Category: Dailies

Expert League Update – Do As I Say, Not As I Do

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pluto nash.jpg

Yesterday, I was asked a question about what advice I
have for newbies.  One of my tips was
“never chase wins” and today, I bring you direct evidence of why doing so is a
really bad idea.  Like greenlighting “The
Adventures of Pluto Nash” bad.  (If Eddie
Murphy is funny on earth, he must be twice as funny on the moon!  Comedy is affected by gravity, right?  Let’s spend $100 million to find out!)

 

In the Fantasy Baseball Search Expert League, which features
a 5X5 H2H format with daily roster moves, I began the week with a plan.  Since Peavy, Myers, and Harang would all take
the ball twice over the season’s first seven days, I would combine those six
starts with one apiece from Joba and Burnett to give me eight quality options
for the week.  Since all five guys
feature excellent strikeout potential, employing this strategy should give me a
chance to sweep all four starting pitching categories.  But of course, limiting your starts increases
your vulnerability if one guys blows up, as you won’t
accumulate enough innings to counteract a poor effort.

 

If you’ve been following baseball or this blog or are just a
really sharp reader, I’m sure you can see where this is going.  Myers takes the hill to open the season on
Sunday and is greeted with an old-fashioned shellacking.  Just like that, I’m faced with a choice — stick with the plan (the sensible, non-reactionary thing to do) or panic!!!!!

 

Of course, I do the latter and freak out faster than Christian Bale (Myers and I may be done professionally).  This leads to me basically conceding the WHIP
and ERA category an hour into the matchup and deciding I’m going to run every one of my pitchers out there in an
effort to win Ks and wins for the week. 
Whoops.  Here are the outings that
followed:

 

Aaron Cook – 2.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 H, 2 Ks, 1 BB, 23.14 ERA, 3.48
WHIP

Scott Olsen – 3.0 IP, 8 ER, 8 H, 2 Ks, 3 BB, 24.00 ERA, 3.67
WHIP

Ian Snell – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 9 H, 2 Ks, 3 BB, 13.50 ERA, 3.00
WHIP

Trevor Cahill – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 1 K, 5 BB, 3.60 ERA, 2.00
WHIP

 

AChorusLineFinale.jpg

So what did I get for my effort? Seven strikeouts and zero
wins.  I would rather have watched “A
Chorus Line” than seen these pitching lines. 
Heck, I would have rather been in
a local production of “A Chorus Line” if that’s what it took.

 

So this brings me back to the original point — don’t chase
wins.  The strategy rarely works and
frequently backfires. 

Ironically, my
opponent has seen his starting pitching staff implode as well, so if I’d just
kept my cool I’d be on the other side of this beatdown.  Instead, I’m losing 3-6-1 and will probably
end up in a hole of my own digging. 
Learn from me (or laugh at me, I deserve it).

Mailbag – Tips for Beginners

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Hello everyone

 

Each Wednesday, I’m going to answer a question from the
comments or my email, so if you have a question (about fantasy baseball or
anything else), let it fly in the comment section below.  Here is this week’s question.

 


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Toby–starting at square
1, what information that you learned last year did you find to be most
important or most helpful in attempting to analyze/predict a player’s fantasy
worth? I used to be a baseball fan, then lived under a rock for 10 years, and
am trying to rekindle the interest.

 

Jonas Foxx

 

Hey Jonas

 

Welcome back to civilization!  I haven’t lived in the same home for more
than 18 months since I left for college, must have been nice to have that kind
of stability.  Do you miss your
rock? 

 

Glad to see you’ve chosen to get back into baseball.  The players look a little……..different now
than when you went into seclusion don’t be alarmed.  You’ll be surprised at how fast you get back
into it, especially if you were a big baseball fan as a kid.  Something about the game seems to nest itself
in your soul when you are young and never really goes away.  It just lays dormant until activated, and as I
can attest, fantasy baseball is a heckuva catalyst.  And if you think this sounds like what
happened to Reggie Jackson in “The Naked Gun,” you’re not far off.

 

Before we get to analyzing a fantasy player’s worth, I
recommend you make a determination about your goals in playing fantasy.  Namely, are you playing to win or are you
playing to have fun?  Granted, winning is
fun, but it may come at a price.  In
order to really excel at the game, you have to avoid all emotional attachments
to individual players.  Your feelings
will color your decisions and may prevent you from making a move to optimize
your team.  Any one such move can cost
you a title.

 

On the other hand, playing the fantasy version causes you to
watch a lot more real baseball and it’s no fun always watching dudes you don’t
like.  So another way to approach the
game is to draft some players from your favorite team and other guys you like
to see play.  You probably won’t win this
way, but you’ll enjoy the season a lot more. 
It should be noted that it is possible to still win doing this, but only
if you draft each player at or near his ADP (average draft position – it explains all the fantasy terminology you’ll need to
know).

 

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Basically, you have to decide if you are going to be
original Robocop or end of the movie “Robocop.” 
Original Robocop had zero emotions, he just scanned a situation and made
the optimal move at all times.  But once
he rediscovered who he was, emotions started to cloud his judgment, causing him
to go a bit haywire, but ultimately allowed him to find satisfaction.  So which Robocop will you be?

 

Either way, you’ll need to be able to make some decisions
regarding your players’ fantasy values. 
Here are a few hints for beginners below.

robocop_l.jpg

Continue reading

Marry, Bury, Date – Week 1

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It’s fitting that in my first attempt to give expert advice,
I turn to a childhood game for inspiration. 
And not just any childhood game. 
Marry, Bury, Date is a staple of slumber parties and has resulted in
more giggling and bright red faces than a Lou Piniella tirade.  Since I’m sure my suggestions will be met
with both disparaging laughter and angry responses, the game seems apropos.

 

The premise of the game is simple.  Three names are thrown out and the
participants must pick which one they would Marry (ie commit to long-term),
Bury (get rid of forever), or Date (could be fun in the short-term).  When considering trade offers or waiver wire
pick-ups, fantasy players are faced with these same three decisions all the
time, so in an effort to help aid these choices, I’ll name one player who I
like for the rest of the season, one player who I think could help in the
short-term, and one guy I wouldn’t touch in this space each week.

jr high prom.jpg

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After I’m done, if you want to whisper to the player that I
“like ’em, like ’em” that’s up to you. 
If you do, I look forward to the awkwardness that ensues all the way
through the Junior High Prom.  Maybe I’ll
get my courage up and ask them to dance during “Endless Love.” 

 

This week’s picks are below.

Continue reading

Opening Night Live

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Finally.  Just like
when “Frank TV” was canceled (he was so overexposed last year, I actually
started to dislike the people he impersonated by proxy), our long national
nightmare is over and after an off-season that could’ve only been celebrated by
high-priced Manhattan realtors, baseball is back. 

 

We’ve enjoyed all the winter fantasy baseball chatter, but
we couldn’t be happier that spring is here. 
Theoretical discussions centered upon hypothetical results can only go
on so long before you want to see things proved (and disproved) on the field. 

 

With Hamels on the shelf, I was thrilled to discover
my old friend Brett Myers would be throwing the first meaningful pitch of the
2009.  I would say he single-handedly
murdered my team last year, but that would be unfair to Aaron Harang, who
caused me to utter enough swear words last year, my living room could have been
mistaken for the set of a Tarantino flick.

 

chester cheetah.JPG

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But did I learn my lesson?  Of course not.  I doggedly pursued both Myers and Harang to
join my staff in the Fantasy Baseball Search Expert League and either they come
through this year or they will become an even bigger fixture in my nightmares
than the new Chester Cheetah (seriously dude, that thing is creepy.  How did that pitch go?  “I like our cartoon pitchman for our chemically-processed
cheese sticks, but it would be better if he was 30% more sociopathic.  Can we take the old one and add a dusting of Hannibal
Lecter?”)

 

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With Myers taking the ball on Opening Night, I couldn’t help
but keep a running review of his performance. 
If you saw the game, you can probably predict what follows below is not
for the faint of heart.

Continue reading

Fantasy Baseball Expert Interview – Junkyard Jake


JYJ_baseball_240.jpg

Welcome to the first in a series of interviews aimed to give readers some 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 first guest is RC Rizza of Junkyard Jake, a terrific writer who has been involved in the fantasy industry since 1998.

 

In your opinion, what makes you a fantasy expert? (basically the polite way of asking – why should people listen to you?)

 

Well, first off, I think the term ‘fantasy expert’ is perhaps a bit of a specious term on par with ‘Grand Dungeon Master’ or ‘Federal Reserve Chairman’, but essentially, to be an ‘expert’ associated with anything requires acute interest supported by diligent research.  As it relates to fantasy baseball, I think the most knowledgeable writers/commentators are really just rabid baseball fans with a keen eye for evaluating talent, the ability to absorb scouting information and a modicum of number crunching skills thrown in for good measure.

Continue reading

The Least Anticipated Preview In The History Of The Internets

As we kill time waiting for opening day, the web is overflowing with baseball previews.  There are columns chocked full of predictions for MVPs, World Series winners, milestones reached, and everything else fans should look for in the upcoming season.  It’s a great time for sports writers, as they can churn out these opinions without any regard for real accuracy, as by the time you are proven wrong, no one will remember what you said.  What a gig.

 

washingtongenerals 2.jpgNot one to rock the boat, I want to give you a preview column of my own.  I’ll leave the fortune-telling to the pros, except to say this – Washington will improve by 20 wins this year and no longer be the laughingstock of the league.  And yes, to be clear, I’m talking about the Nationals, not the Generals, who some of you might think have a better chance.

 

Instead, I want to give you a roadmap of what you can expect to appear in this space for the rest of the baseball season.  In an effort to build up a community and keep my incoherence to a minimum, I’m going to attempt to create a structure to each week’s posting schedule.  So without further ado, I present to you the least anticipated preview in the history of the internets.

 

Continue reading

Draft Recap

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Just like everyone else, draft day is the highlight of my year.  It marks a crescendo for the swell of excitement that accompanies a new baseball season and it occurs before reality comes crashing down round you.  Your season has not yet been derailed by injuries, poor performance and poorer judgment.  On this glorious day anything is possible, and all that matters is potential; in your players, in your team, in yourself (man, that’s some deep stuff, I should be writing Hallmark cards, though I’m not sure “Draft Day:  Enjoy it because every other day sucks” will be a big hit.) 

With a hop in my step and a song in my heart (unfortunately, it was “Loser” by Beck), I entered the draft room for the 2009 Fantasy Baseball Search Expert League.  The league is an H2H 5×5 (OBP instead of AVG), 21 starters (only 1 C and 4 OF’s in addition to the usuals) and six bench spots.  The event took place on March 3rd, right before the A-Rod news rocked the fantasy world.  The following is a recap of what happened.


Continue reading

Welcome (Back) To The Show!

Hey everyone!  Welcome back!  Good to see you again!  How was your summer?

Back in what kids call “the day,” I seemingly had this conversation on an infinite loop at the start of each new school year.  At first, the question would elicit an automatic response of “Fine, how was yours?”  But that eventually bored me, and it was clear that no one cared about my answer, so I started making up elaborate lies.

Sometimes, I’d tell people about how I spent the previous three months attempting to be raised by wolves (even though I was already grown up, I’d find some wolves, act out toward them and wait for them to parent me).  Other times, I’d describe how I’d spanned the globe playing a life-action game of “Where’s Waldo?” (that’s where you repeatedly approach strangers to ask if they’re named Waldo, and no matter what their answer, you simply say “There you are!” before briskly walking away). And on some occasions, I’d abruptly stop talking because I’d realize all my friends were imaginary and even they didn’t care about my answer to what’s basically a rhetorical question.

zackmorris.jpgBut now as we kick off another fantasy baseball campaign and another year for Welcome To The Show, I can’t help but flash back to the first day of school.  Last year, I was the new kid, full of nerves, lost in a new place, just trying not to get beat up too badly.  I knew only Zack Morris can dominate a school from Day 1, so I spent most of my time just trying to survive. (Seriously, how did he run Bayside as a freshman?  Where were the upperclassmen?  If I had tried to pull that crap, I would’ve ended up tied to the goal post wearing nothing but my underwear and the mascot head.  Again.)

I’m a sophomore now, though.  I’ve acclimated to my surroundings, made a few friends (real ones!) and learned some valuable lessons that I can carry forward into this year (like who plays for what team).  I’m clearly ready to take on the big boys.

So what am I doing here?  Glad you asked.  Last year in Welcome To The Show, I attempted to answer the all-important question: “What’s it like to be a newbie in the world of fantasy baseball?”  Now, it would be a little weird if I tackled that topic year after year, but luckily the good folks at Major League Baseball invited me back to take on a new question: How does one become a fantasy baseball “expert?”

In the last decade, there has been a true explosion in fantasy sports.  The boom brought about a lot of good things (something to do at work between coffee breaks, increased communication with old friends, an outlet for my obsessive nature that’s not “Saved by the Bell”) and a few bad things (the deep-seated emotional conflict that occurs when watching your fantasy players battle against your favorite real baseball team, hurt feelings over controversial trades, Dave Feldman).  But for me, nothing has been more interesting than the cottage industry that has sprung up to provide advice to fantasy players worldwide.

Personally, I’m full of questions.  Where did these experts come from?  How did they get where they are?  Why should fantasy owners listen to them?  What will happen first — Andruw Jones making another All-Star team or Nic Cage reading a script before agreeing to a role?  And, perhaps most importantly, how does a person become one of them?  By the end of this year, I hope to have answers to all these questions and more. 

Fred-Lynn-thumb.jpgIn an effort to get to the bottom of things, I’ve entered into one of those mysterious “expert leagues” that you often hear about.  This league is run by Fantasy Baseball Search and is comprised of a dozen guys who do this for a living … and me.  Oh, and Fred Lynn.  I’m virtually certain this is the only industry league in the country that also features a former Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year, so it’s got that going for it.  Which is nice.

So this year’s series will focus on my experiences in and out of the league as I both attempt to answer the above questions and become an expert myself.  In the end, you’ll get to see a fantasy baseball expert built from the ground up.  Or you’ll get to see a blowhard fail miserably (and publicly) at his goals, crushing his remaining spirit.  Either way, should be fun. 

I’m quite excited for the year, and I hope you are, too.  For those of you who are fans of last year’s column (i.e., everyone who is friends with me on Facebook who clicked on the link so I’d leave them alone), you’ll be happy to know it will now be running five days a week here in this space.  Tomorrow, we’ll be here with a recap of the draft, the highlight of which (and/or my entire life) might have been this popping up on the chat screen.

Fred Lynn:  Nice pick Toby. 

Ummm, thank you, Red Sox and Orioles legend.  How is it possible you know who I am again?

Details on this and other embarrassing moments tomorrow.  Until then, Welcome (back) To The Show.