Hello all, and I trust you had a happy holiday.
Today's piece will be brief, and pretty much focus on Strat-O-Matic, a simulation as opposed to roto or fantasy ball, but a game no less difficult and for certain, no less fun.
One of my leagues is currently in the process of drafting 35-man rosters. This is a Hall of Fame league, with 25 teams participating.
The Summer League of Champions holds a complete redraft every three years, and this is one of those years. The format is a snake draft in order of finish, and each team is allowed to draft ten players from the Strat-O-Matic Hall of Fame set.
Then to add to the fun, we select a specific season and toss those players--this year it happens to be 1948--in with the remaining HOF guys, and from there we complete our rosters.
Usage is strictly enforced such that players cannot exceed the number of innings or at-bats indicated on the Strat-O-Matic card for the player, and players can only play a defensive position for which they have a rating. That means Vada Pinson can only play center field, while Bobby Murcer can play left, right, third, and second (though Murcer's defense in the infield is not particularly good).
My previous two years in the league, I played with a core that was largely inherited, meaning the basic team was not my vision of what would work.
The trouble with this league, however, is the talent pool is so deep that it is totally possible to have Vladimir Guerrero and Orlando Cepeda on your bench. What that means is a lot of hits and runs, and that no lead is safe, as in I lost eight-run leads at least twice last season.
Right now, we are about two-thirds of the way through the draft, and bearing in mind that there are so many hitters and great players available, I want to reveal the strategy I am trying to employ, and that I hope will make me successful.
What I reasoned is that I might have great starting pitching, but keeping the likes of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig off base on a regular basis is next to impossible. So, my entire construct has gone not so much to eliminate hits, which is almost impossible.
However, I realized I can do everything I can to keep runners from moving up a base, or getting an extra roll of the dice, which is sort of like getting an extra swing on the real diamond.
So, within the construct of Strat, here are the things I looked at to build successfully.
Defense: Strat uses defense, so I tried to grab the top fielder I could at every slot, period.
OBP: In conjunction, I tried to get the player with the best on-base numbers who had the best defense.
Arms: Outfielders and catchers are given a rating with respect to the quality of their arms, so again, I tried to get the most effective arms available, coupled with great range and OBP.
Speed: I have also looked for fast runners, both to get to balls on defense, and to help me get an extra base when I am at-bat. Similarly, the fast guys have a better base running rating. So again, getting such a player, like Ed Delahanty, who has power and on-base numbers, can steal, runs the bases well, and has a great arm is the path.
Holding Runners: For my pitchers, I looked carefully at their ability to hold runners, figuring with a good catcher, even if a player earns a hit, he will not be able to steal as easily.
DP Support: Additionally, I looked for the highest ground ball ratings for pitchers, knowing that with my good defense, there is a good chance that if a ball is hit in the infield, the runner will be eliminated via a double play.
That is the essence of my team and while I do have excellent hitters, only two of my drafted players--Ron Santo and Eddie Murray--look like they can hit 30 or more homers. Everyone else is at best in the teens, unlike most of the other squads in the SLOC.
But, I am thinking, as noted, that Strat, like baseball on the diamond, is about extending at-bats for as long as possible. That means as a defensive plan, the objective should be to allow as few pitches as possible to my opponents. So, I am theorizing that a team built upon removing the steal, run, or hit, thus keeping the offensive damage to a minimum, is the way to go.
At the same time, with an on-base and speedy team, I hope to exploit the very things when my team is at bat that I want to discourage while my team is in the field.
As usual, with such strategies, it sounds good, but if you have followed my writing, you know I am not afraid to try things, and this approach makes sense.
I just hope it works, for it is as noted, three years before the cycle starts over again.