(NOTE FROM GREY: Last year, Razzball Commenter League winner was given carte blanche to write a post for the site. If you’re interested, I think there’s still room in the our fantasy baseball leagues for one or two more people. Comment on that post, if you want in.)
Welcome to the first annual p0rk burn “Point/Counter-Point.” As the winner of the seminal Razzball Commenter League I’ve graciously been given the opportunity to write a post. As I’m neither funny nor knowledgeable, this was the only way I’d get my name on the Razzball marquee. While a point/counter-point format typically includes two people with opposite talking points, I’ve been warped by law school and am now able to pretend (for the right price) to believe two contradicting points at the same time. Not only does this allow me to make money being a jerk for a living, in this instance it has the added benefit of allowing me to not share the bully pulpit.
When I proposed a league among the commenters last season I was sure it would be fun but I didn’t expect half the response it received. For those of you that weren’t able to participate last year I’m excited to see the idea has spawned a new tradition.
The four of you still reading are going to learn my dirty little secret – I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t use a slide rule or player projections to make decisions because I was too poor to go to The College of Fantasy Baseball at Charleston – I was stuck choosing between Topeka Fantasy Baseball A&M or a diploma mill like the University of Phoenix. Instead, I decided to save my money for important things, like microwaveable burritos and sweet haircuts. As such, my approach is simpler and summed up by “don’t have crappy players on your team.” This strategy has worked in the past, so the lack of actual methodology doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of competence. The trick is in properly bumbling your way to victory.
1. Use the experts to your advantage
- Let (some of) them do the work for you: most people don’t have time to come up with their own player projections and instead rely on advice from the lucky people that do. Some of you visit Razzball.com for more than the quality writing, right? Its ok to leave some of the work to the experts, just be careful who you rely on. Grey and Rudy? Good choice. Karabell and any of the hacks at Yahoo? Kiss your season goodbye.
- Use “expert” advice to your advantage: I believe in do-it-yourself fantasy baseball. It’s a much more rewarding experience to take what the experts say and distill it. You wouldn’t drink sour mash would you? Taking the advice most of your league mates are relying on and using it against them is like turning sour mash into Jack Daniel’s: it sure is fun while it lasts and, rarely, you wake up with a fat chick – as long as your friends don’t catch you riding the scooter its all good. Use the advice that’s out there to see which players the other managers will overpay for. Since most people get their information from the same pool of advice they are going to be easy to take advantage of. Razzball calls this “zigging when they are zagging.” Just try to stay away from the fat chicks. And scooters. The Jack Daniels is your call, we don’t judge here.
2. Don’t forget why you are playing
- The point is to have fun: unless the point is to win the money your sucker friends paid to play (that’s gambling and is illegal so nobody here is doing that anyways). First and foremost, you should enjoy playing the game, otherwise it’s like work except you aren’t getting paid. I don’t know about you but the only reason I go to work is the paycheck. If having fun means drafting a team composed solely of players with mustaches, knock yourself out. Also ask Grey for advice, I bet he has some pointers for you.
- Play to win the game: To cross my sports references, Herm Edwards said it best. Having fun is well and good but it’s a lot more fun when you can make fun of people. Playing to win makes the game that much sweeter. Even if your team happens to suck and you’re the one being made fun of, keep playing competitively. There is nothing worse in a league than the managers that gave up and aren’t setting rosters.
- Play with the heart: it goes back to playing for fun but you should make a few moves based on your gut and emotions. If you think a player is posed to have a breakout year but you can’t think of a single reason why, say screw it and draft him. Don’t use this approach to draft Pedro Martinez in the first round, but a lot of your team’s performance is going to be out of your hands. The one thing you can control is how you feel about the players on the team. I picked Dan Uggla up off the waiver wire early in his rookie season for the sole reason that I lived in Miami and wanted to have a player I could root for while watching Marlins games. He became something of a mascot (coincidentally, for significant stretches the Mariner Moose will give you better stats) and the fact that my team won the championship was even better because he was there.
- To win you need to play smart: the margin between winning and losing is often exceedingly small. Fantasy baseball is a game of cold hard numbers and there simply isn’t room on a winning team for feel-good stories. Most feel-good stories don’t end up like Josh Hamilton. After that first season with Uggla I made it a point to have him on my teams which entailed reaching a round or two for him. When we drafted the RCL I fought the urge and decided to draft him where he deserved to go – and didn’t end up with him. I won the league by half a point. That wouldn’t have happened if Uggla had been on the team.
4. Making Moves
- Active managers are champs: after the draft, the only reasonable place to get talent for free is to find a gem among the schmoes on the waiver wire. Last season Carlos Quentin was largely undrafted and Alexei Ramirez was unheard of. Knowing then what you know now, don’t you wish you had picked them up? Don’t be afraid to cut players loose if a better deal is out there. Generally, at least a third of the players on my teams at the end of any season weren’t on the opening day roster. Maybe I just suck at drafting. To do this properly you need to figure out who has historically underperformed and is now playing at their real level of talent; conversely, don’t pick up the players that historically were playing at their actual level of suckitude and are now enjoying a streak of good luck.
- Being an active manager is an easy way to get hosed: Even though it is said time and again, you have to remember that baseball is a game of averages. Dealing someone (or dropping them for a waiver wire pickup) during the middle of a cold spell can be a good way to end up stuck with the worst part of their season and miss out on their production. Don’t cut ties with a guy just because he hasn’t had a decent game in a few weeks. Instead, sit him on the bench and plug in someone else until he comes around. Similarly, don’t try to score a player because you think he’ll keep up his monster numbers; boys and girls, we call that overpaying. The start of Dan Uggla’s season last year was real nice – too bad he balanced it out with June through September. Hamilton also cooled off quite a bit. Chances are at the end of the year the managers that traded for those guys early were wishing they had the players they gave away in the deal.
Following this advice will in no way guarantee you a championship. If you’re in the Original Recipe division with me I strongly recommend you disregard this entire post. Everybody should find their own approach to the game and make it work for them. Most importantly, keep coming to Razzball.com to see what you should really do – just remember to make sure the author wasn’t p0rk burn.