Though it has been a fairly dismal Rotisserie season for me this year, my Sim teams are chugging along well enough such that my Scoresheet team, Tiger's Blood, did indeed make the playoffs.
It was a dogfight of a season, one I have documented in this space over the course of the campaign.
To refresh, Tiger's Blood was cruising along in first place in the Ruth division of the Murphy league into May, when things tightened up, there was a bloodletting, and my team fell to fourth - meaning last - in the division.
In the Head-to-Head format, we suffered a month's worth of sub-.500 weeks, but, due to the stiffness of the competition, we were never more than three games out, nor more than a couple of games under that .500 quality benchmark.
Britton may be a keeper
In fact, when the team began to push back up to the top of our division, at the end of August, Tiger's Blood was still in last, but with a mark of 72-65, two games behind first, which again demonstrates just how tight things were.
In the end, it was pitching, as my front troika of starters - Roy Halladay, Clayton Kershaw, and Shaun Marcum, augmented by Zach Britton, Carl Pavano, Josh Collmenter, and Dillon Gee - had enough as the season bore down to nudge ahead of my opponents the second to the last week of the season with a record of 5-1 over that seven day spread.
That was good enough for a sudden three game lead, and though we slipped to 2-4 the final week of the season, it was enough to hold first, with a record of 88-74, by a game over the second place Smell the Glove.
However, to illustrate just how tight things were at the end, the range from first to fourth in the Ruth division was eight games, with the Pari Doxicals hovering in last at 80-82.
The next closest division did have a tie for first, as in the Grove division, Kiss Me, Son of God, and the Gashouse Gorillas both wound up also at 88-74.
However, third place in the Grove division was eight games back, while Optioned to AAA finished last, 11 games behind. So, essentially, the spread from first to last in the Ruth division was tighter than the spread from first to second in the other five divisions.
Now, if you asked me what is the secret to winning, I have to look at my starting pitchers along with closer Drew Storen first.
And, I was able to freeze Albert Pujols, a guy who will help just about any team on earth.
But, aside from that, my 2011 draft picks of Michael Young and Michael Cuddyer, Alex Gordon, Brett Gardner, Erick Aybar, and Jemile Weeks (who replaced Gordon Beckham mid-season) tell the story, for they all had solid years. Well, OK, Young would have an MVP year were it not for the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera, and probably that Justin Verlander guy, who could win both a Cy Young and an MVP.
So, while flashy is fun, steady and workmanlike are ultimately what get a team to the prize.
For next year I am already plotting just who I can keep. Clearly, the big three pitchers of Halladay, Kershaw, and Marcum, are keepers, along with Britton, or Gee, or Collmenter (though Britton is the best bet).
In the league I can freeze only eight, so with Pujols, that makes five, so then the question is among Weeks, Gordon, and Gardner, or perhaps catcher Kurt Suzuki, or third base prospect Mike Moustakas.
But, this leaves Collmenter, Gee, Beckham, and probably Young as potential trade bait, and likely a couple from the above paragraph who did make the final cut.
Because in addition to strong pitching, two or three extra picks between rounds 19-24 are huge.
It is funny, though, how fine the line between making the postseason and not is. In 2010 my team - then named Timbertoes - finished 86-76, one game out of the playoffs. And, this year, 88-74 was good enough to get in.
Meaning every game, every at-bat, and every pitch really does count. And, that is what makes it fun.
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.
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.