As I settled into my seat at the Coliseum last Friday, anticipating the start of the Indians
game, my mate Jeff Specific looked at me forlornly and asked, "Do you know what my team's OPS is?" and as I shook my head, he responded in kind and said, ".645."
"Well," I returned, "what is my Tout Wars team batting average?" Jeff, trying to be ridiculous said ".212" pretty assertively, figuring no team could be that bad, but I was able to undercut, stating the truth at .206.
.206. Yes, that is correct. Twenty-four full batting average points below second-to-last place and worth one measly point.
Too soon to bail on Youk
Believe me, every time I think of that number, or the .219 average my NL LABR team sports (that one is good for two points: twice as many as Tout) it just worries me at the prospect of 23 more weeks hanging at the bottom of the standings.
While it is very early in the year to be thinking about the disposition of our teams that far out, there are indicators that you might scrutinize in anticipation of making a move in May should the tide stay unturned.
And, as it happens, my Tout AL and LABR NL teams do make good examples of how I believe we should assess this.
In Tout, my team is indeed hovering near the bottom thanks to a lousy average; however, though my team has only 14 homers (11th), we are just five taters away from fourth place. Meanwhile, my 69 each in runs and RBIs is also second from the bottom, but is also just 11 off the fourth place slot of 80.
Which means despite my terrible average, my team is not that far off in the other big offensive stats, and with hitters like Erick Aybar, Ben Zobrist, Mitch Moreland, and Ryan Raburn on my squad I have to think that average - once it kicks into gear - will push the homers and runs enough to take advantage of some of the other offensive counting stats.
For a push to fourth in those three categories would be worth a whopping 27 points.
On the hill, I am near the bottom of the pack in wins and ERA, with just six wins (four points) and an unspectacular ERA of 4.66 (five points); however, my squad is third in saves, and sixth in WHIP (1.32) and first in strikeouts (127), with the big issue being the control of Justin Masterson, CC Sabathia, and Derek Holland, all of whom show better control as the season progresses.
Which suggests, as with my hitting, I have the horses and just need to be patient, allowing the guys to put up their career norms, and all will be OK.
On the other hand, my NL LABR team is second-to-last hitting .219, but we are roughly 25 RBIs and runs each behind fourth place while hanging eight dingers off the fourth place slot.
And, though my pitchers are good with nine wins, a 3.08 ERA and 114 strikeouts (all good for fourth), while hanging first in WHIP (1.08), it would take more than a solid hitting week for me to pick up 15 points or so in offense, while my pitchers would have to continue or improve their already great numbers to move up among the top teams.
Since my offense is good - however, it is lacking a dominant player, like Matt Kemp or Joey Votto - I have to realistically think about trading one of my good starters for a bat to help make up the difference.
More important, I also have to think about making a swap like this sooner, rather than later, for the longer we linger that many points behind the leaders, the lesser the chances we can pick up points.
Now, of course it is early as noted, and a couple of good weeks can make up all the deficits noted above, but that is provided your league mates do not also have big weeks at the same time.
So, while I would never suggest trading before a couple of weeks into May, you should still be honestly assessing what you have and what they accomplish - albeit in the context of just a few weeks of at-bats, meaning don't dump Kevin Youkilis yet - plotting the kind of moves you will need to make at the appropriate time.
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.