Fantasy Baseball Tumbling Dice: Tout starts swinging

by Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com on January 10, 2012 @ 08:05:33 PDT

 


Last week I started my return to baseball, KFFL, and the coming season looking at those league rule changes that bombard us this time of year.

I noted a couple of proposed rule changes in my MidWest Strat-O-Matic League, noting that I was not partial to either of the two suggestions.

Oakland Athletics SP Dallas Braden
Swing away ... or stream away

This week I want to present a change that was suggested up among the core group that presents Tout Wars every year. We discussed a rule change that I really like, and that is changing one of the outfield positions from outfield to "swing man."

Swing here means literally anything: even a pitcher.

That means a team can carry ten pitchers within a standard 23-man roster that usually affords for 14 position players and nine hurlers.

Of course this does change some things, in that it makes the utility position a strange cousin to the open market potential of the swing man.

Additionally, the use does potentially impact draft day, and bidding and position selection as if one uses the swing position carefully, an owner should be able to bid on anyone, anytime, similarly nominating any player any time.

No more "I have two catchers and a DH so I cannot nominate Jesus Montero" (unless I have really boxed myself in by indeed grabbing two catchers who can only play behind the dish and a true DH for my utility spot).

But, this rule change suggests a core change that should be embraced by fantasy players who like to make their contests emulate the game on the field as much as permits.

At its core this rule allows a team to add a pitcher or a hitter as they choose, something big league clubs must decide to do on a regular basis, and one that often makes or breaks the team and the season.

For sometimes just having an extra arm in the pen, let alone a plug-in starter for a week to help out a tired squad can be a boost, especially when that spot starter delivers six strong innings allowing a couple of runs, striking out three, walking none, and earning a win.

Just as sometimes a promoted bat can come up for ten days and hit .325-2-6 with a pair of steals and really fill a void.

So, as I see it, this rule change allows owners to try and take advantage of these trends, but more to the point, it allows a team that is really strong in one set of categories - say offense - to try and offset those riches by adding a pitcher at will and trying to keep the balance generally essential to fantasy success.

In some cases those hitting riches could involve in a swap of a valued hitter for a like arm. Or, use of the free agent pool, and FAAB, and owner's reserve list can also work to help an owner's rotation and hopeful exploitation of categories.

Further, I see this change potentially having an impact on the draft or auction.

At least using my drafting style as an example, in general I do try to buy players who will cost less than $30, and get some average, if somewhat dull production out of every spot.

So, though I may fill my roster, when filling the team, and then planning out my reserve list behind the actual squad, the possibility to stream my best bench hitter in and out week-to-week with my best bench pitcher is as alluring as it might prove to be both elusive and challenging.

Of course, if I am going to use myself as an example, it is those things indeed that make the game fun. And that, I am all for!

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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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