We hate to be the ones to break the bad news to you, but you won’t win your Scoresheet league every year. Once you can bring yourself to accept that, the key is to identify the years you won’t win as early as possible so you can get a head start on preparing for next year’s shot at the title. To comprehensively assess your team’s chances, you have to start by looking at the individual players on your team, and then examine your overall team performance, and finally, see how you compare to the other teams in your league.
While small sample size alerts still abound a month into the season, it is still important to determine if your players are over- or under-performing in order to make your decision on throwing in the towel for the year. If you have Miguel Cabrera, for example, it is probably fairly reasonable to assume your team will add some wins to its pace in the coming months. Conversely, if you have Devin Mesoraco, Charlie Blackmon, and Chris Colabello on your team, you probably shouldn’t expect to continue your undefeated season. You still want to put a lot of stock in your preseason beliefs, presumably based on SS/SIM projections, but you can start giving some weight to current season performance. And don’t forget to factor in players coming back from injury in the near future. Basically, you want to assess how accurate you think your win total represents your team’s talent.
Next, look at your team as a whole. Is the record indicative of performance? Every year for virtually every one of our teams, we’ll manually calculate our Pythagorean expected record and compare that to our actual record. And if we are underperforming, we’ll publicly give our manager the dreaded vote of confidence while privately calling him into our office and chew him out. This early in the season you don’t want to be fooled by a lucky or unlucky streak.
Finally, you want to take a look at the rest of the teams in your league. Ideally, you’ll have enough free time on your hands to do the same assessment of them that you just did of your team. If you think you have a good team, but seven teams have a better record and you don’t see how you are going to catch them, it is time to call it.
The point of doing this assessment at least monthly is that while it would be great to be competing for this year while building for next year, that isn’t always feasible. With your few supplemental picks each month, you’ll often have to decide between a spot SP who is almost certainly going to be sent down to the minors in three weeks versus a hot prospect who might be a stud when he reaches majors in three years. And, of course, your goals in trading could be wildly different, given your intentions for this year. So long as you think you have a legitimate shot, you should absolutely make transactions with that goal in mind. But as soon as you are realistically out of contention, it is important to start selling off short-term assets while you can set the price, and it is vital to have the flexibility to switch to playing for next year even if you were making moves to compete for this year only weeks prior.
Congratulations to all of those who bought on talent in the late rounds, as the Ike Davis trade frees up room for both bats, giving each of them a chance at recouping some draft value. Neither should likely be an every week starter for a championship team, but since we generally recommend drafting first basemen late, this may end up being the best you can do. If you have had Duda benched due to the Mets’ hydra situation, this is a good week to play him (and most Mets), as they head to Colorado for four games. Cole Hamels is likely to be the Mets’ tough opponent this week, but Josh Satin should take that bullet for the team.
No, don’t leave. The Highest Paid Oriole’s slump has now entered its second season with no sign of abating. We’re just about out of hope, but this week, Markakis and the Orioles only have one tough draw in Gerrit Cole. In particular, Markakis should make hay against the dreadful homer-prone righties in the Twins’ rotation. There are probably players who protected Markakis in the offseason. He won’t provide keeper-level skill, but if you don’t play him now, why did you draft him?
Notably, Miley is the only player outside of Paul Goldschmidt on the Diamondbacks not in danger of being replaced by Archie Bradley. Miley gets two draws this week. The latter is more promising, as he heads to San Diego on Sunday. Petco is less of a monster during the day, but the Padres are forgiving to lefties on most nights. Colorado, even on the road, is a tougher offensive opponent, but Miley should catch them without Michael Cuddyer, at least. Miley is probably a starter on most teams in most weeks, but the extra innings of quality may allow him to face your tougher opponents, or sneak in as the #2 man in your rotation.
Well, you just drafted him, right? Get him in there! He’s not depth, he’s an every-week starter in your AL or mixed league. Even if you have a strong rotation, facing the Marlins in their park is tempting, Giancarlo Stanton home run or no.
Here we are, making sit recommendations that we know no one will listen to, including ourselves. It’s tempting to ride the hot hand, and Yelich may have turned into a set-it-and-forget-it guy. With that .459 BABIP heading into Thursday, we’re a little more skeptical. Next week’s games will be a tough test, as the Marlins start the week with Wood-Fernandez II and continue to face a barrage of tough Atlanta and Los Angeles pitching, much of it left-handed. Maybe this is the week that Yelich starts displaying the doubles power and plate discipline that should carry him as his batting average falls, but we’d prefer to cradle him in a softer lineup spot or go with another strong option entirely.
One of the true joys of Scoresheet is that there’s very little you can do when a middle infield player falls off a cliff in-season. Last year’s Starlin Castro owners will nod furiously along as Segura flails away in the early going, as his long-term potential seems to be fading by the week. We’d love to tell nervous owners that it’s just a phase, but it’s a phase that will likely continue into week five, as Milwaukee draws Johnny Cueto, Tony Cingrani, Lance Lynn, and Michael Wacha. If you can sit Segura, do so, as you can at least convince yourself it’s strategic, and not pure panic. In week six, though? All bets are off.
This Week’s Podcast: Markakis of the Spider Woman
This week, the Outcomes take stock of themselves, but do they like what they find? The Outcomes begin by taking questions at 5:57, looking at readers’ teams, and deciding whether they should go for it, and if it’s okay to suck out loud for a little while. At 25:00, the Outcomes call on @dynastyguru Bret Sayre once again to discuss the supplemental process and what it’s like to have your team firing on all cylinders. Finally, at 45:52, they get you prepared for Week 5. Well, as prepared as you’ll ever be. The Three True Outcomes Podcast… it can’t be cloned.