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Anibal Sanchez – Fantasy MVP, Jarrod Parker – Fantasy LVP

When tasked with choosing an MVP and an LVP, I decided to look at my own teams to see if there were any players in common on my good teams and any players in common on my bad teams. Of the six mixed leagues I played in, I had finishes of first, third, fourth, fourth, seventh and ninth. The only player that was on all four of my top four teams was Anibal Sanchez. While my two crappy teams had some similarities in terms of roster construction, one of the only players that was on both teams was Jarrod Parker. But it wouldn’t be fair if I failed to point out that my first round picks in those bad leagues were Matt Kemp and Albert Pujols. That definitely hurt me more than Parker did.

Parker got off to a dismal start by posting a 7.36 ERA in April. In one of my leagues I cut bait after he allowed eight earned in 3.1 IP in his third start of the year. He gave me 11.2 IP with a 10.80 ERA and a 2.66 WHIP. In the other league where I owned him, I held on through his first start of May. When I finally gave up he had given that team 28.1 IP with a 7.94 ERA and a 2.08 WHIP. Buzz, your girlfriend. WHOOF! It’s likely that Parker’s early season struggles were caused by a neck injury, but once he got past that, things really turned around. He posted and ERA under 4.00 in each of the next four months and drastically reduced his walk rate.

The lesson I’m choosing to learn from this is twofold. First, I should have been more patient with Parker. That’s not to say that you’ve got to hold onto all of your struggling guys, but Parker was someone I really believed in during the preseason. I had him ranked inside my top 30 starters even though he had an ADP outside the top 40. I loved his swinging strike rate and saw the potential for an increase in K%. I loved the way he ended 2012 with excellent strikeout and walk numbers in the last month of the season and peaking velocity. And I loved the situation he was in on a good team, in a good ballpark, and with a good defense. Again, I’m not saying I should have stuck with Parker because of the excellent turnaround. I’m saying you’ve got to stick with guys you had very good reasons to believe in.

The second lesson is that I need to stick to my draft day plan. My plan is to always go hitting early as much as possible and grab pitching late. But in the two leagues where I ended up with Parker, I didn’t stick to that plan. In one of them I took three pitchers in my first eight picks (I would normally just take one), and in the other I took two pitchers in my first five picks (I normally wouldn’t take any). This left me worried about my offense and waiting until the 150-160 range to take another pitcher while I loaded up on bats. As a result, my pitching staff was much thinner than normal, and I was relying heavily on Parker to produce as my third or fourth starter.

As for Anibal, he obviously helped me by being great. He was fourth in the league in ERA, fifth in K%, and the 12th best starter according to ESPN’s player rater. But he may have been more helpful to me in that he tended to be a part of my deepest rotations where I built the majority of my pitching staff in the middle rounds. I teamed Anibal up in every league that I owned him with several of Doug Fister, Mike Minor, Jake Peavy, Derek Holland and Alex Cobb. Building a deep pitching staff was just as helpful as Anibal’s stellar numbers.