Welcome! Ladies and cucumbers! Gather round for another edition of Lineup Maximizer. The season wanes to an end, but our efforts do not. Each night becomes even more important as the number left dwindles. Why give up now?

Let’s see who we can use as a human hole-patch on Thursday:

Thursday Game Stats:

20 of 30 teams playing

First Game: Twins @ Indians – 12:05 PM

#74  Gerardo Parra (L) – Mil – OF – vs Mia (Eovaldi-R) – 8:10 PM – 19% owned

Admittedly, Parra’s never been a great fantasy player to own. But that’s mostly because he usually hasn’t been given regular playing time over a full season and not because of his talent. In his lone full season last year, he batted .270 with 80 runs, 10 homers, and 10 steals. That a player worth owning in anything deeper than a 12 teamer. After stagnating some in his sixth year as a Diamondback, Parra now gets a fresh start in Milwaukee, where he’s batted .293. In his last eight starts he’s gotten one hit in all of ’em, and I know that all it takes to make people happy is recommend people who get that one hit. Sure, a homer would be nice but as long as that sucker shoots one in a hole once, I know the pitchforks will be left in the garage. So add Parra, let’s everybody calm down.

#119  Tyler Flowers (R) – CWS– C – vs OAK (Kazmir-L) – 8:10 PM – 4% owned

Lemme tell ya a little somethin about A’s fans. They’re dead people, zombies. Right now the A’s are in the midst of a collapse of colossal proportion. Every day they (except yesterday) somehow find a way to lose that is both novel and marginally worse than the day before. That’s hard to do. There aren’t that many ways to lose in baseball so the A’s are inventing new ones as they go. One of their inventions I like to call the Flowers Fuckfest. It requires having a a one run lead in the bottom of the ninth and two outs. But instead of getting the final out, your closer (ideally a replacement) serves up a meatball like Grandma with Tyler Flowers at the plate, and he proceeds to smack one over the fence. As an encore, he does the same thing in the 12th inning to send your team packing off the field in heartbreaking defeat. The only benefit of the Flowers Fuckfest is the duo of Hawk homer calls you get as a result. “You gotta be flippin’ me,” says Hawk. Update: I will now call it the Flowers Flipfest. Hope for another Flowers Flipfest on Thursday against change-up master Kazmir.

#135 C.J. Cron (R) – LAA– 1B – @Tex (Martinez-R) – 8:05 PM – 15% owned

Remember Cron? He’s that prospect that looked kinda good, but wasn’t really supposed to be that good, but played pretty good anyway, but still ended up getting demoted. Yeah, that one. Well, he’s back in the big leagues, in the league’s hottest offense, and hitting well. Don’t believe me? That’s of minor effing importance. What’s of major effing importance is that I believe you will pick him up? Kapeesh?

#99 David Murphy (L) – CLE– OF – vs Min (Nolasco-R) – 12:05 PM – 23% owned

Yawn. Yawnstipation. I need a Yawnstipationoscopy. Murphy may cause all of these things when really, he shouldn’t. Three times in his career he’s gotten at least 10 homers and steals apiece. And in an era where you don’t even blink an eye at a .240 batting average, he’s hit below .260 just once. At the very least he hits righties well, and on Thursday the Twins are trotting out a mediocre one in Nolasco, he of the 1.59 WHIP. Expect that whip to take another beating that day.

#142 Chris Dickerson (L) – CLE– OF – vs Min (Nolasco-R) – 12:05 PM – 1% owned

Speaking of players beating up on Nolasco, why not double-down in this game? Dickerson has shown the ability get hits at times this season. He has 22 of them. With any luck he’ll have 23 by the days end and you’ll have me to thank for it. How’s that for confidence?

Before we end this article, I want to include a short essay I wrote called “The Ideal Fantasy Manager.” I’m sure most of you reading this think you’re a pretty good fantasy baseball player. You put in the effort and make smart decisions. Good as you may be, I’m sure almost none of you would say you perform as ideally as you possibly could. Not sure what I mean? What follows is one man’s description of how this Idealized Fantasy Manager would run his league. I’m purposely putting it at the end of an article in September, if you didn’t catch on to that.

The Ideal Fantasy Manager

The time is 3:30 PM. Jane Lee has just posted a picture of the A’s lineup on Twitter. The Ideal Fantasy Manager knows this. He has an alert go off on his phone, in fact, for this very reason. The Ideal Fantasy Manager checks his lineup to see which A’s players are playing that day. The first game starts at 7:05 PM. The IFM knows this too.

The time is ~6:50 PM. The Ideal Fantasy Manager checks his lineup once more, making sure it is perfectly set for the start of game time. He starts looking over tomorrow’s lineup, seeing who is expendable and who is addable.

The time is 7:05 PM. The IFM rattles off a quick series of moves for tomorrow’s games the second rosters lock. (In a next-day moves league, this would occur instead at about 3:00 AM or whenever Yahoo resets its day). The IFM is probably single.

The Ideal Fantasy Manager takes all relevant information into account – opposing pitcher, handedness splits, park effects, weather considerations, etc. – when making lineup decisions. Rather than do rough mental calculations, the IFM has a singular model that ranks each player’s individual matchup. This is essentially Hitter-Tron (and Stream-o-Nator for pitchers). The IFM is not naïve; he knows a model cannot account for everything. He combines the model’s projections with expert knowledge of managerial tendencies and other “soft” information when making roster adjustments.

The time is 1:17 AM. The last west coast game has just concluded. The Ideal Fantasy Manager has spent the evening watching as many games as he can. Were a player (especially a closer) to leave a game via injury, the IDF’s phone would buzz from an algorithm that is continuously scanning Twitter. Currently, it buzzes because Sean Doolittle grimaced after his final pitch of the evening. The IFM quickly adds Luke Gregerson (whoops!) in response.

The time is 1:30 AM. The Ideal Fantasy Manager opens his Custom League Suite that houses all the information about his league, exactly as he wants it. The IFM built this Suite himself, from scratch. The IFM’s CLS continuously scrapes Yahoo and gives real-time updates on the stats of all players, as well as league standings. The IFM wonders how people put up with StatTracker and laughs they used to pay $10 bucks for it (himself included).

The time is 1:55 AM. The Ideal Fantasy Manager has spent the last 25 minutes reviewing league standings, other team’s rosters, and league activity. The IFM knows he trails the team ahead of him by 6 homers. The IFM also knows the SD for the HR category over one day of games is 1.8. He does not know The Bachelorette starts a new season this Thursday.

The day is September 28, 2014. The IDF looks contently at his league’s standings, where he sits at the top. The IDF has won his league and orders a crate of Yahoo off Amazon. For the third year in a row he’s finished in the top 2. “It’s just good luck,” says one of his league-mates dismissively. The IDF doesn’t defend himself – rather he smiles, knowing it was anything but that.

 
  1. Troy says:
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    Dickerson was released by the Indians

    • paul

      paul says:
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      @Troy: This is true, my mistake. Other four players are still rostered.

  2. s2 says:
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    the IDF orders yoohoo (damn auto-correct)

    • paul

      paul says:
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      @s2: A sort of punny auto-correct. Thanks for the catch.

  3. Spammer Jay says:
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    I want to grab him, but are you sure Cron will play tomorrow verses righty?

    • paul

      paul says:
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      @Spammer Jay: They did let him face Salazar on Monday so there’s a chance, but admittedly it’s not 100%.

  4. goodfold2 says:
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    nice True Romance ref.

    • goodfold2 says:
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      @goodfold2: good essay too, but any IDF (or just semi-critical thinker) knows very well that sometimes all his prep doesn’t win out (esp in smaller sample sizes), just like any decent poker player would say.

      • goodfold2 says:
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        @goodfold2: oops, meant IFM

      • paul

        paul says:
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        @goodfold2: Thank you goodfold2! Of course putting in a lot of effort doesn’t alone guarantee you success, but I think it’s an understated fact that in most casual leagues, an IFM or near-IFM will consistently be a title contender (barring terrible luck). Of course, if the rest of your leaguemates are doing IFM-things as well, then that edge goes away.

        Also, I wanted to highlight some of the things people could start doing in the future to re-gain that edge in an IFM-filled league, like building a “Custom League Sweet” or an algorithm that scans Twitter.

        • goodfold2 says:
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          @paul: oh yeah, those ideas would be huge in a competitive league.

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