Fantasy Baseball Expert Interview – Matthew Leach
back to the newest installment in our series of interviews aimed at giving
readers insight into the minds and backgrounds of those fantasy writers and
pundits who have reached the level of “expert.” It seems there
has been an explosion in the number of people claiming the title in the last
few years, but no one seems to know where they come from. These interviews
aim to change all that, while also giving aspiring “experts” (such as
myself) some advice on both how to break into the industry and ways to improve
your fantasy skills.
Our guest this week is Matthew Leach, the longtime Cardinals
beat writer for MLB.com and author of “Game of My Life: St. Louis Cardinals:
Memorable Stories of Cardinals Baseball,” which you can buy here.
Do you think your
role as a beat writer helps or hurts in playing fantasy?
Yes. It helps with some things — I have a pretty good read on the teams in the
NL Central and what they’re doing, as well as the teams I see a lot in Spring
Training (Orioles, Mets, Marlins). But it can be harder to keep up with the
rest of the game, because I’m so focused on the team right in front of me.
How did you get your
Professionally? I did some writing on the side when I was an editor at
NASCAR.com in the late 1990s, and also when I was editing at MLB.com in 2001. I
was on the beat the next year. But I’ve always loved to write and always hoped
I could find a way to do it professionally.
Did you always want to write about
Not so much, no. When I was a kid, of course, I wanted to play — until it
quickly became clear that I had no talent. Through high school and college, I
expected I would be an academic — a professor or something like that. This is
kind of an accidental career, but pretty much everyone who knew me when I was
younger agrees that it’s a perfect fit.
What advice would you give someone who
wants to break into baseball writing?
Just write. Write, write write. Write for your school paper. Blog. You won’t
get hired if you haven’t been writing.
How many years have
you been writing about baseball?
This is year No. 8 on the beat.
Do you enjoy baseball
more or less than when you started writing?
More. The more I know about the game, the more I love it.
None, anymore. It’s just not feasible. You can’t keep up a rooting interest and
do this job. You can’t cheer for the team you cover, or it colors your
coverage. And you can’t maintain the level of interest in another team that it
takes to be a fan. It’s much more about individuals for me at this point. I
cheer for guys I liked covering.
When I was a kid, though, it was the Braves (growing up in North Florida) very
early, and then I became a die-hard Red Sox fan when I was about 11.
I’m assuming this is of the “all-time” variety. And I have a couple.
As a kid, my guy was Dwight Evans. A little later, Edgar Martinez remains a
huge favorite of mine. I lived in Seattle when he was at his peak, and just
loved to watch him hit.
How many years have
you been playing fantasy?
Boy, probably about 15 by now. I started playing when I was in college, so
about 1995 or so.
Favorite fantasy memory/moment?
Winning my league last year. I play in a league with several friends in StL,
and after a rugged start, my team just took off. Top two starters at the
beginning of the year were Yovani Gallardo and Tim Hudson (yikes), but I had
some very successful waiver-wire pickups. Then my usual strategy of drafting
closers-in-waiting paid off in a big way with Jonathan Broxton and Jon Rauch.
Who are the closers
in waiting that you are stashing this year?
Rafael Soriano, Ryan Madson.
Who is going to be
the closer for the Cards on June 1st?
How about September 1st?
Chris Perez. Probably.
Do you consider yourself a fantasy expert?
Honestly? No. I think the really advanced notions of fantasy strategy and
reading your opponents, that kind of thing, I’m not good at.
Most of them are already shot, showing you how much of an expert I am. I was
high on Josh Kinney as a deep sleeper for saves; he was sent down today.
Do you read fantasy baseball sites or
are you burned out from being around baseball all the time? If so, what
sites do you prefer?
I read MLB.com’s fantasy coverage, and I check player updates at sites like
Rotoworld. But I don’t regularly read fantasy columns much.
Does the subject of fantasy ever come up
around the players? If so, what do they think of it?
Pretty much never, as far as baseball. Football? Definitely. Lot of baseball
players play fantasy football.
Thanks for your time. Any
prediction for our upcoming match-up?
Not feeling real good about things in the early going.