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.
So here’s how my fantasy draft went this season (an 8 person league). We have 14 offensive categories (R, 1B, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, SB, BB, K, TB, E, AVG, OBP, OFA) and 11 pitching categories (IP, W, SV, HR, BB, K, GIDP, HLD, ERA, WHIP, K/9).
- (7) Tim Lincecum SP
- (10) Pablo Sandoval 1B,3B
- (23) Justin Upton OF
- (26) Víctor Martínez C,1B
- (39) Aaron Hill 2B
- (42) Chone Figgins 3B
- (55) Andrew McCutchen OF
- (58) Adam Lind OF
- (71) Kendry Morales 1B
- (74) Matt Cain SP
- (87) Heath Bell RP
- (90) Everth Cabrera SS
- (103) Francisco Rodríguez RP
- (106) Billy Wagner RP
- (119) Max Scherzer SP
- (122) Nyjer Morgan OF
- (135) Brian Matusz SP
- (138) Garrett Jones 1B,OF
- (151) Daniel Bard RP
- (154) Casey McGehee 2B,3B
- (167) Luis Castillo 2B
- (170) David Ortiz 1B
Let me immediately say that I had to leave my draft after pick 106, so the rest of the draft was on auto-pick. I created a list before having to leave, but it must have run out of picks. I would never, never have drafted Ortiz or Castillo. They were immediately dropped for (eventually) closer David Aardsma and OF Jason Heyward (both went undrafted).
I was particularly excited to get Justin Upton in round 3 (were Lincecum gone, he might have been my first round pick) and Kendry Morales in round 9. Matt Cain in the 10th was also unexpected. Most of the teams in my league are geared toward starting pitching, so I decided to collect every closer I could (with Bard as my one set-up guy). Essentially, I know I won’t be competeing in cumulative stats such as Wins, IP, GIPD. But I should dominate rate stats such as ERA, WHIP, K/9 in addition to saves, HR, and BB. Given the high k/9 for my whole staff, I’ll even compete in gross K’s (given that Matusz and Scherzer are projected as +9 K/9 pitchers).
The only pick I regret–and I regretted it immediately–was the Aaron Hill pick. Dustin Pedroia was still on the board. Hill’s 100 / 100 season last year led me to pick him, but this team is built around scoring runs and stealing bases. I should have picked Pedroia–I think I was hesitant to pick two Red Sox in a row for fear of overvaluing the home team.
I picked Sandoval and Figgins high, but I thought both of them gave me great production at shallow positions. I knew Figgins would count as a 2B, so that’s nice depth for the bench. I also feel that SF will be much better this year, and thus think that Sandoval will have more RBI chances than a year ago.
I wrote earlier this season about my approach to shortstop. I dropped McGehee to grab Alcides Escobar, and then had to drop Escobar to grab a second basemen while waiting for Figgins’ eligibility to update. I have since dropped the 2B man (Rickie Weeks) to pick up the Dodgers’ Furcal, who’s hitting lead-off to start the season. That pretty much cements my roster for now, and I’ll try not to make any more changes until we get a larger sample-size of at-bats (around 100 or so). After that, I’ll revisit the Cabrera-Furcal-Escobar -(Scutaro?) shortstop question.
I had a losing week last week, going 9-13-3, but that was with my team hitting a combined .233 to open the season. Morales and Martinez hit a combined .227. Adam Hill (sigh) only managed to get 8 at-bats before missing time with an early injury. And, finally, had I started Garrett Jones for the first few games rather than Morales or McCutchen, then I would have won two more categories. So, I’m pretty happy with my depth of talent, and am looking forward to competing for the postseason in my second season of fantasy baseball.