As you may have noticed, the regular season has started, so we are going to shift the format of our articles a little bit. Our plan is for these columns to have two parts each week. We’ll start with thoughts on something related to general Scoresheet strategy and end with picks for players we recommend sitting and starting for the next week of Scoresheet games. However, we’re still trying to be flexible and figure out what works, so if next week’s article looks completely different, then the prior few sentences never existed and you can’t prove otherwise.
Benedict Arnold Was a Trader
In the early going, the forefront of your thought process on roster moves should center around trusting the preseason projections and your general feeling on guys coming into the season. Performance so far isn’t enough to justify altering expectations in a way that would change how you treat a player. You are probably already tired of warnings not to read too much into early season small sample sizes, but you shouldn’t ignore them. As shown by the work of Derek Carty and Russell Carleton on these virtual pages, even the statistics that stabilize the most quickly will still need time before we know if the variation from expectations is noise or not.
To drive the point home, let’s quote from Russell’s latest piece on the subject, as he said it better than we could:
When I say that strikeout rate for pitchers stabilizes at 70 batters faced, what I mean is that we can be reasonably sure that his strikeout rate over those 70 batters is a good reflection of his talent level over those 70 (now past) plate appearances. This is different from saying that once a pitcher has gotten to 70 batters, we can assume that he will perform this way for the rest of the season. That's an assumption. It's not a bad one, but it is an assumption. Instead, what it means is that if his underlying skill set has changed in some meaningful way, we'll know in 70 plate appearances.
So, if you’re not going to adjust your projections for a player just yet, why would you make any changes to your roster? Glad you asked.
The first and most compelling reason is an injury. If you own Jose Reyes, or one of the many pitchers that have had early season issues, you can easily justify making trades to shore up your depth or improve the overall quality of your team in certain areas. A week of Player AAA in the beginning of the season is just as harmful as in the end. You’ll probably have to give up some future value to do this the right way—try to find a team playing for the future that has a piece you could use, and toss them a pick or a prospect. If you have to deal from players you’ll need this year, try to trade the ones that will be easiest to replace in supplemental drafts, like relievers or outfielders.
The second reason you might make a trade is to go after the player that got away from you in the draft. He could be off to a slow start, making his value a little lower, or he could be performing at expectations, but it’s probably going to be easier to trade for your favorite breakout targets before they prove you right. If you got sniped on a draft pick, start talking to his owner and see what it would take to acquire him before it’s too late.
The third reason you might make a trade is to start or continue playing for next year. This one is tough, but sometimes it can be extremely beneficial to swallow hard and give up on 2014 early enough in the year that you get full value for the players your fellow owners desire. For some teams, this might be a continuation of a strategy you decided on before or during the draft, but if you saw key parts of your team go down to injury, you could try to be the first seller on the market and enjoy setting your own price, since the early part of the season is usually a seller’s market. The easiest parts to move are relievers, but you should also consider dealing any position player that you’re not hoping to see turn into a keeper candidate. Try to pick up prospects or draft picks to bolster your chances in 2015. If you’re selling early, go after situations where you have the leverage and optimize your chances of setting the market to your benefit.
Start or Sit
Many Scoresheet players, even those with experience—Even us!—tend to be set-it-and-forget-it types when it comes to weekly rosters. After all, if you've put together a proper lineup, generally you've built a team that works well in sync, with platoons and multi-position players galore. That said, there really is no reason that your team can't have different rosters each week; and moving regulars in and out of the lineup, and especially up and down the rotation can pay off in real wins.
Our advice for who to start and who to sit, therefore, will naturally differ somewhat from roto-specific formats. We generally won't be focusing on the top players, as Jose Fernandez will be starting for you each week, even if he's facing the Gashouse Gorillas. Rather, we'll be focusing on the mid-tier players who can swap into platoon roles, move up and down the lineup, or who may flex into and out of your rotations. We'll also keep in mind the effects of luck-balancing, the Scoresheet simulation feature that tends to regress your fantasy player performance to the level of their real life stats.
Who To Start in Week 2
Lyle Overbay: That's right, we're bringing out the big guns for our first column. Lyle Overbay is nobody's idea of a hero. But check out the righties who the Brewers are scheduled to face next week: Kyle Kendrick, Roberto Hernandez, Edinson Volquez, and Charlie Morton. And the lefties? Cliff Lee and Francisco Liriano. Overbay and Scooter Gennett are both probably in line for a relatively healthy week, even if neither one of them are in strict platoon situations. Bonnie Tyler should probably continue holding out, however.
Marcus Semien: The Sox very well can't call up Ray Durham, can they? This offseason sleeper favorite is probably on your bench at the moment, but next week may be a good time to activate him. Injuries to Gordon Beckham and Jeff Keppinger have granted Semien a long leash, and week 2 sees his team heading to Colorado and then facing the softer part of the Cleveland rotation. Semien could easily supplant Beckham this season, and still makes for a fascinating long-term play, but this week may be his best April spotlight.
Hector Santiago: The Seattle Mariners offense is looking surprisingly feisty in the first few days, including hitting Santiago himself hard once. We still like the idea of throwing lefties against that team, however, especially in Safeco. A team built around Robinson Cano, Brad Miller, and Kyle Seager is set to struggle against lefties, especially one such as Santiago who ordinarily has a big platoon split. It may be a good week to throw him into the back of your rotation.
Who To Sit in Week 2
Billy Hamilton: Yes, one of us believes that Billy Hamilton is someone to sit every week, at least until he proves he can hit above Double-A. Even an optimist should be concerned about the week ahead, though, as the Reds head to St. Louis for three and then come home to face the teeth of the Tampa rotation. Every Cincinnati Red should probably be facing a downgrade in your lineup next week, but Hamilton in particular has to potentially face the dreaded "Full Molina." When right, nobody can catch Sliding Billy, but Yadier and Jose may be the best bet to freeze Hamilton's only Scoresheet-worthy talent.
Drew Stubbs: After an unsettled offseason led draftniks to select every available Rockie outfielder this side of Colavito, reality has settled in, and only Carlos Gonzalez appears to have any sort of regular job. This isn't generally a problem in Scoresheet, where a team can flexibly employ 2-3 start a week players. This week, however, Drew Stubbs will be in the difficult San Francisco ballpark, and he'll probably be drawing the short straw against Madison Bumgarner. There are weeks to sprinkle every Rockies hitter into your lineup, but this shouldn't be one of them.
Ivan Nova: Nova's a two-start pitcher this week, which would be useful for your head-to-head league. In Scoresheet, though, the specific weekly matchups are paramount, as compiling stats matter much less than rate stats in determining value. For Nova, who'll be facing the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox this week at New Yankee Stadium, those rate stats may get a little rough. It seems like too much of a risk to start Nova this week when you're likely to have pitchers of similar quality hanging around in your bullpen.
This Week’s Podcast
This week, the Outcomes welcome the start of the regular season with pride and joy. At 3:22, the Outcomes take a reader question about which positions to prioritize in the first supplemental draft. Then, at 14:38, they discuss Opening Day, and talk about some Opening Day roster surprises and their draft potential. At 32:18, the Outcomes take on this week's philosophical discussion, and figure out when and how to make an early season trade. At 41:17, they discuss Week 2, and offer some choices on who to start and who to sit, and finally, at 59:23, Ian waxes rhapsodic to the other Outcomes about his baseball experience at Stade Olympique. Join us for the most poutine-filled episode yet!