Fantasy Baseball Tumbling Dice: Stats or Instincts?

by Lawr Michaels, on May 15, 2012 @ 10:16:00 PDT


My late wife and dear friend Cathy Hedgecock used to say the reason that I was good at fantasy baseball was two-fold.

Tampa Bay Rays 2B/OF Ben Zobrist
Zzzzzzzz waking up

First, she offered, I have pretty good retention, so that I can read and absorb players and names and statistics better than your average human.

Second, she noted, I was not afraid to trust my instincts, essentially - in psychological terms - balancing the left brain/male/logical side with that right brain/female/intuitive side.

I am not sure if that is correct or not, but I always liked her analysis, and have for the most part hidden behind it for some time.

However, as natural as it seemed to her that I could surrender to these facets of my persona, it is not as easy as she may have thought.

For example, I was big on Kyle Seager coming out of spring training this year. Part of my fixation was rooted in having seen him play and hit, and really liking his swing and look. And part of it was based upon information I culled in the press box during the spring. It was there I was told, "He is a great line drive hitter and we have to get him into the lineup."

So, that info - half fact, half feeling - guided my desire, and I picked Seager up on just about every team I have.

On the other hand, for some reason I dismissed the likes of Bryan LaHair for pretty much the same reasons in reverse, and that proved to have been an error.

Of course it is pretty tough to nail all your draft picks correctly no matter what route you choose when assembling your team, but I have had one lesson reinforced this season, irrespective, and that is to trust those instincts, no matter what the source.

My case in point is my NFBC Slow Draft League (#44), in which mercifully my squad has slowly at least crawled from the depths to 71.5 points and at least the semblance of respectability.

Now, I say this because - as noted in this space before - I drafted out of the five slot in the league, and tried to go by that basic 75/75 getting the three-quarter mark of homers and swipes out of my first three picks.

Of course my game was thrown off to start by Albert Pujols slipping to me in that five slot, something essentially unheard of at least to start the season. But, with Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Miguel Cabrera, and Troy Tulowitzki being nabbed in the first four spots, there was Prince Albert.

Even with that I anguished over whether to take what the world would consider a "no-brainer." I struggled thinking about Evan Longoria, Robinson Cano, and Ian Kinsler. Part of my logic was rooted in wanting to fill those scarcity spots, and part that fear of not wanting a "sure thing" the year he hits the skids. And, believe me, as sure a bet as Pujols has been, doing what he did for three straight years, let alone five, and then ten is crazy, and at some point it was reasonable the great hitter run into a speed bump. Hence my intuitive fear.

For my second pick I grabbed Giancarlo Stanton, figuring between the Miami Marlins right fielder and Albert, I was already close to that 75 dinger baseline, and for my third pick went power/speed/scarcity with the Tampa Bay Rays' Ben Zobrist.

Well, obviously this means the core of my offense is really struggling, and the main thing that has pulled me up into the low 70s in points is Stanton's recent hot spate.

Now, of course I can find some consolation in knowing that aside from taking Josh Hamilton or Edwin Encarnacion with that first or second pick, chances are my slot in the standings would not be that much different.

Additionally, as Stanton has given my team the start of an offensive boost, Zobrist is kicking off the shackles of his early season slump, and if Albert busts out a la Stanton, I can start to pick up a chunk of the 30 or so offensive points I need to catch up with the leaders (just 18 of my total are hitting points, suggesting my pitching is indeed just fine).

But, the question is: How much less second guessing would I be doing had I followed my muse with those first picks, instead of going with the stats and logic?

I guess the answer is "the same."

Hey, now you can get me on Twitter @lawrmichaels!

You can also subscribe now to the Mastersball Platinum Package, and get the edge that has led to three Tout Wars titles, eight NFBC crowns, two Scoresheet Championship teams, a KFFL title, and a Fantasy Pro 911 title over the last three years.

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About Lawr Michaels,

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 as a statistician. Fantasy Baseball

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