Scoresheet drafts are like snowflakes—cold, unforgiving, and increasingly filled with garbage after a few weeks. Oh, and no two are alike. Sorry, some of us are from the Northeast. When advising on potential mid-round sleepers, we have to keep in mind your draft, as fit issues and potential handcuffs are far more important in a simulation than in a traditional fantasy league. With that in mind, instead of offering a list of names of sleepers to you, we’ll instead look at categories of players that some of you may want to keep in mind.
The Lefty With A Giant Platoon Split
What do you do when you have Mike Trout dreams on a Michael Cuddyer budget? We assume that most readers of this column know that Scoresheet is platoon-friendly, but when you’re drafting, the devil is in the details. Adam Lind and Justin Smoak have essentially the same batting projection in PECOTA, but Lind has an extreme platoon split, and Smoak has an average one, giving Lind nearly a .010 edge in TAv against righties. Since your Scoresheet team has less of a roster crunch than a real team would, it’s easier to hide Lind against lefties, making him the more valuable player overall. Stephen Drew’s massive platoon split makes him almost a palatable option if you miss on an otherwise ambulatory starting middle infielder. Even if you don’t primarily use PECOTA projections in your draft, the Scoresheet Draft Aid is a pretty efficient way to sort players so that you can see the relative size of their platoon splits charted against one another.
The End-of-the-Bench Lefty Masher
The obvious converse to the last player, you’ll want to find someone who you can platoon with that lefty you’ve drafted. We’ve suggested this before, but most lefty hitters in Scoresheet should be platooned—even the good ones. Lefties tend to have severe splits, an issue exacerbated by Scoresheet’s hard-coding splits by batting hand, and most right-handed and even some switch-hitters will out-hit most lefty hitters. Cody Ross is a bad player, and Bryce Harper is a great one, but Ross projects to a nearly .025 higher TAv vs. lefties than Harper. Jedd Gyorko projects to be comfortably better against lefties than Robinson Cano. The only constraint against platooning a lefty hitter should be the number of available draft picks you have remaining.
The Blocked Player
We assume that if you’re reading this column, you’re likely a voracious baseball consumer. You’re probably keeping your eye on several roster and rotation battles, you’re checking the depth charts here on the regular like Shamir, and you’re hammering your favorite roster news site as though you were one of Rob Refsnyder’s godparents. We’re not saying to stop that, at all (we love obsessive behavior!), but in the long run, we think talent wins. Unless you explicitly need the depth in April, we recommend taking the blocked but more talented player over the loser with a steady job. We’ve been recommending Allen Craig as a mild sleeper for a while, and we’ve gotten the “but he doesn’t have a position on the Red Sox” response in return. In the long run, so what? Maybe he’s traded in two weeks. Maybe there’s an injury or two. Maybe David Ortiz decides to take up fly fishing in May. We’re betting that he’s good enough* that someone may want him. (*n.b. he may actually be terrible) A player’s situation is always more mutable than his underlying talent. Does Tanner Roark, Kyle Hendricks, or Yusmeiro Petit not have a regular starting job? The answer matters a little, but by September, probably not by all that much.
Sorry, I think we meant to name the category “Internationally Scorned Pariahs.”
It’s hard enough to fill out your team while keeping these players in mind, but especially if you aren’t going for it, you should have a list of injured players and Tommy John returnees close at hand. It’s not just Jose Fernandez returning this year, keep in mind players like Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Patrick Corbin who are coming back from their own surgeries. This can be a strategy for non-contenders, in particular, to build out long-term keeper depth without risking all that much. Even lesser returnees such as Chad Billingsley, Brandon Beachy, or Luke Hochevar have their place at the back end of a draft.
Search us. Find a list of projections that you trust, and just start drafting down the ERA ranking. Or develop a complex dartboard. Outside of your ace relievers, they’re just too unpredictable to invest in, so save them for the end of your draft.
This week, the Outcomes identify late-round draft targets, come up with adages for a successful draft, and give a piece of their mind to spring training broadcasters who don’t seem to enjoy watching a spring training game very much.
Thank you for reading
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I would have gone with "a Mike Carp" budget ;)