Charming The Snake Once A Year

Donald Duck Snake

If you’re even an occasional reader of this space, you know that the Old Duck is a 30+ year veteran of Rotisserie Style Auction Keeper Leagues. With over 30 championships in about 80 Drafts, it is what I relish and look forward to each year. However, once a year, the dreaded Snake Draft enters my life for one very good reason. The young man who hosts the league (on ESPN.com) is like a son to me and if he asked me to join a Camel Race Fantasy League hosted by Al Jazeera, I’d probably say yes.

 

Even though I know a beautiful girl who once had a pet Boa Constrictor named “Julius Squeezer”, I hate snakes…both in person and of the Fantasy variety. To me, having 10 or 15 or 20 players go off the board without the opportunity to bid, just penalizes me for doing solid research. And, if one of the Roto combatants forgets to show up on-line, you can bet the “auto-draft” spot will be right in front of me.

 

This time of year, if you follow Fantasy Baseball at all, it is impossible to avoid Snake Draft advice. It comes at you from everywhere…newspapers, websites, magazines, Satellite Radio and friends. The number of strategies are mind-boggling and include…

 

> Memorizing the average draft position (ADP) of every player in the universe.

 

> The “Don’t Take Pitchers early” philosophy.

 

> The “Take Max Scherzer now” philosophy.

 

> The “Don’t Take Closers Until Later” philosophy.

 

> Prioritizing position scarcity

 

> Getting 50 HR’s & 50 SB’s from your first two picks (50/50 Plan).

 

> Getting 75 HR’s & 75 SB’s from your first three picks (75/75 Plan).

 

> Picking two stud starting pitchers early, also known as the “Dual Aces” plan.

 

> Drafting players for their future instead of their past, also known as the “Upside” plan.

 

> And this year’s favorite, “Get One Of The Big Four”…meaning deGrom, Scherzer, Sale or Kluber.

 

In order to avoid having my brain explode, I’ve used none of those strategies and still managed a championship, two 2nd place finishes and one 3rd place finish in the eight year history of the league. In 2018, the Long Island Ducks finished a strong 2nd with 113 points, only 3 points behind the powerful Louisville Black Hats (we all incorporate the name of a minor league team). deGrom was the pitching anchor and a great rookie season from Acuna was vital.

 

Part of my occasional past success is from a fairly good knowledge of the player pool, as I’m boning up for NL & AL only Drafts that take place in late March and early April. Logically, however, it seems that the overall approach of the last 30 years still works and it is a mind-set of “balance”. So, while the Ducks do have a tendency to wait on pitching, it is more about balancing the roster to leave flexibility as the Draft progresses. I also pay little or no attention to ADP (Average Draft Position) because I’m more concerned about my opinion of players than that of the “crowd”. This will be quite obvious when you see how many of my choices seem to be a “reach” compared to ADP.  Ideally, after ten rounds, the roster should include at least one player at each position (C, 1B, 3B, 2B, SS, OF, SP & Closer) along with a 2nd OF & 2nd SP. After that foundation is established, looking for value is the priority. If you’ve already read columns from multiple sources about the players they drafted, this might be a cure for insomnia. With that disclaimer, my hope is that the strategies and player choices will be of value to you in your upcoming draft.

 

 

This is a 15-team mixed league with 22-man rosters (1 Catcher) and three reserve picks. Most pundits have been saying that if you can’t get one the top three picks, maybe a spot near the end of the 1st round would be more advantageous, as there were 15-20 players worth at least $30 in this format and you would be guaranteed to roster two of them. Naturally, the random order one hour prior to the Draft gave the Ducks the 4th pick. As we work our way through the results, you’ll see the ADP for each player as a point of reference. The ADP rankings are as of the date of the Draft (3/17).

 

Fantasy players are always interested in the first round, so here’s how this league shook out…1) Mike Trout…2) Mookie Betts…3) J.D. Martinez…4) Trea Turner…5) Max Scherzer…6) Nolan Arenado…7) Jose Ramirez…8) Christian Yelich…9) Chris Sale…10) Francisco Lindor…11) Alex Bregman…12) Jose Altuve…13) Ronald Acuna…14) Javier Baez…15) Bryce Harper

 

Here’s the Ducks’ roster for 2019…

 

Round 1, Pick 4 – Trea Turner, SS (ADP 9)

 

Could have gone with Scherzer or Ramirez here but the SB’s were too tempting

 

Round 2, Pick 27 – Aaron Nola, P (ADP 25)

 

In addition to Scherzer & Sale in Round 1, Verlander, Kluber, deGrom & Cole (right in front of me) were gone in Round 2. Couldn’t wait on an elite SP.

 

Round 3, Pick 34 – Rhys Hoskins, OF (ADP 40)

 

Had to focus on power in this spot and he’s a bopper in a great line-up. He’ll also have 1B eligibility early in the season.

 

Round 4, Pick 57 – Yasiel Puig, OF (ADP 78)

 

Wanted a power/speed combo guy and he should have a good year in Cincinnati.

 

Round 5, Pick 64 -Stephen Strasburg, P (ADP 61)

 

Looks healthy this Spring and even 25-30 starts brings value.

 

Round 6, Pick 87 – Gary Sanchez, C (ADP 55)

 

This is a one Catcher format and Realmuto went five picks earlier. Couldn’t pass up the power potential.

 

Round 7, Pick 94 – Edwin Encarnacion , 1B (ADP 128)

 

A definite reach but he’s hit 30+ HR’s for 7 consecutive seasons  and all the top tier 1B were already gone.

 

Round 8, Pick 117 – Sean Doolittle, P (ADP 110)

 

The Closer run began in Rounds 5 & 6, so it was time and he was the best on the board at this point.

 

Round 9, Pick 124 – Yoan Moncada, 2B (ADP 155)

 

Another reach, but I like his upside…and he’ll add 3B eligibility.

 

Round 10, Pick 147 – Shane Bieber, P (ADP 149)

 

Decided to add a 3rd SP here instead of a 3B, as the pitching pool was getting thin

 

At this point, the original strategy was almost in place…the Ducks had a 1B, 2B, SS, C, 2 OF, 3 SP & 1 Closer.

 

Round 11, Pick 154 – Eduardo Escobar, 3B (ADP 173)

 

Needed to fill this position and he also qualifies at SS.

 

Round 12, Pick 177 – Marcus Semien, SS (ADP 220)

 

Seems significantly underrated at this ADP. Was a 4.3 WAR player in 2018 with 89 Runs, 15 HR’s, 70 RBI’s and 14 SB’s.

 

 

Round 13, Pick 184 – Brandon Nimmo, OF (ADP 173)

 

Seems like a steal in the spot, as he’ll bat lead-off for an improved Met offense.

 

Round 14, Pick 207 – Archie Bradley, P (ADP 209)

 

I’m not a believer in Greg Holland, so the Ducks are counting on Saves from the guy with the great beard.

 

Round 15, Pick 214 – Joe Musgrove (ADP 218)

 

Health is the question, but I like his stuff.

Round 16, Pick 237 – Steven Souza, OF (ADP 319)

 

In 2017, he had 30 HR’s & 16 SB’s…and he’s still under 30.

 

Round 17, Pick 244 – Michael Wacha, P  (ADP 279)

 

Another hurler coming back from injury…rolling the dice.

 

Round 18, Pick 267 – Corbin Burnes, P (ADP 316)

 

Somebody has to be the Brewers 5th SP.

 

Round 19, Pick 274 – Brandon Belt, 1B  (ADP 383)

 

Overlooked by everyone, he should produce 4th tier 1B value…maybe about $15 in Roto

 

Round 20, Pick 297 – Enrique “Kiki” Hernandez, SS (ADP 314)

 

Qualifies at three positions and hit 21 HR’s last season.

 

Round 21, Pick 304 – Kelvin Herrera, P (ADP 389)

 

It seems unlikely that the White Sox paid him $18 Million to set-up Alex Colome.

 

Round 22, Pick 327 – Brandon Woodruff, P (ADP 342)

 

Corbin Burnes insurance.

 

Round 23, Pick 334 – Steven Duggar, OF (ADP 558)

 

The first of three reserve spots, this is a total flier…could lead-off for the Giants or at AAA.

 

Round 24, Pick 357 – Alex Gordon (ADP 582)

 

No excuse…must have had a flashback to 2012.

 

Round 25, Pick 364 – Matt Strahm, 3B (ADP 376)

 

Can the Padres turn him into a SP?

 

Starting next week, our squads get to play on the field instead of on paper. The really good news is that I don’t have to do this for another year. Best of luck in your Draft.

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You Just Might Be A Fantasy Baseball Player

Hedley

As Hedley Lamarr (or maybe Chase Headley) once said, “My mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention.” So, with Spring Training upon us, and with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy –

 

> If the sign in the supermarket said “Rotisserie Chicken” and it caused you to not spend that extra dollar on groceries, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your Pitchers have allowed so many home runs that you’ve installed a humidor in your house, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Matt Carpenter lost more hits to the shift during the 2018 season than any other player, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your elbow was fine but you decided to have Tommy John Surgery to see how long the rehab takes, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If life is confusing because your pill box starts with Sunday but line-up changes are due on Monday, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the fact that only Sandy Koufax could help your pitching stats causes you to always use 32-second intervals warming food in the microwave, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that the Nationals have a minor-league Pitcher named Joan Baez, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your neighbor brags about his 4×4 and you reply by saying you prefer 5×5, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Manny Machado & Michael Brantley have the same OPS+ (127) over the last five years, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know what Shohei Ohtani and Brendan McKay have in common, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re acquainted with “Lenny The Legend”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the whereabouts of Austin Adams, Chance Adams,  Lane Adams & Matt Adams, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that Jalen Beeks could be related to Clarence Beeks from “Trading Places”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Jose Bautista hit .203 in both 2017 & 2018, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Ahchoo was a man in tights and Shin-Soo Choo is a man in stirrups, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Willians Astudillo, Wellington Castillo and Willson Contreras are all Catchers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re scared of Seranthony Dominguez and Sir Anthony Hopkins, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that the Royals have an OF who has a first name of “Brett” and a middle name of “Maverick”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Edwin Encarnacion has hit 30+ HR’s for the last seven seasons, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If Yonder Alonso is helping you with the launch angle of your 5-iron, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you found the stats for Buck & Kyle at farmersonly.com., you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re walking through the woods when someone yells “Snake” and you yell back “I prefer Auction”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the Dodgers skip a spot in the rotation and you think it should be called “Walker Buehler’s Day Off”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you find that Adam, Clint & Todd are all injured and you scream “Down Goes Frazier”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you told your fiancé that you’re willing to marry her but that you want an opt-out after two years, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that the “K” is silent in Knapp but not in Knebel, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your religious commitment is limited to drafting Jesus Aguiler, Noah Syndergaard, Adam Eaton & John Moses, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If someone refers to a girl as a “Keeper” and you ask if she qualifies at more than one position, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you feel that Scott Boras should have to live in Philadelphia for the next 13 years, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re not sure about Skye Bolt being a comic-book hero, but you are sure he’s a switch-hitter, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the team names “Okrent Fenokees”, “Sklar Gazers”, “Cary Nations” & “Pollet Burros” are familiar to you, you just might be a long-time Fantasy player.

 

> If you already own Nick Martini and now you’re scouting Seth Beer, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think the best thing about the Super Bowl is that it’s the last Football game of the season, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you went to a fast-food restaurant and ordered a Hildenberger with a side of Saves, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that Homer Bailey has the worst first name for a Pitcher, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve been scouting Jazz Chisholm and have found that he listens to Coltrane, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the whereabouts of Kyle Crick, Kyle Elfrink, Kyle Blanks, Kyle Gibson, Kyle Hendricks and Kyle Kendrick, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve ever laughed at one of  Tim McLeod’s puns, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you watch a movie that stars Ben Kingsley and you’re motivated to check Trace Wood’s Long Gandhi website, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think the Mayo Clinic is where Jonathan spends the off-season looking at minor-league video, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the whereabouts of Maikel Franco, Wander Franco, Julio Franco, John Franco and Generalissimo Francisco Franco, you just might be a SNL Fantasy player.

 

> If you think “Black Magic Woman” is only a song by the wrong Carlos Santana, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you went to a bakery and couldn’t decide between the Barraclough and the Danish, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your podiatrist diagnoses you with a callous and it causes you to wonder if Jim has finished the top 100 prospect list yet, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve signed a petition to have Bill James’ countenance added to Mt. Rushmore, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your DVR doesn’t play movies but does give statistical projections, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the term “Pleskoff Prospect” is meaningful to you, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you realize that Wily Peralta’s name is not pronounced the same as Wile E. Coyote’s name, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you see graffiti that says “Jesus Is The Answer” and you wonder if the question is, “Who Is Matty & Felipe’s Brother?”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Schoop is pronounced “Scope”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Brett Cecil & Luis Gohara lost a total of 80 pounds during the off-season, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you believe that Wilin, Welington, Dioner and Yasmani are all spelled correctly, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Rookie Davis still has rookie eligibility, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you ordered a Delmonico Steak for dinner just because you’re a White Sox fan, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think Sean Doolittle’s nickname should be “Doctor”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you are secure in the fact that Lord Zola is not a character created by J.R.R. Tolkien, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think Brad Hand could be the next Rollie Fingers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you understand that Yadier is the slimmest & fastest Molina, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re more impressed with Jimmy Nelson & Raisel Iglesias than you are with Willie Nelson & Julio Iglesias, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the difference between Charlie Hustle and Johnny Hustle, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you subscribe to Sports Illustrated just to read Joe Sheehan’s articles, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that Kevin Quackenbush should pitch for the Long Island Ducks, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If none of your friends would even consider tuning in to “Mad Dog” Russo, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the difference between Hunter Dozier, Hunter Renfroe, Brian Dozier, Bryan Morris & Hunter Morris, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you drafted Justin Verlander just to keep Kate Upton happy, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re aware that on nickname weekend, the back of Kyle Seager’s uniform said “COREY’S BROTHER”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that there have been two major league players named Boog Powell, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Starlin, Alcides, Adeiny & Asdrubal are all spelled correctly, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that San Diego might be a nice place to live if you had $300 Million, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know how to spell Benintendi, Foltynewicz, Tropeano, Scheppers, Tepesch, Pierzynski, Nieuwenhuis & Samardzija, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If a conversation with Jason Collette would be more interesting than one with Toni Collette, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If someone you know named their son Andrelton and you didn’t find it unusual, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the kids are watching “Kung Fu Panda” and you think the lead character should lose weight, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Bo Bichette is Dante’s son and was named after Bo Jackson, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you believe that the new “Rotoman” Superhero action movie will be in 3-D, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you went to a restaurant and ordered a Szczur Salad, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you wonder if the Mexican restaurants in Milwaukee might start serving Moose Tacos, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that meeting Billy Beane would be more exciting than meeting Brad Pitt, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the difference between Ryan Wheeler, Tim Wheeler, Zelous Wheeler, Jason Wheeler & Zach Wheeler, you’re definitely a Fantasy player.

 

> If your annual literary schedule includes the publications written by Robert B. Parker, Lee Child, Jonathan Kellerman and Ron Shandler, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you wish Derek Jeter would become an owner in your league, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the song “Camptown Ladies” makes you think of Lucas Duda, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your professor said, “Ponce de Leon was a Spanish explorer who became the first Governor of Puerto Rico” and you replied, “He also pitched 33 innings for the Cardinals last year”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your mind wanders back to the days of phonebooks and you realize Tony Zych would be the final listing, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the difference between Jarred Cosart, Kaleb Cowart and Zack Cozart, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your wife isn’t concerned about you visiting Asian websites because she knows you’re scouting baseball prospects, you are obviously a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Ke’Bryan Hayes is the son of Charlie Hayes, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Yovani, Aroldis, Ubaldo, Jhoulys, Odrisamer & Anibal are all spelled correctly, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you see the movie “Platoon” and immediately start thinking about Dave Roberts, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re more interested in Matt Davidson than Pete Davidson, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you got an 80-game suspension for too many carbohydrates in your system , you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know more quotes from Dylan Bundy than from Al Bundy, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the total bill every time you shop at Costco is $260, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the Devo song “Whip It” comes on the radio and you think about walks, hits and innings pitched, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the names Leonys, Taijuan, Kolten, Rymer & Xander are familiar to you, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your only link to opera is that you once saw Alfredo Figaro pitch, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think the movie “Ender’s Game” is a documentary about Inciarte getting an extension from the Braves, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Stolmy, Josmil, Mauricio, Yorvit & Koyie are all spelled correctly, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you miss Steve Moyer & Lawr Michaels, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re sure that Barbato is a Pitcher and not a Caribbean island, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If running out of 2B options caused you to Panik, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you absolutely hate it when Managers decide to give their Closers some work in non-save situations, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you drive all the way to Las Vegas in March to see Greg Ambrosius, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that Ben is Lively but Ryan is Dull, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think Brett Gardner could be related to Steve Gardner, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Brian Kenny is the smartest guy on MLB Network, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> On a related note, if Harold Reynolds drives you bonkers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think Perry is a better Capt. Hook than Christopher Walken or Dustin Hoffman, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Ryan Mountcastle is not a character from Downton Abbey, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you understand that Marquez is named German but Max Kepler is German, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you are perfectly clear on the fact that “DeSclafani” is not tonight’s special at that upscale Italian restaurant, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you plan on drafting both Taijuan Walker & Jameson Taillon so your squad has a “Taijuan Taillon Rotation”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you go to a seafood restaurant and wonder if Mike Trout, Tim Salmon, Kevin Bass, Mike Carp, Catfish Hunter and Bobby Sturgeon knew that there a major league player in the 1930’s named George Gill, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Mookie Betts has bowled a perfect 300 game, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that Doug Dennis is funnier than most stand-up comics on HBO, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you got arrested after admitting that you “handcuffed” two Relief Pitchers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Khris Davis had exactly a .247 Batting Average for the last four seasons, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you are secure in the fact that someone is not stuttering when they say “Victor Victor Mesa”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If a politician brings up the topic of inflation and you wonder why he isn’t also concerned with position scarcity, you just might be a keeper-league Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve never forgiven Barbara Hershey for shooting Roy Hobbs, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your interest in camping caused you to draft Austin Meadows,  Josh Fields, Forrest Whitley & Kyle Freeland, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If Brian Feldman has ever been your auctioneer, you just might be an expert-level Fantasy player.

 

> If Josh Hader has caused you to scout middle relievers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you were confused and tried to roster Bubba Starling Marte, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Joe Montana was a football player but also know that Steve Nebraska was a baseball player, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you suffer a personal injury and call Rick Wilton for a diagnoses, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that Tyler Flowers could be related to Ray Flowers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that the term “Elvis Has Left the Building” means the Rangers Shortstop hit a Home Run, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Jean Segura, Dee Gordon, Lourdes Gurriel, Jo Adell & Didi Gregorious are not females, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you and your wife exchanged dollar figures but still ended up going to arbitration, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If Jeff Erickson is your favorite radio personality, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve ever sent an e-mail to Brian Walton asking about the #30 prospect in the Cardinals organization, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Mookie Betts & Nick Castellanos each hit four balls over 400 feet last season that were outs, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the true identities of CarGo, LoMo, J-Up & V-Mart, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve ever tried to buy something with “Patton Dollars”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you offered your girlfriend a qualifying offer but she still opted for free agency, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If someone uses the term “Wise Guy” and you think of Gene McCaffrey instead of Joe Pesci, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your grocery list includes Ketel Corn, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If Jeff Winick represented you in salary arbitration, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think a “Sale Price” is getting Chris for less than $25, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> And, finally, if Draft Day is your favorite day of the year, you have become a true Fantasy player.

 

The 15 Greatest World Series Moments

Willie-Mays-Catch-1954

In our community, we have a very active and enthusiastic sports interest group. Headed up by a retired New York City schoolteacher, who is also the world’s biggest Giants fan, we’ve been fortunate enough to have visits from Fergie Jenkins, Josh Hamilton, Matt Williams, John D’Acquisto, Hall of Fame Baseball Executive Roland Hemond and dozens of other sports luminaries. Each Spring, as our homage to Spring Training and the new baseball season, we host a baseball panel discussion on a particular topic. In the past, we’ve reviewed the “Golden Age of Baseball” (the 50’s & 60’s), debated the Hall of Fame, previewed the upcoming season, rated the top ten players at each position, reviewed the ten greatest teams of all time, discussed All-Star teams by decade and reviewed the worst trades in history. So, for 2019, the topic was the 15 greatest moments in World Series history.

 

We chose that title to focus on great moments that led to a team winning the championship. That doesn’t mean “most memorable” or “most dramatic”, it means something great accomplished by an individual or team in their pursuit of excellence. So, you won’t be hearing about Bill Buckner’s error or Don Denkinger’s blown call or Mickey Owen’s passed ball. You also won’t be hearing about Carlton Fisk’s HR because the Red Sox didn’t win the 1975 Series.

 

The four of us voted to come up with the final 15 and there’s no doubt that some of you will feel an obvious choice was left out. That’s part of the fun of a baseball discussion. We also decided not to rank them from 1-to-15 because no two fans would ever agree on the proper order. Instead we presented them in chronological order and let the attendees decide how they compare.

 

Earlier this week in front of an enthusiastic audience, the panel presented their picks…

 

 

> 1905 – The Giants defeated the Philadelphia Athletics 4 games to 1 in a Series that featured one of the greatest pitching performances in baseball history. Christy Mathewson pitched three shutouts in the span of six days allowing only 14 hits in 27 innings. He struck out 18 and walked only 1 after going 31-9 during the regular season.

 

> 1932 – The final appearance in the Fall Classic for the Yankee dynasty and Babe Ruth. The Yanks were in six World Series during the 1920’s and Ruth was still a superstar in ’32 at age 37. They defeated the Cubs in a four-game sweep that included Ruth’s famous and controversial “called shot”.

 

> 1954 – The Indians won a record 111 games to capture the AL pennant and were heavily favored over the New York Giants. That was all forgotten, as the Giants swept the Tribe in four games highlighted by Willie Mays’ historic catch in game 1.

 

> 1955 – The first championship for the “bums” of Brooklyn, as they won a dramatic 7-game series against the Yankees. The Dodgers Johnny Podres pitched a shutout in game 7 to clinch the title.

 

> 1956 – Another classic 7-game series between the Yankees & Dodgers and the Bronx Bombers came out on top. The famous moment is when Don Larsen pitches a perfect game in the 5th game.

 

> 1960 – The Yankees outscored the Pirates 55-27 in seven games but the Bucs prevailed when Bill Mazeroski hit that walk-off HR.

 

> 1965 – The Dodgers beat the Twins in seven games and Sandy Koufax won game 2, game 5 and game 7 (a 2-0 shutout on two days rest).

 

> 1970 – Possibly the only World Series decided by defense as Brooks Robinson put on a clinic around the 3rd base bag to lead the Orioles to a 4 games-to-1 game victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

 

> 1977 – The Yankees finished off a 6-game victory over the Dodgers with Reggie Jackson’s three HR game…and each Homer was hit off the first pitch.

 

> 1988 – The underdog Dodgers used Kirk Gibson’s walk-off HR in game 1 as the catalyst for a five-game series win over the Athletics.

 

> 1991 – Imagine a seven game Fall Classic where five of the games were decided by one run and three of them went into extra innings? Jack Morris and the Twins prevailed over the Atlanta Braves.

 

> 2001 – In the wake of 9/11, the Yankees & D’Backs captured the attention of the country with a dramatic seven game series that ended with Luis Gonzalez getting a base hit off Hall-of-Fame Closer Mariano Rivera.

 

> 2004 – The Red Sox finally ended the “Curse of the Bambino” by sweeping the Cardinals.

 

> 2014 – Madison Bumgarner brought back memories of Mathewson with a performance for the ages. He won games 1 & 5 and then saved game 7 against the Royals.

 

> 2016 – Another curse died as the Cubs topped the Indians in seven games of a most memorable series.

 

Did we miss one of your favorites?

 

 

Early 50’s Nicknames

'51 Berra

Even if you weren’t around in the early 1950’s, the chances are that your baseball legacy as a fan traces back to your Dad or Grandfather. In recent years, the Old Duck has had the privilege of dealing with some vintage collections that include Bowman cards from that era. In addition to the obvious statistical history on these cardboard gems, the stories on the backs of the cards are fascinating. Let’s see who might have been on the list of great nicknames that crossed paths with you or your ancestors. The values of the cards are based on “Excellent” (EX 5) condition.

 

1951 Bowman

 

> #2 Larry “Yogi” Berra, $190 – Your kids probably think he was named after Yogi Bear, but the cartoon character didn’t debut until 1958.

 

> #21 George “Snuffy” Stirnweiss, $15 – Won the AL Batting Championship with the Yankees in 1945.

 

> #23 Walter “Hoot” Evers, $15 – He got the nickname as a teenager by imitating cowboy movie hero Hoot Gibson and Tiger fans would yell “H—o—o—o—o—t” when he came to the plate.

 

> #58 Enos “Country” Slaughter, $30 – This country boy from Roxboro, North Carolina was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.

 

> #60 Alfonso “Chico” Carrasquel, $15 – One of the first great players from Venezuela, he made four All-Star teams in the 50’s.

 

> #72 Lloyd “Citation” Merriman, $15 – The nickname gives you a hint of his great speed on the base paths, as he swiped 44 bases for Columbia in the Sally League in 1948.

 

> #80 Harold “Pee Wee” Reese, $70 – Not named for his diminutive frame, he became “Pee Wee” as a kid when he was a marble champion…elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984.

 

> #86 Harry “The Cat” Brecheen, $15 – Won three games in the 1946 World Series for the Cardinals.

 

> #92 Vern “Junior” Stephens, $15 – Vernon Decatur Stephens Jr. made his last of seven All-Star appearances in ’51.

 

> #102 Emil “Dutch” Leonard, $15 – Spent 20 years in the majors with 191 victories…his first season was 1933.

 

> #104 Virgil “Fire” Trucks, $15 – Won 177 games in his career with a 3.39 ERA.

 

> #118 Elwin “Preacher” Roe, $25 – He had as many stories about the roots of his nickname as he did ways to throw a spitball…the year this card came out, he was 22-3 for the Dodgers.

 

> #149 Emory “Bubba” Church, $15 – Hard to believe that someone born in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1920’s could be named “Bubba”.

 

> #170 Sebastian “Sibby” Sisti, $15 – A major-leaguer for 13 years (interrupted by three years serving in World War II), he was also the technical advisor for “The Natural” and played the Pirates Manager who came to the mound and brought in the fireballing reliever to pitch to Roy Hobbs just before the famous home run.

 

> #187 Al “Flip” Rosen, $15 – Was the AL MVP in 1953, leading the league in Runs, HR’s RBI’s & OPS.

 

> #194 Harry “Peanuts” Lowrey, $15 – At 5′ 8″, he played 13 seasons in the big leagues.

 

> #235 Jack “Lucky” Lohrke, $15 – According to the back of his card, this Giants utility infielder got his nickname “because he missed both a plane crash and a bus accident”.

 

> #252 Homer “Dixie” Howell, $15 – There were two players named Dixie Howell during this era…this one was the Catcher while the other was a Pitcher. Amazingly, they were teammates on the 1949 Reds.

 

> #257 George “Birdie” Tebbetts, $20 – This was a childhood nickname given by his Aunt who thought his voice sounded like a bird chirping. Played for 14 seasons before becoming a big-league Manager.

 

> #317 Forrest “Smokey” Burgess, $40 – You shouldn’t have any difficulty figuring out this nickname…he was a Catcher for 18 seasons and made six All-Star teams.

 

1952 Bowman

 

> #5 Orestes “Minnie” Minoso, $45 – From Cuba, he was one of the most popular players in White Sox history.

 

> #16 Omar “Turk” Lown, $15 – Got his nickname because of his fondness for turkey…led the AL in Saves for the pennant-winning White Sox in ’59.

 

> #20 Willie “Puddin’ Head” Jones, $15 – Can you imagine a modern ballplayer having this nickname? He was an All-Star in both ’50 & ’51.

 

> #66 Sal “The Barber” Maglie, $15 – This Pitcher’s nickname came from his fastball, which would come so close to the batter’s head that it seemed to shave his chin…he was coming off a 23-6 season for the Giants in ’51.

 

> #116 Edwin “Duke” Snider, $85 – Given the nickname by his Father for his self-assured swagger as a youngster, he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1980.

 

> #223 Harry “Suitcase” Simpson, $25 – When you play for five major league teams in only eight seasons (including the Athletics twice), you pack a lot of bags.

 

#242 Everett “Skeeter” Kell, $25 – The younger brother of Hall of Famer George Kell, ’52 was his only big-league campaign.

 

In a future visit, we’ll look at the iconic first issue of Topps baseball cards from 1952 to see what kind of nicknames and back-stories come to the surface.

Clyde McPhatter & Barrett Strong

McPhatter Money

For those of you under a certain age, the answer is no, these aren’t two sleeper prospects for your 2019 Fantasy Baseball roster. In 1953, Clyde McPhatter was the lead singer of the Drifters when they recorded “Money Honey” (later covered by Elvis Presley). Not to be confused with the Lady Gaga song, it’s lyrics include…

 

Well, I learned my lesson and now I know–

 

The sun may shine and the wind may blow–

 

Women may come, and the women may go,

 

But before I say I love ’em so,

 

I want–money, honey!

 

Money, honey

 

Money, honey,

 

If you wanna get along with me.

 

The fledgling Motown Records was provided with important capital when Barrett Strong hit the charts in 1960 with “Money, That’s What I Want” (later covered by the Beatles).

 

The best things in life are free–

 

But you can keep ’em for the birds and bees,

Now give me money, (that’s what I want), that’s what I want.

 

As this off-season seems to be slow for free agent signings and there are even whispers of collusion, a look at the landscape tells you that clubs are wary of long-term deals. Only three major league free agents have signed contracts that exceed three years…Patrick Corbin (6 x $23 Million), Nate Eovaldi (4x $17 Million) and A.J. Pollock (4 x $14 Million). So, let’s give you an opportunity to once again be a General Manager. Based on some minimal research, it appears that there are about 15 current major league players who are already under contract to make at least $20 Million for the 2022 season. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to determine which of these players you would really want on your roster in 2022 at these prices. The figures represent the average salary of a long-term deal. The player’s age for that season is listed to help with your analysis. As you read the names and think, “This guy is on the downside of his career”, remember that three more full seasons need to be played before these salaries come due. And when you wonder why the 2019 market seems soft, this history may certainly be a factor.

 

 

> David Price, age 36, $32 Million

 

> Miguel Cabrera, age 38, $32 Million

 

> Jose Altuve, age 31, $29 Million

 

> Giancarlo Stanton, age 32, $29 Million

 

> Justin Upton, age 34, $28 Million

 

> Joey Votto, age 38, $25 Million

 

> Jason Heyward, age 32, $24.5 Million

 

> Robinson Cano, age 39, $24 Million

 

> Wil Myers, age 31, $22.5 Million

 

> Johnny Cueto, age 36, $22 Million

 

> Buster Posey, age 34, $22 Million

 

> Charlie Blackmon, age 35, $21.3 Million

 

> Chris Davis, age 35, $21.1 Million

 

> Eric Hosmer, age 32, $21 Million

 

> Jake Arrieta, age 35, $20 Million

 

Also above the $15 Million threshold are Evan Longoria, J.D. Martinez, Yu Darvish, Lorenzo Cain, Aaron Nola and Stephen Strasburg.

 

OK, GM…how many of these paupers are on your team in 2022? More than five? Of course, it’s an easier commitment when you don’t have to write the check.

 

Wow, this is almost as difficult as owning a Fantasy team. My dilemma in March is deciding how many contract years to extend Blake Snell.

 

 

 

 

 

Rattling Your SABR Defensively

'14 Chapman

When it comes to baseball, there are casual fans, hometown fans, old-school fans, know-it-all fans, rabid fans and people like me. I’m a 365 day-a-year fan who enjoys all the nuances of the actual game as well as all the minutia of the hot stove season. A day doesn’t go bye when I don’t check the transactions or think about free agent signings or muse about the topic of my next blog. And, I’m not at all apologetic about my passion for the game because it has been a wonderful distraction in my life. As a wise man once said, “Life is more worthwhile when you can be passionate about something trivial.”

 

For me, being a member of The Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) is a delightful extension of my fandom. The brilliant people who write for the Society always make me think and open my eyes to the endless history of this great game. So, when they recently published their “SABR Defensive Index” (SDI) for 2018, it got me thinking about how far we’ve come in the last thirty years in regards to judging defensive excellence on the field. For many years, I was a critic of the annual Gold Glove awards because they never seemed to be based on reality, only reputation. The final straw was in 1999, when Rafael Palmiero only played 34 games at 1B (and 128 at DH) but still won the AL Gold Glove. Of course, he won it in ’97 & ’98, so he must still be the best 1B in the league, right?

 

Since then, researchers have created defensive metrics that quantify the performance of major league players on the field, so we’re getting closer to the truth. Currently, the SDI ratings are incorporated into the Rawlings Gold Glove selection process and account for about 25% of the results when added to the votes from managers and coaches. So, let’s look at the SDI results and how they compare to the actual Gold Glove winners for 2018. The SDI numbers represent defensive runs saved relative to the league average at the position.

 

> American League

 

* C – Mike Zunino – If you wonder why the Rays traded for a player who hit .201 last season, this might be the answer. His 6.8 rating led the way, while Gold Glove winner Salvador Perez came in second at 5.4

 

* 1B – Matt Olson’s rating of 12.4 left all the others in the dust…his Gold Glove was well deserved.

 

* 2B – Rougned Odor was at the top of the list with 10.0 but Ian Kinsler was close with 8.4 and won the Gold Glove. Ironically, Kinsler had the best rating in 2017 but didn’t win the award.

 

* 3B – Matt Chapman’s number of 21.9 was the best in baseball at any position and he captured the Gold Glove.

 

* SS – Andrelton Simmons of the Angels won his 4th Gold Glove at age 28 with a rating of 10.9 but Marcus Semien was actually slightly better at 14.7.

 

* LF – Alex Gordon’s offensive woes didn’t impact his defense as he won his 6th Gold Glove with a 11.0 rating. No one else was close.

 

* CF – The top three were Delino DeShields, Mike Trout & Jackie Bradley Jr. with Bradley getting the Gold Glove.

 

* RF – Mookie Betts of the Red Sox won his third consecutive Gold Glove by posting a number of  12.8. He’ll need to make room on the shelf next to the MVP award.

 

> National League

 

* C – Buster Posey and Manny Pina had the highest ratings, but Yadier Molina captured his 9th Gold Glove.

 

* 1B – Brandon Belt had the best results for the second straight season, but he gets no love from the voters…Freddie Freeman & Anthony Rizzo tied in the Gold Glove competition.

 

* 2B – DJ LeMahieu nearly lapped the field with his number of 19.5 and put a third Gold Glove is in his trophy case…now he’s a Utility player in the Bronx?

 

* 3B – Nolan Arenado – Six seasons into his career and six Gold Gloves, this time with a rating of 6.8…Travis Shaw was a close second at 6.5 but might change positions?

 

* SS – Nick Ahmed was clearly the best at 13.1 and it translated into his first Gold Glove.

 

* LF – Corey Dickerson produced a number of  12.8 to pick up his first Gold Glove…and he hit .300!

 

* CF – Ender Inciarte gave more credence as to why Dave Stewart should not have been a GM by winning the Gold Glove for a third time. Pay attention to Harrison Bader, who finished second.

 

* RF – Nick Markakis beat out Jason Heyward with a 5.1 rating and took home the Gold Glove…Markakis just re-signed for $6 Million while Heyward is still owed $115 Million over the next five years.

 

> In case you’re curious, here’s a list of the defensive players with the worst ratings…in other words their defense was “offensive”.

 

* AL – Mitch Garver C…Ryon Healy 1B…Yoan Moncada 2B…Miguel Andujar 3B…Alcides Escobar SS…Trey Mancini LF…Adam Jones CF (again)…Nick Castellanos RF (he was the worst at 3B in 2017)

 

* NL – Chris Ianetta C…Josh Bell 1B…Asdrubal Cabrera 2B…Colin Moran 3B…Amed Rosario SS…Rhys Hoskins LF…Charlie Blackmon CF…Bryce Harper RF

 

What about Pitchers, you ask? Well, Masahiro Tanaka had the best rating in the AL but Dallas Keuchel won the Gold Glove while in NL, Zack Greinke won his 5th straight award by finishing a close second in the ratings to Julio Teheran.

 

Don’t forget to take your glove to the ballpark.

 

The Best Hitters Of 2019

Cleon Jones

50 years ago, if a baseball fan was asked who the best hitters were, the only significant resource would have been the sports section of the Sunday newspaper. Somewhere in the back pages, there was a long, slender list in very small type showing all current major league players. And those players were ranked by their BA (Batting Average) because that had historically been the benchmark for position players.

 

Looking back at 1969, we find that the top five BA’s belonged to Pete Rose (.347), Roberto Clemente (.345), Cleon Jones (.339), Rod Carew (.331) & Matty Alou (.330). Fine players all, but were they the five best hitters in baseball? Not when you consider that the two MVP winners (Willie McCovey and Harmon Killebrew) finished 6th & “down the track” in batting average. Jones, for example, had only 12 HR’s & 75 RBI’s. Even OBP (On-Base Percentage) would have been a better gauge, as the top five were McCovey (.453), Jim Wynn (.436), Rose (.428), Killebrew (.427) & Rusty Staub (.426).

 

As modern baseball analytics have evolved, one of the most accepted statistics has become OPS (On-Base % + Slugging %). Not only does it prioritize getting on base, it also adds the concept of moving more runners around the bases. After all, Slugging Percentage is defined as Total Bases /At Bats. Old school fans might question the veracity of the stat but baseball history tells the tale. The five highest lifetime OPS numbers belong to Babe Ruth (1.16), Ted Williams (1.12), Lou Gehrig (1.08), Barry Bonds (1.05) & Jimmie Foxx (1.04). There are only two other hitters with a number over 1.00… Hank Greenberg and Rogers Hornsby.

 

With Spring Training around the corner, here’s one Duck’s opinion on the hitters for 2019 that could have an OPS of .900 or better…based on the projections from a highly respected Fantasy website.

 

1) Mike Trout, Angels OF, 1.044 OPS – 20 years from now, people will be describing his career as “once in a generation”. His consistency and still youthful age (27) makes him the consensus #1 hitter in Fantasy drafts. His lifetime number is .990…9th place all-time.

 

2) J.D. Martinez, Red Sox OF-DH, .980 OPS – It’s not often in today’s game where $110 Million seems like a bargain, but this slugger had 130 RBI’s in 2018.

 

3) Mookie Betts, Red Sox OF, .952 OPS – The AL MVP is only 26 and seems to get better every season.

 

4) Nolan Arendao, Rockies 3B, .933 OPS – The highest paid arbitration-eligible player in history at $26 Million, the question is if Colorado can find a way to keep him after 2019.

 

5) Aaron Judge, Yankees OF, .925 OPS – Only played 112 games last season and still produced a 5.5 WAR (Wins Above Replacement)…won’t turn 27 until after opening day.

 

6) Jose Ramirez, Indians 2B/3B, .925 OPS – A versatile player with incredible skills and he’s also in his prime at age 26.

 

7) Joey Votto, Reds 1B, .920 OPS – Had a sub-par year at age 34, so was it a blip on the radar screen or the beginning of a decline?

 

8) Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals 1B, .910 OPS – Six consecutive All-Star appearances and now in a new environment. His age-31 season will lead to free agency and it should be interesting to watch.

 

9) Justin Turner, Dodgers 3B, .907 OPS – Only played 103 games in ’18, but the skills didn’t diminish. His age (34) is offset by his old-school plate discipline (47 BB, 57 K’s).

 

10) Freddie Freeman, Braves 1B, .904 OPS – One of the most consistent hitters in the game, he even added a Gold Glove last season…and, he’s still in his 20’s!

 

11) Christian Yelich, Brewers OF, .900 OPS – The NL MVP at age 26, he seems slightly better than Lewis Brinson.

 

 

 

Did your favorite player get left off the list? The next five are all over .885…Daniel Murphy, Juan Soto, Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton & Shohei Ohtani.  Or maybe some youngsters take the next step? We’ll all be watching.

 

As for 1969, the four players who exceeded 1.000 OPS were McCovey, Reggie Jackson, Killebrew & Hank Aaron.