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RotoAuthority Unscripted: Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

We’ve gotten far enough into the season that you ought to know if your team is a good one or a bad one. Not sure? Check your place in the standings because the results of the first couple months are probably pretty reflective of what’s likely to happen in the next ones. Even if they’re not, you’ve banked those wins and losses, or those category surpluses and deficits. So, it's time to face reality.

Give yourself a nice pat on the back if you’re among the 8.3% of fantasy players currently winning their league, allow yourself a warm feeling of satisfaction if you’re close enough to think you can take that slot over in the summer, a grim but determined smile if you know you can’t take over first, but have your pride to play for…and I’d suggest a healthy does of delusion if your team is languishing at the bottom of the standings. Realism does you no good in redraft leagues. 

Like most of us, I’m living in more than one of those categories, and today we’ll take a look at what’s worked out well…and what’s dropped me into the bottom of the standings. I’m playing in five leagues this year, but one is a draftless keeper league and another is a wacky points league in which four or five pitchers are taken in the first round every year (and it doesn’t usually torpedo the teams that do it). So analyzing those squads won’t do you much good.

Since I draft by the rankings I give you (with a healthy does of impulse and intuition thrown in), my performance each year is a decent enough way to identify whether or not my fantasy advice as turned out well. So, if you paid any attention to the draft advice I gave in the preseason, know that I’m sailing or sinking with you….

So, what has made two of these teams go mostly right and one go very, very wrong? Let’s take a look, using the opportunity to let the results judge my draft advice. 

RotoAuthority Silver League: Old Hoss Radburn
3rd Place, 12 points back
Standard 5x5 categories, roto scoring format. High quality competition with a serious buy-in. Team named for the great 19th century pitcher, the all-time leader in wins in a season. Also the leader in arm burnout and heavy drinking. 

I’ve already traded away my best player on this team: Giancarlo Stanton. (Yes, I finally worked out the details of that deal. Yes, I am now very nervous. Yes, the owner of the team I traded with has already renamed his team to reflect the fact that he has Stanton.) He’s been a beast, offering great value outside the first round and giving me some surplus power. Since his teammates have played much better than expected, he’s been more helpful than even I projected in the Runs and RBI departments. So that’s nice. 

I ranked Jose Altuve just outside the elite second basemen. He’s been even better than I imagined, with 20 steals already. 

David Ortiz and early waiver wire pickup Todd Frazier have helped out my power numbers despite not getting as much production as hoped for from my first two picks: Andrew McCutchen and Joey Votto

My pitching staff has survived injuries from Chris Sale (who I was actually lower on than most, so not too much self-credit for taking him) and Hyun-jin Ryu. I’ve also survived my way-too-optimistic outlook on Matt Cain. Why? Because Ian Kennedy and Josh Beckett have rocked. Especially Kennedy. I’ll take some credit for calling that one, because if a San Diego career revival had been truly self-evident, he would have been a much earlier draft pick. The traded-away Scott Kazmir (who I had definitely ranked much higher than most) was also a big help.

Oddly enough, when I entered negotiations to swap Stanton for Kershaw, I was down in ERA and WHIP…after a week of back-and-forth offers, those became a strength and now Runs and RBI are my worst categories. A thin outfield (I’m using Carlos Quentin, Seth Smith, and Junior Lake) means I may continue to face trouble in the counting stats. 

MLBTR Staff/Friends/Family League: Wade Blasingame LLC
10th Place, 43.5 points back
Standard 5x5 categories, plus holds and OPS; roto scoring format. High opposition quality (Tim Dierkes is currently leading us), low buy-in. Team named for a real ballplayer and the greatest fictional attorney ever—who is also named for the ballplayer.

My top two picks are really dragging this team down, which is too bad because I was stoked to get Adrian Beltre and Adam Jones on the same team. I saw Jones as a near first round OF (heck, I took him 5th overall in the RA mock) and Beltre as the obvious number two at 3B. My hopes in this league are tied to these players bouncing back, and I have to admit that I think they will. (See, self-delusion helps.) 

My offense is also taking hits from losing Carlos Beltran to poor play followed by serious injury, as well as Mark Trumbo’s injury. Both were players I plugged in the preseason, so I’ll take the blame if they’re hurting you too.

Brian McCann is my primary catcher, and he’s really hurt my average. He was an RA favorite, so sorry about that. The homers have been good, though, so you're welcome. 

On the plus side, Alexei Ramirez and Brian Dozier have both been so good they’ve been added to Yahoo!’s “Can’t Cut List.” I can’t take credit for either, though: while I thought they were worth going for, I certainly didn’t predict anything like what’s happened. To be honest, I don’t feel super-confident about either going forward, especially Ramirez.

The good news is that I just snagged Jon Singleton off the waiver wire. You should do the same. 

I can’t believe that my only bad team is the only one I don’t have Matt Cain on. I did, however, spend some time with both Anibal Sanchez and Cole Hamels stashed on my DL. Stephen Strasburg and Kennedy are also helping this squad out, and I think my starting will be a strong suit…but for now I’m dead last in Wins and low in ERA and WHIP. Thank you to the since-dropped CC Sabathia, John Axford, and friends. 

Yahoo Public League: Red Right Ankles
4th Place, 16 games back
Standard 5x5 categories, head-to-head format. I’m not running away with it, so the opposition must be pretty good. I blame it on the auction format weeding out the totally inexperienced. Free, which means the teams at the bottom have probably quit. Team named for Curt Schilling and an unrelated (I presume) Decemberists song. 

Looking at my lineup for this squad, I’m not totally sure why I’m doing passably well. Lucky matchups maybe? This is another team suffering from my Adam Jones-affinity. Another favorite of mine, Aaron Hill, has been a drag on this team (or, at least, not the star I expected). Everth Cabrera has killed me with his average, Evan Longoria (who I paid a ton to get) hasn’t hit at all, and Wilin Rosario has yet to outhit the injured guy he replaced off the waiver wire.

This is, however, another David Ortiz winner (is it too early to claim triumph for the ageless DH who’s eligible at 1B?), and it’s gotten nice production from mid-rounder Anthony Rizzo and late-rounder Brandon Moss. So, my strategy of abandoning average for power hasn’t killed me. Okay, so I also picked up George Springer and enjoyed the fruits of his superpowered May.

On the pitching side, the awesomeness of Adam Wainwright (for whom I felt buyer’s remorse at his high-but-now-very-worth-it price tag) and Strasburg has offset the continued Matt Can experience (um…sorry about that) and Sanchez is now a valuable contributor, so I feel good about my starters going forward.

This team is, perhaps, proof of why you should pay more than the bare minimum for saves: I bid aggressively on every low-end closer I could get my hands on, thinking quantity would beat quality. The only reliever I got in the auction to still have a job is Casey Janssen.

Or maybe it’s proof that you should never pay for saves, since I’ve picked up three supposed closers from the waiver wire anyway (Zach Britton, Jenrry Mejia, and Hector Rondon). Go figure. 

Some Concluding Remarks

So, looking at some of the players I felt strongly enough to actually draft or bid on, there’s been a mixed bag: Wainwright and Strasburg have been great…but Sanchez was hurt and Cain has been awful. And hurt. David Ortiz has provided power, but Adam Jones is disappointing. Ian Kennedy was a sneaky-good call, as was Scott Kazmir. But I made other suggestions that I’ve already dropped and forgotten, so it’s not like they were all winners. Aaron Hill and Everth Cabrera haven’t helped us, but Brandon Moss and Jose Altuve sure have.

I could go on…but I won’t. Frankly, I’m hoping that you’ll take the simplistic explanation that I’m doing pretty well in two out of three leagues—‘cause two out of three ain’t bad.



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