Fantasy Baseball Tumbling Dice: This is it

by Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com on August 30, 2011 @ 07:42:53 PDT

 


No, I am not thinking so much Michael Jackson with the above title as I am that this week is crunch time in the League of Alternative Baseball Reality, or LABR.

As noted a month ago my team was happily atop the league, holding an 8-10 point lead, pretty much a slot the team had held for months.

Today, as I write, we are in fourth place, with 74 points, 13 behind leader Chris Liss, seven back of the NFBC team of Greg Ambrosious and Shawn Childs, a half point behind Rotoworld's Glenn Colton and Rick Wolfe, playing leap frog with Nick Minnix who calls KFFL home.

In a week roster expansion will be in full gear, and I could lose at-bats if not innings and putting together any kind of a final push becomes all the more difficult. If, however there is a week the team and I can climb back up and earn points, this is it.

Chicago White Sox 1B/OF Dayan Viciedo
Waiting for the fine Cuban

Now, that might sound like a slender reed on which to hang, and, well, I have to remain optimistic, however, I do have some reasons for this hopefulness.

First, four of my starting pitchers - Jerome Williams, Jeremy Guthrie, Mark Buehrle, and CC Sabathia - are all set four double starts this cycle.

Second, Dayan Viciedo was promoted by the White Sox over the past week. Now, I have been waiting for this since I bought the big hitting Cuban refugee at the draft for five bucks.

I truly thought the young third baseman who hit .305-5-13 last year over 38 big league games would migrate to U.S. Cellular along with his rookie brethren of 2011 like Dustin Ackley and Brett Lawrie.

But, the Sox decided to convert Viciedo to the outfield at Charlotte, in the International League, where the now 22-year-old hit .296-20-76 over 454 at-bats. Better yet he managed a solid 45 walks to 83 whiffs, and though that is not a ton of walks, neither is it a scary number of whiffs. Meaning he makes contact, as the .364 OBP he earned this season confirms (last year his major league OBP was .321, largely thanks to two walks to 25 strikeouts).

Viciedo homered Sunday and last night banged a couple of more hits and stole a base, and well, one hot hand makes all the rest of one's team that much better.

Finally, my team smoked for four months, building a lead, then getting colder than cold over the next four week cycle. So, well, we are due.

I have written many times that winning anything - be it a poker tournament, a Super Bowl title, or a spelling bee - is largely a factor of being hot at the right time.

And, well, we are due to get hot, just like hopefully in chasing us so long now maybe teams Rotowire, Rotoworld, NFBC, and KFFL will hit a speed bump and give my squad an opening.

Of course, this is no easy task, and sometimes last minute heroics are requisite, but I have been there before on both the winning and losing end.

However, this experience of safely leading, and then hitting seemingly unstoppable skids reinforces exactly why I would rather not lead the league over the first months of the season.

Because, it is so easy to take one's team, and subsequent moves for granted when on top of the heap, yet the perspective from below first place, and related struggle is altogether different.

As for my team, that crunch time is here. And, just between you and me, I believe in them.

See more of Lawr's work, including the Hotpage (published each Monday) and Bed Goes Up, Bed Goes Down (each Saturday), along with the work of Todd Zola, Brian Walton, and the Mastersball team at www.mastersball.com.

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About Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com

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.

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