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Play-off Strategy
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Playoff pushes (trades) and line-ups

Deadline trades:

There is a heavier risk in these trades than most managers realize. Trading your future for a shiny career year fill-in or reliever may backfire. I’ve seen managers do this only find the young players they traded turn out to have great Septembers, while the parts they acquired faded.

I suppose it depends on your league and your personal preferences, but I would rather have a perpetual contender than a team with drastic build ups and tear downs. I do make these sorts of trades, but I’m not likely going to blow away an A or A+ prospect to do it. If I trade away an injured star, I’m going to want nearly equal long term value back.

However, knock out relievers are extra helpful in the play-offs, while they have almost no value to teams that are out of the play-off chase. Most teams do not protect closers. So, this is the best time to grab one or two. They shouldn’t cost you a great player – just a B+ prospect or a young player you have no room for and don’t need, who they might want to protect.

Hence, it helps to give your own team a tentative protection list before you make any late season deals. Think long and clearly about whom you will protect and who is a marketable commodity. It is always nice to get extra draft picks or make a two-for-one during the off-season. However, you can’t count on getting something for those marginally protectable. Just be prepared by knowing whom you should keep and whom you should toss.

One mistake some managers make – even real life managers, at least, in decades past - is to focus too much on trading a player they think is very marketable, whom they no longer need. Actually, that’s a good approach to start off with. It helps you select the teams you are going to target. Obviously, you look at the teams that would be most interested in that player. Just know when to pull back. Don’t make a trade just to get rid of a guy. If you can’t make a worthwhile deal one week, maybe you can later.

Playoff line-up:

If you had a reliever with excellent stats, go ahead and use him as your closer, now. During the rest of the season, I generally don’t bother with a closer. There often are not enough save situations to soak up your closer’s innings. However, in the playoffs, with averages taken over the season rather than just one week, everyone has a more even performance. Blowouts are extremely rare. Hence, the games tend to be closer and have ample closer situations. Your closer’s performance will be more predictable as well.

Because the play-off games are so close, and the sim is extra generous about playing time in the play-offs, you should be extra cautious about taking out your best hitters for defensive subs.

That’s it for play-off tips. You will have to weigh your overachievers against your underachievers to see if their better April-August stats will likely outweigh the probable better September stats of your underachievers.

You might try something tricky like moving your top starter to the no. 2 or 3 spot. Some managers think that gives them a major edge. Some put 3.0 or 3.5 hook numbers on your starters, if they have a deep excellent bullpen.

Frankly, I’m not sure if these strategies are useful or not. Despite yearly debates in scoresheet-talk, I haven’t seen any iron clad logic or evidence that they do. It makes more sense to me to run through your starters in their order of effectiveness. The outcome of each game is too unpredictable to count on getting a win from a match-up in a latter game over an earlier game. You don't want anything wasted. If you are down 3 games to 1, your luck may be due to win the next 3. I've seen a Scoresheet team come back and win a championship from being down 3 games to 0 (a la '04 Red Sox). If you save your ace for a later game, you might be giving the other team just the edge they need by allowing their ace to beat your no. 2 guy on the 5th game.

It does seem that more Scoresheet post season series to go the full 7 games than would happen by chance. Does that make it a worthwhile strategy to move you ace to the no. 3 spot in your rotation in order to win that decisive game? I do not know.

After Labor Day, you could kick back and get to know your friends or loved ones. There is nothing more you can do for your Scoresheet team, if your only goal is to win the Championship. However, if you consider having the best record in your league or winning your division or finishing with a winning record as points of pride (and why the heck not?), then keep tweaking for another few weeks. Make you season last to the end.

John Carter