Dan Duquette would make a lousy fantasy GM
This is a quote from Dan Duquette, executive vice president of the Baltimore Orioles, on the possibility of the O’s signing Bautista. Jose Bautista would hit about 45 million home runs if he was signed by Baltimore. But more to the point, Duquette would make a horrible GM… in fantasy baseball.
With the above quote we have proof that rivalry can affect whether or not a team takes on a certain player, though I contend it shouldn’t. (I think after Jose Bautista hits four home runs in his first ten games at Camden the fans might change their mind…) Some players have hindered their possible roles with teams because of off-the-field behaviors (i.e. domestic violence charges). And to that end, I think there should be some cause for concern.
But in fantasy baseball, we play by the numbers. You can hold a grudge against players for playing against your rival team, or for their off the field issues, and not draft them on your team. But you’re probably making a big mistake. All you are doing is adding to their discount for some other team, and though I consider myself an ethical, and even pious person, rostering a player is not the platform in which to prove your consecration status.
Let’s look at some biases we unfairly hold against players and how that impacts your fantasy team. Whether it’s bad dudes, age, strikeouts or platoon players, we tend to pariah potential prodigals right off of our rosters unfairly.
Bad dudes – Aroldis Chapman’s 30 game suspension last year is nothing to make light of. Getting angry and firing guns and threatening women are nothing to scoff off. Baseball suspended him, he served his suspension. And in the land of second chances, he still was given five months to play the game by the authority of Major League Baseball. If you were smart in your drafts, you drafted Chapman at his discount and then picked up some Joe Schmoe to close for the first month in his stead. Why? Because five months of Chapman is identical to six months’ worth of most closers’ production! So whatever gain you get from some waiver wire scrub is just bonus! Don’t write off the bad dudes that serve suspensions, buy low, and come October argue ethics at the bar with your fantasy trophy in hand.
Age – With the large amount of keeper leagues out there, there’s been a heightened desire for the next young star to be able to keep forever. I get that! I targeted Lindor last offseason, got him in a trade for Garrett Richards, and feel like I now have a stud shortstop for the next decade! (Don’t worry, that owner, though he lost Richards, still had Bogaerts!) The problem though is that we tend to ignore older players who could win us championships! Remember: flags fly forever. We aren’t trying to build rosters, we are trying to win championships. Don’t pass up John Lackey, Jose Bautista (for his age or his bat flips), Kendrys Morales (not as old as you think!), and others for their age. Yes, they are more likely to fall off the cliff, but they are also more proven.
High strikeout guys – The dawn of the analytic age put a huge weight on guys that could get on base and put the ball in play. The Athletics even had a movie made about them because they crafted a team on this concept (Moneyball). In fantasy, especially if you are in a points league, high strikeout guys come with huge risks. But Jay Bruce taught us a huge lesson for ⅔ of the 2016 season: don’t swing and miss on swing and miss guys! They often have high power totals, go on tremendous streaks, and can be some of the biggest candidates for contending teams (in reality and fantasy) to trade for at the deadline and ride the coattails of. It didn’t work out for Bruce down the stretch, but it did work out for me when I dealt away Ervin Santana, CJ Wilson and Chase Utley for Roy Halladay and Dan Uggla in 2011. In the trade I bought low on Uggla to fill in at 2B and he went on a 33 game hit streak and hit 21 home runs in the second half! Don’t whiff on high K guys. I won my first championship in nine years that year.
Platoon players – If you are in a league where you can change your lineups daily, I highly recommend investing in a platoon player or two, or even a pair. If you combine Tyler Naquin and Rajai Davis’ stats from ‘16 you get a .268 BA, 126 R, 26 HR, 91 RBI, 49 SB capital S stud! It’s not perfect baseball math, but if you can target a guy and max out his potential, you can yield surprising results. Sometimes these platoon guys become decent stars as well, i.e. Justin Turner. Keep an eye on which teams employ platoons to exploit this. The Rays, A’s, Astros, Dodgers, and more and more teams are utilizing platoon guys.
As the offseason goes on, I’ll make sure you know which guys are being unfairly judged for things that should not decrease their fantasy value. I for one will help you realize that come April, you won’t mind Jose Bautista hitting dingers and flipping bats for your fantasy team, no matter who does, or does not, sign him.