Take Five: The Core of a Historically Bad Fantasy Baseball Team
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on May 6, 2009
I participated in my first ever live auction baseball draft–an NL-only league set up by friends of friends–before the start of the baseball season, and boy, was it a thing of beauty. I’d done internet roto drafts before, but being a junkie for true geekdom, this was like going straight from passing around a joint to freebasing heroin–those suspenseful moments where you think you might be getting a steal on a backup corner infielder being essentially what I live for. This was also my first time in a fantasy league where real money was involved, so I didn’t want to take it lightly–I did my requisite reading, I created my tier systems, I learned about what prospects were on the ascent, and when draft day finally came, I felt I put together a pretty decent roster. I made a couple rookie mistakes, sure–I lowballed on a couple bargain players too early and ended up having a ridiculous amount of money left to spend all on Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez–but I thought it was a lineup that would stay competitive throughout the year.
Well, as the saying goes, you can’t win fantasy championships in your first month, but you sure can lose them. How bad are my boys, the Ontario Obscelences, doing a month into the season? Well, the league leader currently has 67.5 points, based on his high rankings in various offensive categories, and most of the other teams are lagging behind them in the 50s and 40s. I currently sit at 9th with a galling 20.5–a full 24 points behind the 8th place team, which is farther behind him than he is behind the first place team. I’m talking Detroit Lions bad, Los Angeles Clippers bad, Dallas Academy bad. It’s so dispiriting that I can’t even pretend to monitor the waiver wire in the hopes of catching untapped talent, or try to deal my players to other teams, without just laughing at myself for even trying to make a project out of these losers. I am officially the Isiah Thomas of Fantasy GMs.
How did it get this bad? Well, part of it is totally my fault, as I ended up getting stuck wtih snakebit players that I made low bids on and ended up getting stuck with–Josh Willingham (.143 BA, 1 HR), Juan Pierre (only one steal so far for my speed demon) and Chan Ho Park (8.57 ERA, 1.86 WHIP, 0 wins) all among them. But some of it I refuse to take full credit for, as a disturbingly high number of my upside guys just disappeared altogether–vanishing acts that even their biggest doubters couldn’t have predicted. And so, the five guys who can take primary credit for my team hitting the golf courses early this season:
- Geovany Soto (C), Cubs (.167 BA, 0 HR, 4 RBI) Getting two good catchers was important to me for my team, so I picked up Geo early on in the draft, and got Jesus Flores as a respectable backup some rounds later. Flores has done his part, putting up a decent .288 with 2 HRs and 11 RBI. Soto, however, got injured early on, and has limped his way to a sub-Mendoza batting average and not a single longball since. Last year’s rookie of the year hit .285 with 23 dingers and 86 RBI, excellent numbers for a backstop–so much so that Soto even got enough MVP votes to finish 13th in that race. This year, it’s starting to look like even among Cubbie catchers, career backup Koyie Hill might have been a wiser–and much, much cheeper–investment.
- Troy Tulowitzki (SS), Rockies (.213 BA, 3 HR, 7 RBI) I was positive that I got two incredible bargains out of the Rockies lineup when I landed Todd Helton for $2 and Troy Tulowitzki for $12, convinced both were due for huge bounceback years. After a slow start, Helton is making me look smart enough by hitting in the .330s, but after hitting three home runs in the first week or so, Tulo has disappeared for the second straight season, slinking lower and lower in the Colorado lineup and losing more and more playing time to Clint Barmes and Ian Stewart. Two seasons ago, this guy was drawing comparisons to Cal Ripken Jr. and leading the Rockies to the World Series as a rookie–what the fuck happened, Troy?? On the plus side, Tulo has swiped a pair of bases so far–which, disturbingly enough, currently makes him the steals leader on my lead-footed lineup.
- Edwin Encarnacion (3B), Reds (.127 BA, 1 HR, 6 RBI) Part of a more or less around-the-horn underwhelming Reds lineup thusfar, Encarnacion was the last of the semi-decent third-baseman available when I nabbed him for $11 with the 121st pick. I didn’t expect huge numbers, but I expected something a little bit more in line with the 26 HRs and 68 RBI that he put up last season than with these minimalist numbers. Luckily, Edwin put me out of misery by going on the DL early, allowing me to slot in homeboy Pedro Feliz in his place, who–like everyone on the Phils outside of Jimmy Rollins and our backup catchers–is putting up offensive numbers that are positively silly. Hard to imagine the double E supplanting him anytime soon.
- Lastings Milledge (OF), Nationals (.167 BA, 0 HR, 1 SB) Yeah, OK, so I was obviously taking a chance going for a troubled, raw youngster like The Edge, but hey, even Elijah Dukes is hitting .300-ish with four home runs, and those are steroid numbers compared to what Lastings has given me this season. Forget this being a breakout year, Milledge will be lucky if he can even break his way into the Nats’ starting lineup, what with their glut of outfielders and their increasing impatience with shenanigans. He’s currently toiling away at triple A, hopefully in time to at elast give me one player at the end of the year with double-digit steals–so pathetic is my team’s baserunning that I think Carl Crawford has swiped more bags in his last two games than my ENTIRE 14-MAN OFFENSIVE ROSTER has all season. I don’t even understand how that’s humanly possible.
- Milton Bradley (OF), Cubs (.130 BA, 2 HR, 2 RBI) I saved the worst for last here, of course. The knock on Milt has always been that he’s as offensively brilliant a player as there is in the game when he’s on the field, but he can never stay on the field for a whole season at a time. Well, at this point, him going down for the season might actually be a good thing for my team. He sucked for the first few weeks, went out for a while with a strained something or another, came back, and has sucked even more. And what’s really insulting is that Kosuke Fukudome–last year’s titanic disappointment, who wasn’t even supposed to be in the starting lineup this year–has looked to be one of the steals of the draft thusfar at $2, hitting .315 with four homers, 18 RBI and a few swipes. Next year, I think I’m just staying away from this fucking team altogether. I don’t even like ‘em that much.
If I ever see any of you guys on the street, you owe me a pretzel or something.