ROTISSERIE: A roto vet gives Scoresheet a try

Here at, we have a staff of fantasy veterans whose advice and insight is based on decades of experience with a particular fantasy format.

Not today.

Today, we will talk about one newbie's odyssey into a new format, his initial impressions, and his enthusiasm. And that newbie is me.

I've been playing Rotisserie baseball since Jamie Moyer was in Triple-A, and have always looked at Scoresheet as some sort of mix between Rotisserie and Dungeons and Dragons. I played Strat-o-Matic as a kid, but I didn't like that the players never changed. Real baseball players improved, declined, and stayed the same. Those little cards never varied. Like Strat-o-Matic, Scoresheet is a stimulation-based game, and I was skeptical. But the more I learned about it, the more I was intrigued.

The Format

(This is where veteran Scoresheet players can skip ahead.)

Like Rotisserie, Scoresheet is based on a team of real baseball players. But instead of adding up their production over the entire season, you play head-to-head against other teams, in three- or four-game series (thus, six to seven games in a week). The games are simulated using the actual production of your players from that week. This really makes it the ultimate fantasy format: you make out a lineup, you sit struggling players, and you decide who plays where. And real games!

Some other basic parameters are also important:

  • Defense counts. Quite a bit, in fact. Brendan Ryan isn't quite a rock star in Scoresheet, but he is much more valuable than in Rotisserie.
  • You have some flexibility in positions players play on the field (a non-1B infielder can play 2B, SS, or 3B, for instance), though it comes with a fielding range penalty. So one drafts a real "team" of position players, just like in the majors.
  • A player's playing time is limited to his PT during that week, so your bench plays a key role. Unlike Rotisserie, if a guy gets hurt on Monday, you don't lose a week worth of stats, as long as you have a capable backup.
  • Situational stats (RBI, saves, etc.) aren't important. Steals matter, but not as much as Rotisserie, where they are over-emphasized because of their scarcity.

The Strategy

Several things jumped out immediately in terms of strategy, and what makes Scoresheet different from Rotisserie.

  • Defense counts. We like Billy Butler and his 34 runs above replacement, but even at first base, he'll give a lot of those runs back with his glove. An average offensive player like Austin Jackson becomes much more valuable because of his strong defense.
  • Overloading will work. In Rotisserie, spending too much on pitching or on hitting can backfire; once you lead the league in homers, each additional home run has no value. In Scoresheet, runs are runs, and each additional run scored or prevented increases your odds of winning.
  • Depth is important. Having to put a 3B or 2B at shortstop for a week because you don't have an adequate backup could easily cost you a game or two.
  • Saves don't matter, but having relief pitchers with great skills does. You don't need a "closer," since you can designate any high-skill reliever in that role. Or you're free to go without a standard closer, if the thought of a committee doesn't scare you.

Lack of experience can be a good thing. Upon drafting my first team this fall for play in 2013, I was not tied to any particular strategy, and the only biases I brought to the draft table were Roto-related. So I tried to think outside the box, just a little bit. Skills still mattered, but roster construction and player valuation would be very different from my Rotisserie experience.

Playing in a league of mostly newbies, I expected that the draft would more closely follow the traditional path of hitter-heavy early rounds, so I decided to focus on pitching and defense. As noted above, a "San Francisco" strategy can work quite well in Scoresheet, and I expected to be able to combine good pitching values with defensive-oriented players who still provided offensive production. The strategy worked well, on paper, as I ended up with a powerhouse pitching staff and a lineup that has some upside and should be close to average. My defense isn't as good as I had hoped, but Brendan Ryan is still available.

In particular, my deadly bullpen should be able to shut down opponents after the 6th inning. My tentative lineup:

1. Dexter Fowler (RF)
2. David Murphy (LF)
3. Adrian Beltre (3B)
4. Paul Goldschmidt (1B)
5. Ike Davis (DH)
6. Dan Uggla (2B)
7. Wilin Rosario (C)
8. Trevor Plouffe (SS)
9. Austin Jackson (CF)

SP Stephen Strasburg
SP Madison Bumgarner
SP Hiroki Kuroda
SP Mike Minor
SP Vance Worley
RP Jonathan Papelbon
RP Kenley Jansen
CL Craig Kimbrel

So yes, I did note that "closers" were not as important as "high-skill relievers," then I went on to draft three "closers." However, Jansen, Papelbon, and Kimbrel are three of the highest-skill relievers in baseball, and closers in general fell to where they were very good values. The downside to taking closers instead of short relievers is the innings: short relievers are more likely to pitch in tie games or when down, and more likely to pitch multiple innings. But with three top relievers and a great starting staff, I'm not worried about that.

The lineup isn't all that exciting, but the only players under a .333 OBA last year were Rosario and Plouffe. And the 3-8 hitters combined for a .481 SLG in 2012. So—on paper at least—this team is set to do some damage.

Let the Games Begin!

Well, it's a bit early for that. But we'll see how the strategy—and the season—plays out. With a little luck and strong roster management, I will perhaps be back here in October 2013 celebrating my inaugural championship season. Though more likely, it will be a post-mortem on where I went wrong.

But in either case, though, I think I'll be playing Scoresheet for many years to come.

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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.