Mandatory end of season introspection

So, it’s the end of the season. I hope I have a lot of happy readers who have spent the last few days gloating to their downtrodden leaguemates over their virtual hardware. With this column, I’m not going to deviate far from the norm for columnists at this time of year. I want to review some players with whom I put my money where my mouth was. Early this season, I listed players who I drafted in multiple leagues. I’d like to spend a bit of time looking back at players who I drafted in either three or all of my four leagues, and seeing who worked out and who didn’t.

4 for 4

Roy Oswalt. Well, it’s always nice to knock the first one out of the park… and clear over the parking lot as well. Oswalt finished the season as Yahoo’s 15th ranked player and fourth ranked pitcher. I’m extremely proud to have gone 4 for 4 with Roy. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t be very good again next year, though he’ll probably be too expensive for me to rekindle my affair with him.

Max Scherzer. This too turned out to be a great pick. In my four leagues, I stuck with him when he was sent down in two and dropped him in the other two, more shallow, formats. I got him back in one of those two. So, I actually had most of his season three times this year. Scherzer proved to be a truly solid value if you stuck with him – even better if you missed the rocky roads at the beginning. Here’s my prognostication about Scherzer for next year: He did what he did fairly under the radar so he should represent a great value risk next year as a semi-sleeper, but the experts will blow his cover and hype him up a ton (especially if he has a good spring or something) so he’ll actually creep up to where he should be valued in the first place.

3 for 4

Nelson Cruz. Cruz is tough for me to figure, but I keep telling myself I was proven right here, even if my high selections of Cruz look more like a neutral outcome. I worried about his batting average, but it looks like I didn’t have to. When he was on the field, he actually outperformed my expectations, which were already higher than most. He never repeated his peak performance at the beginning of the season, but having dealt with three separate DL stints, performing well enough to avoid sinking a wonderful start is quite impressive in its own right. The question with Cruz is whether he has an injury-free season in him. I’m going to keep taking the bait of his talent, because if he gives you one, it’s going to be monstrous. I had nice fill-ins for him as well, so in shallower leagues where replacements abound, I consider Cruz a good call. Overall, I was happier with my investment than I was disappointed.

Aramis Ramirez. This was the three-timer who I was least excited about. He just kept falling to me and I wound up selecting him when I just could not ignore his history and upside any longer. He started the season banged up, so I was prepared for that, and retained a replacement, who turned out to also offer quality production from this slot while Ramirez was stinking up the joint. A nice first half from Troy Glaus worked wonders here.
Ramirez put together a fairly strong second half of the season, so we’re likely to go through the same dilemma with him in next year’s draft. I think the prices will be even lower than they were this past year though, and I wouldn’t be totally shocked if I wind up getting in on him again.

Ted Lilly. In my original column about these guys, I said this about Lilly, “He’s the definition of underrated and he gets snubbed every year. This season he’s coming off an injury to boot but is only slated to miss the first two weeks of the season. Anything resembling his past three seasons will be a tremendous value.”

This was another one of my better calls. Lilly would have been nothing short of a windfall, basically of Oswalt proportions, given that he was drafted substantially later than even Oswalt, had the Cubs gotten him the victories he deserved prior to his trade to Los Angeles.

Brad Lidge. I don’t mean to pat myself on the back too often here, but geez, these were pretty good, huh? Another great pick! Lidge put up 27 saves, a sub-3.00 ERA, a neutral WHIP, and about 10.5 K/9, not bad for a guy who was one of the last closers off the board in most drafts. In the second half, Lidge was 21 for 23 in save opportunities, and pitched to the tune of a 2.10 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. Mariano Rivera’s second half? Thirteen for 16, 2.81 and 1.09, with less than 4.5 K/9. Am I cherry picking here? Maybe. But, as long as you don’t interpret this as me endorsing Lidge over Mo, I think the point stands.

*Aaron Hill. Hill was an unofficial three-timer. I drafted him twice and then traded for him once. He was largely a bust, though I’d be lying if I said his 26 homers from the second base slot didn’t help at all. To make matters worse, I traded a two-timer to get him – Hunter Pence, who had an off-the-charts, top 40 season. In my defense there, I had gotten a great return from a late flier I took on Magglio Ordonez and was dripping with outfield depth while floundering with a middle infield that was embarrassingly thin after Tulo. I thought I was trading from depth to fill a need – sound logic, poor execution. In retrospect, I bet I could have sold high on Andre Ethier to land Dan Uggla.

The Rest

Some other players who I was really high, and right on, but only able to land in two leagues were: Joakim Soria, Cole Hamels, Rafael Soriano (fully intended to draft him in all leagues, waited too long in one and got beaten to the punch in another), Pence (actually he was more like the two-time version of Ramirez), and. Jonathan Sanchez.

The rest of the guys from the original column proved to be generally neutral picks.


Also, for any of you curious about the outcomes relating to last week’s strategy, allow me to provide a brief update and wrap-up. I did not choose to go for the spot starter orgy a day in advance and this decision was made because I had good quality, already rostered pitchers set to go on the final day of the season (Lilly, Colby Lewis and Sanchez) and I didn’t want to lose their starts. I got beaten to the first choice by the team right behind me in the standings, who swooped in minutes after 3 a.m. Saturday morning. An hour later when I logged on most of the better options were gone. Still, I went in deep and grabbed a bunch of streamers. I would up striking collective gold. My band of nobodies, supplemented by my legit core, netted me four wins, and more than 40 innings of 1 K per IP, sub 2.00-ERA ball. I nabbed second place in this league after pretty much making the decision, six weeks ago, to rebuild. Further, I came within one win or .02 ERA points of pulling out the whole league. I have one of the best keeper cores going into next year and my payout was big enough to continue my streak of financially profiting from fantasy baseball to five years.

Card Corner Plus: Gene Michael and High Intelligence on 1972 Topps
Three smart players devoted their lives to baseball.

This was, however, the first time in that period that I did not win a single title. Maybe getting the THT gig is like the Madden or Sports Illustrated curse. Still, I am no less proud of my second place finish in my main league this year than I am of any number of other past championships. I blew a couple of my top picks in that league, dealt with some injuries to my star players, and managed to sell off pitcher assets to right my innings pace and strategically fill out of struggling offense. This performance was more Tom Glavine, less Randy Johnson.

Congrats to each and every one of you who won a league this year. And, thanks to all who read my column even once. I hope that I’ve entertained and stimulated some of you, even if I wasn’t able to help you. I’ll still be here throughout the off-season, and I hope you will too!

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