1957 Topps Baseball Cards

As a long-time purveyor of baseball cards both old and new, it is still a great adventure when a unique collection comes across the counter at the baseball card shop. Last week was one of those times when a very nice gentleman walked in with a half dozen shoe boxes filled with cards.

These were the cards he collected as a youngster and being that he’s 74 years-old, the math isn’t complicated. Each battered shoe box contained a particular year of cards and the range was 1953-1958. As with most kids of the 50’s, he played with the cards extensively and the condition showed some significant wear. Not surprisingly, the condition of the early cards was much worse than the later pieces of cardboard and the 57’s & 58’s were the best.

For this visit, we’re going to feature one of the most underrated sets of the era and focus on 1957 Topps. This set was a significant departure from the first five that Topps produced. First, they returned to a vertical look and adopted what is now called the standard card size. As with many of the offerings during this era, it also featured a particular run (#265-#352) that was scarcer. The real change was the simple, uncluttered color photograph of the player. The full color images have stood the test of time and continue to be hugely popular with collectors.

Let’s review some of the Hall of Famers in the set and the values will be based on cards in “EX” (PSA 5) condition. A complete set (411 cards) would be valued at $7,500.

  • #1 Ted Williams ($200) – Still iconic in the twilight of his career, he hit .388 at age 38.
  • #10 Willie Mays ($150) – His last season before the Giants moved to San Francisco, he led the NL with 20 Triples and 38 SB’s
  • #18 Don Drysdale ($100) – This is Big D’s Rookie Card and he won 17 games for Brooklyn at age 20.
  • #20 Hank Aaron ($150) – Produced 44 HR’s & 132 RBI’s on his way to the NL MVP.
  • #35 Frank Robinson ($220) – He won the NL Rookie of the Year in ’56, but this is his first card.
  • #76 Roberto Clemente ($125) – This is his 3rd-year card and it continues to have a high demand factor.
  • #95 Mickey Mantle ($650) – Still the most popular player of the time, he was coming off a Triple Crown season in ’56.
  • #302 Sandy Koufax ($175) – Only won five games in ’57 but his meteoric career took off once the Dodgers moved to L.A.
  • #328 Brooks Robinson ($365) – This is his Rookie Card and he didn’t become an everyday player until ’58, but 16 consecutive Gold Gloves followed.
  • $407 Yankee Power Hitters ($215) – This was the first time that Topps added cards with multiple players and they became extremely popular. This one features Mantle along with Yogi Berra.

Other Hall of Fame members you’ll find in the set include Berra, Whitey Ford, Pee Wee Reese, Ernie Banks, Warren Spahn, Al Kaline, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, Jim Bunning and others. And, let’s not forget the history attached to these pieces of cardboard, as they’re the last cards featuring the “Brooklyn” Dodgers and “New York” Giants.

When Errors Aren’t in the Box Score

OK, this is just between us, so you can admit the truth. When one of your Fantasy Pitchers gives up a bunch of runs, you immediately look to see if his team made any errors, praying to the Fantasy Gods that some of the runs were unearned. In fact, you’re not even upset if he made one of the errors himself, as long as your ERA doesn’t take it in the shorts. So, sometimes, errors can be good or bad and it also works that way with baseball cards.

In collecting parlance, an “error card” is defined as one with erroneous information, spelling or depiction on either side of the card. While most errors aren’t corrected by the card producing companies, on occasion they notice the mistake soon enough to make changes and then resume the print run. In these cases, both the error card and the corrected version are sometime known as “variations”. Many collectors feel that they don’t own a complete set of a particular year and brand unless it includes all the variations, but some of these cards can be relatively scarce. In the early years of modern baseball cards (the 50’s & 60’s), quality control from Topps and other companies left a lot to be desired but you’ll find numerous examples in every decade.

While a comprehensive list would require a volume, here are some of my favorites from over the years…

> 1953 Topps Satchel Paige (#220) – The Negro League legend and Hall of Fame Pitcher has his name spelled “Satchell” on the card.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

> 1955 Bowman Mickey Mantle (#202) – The “Mick’s” birthday is listed as 10/30/31 but should be 10/20/31.

> 1956 Topps Hank Aaron (#31) – The smaller photo on the card front is actually Willie Mays.

> 1957 Topps Hank Aaron (#20) – This beautiful set used a large uncluttered color photo on the front and “Hammerin’ Hank’s” had a reverse negative showing him batting left-handed.

> 1961 Topps Whitey Ford (#160) – The back of the card has the Hall of Fame Pitcher incorrectly listed as 5’0″ tall.

> 1962 Topps Sandy Koufax (#5) – The back of the card indicates that he “Struck ou 18”.

> 1962 Topps “Green Tint” – The second series of this issue (#’s 110-196) were printed without enough ink for the photographs. This caused the sky and dirt in the background to look green.

> 1964 Topps Pete Rose (#125) – Lists him as born in 1942 instead 1941.

> 1965 Topps Bob Uecker (#519) – Shows him posing as a left-handed batter (maybe he thought it would help).

> 1966 Topps Jim Palmer (#125) – This is the Rookie Card of the Orioles Hall of Fame Pitcher and the back of the card describes him as a “lefthander”.

> 1969 Topps Aurelio Rodriguez (#653) – This card showed a picture of Leonard Garcia, the Angels team batboy.

> 1974 Topps Washington National League Cards – There was a possibility that the Padres were going to re-locate to Washington D.C. for the ’74 season. Topps used “Washington National League” on the first run of 15 Padre Player cards. They are valued at about twice the corrected card.

> 1982 Fleer John Littlefield (#576) – An early example of the variation issues with new companies entering the market, the original card had a reverse negative and showed him as left-handed. Fleer corrected the card early in the run, so the first card is worth $30 while the second one can be had for about a nickel.

> 1985 Topps Gary Pettis (#497) – Pettis was the Angels CF and used to bring his younger brother to the ballpark, where the youngster would get into uniform and shag fly balls prior to home games. On this particular day, the Topps photographer spotted the last name on the back of the jersey and took the photo. 14 year-old Lynn Pettis will forever be pictured in that baseball card set.

> 1987 Donruss Opening Day Barry Bonds (#163) – This was a boxed set and the original Bonds card actually had a photo of Pirates 2B Johnny Ray wearing a black shirt. Donruss had to correct the card, as Bonds was one of the top young players in the game. The original “Ray” version books for about $250 while the Bonds version is less than $10.

> 1989 Fleer Billy Ripken (#616) – Probably the most infamous error card in history, it all started when no one noticed that Ripken’s photo included a profanity on the knob of the bat he was holding. The company went into panic mode because parents were not happy about their children giggling over the mistake. Fleer proceeded to make four additional variations in their print runs including one where the bat knob is whited out, another with a black box over the knob and two others that included scribbling over the words. At the time, it was the hottest card in the hobby. Ripken claimed it was a practical joke perpetrated by teammates but about twenty years later, he finally confessed and admitted that he had written the words on the bat knob himself.  Supposedly, one of the bats shipped to him from the manufacturer was slightly heavier and he only used it for batting practice and not for games. In order to recognize that particular bat quickly, he wrote the obscenity on the knob. The original card can now be found for $10 while the much scarcer “whiteout” version is at least $50.

> 1989 Upper Deck Dale Murphy (#357) – The Company’s first product included this card which had a reverse negative on the original issue. It was corrected and the left-handed Murphy card is $15 while the corrected one is just pennies.

> 1990 Topps Frank Thomas (#414) – The Rookie Card of “The Big Hurt” came out without his name on the front of the card. Topps corrected this so quickly that the “No Name on Front” version is worth over $1,000 while the corrected card is about $1.

> 1995 Topps Traded Carlos Beltran (#18T) – This set contained the Rookie Cards of both Beltran and an obscure player named Juan LeBron. The only problem is that Topps switched the photos and never corrected the cards. So, if you want a Carlos Beltran Rookie Card, you’ll be gazing at the face of Juan LeBron.

We’ve just touched the surface of this topic and down the road; we’ll talk about more variations and oddities. Hope you enjoyed the baseball card trivia.

CSW…WTF?

As the 2021 season has unfolded over the last few weeks, a new pitching statistic has been creeping into game reports and baseball analysis. It is called CSW and stands for “Called Strike plus Whiff Rate”.

Those of us who are easily recognized as “Statheads” have always been trying to gain an edge in evaluating players…especially with regard to our success at Fantasy Baseball. Over the years, we’ve paid close attention to pitching stats such as Earned Run Average (ERA), Walks & Hits Per Innings Pitched (WHIP), Strikeouts Per Nine Innings (K/9), Strikeout To Walk Ratio (K/BB) and a more obscure stat known as “Swinging Strike Rate”, which is calculated by the number of swinging strikes a pitcher gets divided by the total number of pitches thrown. All this is done in an attempt to recognize pitching skills that go beyond what you see on the back of a baseball card.

CSW is the latest arrow in the quiver for those of us with baseball-themed pocket protectors. It adds called strikes to the swinging strike rate to give credit to pitchers for strikes thrown when the batter doesn’t swing. There is some logic to this addition, as a called strike is just as effective as a swinging strike. Now, when you read the summary of a game on your favorite outlet, they just might mention a pitcher’s CSW in evaluating their performance. Just last weekend, Marcus Stroman lasted just four innings and had a terrible CSW rate, while John Gant pitched six shutout innings with an absurdly high CSW. These results were reported on an NBC sports site.

To put this into some perspective, let’s set a guideline. Here are the stats from the 2019 season…

  • Total pitches thrown: 732,473
  • Called Strike Rate: 16.4% 
  • Swinging Strike Rate: 11.2%
  • CSW Rate: 27.7%

With the knowledge that the league average is 27.7%, we can evaluate your team’s pitching staff and see if the hurlers have the right “stuff”.

Looking at the shortened 2020 season, the top ten includes numerous hurlers that you’d anticipate but also a few surprises.

#1 – Jacob deGrom 34.6%

#2 – Dylan Bundy 34.0%

#3 – Shane Bieber 33.8%

#4 – Yu Darvish 33.7%

#5 – Dinelson Lamet 33.4%

#6 – Aaron Nola 32.8%

#7 – Kenta Maeda 32.8%

#8 – Brady Singer 32.3%

#9 – Zack Greinke 32.0%

#10 – Lucas Giolito 31.7%

 The AL Cy Young Award winner (Bieber) and a two-time NL winner (deGrom) aren’t a surprise but did you expect Bundy & Singer? And how about Zac Gallen finishing 11th, just ahead of Gerrit Cole? The rest of the top twenty included the old (Adam Wainwright), the young (Framber Valdez) and a soft-tosser (Kyle Hendricks).

Now, let’s see how our new toy is working after the first four weeks of the 2021 season.

#1 – Corbin Burnes 38.2%

#2 (T) – Shane Bieber 36.5%

#2 (T) – Joe Musgrove 36.5%

#4 (T) – Jacob deGrom 35.5%

#4 (T) – Tyler Glasnow 35.5%

#6 – Trevor Bauer 34.9%

#7 – Gerrit Cole 33.4%

#8 (T) Dylan Bundy 33.3%

#8 (T) Trevor Rogers 33.3%

#10 Huascar Ynoa 32.9%

#11 – Clayton Kershaw 32.8%

#12 – Yu Darvish 32.7%

Even after only a month, it seems like the cream has come to the top. Burnes & Musgrove are reaching their long-awaited potential, Bundy is confirming his status and Kershaw is proving he’s not over-the-hill. What about the two rookies? Rogers is 23, has a 1.29 ERA in five starts and a K/9 rate of 12.2. Ynoa wasn’t even an afterthought in most Fantasy Drafts, yet this 23 year-old has also made five starts with a 2.96 ERA and a K/9 of 11.2.

The remainder of the top 20 shows that Tyler Mahle might be for real (#14 at 32.0%), Adam Wainwright can still fool hitters (#15 at 31.9%) and Nathan Eovaldi’s stuff is still tantalizing (#19 at 31.2%).

Assuming good health, these are the guys to watch. At the end of June, we’ll see how the CSW stat looks half-way through the season. Keep that pocket protector handy.

The Challenge of Perfection

Recently, we were reminded of how difficult certain baseball accomplishments can be. The White Sox Carlos Rodon entering the 9th inning without having allowed a base runner, giving him the opportunity to pitch a “Perfect Game”. After retiring the fist batter, he let a breaking pitch get away and it hit the batter in the foot. Rodon got two more outs to finish with a no-hitter, but the perfecto got away.

To understand the scarcity involved, this would have been the first perfect game in almost nine years and only the 24th in the history of the game…and five of those were before 1923. What’s even more interesting is that this singular feat has not always been done by well-known hurlers. In fact, only six of them belong to members of the Hall of Fame.

Let’s take a look at the famous, infamous and ordinary pitchers who belong to this exclusive club. We’ll begin after World War II with arguably the most famous one of all.

  • 1956 – Don Larsen, Yankees – Game 5 of the World Series against the Dodgers will never be forgotten. A journeyman pitcher throws strike three to Dale Mitchell and has Yogi Berra jump into his arms. It was the first perfect game since 1922.
  • 1964 – Jim Bunning, Phillies – This Hall of Famer pitched the first National League perfect game of the 20th century.
  • 1965 – Sandy Koufax, Dodgers – One of Sandy’s four no-hitters.
  • 1968 – Catfish Hunter, Athletics – He also had three hits and three RBI’s in the game.
  • 1981 – Len Barker, Indians – The first perfect game where designated hitters were in the line-up. His lifetime record was 74-76.
  • 1984 – Mike Witt, Angels – This came on the last day of the regular season versus the Rangers.
  • 1988 – Tom Browning, Reds – He beat the Dodgers 1-0 in mid-September but L.A. went on to win the World Series.
  • 1991 – Dennis Martinez, Expos – 45,000 fans at Dodger Stadium didn’t have much to cheer about.
  • 1994 – Kenny Rogers, Rangers – Jose Canseco hit two HR’s for Texas and Bo Jackson was in the Angels line-up.
  • 1998 – David Wells, Yankees – Bernie Williams hit a HR and Jorge Posada was the Catcher.
  • 1999 – David Cone, Yankees – The first perfect game done in interleague play, Cone only threw 88 pitches.
  • 2004 – Randy Johnson, D’Backs – The oldest to pitch a perfect game, he was 40. He also had another no-hitter 14 years earlier.
  • 2009 – Mark Buehrle, White Sox – A long-forgotten OF named Dewayne Wise reached over the wall to make a catch in the 9th inning.
  • 2010 – Dallas Braden, Athletics – He only won one more game after 2010 and had a lifetime record of 26-36.
  • 2010 – Roy Halladay, Phillies – Beat the Marlins 1-0 on an unearned run.
  • 2012 – Philip Humber, White Sox – The following season, he was 0-8 and then retired at age 30.
  • 2012 – Matt Cain, Giants – Had 14 K’s to tie Koufax’s record in a perfect game.
  • 2012 – Felix Hernandez, Mariners – Three perfect games in one season and none since.

Of course, this history also has some controversy…

  • Armando Galarraga of the Tigers would have had a perfect game in 2010 if instant replay had been available and utilized.
  • Pedro Martinez pitched nine perfect innings for the Expos in 1995 but lost the game 1-0 in the 10th inning.
  • Harvey Haddix pitched 12 perfect innings for the Pirates in 1959 but lost the game in the 13th inning. Lew Burdette pitched a 13 inning shutout for the Braves and got the win.

Catfish Hunter was once asked why he was not able to pitch another perfect game. His response was, “The sun don’t shine on the same dog’s ass all the time”.

The Heritage of Topps

Everyone you know probably considers themselves an expert at something, but Fantasy Baseball players are at the top of the food chain. Even though we play the game for money and bragging rights, the real truth is that we actually think we’re smarter than MLB GM’s & Managers. After all, would you have traded your best player from a 26-34 team like the Rockies? Or would you have given Anthony Rizzo a $14 Million per year offer when Paul Goldschmidt got $26 Million at the same age for the identical stats?  Or would you give any player a 10-year deal? The Old Duck participates in a 15-team Fantasy Baseball “experts” league where it is abundantly clear that each owner considers himself to be smarter than the other 14, but none of them would make those moves. It isn’t arrogance, only knowledge gained from experience.

Avid baseball card collectors are no different in their approach to the hobby. After watching card manufacturers flail away at each other in the 80’s and overproduce products in the 90’s to the detriment of the industry, it’s easy to criticize almost any product offering. Card enthusiasts are quick to complain about too few autograph cards, but also aren’t happy when the autographs are on stickers applied to the cards because they want the authenticity of “on-card” signatures. They also don’t like redemption cards (when players have not yet had the opportunity to sign), but also whine when the better players aren’t included in a product. It is the nature of the consumer to always want more for less and consider themselves smarter than the folks in charge.

In an attempt to remove myself from this category (even temporarily), I’m willing to admit that the people at The Topps Company are brilliant!

In 2001, Topps was celebrating the 50th anniversary of their entry into the baseball card business. They utilized the framework of their historical 1952 set to develop a new product. Topps Heritage came into the marketplace with current players pictured on cards that had the format of the iconic 1952 set. The detail of the set and the photography took collectors back to the time when packs were a nickel and included a stick of gum. The set was designed for card enthusiasts to build it completely by opening packs and sorting through the cards. It even had some of the quirks of the original like short-printed cards, checklist cards and even bubble gum…even though the gum was enclosed in a plastic wrapper. To all of this, Topps also added some autograph & relic cards to make the set even more attractive. The real draw, however, was the 1952 look and the opportunity for kids of the 50’s to build a new set of cards for the 2000’s.

Topps Heritage has been a consistent top-selling product at a mid-range price ($3- $4 per pack) ever since. Each year, the cards mirror the old design of the appropriate Topps set with current players and this year’s release (which just hit stores), uses the 1972 card as its platform. If you collected cards in the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s, this is the product for you. The look of the ’72 set is especially iconic because the design is so unique.

In the last few years, Topps has added a few more twists with short printed cards that have variations of throwback uniforms or an action image. They even tugged at old-timers’ heartstrings by randomly adding a section of white on some of the card backs emulating how they would have looked had a dusty piece of gum been sitting against the card…very cool!

The Old Duck purchases a few boxes each year and builds the set from scratch. Of course, you also get one “hit” per box that is either an autograph or relic card.

In honor of this year’s release, let’s look back at that beautiful 1972 set of 787 cards, which includes over 25 Hall of Famers. The card values are based on “Near Mint” condition (PSA 7).

> #49 Willie Mays, $30 – The “Say Hey” kid in the twilight of his career, this is his last card as a Giant.

> #79 Carlton Fisk, $50 – The Rookie Card of the HOF Catcher, he played 24 seasons in the majors.

> #299 Hank Aaron, $45 – “Hammerin’ Hank” was still two years away from breaking the Babe’s record.

> #309 Roberto Clemente, $45 – The last season for the Puerto Rican legend, as he tragically died in December.

> #433 Johnny Bench, $30 – Won the NL MVP and a Gold Glove.

> #559 Pete Rose, $45 – Jump started the Reds offense with a .307 BA and 198 Hits.

> #595 Nolan Ryan, $65 – His first year with the Angels, he led the AL with 329 K’s.

> #695 Rod Carew, $35 – Won his 2nd (of 7) batting titles

The “Heritage” will continue next year with memories of the 1973 set…

Opening Day and Uncle Moe

Someone who isn’t a baseball fan can’t possibly fathom the importance of opening day. It is what we wait months for, it is when hope springs eternal for even the sorriest team, it is the electricity of the crowd and maybe most of all, it forms the memories that we carry forever.

The 2021 opening day seemed to be even more important because there was no real opening day in 2020…at least not in April. As the years pass through the looking glass, baseball is different but also very much the same. So, maybe it’s time to look back and recapture the feeling of a 10 year-old boy attending his first opening day.

Every family certainly has their quirky relatives and mine was no exception. The most interesting character was my Uncle Moe. Born in New England in 1902, his given name was Moses which was later Americanized to Morris. But to me, my Dad’s older Brother was always Moe. His personality was almost beyond description, as he loved to gamble, drink, smoke cigars, womanize and attend sports events. He had great stories like the one about attending the 2nd Joe Louis – Max Schmeling fight at Yankee Stadium in 1938 when he almost missed the 1st round KO because the cab driver got lost. He called my folks one day and said he wanted to take “Donny” to the county fair. When we got there, it was obvious that the only part of the fair he was interested in was the horse races. I was probably the only kid in my class who could read the racing form before learning long division.

Uncle Moe also shared Red Sox season tickets with a few friends since the 1930’s (an early version of “Fever Pitch”). They were box seats within shouting distance of the Sox dugout and how he could afford them is still a mystery. To this day, I’m still not sure how he made a living. By 1956, he decided that my time had come to join him for opening day at Fenway Park. It was a Tuesday day game and I’m sure my parents had to get me excused from school, but long division could wait for another day.

So, let’s look back at that game against the Orioles that drew a capacity crowd of 32,563. Here’s the BoSox line-up…

  • Billy Goodman, 2B – This was his 10th season with the team and he was a two-time All-Star along with being the AL Batting Champion (.354) in 1950.
  • Frank Malzone, 3B – His rookie season at the hot corner, he went on the make six All-Star teams and win three Gold Gloves.
  • Ted Williams, LF – The greatest hitter in the history of the game, he was in the twilight of his career at age 37. Of course, he still batted .345 for the season and led the AL in On-Base Percentage.
  • Jackie Jensen, RF – A former All-American football player at Cal, he would go on to win the MVP award in 1958.
  • Mickey Vernon, 1B – A veteran presence at age 38, this was his first year with the Sox. He still contributed 15 HR’s and a .310 BA.
  • Jim Piersall, CF – One of the great characters of the game, he was a Gold Glove outfielder.
  • Don Buddin, SS – I played SS in Little League, so I always rooted for him. His 6-year big league career never met expectations with a lifetime BA of .241.
  • Sammy White, C – The team’s primary backstop during the 50’s.
  • Frank Sullivan, P – Won 74 games over a five-year stretch in the 50’s and made two All-Star teams.

“Sully” pitched a complete game that day, as the Red Sox beat the Birds 8-1. They posted 16 hits including three each for Williams & Piersall. And, yes I had a “Fenway Frank”.

In the early 1990’s, I had occasion to be in Boston on a business trip. It allowed me to visit Uncle Moe at the rest home facility and enjoy his company for one last time. He would never admit to being sentimental but never having had children, he lit up when his Nephew showed up. I brought along an album of 1950’s baseball cards to leave with him and even though he wasn’t well physically, his mind was still sharp enough to remember, and talk about,  all those players. Here’s hoping you had an Uncle Moe.

Legal Supplements

How would you like to be invited to participate in the most unique Fantasy Baseball league in the industry? Looking back to 2002, the Old Duck was thrilled to be part of the Xperts Fantasy League (XFL), the vision of Ron Shandler and the first industry keeper league. Some of the most respected pundits and players of the game were kind enough to invite three “challengers” to be included as part of the 12-team group. As one of these home-league players, I was nervous and excited to sit down at the draft table that November and test my skills against the best.

As we enter our 19th season, it has been a great ride for this lifetime baseball fan. We’ve expanded to 15 teams and the camaraderie established over the years has led to genuine friendships with a great group of guys. And, to my surprise, the Quacker has turned out to be a decent player with four championships and the best overall record.

The XFL is a 5×5 keeper league (with OBP instead of BA) that has an auction budget of $260 for 23 players. We conduct the draft only a month or two after the baseball season ends and no research (or computers) are allowed at the table. Utilizing just MLB depth charts handed out prior to the first player being nominated, it is a test of your player-pool knowledge and prognostication. This year’s auction draft was done on-line but the parameters were the same. There is a significantly high inflation factor because many of the players on the keeper lists have salaries much lower than their projected values. Here’s the roster of Donald’s Dux (“K” for keepers, “D” for drafted) following the December 2020 draft…

C – Willson Contreras $16 (K)

C – Sean Murphy $19 (D)

1B – Jose Abreu $22 (K)

3B – Yoan Moncada $13 (K)

1/3 – Pete Alonso $7 (K)

2B – Cesar Hernandez $1 (D)

SS – Gleyber Torres $10 (K)

2/S – Marcus Semien $24 (D)

OF – Ian Happ $6 (K)

OF – Dylan Carlson $4 (K)

OF – Teoscar Hernandez $6 (K)

OF – Randy Arozarena $8 (K)

OF – Brandon Nimmo $18 (D)

U – Wilmer Flores $6 (K)

P – Brandon Woodruff $16 (K)

P – Tyler Mahle $3 (D)

P – Kevin Gausman $6 (K)

P – Drew Pomeranz $1 (D)

P – Rasiel Iglesias $16 (D)

P –Cristian Javier $15 (D)

P – Joe Musgrove $12 (D)

P – James Karinchak $4 (K)

P – Zach Wheeler $25 (D)

FARM – Royce Lewis (K)

FARM – Christian Pache (K)

FARM – Triston Casas (K)

To lend some insight into the keeper salaries, players drafted in the auction have their salary increase $5 each season. So, for example, Woodruff was drafted for $6 two seasons ago. Any player who qualifies as a rookie has his salary increase only $3 each season. So, because the Dux drafted Moncada in 2017 before he appeared in an actual major league game, he is entering his 5th year on the roster. The league plays the season with 40-man rosters (23 active each week) and prior to opening day there is a supplemental, on-line, snake draft to fill the remaining slots. These legal supplements can have a huge influence on the success of your team because so much can happen between December & March. For the teams that drafted (or kept) Mike Clevinger, Nick Anderson, Carlos Carrasco, Eloy Jimenez & others, the first few rounds of this supplemental phase are critical to their team’s ability to contend.

The Dux had a strong 4th place finish in 2020 and didn’t have to give up too many assets to get their 101 points. The keeper list was strong, so we were able to be aggressive in the auction. As of the moment (3/30), there are no obvious holes on the roster.  The current projections from a two well-respected sites have the squad finishing in 2nd place with the major weakness seeming to be in SB’s. What strategy would you employ? We have the 3rd pick and while 345 players are already gone, there is still some talent available. Get the best speed guy with the Round 1 pick or try to bolster the rotation? How about a prospect for the future?

Now, a word about prospects. Due to deep rosters, teams are not shy when it comes to drafting young players low in the minors and holding them until they’re ready. This is one of the key elements to a “dynasty” format and the owners in this league know everything about projectable minor leaguers, international players, college players and even an occasional high-school star. This year, for example, I looked at a top 100 prospect list from a Fantasy site and found that the first 44 players were already gone! Would you spend a 1st Round pick on #45?

Teams have very difficult choices in the initial rounds, as they need to balance filling holes on their roster with also acquiring some long-term talent. This year, as we gathered at our computers on March 30th, the wheels were turning for 15 separate owners and here are the Round 1 results…

> 1.01 Josh Jung – A former member of my team but didn’t have enough room on the roster to keep him in December. Will miss time due to injury but should be the Rangers 3B in 2022.

> 1.02 Garrett Hampson – One of the four speed guys on the Dux list, it comes down to playing time in Colorado.

> 1.03 (Dux Pick) Ramiel Tapia – Not a very glamorous addition, but he’s penciled in to play everyday and bat lead-off. 15-20 SB’s and a .350 OBP would be just fine.

> 1.04 Elijah Green – Still in High School, he’ll be eligible for the MLB Draft in 2022…has committed to the University of Miami.

> 1.05 Robbie Ray – A logical choice for a team with Lamet, E. Rodriguez & Carrasco in their rotation.

> 1.06 Freddy Peralta – Just added to the Brewers rotation.

> 1.07 Garrett Mitchell – This 20 year-old is the Brewers # 1 prospect.

> 1.08 Jonathan India – The Reds starting 2B.

> 1.09 Brailyn Marquez – A 22 year-old Pitcher, he’s the Cubs #2 prospect.

> 1.10 Robbie Grossman – The Tigers signed him to play everyday…should provide double-digit HR’s & SB’s.

> 1.11 Josh Rojas – Very impressive this Spring, he’ll play all over the diamond for the D’Backs..

> 1.12 Willi Castro – The Tigers everyday SS.

> 1.13 Luis Matos – A 19 year-old OF in the Giants organization…this is what a “dynasty” league is all about.

> 1.14- Josh Lindblom – 40-man rosters are all about pitching depth.

> 1.15 Alex Manoah – Could be pitching for the Blue Jays sometime this season.

Last year, 13 of the 15 choices in Round 1 were prospects…this time around, it was only six.

Additional picks for the Dux roster…

> 2.13, Logan Webb – There were 7-8 SP’s in the same tier…maybe at age 24, he’s found the right formula.

> 3.03, Gregory Soto – Possibly the Tigers Closer?

> 3.07 (acquired thru a trade), Yandy Diaz – Needed a back-up 3B and he was the best available.

> 4.13, Nico Hoerner – Cubs sent him down, but it could be a service-time move.

At this point, the Dux were satisfied with acquiring some SB’s, adding a rotation SP, a potential Closer and an extra body at the hot corner. Now it was time for depth and a few rolls of the dice.

> 5.03, Carlos Martinez – Can he succeed with diminished velocity?

> 6.13, Emmanuel Clase – Strictly an insurance policy for Karinchak.

> 7.03 , Jose Garcia – A Reds SS prospect….is Suarez the long-term answer?

> 8.13, Victor Caratini – In this format, you need a 3rd Catcher.

> 9.03, Michael Wacha – Healthy at the moment…this is organizational depth.

> 10.13, David Bednar – Richard Rodriguez is the new Pirates Closer…if that doesn’t work?

> 11.03, Ivan Herrera – In a league that rosters 30 Catchers, finding young possibilities is worth the flyer. He won’t be 21 until June and someone needs to replace Yady…someday.

> 13.03 Nico Goodrum – Multi-positional depth.

> 14.13, Miguel Amaya – Reference the comment about young Catchers.

All in all, a fairly productive draft. The Dux have 9 SP’s to choose from each week, an extra Closer and back-ups for each position to cover injuries and/or poor performance. Hopefully, the GM won’t be sitting in the back of a cab saying “we coulda’ been a contendah”.

More information and the league history can be found at fantasyxperts.com

The Usual Rotisserie Suspects

With the original “Rotisserie League Baseball” book having been published in 1984, some of us are coming up on our 38th year of auction drafts in the spring of 2021. Almost everything has changed for the Fantasy player since those days of the analytic pioneers, but one trait has remained constant. My attendance at almost 90 of these soirees over the years in multiple leagues indicates that while the people around the table have changed, the personalities haven’t.

As with “Dragnet”, the names have been changed to protect the innocent, but you should recognize some of these types from your own league.

> “The Hypester” – Not to be confused with a “hipster”, this guy automatically buys into all the hype he reads about minor league prospects, rookies, refugees and players from the Pacific Rim. If you told him confidentially to look for a Korean phenom named Sum Yung Guy, he’d probably bid on him. This guy drafted Candy Maldonado in the 80’s, Kevin Maas in the 90’s, Jesus Montero10 years ago and Jung Ho Kang 5 years ago. He also owns a collection of Gregg Jeffries baseball cards.

> “The Limited” – Not to be confused with a train, this player is literally stuck at the station. He’s created some guidelines for the bidding process and doesn’t have the courage to go beyond his set values. Invariably, he’s the next-to-last bidder on numerous players and ends up leaving money on the table. In poker, this guy is defined as “tight passive” and can be bluffed out of the hand.

> “The Smart Ass” – This smirking fellow has figured out that the game is supposed to be entertainment and his goal is to bring out a player obscure enough to be unknown to half the league…and the other half doesn’t even want to bid. It doesn’t matter because he relishes the moment when people are scrambling through their paperwork to locate the bum. We once had an opposing player turn to his partner and say, “Keep bidding until I find the guy”. The Smart Ass is willing to have a nobody on his roster in order to bask in the glory of that remark.

> “We Are Family” – This team owner “becomes as one” with the players he drafts. As soon as a player is rostered on his squad, he no longer refers to them by their last name. During the season, he talks about “Von”, “Glenn” & “Rick” as if they’re all foster children who have been taken into his home. Their injuries impact him on an emotional level and approaching him about a trade is a waste of time.

> “The Pencil Breaker” – This is the well-organized, methodical man who has worked diligently on his plan. The issue at the table is that everyone’s strategy is usually blown-up in the first half-hour and the words “flexible” and “spontaneous” aren’t in his vocabulary. So, he allocated $18 for any one of three Shortstops and after they all go to other teams for over $20, he can be seen breaking pencils in frustration.

> “The Paper Pusher” – In the early days of this pastime before magazines & websites gave us player projections, this player was too lazy to do any real homework and would come to the table with a small piece of paper that had three or four names. His goal was to draft those players, no matter the cost. He could always be seen during the last three hours of the proceedings looking through the Baseball Register trying to find warm bodies to fill those eight $1 spots left on his roster. He never contended, but he would always ruin everyone else’s strategy. This is the twin brother of the gambler who hits 17 at the Blackjack table and makes sure the dealer doesn’t bust.

> “The Homer” – In a league based in Southern California, you can assume there will be a certain inflation factor for Dodger & Angel players due to the constant barrage of information. This fellow, however, is a fan of a particular team and has never been able to separate himself from that connection. His opponents know that they can always get an extra dollar of his budget spent on that player from the Red Sox or (insert the team of your choice). In addition, his level of interest in that team assures the fact that he’s reading about them in March and he becomes a mini-version of the “Hypester”.

> “The Enforcer” – Not to be confused with “Dirty Harry” Callahan, this is the person who feels a moral obligation to make sure no other team gets a bargain. If they sense a lull in the bidding for a decent player, they will jump in with a bid at the last moment even if that player isn’t a good fit on their team. This type of strategy will almost never succeed, but is guaranteed to always aggravate. The first cousin of the guy who plays every hand at the poker game.

> “The Math Minor” – Managing your money at the table is a necessity. Budgeting certain amounts for positions and/or categories gives you the best chance to win. This guy, however, essentially has no plan and just bids by the seat-of-his pants. An example would be having only one pitching spot left open and getting into a bidding war over a rotation ace when his team has no offense. This is the team that might spend 50% of their budget on pitching and then wonder why they ended up with so many back-up outfielders.

> “The Know-It-All” – This fellow may be a good player, but he is barely tolerated by the other members of the league. They’re not concerned with his success, only with his attitude. He has no patience for anyone who doesn’t know that Ketel Marte qualifies at 2B but not OF. When opponents are slow to nominate player’s names late in the day, he shows his frustration, as if he has somewhere important to go. The truth is, he has nowhere to go because he doesn’t have any friends.

> “The Vacillator” – If you’ve played in the same league for a succession of years, you certainly understand that thinking you can contend every year is a fool’s game. If your keeper list is weak a season following a championship, then rebuilding might be part of your thought process. This player knows all that, but gets caught up in the exhilaration of the Draft and starts rostering players that don’t fit his strategy. For example, if you’re in a NL or AL only league, maybe he shouldn’t be taking players who will be free agents next year. This also applies to rebuilding teams who find themselves in the first division in May and change course (and make trades) because they’re fooled by stats that represent only 30% of the season. Usually, by the All-Star break, reality has bitten them in the posterior and they no longer have those young building blocks they acquired at the table.

We’ll call our league the “Keyser Soze” Invitational and there you have 11 examples of the kind of opponents you might encounter. If you’re the 12th team, there’s a name for you too…”The Winner”.

Many thanks to Mike Ricigliano for the beautiful artwork.

Charming The Snake Once a Year

If you’re even an occasional reader of this space, you know that the Old Duck is a 35+ year veteran of Rotisserie Style (Fantasy Baseball) 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 Racing 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 is 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 Juan Soto 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, Bieber, Cole or Bauer.

In order to avoid having my brain explode, I’ve used none of those strategies and still managed two championships (including 2020), two 2nd place finishes and a 3rd place finish in the 10 year history of the league. In 2020, the Long Island Ducks finished in a tie for the title despite picking Yordan Alvarez in the 3rd round and having ESPN projecting the team to finish last!! The keys were Trevor Story (Round 1) and Jose Abreu (Round 5).

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. One hour prior to the festivities, the randomizer gave the Ducks pick #5. I felt good about the position because there were at least 10 players worth $35+ in an auction format and it seemed like #5 could be as valuable as #1. Is there really a consensus #1 this year? My projections had Tatis, Turner & deGrom at the top but no clear choice. As we work our way through the results, you’ll see both the ADP and the Roto$ projection for each player as a point of reference. The ADP and dollar projections rankings are as of the date of the Draft (3/14).

Fantasy players are always interested in the first round, so here’s how this league shook out…1) Ronald Acuna Jr….2) Mookie Betts…3) Juan Soto…4) Fernando Tatis Jr….5) Mike Trout…6) Gerrit Cole…7) Trea Turner…8) Jacob deGrom…9) Jose Ramirez…10) Trevor Story…11) Shane Bieber…12) Cody Bellinger…13) Freddie Freeman…14) Francisco Lindor…15) Christian Yelich.

Here’s the Ducks’ roster for 2021…

* Round 1, Pick 5 – Mike Trout (ADP 6, $38)

Despite the fact that SB’s don’t seem to be part of his game any longer, getting this generational talent was too much of a temptation. Would you have picked Turner or deGrom instead?

* Round 2, Pick 26 – Lucas Giolito, P (ADP 19, $24)

In addition to Cole, deGrom & Bieber in Round 1, Bauer, Darvish & Buehler were gone in Round 2. Couldn’t wait on an elite SP.

* Round 3, Pick 35 – Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF (ADP 40, $25)

Trying to squeeze one more season of 20-25 SB out of these 32 year-old legs. Multiple position eligibility doesn’t hurt.

* Round 4, Pick 56 – Gleyber Torres, SS (ADP 68, $16)

A young star in a productive line-up, he was the 10th Shortstop taken.

* Round 5, Pick 65 – Rasiel Iglesias, RP (ADP 92, $13)

Seems early for a Closer, but this season seems to have a shortage of ones you can count on. Hader & Hendricks were already gone.

* Round 6, Pick 86 – Anthony Rizzo, 1B (ADP 102, $18)

A consistent producer in his walk year.

* Round 7, Pick 95 – Zach Wheeler, P (ADP 98, $13)

A solid #2 SP.

* Round 8, Pick 116 – Kris Bryant, 3B (ADP 127, $10)

A healthy year might earn a new contract.

* Round 9, Pick 125 – Willson Contreras, C (ADP 123, $10)

The third best backstop after Realmuto & Perez.

* Round 10, Pick 147 – Dylan Carlson, OF (ADP 154, $10)

A top prospect that should get everyday AB’s.

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

* Round 11, Pick 155 – Andres Gimenez, SS (ADP 176, $14)

Looking for speed, he’s only 22 and could swipe 20+ bases. Qualifies at three positions.

* Round 12, Pick 176 – Brandon Nimmo, OF (ADP 265, $6)

A significant reach but he’s a great lead-off weapon in a loaded line-up.

* Round 13, Pick 185 – Kevin Gausman, P (ADP 136, $7)

Seems like a bargain here, as he resurrected his career with the Giants.

* Round 14, Pick 206 – David Price, P (ADP 186, $7)

Sorry, I just don’t think the Dodgers will pay him all that money to pitch in long relief.

* Round 15, Pick 215 – Zach Eflin (ADP 195, $9)

Just starting to reach his potential.

* Round 16, Pick 236 – Hector Neris, P (ADP 322, $3)

Half of the prognosticators have Bradley closing…we shall see.

* Round 17, Pick 245 – Nick Senzel, OF (ADP 267, $4)

Winning Fantasy teams usually have at least one “post-hype” prospect.

* Round 18, Pick 266 – Evan White, 1B (ADP 447, $4)

Once in a while, you just get a hunch. The Mariners gave him a big contract and then rushed him to the “show”.

* Round 19, Pick 275 – Daulton Varsho, OF  (ADP 167, $3)

Could also be Catcher eligible?

* Round 20, Pick 296 – Freddy Peralta, P (ADP 350, $3)

The Brewers gave him a nice extension, so he’s in their plans.

* Round 21, Pick 305 – Wilmer Flores, 1B/2B (ADP 381, $2)

Had 12 HR’s in 2020’s 60-game season.

* Round 22, Pick 326 – Carlos Martinez, P (ADP 416, $1)

In the rotation but it might be his last chance.

* Round 23, Pick 335 – Christian Pache, OF (ADP 409, $0)

Could be the Braves CF.

* Round 24, Pick 356 – Madison Bumgarner, P (ADP 373, $0)

The velocity seems to be back in March, just a flyer.

* Round 25, Pick 365 – Nico Hoerner, 2B/SS (ADP 485, $1)

The Cubs everyday 2B?

The site’s projections once again have the Ducks finishing last. Thanks for the motivation.

You Just Might Be A Fantasy Baseball Player

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 are secure in the fact that Brusdar Graterol (265 lbs.) vs. Rowdy Tellez (255 lbs.) is not part of Wrestlemania, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If your elbow was fine but you decided to have Tommy John Surgery in order 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 Senior Fantasy player.

> If you think that “Aqualung” is only an album by the wrong Ian Anderson, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that Willi Castro is missing an “e” and Starlin Castro is missing a “g”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that Kyle Seager was shifted on more than any other hitter in 2020, 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’re aware that Jo Adell struck out 44% of the time in his rookie season, you just might ne a Fantasy player.

> If you went to the unemployment office in late February and ending up standing in line behind Yasiel Puig, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you are sure that Daniel Bard is not a descendent of William Shakespeare, you just might be a Fantasy player.

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

> If you think you spotted Robinson Cano leaving through the back exit of your pharmacy, 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 that Giancarlo Stanton used to be Mike Stanton but there’s also a Mike Stanton with 31 life-time Saves, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you didn’t invite Justin Turner to your birthday celebration, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you lost 20 pounds during the off-season but it didn’t help your performance, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you invited Blake Snell to your house for the Super Bowl but made him leave before the 3rd quarter, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If it wouldn’t surprise you to find that Pirate infielders Kramer & Newman have the clubhouse TV tuned to Seinfeld reruns, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think it is ironic that Anthony Bass signed with the Marlins, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that Fernando Tatis Jr.’s Dad once hit two Grand Slams in the same inning, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you wonder why a $7 Million Joc Pederson is replacing an $8 Million Kyle Schwarber, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you wonder whether Dakota Hudson’s career is going North or South, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you’ve applied for the job as Johnny Damon’s designated driver and got a referral from Tony LaRussa, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you Ynoa player named Michael and Ynoa player named Gabriel, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that the weight loss total of Vlad Jr. & Avisal Garcia equals one Jockey, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know the difference between Will Smith the Pitcher, Will Smith the Catcher and Will Smith the Actor, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you feel that when Joey Bart gets called up by the Giants it would be appropriate for him to travel to the ballpark on BART, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know Brett Phillips’ middle name is “Maverick”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that Myles Straw has 16 SB’s in 199 big league AB’s, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you’re fairly sure that Kyle Funkhouser owns a Kool and the Gang album, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you discovered Buck & Kyle are the same age by browsing 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 you know that Bryan Garcia stranded every baserunner he inherited in 2020, 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 everyone at Starbucks is looking at their cell phones but you’re the only one scrolling for Spring Training box scores, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that one Lourdes goes on tour with Madonna while another Lourdes patrols the OF at SkyDome, 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 think that smirk on the face of Scott Boros is creepy, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If your religious commitment is limited to drafting Jesus Aguiler, Noah Syndergaard, Adam Eaton, John Moses, Christian Arroyo, Braden Bishop & Travis Baptist, 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 your bowling team includes Lane Thomas and Gene Alley, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that Trea Turner hit .407 on the road last season, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you’re aware that Teoscar Hernandez & Jesse Winker were in the top five in “hard hit’ percentage for 2020, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you’ve cheered for Brandon Lowe, Nate Lowe, Mark Lowe or Derek Lowe, 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 confessed at your AA meeting that you drafted 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 attended Corey Kluber’s showcase day in January, 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 found out that he listens to Coltrane, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know the whereabouts of Kyle Seager, Kyle Elfrink, Kyle Hendricks, Kyle Gibson, Kyle Freeland and Kyle Schwarber, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you’re confident that Tim McLeod will teach George Springer how to say “EH”, 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 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 know that Jose Iglesias finished ahead of Mike Trout in RBI % last season, 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 know that Joey Votto has the highest lifetime OBP of any active player (#18 all-time), 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 are clear on the fact that Chaz Roe is not Sushi, 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’ve discovered that Javier Baez & Adalberto Mondesi tied for the most “unproductive outs” last season, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you believe that Willians, Welington, Wilkin, Willson and Yasmani are all Catchers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you wouldn’t hire Mickey Callaway to manage your food truck, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think Ranger Suarez should be traded to Texas, 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 Nelson Cruz & Raisel Iglesias than you are with Willie Nelson & Julio Iglesias, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If it doesn’t surprise you that Pat Valaika has a lifetime .851 OPS as a pinch-hitter, 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 refuse to add “Holds” to your league’s stats until someone can actually explain what constitutes a “Hold”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that Cesar Hernandez led the AL in Doubles last year, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you’re aware that Yu Darvish & Chris Sale are the only two Pitchers in history to strike out over 11 batters every nine innings, 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 Miguel Sano struck out 90 times in a 60-game season, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that Clayton Kershaw has the highest winning percentage of the modern era (69.72%), you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that the LOOGY is an endangered species, 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 Heliot and you didn’t find it unusual, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that Delino DeShields (Father) hit .250 after being traded for Pedro Martinez and Delino DeShields (Son) hit .252 after being traded for Corey Kluber, 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’d rather watch Shane Bieber than Justin Bieber, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you wonder when the Mexican restaurants in Cincinnati 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 your annual literary schedule includes the publications written by Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Jonathan Kellerman and Ron Shandler, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think about the fact that Juan Soto led the league in Intentional Walks at age 21, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you don’t give a rat’s patootie about a $200+ Million player feeling disrespected, 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 you know that Kyle Hendricks had the slowest average fastball (87.4 mph) in the NL, 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 see the movie “Platoon” and immediately start thinking about Dave Roberts, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If Jennifer Lopez is dead to you, 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 your only link to opera is that you once saw Alfredo Figaro pitch in a major league game, you just might be a Fantasy player.

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

> If you decided to change your “Font” but it’s because his ERA was 9.92, 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 Brett Gardner might be in the twilight of his career, but you’re sure that Steve Gardner isn’t, 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 know that Miguel Cabrera & Oliver Perez have both played 18 seasons, 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 was 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 once had Bobby Bonilla on your team and you’re still paying his salary, 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 Brian Feldman has ever been your auctioneer, you just might be an expert-level Fantasy player.

> If you think that Scott Blewett is the worst name ever for a relief pitcher, 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 diagnosis, 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’re aware that Elvis has left the building and is heading for Oakland, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that Jean Segura, Dee Gordon, Kike Hernandez, 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 no longer allow trash cans at the Draft table, you just might be a Fantasy Commissioner.

> If you think that “Sheriff” would be a good nickname for Jacob Nottingham, 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 you closed one eye while looking at your Trevor Bauer baseball card, 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 despite the lack of a medical degree you can easily diagnose a strained oblique and plantar fasciitis, 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.