***Statesman Fantasy Challenge: Email [email protected] if you want to participate in the fantasy baseball challenge. It will be a competitive, 12-team, 5 x 5 rotisserie league on Yahoo!. We will post a league update in The Statesman and talk about the league in our upcoming baseball podcast, including interviews with participants and analysis on the happenings in the league. We have three spots available***
I saw 10,000 BC over the weekend and came away thinking it was a good movie. Nothing earth-shattering or award winning but a movie that kept me entertained throughout. I’m usually skeptical of listening to critics who see hundreds more movies than I see anyway. But then I got home and thought about the movie and realized that some things went unexplained. I rehashed the movie some more and more cracks appeared. And by then I was pretty sure that USA Today which called the movie a “bombastic bore” and The New York Times which described it as “sublimely dunderheaded,” were more right than wrong. And this relates to fantasy baseball. Follow me here.
You left your draft thinking your team was destined for greatness. It was balanced with youth and veterans, upside and consistency. You took a look at your collection of players and could see a shiny little virtual trophy in the distance, just out of reach but soon to be yours. Players like Andruw Jones, Vernon Wells, Jason Bay, Rickie Weeks, Joe Mauer, Scott Rolen, Jered Weaver, Chris Carpenter, and B.J. Ryan excited you a little more than they should have. But if those players were the foundation for your team last year then those close to you were probably worried by your bouts of depression and expletive filled tirades. It’s a cherry picked list used to make my point but either through injuries, unrealistic expectations, or ill-timed down years they helped to sink many a ship.
Some of these things are out of your control but better drafting can help to minimize the chances for headaches later on. Avoiding these mistakes can help your team hold up against a closer inspection?unlike 10,000 BC.
1. Thinking veterans are still the players they used to be?five years ago.
Look Randy Johnson is one of the all-time greats. He’s on the short list of greatest lefties ever and definitely the surliest greatest lefty ever. But he’s 44! You can’t just pencil him as your number three starter and expect the glorious stats to come rolling in. This year he might be a decent gamble but only if you factor in his durability. He’ll perform when healthy but how often will that be?
2. Thinking young dynamos will turn into a hybrid of Babe Ruth and a young Ken Griffey Jr. or Sandy Koufax and Pedro Martinez in his prime.
For every Ryan Braun there are five Alex Escobar’s. A prospect holds the promise of upside but not limitless talent. Abandoning common sense to make your team as young as possible will ensure that you finish in the bottom of the league. It’s also counterintuitive because a lot of managers get the ‘young player bug’ and this drives up demand for them. Next thing you know you paid a steep draft day price for someone who hasn’t even proved themselves in the majors. The flip side is that consistent producers can be undervalued. Focus on those and then trash talk appropriately when someone’s “young stud” ends up in the minors by May. “Young stud” is also a borderline creepy term for a player. I’ll move on.
3. Focusing too much on your strengths, waving off weaknesses and rationalizing everything by assuming that you will trade to address the weaknesses.
Your team is not a force unseen in the history of fantasy baseball. Just stop right now. It’s great that you have five mashers but if you don’t have any speed or closers then your team is just as flawed as the guy who showed up high to the draft and drafted Coco Crisp first overall because he liked his name. Time would be better spent identifying weaknesses early on and keeping an eye on your team during April and May. If your fears are realized then you have to move to fix the problems quickly. Lastly, trading happens pretty rarely so unless you know your league mates or somehow get a really active group of guys you will need to be a waiver wire hawk to improve your team.
4. Relying on extrapolated statistics and the fallacy of the predetermined outcome.
The first part is serious, the second part is a hilarious bit that Michael Kay uses to show that he’s smart during Yankee broadcasts but actually shows him to be an idiot. We will analyze extrapolating statistics here. Let’s use the case of Geovany Soto, a top prospect for the Chicago Cubs who is slated to be their starting catcher this year. He batted .389 with three home runs and had 8 RBIs in 54 at bats in September. Someone who fancies themselves a mathematician might make that 30 home runs and 80 RBIs in 540 at bats. They might even go a little further and decide that his youth means he will definitely improve. That might mean 35 home runs and 90 RBIs. All of a sudden a good young player with upside is being expected to be one of the top two players at his position and challenge Ted Williams by batting near .400 again. It’s not going to happen.
5. Amphetamines and Steroids. Heard of them?
The reality of baseball statistics in the steroid era is that there has been much more variance compared to the other sports. A guy might start his career with 16 home runs and then hit 34, 49 and 73 home runs between the ages of 35 and 37. Now allow me to close Barry Bonds player page. There, that’s better. Steroids and HGH have been a problem but amphetamines affect player’s numbers a lot as well. They were banned before last year and you have to expect that three-year trends for a player might not be as useful if the guy was popping greenies left and right. Players are much more likely to wear down as the season goes on
And there you have it. Some tips to help you during fantasy season. Hopefully these will keep your team from being described as a “bombastic bore” or “sublimely dunderheaded” by a verbose trash talker in your league.