What I Learned This Week (Or Two — Or Three), Fantasy Edition (5/17)

We’re back — even if it was a little bit later than I’d originally said.  Promises were made and obligations have to be kept — so I’m here to talk some fantasy baseball and what I’ve learned over the last, now, three weeks since the last one of these articles of mine were published.  Will anything I say here help you to win your fantasy league?  Or am I just wasting your time?  Decide for yourself!

socratesSocrates said, “Know Thyself”.  Smart man, that Socrates.  His advice goes a long way in a lot of areas in life, and not surprisingly, fantasy baseball is one of them.

So how does knowing yourself help you in fantasy baseball?  Well, it has everything to do with playing every season utilizing your strengths to their greatest advantages, while trying to stay away from your weaknesses.  Every fantasy baseball player has something they do (sometimes, several somethings) better than the other people they play with in their leagues.  On the other hand, no fantasy player is perfect, and for every strength that player has, there’s a weakness in their game somewhere as well.  The best fantasy players learn to work to those strengths and to stay away from their weaknesses — and in doing so, their chances of doing well in any given season will be magnified.

Take my own example, for instance.  I have a pretty good track record of success in my local leagues, and it’s come from focusing on the things I do exceptionally well — identifying young players on the verge of breakthroughs, and identifying cheap, solid starting pitching.  It was a combination of both of these that helped me win my main league last year, as I rode cheap draft day acquisitions for my pitching staff, Edison Volquez and Joe Saunders, to one of the league’s best staffs in history (along with previous years finds Johan Santana and James Shields).  My offense was boosted by young hitters making breakthroughs at the major league levels, most notably AL Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria, and fellow blossoming stars Andre Ethier, Adam Lind, and Nelson Cruz.

Granted, my track record over time isn’t infallible, but there have been far more hits than misses, and if I have a strength in fantasy baseball — well, that’s it.

What’s hasn’t been a strength of mine over the years is in identifying veterans who have one last hurrah in them, or journeyman-type of ballplayers who, suddenly given the opportunity at everyday playing time, evolve into a serviceable fantasy option, for at least one season.  There is an owner in my main league who is really good at doing this, and in years past, it’s been a strength of his that’s led him to success numerous times.

Less productive for me than Socrates would have been

Less productive for me than Socrates would have been

Me?  It led to drafting fantasy dead spots like Travis Buck and Brandon Moss, hoping that everyday jobs and something that might have resembled upside would be enough to give my fantasy team some decent production in what was my last available outfield spot.  Instead, what I’ve gotten has been an unmitigated disaster from the duo.  If I had stayed with my strengths, I would have spent money on a player who fit the profile of guys I usually target — someone like a Dexter Fowler (who’s flashed a lot of speed so far for the Rockies) or a Ben Francisco (who after today’s game is now on pace for 15 HR and 28 SB) instead.

The lesson here?  Next year, I’m going to my drafts with an index card with “Know thyself” printed on it as a reminder.  And hopefully, I’ll never own a Travis Buck ever again by doing so.

Ortiz doing something he hasn't doo too often in 2009 -- hitting the ball well

Ortiz doing something he hasn't doo too often in 2009 -- hitting the ball well

— There may not be a more popular player in recent years in Boston than David Ortiz, but the slugger’s glory years with the Red Sox ae starting to become nothing more than a distant memory, as Big Papi has been struggling like he never has before in a Sox uniform.  Ortiz is hitting only .208 on the season, is on pace to drive in only 67 runs, and incredibly, is looking for his first HR of the season.

Sox manager Terry Francona sat Ortiz for their series against Seattle this weekend, promising that he’d be back in the lineup on Tuesday.  The Sox are hoping this respite will give Ortiz a chance to clear his head and get a fresh outlook to his approach at the plate.  Meanwhile, fantasy owners everywhere are hoping that the break will help Ortiz to get back on track and produce like the player they likely invested a high draft pick or significant dollars on.

It’s not going to happen.

I’m not sure if it’s Ortiz’ advancing age, or if it’s the effects of his wrist injury from last year, or something else — ahem — that’s troubling the sport right now, but it’s clear to anyone who’s watched the Red Sox this year that Big Papi just isn’t the fearsome hitter he once was, and that he likely won’t be again this year, if ever again.  He’s having all kinds of trouble catching up to any kind of fastball, and in trying to get ahead with his swing, he’s been incredibly vulnerable to off-speed pitches.  If pop-ups and lazy flyballs were a statistical category, Ortiz would surely be one of the AL leaders at this point.

While I’m not saying that it’s impossible that Ortiz will recover to be a power source in the Sox lineup in 2009, I am fairly confident in predicting that the Red Sox DH will be nowhere near the slugger he was in his reign of terror from 2003-2007.  Anything resembling the less-than-impressive model of 2008 would be a blessing at this point for both Boston and Ortiz’ fantasy owners.  I think what you see out of Ortiz now is what you’re going to get.  Don’t be surprised to see Boston trade for a first baseman/designated hitter — maybe Miguel Cabrera — closer to the trade deadline, and for Ortiz to no longer be a starter for the Sox — or even a member of the team.

So while I didn’t learn a whole lot in the last couple of weeks — other than how much trouble a couple of my fantasy teams are in — at least it’s something  — until next week, that is.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: