I enjoy fantasy baseball, especially daily fantasy games. I have had very little luck with fantasy leagues over the years; if a player was ever due to have a down year or go on the DL for most if not all of the season, chances are better than even I drafted him—probably in the first couple of rounds.
But daily fantasy is different, of course. Players are only drafted for that day’s contest, and managers are not committed to any player beyond that. I submitted several different lineups for a game tonight that only counted the “late” MLB games, so all players drafted could only come from the Cardinals-Diamondbacks, Cubs-Giants, and A’s-Mariners games.
I utilize a few different tools to determine who I’ll draft on any given day, but one thing I knew for certain without having to look at anything at all: the St. Louis Cardinals do not fare well against lefty pitchers. The Diamondbacks were rolling out Robbie Ray, a young southpaw who had never faced the Cards before. He’s not exactly Randy Johnson in waiting, but the kid can pitch a little. And I really thought that the already offense-challenged 2015 Cardinals would not do much facing a completely unfamiliar lefty on the road the day after scoring a bunch of runs. I mean, as a team, they were hitting .237 with a .678 OPS against left handed pitching. Aside from taking Yadier Molina and Stephen Piscotty on a whim, logic told me to stay away from Cardinals tonight. I even selected Ray as one of my pitchers.
So of course the Cards put up a four-spot in the top of the first, getting hits and walks in bunches. Of course Ray got knocked out after only three innings and three strikeouts. Of course lefties like Matt Carpenter, Jason Heyward and Kolten Wong had good nights at the plate. Of course. Logic? Pfft…
It’s that time of year: the smell of a fresh keyboard, the click of a mouse, the retinal burn from staring at a screen that’s too bright for too long in a room that’s too dark…yes, Fantasy Baseball is upon us.
I’m not a hardcore Fantasy guy…I don’t do player research, I don’t invest any money, and I don’t download draft kits. I play in a free, online league with the same managers every year. Here’s how serious we are: the league name is Hot Wings & Beer, and my team name is the Pinch Hitters. Actually, this year we had to add a few newbies to round out our 10-team league, so some feverish last-minute recruiting was needed. But it’s all in good fun and gives us yet another reason to obsess over baseball.
This year we made our league head-to-head. I’ve never been in a head-to-head Fantasy Baseball league, but as best I can tell each week the teams are paired off and all stats collected go against your opponent rather than being ranked against all the other teams. For each day we’re allowed one player per position, one “utility” player (can be listed as any postion), two starting pitchers, two relief pitchers (closers, basically), and three additional pitchers. We’re also allowed five bench players, and a max of two players can be on the DL and not count against the roster.
Here’s the team I drafted, position players first by position:
C – Joe Mauer (MIN)
1B – Joey Votto (CIN) & Jason Giambi (OAK)
2B – Chase Utley (PHI)
3B – Evan Longoria (TB)
SS – Yunel Escobar (ATL) & Khalil Greene (STL)
OF – Shane Victorino (PHI), Andre Ethier (LAD), Johnny Damon (NYY), Lastings Milledge (WAS)
UTIL – Mark DeRosa (2B, 3B, OF – CLE) & Brandon Inge (C, 3B, OF – DET)
DeRosa is a guy I can move into several positions or play full-time because of his numbers. I expect Giambi to regularly fill my UTIL postion because of his power and DeRosa to be in my outfield, but we’ll see. I selected Inge because he plays catcher as well as a couple other positions, fully expecting Mauer to be the stud he usually is so it probably wouldn’t matter. But Inge offers little offense, so he was really just an insurance pick. Unfortunately, Mauer has been nursing a back inflammation…not a good thing for a catcher. So I dropped Inge and picked up Dioner Navarro (TB) as my backup catcher (who’s more than capable of being my starter).
Now for my pitchers:
SP – Dan Haren (ARI), Edinson Volquez (CIN), Ervin Santana (LAA), Gavin Floyd (CWS), Oliver Perez (NYM), Jair Jurrjens (ATL)
RP – Brad Lidge (PHI), Bobby Jenks (CWS)
I was pretty happy with this pitching staff. I have two established closers and a good mix of pitchers who are all relatively young and reliable. Then I saw the news that Santana has elbow inflammation, which was then diagnosed as a sprained ligament…not a good thing for a pitcher. As good as Santana is, that injury worries me. He’ll be starting the season on the DL; who knows if he’ll be right at all in 2009? And I could use another closer, so I dropped Santana for Jason Motte (STL). Motte has recently been given a vote of confidence, and while he’s not been officially announced as the Cardinals’ closer I’m taking a chance on him.
Feel free to give me some feedback or, if you’re in a league, compare your Fantasy team to mine. Personally I see Fantasy Baseball as another way to enjoy the game, which is probably why I don’t take it too seriously. But it’s fun, so what the hell.