Welcome to the first installment of a new weekly segment here at The Inscriber. Though we are heading into the fifth week of the Major League Baseball season I hope to give you some helpful hints if your fantasy baseball team is struggling or your team’s been devastated by early season injuries to key players.
A little about my fantasy baseball background before we get started. I began participating in fantasy baseball leagues in 1986, when I found a registration form in one of my monthly issues of Baseball Digest. In those days, it got referred to as Rotisserie Baseball.
In order to play you would fill out an order form with contact information and received a kit by mail. These usually appeared around January or February. Also, the kit included a list of every player projected on the 40-man roster and from there, it would take a great deal of time to fill out the forms from 1-28, for every position on the roster (there were 28 teams in the 1980s).
There was no indication of the order of the draft once the packet got completed. Owners would then mail their kit back to the “league office.” The only way to find out how your players were doing, was by reading the daily newspapers and other baseball and sports periodicals that were popular at the time. Unlike today, there was no Internet, ESPN Baseball Tonight or the MLB Network.
In order for a transaction, the owner would once again fill out a form and send it in. Weekly mailings showed the standings, along with any other moves made such as waiver claims, players dropped into free agency, etc. Obviously since that time things have changed. No longer does anyone have to memorize stats on baseball cards in hopes to gain an edge on fellow league members.
Currently I have hosted my Fantasy Baseball League, “The Land O’DH” for the past eight years. I have attempted to play public leagues, and grew bored quickly as basic baseball with strangers couldn’t hold my interest or attention for very long. I found it most rewarding to play with friends and family.
As a competitor it’s great to make shrewd moves and dominate throughout the week and even better when crowned the league champion. Fantasy baseball is something I will always have passion for, just like baseball cards still are, and I foresee myself competing until the day I die. That’s my fantasy baseball background, and I feel more than qualified to help you rebuild or tinker with your team each week. I can take my fair share of criticism as well if a recommendation fails to pan out. It’s only a game, but I take it as serious as many of you probably do.
The goal of this segment is to give insight from someone who watches an extraordinary amount of baseball. At home, the MLB Network is on from the moment I wake up until I turn the television off, with intermittent breaks for Yo Gabba Gabba, Bubble Guppies, and any one of the Toy Story movies. I have two small children, so cut me some slack here.
Each week I will give three players who will likely make an immediate impact on the field and on your fantasy team and who are available to get picked up in more than 50% of standard leagues. My measuring stick is ESPN Fantasy Baseball and Yahoo! Fantasy Sports. From there, I will cite three players who should get dropped because they simply aren’t performing, suffer significant injuries, and are replaceable with better players to upgrade your roster.
Occasionally, I will mention the name of a prospect or veteran being brought up from the minor leagues who will make a splash with the big club sooner than later.
I’m not perfect, as is no fantasy player. Even the great Matthew Berry isn’t right all the time. I will do my very best to offer you perspective and an approach that has worked for me for the better part of the last three decades.
At the Plate, On Deck, and In the Hole:
The Detroit Tigers‘ bullpen situation was a mess for much of the season using multiple relievers to close out games and for the most part that didn’t work out well at all for the franchise. Last week Jose Valverde signed a minor league contract and after a few appearances got brought back up just recently to become the closer.
He is owned in just over 11% of public standard leagues, so jump on the chance to snatch Valverde. He has already saved two games and each were 1-2-3 innings. If you have a slumping player or someone that can go onto the disabled list to add a spot on your roster, go ahead and make the move.
A rare situation for a player from the Kansas City Royals to make an impact, yet if speed and on-base percentage is needed, Lorenzo Cain is a must add. The speedy outfielder is hitting .338, a obp of .397 and has stolen two bases, the only downsize is that he’s been caught stealing three times.
Cain is owned in just over 23% of public leagues, he’ll make a great bench player, adding depth in all formats.
If the team need is flexibility then Yuniesky Betancourt of the Milwaukee Brewers makes perfect sense. Having someone like that on the roster is a very nice option. He’s off to the best start of his career as he’s hit four home runs and driven in 17 while hitting .286.
At the moment he eligible to play at first base, second base, third base and more importantly available in 10% of standard leagues. What’s surprising is that he hasn’t been added at short stop since that’s the position he’s played the most at in his big league career and has played one game there so far in 2013.
Having a player like Betancourt is a must.
One, Two, Three Strikes You’re Out!
Sometimes, as an owner, it’s difficult to cut loose a player you thought was going to have a breakthrough year, or a solid veteran who isn’t playing up to his career norms. It’s like I always tell members of my league, “it has to be head over heart”.
Being emotionally attached to a player who is hurting your team will keep your roster from fully functioning, and in the process cost you valuable time in catching the league leader. Here are three of those guys you need to say good-bye to:
Miami Marlins‘ rookie phenom Jose Fernandez has now been figured out. He as a speculative add to begin with, boosting era and strikeouts. He’s not likely going to add wins as the franchise will struggle all season long and in his last two outings he’s been rocked. It’s better to cut him loose now then wait to see if he figures it out.
Franklin Gutierrez an outfielder for the Seattle Mariners has dealt with too many injuries to keep on the roster. He is now on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.
With outfielders being one of the easiest positions to replace it’s better to get rid of Gutierrez now. Once he comes back healthy it might be a smart move to bring him back.
Finally, the biggest bust on the pitching front in 2013 is easily the Oakland Athletics’ Brett Anderson. He had previously been a good source for wins and era and like Gutierrez, has been the victim of the injury bug since arriving in the big leagues.
Most owners have been very patient with him, given his effectiveness when healthy. Now though, he’s injured and ineffective. He’s got a 1-4 record and an era of 7.23 and the A’s will skip his next start and have Daniel Straily start in his place as Anderson has a sprained right ankle.