Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Fantasy baseball 2005, a look back (with playoff picks)
The following is a list of ten things that I am good at:
• Wastepaper basket basketball
• Acting really gay when I dance
• Talking shit to old guys at the OTB
• Eating pints of Ben & Jerry’s Oatmeal Cookie Chunk in under three minutes
• Masturbating in hotels (esp. showers, sinks, elevators, air conditioners)
• Having a beard
• Alienating friends by constantly showing them my scrotum
• Lying to people at weddings and parties
• Drinking too much beer and crying
But we have something new to add to that list: being totally fucking dominant in fantasy baseball.
On Sunday, the season came to a close, as did each of my four fantasy baseball leagues. Four might seem like a lot of leagues to be in, until you realize that I really don’t have much else going on, so spending every day for six months studying every players’ statistics – times four – is really not that big of an issue.
The good news is that it was totally worth it. After six hard fought months, when the season closed on Sunday, I finished 2nd, 1st, 1st, and 1st in my four leagues. To repeat, that’s three first place finishes and one second place finish. In four leagues. I won 75% of my baseball leagues and made over a grand. If there is a God, I am probably Him.
[How many ladies reading about my fantasy success right now are clawing at the buttons of their blouses and panting, so aroused that they feel as though they’re going to explode? Hmm? I’d say zero. Not a single fucking one.]
I’m not going to bore you (even more) by listing my four teams in total or talking about the moves I made during the year to best my competitors. But I will highlight four players that I was right about and four players that I was completely wrong about.
Four guys I thought were going to kick ass and did
1) Brian Roberts (.314, 18 home runs, 73 RBI, 92 runs, 27 stolen bases)
Heading into the draft, 2B was exceptionally weak. I stayed away from drafting guys like Soriano and Kent very high and ignored old guys like Vidro and Boone and took a flyer on Roberts very late. Even though he had a solid year last year, (.270- something, 100+ runs, 25+ SBs), I was able to get him 12th in one draft and 19th (!) in another.
And yeah, that worked out pretty nicely, as Roberts had career highs in average, home runs, and RBI. Although his production declined after the All-Star break, he put up great numbers for a 2B that was on average was the 8th or 9th picked in many leagues.
2) Cliff Lee (18-5, 142 strikeouts, 3.79 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)
Extended streaks will tell you a lot about a pitcher. I’m not talking about a string of five solid starts or a month of lights out pitching, but rather anything over ten starts or two months. In the first half of 2004, Cliff Lee went 9-1 with 87 K’s in 107 innings and an ERA of 3.77. He had some control problems (highlighted by his 1.41 WHIP), but there were times when absolutely dominated. Besides, he was only 25 at the time, so a little wildness was ok.
Though he shit the bed in the second half of last year, I drafted Lee in three of my leagues with my last or second to last pick, taking a flyer on a young guy on a solid team. And what I got was a potential Cy Young winner (seriously - he should finish in the top three in the AL).
The key is age. While 27 is a bad year for rock stars, that’s when pitchers tend to put it all together. And yes, I know that Lee was 27 for only the month of September, but you get it. If you see a guy who has potential, has shown over an extended time that he can pitch well, and is around 27, grab him.
3) Pat Burrell (.281, 32, 117, 78, 0)
Another thing not to ignore: former #1 picks who have done it before. Burrell is that guy. Taken #1 overall back in 1996, he had stunk up the joint the past two years, but as recently as 2002 he was a monster (37 home runs, 116 RBI, 96 runs).
And what did he do in 2004? 32 homers and 117 RBI, with a solid average. His runs could have been higher, but considering I grabbed Burrell around round 15 as a fourth OF, I can’t complain.
4) Derrek Lee (.335, 46, 107, 120, 15)
I can’t say I saw THIS coming. But the thing about 1B is that there are a ton of them. Usually, I’ll stay away from the big guns. Why would I draft a guy like Todd Helton in the second round when I could get a star pitcher there and take Derrek Lee in the tenth? Sometimes this works (i.e. passing on Helton or Thome for Lee or Konerko) and sometimes it doesn’t (skipping Teixeira or Ortiz for Huff or Morneau [see below]).
One thing I’ve always loved about Lee is the steals. How many 1B have the potential of 30+ HR and 20+ SB? One. If you can squeeze 20 or so steals out of 1B, a position where the average player is not exactly fleet of foot, you have a major advantage on your opponents. I’ve always called this the Lee/Kendall corollary, so named for Derrek Lee and Jason Kendall, who’s always drafted under the pretext of “Well, all catchers stink, so I might as well take Kendall, since he’ll steal a couple of bases” (of course, this year Joe Mauer led all catchers with 13 stolen bases, but let’s not talk about that).
The rest of Lee’s gaudy numbers were only a bonus, a reward for my diligence and for God giving me the shaft in every other part of my life. I think it was a fair trade.
Honorable mention: a shitload of relievers (Cordero, Turnbow, Dempster, etc). My philosophy with relievers is to draft one guy who you know isn’t going to lose his job, and then pick up shit relievers during the season with the tenacity of a wolverine. It never fails.
Four guys I thought were going to kick ass but actually sucked ass
1) Justin Morneau (.239, 22, 79, 62, 0)
I don’t even want to talk about this. I was enamored with the power hitting Canuck lefty, believing Peter Gammons when he said in spring training that Morneau would be the first Twin to crack 30 homers since I don’t know who. He was close (22 homers), but Gammons never mentioned anything about Morneau not being able to hit very well. Asshole.
The worst part is that I took Morneau around round ten in most leagues, totally buying into the hype. F him and f you.
2) Melvin Mora (.283, 27, 88, 86, 7)
Speaking of hype, before the season started, I wanted to marry the offensive lineup of the Orioles. The thought of Roberts, Mora, Tejada, Sosa and Palmeiro batting in order was enough to give me the chills.
Unfortunately, we all know how this ended (“period”). Mora’s final numbers weren’t bad, thanks to a late season surge, but, like Morneau, I bought into the hype and drafted Mora high, thinking he’d improve on his 2004 season in which he hit .340 and drove in 107. Nope.
3) Edgar Renteria (.276, 8, 70, 100, 9)
Like the Orioles and Mora, I thought Renteria would have a career year hitting behind Johnny Damon and in front of Manny and Big Papi. I also thought that Renteria might steal a little more, reverting a bit to his 2003 form, when he stole 34.
What I got was a subpar season, despite taking Renteria very early in my drafts, ahead of guys like Chone Figgins, Jose Reyes, and Jhonny Peralta. Seriously, I think I could have gone for about 80 runs and 60 or so RBIs in that Red Sox lineup, and I have to have three people help me shower. Thanks a lot Edgar.
4) Aubrey Huff (.261, 22, 92, 70, 8)
I loved Huff in my drafts because we had so much in common: we were both young, both angry, and both powerful. However, only one of us once shaved his pubes for his girlfriend on her birthday, which she called “the worst birthday present ever.” Poor Aubrey.
But what I liked even more was his eligibility at 1B, 3B, and OF. This not only make setting your lineup easier, but it also makes trading a breeze. Getting rid of your stud 1B? Slide in Huff! Need someone to replace that OF you just traded for pitching? In goes Huff! Need – ok, you get it.
But instead of the .300, 30, 100, 90 he’d been putting up for the past two years, Huff decided to take a year off and suck. That’s cool and I support him and all, but I just wish he told me before I took him as high as the 4th round (!) in one draft. I mean, fuck.
Honorable mention: Randy Johnson (not bad final numbers, but I thought this guy would have about 38 wins in that Yankee lineup. Whoops.)
And now some quick and dirty playoff predictions.
St. Louis over San Diego (in four games)
Houston over Atlanta (in three games)
St. Louis, who had about 55 more regular season wins than the disgraceful Padres, lose the first game then whoop some ass in the next three (Woody Williams and Adam Eaton vs. Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds?).
After winning their fourteenth consecutive division title (with a grand total of 18 people celebrating), the Braves take another early exit, getting out-pitched by the ‘Stros in one of the most boring series of all time.
[Can you tell I’m a little upset that the Phillies aren’t in the playoffs?]
Houston over St. Louis (in six)
Riding strong pitching (seriously, Clemens, Oswalt, and Pettite with Lidge at the back end? wow), the Astros take it to the Cards.
New York over Anaheim/LA/Los Gatos (in four)
White Sox over Red Sox (in five)
The Yankee bats are too much for the Vlad-and-nobody-else-Angels.
The White Sox ride their late season momentum and the “no respect” card and best the hurting Red Sox. Finally, 50 million Red Sox fans shut the fuck up.
New York over White Sox (in five)
Experience takes the day and the Sox head home.
New York over Houston (in five)
Not even close. Clemens chokes, Oswalt wins, Petite loses a close one. The Yanks pitch well enough, but their offense carries the day. The Yankees win. And then 50 million Yankees fan starting fucking yapping again. Sweet.