Fantasy Baseball Tumbling Dice: First-Round Woes and Woo-Hoos!

by Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com on June 26, 2012 @ 09:42:37 PDT

 


I am always curious just how important first-round picks are relative to our ultimate finish in the standings, for I have long felt many more pennants are won with the likes of Melky Cabrera and R.A. Dickey drafted at the correct time than taking Matt Kemp over Jacoby Ellsbury in the first round.

So, I took a look at the two draft leagues in which I play this year - the NFBC slow draft and keep, and the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) Experts contest - to see just how much impact that first-round pick use, or lack of, had in each.

Part of my curiosity is rooted in the injury factor, for in the first round of the NFBC, Kemp, Troy Tulowitzki, Ellsbury and Evan Longoria were all first-rounders who at present are similarly down for some kind of count.

So, here are the standings as of the morning of Sunday, June 24, with the first-round pick of each team noted in parentheses:

  1. Team Brady, 106 (Ryan Braun, #7)
  2. shock therapy, 92 (Robinson Cano, #9)
  3. Gashouse Gang, 92 (Jose Bautista, #8)
  4. SLOWMOJO 1, 88 (Adrian Gonzalez, #6)
  5. Team Scott, 86.5 (Miguel Cabrera, #3)
  6. Choo Legit to Quit, 84 (Troy Tulowitzki, #4)
  7. Baseline Tramplers, 84 (Jacoby Ellsbury, #12)
  8. Team WALL, 81.5 (Evan Longoria, #15)
  9. Bombtrack!, 77 (Carlos Gonzalez, #11)
  10. Den's Dawgs, 76.5 (Hanley Ramirez, #14)
  11. Lil Katt Williams, 72 (Matt Kemp, #2)
  12. lawr of averages, 70 (Albert Pujols., #5)
  13. Darth Vader, 70 (Justin Upton, #1)
  14. Diggy Baseball, 60.5 (Joey Votto, #10)
  15. Nutty Scrats, 59.5 (Prince Fielder, #13)

In the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, where we drafted on Jan. 17, when Ryan Braun's 2012 status was still as up in the air, the standings in the 13-team format as of Sunday - with the team's #1 selection also in parentheses - were as follows:

  1. USA Today, 101.5 (Matt Kemp, #3)
  2. Rotowire, 92.5 (Adrian Gonzalez, #6)
  3. Rotoworld/Full Moon, 86.0 (Joey Votto, #8)
  4. Mastersball, 82.0 (Jacoby Ellsbury, #12)
  5. SiriusXM, 82.0 (Evan Longoria, #10)
  6. Fantasy Sharks, 79 (Jose Bautista, #5)
  7. STATS Inc./NFBC, 68.5 (Miguel Cabrera, #4)
  8. Fantistics, 58.0 (Troy Tulowitzki, #1)
  9. CDM Sports/Godfather of Fantasy, 57.5 (Carlos Gonzalez, #9)
  10. KFFL, 57.0 (Albert Pujols, #2)
  11. Fantasy Alarm, 57.0 (Hanley Ramirez, #11)
  12. Baseball HQ, 53.0 (Robinson Cano, #7)
  13. CBS, 36.0 (Prince Fielder, #13)

While certainly a 13-team versus a 15-team setup does make a difference, it is curious how neither team with the #1 selection - Tulo in the FSTA, and Upton in NFBC - is faring so well.

However, overcoming injuries is more than doable, as Ray Flowers' SiriusXM team is tied with Lord Zola and my Mastersball team for fourth in the FSTA despite virtually no contributions from either's first-rounder.

That begs the question: Would our squads be duking it out for first were our top choices healthier?

I suspect the answer would be no, as again looking at the FSTA standings, Howard Kamen's USA Today team is in first despite a lot of lost time to their first-rounder, Kemp. (In fairness, Howard did get some pretty good production from his outfielder before he went down.)

In the NFBC, though, the Lil Kat Williams squad, which also nabbed Kemp as the second selection overall, is struggling in 11th place despite that same production.

But, perhaps the most influential pick was Braun, whom Chris Liss gambled on in the third round of the FSTA (Chris' Rotowire team is currently in second), while Team Brady, who selected the Brewers' outfielder #7 overall, is in first place.

Ultimately, looking at picks and standings in this vein is akin to opening up the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Baseball: Once I open a page, that means three to four hours of lost time chasing statistics and playing six degrees of Al Oliver statistics separation.

I think the real lesson we can glean from these standings, however, is that a winning team constitutes a lot more than a first-round stud.

For example, the USA Today squad is holding first a lot more as a result of the fine results from Paul Konerko and Carlos Beltran, along with super prospect Mike Trout.

Furthermore, when you look at the team's pitching, Tim Lincecum is its #1 starter. But, it is the fine contributions of Dickey and Jordan Zimmerman that have contributed to Team USA Today's 43 pitching points, keeping it atop the heap.

As with any successful organization: Balance is the key to success.

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, 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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