It’s no secret, and I’m sure you likely feel the same. I miss baseball. So, when the mention of a Major League Baseball Remix League entered the Twitterverse, I had to join in on what has turned out to be a ton of fun.
Before we get into the details of the league, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Matt Williams for starting the league, and Out of the Park Baseball (@ootpbaseball) for sponsoring the league, so we can actually play out the draft via their simulation platform.
Fan of the Orioles, Marlins, or Tigers and tired of the seemingly continuous losing? Not a fan of some players your team employs? If so, this is your new lease on MLB fandom life. In the MLB remix realm, all 30 teams are blank canvases for their new general managers to attempt to deliver a masterpiece, or in other words, a World Series.
With a snake draft and no salary restrictions, the 30 teams could potentially be as balanced as you’ve ever seen. Each baseball analyst’s goal is to draft (50 rounds) the best baseball team possible and then see how it all plays out in three full seasons on OOTP. Let’s dive into my pre-draft strategies as GM of the Angels remix.
Anytime you are playing in a league that spans longer than one year you have to ask yourself what direction do you want to take your team. In a redraft league, the objective is clear: Win that one season. In a three-year league, you have a few different possible routes: You can buy the veterans and try to win the first season, you can buy top prospects that you hope all grow together to form a powerhouse in year two or three, or you can try to run the gantlet and compete all three seasons.
I decided to take on the challenge of drafting the best team I could over a three-year span. So I first wanted to target players I felt were either just entering or about to enter their primes. In theory, this would give me a solid foundation for all three years, and I wouldn’t need to worry if my first- or second-round pick would fade by year two or three.
Since the pool of prime players dries up eventually, I knew I’d need a complementary plan to the prime foundation. This is where the blend of veterans and prospects comes into play. I figured for the positions I didn’t have prime players at, I could look to add veterans to help for the first year and a half and prospects for the rest. This is obviously easier said than done, but it can be made easier if the next strategy is implemented effectively.
Multiple applications here. First, securing players that can play multiple positions allows for flexibility as the draft unfolds. If I lock in a player who can’t play the field (think JD Martinez or Jorge Soler), then I have to pass on possible bargains that fit that mold later in the draft, at a much lower acquisition cost.
Second, switch hitters are a target as they provide quite a bit of lineup flexibility when trying to build a balanced lineup that isn’t susceptible to either hand pitcher. If I start the draft with three right-handed hitters, then I’m likely thinking I need to add a lefty that can stick in the middle of the lineup to help balance. That creates pressure on upcoming picks when I am likely needing starting or relief pitching. Bonus: Switch hitters are also matchup nightmares as they don’t allow the pitcher to have the platoon advantage.
Maximize the Park
One of the few factors we inherited with our team was their stadium. With taking on the Angels, I knew it played fairly well for hitters, especially with the fences in right field now lowered. I wanted to see how the OOTP stadium’s factors stacked up against Yankee Stadium, a known lefty hitters’ haven. The results were about as expected, as Angels Stadium plays a bit bigger, but is relatively close when looking at how it plays for home runs (HR overall=1.092 to 1.062, HR LHB=1.17 to 1.12, HR RHB=1.05 to 1.03 where 1.0 is considered neutral).
When considering that there are more right-handed pitchers than left, I figured the switch-hitting strategy would fit right in with Angels Stadium, as the majority of those at-bats would be from the left side. Of course, if my division mates draft lefty heavy, then I won’t be able to utilize the park as much, so we’ll have to see how that plays out. Given that the park plays more favorably to lefty batters, I wanted to target some that I thought could maximize their potential if they were able to play into the friendly park factors. This would set up a lineup that crushes righties, and then, later on, I could grab some hitters that can hit lefties well, which would create the ability to be flexible with platoon opportunities.
Conversely, I won’t take them off my board, but I am going to shy away from right-handed pitchers that have extreme fly ball tendencies, as that could be a recipe for disaster against a lefty-heavy lineup. If I can build a staff with a lean towards ground balls, and back that up with a good infield defense, then mission accomplished.
The draft-order randomizer gave me the 12th pick, which gave me additional direction in putting together my package of strategies. I figured I wouldn’t get one of the uber elite hitters, nor would I likely get Gerrit Cole or Jacob deGrom, as I was sure a few of the 11 teams picking prior would want to attack pitching.
Ideally, I wanted to acquire a starting pitcher that I felt could produce three ace-quality seasons. This would then rule out two of the top redraft SPs Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, as I am not sure how their production would be in year three of the league. It could very easily still be elite innings from both, but there is some possibility that there would be some decline. So we’ve already taken a few of the top SPs off the theoretical draft board, but with my second pick not coming until pick 49, it overall feels a bit risky to draft a hitter and pray an ace like SP comes back to me in Round 2.
Since it’s a 30-team league with each team (technically) needing five starting pitchers quick math tells me roughly 150 SPs at a minimum will be drafted. Then factor in SPs drafted that are injured, used as long relievers, or drafted as rotation depth and that number balloons. That tells me I probably shouldn’t test my luck and wait on pitching, even if I do feel confident in finding middle to late round talent. There’s a SP that I feel is a great fit for this format. If he is available at 12, he’ll be announced as our first-round selection.
- Rotation strength: If I am able to draft an ace in a traditional fantasy league, I’d likely wait a bit on pitching. In this format I don’t want to neglect starting pitching as there are plenty of injuries over a 162-game season, so I want to have at least three solid options that cover me.
- Bullpen construction: First, I want to make sure I get a lockdown closer. I could play the waiting game, but that is risky business with this many teams as you can easily lose 3-4 of your top options before your next pick, even if you are in the middle. Grabbing a stud allows me to not have to be as reactionary to reliever runs that may occur. I also want to have a balanced pen that can get righties and lefties out. Whatever closer I land, I hope to pair him with another good reliever of the opposite hand to give me a 1-2 punch for whatever situation arises in the final innings.
- Think deep: A very important element when considering this type of format is depth at all positions. Fifty rounds can be daunting, but it can also provide ample opportunity to build layers throughout your team so you can mitigate injury risk.
- Avoid current injuries early: There are some quality arms on the shelf for 2020. However they should be back to relative strength in 2021, but is the acquisition cost worth waiting a year? There are some intriguing injured players later in the draft that I think may be able to provide more value when considering their cost. Injuries will always find you in a 162-game season, so I also plan to steer away from injury-prone players unless the price is right.
- Defense matters: I don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking I can get by with a below-average defense. In a perfect world, I will be able to land great infield and outfield defense, but I may need to choose one or the other or try to blend both. Plus, I want my pitching staff to be happy. Good defense equals happy pitchers. Usually.
Below is the draft order with each team’s new GM(s):
- White Sox – Ralph Lifshitz (Prospects Live) & Ray Butler (Prospects365)
- Dodgers – Greg L (Prospects365 VIP member)
- Royals – Eric Samulski (RotoBaller)
- Mets – Matt Williams (Turn Two Pod)
- Cubs – Dave Swan (SP Streamer, RotoBaller)
- Tigers – Michael Simione (SP Streamer)
- Pirates – Michael Waterloo (FantasyPros, Athletic)
- Rockies – Benjamin Pasinkoff (RotoGraphs)
- Indians – Johnnie Black (The Scorecrow)
- Rangers – Andy Patton (Pitcher List)
- Nationals – Kevin Pulsifer (ESPN)
- Angels – Will Garofalo (Pitcher List, SP Streamer)
- Yankees – Callen Elslager (Bases Loaded)
- Giants – KC Bubba (Fantasy Degens, RotoBaller)
- Rays – Zach Braff (Bases Loaded, Exit Velo)
- Red Sox – Ben Wilson (Prospects1500) & Eric Cross (Fantrax)
- Astros – Gary Wise (Only non-affiliated member)
- Orioles – Chris (Baseball Pods)
- Cardinals – Nathan Grimm (Rotoworld)
- Athletics – Steve Silvestri (Sideline Squib Pod)
- Reds – Heath Capps (FakeTeams)
- Mariners – Corbin (Bases Loaded) & Stompy (Turn Two Pod)
- Diamondbacks – Frank Stampfl (CBS)
- Twins – Erik van Rheenen (Pitcher List)
- Padres – Doug Ishikawa (SP Streamer)
- Braves – Jorge Montanez (Bases Loaded, Fantrax)
- Blue Jays – Michael Ganci (Daily Stache)
- Brewers – Corey Ott (SP Streamer, Prospects365)
- Phillies – Tony B (Prospects1500) & Rhys White (Six Man Rotation)
- Marlins – Mike Kurland (Bases Loaded, Fantrax)
With no MLB games for us to pore over, the MLB Remix League hopefully provides an oasis for us baseball fans.
If you are interested in reading more articles on the league you can find some over at the Bases Loaded Network. There is also a league account (@MLBRemix) if you want to follow the action on Twitter. I hope you’ll hop on board as I attempt the challenge of building a contender in LA without Mike Trout.
Feature Graphic Designed by James Peterson (Follow @jhp_design714 on Twitter & Instagram)