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Friday 19th Jan 2018

Most of the mocks, in fact most of the leagues in which we play are pretty much standard NFBC 5x5 configurations with little tweaks and customizations indiginous to the play and desires of the league at large.

Of course, lots of us do sim games like Strat-O-Matic and Diamond Minds, and there are a cluster who like to play Head-to-Head, a format that reduces roster and active player size, matching up nine against nine on a daily basis, but still using the basic 5x5 categories. Actually, I would go into the details deeper, but earlier this week, Scott White, venerable curator and analyst at CBS Sportsline, hosted a H2H mock and in the article in which he recaps, Scott describes the format much more clearly than I ever could. 

But, one of the things that Scott emphasizes in his piece is an emphasis on making sure a completed team has enough hitting, focusing on that skill over arms. Scott lays out a terrific argument but I am not as certain hitting is the key to one-on-one play. I will admit that I have always been a sucker for the maxim that "good pitching will beat good hitting", but I also get the problem is that may be true on the actual diamond, but not necessarily in "The Frank Robinson League of Greater Cincinnati."

Irrespective, I am good at building pitching staffs, and draft towards them figuring if I strike gold, I will have a surplus and someone always needs a pitcher, at least in deeper AL-only and NL-only contests. And, to a degree, playing H2H pushes me towards a different path than that of Scott. I do like the format, and though Strat is a Sim game, it is indeed H2H play, and I play Scoresheet and used to play Bill James. Although having good everyday at-bats at every position is a ticket to success in all those variations, having a strong pitching staff in any of those leagues at least guarantees a .500 mark.

So, I went big on arms, drafting in the 12-hole, nabbing Madison Bumgarner and Chris Sale with my first two selections, grabbing Yoenis Cespedes with pick three, but then going Johnny Cueto. And when the run came back my way again, I took Jason Kipnis, but moved on Chris Archer as well, meaning four of my first six picks were arms.

In seeing the game differently from Scott, I think in terms of H2H as a kind of variation of DFS in that every day I am putting a lineup out there, and as we know from playing daily leagues, it is very hard to finish among the top teams without a strong performance from your starter. In grabbing Robbie Ray in the 12th, and then the tandem of Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances back-to-back 15/16, I certainly have the chance to put up dominating pitching numbers every day, and in a 12-team league, I felt there was enough hitting depth.

Of course, Lord Z and I discussed this and he is in Scott's school, but I wound up with the following parcel of hitters:

C: J.T. Realmuto

1B: Brandon Belt

2B: Jason Kipnis

3B: Maikel Franco

SS: Brad Miller

OF Khris Davis

OF: Stephen Piscotty

OF: Yoenis Cespedes

UT: Kole Calhoun

So, power and essentially the counting stats are covered, save steals which I in essence punted. Swipes are ephemeral, and on the H2H scale, singles and runs and knocks will each earn the same as a steal. Plus, I am already set, on a day-to-day basis, to get more strikeouts and allow fewer runs than the rest of the league, so it is that slender reed of logic on which I made my picks.

Will it work? I don't know. As with all my theorizing, I have majestic failures and epic victories, and there is a complete logic to the way Scott and Todd build on hitting before arms. 

In the end, I told Scott that I figured we would finish fifth and sixth, in the middle of the pack, were we to play things out. But the truth is, I drafted these guys to win, not to come in second. So, if the team fails, the difference between second and twelfth is negligible.

Faithful Readers: I will be off all next week on a belated honeymoon/vacation. All columns will resume after 2/20 when the Hotpage goes weekly for baseball.

Find me @lawrmichaels.

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