In the Razzball group chat that I know you’re all dying to see (/s), I was lamenting that Giancarlo Stanton had finally hit a homer for my team, only to realize I owned Will Crowe in multiple places. I felt both exultation and grief, a washing machine of swirling emotions. I contend now with you all that fantasy baseball is like poetry.
Fantasy baseball is like poetry in that it’s really hard to do, most people will never be truly ‘good’ at it, and while it can make you feel many emotions, it can sometimes make you want to die. Art is necessary and precarious, especially these days. While I will not deign* to make direct comparisons between what many assume is a dying art and fantasy sports, it invokes a question I know we’ve all been itching to answer. Stretch out your reality and assume with me the following premise: Fantasy baseball has existed since the dawn of time. Knowing this, let’s figure out the fantasy sports behavior of the poets that I remember off the top of my head (knowing that it’s 11pm the night before the article’s due, and your author has a slanted view of poetry taught through the lens of Western-male-centric canon, so forgive my ignorance and tell me what other poetry to read in the comments if you’re all still out there and reading).
|Poet||Preferred Format||Style of Play|
|Alexander Pope||12 Team Roto 5×5||Rigid as a board, shunning any strategy that came after the first ever Rotisserie Draft, because everything after it was fancy for its own sake. The whole league (and Pope himself) believes him to be a genius.|
|Samuel Coleridge||Ottoneu||Obsessive, reworking rankings and tiers all winter, never satisfied, even after victory. Sometimes forgets to set his lineups due to opium.|
|Emily Dickinson||6-10 team Roto/Head to Head Leagues||As a shut-in, she prefers her leagues to be as small as possible. Absolutely one of the greatest to ever play the game, right under the nose of peers who may call her a pretender. An absolute beast on the waiver wire.|
|John Milton||Home League he begrudgingly pays a friend tax to play in because the league doesn’t want anyone else and they “need” 12 people||Drafts okay, but over-drafts pitchers and drafts dudes injured during Spring Training. Spends the rest of the season in the league chat lamenting his fate, in the basement once again|
|Walt Whitman||NFCB, works for a betting site too||Guy who will not shut up in the draft, league chat, and on his Twitter feed, prides himself regarding the guys he believes in, in it for the clout|
|e e cummings||Whatever suited his fancy that year||He spends most of his time creating new team names and finding ways to subvert the group chat into a linguistic hall of mirrors|
|Dr. Suess||Accidentally signed up for a main event NFCB league with a $10k buy-in||An awful drafter and team owner, he still participates every day, livens up the chat, and wins the occasional waiver wire bidding out of sheer luck|
|MF DOOM||A master asked to join every expert league||He gets someone else in the league to cover his league fee, and even after winning, he disappears with the winnings and his peer’s entry fee.|
On to the blurbs!
A Blurbstomp Reminder
We will analyze player blurbs from a given evening, knowing that 1-2 writers are usually responsible for all the player write-ups posted within an hour of the game results. We will look at:
Flowery Diction – how sites juice up descriptions of player performance
Q and Q – when a site contradicts a player valuation on back-to-back blurbs
Stephen A. Smith IMG_4346.jpeg Award – Given to the player blurb that promises the most and delivers the least.
Bob Nightengale Syndrome – instances of updates that don’t update anything
The hope is that by season’s end, we’ll all feel more confident about our player evaluations when it comes to the waiver wire. We will read blurbs and not be swayed by excessive superlatives, faulty injury reporting, and micro-hype. I will know that I have done my job when Grey posts, and there isn’t a single question about catchers that he did not address in his post. Onward to Roto Wokeness!
Castillo struck out a modest four while walking two in the loss. He kept the A’s off the scoreboard until the bottom of the fifth inning, when they jumped him for a three-run homer (Tony Kemp) and an RBI double (Sean Murphy). All of that action flipped the scoreboard after the Mariners had been working with a slim 1-0 advantage. While Castillo has been a little up-and-down of late, two of his four starts for the month of September have seen him put up shutout efforts. A favorable road matchup with the Royals shows next on the dynamic right-hander’s schedule.
Words matter, and saying that in a bad outing Castillo’s 4K’s in 4 innings pitched is “modest” is a weird choice. When I think of modest strike outs, I think of a guy like Alek Manoah who is under a K per/inning for the 2022 season. Averaging a K per inning as a starter is pretty great. Of the top 30 pitchers in strikeouts, 14 of them had more K’s than they had innings. That’s fantastic! Those guys should get our kudos! Do Kudos still exist, by the way? I remember it as a Snickers bar that companies convinced my mom was just a regular granola bar. Bless the marketers for allowing such a delicious treat into my home. Anyway, this was a terrible performance by Castillo, whom most would assume would steamroll the lowly Athletics. Again, a good amount of strike outs considering how much damage was done. With “Blonde” coming out, modesty is no longer cool. It’s been canceled, friends.
Greene draws the starting assignment for the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Cardinals in his return to the Reds’ starting rotation following a six-week absence due to a right shoulder strain. The hard-throwing 23-year-old right-hander has shown flashes of brilliance this season, compiling a respectable 5.26 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 127/41 K/BB ratio across 102 2/3 innings (20 starts) in the majors.
Look, the dude is the second coming of Triston McKenzie of 2021 fame. He had a ton of hype, had some crazy good games (he just had another!), but has otherwise not been a great pitcher. Ask Hunter Greene himself if he would call a 5.26 ERA “respectable.” Is it respectable when considering certain factors like his age, lack of experience in the league, and other oft-used bits of context used by beat writers when they decide this prospect not performing well is actually a good thing? Sure. As many would point out in the comments if I ever answered anyone in a timely manner, I would probably have a 75.75 ERA and people would tell me that it’s respectable considering my lack of talent. You see what that is? It’s pity, and Hunter Greene doesn’t need it. Dude’s going to be going relatively cheap next year, and I’m in for a tasty buy low in the hopes that he’ll pitch his way to a SP4 outcome.
Darvish and company were able to keep most of the Diamondbacks’ bat at bay. Arizona managed just four hits but struck out 11 times on Sunday. Walker lead the team with three punchouts and is slashing just .236/.324/.479 on the year. Sure, he has smacked 34 balls over the fence but his .236 average has hampered many fantasy managers in roto leagues.
Christian Walker has hampered no one’s dang season. The dude was scooped up off waivers and provided the 51st most valuable season in fantasy this year. As of September 18th at 11:23pm, Gerritt Cole sits one ahead of him. You know, the guy that fantasy pundits argued was worth your first overall pick. Christian Walker Undrafted, the man hitting 78/35/86/1 with only 118 K’s in 600+ AB’s, has only helped teams this year. Even the teams hurting for average! I refuse to draft for average, it’s a fool’s game. Like expecting the exact next Dorito to be the best you ever had, or for Korean BBQ to ever be horrible.
Again, the guy hitting .236 is ranked 51st overall for the season according to Rudy’s system, and I buy it. I’ll still avoid Walker next year, but I’m happy the guy pulled this off in an arbitration year. Get paid!
Stephen A. Smith IMG_4346.jpeg Award
Jeremy Peña is getting the day off on Saturday against the Athletics.
It’s a well-deserved day off for Peña, who homered on Friday evening against the Athletics, with fellow rookie David Hensley picking up a start at shortstop and veteran Aledmys Díaz bumped up to the second spot in Houston’s lineup. The 24-year-old rookie shortstop hasn’t had a day off since August 27. He’s slugged 18 homers and also stolen 10 bases in 500 plate appearances this season over 121 games.
Why is no one talking about his drop-off in production? It’s making me a bit batty. This is definitely a case of writers getting stuck on a great performance at the beginning of the year, and then holding onto that narrative through an underwhelming second half. Pena is hit .218 in back-to-back months, and again context is missing. The obvious excuse is that he’s worn down in his first professional experience, or that he’s been dealing with an injury. This brings me to a new player quality filter: Polygraph Factor. Instead of just talking about injuries in baseball, we’ll talk about the guys most likely to lie about the severity of their injuries, hampering both their performance and torturing FMLB owners who’d rather bench the star with the phantom injury. I will come back to this eventually.
Bob Nightengale Memorial Plaque
Jordan Montgomery scattered seven hits, struck out nine, walked two, and allowed three runs to score in a loss to the Reds on Sunday.
Montgomery was rolling until the third inning on Sunday. He allowed a single to Jose Barrero and walked Jonathan India before Spencer Steer connected with an 82 mph curveball to bring home Barrero for the Reds’ first run of the game. He was hit around in the top of the sixth inning when a single off Nick Senzel’s bat and a 403 homer from Stuart Fairchild but the Reds up by three runs. Montgomery generated 18 swings and misses and posted a 34 percent CSW. He was the better starter in this matchup but that is baseball, folks. He will face tougher competition in his next start as he travels to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers Saturday
Game recaps as flavor text for the Magic: The Gathering card that is an individual player’s blurb. I can’t find a way that I’ll ever get used to the approach. I respect the hustle, but one’s use of brevity, and then constraint on top of the brevity, is not simply suggested, but in fact necessary. As the bottom of the blurb reads, it seems the Mysterious Author’s thesis is, “He was the better starter in this matchup but that is baseball, folks.” Sure Montgomery posted a 34% CSW, but he gave up the runs, and his opponent shut out the Cardinals. This is the kind of statement that makes people hate advanced stats. Montgomery can in theory throw every pitch right where he wants it, but if the opposing team has a read on his stuff, none of it matters. Hitters are really good, and they hit a bunch of his pitches rather hard. Predictors and models don’t change the outcomes (and yes, I know that FMLB has been whatabouting using FIP, xFIP, etc to recommend possible pitcher values). I still think you call a hammer a hammer. Jordan Montgomery was not the better starter in this matchup, folks.