Fantasy Baseball Tumbling Dice: Pitching and outfield help (Rebuild, Part 1)

by Lawr Michaels, on September 18, 2012 @ 09:55:19 PDT


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As the season winds down, I am starting to get excited about my freeze lists in my keeper leagues, in particular in my Strat-O-Matic League and the XFL.

Philadelphia Phillies OF Domonic Brown
Brown to step up?

With the end of my 2012 last place torture, where I completely sacrificed this season so that I would have some kind of team in 2013, I can project and see if there is a structure for both teams.

This week I will look at The Berkeley Liberators, where I made trades for draft picks and prospects, but where in an immediate sense I need to address the outfield and my starting pitching.

For the record, the MWStrat League is a 30-team simulation setup, where we can draft and keep (or trade for and keep) players acquired in perpetuity.

The game is based upon the previous season's statistics, and our league enforces usage rules that penalize for use of a player in excess of 20% of the previous year.

Meaning Jesus Guzman, who has 284 at-bats so far this year, will be allowed 341 at-bats next year. However, should I overuse Guzman, say 350 times, my pending draft picks drop commensurate with overuse.

With Jonathan Lucroy catching, Ike Davis at first, Mark Ellis at second, Hanley Ramirez covering third, and Brandon Crawford at short, I am pretty well set in the infield for at least one more season. And Jimmy Paredes, along with Taylor Green, might actually wind up as infielders giving some future possibilities and bench strength now.

But, going into our draft, which will be in February and allow us to select 2012 first-year players, I will need some outfield and pitching help. Note that “first year” is loose in the Strat-O-Matic sense, with the likes of Mike Trout and Yonder Alonso being gone in last year's draft since the company manufactured cards for each player.

Of course, Bryce Harper and/or Matt Harvey are guys I would love on my roster, but chances are at best I will only be able to nab one of them. And even that is a slim shot.

In the meantime I have to look at what I have for basic at-bats and playing time in the outfield and on the mound for the coming year, before I draft.

And, the truth is, though I barely have enough at-bats among my flychasers to cover three outfield slots, what I have is better than I feared.

So, to start, we can take a look at the outfielders I can freeze going into next year, their batting numbers so far this year, and their projected playing time for me in 2013.

Player 2012 Stats
2012 PA
Projected 2013 PA
Jimmy Paredes .203-0-3
Collin Cowgill .270-1-9
Andruw Jones .197-13-32
Dave Sappelt .310-0-3
Jesus Guzman .255-7-41
Eric Young Jr. .316-4-15
Aubrey Huff .179-1-6
Trayvon Robinson .217-2-9
Domonic Brown .239-3-20
Totals/Avg 31 HRs, 128 RBIs

I like to think the most encouraging aspect of these guys is the potential for Cowgill, Brown, and Guzman to be close to full-timers in 2013, with Robinson and Young likely having decent bench roles. Sappelt and Paredes are uncertain, though the latter will have a chance on a rebuilding team (Huff along with Andruw are clearly nearing the end of their respective careers).

But essentially I could have a strong young outfield, even if I cannot nab Harper. Because the Liberators play in the National League, all the good American League youngsters are off limits, barring some kind of trade.

Meaning the next best possibility is Norichika Aoki and then things get slimmer.

Pitching is a bit more daunting, for there I have:

Player 2012 Stats
2012 IP
Projected 2013 IP
Ubaldo Jimenez 9-16, 5.43
Kevin Correia 10-9, 4.29
P.J. Walters 2-4, 6.70
Jeff Niemann 2-3, 3.08
Aaron Laffey 3-5, 4.55
Jhoulys Chacin 2-5, 4.86
Jonathan Sanchez 1-9, 8.07
Alex White 2-8, 5.15
Totals/Avg 31-59 W/L

As optimistic as I can be about my outfield, I have to worry seriously about my starting pitching (note my relief corps includes Ernesto Frieri, Carlos Marmol, and Josh Lindblom).

New York Mets SP Matt Harvey
Harvey a priority

I mean, when Correia and Laffey seem to be the best options, with Jimenez as an innings eater, and with Sanchez as useless, that says a lot. This is odd, for two years ago a five-man rotation of Jimenez, Chacin, Niemann, Sanchez, and Correia in such a deep format seemed pretty good. However, that does again demonstrate how fleeting pitching can be, year to year.

There is hope that White, Niemann, and Chacin could all come back from inexperience and/or injury, but if nothing else I will need arms simply to cover the extra 350 starting pitcher innings I will need into the coming season.

Worse, there does not appear to be a dominant potential arm among the group, whereas at least Brown and Guzman have 20-homer potential on the position player side.

Though Harvey would have limited innings, he still looks to me like the real deal, and one who will both improve and ideally be durable.

And, with Wade Miley and Kris Medlen gone last year, and the best looking prospects in the American League like Yu Darvish, Matt Moore, and Tommy Milone, pickings are thin for potential starters on the NL side.

Hence, Harvey needs the focus, with Michael Fiers and Drew Pomeranz as potential selections.

So, as I noted, 2013 should emerge as a solid step towards my rebuild, although I cannot expect the process to complete without one more rookie draft and/or a trade or two.

Still, it is fun. More important, what we learn in one format can inevitably help us in any other format.

And, of course, it is good to be shed of a losing year, looking once again forward to a cluster of successful seasons. Maybe even a title!

(Next week we can break down the XFL possibilities.)

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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