Look at me, mom, I did it, I really did it. Wow! What a long road it’s been to get here. I’ve finally reached the mountaintop, the pinnacle, if you will, and it wouldn’t have been possible without all the love and support I’ve received along the way. I have so many people to thank that helped get me to this point. Sorry, about that… I was practicing what I would use as an acceptance speech at the Oscars. You mean to tell me that was last Sunday? And I wasn’t nominated for anything? Well, shizz. Maybe Ryan Braun can use this for his speech when he wins another MVP award without the help of PEDs. Wait, he probably used them in 2011 when he first won the MVP? I guess it just depends who you ask. Go ask Matt Kemp what he thinks, I dare you. Better yet, I double dog dare you! Au shizz, now you have to!
Anyway, it looks like I’m the new guy to take over as your aficionado (in case you are wondering, the answer is no, I’m not really sure what that word means, I just enjoy saying it) for everything Points Leagues. As usual, the following caveat applies to these points leagues posts: the information mentioned here should be of use to you in other leagues as well, because a great player in points leagues will probably be a great player in other leagues and vice versa. Each week I plan to provide you with one hitter and one pitcher of consequence to you, whether it be as a target or a schmohawk. And, away we go…
As you can tell by the title and opening of this thing, Ryan Braun is the first guy up. Even though I, or really anyone else, can’t stand the guy as a person (Ian Kinsler might even go so far as to call him a sleazeball, which would then probably “be taken out of context”), he has always been a stud in fantasy. And not just the kind in your wife’s head, but also in our favorite kind of fantasy, baseball. I know a lot of detractors will question how much of his production was inflated due to using PEDs. While this is a legitimate question, we do know that PEDs can’t make a bad player suddenly good, just ask Jordanny Valdespin, Kevin Frandsen, and Omar Quintanilla. Who? Exactly. I’m not saying this to totally discount the PED effect, but it probably isn’t as big as some people make it out to be. I told you all of that to tell you this: it looks like
sweet little Brauny boy may be able to be bought at a slight discount on draft day. Currently, his ADP sits around 17th overall in ESPN leagues. To me, that is considered too low. From 2008-2012, taking out last year (given his 65 game suspension), Braun averaged 154 games, 33 HRs, over 100 RBIs, over 100 runs, and 22 stolen bases per year; all while hitting over .300. Now I don’t expect him replicate each of this numbers this year; however, I do think he will end up relatively close to those numbers, with his main dip coming in dingers. He’s a guy that I would definitely consider inside the top 10, as each player after the top 4 has question marks; whether it be durability concerns (Cargo), coming off of break-out year (Crush Davis), moving to a less friendly hitting environment (Cano), or being a pitcher (sorry Clayton). Of the players going between 5-15 overall, for my money, Braun offers arguably the most upside and perhaps the least risk. Listen, I get it, I dislike Braun as much as the next guy, but I like winning, I go as far as to say I love it, and we are talking about a player who was arguably the top fantasy asset from 2008-2012.
As for pitching strategy in points leagues, my goal is to maximize innings pitched, first and foremost. This very topic was comprehensively covered for standard leagues by our own Rudy Gamble last week and the same conclusions can be applied to points leagues as well. To quote Rudy’s #1 conclusion: “Maximizing a team’s IP is the #1 most effective way to improve your fantasy team’s pitching success…” In order to do this in points leagues, I try to target starters who I know will take the ball every 5th day and pitch at least into the 7th inning for any given start. This is especially important in leagues which have a cap set for games started. This leads to one of my favorite lower cost SP options out there: CJ Wilson. I know, I know, he will probably never be considered a fantasy ace and, frankly, I don’t really care. What I do care about is that since 2010 (when he became a full time starter), he is in the top 10 in Major League Baseball in Wins, tied for 1st in Games Started, and 9th in Innings Pitched, all while compiling a 3.37 ERA. Wins and Innings Pitched are key scoring categories in points leagues. And if you delve into more advanced stats, CJ’s results have been just as good. His HR/9 rate is tied for 7th with King Felix and his HR/FB rate is 9th in league over that time. His FIP is also right in line with his ERA, showing his skills are real. Looking at his fantasy numbers from last year, CJ finished as the 10th highest SP in Yahoo’s standard points format and 19th in ESPN standard points formats. Wilson can be bought at a value in drafts thus far, coming off the boards as the 44th SP and 172nd overall. This puts him behind other SPs like Doug Fister (who is much better in real life than fantasy), C.C. (coming off a rough year due to control and velocity problems), Andrew Cashner (who is fantastic when healthy, but that is a serious question mark), and many other guys. I would consider CJ in a points league, or possibly any league, before each of those guys listed and he is being drafted more than 3 rounds after some of those pitchers. That, to me, screams value.
That about does it for the points league stuff this week. I’ll be back next week with a couple new players to keep an eye on, just as long as they don’t get rid of me before then.