RotoExperts.com is nominating me for a few of the annual fantasy baseball writing awards from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. I thought it might be valuable to post links to some of my most popular work from RotoExperts.com. These are just clips, click the links to read the full articles.
Moving Up / Moving Down - This is a series that ran during the season. It usually featured a list of players on the upswing or sinking fast. The clips that follow the Headline Links are just the introductions to the articles in most cases.
A Tale of Two Halves
She didn’t bother knocking. She also didn’t enter the room like a normal person; instead, she turned the knob and gave my office door a small shove. Only when the door was completely open did she deign to enter. And what an entrance it was. She had it all, everything a growing boy needs in a woman. She wore a blood red dress, strapless and sleeveless, that covered her from breastbone to ankles, yet it still left little to the imagination. She walked toward me, one agonizingly beautiful step at a time. As I absently wiped the drool from my chin with my sleeve, she bent over my desk and gave me the once over.
“Are you him,” she said with a shoulder shrug towards the name on my door. “I hope so, because I really need your help.”
I leaned back in my chair and swung a foot onto my desk, as I considered all the things I might be able to do to help this damsel in distress. The truth is... I had just decided to take a last look at my Google Reader before calling it a night. But she wasn’t exactly waiting for me to make a decision.
“I must have listened to some bad advice, because now my entire organization is a mess. I need someone like you to help me get a handle on it. I heard that you were the best and that you also, you know, work cheap.”
I gave her a brief nod and put both feet on the floor as she slid a neatly-typed sheet of names at me. As I scanned the list I started to feel for the girl. This was one of the worst fantasy baseball teams I’d ever laid eyes upon; every name was a first-half disaster. I had to help her, so I quickly identified the worst performers, figuring we could dump these losers and take an immediate step forward. She wasn’t having it; she wanted to know the “why” of every move. So, I slid over to my ancient desktop, tilted the monitor in her direction and pulled up some stats so I could break it down for this poor babe in red.
Sure, I know what you’re about to suggest: the reason September is so great is because of all those great prospects that are called up to fill out rosters. Major League rosters expand and teams allow their future superstars to get a taste of the good stuff. This provides the fantasy also-rans with an opportunity to gorge on freely available talent, with the hope that some of them become keeper-worthy come next March. I understand the reasoning, but September has absolutely nothing on the month of June.
June is a better month in a lot of ways. School is ending instead of just beginning as it is in September – there is no need to waste your hard-earned money on books, binders, and new sweaters. Instead, put on your favorite jeans (cut off at the knees if that suits you), grab a glass of lemonade, and sit on the porch listening to your old Run-DMC albums. Moreover, baseball is not practically finished in June as it is in September – it is just getting going. The guys who you thought might never get it going are suddenly in prime form. You can start believing that your favorite end-game acquisition just might be for real. As for the prospects...oh, man! The prospects called up in June are so much better than the versions you see in September.State of the Union address, though instead of telling Congress what they wanted to hear, I was giving the members of my various fantasy squads a chance to praise, criticize, and berate each other as well as me. I have to admit, it's much more fun that way. A quick look around the room assured me that everyone I had invited (and a few I had made a point of not inviting) had arrived.
Just as I was about to get things started one of those uninvited guests made a beeline to the podium. It was Robinson Cano, and he had a very smug look on his face.
“Hah! You told people to dump me but I’m having a great second half!”
“Congratulations Robbie. I’m very happy to have been wrong about you.”
“Why, I’m not on any of your teams. You know, since the All-Star break I’m batting .514 with three home runs and ten RBI.”
"Yes, Robbie. I was clearly wrong to suggest people dump you.”
After pulling that concession out of me, Cano turned and prissily walked away. (I made an obscene gesture at his back... and Kevin Millar laughed.) Cano is clearly Moving Up, but let's look at why that is. He has not changed his attitude at the plate. He has just one walk since the break. Cano has never been a big strikeout guy, but he is doing it even less with just two Ks since the break. That gives him a BABIP of about .562. If you think he can keep it up, or that it is not mostly luck, then you must also think that Cano is a certain-to-be-Hall-of-Famer.
I stepped up to the podium. I banged the gavel to bring the room to attention. I was making a few idle jokes as I checked that my index cards were in order. That was when I heard a small cough. It was not a throat-clearing cough. It was one of those "please pay attention to me" coughs. Of course, it was Eric Byrnes. He has not left me alone since my February prediction that he would never manage to steal 50 bases again. I guess it does not matter if I was one hundred percent correct about it. He was next to a guilty looking Shane Victorino, so I was sure I knew where this was going...Future Sleepers
Every season there are players who seemingly come from out of nowhere to play a crucial part in your fantasy season. Sometimes these players fade away into that same ether that swallowed The Verve, Snow, and Vanilla Ice. There are also those that go on to become the next Wu-Tang, Jay-Z, or Will Smith (I still call him the Fresh Prince)...
Sleepers and Busts in Hindsight
If I had written the ultimate sleepers and busts article before the season, it should have resembled this one. Instead, like every other analyst on the planet, I had my fair share of hits and misses. The key to good fantasy analysis is not always being right; it is applying a system of evaluation that utilizes logic and reason rather than idle speculation and random guesses. I believe my analysis to be top rank, but man, oh man, do I wish I had been clairvoyant enough to assemble this list of sleepers and busts in February.
Playing For Keeps
Are you in a keeper league? I truly hope so. If you are not in a keeper league, please excuse me as I start to press your buttons. Playing in non-keeper leagues is like allowing yourself to be tortured endlessly by that kid in grade school who used to constantly call for a do-over. Remember him? I play in lots of non-keeper leagues, but when it is time to get serious, I turn to my AL, NL, and mixed keeper leagues. Anyone can get lucky and win a non-keeper league. You can also get unlucky and finish last. In keeper leagues, the cream usually rises to the top, because they involve more skill and greater effort. The strategy throughout the season is more complex, and the fight in your league mates is undying. In keeper leagues, even the also-rans have a reason to keep fighting. So, even if you love your non-keeper leagues, find a keeper league and learn what it's like to be in a real battle for roto excellence. There, did I convince you?
If you are in a keeper league, congratulations! You have been playing for keeps. This edition of Moving Up, Moving Down is dedicated to you. I have put together a list of the very best keepers in baseball. These are not just the obvious first round picks. These players, who were underpriced or undrafted this season, may just lead your squad to victory in 2009. If you already have these players on your roster, your future looks bright. Keep in mind that these are not the players having the best seasons in 2008. They're not even the players I necessarily want the most next season (but I do want them all). These are the players most likely to be great in 2009 and for years to come.