Scoresheet Kings Diary: Main Draft

Well, that took forever. There are pros and cons to there being 90 minutes between each pick in a fantasy draft. The pros include not having to devote one extended block of time to draft, and having more time to work out trades during it. The con is that it takes freakin’ forever. But my Scoresheet Kings draft is finally, and mercifully in the books, and I’m here to report back on my team – which I have tentatively titled “Chamber of Bomb-erce.”

If you’ll recall, I started the draft with the squad detailed here. Heading into the draft, I had two ideas in mind. The first was that I was going to pass on the big-time bullpen guys, as they would go early in the draft when I needed to fill out more important spots on my roster. Second, I did not need to focus on starting pitching, but rather build my lineup. That became much more difficult however, when those who had kept less players than me began snapping up offensive players left and right.

Sensing the urgency of certain positions being less plentiful than others, I banged catcher John Jaso with my first pick. Next up were Manny Ramirez and Derek Jeter, though I traded Jeter almost immediately. I reached with my next pick, and grabbed Chris Tillman. I’ve been a big Tillman fan, but here we are at the end of Spring Training and Tillman hasn’t definitively nailed down a job. This was my biggest mistake of the draft.

In drafting Tillman, I ignored the fact that I didn’t need starters and talked myself into the upside argument. This brings up a good strategy point that I failed to heed here. In the early rounds of a Scoresheet draft, if you’re going to draft a prospect, you need to make sure that he is definitely going to play in the upcoming season. Even if you are punting the season in hopes of competing the following year, you still need to fill out a roster, and need those early round picks to do so. The draft is 35 rounds for a reason, and that reason is to give you a chance to draft prospects in the later rounds. Looking at who was drafted immediately following Tillman – Omar Infante, Cody Ross, Magglio Ordonez, R.A. Dickey, Marlon Byrd and Derek Holland, Jair Jurrjens, Carlos Marmol and Tsuyoshi Nishioka – all guys who have much more definitive jobs this season.

Since building a team of premium offensive studs wasn’t going to happen, I tried to find value around the edges. Ramirez was a start, and adding Thome gave me a pair of aging sluggers who hopefully still have something in the tank. Another area where I felt I could make up some ground was on defense. Scoresheet uses their own defensive range numbers that they list next to the player’s name. Heading into the draft, I already had Daric Barton, who is the number one rated defensive first baseman. In the draft, I added Brendan Ryan, who is the highest rated shortstop, and Franklin Gutierrez, who is tied for the highest rated outfielder with Michael Bourn (who was kept) and Carlos Gomez. I also added Tony Gwynn Jr. late to serve as Manny’s legs in left field late in games. All in all, my only below average defenders in Scoresheet’s system are Jaso and Matt Joyce, who I am initially platooning.

Platooning is one of my favorite things about Scoresheet. Unlike a regular fantasy league, where if you want to platoon a player, you have to remember to do so manually every day, Scoresheet allows you to create a lineup vs. LHP and vs. RHP, and it selects the lineup for you accordingly. What’s more, it gives you estimates for how it believes the simulations will treat platoon advantages, which takes out some of the guess work.

As the draft progressed, I realized that with Jaso, Thome and Joyce I would be a little vulnerable against lefties. Thome isn’t likely to sit too frequently, as though he does fare much worse against lefties, the bar that he starts at is much higher, and so he will still be fairly effective. But Jaso and Joyce are a different story. To that end, I drafted Brett Hayes and Shelley Duncan to be their platoon mates, and added Ronny Cedeno as well. But my ace in the hole was Jeff Baker. Having seemingly won more playing time this spring, I knew I wanted him on my squad, and when I didn’t land him in the draft, I worked out a trade for him. Simply put, Baker is one of the best hitters in the game against lefties, and his Scoresheet platoon marks reflect that. His adjustment for slugging against lefties is the 15th best in the game in Scoresheet’s system (Gutierrez’s by the way, is 19th), and it is 12th best for batting average. Now, if I end up playing Jaso or Joyce against lefties, I can do so with the knowledge that I can drop them down in the order, thanks to Baker.

It is near impossible to draft an All-Star lineup when you enter an existing league, and that is especially true in a Scoresheet league – there are just too many different positions to fill. As a result, you need to define your strategy and you need to get creative. For me, I had to work hard to find advantages with my position players. By focusing on defense – though Gutierrez’s injury is cramping my style – and hitting against lefties, I should be able to field a competitive team in my first year in the league. Will it win me a championship? Heavens, no. But I will stay afloat in my first year as I build towards contending in 2012. And that was the goal. As always, if you want to check out everyone’s roster and progress, you can do so here. You can also find my scoresheet updates by selecting the ‘scoresheet’ category in the right-hand navbar.

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Paul Swydan is the managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for He has written for The Boston Globe, ESPN MLB Insider and ESPN the Magazine, among others. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.

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Teams #16 and 22 are stacked. You have your work cut out for you.