Fantasy Baseball Tumbling Dice: The times they are a changin' (indeed)

by Lawr Michaels, on June 14, 2011 @ 09:07:23 PDT


Last December, Brian DewBerry-Jones, the curator of my Scoresheet League, initiated the Annual Murphy Mock draft. The Murphy Mock - named for the Murphy League Brian administers - is a 22-team, 14-round exercise that serves a few purposes.

The Mock, which is rooted on building a team in a keeper context (although how many players, or for how long we may keep them has never been defined) does indeed whet our appetites for the coming season, and prepares us for the wave of mocks ahead.

It also, for better or worse, gives a first look at just how players are valued, at least in the eyes of the roto opposition.

Now, I do enjoy the mock in a strange way: mostly because since there are vague parameters, the results and related reasoning are similarly vague.

Chicago White Sox OF Dayan Viciedo
Viciedo on his way, eventually

As an example, I selected Carl Crawford with the 38th pick of the draft, just after Matt Cain and before Mike Stanton, surely later than I thought the outfielder would go when we started.

This draft does value prospects above all else. For example, Carlos Santana was the first pick of the second round, and Bryce Harper was the fifth selection of the third round.

And, those are OK picks, but in theory, the ability for either of these players to help win a title this year seemed remote, despite Santana's fine but brief debut in 2010.

Well, Bill Sanders, Team #22, selected the Royals prospect Eric Hosmer with the first pick of the sixth round. That was ahead of Brandon Phillips, Curtis Granderson, and Shaun Marcum (remember, we are only drafting 14 players).

Personally, I thought it was a crazy pick, not that Hosmer was not a fine prospect; however, with Kila Ka'aihue the incumbent at first, and Alex Gordon looking for a place, not to mention Billy Butler in tow, taking Hosmer was not to be much help in 2011.

In fact at the time, I wrote to the league, betting anyone $10 that Hosmer would not see major league daylight until September call-ups, if then.

Well, I only got one taker (but only for a buck) showing these guys are not necessarily the gamblers their picks suggest when the bullet hits the bone. However, in this instance, Bill was definitely right with his pick, and I was lucky to get away $1 poorer for the experience.

The truth is, as witnessed by the incredible rush of fabulous prospects coming forth faster and faster each year, maybe Bill's prescience - and I suppose those seemingly crazy picks of the rest of the league - are smarter than they used to be.

For, just over the past week, Mike Moustakas, Jemile Weeks, Anthony Rizzo, Dee Gordon, and Cord Phelps - all top prospects - arrived at The Show, ahead of schedule, displacing names like Wilson Betemit and Rafael Furcal and Mark Ellis.

Recently, my partner and friend Brian Walton has also written about this, noting that in the NL Tout Wars league, all the coming prospects, like Jordan Lyles and Rizzo, were long gone, and that owners were using their FAAB money and weekly reserve moves to gobble up the rest of the top minor leaguers.

Per the rules, they would then leave the player on their active roster for the week, and then stash the player back on their reserve list for future use.

The funny thing is in LABR, I wound up with Dayan Viciedo during the draft for $5, and in Tout I got Dustin Ackley for $8. Stranger, last week, when I noticed in AL Tout Ron Shandler had dropped Viciedo from his reserve list, I put in a $9 FAAB bid for him, as well as a $25 shot at Weeks (Jason Grey got him with a $38 Vickrey bid).

My thinking was, like those other young players quickly advanced this year, both Viciedo - whom I did get in Tout - and Ackley will soon - and I mean this month - be called to the majors and given some serious playing time, at least to start.

And, that makes both my LABR and Tout teams, both of which are in contention, that much stronger. Not to mention if I have Ackley and Viciedo, no one else does.

One of the things I have always hung my own fantasy success with is in selecting undervalued, almost boring players, as the core. Guys like A.J. Burnett and Cody Ross may not put up killer numbers, but they are steady and contribute, and well, since they are best not sexy. And, they can be had for less than a shiny prospect as often as not (I paid $8 for Burnett in LABR, five less than Moustakas and a dollar more than Ackley).

Still, the more the Brandon Belts and Danny Duffys get advanced to The Show earlier than their projected ETA, the saner all the Murphy Mock guys are looking these days.

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About Lawr Michaels,

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 as a statistician. Fantasy Baseball

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