I tell a lot of whoppers in this series, but here’s a totally true story about luck that happened to me this weekend. I’m up in the great north, on a cabin in a lake. Sure, that’s lucky, but it’s not the story. Now, I don’t fish a lot. I’ve probably cast a line less than 100 times total in my life, and almost all of those casts are me casting for my kids. I’m the kind of guy that goes fishing for other people.
So when I cast my kiddie reel into 5 foot deep water in the middle of the day, I didn’t expect to get much. But when I pulled out a 16” walleye, my fishing-familiar friends were impressed. I asked my kids to take a photo of me and my catch of a lifetime. Wouldn’t you know — three photos later, I had a picture of the dock, a picture of my face, and a picture of me in focus but the fish completely out of focus. At least I had a witness.
I cast my line dozens of more times looking for another walleye to no avail. I knew the forces at play. They’re the same forces we see in fantasy sports. It’s confirmation bias, and selection bias. I got a walleye once, so I should get a walleye again. Nope, a dozen sunfish and bass later, I was no closer to my prize. I snagged the walleye in 5 feet of water, so location drove my casts to shallow water.
The walleye was a minor black swan event: something that shouldn’t have happened but did. I was lucky enough to snag it. But the odds of a repeat event happening? Probably one in thousands, if not less.
That’s the kind of bias we work with in fantasy sports all the time. It can be positive or negative. When I say, “Max Scherzer is a league winner,” that’s the same bias. There’s nothing written in the laws of fantasy sports that Max Scherzer will perform well and save your league. When I say, “Martin Perez is a known quantity,” well, yes, we have a lot of data on him, but we can’t exclude him from saving your team in the event of a hypothetical Scherzer explosion.
A lot of fantasy managers are facing the same bias quandary right now because Shane McClanahan has been ruled out for the rest of the season. What do you do when your top SP departs just in time for the fantasy playoffs? Do you go for the hot hand rookie, or for the proven veteran? J.P. France is a top 10 pitcher over the past month, and he’s a 28 year old rookie. Aaron Civale and Austin Gomber are also great options, for guys who have years and years of track records of inadequacy. Where will you cast your line?
For dynasty managers, it sounds like Shane McClanahan will receive an opinion about getting Tommy John surgery. That means the Rays are probably waiting for inflammation to subside. SMC is 26 years old, and has ridden the line of “avoiding injury” for the better part of the past two years. If my lake-addled brain has anything to say about it, I’d say the odds are in favor of SMC going for Tommy John at the end of this year, which would leave him in a position to return in early 2025. If he doesn’t go under the knife, he’s got an increased chance of Injured List visits in 2024 — it could be rough waters for SMC managers over the next few seasons. Godspeed.
Last week, I wrote about how Shohei Ohtani would likely see less action to finish the year, and this week, we hear that he’s missing his next start to rest his arm. The Angels are functionally out of the playoffs (1.6% chance of Wild Card), and he’s set to make a record-breaking amount of money next year. Expect more rest periods for Ohtani to finish the year, lest his record-breaking payday go the way of Enron.
Allan Winans has launched his career in Atlanta with a ton of Ks and a 32%+ CSW%. Rookies are notoriously volatile — it won’t take long for competitors to get tape of his stuff and start counter-offensives. For now, Winans looks to be a spot-starter on a Braves team that will likely utilize plenty of backup arms to buffer their starters in September. Winans isn’t guaranteed innings whatsoever, but if you see his name pop up in the Steamonator, consider him a worthy streamer.
Jack Flaherty has been on fire since joining the Orioles — despite lining up against HOU and TOR, he’s 16:4 in K/BB with ERA and true skill stats all aligning. Early in the pre-season, I suggested Flaherty as a go-to streamer throughout the year. That means, you ride the hot streaks and let him go during the cold streaks. Flaherty’s playing meaningful baseball and seems motived to make the playoffs — hopefully, his wildness is under control and we can see a resumption of his previous upside.
As I’ve been hinting for a few weeks, rankings dwindle in meaning as the timeline to the fantasy playoffs becomes smaller. With me being out in the middle of nowhere and writing on an iPad, I think it’s probably time to let the rankings retire as well. As always, Rudy’s Streamonator is there for premium Razzball subscribers, and his rest-of-season projects are free for anybody. Grey’s ready to answer your questions every day, as well.
Have a great rest of the week!