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March 28, 2014

TTO Scoresheet Podcast

Episode 11: Filling Out Your Lineup Card

by Ian Lefkowitz, Ben Murphy and Jared Weiss

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While participants in other types of fantasy baseball may cool their heels after the pre-season draft, Scoresheet players have one final task at hand before Opening Day: filling out the lineup card. Some find the lineup card a chore, but spending a few extra minutes on it is a must to wring every last win out of a Scoresheet team. The general key to filling out a lineup card is to think like a manager from the 1980s. A smart manager somewhat ahead of his or her time, sure. But trying to force the latest in sabermetric thinking onto the card will often just result in leaving wins on the table. Keep that in mind as we go through the main features of the lineup card.

Batting Order
Perhaps the most important advice we can give is to platoon everywhere. With some foresight in the draft, these platoons may be obvious. But check every single player’s splits, because surprisingly often, it will make sense to bench a star or semi-star half the time. Our lineups vs. RHP generally look completely different than our lineups vs. LHP.

As for the order itself, we generally slot one of our best hitters in the no. 2 slot, one of our best hitters who leans toward power at cleanup, one of our best hitters who leans toward on-base ability at leadoff, and then fill out the rest of our lineup in descending order of overall ability.

Position
No need to be cute here, as Scoresheet automatically moves players around. Only list players at the positions for which they are eligible.

Steal
Pretty much as expected. Anyone who steals with a success rate of 75 percent can get the green light.

Bunt
It will be painful to have anything other than the dash signifying “never bunt,” we know. But light-hitting middle-infield types should probably have this turned on. As far as we can tell, there’s no clear correlation between actual real life ability to bunt and how a player bunts in the sim.

Pinch-Hitting
This one can be a little confusing. Be sure to include players in the starting lineup here, usually with the lowest numbers (remember that 1 is the best). Think about which player would be ideal to have up in the bottom of the ninth with the game on the line. That player should get a “1.” Following our lineup advice above, that’s probably the hitter in the no. 2 slot. When a player doesn’t have enough games in the bank to start or is benched against a particular-handed starter, he may be available to come in off the bench when a reliever enters the game.

Defensive Substitutions
We generally don’t mess around with these too much. But it is probably a good idea to list players rated at or near the top of their position, defensively.

Farm
Scoresheet will check down on the farm if all at bats on the regular roster are depleted. Therefore, backup catchers should almost always be placed on the farm, freeing up a roster spot for an additional bullpen arm or hitter for a platoon. The only exception may be cases where the backup catcher is one of the top pinch-hitters on the team.

Starting Rotation
No special tricks here.

Prefer to Face Teams
True gentlemen leave these fields blank. Those of less savory character keep two strategies in mind. If certain opponents have weak lineups against lefties or righties, then pitchers of that handedness should be set up against them. Alternatively, strong opponents vying for a playoff spot might merit the best of the rotation, while leaguemates playing for next year might warrant the #5 starter.

Inning
Generally speaking, we set most of our pitchers at “1” because we are fine with our pitchers coming into games pretty much whenever. For pitchers who come into the manager’s office complaining about needing a set role, or (as is probably more likely) ensuring the best relievers end up in the most high-leverage innings, we may set the guy who traditionally would be the setup pitcher with something like a “7,” because with an inning of 6 or later, Scoresheet will ensure the pitcher doesn’t come into a mop up situation.

Vs.R / vs. L
Use these columns to make sure pitchers with significant splits only face the appropriate hitters.

Closer
Real-life closers get a little bit of a bump here. Seasoned Scoresheet vets may have different strategies here, but the smart play is to think about how the sim was developed, and put in this slot the guy who most feels like a traditional closer.

Hook
We received more questions about hook than anything else. And we’d love to be able to share some magic formula or strategy on how to handle it, but unfortunately they just don’t exist. Hook is frustrating as all get out, but give Scoresheet some credit, it does a pretty good job of replicating the dilemma real managers face during the season. The goal is to minimize the damage from a pitcher’s bad appearance while avoiding the dreaded AAA Pitcher. A good rule of thumb is that just like most everything else on the card, Hook should mirror how manager’s tend to handle pitchers in real life. #1 or #2 starters may have a little bit longer leash (say, 4.5) than no. 4-5 starters (more like 4.0). Short relievers generally shouldn’t be allowed to stay in for more than a run or a couple of baserunners and so should be given a hook of around 1. Also, remember how we recommended drafting loads of SPs? Make sure to put at least one of them in the pen as a swingman with a hook similar to a starting pitcher so he can soak up innings for a starter who was pulled early. And if you do have a glut of SPs, don’t be afraid to treat one of them like a short reliever, if he’d be one of your best relievers.

Have any other strategies for the lineup card? We’d love to hear them!

This Week’s Podcast
This week we talk about a few players winning spots in Spring Training, go into some detail on why to use Team Tracker and the best ways to do so, and our focus is on the details of the lineup card.

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

Download Here (1:32:58)
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Related Content:  Podcast,  Scoresheet,  Fantasy,  Lineups

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