Baseball is the oddest of sports.
No time limit.
The guy who calls the signals sits opposite all his teammates and the hitter.
A successful hitter fails 70% of the time, and a successful team loses 45% of the time.
There is an intricate and even somewhat lengthy (240 pages in the 2013 edition) rule book, yet every year we do indeed see some permutation we have never before witnessed.
Still, somehow, with years' worth of statistical data, exacted into some serious minutiae, the game is still basically impossible to predict.
Have you seen me?
Oh, from time to time there are fleeting certainties. Albert Pujols was the best and most consistent hitter in the universe. But "was" is the key word, and now that title belongs to Miguel Cabrera. The question is for how long, and more important, what other hitters are out there now who we think will finish with a better season?
Chris Davis, perhaps? Paul Goldschmidt or Carlos Gonzalez?
Which begs the rhetorical, where did Matt Kemp go? And Ryan Braun?
Worse yet, what if you blew your draft wad, via either a high pick or a lot of auction dollars, on Kemp or Braun, thinking they would out-produce Cargo or Goldschmidt or Davis? Let alone Pujols?
Well, I have to say that I am facing such a dilemma, so I feel your pain. And, with the season quickly reaching the midway point, there is cause for concern.
Of course there is time to catch up; however, it does mean with each passing day the same odds that made my squad seem predictably good on Opening Day are looking increasingly dismal.
My case in point is American League Tout -- a 12-team AL-only 5x5 auction format -- where I blew a load on the most dependable pitcher on earth over the past five years, Justin Verlander ($31).
This is a guy who over his nine-year career has a Cy Young and MVP, has led the league in wins twice, percentage twice, ERA once, starts twice, innings pitched three times and strikeouts three times, and despite his 8-5, 3.90 (1.381 WHIP) numbers this year over 97 innings, still has a career WHIP of 1.187 and ERA of 3.43.
Mind you my best Tout Wars teams always were propelled by a Verlander-profile starter: a horse who would give 220 innings, strike out 220 guys, win 15 games, and post a 1.22 WHIP.
For, an arm like that offsets a lot of less than stellar performances.
So, what can you do when such a player seriously under-performs?
I have two other throw-back league teams -- NL LABR and the NFBC Draft Champions -- unfortunately in a similar position, with deep enough rosters and good enough players. The problem is those same players are not delivering on that previously mentioned Opening Day optimism.
For both of these teams -- as I have written before -- have great pitching, but offense based upon Ryan Zimmerman, Ike Davis, Andre Ethier and Carlos Quentin.
The problem, at least at this time of year, is that it is not worth risking swapping Verlander or Zimmerman or Davis, because the potential return is too small, since the gamble largely rests with whom I am trading, as opposed to me.
And, while both the LABR and NFBC teams do have the best pitching in each circuit, trading from that surplus too soon could wind up costing more points than I could gain by trading anyway.
So, for now, the most prudent path is simply to try to be patient, at least until the trade deadline is on the horizon.
Mind you, within those same teams I noted that were successful, I did indeed make trade deadline swaps, dealing that No. 1 pitcher both times. The difference is that those previous seasons my stars were indeed performing as such.
So, for another month, I will have to suck it up. And hope that all these guys -- Ethier, Quentin, Zimmerman, the relegated Davis, and even Verlander -- finally have their hot streaks.
For so far in 2013, none has done as such. And, for better or worse, as they go, so go I.
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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.