ROTISSERIE: A Scoresheet newbie does OK—or why I'm counting on Michael Wacha

Last fall, this battle-scarred Rotisserie veteran decided to try his hand at Scoresheet baseball. (See the introduction from December.) It's been long touted as the thinking man's Rotisserie, going beyond Rotisserie baseball's infantile limitations. It includes such elements as defense, in-game strategy, setting lineups, and managing platoon splits. After 10 weeks of competition, I found myself tied for the best overall record (among 15 teams) and with an 11-game lead in my division. Which leads me to one inevitable conclusion:

This game is easy. But read on.

An introduction to Scoresheet

For the those reading this who have no idea what Scoresheet baseball is, here's a quick rundown...

You draft a team of 35 or so players. Each week, you select a lineup, including starters, bench, starting rotation, bullpen, and farm players. At the end of each week, a slate of six or seven games is simulated against other teams in the league, based on how your players performed that week. It combines elements of Rotisserie, head-to-head, and simulation leagues all in one. Oh yeah, defense counts. And you're penalized for playing players out of position. Pretty harshly.

Draft strategy (a rehash)

My draft strategy was to think outside the Rotisserie box, as I was going against a group composed of mainly roto players. There were two things I noted that really set Scoresheet apart from Rotisserie baseball, aside from "defense counts": 1) You need good pitching, and 2) You can overload in one area and still do well.

In Rotisserie baseball, there's a diminishing return—once you pass a certain point, each additional stats (homer, steal, win, etc.) gets you less and less movement in the standings. Not so Scoresheet (or so I thought): insanely good pitching is a large dose better than sanely good pitching. So my strategy was to assemble a great pitching staff and fill in with hitters with strong on-base skills and defense.

My lineup is middling, led by Paul Goldschmidt, Austin Jackson, Adrian Beltre, and Wilin Rosario (we won't discuss Ike Davis). The starting rotation includes Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg, Hiroki Kuroda, and Mike Minor, with Craig Kimbrel and Jonathan Papelbon leading the bullpen.

In-season strategy

Drawing on my Rotisserie roots, I followed one of BaseballHQ.com's most basic tenets—exercising excruciating patience. Which is easier to when you're successful early on. But I also applied a piece of wisdom from outside the fantasy world: do no harm. My lineup rarely changed, except to cover for the inevitable injuries. Since Scoresheet allows you to designate backups and different lineups for LH and RH pitchers, I saw no reason to make wholesale changes based on short-term results.

I had, in fact, managed to draft a team with few strong platoon splits, so the left-handed and right-handed lineups were almost the same. Rather than over think anything, I built the lineups the way a modern manager would: players with strong on-base skills (and speed, if possible) at the top of the lineup, power hitters in the middle, and the weaker hitters near the bottom. I alternated lefties and righties as much as possible to make it harder for opponents' bullpens.

My rotation was similarly alternated, lefty and righty, which put Minor ahead of Kuroda, but that worked. The trickiest part was deciding how quick of a hook each starter would get. Given the strength of both the bullpen and rotation, I went middle-of-the road for all but Strasburg and Bumgarner.

Scoresheet also features a monthly free agent draft. But since the rosters are rather deep, the free agent pool is limited. Furthering the strategy of exercising patience, I added exactly one player total in two months.

Why Scoresheet is better (so far)

  • Real games: head-to-head is more like "real" baseball, and the simulation aspect eliminates most of the issues associated with traditional head-to-head points leagues.
  • More control: so many stats are situation-dependent in rotisserie baseball. Rather than sweat over someone's win that was blown by the bullpen, or the hitter with three solo homers, Scoresheet allows each player to contribute to wins and losses just as they would on the field.
  • Monthly free agency: no weekly scramble to get in FAAB bids! With a deep roster and automatic substitutions during the week, there's really no reason for the weekly scramble.
  • No need for the weekly scramble: unless there's an injury or demotion to deal with, you can just let your lineup run. Or tweak it every week. It's up to you.

Conclusion

Scoresheet offers several advantages over Rotisserie baseball, and the strategies can be quite simple or quite complex, as the GM sees fit. Success still depends on careful player analysis, risk management, and identifying likely breakouts. In that, it's no different. And you can win with great pitching and okay hitting.

Week 11 Addendum

Results from week 11 are in: with Strasburg and Jackson on the DL, and Davis in freefall, the mighty Homers went 1-5, dropping my team into a second-place tie overall. I must now hope Michael Wacha to become an ace quickly. Or at least a serviceable #5.


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