When people ask me what’s my favorite type of fantasy format to play in, I usually tell them it’s Scoresheet. This isn’t to say that playing in a standard 5x5 mixed format can’t be a blast as well — that’s how I spend nearly all of my time as a fantasy analyst — but there’s something extra special about being able to think about all facets of the game.
I’ve been meaning to write a column about Scoresheet for years, but the unrelenting MLB schedule always made that very difficult. However, with the 2020 season pushed back indefinitely, this is the perfect time to dig in and provide an introduction to those who haven’t experienced this wonderful and addictive game.
What is Scoresheet?
The best way to describe it is a head-to-head simulation league using real-time statistics. Really, the perfect mixture of Strat-O-Matic and fantasy baseball. This isn’t your typical fantasy league where you are trying to win specific categories like RBI and saves. You are trying to win actual games in a simulation 162-game schedule. As opposed to the typical fantasy set-up, defense is a factor to consider as you build your roster. There’s plenty of room to nerd out here, as you can have separate lineups against right-handed and left-handed pitching as well as a full rotation and bullpen to deploy. Basically, it’s like you are running an MLB front office, except you don’t have to feel guilty about manipulating a player’s service time or trying to beat them in arbitration. This is all about having fun.
Things to consider
- There are a variety of ways to play Scoresheet, including AL-only, NL-only, and mixed (or BL, “both leagues”) formats. Many leagues are keeper formats and there’s the ability to join continuing leagues, but there are also redraft leagues. Keepers are much more fun here. Drafts can be set-up in a snake format, but there’s plenty of room for flexibility with the interface. I’m in one league where we do an auction with a salary cap, contracts, and minor league depth. Rosters are then entered manually. You can really make it what you want.
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- One notable difference between Scoresheet and other fantasy platforms are the platoon advantages. With the option for separate lineups for right-handed and left-handed pitching, it can be utilized to maximize your roster. Players get adjustments to batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage depending on the handedness of the opposing pitcher. For example, Shin Soo Choo is an asset against right-handed pitching (gaining 9 points in BA, 15 points in OBP and 29 points in slugging) compared to losing 24 points in batting average, 40 in OBP, and 75 points in slugging percentage against southpaws. Meanwhile, new Rays slugger Jose Martinez gains 23 points in batting average, 27 points in OBP, and 62 points in slugging against southpaws while being a liability against right-handers. It’s important to note that these platoon adjustments will stick regardless of how these players are doing against righties or lefties during the actual season.
- Keeping the platoon advantages in mind, going with platoons is a viable and sometimes necessary strategy in this format, even more so in a deeper format. It can also enable what’s often called a “stars and scrubs” approach, focusing resources on a few top players while filling in the gaps with complementary pieces. Be careful about getting too cute with that strategy, though.
- Why be careful? Roster depth is incredibly important in this format. Scoresheet will roll over some at-bats from previous weeks, but largely the numbers used are from the most recent week, so you are going to want players who play a lot. If there’s an injury, Scoresheet will slot in players at different positions, though you will be penalized defensively for playing someone out of position. If you don’t have the proper roster depth, a default AAA player will be put into a position. You don’t want this, as they are going to hurt you all around. Having a couple of players who are multi-position eligible can help you avoid this scenario, at least assuming they play regularly.
- I’ve already noted on a couple of occasions that defense matters here. How much? First, I need to explain the context. Each position player has a fielding number assigned to them for the entire season. The bigger the number, the better. Having a player with good center field range is a huge bonus. Victor Robles and Byron Buxton are more attractive here than they would normally be. As explained within Scoresheet’s rules, “the range of the player in center field for you is about 1.4 times as important as either the left or right fielder when figuring your overall team range.” That’s big. On the other end of the spectrum, you probably wouldn’t have guys like Yordan Alvarez, J.D. Martinez, or Jose Martinez in your outfield. Catchers’ fielding numbers are based on opposing runners stealing per nine innings and runners caught per nine innings. You probably want J.T. Realmuto anyway, but he’s even more appealing when you consider his fielding numbers.
- The slightest tweaks matter in Scoresheet. Just as they can help you as far as platoon advantages, they can hurt you in regard to fielding, especially when you add up your team’s overall range. You’ll see this reflect in the “fielding range bonus” when you receive the box score results of your games. A negative “fielding range bonus” means that more hits will drop and your pitchers’ ERAs will suffer relative to their real-life results.
- You often hear that you can never have enough pitching. That’s especially true with Scoresheet. The best advice I can give people is to draft more than you think you will need. Injuries pop up, pitchers can be demoted for a time or have starts skipped to watch workloads. Chances are you will utilize all of your depth and more. If you run out of pitchers, you’ll be assigned a AAA pitcher as a placeholder. Per Scoresheet, they will have an ERA “2 times the league average,” which is a recipe for disaster.
-As for relievers, throw out what you normally think about closers in fantasy leagues. Sure, most closers are elite relievers and you will want them here too, but you can really set up your bullpen as you want. If you want to use Seth Lugo as your closer over Kenley Jansen, you can do that here. The other thing to think about is which relievers are likely to have safe roster spots and big workloads. Promising, young relievers might not necessarily fit this criterion. Again, you don’t want to have a AAA placeholder.
- As mentioned on a couple of occasions, you are trying to win actual games and not categories, so be careful about which players you give the green light to for stolen bases. Unless you are getting an elite defender — which might be applicable in some cases because of their speed — stolen bases just aren’t a big deal here.
Check back for Part Two of this series breaking down how to fill out a Scoresheet lineup card.