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RotoAuthority League Update: Top Pickups

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 3 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he’s not one of them.

Fantasy baseball truly is a grind. We spend the winter analyzing statistics from every angle, fine-tuning dollar values, and practicing strategies in mock drafts. It seems like Draft Day will never get here, but at long last it finally comes.

But then something strange happens...

We're reminded that, oh yeah, we're going to play this thing out, and it's going to require a daily commitment like you wouldn't believe. Now granted, a solid draft is key to success in a fantasy baseball league. (Otherwise, why spend far too many words writing a draft recap about it, amirite?) More so than in the past, though, in the modern era this game we play really begins after Draft Day.

In a world in which we're constantly inundated with information, we see very little variance among player rankings across various sites. The term "sleeper" has become obsolete. So if everyone knows everything, how can one get ahead? Well, in-season management may very well be the new inefficiency.

Sure, some picks are better than others (like yours truly selecting the injury-prone Jose Reyes in Round 2), but the real edge in this game doesn't come on Draft Day. In a league like the RotoAuthority League with daily pickups and lineup changes,  the most crucial facet of this game is now in-season management.

Accordingly, with just about a month in the books, I figured it might be a good time to see which players have been the top free agent acquisitions in the RotoAuthority League thus far. Here then are the top 10 most valuable players according to the ESPN Player Rater among those who went undrafted in this league:

1. Clay Buchholz

2. John Buck

3. Nate McLouth

4. Vernon Wells

5. Justin Masterson

6. Hisashi Iwakuma

7. Ervin Santana

8. Jim Henderson

9. Travis Hafner

10. Brandon Crawford

So which of these players have staying power? Will Buck follow other aging catchers and have one of those randomly good seasons? Could McLouth recapture the fantasy gold of 2008? Do Vernon and Hafner still have something left in the tank? Can Masterson and Ervin enjoy bouceback campaigns? Well...

I'm a skeptic by nature, and in all honesty this list doesn't look all that appealing to me. If anything, this list is a reminder that the season is still young, and we have very little idea as to how it will play out. If you take a random sample of a month at any time during the season, players like these can certainly be in the midst of a hot stretch. Things just get magnified when that hot stretch takes place in April.

So, yes, Clay Buchholz may finally be living up to the high expectations that we placed upon him. But the rest of this list? Well, who knows.

The real lesson here, though, is to capitalize on these stretches in leagues with daily lineup changes. Did Brandon Crawford figure out how to hit? Well, you're not going to lose all that much by making the free agent pickup. The potential reward far outweighs the risk, and in today's game speculative moves like these can make the difference between cashing or not.

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