Fantasy Baseball Expert Interview: Evan Dickens

evan.jpg

Welcome
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 Evan Dickens, a writer for the expert
league’s host site, Fantasy Baseball Search, and one of the co-hosts of the
Fantasy Baseball Tonight podcast.

 

In your opinion, what
makes you a fantasy expert?
 
I believe in, as Cory Schwartz would say, “showing my work.” I will
(almost) never give a fantasy opinion unless I can provide some statistical
support for my position. At the same time, I believe in actually watching
baseball as the best way to evaluate the starting pitchers I recommend.

How many years have
you been playing fantasy?

 
Casually for eight–but seriously for four.
 
How many years have you been writing?
 
This is my third season in the “industry”.
 
How did you get your start?
 
I joined up with the founders of FantasyBaseballMafia.com back in early 2007,
just to help with some draft analysis. As I became more and more interested in
the analysis, it transitioned into a writing gig, and then a podcast hosting
spot.
 
What made you want to get into the
industry?

 
I think it’s everyone’s dream to be regarded, even by a small crowd, as an
“expert” at something that you love as a hobby. It’s an opportunity
to combine multiple obsessive-compulsive aspects of my personality into an excuse
to watch more sports!
 

What advice
would you have specific for people who want to break into the
industry?

 
I think it’s important to play in many different kinds of leagues at the same
time to really immerse yourself in the various nuances. Head to head, roto,
points, deep, shallow, 16-team, keeper, dynasty, etc. You want to understand
all the different types of situations that can develop.

 

Favorite team?
 
New York Mets!
 

piazza.jpg

Favorite player?
 
All-time, it’s Mike Piazza. As a starting pitcher guru, the greatest day of my
life was the day my team traded for the greatest pitcher of his generation and
I continue to treasure every day that I get to watch Johan Santana pitch.

 

You describe yourself
as a starting pitching guru, what is the main thing you look for when determining
which pitchers you want on your team?

 

Well, without
getting all torn up about the past, I saw my Mets lose the 1999 NLCS (one of
the greatest playoff series ever) by walking in the final run. I remain
scarred for life and have come to value control pitchers with low WHIP
above all else.

 
What drew you to focus your analysis on
pitching in the first place?

 

The heroic nature of
the starting pitcher’s role has a bit of a majestic appeal to it. Starters
indisputably have the most impact on the outcome of a baseball game of any
individual player. The greatest baseball games I’ve ever watched in my life
have been games like Jack Morris’ 10-inning shutout, Pedro’s CGSHO in Yankee
Stadium, Randy Johnson’s perfect game, etc. At the same time, as Mets fans are
seeing right now, pitchers make the biggest and easiest target when things go
bad. Analyzing starting pitchers feels like part fantasy analysis, part
character study.

 

What’s
your opinion on streaming?  Is it a dirty tactic or just good strategy?
 

I would never call
it dirty–at the same time I’m not really sure it’s good strategy because it
has a tendency to backfire badly if you aren’t really good at what you’re
doing. I do favor league settings that discourage it though, either by adding
additional negative count categories like L and ER, or a weekly transaction
limit or IP max.

What advice would you have for
people who are playing in their first season?

 
Don’t be afraid to propose trades, especially for your players who are far
outperforming expectations. At the same time, be careful when you are proposed
a trade–don’t let anyone take advantage of you. Experts like me are always
happy to give opinions on your potential trades.
 
Who is your single favorite fantasy
writer at a site other than your own?
 
I think Matt Lutovsky of Sporting News does great work, but I can’t be too nice
to him since he’s a competitor in our expert league this year. I also have to
give lots of credit to Cory Schwartz; even though I don’t agree with him on everything
he’s really the first expert that I “followed” and he gave me the
inspiration to fall in love with the game.
 

zambrano.JPG

Favorite fantasy memory/moment?
 
I begrudgingly joined a big money office league last year where the
commissioner insisted in having no-hitters as a category. I beat him
head-to-head with Carlos Zambrano. I won the league, by the way. Hooray office
leagues!
 

Do you enjoy fantasy sports more or less
since you entered the industry (as opposed to when you just played them)?

 
Definitely more–I see it now as a real challenge and my competitive nature
translates that to more fun!
 
Do you enjoy sports more or less?
 
I think I enjoy sports the same now as I did before–in other words, can’t
imagine anything I’d rather be doing at any given moment. Please make sure my
wife doesn’t read that!

 

You do a couple of
podcasts every week.  Do you enjoy that forum more than writing?

 

Definitely…I enjoy
writing, but I think my ability to think on my feet and my sense of humor
translate better in the podcast format, particularly in a format where I
can interact with a co-host.

 
Thank you for answering our
questions.  Before you go, any prediction
on our upcoming match-up?

 

I will make haughty
remarks about my team’s strength on the Fantasy Baseball Tonight
podcast, and lose 7-3.

 

That is correct.


2 Comments

Thanks again for the advice! As someone new to fantasy baseball – any and all help is appreciated!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Yeah Mets! But, Piazza? Really?

Also, I think that my man-crush on Evan Longoria is starting to rival my man-crush on David Wright. Please advise.

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