Filling Out the Line-up Sheet
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Complete Batting and Pitching Line-up strategies

The Line-up - Complete - That`s both sides!


Offensive Side


Picking your starting nine:


I decide who starts pretty much the same way I rate players for drafting, only I don`t worry about age or future value. Simply, what is their expected production (OBA + SlgA with an emphasis on OBA) depending on whether the pitcher is lefty or righty, and how much will their defense affects that (dis)advantage.


One other small consideration you could make is whether a player is a ``fit`` for your line-up. It is all right to have all on-base guys with no power. You get a multiplier effect for long rallies. However, having all power hitters doesn’t work, because you don`t have guys who get on base for the power hitters to drive in. That power is wasted. A balance of power and OBA, is fine. In other words: high OBA + high OBA is fine, high OBA + high Slugging is good, but high Slugging + high Slugging is inefficient.


It might be fun to play your ``hot`` players, but it always seems to backfire for me. Yet, I persist in doing it, because you can never tell if the slump or hot streak is based on a hidden injury or a new trick. Hidden injuries do happen more often than new tricks – although new tricks and even “best shape in his life” is something worth looking for especially with younger players at the start of the season. Just be cautious.


In deciding between two equally well projected players, I will give the edge to an inexperienced finesse pitcher when he first reaches the majors, because the league hasn`t figured him out, yet. You have to watch the young guys vigilantly, however, so you don`t keep him in your rotation long past his expiry date. With non-pitchers, I find the almost the opposite is true. Veterans are more reliable in the first half of the season, but eventually wear down. The younger bucks usually need experience to make their adjustments to major league pitching and carry on with more stamina. Power pitchers are a gamble either way, but can take even longer to harness their powers.


Click on Playing Players Out of Position, if you are considering it. I don`t like to do it - except when listing a good hitting infielder as a firstbaseman. There is no penalty for moving any infielder to firstbase. You can calculate the defensive hit that a player out of position will give you by using Garth Hewitt’s Out of Position Tool in the Files section of scoresheet-talk.


Platoon or not platoon: There are two reasons to platoon. One is if the platoon advantages actually help your line up. You merely need to apply the formula provided by Scoresheet here to their projected OBA and Slugging, then decide who should start as you normally would. The other reason to platoon is to preserve at bats. You might be batting a player higher in the order than he does in real life, but he doesn’t hit lefties much better than someone else on your bench, so you platoon them. You might watch out for batters hitting in the same slot as on your line-up, but play for low scoring teams. Perhaps, you have a left-handed or switch hitting catcher. No catcher plays every game, so you can control that he sits against lefties by platooning him. However, it is a little known fact that Scoresheet will try to do that for you even if your LHB catcher is listed full time. Likewise, you should platoon anyone who doesn’t play full time.


Obscure Bench Nuance: click here.


Batting order:


Since we don`t need to worry about batting base stealers in front of fastball hitters and having hit and run guys together, this is probably all you need to consider for a Scoresheet batting order:


1. The guys up who are going to be on first base the most (by walks and singles) should be just in front of your best home run hitters.


2. The guys up who are going to be in scoring position the most (by doubles, triples, and stolen bases) should be in front of the best singles hitters.


3. The guys who are most likely to not have enough At Bats per week nor have a decent back-up should be towards the bottom of the order. Also, if you bat someone lead-off who in real life bats clean-up, you might run out of At Bats for him in Scoresheet, if he isn’t platooned.


4. Try to do all of these things and get your best hitters up the most often. Although, it doesn’t make much difference, roughly your top OB guy should be lead-off, your top OPS guy should bat second, and your top Slg. guy should bat third. This is unconventional, but that’s what studies have shown is most effective. After that, you should aim for descending OPS or repeat as much as possible the same exercise for the 4-5-6 batters as I described for the 1-2-3 batters.


5. Mix up the lefties and righties as much as possible. It potentially messes up your opponents` bullpen strategy.


6. Remember that your substitute top-of-the-order batters must be either the substitute coming off the bench or from the 7th, 8th, or 9th spots in your original batting orders. If a sub is need in one of the top two spots of your order, Scoresheet will move into that spot your top Ranked PH vs. X amongst those eligible players batters who is pegged to steal. If there are no eligible stealers, it will move the top Ranked PH vs. X non-stealer. So, if there`s someone who is not a base-stealer you prefer to be one of your top-of-the-order guys over an eligible player who is and has a supior PH ranking, make the non-stealing lead-off type a base-stealer anyway. Unless he attempts many steals and often gets caught trying, he isn’t going to ruin your line-up with his stealing. Scoresheet won’t make him steal more than he does in real life. It’s better to get the guy with the OBA skills at the top, than a low OBA speedster.


That`s it. Following these rules means you will usually have your best base-stealers batting towards the bottom of your order - in front of the singles hitters. If you have an Edgar Martinez or a Michael Young, you could bat your base-stealer lead-off. However, if that base-stealer really doesn`t have a high OBA, then you should bat him 9th. You could bat your Edgar lead-off.

For more thoughts on this including some Mantle-Maris Yankee nostalgia click here.


Strategy Columns:


Other than for manipulating automated batting order changes (rule # 6), the steal sign should only be used for players who have expected SB:CS greater than 2 to 1. If you have power hitters coming behind him, look for a 3 to 1 ratio or higher. Caution: it is my experience that players who switch leagues get caught more often their first year after the switch. It undoubtedly takes them awhile to learn all those new pitchers` moves in the new league.


If you have a good closer, most experienced Scoresheet players would say the Earliest Sacrifice Bunt number should be 9 for the mode of starting players. Weaker hitters or those who bat in front of a significantly better hitter (considering whether it is a lefty or righty pitcher) should have a smaller number. Unless the hitter is weak and mismatched, you don`t want to go below 7 or 8. Put a dash in the box for your best hitters. You could adjust this model using more dashes, if your bullpen is a problem area. A regression analysis performed by Dick Craswell as reported by Ken Warren in scoresheet-talk observes that a successful sacrifice in Scoresheet does not increase a team’s chances of scoring more than a non-strikeout non-GIDP out. Hence, probably no batter should attempt one. As a compromise, I will probably continue to have my very weakest batters lay one down in the 9th or later, especially if I have a great reliever on the staff to finish the game.


The Rank or PH For should be used as much for manipulating the batting order with your substitutions as for who you want to pinch hit the most. (See batting order rule #6.) If you want to spend the time, a good exercise is to imagine all the combinations of two players being out of the line-up and seeing which two players would be substituting for them and where they would bat. Scoresheet has often reminded us: don`t forget to leave some Rank or PH For boxes blank. These are the guys you want pinch hitters for.


There are some quirky Scoresheet substitution considerations you should consider when filling out a player`s position:


1. Instead of the Scoresheet computer always first trying to fill a position with the top man from the bench (as I believe it should), the computer first checks to see if the DH is listed by you at that position. If so, it moves him to it. Then after filling all the other positions, it takes the top pinch hitter left and moves him into the DH spot. For example, one year I had Ken Griffey, Bernie Williams, and Jacques Jones listed as my outfielders, Many Ramirez listed as DH-OF, Rusty Greer listed no. 1 off my bench, and Brian Daubach had the top PH Ranking (against righties). My intention was that Greer would fill in if any of my outfielders were out, but Daubach would be in the line-up only if Ramirez or my firstbaseman were out. Instead, Daubach was inserted into into the line-up for Griffey not Greer. Scoresheet moved Ramirez to the outfield.


I could have eliminated that by listing Ramirez as just DH instead of DH-OF. However, with Griffey having trouble that season staying healthy, there was a good chance I would need two substitute outfielders. After Greer, I had a very strong preference for getting Daubach in the line-up over my top right-handed hitting substitute outfielder. To make the right choice you have to look at the desirability of each combo and the chances they could arise.


2. The Scoresheet computer cannot handle too many fielding possibilities for checking the best alignment. Once, I had Jose Valentin for a starting shortstop and defensive sub shortstop. He was listed at all his positions SS-3B-OF. I had Shane Halter on the bench as SS-3B and as my defensive sub thirdbaseman. Yet, when my starting thirdbaseman missed some games, Halter came in at shortstop and Valentin was moved to third! Ugh!


This also could be fudged by taking -3B away from Valentin. The lesson is that we should be careful about listing unnecessary positions. Only, if I had another shortstop who couldn`t also play third would I have needed Valentin`s flexibility.


3. If you just list your outfielders as OF, the one with the best range will be placed in center. The next best range will be in rightfield and the outfielder with the weakest range will end up in left. That`s cool. Unfortunately, defensive subs don`t work that way. They just go to the positions you list them as.


You might not want to use ``OF`` all the time, anyway. For example, if you only have one decent back-up centerfielder from your bench or starting line-up, but plenty of better hitting outfielders, then list those offensive outfielders as RF-LF, and the defensive wiz as CF. Don`t forget centerfield is the most important position in Scoresheet to have an outstanding fielder. That multiplier intensifies the differences between good defensive centerfielders and the less adequate.


Pitching Side


Choosing Starters:


Of course, you want your five best starters in the rotation. You can heed the spring training results for the younger pitchers, particularly the finesse types, but don`t let a bad spring from a healthy veteran scare you. He has his own methods of preparing without worrying about proving his worth.


If you have trouble choosing between a few pitchers, you can check: a) if your upcoming opponents strongly prefer lefties or righties; b) if any of the teams or stadiums your pitching candidates are facing in real life will help them to have a particularly good or bad week.


If you do not have 5 starters, but you do have a strong deep bullpen, do not panic yourself into a trade that you will regret in the long run. You can do just fine with one inning of AAA followed by your strong relief brigade. Having a reliever who qualifies as a starter eliminates that AAA inning. It’s good to draft one just for this purpose.




Closer or no closer: No closer, unless he is reliably excellent. There aren`t many of those around. That`s what my experience has taught me and it makes sense, although many wise veteran Scoresheet players disagree with me on this.


First, not using a closer makes your bullpen more efficient. If you need three innings, it is best to get them all from the same reliever. Scoresheet allows all relievers to go three
innings if they have enough innings banked. Every appearance costs an extra inning.


Second, without a closer, you won`t get your reliever taken out when he is pitching well - just because it is a closing situation. Who knows if your closer had a good week, but you do know the pitcher who hasn’t hit his hook number is pitching well.


Third, you might lose some innings from your closer. I know Scoresheet sort of banks a few innings if your closer doesn’t get enough opportunities. However, in my experience, it doesn’t always catch up.


I`ve seen some managers use two closers! Don`t even think about it, unless it is the play-offs or  . . . you don’t have a strong rotation and use an EI of 7 for your closers.


In the play-offs, however, closers take on a much more important role. Because all the stats are smoothed over, the games are generally close. That`s when a reliable excellent closer is worthwhile. Your closer will have more reliable stats, too.


Click here for more details regarding bull-pen set-up.


Strategy Columns:


Regarding the Earliest Inning to Use column, if you do use a closer who pitches at least 60 innings a year, the 8th inning is appropriate for not wasting him or over-using him. However, I am testing theory that an Earliest Inning of 7 is even better. Click on this Hook Numbers Essay for details on this study. I like having at least one right-handed set-up man, and one lefty. Having the 6th inning as their earliest inning gets their maximum use, although going with the 7th inning is more efficient for your entire pen. With no closer, a 2nd righty set-up man is necessary. The 2nd ranked set-up man might end up with more save situations, but the top ranked man will pitch more innings.


If you have any middle men in your bullpen, the 3rd inning will get you to the 6th, although it is not necessary to have more than one righty and one lefty middle relievers with an Earliest Inning greater than 1. All back-up starters should use inning 1, too. Ideally, you have at least one lefty back-up starter and one lefty middle man. That is when those lefties are most effective - when it is too early for the pinch hitters to come into the game. Do not be strict about these innings. It will depend on how many pitchers you have of each type, but this should be the general plan.


Hook numbers: Click on this Hook Numbers Essay, if you haven’t already, for an analysis on ideal hook numbers and Earliest Inning. Or, don’t bother. An optimal pitching line-up might look like this:


Starting Rotation  Hook

Pitching Ace       5.0

(all higher if short on pitchers)

Reallygood Two     5.0

Third Starter      4.0

Good Fourthguy     4.0

Fifth Starter      3.0


General Bullpen    Hook Ing. vs.R vs.L

Alt Rightystarter  5.0   1    6    6

Alt Leftystarter   5.0   1    7    5

Reliever Five      1.0   1    5    9

Reliever Four      1.0   1    4    8

Reliever Three     1.0   3    3    7

Reliever Loogy     0.5   3    9    2

Reliever Two       3.5   6    2    4

Top Lefty          3.5   6    8    1

Top Reliever       3.5   7    1    1


A good rule of thumb, is to set the Hook for Closer to your closer`s expected ERA. Apparently Scoresheet does build in a tiring factor for pitchers left in the game too long. By my experience, it doesn`t seem to be very large. Tom Hanrahan reminded us in scoresheet-talk on Aug. 31, 2012 that since it is always pays to use a closer in the play-offs and a pitcher’s play-off ERA is never extreme due to the large sample of stats used – and therefore will almost certainly be higher than your closer’s, that you should set your starting pitchers’ Hook for Closer to 1.0 in order to make sure he comes out.


Here is an essay on the Prefer to Face Teams boxes. Despite of its advantages, I dislike this option and didn’t bother using it this year.


Finally, rank your bullpen against righties and lefties. Remember your pitchers’ actual platoon splits are not used. Against right handed batters, just rank your right handed relievers in order (starting with 1) from the one with the latest inning to be used to the earliest. Then comes the righty starters in you pen, followed by the lefty starters in your pen, then the lefty relievers from latest used to the earliest. Do the same process for vs. left-handed batters. The advantage of listing the opposite sided starters in your pen ahead of the opposite sided relievers is that you save those relievers for coming in against the batters in a greater leverage situation. That is assuming you expect a lower ERA from your relievers than you substitute starters, which is not always the case. If it gets down to having to bring in a left-handed starter in your pen against a right-handed batter, the game is likely out of reach, and your lefty starter has more innings to burn than any of your lefty relievers.


Defensive Replacements:


Except for catcher, defensive subs should almost always be used, if there are any differences in your players` ranges – especially if you have a need to conserve your starter’s at bats and you have a better fielding sub. Don`t worry if your highly inferior fielding starter is a highly superior hitter. You might actually get him in some extra games by saving his at bats late in the games you are already leading. Be flexible, though. If your bullpen really reeks, you might want to keep your weak fielding slugger in, anyway.


If your starter is the superior fielder, put him down as the defensive substitute. There may be games he doesn`t have enough at bats that week to start, but would be allowed to play late in the game. If you know your superior fielding starter is not likely to have enough at bats for the week, just move him down in the order or platoon him.


Catchers do not need a defensive sub, because opposing teams don`t steal if your team is in a defensive sub situation. However, if you want to save some at bats without platooning, go ahead.


Remember to enjoy making out your line-ups. They are fun satisfying puzzles.

John Carter