I love statistics. Don't get me wrong.
But, I think sometimes those of us seeking success in the fantasy universe spend too much time quantifying and crunching looking for answers to the championship riddle.
Now again I love stats, especially baseball ones. When I was first collecting baseball cards, in 1960, I would stare at the backs for hours, and for some reason, everything stuck in my head. In fact some of my friends used to accuse me of memorizing the backs (as if I would do such a thing on purpose).
I still love to look at the numbers, although I try to be careful when breaking my McMillan out because researching one thing leads to another and the next thing I know three hours have shot by with the book in my lap.
Of course over the years my perceptions of which stats are meaningful have changed, but when it comes down to it, walks, and strikeouts, and home runs are the ones I look to, both for pitchers and hitters. Hitters who walk as much as they strike out, and hit with power, are usually good. Pitchers who strike out a batter an inning, whiff at least twice as many they walk, and can keep the home runs allowed to about one every 10 innings are similarly usually good.
Did PETCO make that big a diff?
And, though I do think things like the quality of the team, the number of years of professional and major league play, and what a player's home park is like are interesting, I don't pay too much attention to those factors, any more than I care about Average Draft Position (ADP), or projections.
But, I also think there is another factor to consider in a player and that is can the guy play ball?
Of course everyone in the majors can play ball, but even within the hierarchy of major league baseball, there are strata of skill. For instance, Albert Pujols and Roy Halladay are pretty much the best hitter and pitcher.
True there are many other great hitters (Miguel Cabrera and Ichiro Suzuki) and there are other great pitchers (Tim Lincecum and Felix Hernandez), and those guys we think of as draftable over the first three rounds of a 15-team NFBC mixed format.
Then there is the next level of Paul Konerkos and Matt Cains, followed a few rounds later by the Ervin Santanas and Mitch Morelands.
And so on. As often as not players can jump a level, as Carlos Gonzalez did after his terrific 2010, or drop as Matt Kemp did during his equally horrific 2010.
But, the key to picking out a real star is they deliver the goods every year, and for the most part always have. Those guys can really play.
I think of Jake Peavy as one of those players, so it puzzled me when the right-hander was traded to the Chicago White Sox, and with the trip to the Midwest came prophecies of doom.
True, old Jake has had his issues lately, but it seemed the bulk of the fantasy world suggested leaving pitcher friendly PETCO for hitter friendly U.S. Cellular would be troublesome.
In 2009, when Peavy went to Chicago, injured nonetheless, he left behind a serious body of those stats. Between 2002 and 2009 - ages 21 to 28 for Jake - he went 92-68 over 1,342 2/3 San Diego innings, striking out 1,348 and walking 435, while allowing 1,158 hits (1.15 WHIP).
To me those numbers said he could really play, and I bid all $71 of my FAAB dollars in Tout Wars on him when Peavy was traded to the AL, outbidding the next closest by $30 bucks. I only got three starts, but the 3-0, 1.35 marks with 18 strikeouts helped me win my second Tout title.
Because Peavy had become undervalued in the 2010 draft I spent just $17 to get the guy in what was admittedly a bad investment. Not so much for how Peavy pitched, for though he was 7-6, 4.83, his ratio was a solid 1.23, and he struck out 93 over 107 innings. Better, over the month of June, just before he was injured for the remainder of the season, Jake went 3-2, 1.75, with an 0.91 ratio. The problem was I just did not get the full year of his play.
Peavy was again devalued this year, now not just because of the move to U.S. Cellular, but the vagueness of his injuries. So again this year I spent $14 in Tout Wars, and the next day my pitcher was injured.
Ten days ago I got Jake back, and though his first start was shaky (four runs over six innings), on May 18 he was brilliant with a complete game three-hit shutout over the hot-hitting Cleveland Indians.
At this point I am feeling OK that Peavy will be OK for the rest of the season. He is still just 29 years old, and winning 10 or so games, striking out a hitter an inning, and notching a 3.50 ERA or so over 135 innings sounds fine.
I have had this faith in Jake Peavy because I think a good pitcher can pitch anywhere, just like a good hitter can hit anywhere.
In other words, the guy can play.
Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.
Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.