Draft Lists: Using the Plus

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the fine nuance of roster balancing

The web draft has rendered the use of Scoresheet's roster balancing and use of the "+" obsolete. However, if you are in a situation where you still need to use it, here are my observations from back when I was a Wiz at it:


Scoresheet limits us to 10 plusses. I wondered why there was a limit. Freedom, man! We should be allowed to use as many as we want!


Well, most of us should probably thank Scoresheet for being so inhibiting. We would probably have worse drafts, if left to our own freedom. Limiting yourself to a maximum of 10 plusses works best most of the time. Well, there might have a couple years in which I could really have used a few more. There may be a real reason for limiting it to 10, such as it being easier to program and administer.


Here are some of the ways I’ve used plusses:


In Phase 2, there can be a big value difference between the very top players available and the best one available at one of the positions you have open. The first few picks from the 2nd phase should probably be based on total value, because 1) you should take advantage of that value difference; 2) at least a couple of your protected players probably won`t be worth protecting again next year; and 3) you can trade three of your players for picks at the end of the year, and double up others for a better single player. Hence, you will need to put a plus sign in front of those most outstanding players irregardless of whether you have their positions filled. Since Scoresheet automatically ignores roster balancing on the first round of Phase 2 in a keeper league, this use of the plus is almost not necessary. Hence, if you need to use some of those precious 10 plusses for any of the other strategies instead – do so.


If there is a prospect you want to draft well before round 31, but not in one of the first few rounds, then list him with a + below all the available starters at his position. Scoresheet will draft one of those starters as your back-up, then draft your plussed prospect even though that position is “filled”. If you want to draft a prospect earlier, then it requires more plusses. You’d have to plus the players at that prospect’s position listed below the prospect. You would need to plus the prospect, too, if you have any players at his position listed above him. If you are doing this at more than one position, it will be difficult with only 10 plusses.


Another plussing strategy is to load up on guys at your weakest position. This entire game is based on percentages. The more so-so players you draft at one position, the greater the chance at least one of them will be useful.


If you protect a prospect, he does not count towards roster balancing. In 2002 I protected prospect Carlos Pena who was expected to be the Athletics’ firstbaseman and a star for years to come. My starting firstbaseman was the solid John Olerud, so I didn’t want to waste a pick on any other firstbasemen. Hence, I plussed the first 10 players in Phase 3 below the players who would get drafted anyway before it searched for a firstbaseman.


Another year I felt that almost all the right-handed relievers available were a little better than the lefties available. So, I listed those lefties below right-handers and plussed them to assure me of getting at least one.


I happen to believe someone who has a bullpen job and a decent chance of being pretty good is worth more than a borderline real life 5th starter. Extremely rare is the 5th starter who sticks in a rotation all season long. When he isn’t starting, he is often sent down to AAA. It is hard to use players who can not be relied upon to be there. Hence, I will sometimes plus some short relievers in the 3rd phase to bypass the non-short reliever requirements.


A good hitting thirdbaseman is more valuable than an average hitting firstbaseman. Thirdbasemen can be moved to firstbase without a fielding penalty. Having the versatility to play third is a plus, so he should be plussed, particularly if there is a firstbase prospect you covet.


It’s actually fun thinking of ways to manipulate the draft with these plusses. Live and web drafts work a little better for most people, but I never had much problem building the team the way I wanted with the draft lists. It just requires a bit more thought.

John Carter