Your struggling team finally looks like they have put it all together. You are leading a week-long contest and are about to jump from 4th place to perhaps 2nd place. And then Sunday happens–your team goes a combined 4 for 31 (after a blistering 7 for 36 Saturday). And, to add insult to injury, you end up benching a struggling player (in this case Aaron Hill) on the day that he breaks out (3/4, 2B, HR, BB). Result? A 9-15 week and a trip back to 6th place (45-47-8 for the season).
That’s pretty much the word for my early season. My third, fourth, fifth, and sixth round picks have all gotten off to slow starts (Justin Upton, Victor Martinez, Aaron Hill, and Chone Figgins). I’m still for the most part patient with them, but its really beginning to cost me. I play in a league with only 22 man rosters, so its hard to dedicate a bench spot to a back-up catcher. Although, if Martinez doesn’t improve soon, I’ll have to.
For any fantasy player who makes their way here, let me recommend fangraphs; I track my team there. What’s nice about fangraphs is the plate discipline section–it will show you which of your players are getting unlucky and which are swinging themselves into bad luck. Consider it BABIP on roids. In my case, it suggests that Aaron Hill is merely getting unlucky (he’s still swinging at strikes at the same rate as previous seasons) and that Chone Figgins isn’t being aggressive enough (swinging at only 31% of all pitches against a lifetime 41%, and only swinging at 48.8% of strikes as opposed to a lifetime rate of 62.1%). It also suggests that Victor Martinez will be fine, since his line drive rate is over his career average (25.2% so far this season) and his BABIP is only .241 (his career BABIP is .311, so it should begin to return toward the mean). My only real concern thus far is with Upton–his contact rates are all slightly worse than last year. Here’s to hoping that’s an effect of our relatively small sample ize…
This is only my second season in fantasy baseball, and my first time in an 8 team league. Magnified by the small roster size and the unlimited transactions, free agency is a large part of the game. I could put together a pretty strong roster just out of the guys available in free agency. So, some of the players I took a risk on were a mistake (like the two shortstops, Cabrera and Escobar) since there are so many quality players available after the draft (I picked up Rafael Furcal and, after his injury, Stephen Drew). I will adjust my draft strategy accordingly next season–draft the sure commodities (especially dominant closers and starters) and keep a close eye on the “longshots” during the season’s opening weeks. A ten man team requires that you identify and draft sleepers; an eight man league allows you the benefit of acquiring sleepers after the draft.
I’m enjoying this season, though, and fantasy baseball continues to get me more involved with following the sport. I enjoy the sport, and am glad to have this prompting me to put more of my free time toward it.