Saturday, 29 October 2011

The Fantasy Drafter-- Junior Griffey edition

  •  Ability to begin the season in the thick of the playoff race, tied with 29 other teams.
  • Games take about 15-20 minutes to play.
  • If you want, you can make teams really deep, and set the league to only have 12 teams.
  • No simming.
  • Outfield too fucking small.  Leads to guys hitting liners to RF and getting thrown out on a 9-3 grounder.  You can't score from 2nd on a single to the outfield most of the time either.
  • Way too many infield singles on balls that barely get past the pitcher, since the pitcher goes for it rather than having the SS or 2B charge it.
  • Platoon splits don't matter.
  • Short bullpens, deep benches that don't ever get used, since platoon splits don't matter.
  • Old game, a lot of the names that I recognize as being good players weren't good yet when this game came out.  Avoid drafting Raul Ibanez, because he's probably the worst player in this game, despite hitting like 42 HR's the year after this came out.
I remember playing this game as a kid and going crazy with trades until I just had the best player at each position on my team, so if you want to turn trades off, go nuts.  You can basically add up the 5 stats (3 for pitchers) and trade that guy, plus two scrubs, for a guy who is 1 or 2 points higher than the original guy.  Then pick up two free agents, and repeat.  If you really want to, you can trade those two free agents for someone slightly better than either FA, and pick up another FA to trade him with. 

The draft order is entirely random as far as I can tell, but it might be rigged.  I wanted to see if it was random or not, so I went in and out of the draft quite a few times with different teams to test the system and try to get a top 5 pick so I could get Griffey, Walker or Bonds, but the best I came up with was 6th.  Got 14th and 30th 4 times each over about 20 tries.  I did choose the 30-team mode, and out of not-quite-randomness, chose the Royals.  I didn't want an NL team, because pitcher batting is stupid, but other than that, I didn't really care which team I used.  In hindsight, I kind of wish that I went with like 24 teams, because as you'll see, this draft is probably a little too deep, and we're using guys that nobody has ever heard of to fill out the bench and bullpens.  If you're less in to baseball than I am, I'd suggest knocking a few of the teams out of there, just so you're not spending multiple minutes per pick going through the attributes of each guy, trying to find the best possible fit for your 23rd pick since you've never heard of any of the remaining players.

Based on the way this game works, if you choose to play 12-team mode, you can really screw the system by taking the best hitter available almost all the time when drafting hitters, regardless of positions.  Let me explain: one team I had selected 4 guys listed as 1B's, each of whom making it in to my starting lineup.  Paul Molitor was chosen in like the 20th round, since everyone already have a 1B, and only 5 other teams needed an extra position player to use as a DH.  As result, I had Edgar Martinez at DH, Molitor at 1B, Jim Thome at 3B, and Darin Erstad in CF.  Defense hardly matters, as long as you can slot people in to a position that they are eligible for.

Another little quirk of the game is the relative uselessness of the speed category.  Since you can't really score from 2nd on a single, or go 1st-3rd on a single, or score from 2nd on a double.... speed doesn't matter a ton. Most of the defensive plays have little variation between player to player, especially since literally every player has a strong enough arm to throw a perfect frozen rope from the RF wall to 3B.  As result, we're drafting the best hitters, regardless of their other stats, and letting speed or defense ratings be a tie-breaker.  We're also not stealing bases unless we have a really fast guy and an exhausted pitcher on the mound, since stealing in video games has been historically impossible, and this one is no different.  I'll hit and run with 2 strikes sometimes, I guess.

In game 1 of a series, I'll take some pitches early in counts, especially against a good pitcher, with the goal of getting to the bullpen early.  Since there are only 5 guys in the bullpen, I want to either stretch out the starter to the point that he's tired (and tips his pitch location early), or get the relievers in the game.  This forces the bullpen to throw multiple innings, hopefully making them too tired to pitch in the next game.

Round 1- Pedro Martinez. SP
My strategy is basically to find the 2 best starting pitchers available, and then alternate hitters and pitchers over my next 8 picks (assuming I don't get Bonds/Walker/Griffey with my first pick), because starters get chewed up fast.  We're not going to worry about relievers and saves, because we all know how important those are.  I'll change that up if I see fit, but I want to build my team around starting pitching, since offense is pretty easy to come by, and even a bad team controlled by a human can get enough hits.  Martinez is the only 10-10-10 pitcher left at this point (Clemens is another, as is Randy Johnson, who were taken 2nd and 4th respectively).  Frank Thomas and Mike Piazza were available if I wanted to go with a position player, of which I would take Piazza due to position scarcity, and both have 10-10 (contact-power) hitting.

Round 2- Denny Neagle SP
I value speed and control over stamina for starters (and relievers, really), which gave a slight edge to Neagle over Pettitte, Hentgen, and Radke.

Round 3- Edgar Martinez 1B
Went with Eddie because he was one of the only 10-contact players remaining, and his power number is best.  The contact category may as well be the OBP stat in Moneyball.

Round 4- Pedro Astacio SP
Best pitcher remaining, but guys like Matt Morris and Chan Ho Park are there too.  There are a few position players that you could look in to taking with this pick if pitchers remain, but there weren't for me.

Round 5- Mike Stanley C
Paul Molitor remains on the board, and could be taken as a DH.  Kind of makes me regret taking Edgar so early if I could have just filled another position and taken Molitor now to play 1B, but if he's still here now, I'm going to try and wait another round or 4, since DH is so easy to fill.  Catcher is too tough to fill with someone decent.  Eddie Perez is another choice here, if you want to wait and grab someone later, letting Stanley get sniped.

Round 6- Ron Coomer 3B
There is no clear-cut best pitcher left available, but rather about 20 guys who are right around equally as good as each other, so I'm going to go with a position player.  I almost took Jason Giambi because he can play LF for some reason, but went with a 3B instead.

Round 7- Mark Clark
Who?  4th starter.

Round 8- Harold Baines.
Best hitter left, plays OF.

Round 9- Tony Fernandez 2b/ss
Good hitter, more importantly though, he plays both 2B and SS, so we can have a better selection later whenever we try to fill our infield out later.

Round 10- Dave Burba
That finishes our starters.  We should have a decent advantage there.  We can't draft anymore starters, so it's now position players and relievers... so position players.  We'll probably fill up our bullpen before we fill the bench, since we're going to use the bench practically never.

Round 11- Julio Franco.
The only 8 contact hitter I could find with any other decent attributes, and he has 2B eligibility, despite being listed as a 1B.  Cool.  Moves Fernandez to SS.

Round 12- Carl Everett LF

Round 13/14- Turk Wendell RP, Mark Leiter, RP
There's like nothing left for hitters, and three rounds from now, there will be equally nothing.  May as well grab a coupla pitchers.  If Arthur Rhodes or Antonio Osuna are left hanging around, they're two of the better non-closers in the game.  Rhodes went right after Burba in r-10, Osuna got sniped right at the end of r-12, so I went with Wendell.  These two will be our best relievers, and will be used in the highest leverage spots.

Round 15- Chili Davis, DH.
He's a RF, but I already have one.  Best hitter remaining though.  I still need a CF, but there ain't none.

Round 16- Ben Grieve, CF.
Cool.  He was actually the Rookie of the Year the year before this game came out.

Round 17- Chuck McElroy
We're building the rest of the bullpen first, then the bench.  There are a couple of guys you could go with here (Jose Lima, for example), but I dunno... Chucky seems good.  

Round 18- Danny Darwin
 Stamina guy.  Will be used solely in low leverage spots, or extra innings when I don't have pitchers left. Just for those games where I'm getting stomped and don't want to use my bullpen up.  Most relievers can only throw an inning before getting tired, and if you go any more than that with them, they can't pitch the next day, so if I can find a good stamina guy, I'll use him in a blowout game to get a couple of innings out of him and save the rest of my unnecessarily short bullpen.  His other attributes aren't great, but Wendell and Leiter are going to be getting most of my relief innings anyway, so this is no crime.

Round 19- Matt Mantei
I don't remember Mantei throwing a knuckleball in real life, but apparently he has one in this game, and that is the sole reason we're drafting him.

Fill in the bench
Round 20- Jeff Frye
Round 21-Brent Mayne
Round 22- Ernie Young
Round 23- John Cangelosi, I guess
Round 24- Norberto Martin
Round 25-Dave Hansen

Cool story.  This was exhausting, by the way.   Those last 4 or 5 guys really suck, and should only ever be used if you're stuck with an injury.  Frye was the best hitter left, and Mayne is the backup catcher.  I think Ernie Young is fast, but I forget now and don't care to look it up.

I just got finished playing a quickie pennant run in a 12-team league, where I went something like 25-2 in the season, then swept the first round of the playoffs, only to get practically no-hit 4 games in a row to lose the WS against a team who had really good pitching.  If you play a 12-teamer, the pitching is going to be tricky, since offensive rosters are so deep.  I'd suggest knocking a couple teams out for maximum fun, and to get some decent guys in your bullpen and bench, unless you have a memory like I do, and can remember who all the best players are in this game, despite not having played it for 12 years or so.

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