Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Year Adrian Gonzalez rode the bench

I play in the greatest fantasy baseball league in the world. I actually play in three but one is far more to time consuming and complex than any other fantasy league I have ever been in. In my league Adrian Gonzalez remains on the waiver wire, along with Evan Longoria, Dan Haren and Cole Hamels, all judged not good enough for the competing teams. In my league I once spent a good amount of time trying to find a guy that could get me more sacrifice flys. My league has only two players... welcome to Super Baseball 5000.

Super Baseball 5000, the name of this ridiculous league was hatched by my friend and I at a diner a few months before the 2011 season. As avid fans of arguing about baseball and playing strat-o-matic we thought that it might be fun to concoct a way to play heads up fantasy baseball. After several iterations, we came up with the format that lead to funnest season of fantasy sports I have ever played.

The basic rules are this: Scoring is rotisserie style. Instead of drafting players like in a normal fantasy draft, we draft teams. (I chose the Phillies and the Yankees with the 1st and third picks, my opponent picked the Cardinals and Red Sox) you then staff your team with players from the teams you chose. Preseason you can tinker as much as you want, once the season begins you have the standard 50 move transaction limit. The catch being that you have to have at least one player from each of your teams on your roster. The constant battle to find useful Astros and Orioles being on of the toughest parts of the format.

The other key to the format is lots of categories and several totally unreasonable ones.  Their are 30 scoring categories including fielding percentage, grand slams, hitting for the cycle, complete games and triples allowed. Nothing is more maddening than trying to control categories that players have essentially no control over. What do I care if Robbie Cano hit two run home runs if his failure to turn a double play just cost me points in the double plays turned category.

The essence of what makes this league so hard and so time consuming is the choices. In a standard fantasy leagues their is only so much you can do. If you need to improve your team, the choices on the wire are usually not guys who are very good. You either cobble together bad starters or pick guys up on hot streaks and hope they don't flame out too quick. It is infinitely harder to decide who to start as my third outfielder when the choices are Ryan Braun or Josh Hamilton. It's even harder to decide who to pick up to improve my pitching when I have half the leagues aces sitting on the available player list. Not to mention trying to balance having a player from every team (Mark Melancon, I dreamed so often of how great it would be to drop you).

I am proud to say I won the first year of Super Baseball 5000. Despite a not so well thought out plan where I benched Cliff Lee for two weeks and some other ill fated strategies I came out the victor. Super Baseball 5001 is now underway and I am pleased to report I maintain a 9 point league. Updates on this and my other leagues throughout the season.

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