I don’t particularly like the term ‘beginner’s luck’.  If we won the LABR NL-Only Expert League (sponsored/hosted by Steve Gardner at USA Today), I imagine this dismissive term would be tagged on us.  Those smart-ass bloggers won LABR – such beginner’s luck!

Unfortunately, we’ll never know because we finished in a tie for 7th place and ‘Beginner’s average performance’ doesn’t have the same colloquial attractiveness.

(Congratulations to Doug Dennis who managed 41 pitching points (out of 65) after investing just $30 on pitching in the draft.  That’s what can happen with a little luck, a couple of good $1 picks (F. Salas, D. Gee), and an April trade for Ian Kennedy)

2011 NL LABR Standings (13 Team)
Place  Team/Blog  Owner  Points
1st Baseball HQ Doug Dennis 99
2nd Rotoworld Wolf/ Colton 86.5
3rd NFBC Greg Ambrosius/ Shawn Childs 75
4th Baseball Prospectus Clay Davenport 71
5th USA TODAY Steve Gardner 70.5
6th Baseball Prospectus Derek Carty 69
T-7th Razzball Rudy Gamble 65
T-7th RotoWire Dalton Del Don 65
9th ESPN – EK Eric Karabell 64.5
10th Baseball Info Solutions Steve Moyer 64.5
11th Sandlot Shrink Bob Radomski 61.5
12th ESPN.com – Cockcroft Tristan H. Cockcroft 60.5
13th Yahoo – Brandon Brandon Funston 58

Coming out of our draft, we were feeling pretty good about our offense (which we spent about $180 of our $260) where we placed three big bets (Albert Pujols – $40, Ryan Braun – $37, Jose Reyes – $29) and three medium-sized bets (Todd Neil Walker – $18, Logan Morrison – $18, Danny Espinosa – $13).  While none of our ‘cheap’ picks played particularly well or stayed particularly healthy (Casey Blake, Mark DeRosa), these guys helped carry us to 51 points which was the 3rd best offense.  (Our in-season pickups had a modest impact – our three notable ones were Juan Rivera, Paul Goldschmidt, and Brandon Wood).

If our pitching – which we thought might be average – could only overperform a bit, we had a chance to compete for the title.  Those of you with 8th grade math skills can surmise that it performed awfully (14 points).  And that’s AFTER trading Pujols in an August trade for Cliff Lee who gave us a sick line of 60.2 IP, 1.19 ERA, 0.857 WHIP, 61 Ks.

Here’s a Spaghetti Western breakdown of our pitching:

The Good:
Yovani Gallardo ($21) – Can’t complain too much about 207.1 IP / 17 W / 3.52 / 1.215 / 207 Ks

Randy Wolf ($3) – 212.1 IP / 13 W / 3.69 / 1.319 / 134

Carlos Marmol ($20) – Yeah, wish we spent $15 for Kimbrel or Marmol blew less saves but 33 saves and 99 Ks (!!!) from a closer is solid.

Chris Capuano ($4) – The 4.55 ERA was ugly but 11 Wins and 168 Ks with an okay WHIP (1.349) was good value.

The Bad:

Clayton Richard ($5) – Ugh, why’d we draft this Hodgepadre instead of Harang or Stauffer?  The fact he only made it through 99 IP didn’t help.

Tom Gorzelanny ($2) – He pitched great (1.235 WHIP, nearly a K an inning) but he only pitched 100 innings as the Nationals preferred to give Chien-Mien Wang starts down the stretch and only managed 4 wins.

Matt Lindstrom ($2) – We were hoping for more than 2 saves and he was injured when Huston Street inevitably got hurt.  Hurts more when you think what gambling on a SP like Brandon Beachy ($1) or Dillon Gee ($1) might’ve netted.

Clay Hensley ($5) – We hoped he might steal the job from the pitcher formerly known as Leo Nunez.  He then switched to SP where he was sub-average.

The Ugly:

Hong-Chih Kuo ($6) – We really liked three middle relievers with some Saves potential – Kuo, Madson, and Venters.  If Kuo has a Madson-like year of 25 saves, it would’ve netted us 7 more points in Saves.  Yip!

Javier Vazquez ($11) – This really couldn’t have worked out worse.  Grey has covered this numerous times in daily roundups but here’s the painful story.  LABR rules dictate that anyone on a 25-man roster HAS to be started.  So we couldn’t bench Vazquez during his atrocious April/May.  It was either start him or drop him.  We prayed he’d go on the Disgraceful List or show some sign of a turnaround but all we got was one bad start after another.

Vazquez has always been one of those guys who Ks a lot but gives up too many HRs and underperforms on his ratios (career xFIP of 3.75 and ERA of 4.22).  There is no way Vazquez can be effective if he isn’t K-ing in the 8-10 K/9 range.  He started the season at about half that rate  so there was little hope for the K mojo (and any level of effectiveness) to return.  I dropped him sometime in May – after lobbying hard against a hesitant Grey – when Vazquez had a  line of 39.1 IP / 2 Wins / 7.55 ERA / 1.907 WHIP / 20 Ks.

So what did he do the rest of the way?  Only 146. 1 IP / 10 Wins / 2.83 ERA / 1.011 WHIP / 135 Ks.  My guess is just holding onto Vazquez – which we would’ve done had he not had a historically bad first 8 or so starts – would’ve netted us 10 pitching points (in Wins, Ks, and ERA) and put us close to the top 3.

Oh well…hopefully if they let us in next year, we’ll learn from these pitching mistakes and make a run for the pennant.  Or at least make new mistakes so we don’t look stupid when writing the end of season post.

 
  1. My company tied with my favorite blog site. And both were middle-of-the-pack. Not sure whether I should be happy or disappointed. But you know what they say, “If you can’t beat ’em, settle for average.”

  2. TheLoadedOne says:
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    $18 for Todd Walker might be a good value if he didn’t retire in 2007. Todd’s much younger twin Neil has more upside IMHO.

  3. chata says:
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    always though labr was one of those elite-type leagues .
    but you’re telling me it’s a weekly (weakly) change league ?

    yeah , i’d guess there’s a lot more luck involved .

  4. chata says:
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    edit * though = thought

  5. OaktownSteve says:
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    @Rudy: Nice to see you around. Guys didn’t win, but at least not an embarrassing finish.

    Wondering what you might do differently from a strategic standpoint next time around. That is not the obvious “well I would have picked this guy and not that guy.” More like a change to the general approach based to LABR based on this experience.

  6. OaktownSteve says:
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    @Rudy: I appreciate the discretion of not letting your future strategy out of the bag. Let’s leave it to say that what jumped out at me is the impact to risk management and resource allocation in a league where you can’t sit a guy on the bench.

    Also, if you find yourself with nothing to do in the offseason, I the offseason…last year I floated the idea of a draft or auction of last years players just as a contest/thought experiment. Maybe razzball would be interested in sponsoring or getting something together?

  7. Steve says:
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    Might I be so bold as to suggest you finished ahead of the people you most wanted to finish ahead of? ;-)

  8. OaktownSteve says:
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    @Rudy: Solid. Mrs. Oaktown Steve and I are expecting in a couple of weeks (really could be any time now). Our second. Mazel tov to ya!

  9. Ian says:
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    I dropped Vasquez around the same time as you and had the pleasure of watching him bring a title to the guy who missed half of our auction and was waiver wire scraping all year.

    His line against me in the second round of the playoffs W, CG, 7 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.56 WHIP.

    Ah, fake sports, how I loathe thee sometimes.

  10. Voidoid says:
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    There’s Cockcroft bringing up the rear.

  11. nmdunkel says:
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    I don’t know why Funston and Cockcroft haven’t created the FunCock superteam yet. Maybe next year.

  12. zk says:
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    Why does anyone consider Funston an “expert” at anything other than looking a lot like every small town cop I’ve ever had a run in with?

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