One of the more enlightening things I learned from playing 10 years of rotisserie baseball (if there were, in fact, numerous enlightening things I learned), was that college ballplayers make for more quickly productive major leaguers. The league I played in was quite nerdishly involved, and we conducted a multi-round minor league draft every year; as our rosters consisted of 24 full-time players with contracts and another 7-10 that were still in the minor leagues we had to dig deep. It wasn’t quite an ULTRA-style rotisserie league (what dorks!), but I certainly spent far too many hours researching the Orioles A-ball squads and the Indians Winter League statistics, looking for the next stud closer or the next unknown speed demon. It was only after about 4 years of picking the youngest runners (Felipe Lopez at 17 one year, IIRC), the hardest throwing hurlers (Rocky Coppinger, Baltimore flamthrowing bust, another) that my co-owner and I smartened up and looked forward. This was long before "Moneyball" hit the shelves, as a point of fact, and we had realized that a couple of years of college did wonders – in rotisserie baseball the idea of waiting three to five years for one of your minor leaguers to mature became untenable as an idea. Guys like Lopez and Coppinger morphed into Troy Glaus, Carlos Pena, and Barry Zito, and our team became a perennial strength: we were able to slot new guys in at low prices all while building a system to trade from at the deadline.
We were never sure if it was the exposure to Faulkner, Cezanne, and Organic Chemistry that made college worthwhile, or if it was the controlled schedule, the additional physical strength, or the emotional maturity gained prior to hitting a big league team’s system (pressure, contract, and all) that did it. It was a good example of how rotisserie baseball was able to simulate growing a major league ballclub, however simplistically, and it was one of the reasons I really enjoyed such a convoluted and involved hobby as roto, even as it was also the reason (way too much time, way too much knowledge of Casey Kotchman’s BB/K ratio at the age of 18) that I had to quit. Looking towards the Ivory Towers is a tenet that has some reflection in the real baseball world, and should be watched at today’s draft — near-ready impact players are available in the draft, despite what some other bloggers say. Keep your eyes on those student athletes.