Yeah, I know. No one cares about your team but you. So consider this as much about a cool new format as it is another canned team review. In full disclosure, I helped fine tune the scoring and rules so while I won't say I have a vested interest in the format succeeding, I'm certainly rooting for it to do so.
The National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) unveiled a new contest for 2016, The Cutline Championship. As the name implies, your squad has to survive a series of cuts along the way, which is unique for their format.
There are several other major differences. This is a points-based, best-ball competition. The leagues are also small, consisting of just ten teams. The initial rosters go 36 deep then grow to 41 in early April with a final expansion to 46 in early June. These two free agent periods are the only times you actively manage your squad. The best-ball scoring takes care of the rest. The idea is a 10-team mixed draft flies by, usually taking between two and two and a half hours, followed by minimal in-season management so the league is as low maintenance as you can get. Yet, you still have a chance to take down one of those big cardboard checks that don't fit into an ATM.
The scoring is a little odd as it is designed to generate rankings that mimic standard 5x5 cheat sheets. This was done intentionally so the Cutline can not only scratch a drafting itch but also serve as preparation for the standard NFBC contests.
- Home Run: 6 points
- Stolen Base: 5 points
- Hit: 4 points
- Run: 2 points
- RBI: 2 points
- At-bat: -1 point
- Win: 6 points
- Save: 6 points
- Inning Pitched: 3 points
- Strikeout: 1 point
- Hit or Walk Allowed: -1 point
- Earned Run Allowed: -2 points
One of the really fun aspects of The Cutline is we're all working blind. No one knows what strategy is best. We all think we do, but everything is still untested. The best-ball aspect of the scoring is the most intriguing wrinkle since the extra roster spots are more than depth, they're candidates to make your optimal lineup each week.
- How many pitching spots do you dedicate to the equivalent of streamers?
- How relevant are closers?
- Do you take a chance on a productive injury prone player?
- Is it worth taking up a spot with a prospect that may not be called up for several weeks or months, reducing the number of players that may make your optimal lineup each week?
- How much does it hurt to fill your utility with a DH-only?
This is only a taste of the unknown strategy elements of this new format. And, to be honest, what works this season may not work next year. As is the case in any format, more often than not, it's not why you pick but who you pick.
Going in, the plan was to focus on reliable and productive bats early including catchers with tons of AB, mixing in good pitchers on good teams (wins and K's important). I planned on fading 2B/SS and possibly 3B (which came to fruition). If David Ortiz slipped I'd wait for a big discount and grab him – then look for lots of multiple eligibility elsewhere. I wanted a mostly solid OF but at least one spot to dedicate to the spaghetti method (throw a bunch of guys against the wall and see what sticks). I want to shun closers and get a ton of starters, hoping to get lucky with wins and possible 2-start weeks. When I got to the fungible portion of the draft (those that are likely to bounce in and out of the optimal lineup each week) I wanted to embrace variance by choosing players with great hitting parks or actionable platoon splits, hoping that weeks they have a favorable set-up, they'd pop into the optimal lineup. It's not a whole lot different than GPP DFS philosophy.
Adding to the pre-draft skull session was being awarded the first pick. My rankings for the format have Clayton Kershaw on top with Paul Goldschmidt just a tad behind. However, I project the lanky lefty for 20 wins, which even for him is aggressive. Give Kershaw 18 and Goldie leapfrogs him into the lead. Of course, Kershaw can also register 24 victories, but still, I felt better with Goldschmidt as my foundation.
I asked the Internet to name the squad and Teamy McTeamface won.
Introducing Teamy McTeamface:
C Buster Posey, Jonathan Lucroy (Carlos Perez)
1B Goldie, Adrian Gonzalez
3B Daniel Murphy (2B), Brett Lawrie (2B), Martin Prado
2B Brandon Phillips (also Murphy and Lawrie)
SS Jung-ho Kang (3B), Jonathan Villar, Brandon Crawford
OF Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez (1B?), Kevin Pillar, Alex Gordon (Kevin Kiermaier, Josh Reddick, Jayson Werth)
UT Big Papi
P Jake Arrieta, David Price, Jon Lester, Garrett Richards, Jeff Samardzija, Jose Quintana, John Lackey, Andrew Heaney, Erasmo Ramirez (Nate Eovaldi, Adam Conley, Brandon Finnegan, Anibal Sanchez, Joe Kelly, Rubby De La Rosa).
I'll spare you the player-by-player rhetoric. but suffice it to say I carried out the plan as designed. Murphy, Lawrie, Kang and Hanley have dual eligibility (or soon will) which makes up for Ortiz clogging utility. Phillips, Lawrie and Villar all play in very good hitting parks. Reddick crushes righties. The consideration I didn't mention was focusing on players with a good chance to hit on top of the order which made Pillar, Gordon and Kiermaier a little more attractive. Prado and Crawford are a couple of reliable high floor, low ceiling guys to make sure I don't get crushed at 3B and SS. The top pitchers can all go deep into games (points for IP) and play for good teams (wins).
While I honestly have no clue how this group will stack up against the rest of the competition, I'm very pleased with how things turned out. Now all that's left is to...