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March 21, 2014

TTO Scoresheet Podcast

Episode 10: Late-Round Drafting

by Ian Lefkowitz, Ben Murphy and Jared Weiss


Sure, roto enthusiasts have their big-ticket sleepers such as Yordano Ventura or Nolan Arenado, but it’s the Scoresheet player who has the thrill of drafting 20 rounds after those guys are off the board. Last week, the Outcomes participated in the annual BL DwMurphy draft, one of Scoresheet’s flagship leagues. With a soft keeper protection system and rules discouraging protecting minor leaguers, it’s functionally a 24-team one-year league, which means that there are more picks in the draft than there are players in the major leagues. If you’re in a similar situation, who should you look out for at the bottom of the scraped barrel?

As true romantics, we believe that every pot has its lid, and depending on the team you’ve built, you can always find flawed players who can still help support your team. Sure, you can always draft a short reliever, but why not try roster building with these players? All the players below were taken outside the top 600 picks. For reference, that’s more than 50 picks later than Grady Sizemore’s draft slot, and Sizemore was recently accidentally declared legally dead.

Jesus Guzman (Pick no. 615)
Perfect for: When you want a platoon partner, and can’t decide where.

Scoresheet is rigorous in its hitter-based platoon splits, and even below average righty hitters can make an effective platoon partner for all but the best left-handed hitters. Jesus Guzman is nothing if not a below average righty, but escaping Petco, he has the chance to break out to mild effectiveness, which would probably look something like his 2012 season. What makes Guzman useful compared to other platoon partners is that he’s both being drafted after many of them, and is both eligible and capable at first base and the outfield corners, where you’ve likely drafted multiple lefty starters. Kyle Blanks, who just misses the eligibility criteria, is a version of this player type with upside potential.

Eric Chavez (Pick no. 623)
Perfect for: When you realize you’re starting Juan Uribe.

The Moneyball sheen and MVP talent are long in the rearview mirror, but Chavez remains a unique property in the draft. Most players in this stage of the draft just don’t have the bat to start for you, but Chavez remains limited by his health, not his ability. The D’backs are reluctant to play him very often, but he’s a strong hitter capable of playing across the diamond without giving back too much on defense. He’s fine as a bench bat, but he’s even better on teams who drafted their third baseman late. You can use your starting third baseman to provide bulk innings, but play Chavez against righties until his at bats run out each week for a small bonus.

Gavin Floyd (Pick no. 802)
Perfect for: When you want to bank a 9th starter.

Betting on a return to health from a pitcher recovering from major surgery is never a sure thing, as Scott Baker or Cory Luebke speculators could tell you from 2013. However, with several members of the Atlanta rotation taking their tribute to Frank Jobe a little too far this spring, we’re now left with a team banking on the scatter-armed Alex Wood to stay healthy, and Freddy Garcia to pitch major innings. With this need, why not assume that Floyd will return to the rotation? If he does return healthy, he may be better than he has in a while, as he can take the Don Cooper-juju that he learned in Chicago to a ballpark and Human Vacuum at shortstop that better matches his talents.

Chad Billingsley (Pick no. 618)
Perfect for: When you miss out on Gavin Floyd.

Everything written about Gavin Floyd above could be written about Chad Billingsley as well, although you may begin to wonder why the writer is digressing to talk about the Braves so much. Billingsley’s comeback is running a little later, and there’s no guarantee that he returns in the already full Dodger rotation. If Billingsley comes back healthy, though, he could also be on the move later in the season, possibly to a team with a second baseman who slugs better than Chone Figgins (read: all of them). Billingsley had a whiff of disappointment around him even when healthy, though, and there’s always a chance you draft the Evil Chad Billingsley (let’s call him Bad Chillingsley), who can’t get his walk rate under control. The upside is a potential Scoresheet playoff starter.

Jason Kubel (Pick no. 712)
Perfect for: When you’re waiting for a Replacements reunion tour.

So it’s round 400, and you’ve realized your team doesn’t have enough offense. What do you do? Well, if you’re the Twins, you can see what your ex is up to. Due to the nostalgia trip of a team remembering when Ron Gardenhire was only yelled at by internet cranks, Kubel has found a team willing to ignore the giant fork in his back, which you can use to your advantage in the DH slot against righties, or as a cheap source of pinch hitting. Unfortunately, like many a drunken call, this probably won’t end well, and is unlikely to get past first base.

Scott Van Slyke (Pick no. 749)
Perfect for: When you’re a skeptic with a hole in your outfield.

The Dodgers are notorious for having four starting outfielders, but that’s certainly not the same as having a strong outfield situation. Aside from Puig, there are questions about the bats and health of all of the other regulars. Behind the $100 million outfield is scion Scott Van Slyke, who’s been a solid source of pop and on base ability whenever called upon. He finally has a near-lock on a major league job, and Dodgers have even been desperate enough to try him at center this spring. He’d be a strong sleeper in another situation; in Dodgertown, he may still be able to start for you a few times a week or be your primary pinch hitter.

Ramon Santiago (Pick no. 774)
Perfect for: When you want to replace Infielder-AAA with any living soul.

Ramon Santiago is like a utility knife, only if somehow every blade was dull. With his ability to switch hit and eligibility at second base, third base, and shortstop, he covers almost every emergency need you might have crop up in season. None of his skills involve hitting or fielding well, but there’s a chasm in this game between even the worst major leaguer and the stock generic infielder, making Santiago a great choice for your 31st player. Santiago is in camp as a non-roster invitee, and outside of the protective eye of Jim Leyland is no guarantee to stick on a roster, but he’s a Milford Man who has made a career of being unobtrusive.

Ryan Lavarnway (Pick no. 787)
Perfect for: When you love catchers and chaos.

Late in the game, we always recommend betting on talent over opportunity if all else is equal, as the latter is more likely to change. Since finding catching depth is difficult in deep leagues, sometimes you have to create your own. Lavarnway is a barely passable catcher and below average hitter who looks to be spending a third season at the fringes of the Red Sox offense. While that’s the most likely scenario, a trade or an injury could easily disrupt it. Once that happens, you have a solid backup catcher, or even a starter for some teams.

This Week’s Podcast
This week, we talk endstage drafting. We make a draft pick, have a special guest appearance from BP Author Bret Sayre to talk about his first Scoresheet draft, and then follow up by discussing a draft of our own. It’s exciting times delivered to you in rank order!

To follow the TTO Podcast, subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher, or follow @TTOScoresheet for more.

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