Roto 500 Fantasy Baseball Draft


On Sunday I took part in the inaugural Roto 500 fantasy draft.The draft took place at the swank Real Sports Bar & Grill. To be honest, the bar wasn’t an ideal place to hold a fantasy draft (somewhat crowded & loud), although I understand the logic of hosting the inaugural draft in a premier location & setting. Numerous fantasy experts (and one writer) took part in the draft.


Roto 500 is the brainchild of fantasy baseball expert/guru Ron Shandler ( Many of you will know Ron from his annual Baseball Forecaster publications or his featured role in the book ‘Fantasy Land’.

Roto 500 itself is an experimental fantasy model, a hybrid of auction and snake format drafting, an altered 4×4 scoring format and a 40 man roster (23 active, max 17 reserve), with an overall budget of $500 and playing under keeper rules.

League Scoring Categories

(Runs + RBI) – HR

(Saves + Holds) – Blown Saves

Player valuation is based upon two-year performance, balanced against a league budgeting valuation of $400 (instead of the $500 per team cap). $400 is used instead of $500 to allow for in-season free agent budgeting.

Player Valuation: For example, Albert Pujols earned $54 in 2009 & $49 in 2010. Together this total = $103. Divide by two (and always round up) and his 2011 Roto 500 price is $52.


Various players such as Albert are considered to be priced at market value. Others such as Jose Bautista ($6 in 2009, $39 in 2010 for a list price of $23) could be considered undervalued, and disappointments such as Jason Bartlett ($28 in 2009, $6 in 2010 for a list of $17) are considered overpriced. All players considered rookie eligible had a set price of $10.

The draft took place in a standard snake format with one twist thrown in. Each team is allowed a total of three “steals or toppers”. The easiest way to explain this wriggle is by using an example from the draft.


By the grace of a random number generator, I selected third in the draft. With the format, scoring and some strategy by managers one & two, Albert Pujols slide to 3rd overall.

I ‘selected’ Albert at #3 for the price of $52. This opened the floor for other managers to bid upon and ‘steal’ my selection. A number of bids went back and forth between managers. The eventual winner of the auction phase bid $72.

As the original ‘selector’ of the pick, I had the option to use one of my three “steals or toppers”. Since I originally put Pujols on the block, I used a topper to draft Albert at the price of $1 over the final bid up price. Thus he’s on my team for a price of $73. The owner that bid him up to $72 is not charged with one of his three “steal or topper” picks, as he did not procure the player.

A total of 12 players went for over $50. The majority of “steal or topper” picks were used up by the middle of round three. From there the draft turned into a traditional snake draft, although with budgetary considerations.

Looking back at the final draft results, I’m fairly happy with my team (although I did make a few mistakes here and there). Here’s my squad:

C: Posada
C: Torrealba
1B: Pujols
3B: A. Ramirez
CI: Branyan
2B: Pedroia
SS: Y. Escobar
MI: Nishioka
OF: Gardner
OF: Bourn
OF: Bruce
OF: Torres
OF: Raburn
U: Willingham

P: Halladay
P: J. Johnson
P: C. Buchholz
P: C. Lewis
P: I. Kennedy
P: H. Street
P: Chris Perez
P: B. League
P: J. Venters


Phil Coke
Fausto Carmona
Kyle McCleann
Jason McDonald
Takashi Saito
Kyle Farnsworth
David Robertson
Grant Balfour

Justin Smoak
Ty Wigginton

Amount Spent: $391
Amount Left: $109

Personal Draft Errors

I didn’t bring a laptop! Stupid mistake on my part. With this format, a laptop is a must.


I waited too long on drafting a quality C. I got caught up in the value/budget game, selecting Clay Buchholz for $11 ($1 in 2009, $21 in 2010) to compensate for my $73 Pujols. At this time Brian McCann was still on the board for $14.

I also waited too long on some sleeper level picks. I was one or two round too late on numerous value plays such as JJ Putz, Matt Joyce, etc. However this is bound to happen in any draft.

Expensive steals. Between Gardner & Bourn I spent $51 on steals.

I’ll field a decent squad that should be competitive in around five or six categories. And at the same point I didn’t end up punting anything. My $109 leftover budget will allow me to pick up some players during the regular season free agent period.

Format Fixes


It’s too early to comment on the $500 budget. However, many teams spent the bottom portion of the draft loading up on $10 keeper picks and even expensive list price players. The way the league is set-up, players can be dropped and 100% of their price goes back into that respective teams budget. For example, if I take a chance on a $29 Chone Figgins and he crashes & burns in the first few weeks of the season, I can drop him and get my $29 back. I’d like to see at least a 50% penalty for dropping a player. It’s not like the Mets earned a break when dropping Perez & Castillo

The draft purposely went without a clock. For future drafts I think a number of the early rounds should be off-clock (five or six), with the rest of the draft (when it essentially switches over to snake) being on clock.

These aren’t fixes but interesting areas to explore would be: changing the number of toppers, the ability to trade picks and the ability to trade or sell ‘steals or toppers’.



The Roto 500 format has promise. While its complexity could turn off the casual player, I could see the format turning into a popular advanced option for fantasy players in the coming years.

I’ll revisit my club and the league format itself halfway through the season. In the meantime you can follow us on Twitter, ‘fan us’ on facebook or subscribe to our RSS & E-mail feeds (top of page).

If you have any questions regarding the format, etc, I’ll do my best to answer them in the comments section.

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2 replies on “Roto 500 Fantasy Baseball Draft”
    1. says: matthias


      I like my top 3. Lewis & Kennedy in the back half is a nice luxury. My reserve picks (Coke, Carmona, McDonald & McClellan) all have upside. I should compete in ERA, W & K.

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