It is indeed that time of the season where a fantasy owner must fish or, as they say, cut bait.
And, while I have a few teams that are flat-out rebuilding this year, and one that is a very long shot (NL LABR), my Tout Wars American League is exactly where I like to be this time of year: fifth place.
Lawr will see more Moreland
Fifth place, with 70 points, 19.5 behind the very tough Larry Schechter, who has pretty much led the league since Opening Day, might not sound too optimistic, but I am really comfortable with the slot, the prospects, and holding that position in throwbacks leagues.
"Why?" you may wonder.
Well, for a few reasons.
First, for essentially the first six weeks of the season my squad was languishing near the bottom of the standings, with roughly 40-50 points while Monsieur Schechter was toddling forward with around 105 points.
But, in the interim, Rob Leibowitz, Andy Behrens and team Rick Wolf/Glenn Colton were all bubbling around in the second and third slots, only now to be usurped by the dangerous Chris Liss (75.5), Jason Collette (72.5), and Jeff Erickson (71.5) at present, holding second through fourth, respectively.
What makes me feel good about my basic chances, hanging behind these four very good players starts with basically Weeks 6-12, when my hitters like Mitch Moreland and Dayan Viciedo got red hot, and along with the rest of my squad jumped my batting average from .212 to .240, and pushed me from 11th in home runs to a high of sixth.
And, though I am not too optimistic my team will pick up any more points in batting average (I sit at .240, while Chris Liss' squad is next above me at .244, but four points in average can be a tough climb at this point), just a ten-homer surge for my team over the rest of the league would be worth four points, and likely two more points in runs and three in RBI.
Furthermore, with 80 steals - tied with Jeff Erickson for third - with Quintin Berry, Michael Saunders, and Ben Revere on board, I could conceivably grab 1.5 more hitting points, meaning 10.5 offensive points loom.
The tough part here is though I would jump Liss, Erickson, and Collette in some of the above categories, Schechter's offense might be too strong for me to approach. Although, much of Larry's early push was due to Josh Hamilton, whom Schechter recently swapped for Felix Hernandez, so he is vulnerable to other teams with a better offensive base than me.
However, when it comes to pitching, my squad could indeed be dangerous.
At present we reside at fourth in saves, a slot that is probably safe as I lead the next closest team by eight conversions, but with Fernando Rodney aboard, should be able to hold the place.
Similarly I am third in ERA and fourth in WHIP, slots that are probably fairly steady, with at best a shot at gaining a couple of points, although the possibility of Roy Oswalt melting down as he did three starts ago (4.2 innings, 13 hits, a walk, and nine runs) could cost me a few points.
However, I have moved up to this slot with Derek Holland, CC Sabathia, Brandon McCarthy, and Jeff Niemann all on the DL. And, while it is true that Sabathia's stay was short, not so the other guys.
However, the fact that I added Oswalt (via trade for Jose Valverde) and Travis Blackley, while somewhat less erratic Luke Hochevar has gotten it more together, means I could go into the final six weeks with seven starting pitchers.
Better, all these guys have been historically stronger during the second half, albeit some with a smaller sample size than I would like. But even beyond that I have David Phelps and my choice of Vinnie Pestano, Vicente Padilla and Boone Logan, I have coverage.
Better, before my guys went out on the DL, I was second in whiffs, and I now hold seventh. However, with a full staff, second place and four more points are completely reasonable.
As for wins - the most elusive of fantasy stats - with seven starters going out there on a regular basis, on basically solid and contending major league teams, I could conceivably move into first, just five wins ahead, and that spot is indeed owned by Mr. Shechter.
Meaning that could be 5.5 points, and with four strikeout points, and with the 10.5 potential offensive points out there, that is worth 16, meaning a slip any of the categories puts me in first place.
Now, I realize I need a bit of a harmonic convergence, but I am indeed getting my full squad back a player every few days, and this weekend I can add Moreland to the active list, adding to the possibilities of my offense picking up what I need.
Not to mention, the last month my team offense has largely been marking time, meaning they are due for a hot streak. For like it or not, every team has a couple during the season.
Which brings me to the final point, and that is indeed timing. I do need my team to get hot, certainly, and they are poised, but winning a baseball league - or just about any title for that matter - is largely a function of being hot at the right time.
It looks like we have everything to make it happen.
It is almost like I planned it that way.
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.