pitchers tallying saves.  But where this is possibly flawed is that you only get saves from your top two relievers...so if you have all 5 relievers in play, your saves are divided by 5.  This is counteracted by multiplying by the number of innings the bullpen pitches, but that's also a potential issue.

Let's just say you have two closers each contribute 3 saves to your game stats.  Any saves from relievers 3-5 are not counted.

  • If your starting pitcher goes 7 innings, you have 2 relievers and 2 bullpen innings - that's (.25 * 6)/2 * 2 = 1.5
  • SP goes 6 innings - 3 relievers, 3 bullpen innings: (.25 * 6)/3 *3 = 1.5
  • SP goes 5 innings - 4 relievers, 4 bullpen innings (.25 * 6)/4 * 4 = 1.5

See the pattern?  At this point the number of relievers and bullpen total innings are cancelling each other out.  Then what if your starting pitcher goes 5 1/3 inning - that's still 4 relievers, but only 3 2/3 bullpen innings:

  • (.25 * 6)/4 * 3.67 = 1.37625

Now because your starter logged one more out, your save score suffers.  It's a similar penalty if you have only one closer who is needed for 1/3 of an inning as opposed to a full inning.

So - two things: First, eliminate the bullpen total innings in the calculation of the saves score.  Second, base the save score on the number of closers (1 or 2) used since those are the only pitchers tallying saves.  Instead of saves per relief pitcher, we calculate saves per closer.  Finally, since we've eliminated the final multiplication in the formula, the "saves multiplier" needs to be increased so that the saves portion of the pitching formula has equivalent weight to what it has before.


The result (saves portion of the formula only): (b * S) / NumCl


  • NumCl = Number of Closers used in the game - see below
  • S = Accumulated saves by 1st and 2nd relievers (counted only if they are used in a game)
  • b = saves multiplier = .5

If you use 2 closers who tally 6 saves: (.5 * 6)/2 = 1.5 - the same value as before...and the save score is now consistent no matter how many relievers are used beyond the closers and how many total innings they are needed for the game.


Which saves to count?  What if your closer is demoted?  Changes in closer roles can be quick and you may not be able to change your lineup in time.  It could be an injury or could just be a manager's decision.  So, if one of your top two relief pitchers used do not have any save opportunities in the 6 games of bullpen stats used to score a BWB game, we'll check with your 3rd pitcher in line to see if he had any saves.

  • We use this on the top 2/3 relievers used in the game.  If one of your closers doesn't pitch at all in those 6 games, we're already moving up the other relievers in the lineup/game scoring.  If your R2 is out, then the R3 moves up and is the R2 in terms of that game, your R4 moves up to be considered R3.
  • Based on our MLB stats, "save opportunities" = 0 Saves + 0 Blown Saves
  • This is not reordering your bullpen.  If your R1 has no save opportunities, we still must get to using R2 and R3 in the game before we count their saves.
  • Even if we get down to the 3rd reliever in this case, the "number of Closers" (NumCl in the score formula) is maxxed at 2.

8.0 Finances

Team Revenue Sources

Added 5/7/14

See the full rule

Regular season - Team Performance

Some updates in how much cash is awarded for BWB wins and division placement.

Wins: Teams will receive $30,000 $50,000 per win in a week.

Position: Teams will receive funds based upon their position in the division standings at the end of the week.  Here's where we help keep teams alive - as the money is allocated in reverse order:

  • 4th place - $105,000 $150,000
  • 3rd place - $70,000 $75,000
  • 2nd place - $35,000 $25,000
  • 1st place - $0

Regular season - Extra Cash Disbursements

There had been an extra 1 million BW bucks distributed each at the end of May, June, and July.  That will be changed to just a single distribution of 1 million at the end of July.

Maximum Cash Balances

Added 5/7/14

See the full rule

Teams are limited to 5000 to carry over into the new season, checked at the Week Zero transaction point.  There are two more exceptions added to this rule:

Exceptions for First-year Owners

The maximum cash balance limit will not be enforced for owners of orphaned teams who have just joined Benchwarmer Baseball and in his/her first season.  First, depending on league, there may be few opportunities to spend cash on quality free agents.  Second, to require someone to sign players to multiyear contracts to use up cash before they even start playing the game is a source of confusion/error.

Exceptions for Late Orphan Assignments

Any team that is adopted as an Orphan team where the extra orphan cash is credited in Week -2, Week -1, or Week Zero will not be held to the maximum cash balance since they may have not had enough time to spend the money or sign enough free agents to rebuild the team.


9.0 Building a Team - The Startup Draft

Added 1/11/15

See the full rule

Phase One Draft - Resolution

There are a number of changes in the process, designed to provide more control for owners in a list-draft atmosphere

Contested Pick - Resolution Process and Tiebreakers

Award Order

Players that have been drafted by more than one team will be compiled into a list sorted in this order - with a new item at the top of the list for 2015

  1. NEW in 2015: Players given a #1 Rank by any team (sorted in descending order of the most teams ranking at the top)
  2. Players drafted by the most teams.
  3. Players with the highest salaries.
  4. Numerically, by position number in baseball scoring (OF  = 7, DH = 8 in this case)
  5. Alphabetical by player's last name.
Tiebreakers for resolution when more than one team picks the same player


  1. The team with the most room under the salary cap. Another way to put this is the lowest total salary of all awarded players.   (Total team salary is an initial rough guide to team strength).
  2. The team with the fewest signed players in that category (position player, starting pitcher, or relief pitcher), based upon the primary position designated for that player.
  3. The team with the fewest total number of signed players.
  4. The team without a qualifying starter at that position (based on the player's primary position on the master roster).
  5. Player ranking.
  6. Random drawing



  1. NEW in 2015: The team that bid the most tie-breaking cash for the player. (SEE BELOW)
  2. The team with the lowest total salary of all awarded players.   (Total team salary is an initial rough guide to team strength).
  3. The team with the fewest total number of signed players.
  4. Player ranking.
  5. Random drawing
Cash Bids to Break Ties in Player Awards

NEW in 2015: This is a new method to provide a little blind "auction" action into the list draft process.  It's desgined to give owners a bit more say into which players they are awarded.

  • Along with ranking players, team owners can do another optional step to attempt to get the players they really want and bypass the other tiebreakers.  They can bid an extra amount of cash for a player on top of the player's salary.
  • Teams are limited to a total of 5000 (5 million) in cash for auction bidding.
  • Bids can only be placed in increments of 500.
  • Teams still can pick a draft list that uses the entire amount of the salary cap.  Between Phase One and Phase Two of the draft, all teams are awarded an extra ten million in cash (10000).  Any cash spent via bid awards will come out of that between-phase cash distribution.  So, for example, if a team uses all 5000 in auction cash during Phase One, they will only receive 5000 before Phase Two.
  • If more than one team places a cash bid on a player, the team that bids the highest amount gets the player.
    • If more that one team ties for the highest bid, those tied bidding teams go on to the remaining award tiebreakers.  All other teams are out of the running for that player.
    • Only the team that wins the bid will have cash deducted.
    • The full amount of the bid will be deducted, regardless of margin over the other teams.  If one team bids 4000 for a player and the next highest bidder put up only 500, then 4000 is the amount paid.
  • Auction cash spent will NOT count toward the team's total salary.  For other tiebreakers that depend on total team salary or for rearranging draft order in Phase Two, the total salary of all players and not the team's remaining cash on hand will be the deciding factor.
Elimination of the Exception for Commissioner Teams

Previous Rule, now eliminated:

 If the Commissioner/League Office has a team in the league and it is involved in step 6 (now step 5, the random drawing), it is not considered for the random drawing until at least 8 players have already been awarded.


Comment - there are so few random draws anymore and so many other tiebreaking factors before even getting to the draw that this is *almost* rendered pointless.  Coming into 2015, I've got just 2 league championships in 15 calendar years and 120 league-seasons, so I hope it's pretty clear by now I'm not stacking the deck in my favor.

12.0 Off Season Procedures

Redistribution Draft

Added 12/2/14

See the full rule

Change for 2015:  After each round of the draft, Benchwarmer Baseball will post the results of that round and then reopen the list for all teams to change their lists for subsequent rounds.  Teams should submit complete lists through Round 5 (that allows for players to move up as needed).  If an owner does not change the list between weeks, the existing draft list remains as is.

Waiver Order - Week Zero and First two weeks of the regular season

See the full rule

In a 2015 change, the transaction order for leagues will be reset to the original off season order (for returning leagues) and reverse order of team total salary (for new leagues) in Week Zero instead of Week One.

14.0 Schedule and Deadlines

Added 12/9/14 and 12/12/14

See the full rule

These dates are scattered around in various places around the rules pages and other spots in the website.  We'll add some listing of the major dates to keep in mind (trade deadline, contract deadline, etc.).


Contract and Trade Deadlines

Meanwhile, some of the game deadlines will be changed from date-based to being tied to specific game weeks.  This will provide consistent timing from year to year and will server to make the trade deadline a bit earlier than in previous seasons.  With the annual normal change in calendar dates/days of the week plus movable MLB Opening Days (March 31 in 2014, April 6 in 2015) there is considerable shift from year to year.

Event Old Deadline New Deadline
Contract deadline Final transaction date in July Week 17
Trade deadline Final transaction date in August Week 20

In past seasons, the contract deadline has been typically Week 17 or 18.  The trade deadline has been around Week 21 or 22 depending on the calendar/MLB season.


Week 26 Transactions - Cuts and IR moves allowed

Teams may still be more in tune in Week 25 on the lineup for the final 6 games of the season rather than planning ahead for the playoffs.  But when the season is done and playoff lineups need to be set, the move away from expanded rosters may cause some issues in fielding a complete lineup.  So we'll add a cut/IR subsmission (just like in Week 25) for Week 26 that will allow players to be moved off the active roster for the playoffs.

16.0 Multi-year Contracts

Added 12/8/14

See the full rule

There is no change in the process of signing players to multi-year contracts or the rate of salary increase per year (33%), but, last changed in 2004, the minimum salary levels will increase for years 1-3 of the contract.  There is no change for years 4 and 5.  The minimum salary levels are listed below:

Player signed for: Cost: Old Minimum Salary New Minimum Salary Old Contract Total (minimum) New Contract Total (minimum)
2016 2015 Salary $250,000 $500,000 $250,000 $500,000
2017 2016 + 33% $1,250,000 $1,750,000 $1,500,000 $2,250,000
2018 2017 + 33% $2,500,000 $3,250,000 $4,000,000 $5,500,000
2019 2018 + 33% $4,000,000 $4,000,000 $8,000,000 $9,500,000
2020 2019 + 33% $6,000,000 $6,000,000 $14,000,000 $15,500,000


New in 2015: A contract "maximum" - The first year of any contract extension (for the following season) will still be the current season's salary or defined minimum.  But in years 2-5, the maximum salary charged for an extension will be 9 million Benchwarmer Bucks.


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