When I started playing rotisserie ball back in 1988, my first league was an American League-only format that after five years became a mixed 12-team league, then adding three teams so that it became a 15-team mixed auction format by 1993, the Opening Day of Tuffy Rhodes
I ran among the best and most successful teams - Lawrence's Arabians - between the league's inception and when I left in 2004, having won three titles - including back-to-back wins in 1997-98, with five second-place and three third-place finishes during my tenure, and only four times did I not finish in the money.
I wound up leaving for several reasons, but when I was asked to join the mixed format XFL by Ron Shandler around 10 years back I was happy. That is because I had not really played in a 15-team keeper setup for a few years, and well, I had been pretty successful doing it, so I was psyched.
And since, as documented, I have struggled.
Part of the reason is that I think the competition in the XFL is tough. Aside from Monsieur Shandler, Gene McCaffrey, Steve Moyer, Peter Kreutzer, Brian Walton, Jeff Erickson, Trace Wood, Don Drooker and Jeff Winnick stand out - the latter pair of whom have five titles between them.
But, I have struggled in 15-team straight draft formats - like the NFBC - over the past few years as well. Not that I cannot finish fifth or sixth, but the chances are greater that I will finish around 11th than that I will finish second, let alone first.
So, I wonder what happened?
How has the game changed, or worse (or better?) how has my game changed so that my skill set has become diluted? If so have the plans and skills that used to work in the mixed format - and still serve me pretty well in the AL/NL only scenarios - now hopelessly out of date when dealing with a shallow format?
Well, I am not sure aside from the fact that I am trying to discard everything I knew, while approaching mixed leagues by deconstructing as much as possible.
It is pretty well documented that in the keeper XFL format, I drafted almost exclusive to youth last fall, taking the likes of Taylor Green, Eric Surkamp, Trayvon Robinson, Hector Sanchez, while picking up Lorenzo Cain, and Alejandro De Aza, during the expansion.
Now, this might seem a radical approach to an auction, but in a league where Yu Darvish was nabbed two years ago, knowing to succeed I had to truly rebuild from scratch and to the core, this was the only approach I could think of.
With other youngsters like Dustin Ackley, Ben Revere and Tyler Flowers on my active roster, and Jacob Turner, Nick Castellanos, Miguel Sano, and Corey Kluber on my reserves, I am hoping within a year or so three or four of these youngsters will arrive and be cheap.
Decent bargaining chip
In the mean time I have Albert Pujols and Roy Halladay to trade this year for two-to-three more underpriced up-and-comers, so with 10 good and youthful starters all between $3-$5, maybe that will bring me back to some form of respectability in the mixed auction format.
For now last place is and likely will be mine while I take it in the snoot and try to right the ship. But last year last place was also mine, so obviously trying something radical, like knowing my draft plan was on target by leaving almost $40 on the table, was called for.
In this year's NFBC slow draft, I drafted against every scarcity theory I have ever embraced, grabbing Pujols first, then taking Giancarlo Stanton second, and then Ben Zobrist - whom I can hide at second in addition to the outfield - third, trying to push the 75 homer threshold with my first three choices.
Of course for now, again, my squad is lingering near the bottom of the numbers, and of course the year is much too new for any sort of freak out.
At least yet.
The thing is when I entered the NFBC draft room, I was advised that I had a target on my back, and that is ok. I know there are fantasy players who are better than I. And, I know there are more than a few guys out there who think it would be a triumph to beat me.
On the flip, I do have a pretty well documented resume of success at a high level. And, just like any competition, a key to success is an ability to adjust, and that is what I am doing (well, what I am trying to do).
So, I while I don't mind being beaten fair and square, there is no way I am going to make the process easy on anyone.
Hey, now you can get me on Twitter @lawrmichaels!
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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.