Question at the All Star Break: Fantasy Owners...Did You Draft Hunter Pence??
Fantasy Baseball once was a hobby, now is a past time. Every year people all over the country gather to begin another season of Fantasy Baseball, by designing their draft needs, discussing the league rules, and then drafting their teams. Fantasy Baseball was the original of the Fantasy sports, and in its truest form, it is played in a Rotisserie format. I am in a Rotisserie league, and in order to earn points your team needs to claim dominance in a particular category, Home Runs, RBI, Batting average, etc. You win points by having the most in a particular category, team with the most homers gets 12, second most 11, and so on. With that said, there are a lot of different ways to analyze who the best players would be to compile a roster. Without getting too far into that, in its simplest form, it would help to have as many guys as possible that lead the league in a particular category. Whether he steals bases or not, Prince Fielder and his NL leading 29 home runs at the All Star break is going to be one of the better players on your team. So with that in mind, Fantasy players will seek help, guidance, and expertise by reading preseason magazines. These magazines use a combination of past performance, and predicted performance, to determine who would be the best player to draft, second best, on down the line. In this edition of Analyze the Analyst, we wanted to take a look at CBS Sportsline’s Preseason Fantasy Report, as baseball pauses in the aftermath of the 2007 All Star Game, and look at the production thus far during the season, versus the prediction of how these players should fair. To be fair, we do understand there is a whole half of baseball yet to be played, and the second half is a whole different animal. Also to be fair, there are a lot of preseason magazines that are published, and we picked CBS Sportsline to analyze only because it is the magazine that I bought, and the magazine that I used when I drafted my team - team Harry Doyle.
The first question we have to ask is this: Did you draft Hunter Pence. All the Houston Astros' phenom has done this year is lead the NL in batting average, hitting at a .342 clip. In CBS Sportsline's Fantasy Baseball Preseason Edition Pence was not included in the list of top 300 overall best available players. In a ranking of the best outfielders available, Pence was ranked 147th, behind the likes of Cleveland Indians farmhand Shin-So Choo (92), and NY Mets prospect Lastings Milledge (105).
Cleveland Indians Pitcher Fausto Carmona, was also not in the Preseason top 300 players, and was ranked as the 187th best starting pitcher overall. He’s 5th in the AL so far with 10 wins. Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Ian Snell, was also not in the CBS top 300, and was ranked as the 96th best starting pitcher overall. He is currently 5th in the NL in era, coming into the halfway point at 2.93. Even more of a surprise to fantasy prognosticators in the pitching department is A’s pitcher Chad Gaudin; who cannot be found in the top 300 overall players, or on the list of the 201 best starting pitchers available. In eleven starts this season (8-3) Gaudin is 4th in era in the AL at 2.88. We at Nosebleeds hope you didn't take the 2nd highest rated pitcher, and 14th highest rated player overall in the preseason, Chris Carpenter of the Cards, over any of these three guys, but everyone in the world probably did. Tough break Carpenter owners - cant predict injury.
We are not fools here at Nosebleeds, we do realize that these are names you might have never heard prior to the ‘07 season. We just wanted to point the above out. We know the people who took fliers on these guys may not have even known who there were taking - diamonds in the rough we’ll call it, or a lucky breaks. But how about a few names you did know. Did you take them. What about Ken Griffey Jr. Preseason ranked as the 192nd best available player, and the 53rd best outfielder available. You might have felt better on draft day picking Marlins outfielder Josh Willingham (preseason 47th best outfielder available, 6 spots ahead of Griffey). At the All Star Break though, Griffey’s .286 batting average and 23 bombs (3rd in Hrs in NL) do look a little better that Willingham’s .261 and 11 - who would have thought that ??
If not Griffey, did you draft Magglio Ordonez? I did - but to be honest he was the third outfielder I took... after selecting Juan Pierre and Adam Dunn - then I got Magglio - late. I like to think I knew something, but I didn’t. All I knew was that he was the 79th best player available, and the 24th best outfielder. He was one of the best outfielders still on the board. Johnny Damon, the 18th rated outfielder (and 58th best player overall) was long gone. So I took Magglio, and got his lead leading .367 batting average, along with his 70 RBI (good for 4th in AL), 70 runs, and 13 homers. If I could have only gotten the highly rated Johnny Damon - I would be benefiting from his 5 homers and .245 batting average at the season’s midway mark.
As I said before, the season is not over. But the last note I will leave you with is about my first two picks in the draft. I had the first pick overall, and I took Albert. Pujols is still solid, but according to CBS Sportsline’s midseason report he is currently the third rated 1st baseman overall at the All Star Break. His 310 average, 16 homers, and 52 RBIs, have him ranked behind Justin Morneau, and Prince Fielder as fantasy players. Fielder was the 13th rated 1st baseman in the preseason, and the 106th rated player overall. Might have raised a couple eyebrows if I took the Prince over the consensus #1. Sounds crazy doesn't it - but I would have more points right now if I did. My second pick (last pick of 2nd round) was Travis Hafner. He is hitting at a .262 clip, with 14 homers and 57 RBI. He is currently ranked as the third best DH. Just behind Hafner, (ranked as the 4th best DH at the All Star Break) is Sammy Sosa. Even without the cork filled bats Sosa is still slammin' - hitting at a .245 clip, with decent power numbers. Oh yeah, just behind Pujols as the current 4th best 1st baseman overall is Kevin Youkilis. Preseason Ranked as the 202nd best player available, and the 24th best 1st baseman available, Youk is now ranked as the 4th best 1st baseman available as a fantasy player, and is 5th in batting average in the AL at .328 - better that Man Ram and Poppi.
So do you think I should trade Pujols and Hafner...I guess I might...but only if I can get Hunter Pence and Chad Gaudin in return.
Tell us what you think -
A year end Analyze the Analyst: Fantasy Baseball Predictions Power Rankings - to follow the conclusion of the regular season