Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Robot Baseball

I’ve been collecting baseball cards for a long time now and I’ve also been playing fantasy baseball for a long time.  I started playing fantasy baseball in the early 90s through a company called Robot Baseball.  Robot Baseball started pre-Internet and required the filling out of a Scantron sheet in order to set your lineup.  You also had to wait until results arrived in your mailbox to find out how your team did.  At one point there was a 900 number that could be called for results, but it gave teams that used it a bit of an advantage because you could find out roster moves a week earlier than teams who waited for results through the mail.

What I really liked about Robot Baseball was that it involved real baseball strategy.  You had a salary cap and had to put together a team that resembled an actual baseball team in order to be successful.  Runs counted a little bit more if they came from the first three guys in your lineup as did RBIs from batters four through six.  Teams had a minor league roster where you could keep rookies and other players whose salaries were under a certain amount.  For example, my team was struggling the year that A-Rod was called up and I was able to draft him the week that he first became available and had him on my minor league roster.

Another thing that I loved about Robot Baseball was that it was a keeper league.  You built your team from year to year and had to think about which players you wanted to keep and which you wanted to let go.  You also had the ability to sign players to extensions at their current salary to save yourself some money if you think that it is going to go up the following season.

I stopped playing Robot Baseball around 1994 and started playing fantasy baseball online on Yahoo and Sandbox.  Those were fun and easy, but many of those leagues declined in fun starting the day after the draft.  I saw too many bad trades involving teams out of the running who didn’t care about their teams anymore, team giving up when they were out of the running and other things that kept these fantasy leagues from being as fun as they could be.

This year, while searching online for Robot Baseball in the hopes that someone had revived it online, I came across Benchwarmer Baseball.  This site was run by someone else who had played Robot Baseball and who used a lot of the game as the groundwork for this one.  I quickly signed up and have been in the process of drafting my new team.

The draft process is an interesting one.  For the initial dispersal draft, you have to submit a list of players that would constitute a legal roster if you were to get every player that you requested.  That means filling all of the positions and remaining under the salary cap.  Any player that is only requested by one team goes to that team.  Players that were requested by more than one team are awarded through a dispersal process.  I missed out on some players due to forgetting to rank my picks, but I’m fairly happy with how I did.  The only players that I missed out on were some of my sleeper picks and players that I was drafting for the minor league roster.

In the first part of the draft, I acquired Victor Martinez ($3519), Joey Votto (2200), Kevin Kouzmanoff (2076), Everth Cabrera (672), Nick Markakis (4634), Jon Lester (4869), Brett Anderson (2378), Wade Davis (202), Hideki Okajima (1444) and Dustin Nippert (610).

From there, there are up to three more rounds to get teams up to legal rosters.  The first part of the second round draft, I was able to add the following players to my roster: Brian Roberts (4293), Chase Headley (1793), James Loney (2997), Willy Aybar (685), John Danks (3889), Mike Adams (1750) and Justin Masterson (1078).

With two more rounds to go, I still need a starting OF, 4 bench players, a pitcher for my starting rotation, two spot starters and a relief pitcher.  From there, you can also have 2 DL/taxi squad spots for players with any amount of salary and 12 minor league slots for players with salaries under 250,000.

For those spots, I picked up Bobby Abreu (4786), Brendan Harris (1104), Kosuke Fukudome (1586), Taylor Teagarden (238), Max Ramirez (100) Kevin Correia (2860), and Papelbon (6110).

So, my lineup before Brian Roberts got injured looked like this:

1) Brian Roberts – 2B
2) Kevin Kouzmanoff – 3B
3) Everth Cabrera – SS
4) Joey Votto – 1B
5) Nick Markakis – OF
6) Victor Martinez – C
7) Bobby Abreu – OF
8) James Loney – DH
9) Chase Headley – OF

My starting rotation is:

Jon Lester
Brett Anderson
John Danks
Kevin Correia
Wade Davis

The best part of Robot Baseball and now Benchwarmer Baseball as well is that each regular season game corresponds to a league game.  Things don’t start until game 6 of the regular season for hitters which allows starting pitchers to all get a start in before the season begins.  This is mostly done because the week that you have a pitcher scheduled to start twice in a week in BWB may not be the same week he’s going to pitch twice in real life.  So, starts are saved up and then served up in order when it is that player’s turn to pitch.

So far, the results have only been run for the first game of the season which I lost.  Brian Roberts didn’t play and neither did any of his backups which gives you a pretty bad penalty.  Combine that with a shaky start from Lester and I ended up losing 6-5 in extra innings.

1 comment:

Field of Cards said...


I hope Roberts gets back soon for your sake and the sake of the Orioles.