As Summer turns to Autumn and the calendar turns to October, many of you will head for the coat closet. As an Arizona resident, that isn’t really necessary, so for this visit, we’ll find a few appropriate remarks in the “quote closet”. They’ll be used to help commemorate the Old Duck sharing the championship of the NL-only Rotisserie auction-style home league in which I compete.
As Dizzy Dean once said, “It ain’t bragging if you can do it” but my comments will also be tempered by the advice of Fantasy Hall of Famer Ron Shandler, who reminds league winners to “Revel in your success because fame is fleeting, but also exercise excruciating humility”.
For all of us who play this wonderful game, the next few months gives us the opportunity to look back at our player decisions and wonder what we were thinking. In “The Magnificent Seven”, Bandito Eli Wallach asks Gunslinger Steve McQueen, “Why You Gringos Come Down Here”? and he answers, “Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time”. That could also be the answer for keeping a “Shark” or drafting Franklin Gutierrez (instead of Ricky Gutierrez). Maybe by reviewing some of the positive and negative roster moves in a winning scenario, your brain cells will begin to focus on 2018. If your friends, family and colleagues don’t understand your passion for the game, remind them that Dr. Seuss suggested, “Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of the telescope…and that enables us to laugh at life’s realities”.
> Donald’s Ducks…12 Team, NL only, 4×4, 23 man rosters (14 hitters, 9 pitchers), $260 budget, maximum of 15 keepers and 3 Farm players, established 1984
* Smart Keeper Decisions (April 2nd)…
1) Kris Bryant $20 – Followed up his ROY season in ’15 with the MVP in ’16, so his Fantasy contract was extended thru 2019. While 2017 didn’t quite live up to last year, his $24 value was solid.
2) Eugenio Suarez $10 – Didn’t run as much as last year, but his 26 HR’s lifted his value to $15.
3) J.T. Realmuto $10 – A Catcher with a good BA and a few SB’s is like gold and he also added 17 HR’s to contribute $16 to the cause.
4) Anthony Rizzo $31 – In this format with significant Draft inflation, top 1B go in this range…he provided a $25 return.
5) Trea Turner $20 – Another contract extension thru ’19 because SB’s are just getting more scarce. Despite only 412 AB’s (due to injury), he was worth $32.
6) Corey Seager $10 – Last year’s ROY battled injuries all season but still produced $20 in Fantasy value.
* Dumb Keeper Decisions
1) Jeff Samardzija $14 – Traded for him in the off-season just to add another pitcher to the roster (Ivan Nova was the only other keeper). His 4.42 ERA in over 200 IP didn’t help much.
* Good Draft Day Decisions ( April 8th)
1) Domingo Santana $16 – Had overpaid for him last year in an injury-plagued season but got him back at a more reasonable price….his 30 HR’s & 15 SB’s produced a $25 campaign.
2) Enrique Hernandez $1 – The ultimate Utility player, he ended up qualifying at five different positions to provide roster flexibility.
3) Aaron Nola $13 – Another player who was on my squad last year, he came back from 2016’s injuries to post a solid season.
4) Arodys Vizcaino $5- Following a familiar pattern, we also had him a year-too-early in ’16 but rolled the dice on him eventually getting the Closer job…14 Saves equaled $14.
5) Alex Wood $3 – Sometimes you find skills in the end-game and the player gets the opportunity…16-3 with a 2.72 ERA was beyond any expectation.
* Dumb Draft Day Decisions
1) Adonis Garcia $11 – Seemed to be in line to play everyday and hit in the middle of the line-up…started slow, got hurt, disappeared.
2) Logan Forsythe $13 – Was patting myself on the back for picking up a middle-infielder who had hit 20 HR’s the previous season…he hit .224 and didn’t even have a positive dollar value.
3) Wei-Yin Chen $6 – Locked as a member of the rotation due to his contract, he seemed like a reasonable comeback opportunity…he only pitched 33 innings.
4) Mark Melancon $31 – The Mother of all blunders. There were only a few Closers available at the Draft and he seemed the most reliable. Greg Holland went for $25 coming off surgery, Neftali Feliz cost $26 and had 8 Saves with an ERA of 6.00, while Wade Davis was purchased at $35. If the Ducks hadn’t succeeded, this would have been reason #1.
* In-Season Roster Moves
1) Activated Manuel Margot from the Farm portion of my roster on opening day…had a solid rookie year with $14 in value.
2) Picked up Dinelson Lamet in late May and even though he had typical rookie issues (4.57 ERA), his seven Wins helped in a very close category.
3) Added Josh Hader from the Farm in late June and even though he didn’t have a defined role, a 2.08 ERA & 0.99 WHIP was a boost.
4) After being outbid on J.D. Martinez in July, went all in to FAAB Rhys Hoskins in August. He wasn’t as good as Martinez, but 18 HR’s & 48 RBI’s in 170 AB’s definitely made a difference.
If nothing else, this summary shows two strategic points…1) if you have a chance to win, go all-in and 2) even seemingly insignificant moves can make a big difference in the final outcome of a Fantasy league.
So, how did it come down to “the last inning of the last game”?
The Ducks and two other teams were jockeying for position during the final week and thanks to MLB starting every game on the last Sunday at the same time, watching box scores and biting nails were the order of the day. With only one game still in progress, it seemed like the Ducks were doomed. It appeared that one team would end up with 70 1/2 points, another with 70 points and the Ducks with 69 1/2 points. Most veteran Fantasy players know, however, that some categories can be so close, the results may not be locked in ’til the Fat Lady sings. In the last game to finish, the Nationals inexplicably still had Trea Turner in the line-up and he was due up in the 9th inning. When he got a base hit, it moved the Ducks season-long BA to .2677, putting them ahead of another team that finished at .2676. That extra hit (out of 6,552 AB’s) gained one point and put my squad into a 1st place tie. Can we even understand the feelings of the 3rd place team? If you’ve played the game long enough, you can. I’ve lost a title on the last day of a season that was so close, the winning team sent me an e-mail congratulating me on the championship…I had to convince them that they had won. In this same league just a few years ago, we had another tie for the title, as two teams had 75 points each.
Of course, we all agree that hearing about someone else’s Fantasy team is a cure for insomnia, but for those of you who play the game, reviewing the principles utilized to win can be helpful. Remember the words of Groucho Marx, “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them…well, I have others”.