This year, I was given the opportunity to be in the presitigious Scoresheet BL (short for “Both Leagues”) Kings fantasy league. It’s a mixed league, but with a roster size of 35 players, and competition from 23 of the brightest analysts around, it’s going to get pretty intense.
Scoresheet is a bit of a different animal than your normal fantasy league. Rather than just adding up the stats for your players like most leagues do, Scoresheet allows you to manage your entire roster and plays simulated games based on your roster construction. You can do the obvious things like set your lineup and rotation, but you can also set when starters are pulled, when relievers enter and when to use pinch-hitters. It can be pretty addictive, and ever since I had given up a team a couple of years ago, I had been wanting to get back into a league. Mission accomplished.
There were six replacement teams this year, mine included, and rather than just claim a team, we had a dispersal draft to parcel out the players. I ended up with the fourth pick. Since I had played Scoresheet before, I kind of knew what to expect. I had two basic strategies – get pitching, and get prospects. Pitching is always at a premium, and in looking at the teams at the end of last season, there were teams where guys like Livan Hernandez and Jason Vargas were third starters. I wanted prospects for two reasons. One, it’s hard to win this deep of a league in your first year, so stocking up on futures is a good idea. Second, Scoresheet doesn’t have a waiver wire, so you can’t just stay up until 2 a.m. the night Mike Stanton is added to your league – you have to draft prospects way ahead of time. In the past, players were drafted into my Scoresheet league before they were actually drafted in real life. And since no pitcher or prospect is ever really a sure thing, I made it my goal to acquire as many of each as possible.
Players available at the top of the dispersal board included Jason Heyward, Chase Utley, Adam Wainwright, Alex Rodriguez, Stephen Drew, Ryan Howard, Roy Oswalt and Victor Martinez. I could see that even in the dispersal draft, pitching was already at a premium – I wanted Wainwright. Of course, he went the pick before me. With Heyward, Utley and Wainwright off the board, I was faced with old-man Rodriguez as the best star on the board. Not liking the sound of that, I decided to shop the pick, ultimately landing the tasty prospect package of Jenrry Mejia, Brandon Belt and Jose Iglesias. In exchange, I also surrendered a pick in the regular draft, a 20th rounder.
Nine picks and four trades later, I ended the dispersal draft with the following squad:
So far, so good. In Daniel Hudson, Mike Leake and Jordan Zimmerman, I have a trio of young Major League talents who could be staples years to come, and I have two good innings-munchers in Lackey and Wilson. On the Minor League side, I ended up with four of Keith Law’s top 100 prospects, as well as one he thinks could make the list next year (Allie) and one who would have made it if he was still eligible (Mejia). You may notice that Belt isn’t on the list – I sent him packing in exchange for Zimmerman and Brett Lawrie. I debated the deal quite a bit, but in the end wanted another starter, and was willing to take the downgrade from Belt to Lawrie to get him. I’m also a big believer in Zimmerman. What do you think, would you have made that deal? Let me know in the comments.
Next was figuring out who to keep and who to drop. Scoresheet’s keeper rules are a soft ten, meaning you can keep as many as 10 players, or as few as zero. Any players you keep are your first picks in the draft. Having decided to keep all eight of the Major Leaguers I ended up with, my first pick in the draft will be in round nine. Minor Leaguers work in the opposite direction, with each counting as a pick from round 35 forward. Not liking the reports I’ve seen about Chris Nelson’s job prospects this spring (or a lack of reports to be more precise), I decided not to protect him, but kept everyone else.
At the time I picked him, I wasn’t thrilled about taking Pedro Alvarez, but he was the best Major Leaguer on the board at the time. After keepers were named, my feeling about Alvarez sank even further with the reports – completely true or not – about his weight gain. So I shopped him around, and quickly found a trading partner in the two-headed monster of Yahoo’s Jeff Passan and Mark Pesavento. Ultimately, they acquired Alvarez for Rangers prospects Martin Perez and Jurickson Profar (two more KLaw top 100 guys), as well as two picks in the supplemental drafts that are held during the regular season (which Scoresheet uses in lieu of a waiver wire). It’s a pretty good haul, and between Archer, Mejia and Perez, I now have three pitchers that could see the Majors by the end of this year. Couple them with a solid Major League rotation, and I am confident in the base I have heading into the actual draft, which starts Friday.
Only four teams kept fewer players than I did, but since both Sky Kalkman and Geoff Young kept only three Major Leaguers each, my first two picks will be at 15 and 23. Be sure to check back throughout the season as I break down more Kings league action. Also, you can click here to check out the other teams rosters – populated by analysts from Baseball Prospectus, Rotowire, ProTrade, Rotoworld, CBS, Hardball Times and more – and let me know how you think my team will or will not stack up this season!