Fantasy Baseball's Tumbling Dice: That's Not Dreck - You Are in a Deep League

by Lawr Michaels, on March 18, 2014 @ 09:29:25 PDT


I am not sure if it is about expectations, but as my Murphy League Scoresheet Draft started a little after 11 a.m. last Saturday, there were a handful of players I thought would fall to me for a first pick.

Of course in fantasy drafts context is everything, so when I say my first pick, it was really my ninth selection with an asterisk.

The ninth means each of the 24 teams in the head-to-head contest can freeze up to eight players from year to year, and the asterisk means we can each hold on to up to three prospects; however, those three players all constitute 19th-round picks. That means each team can trade their 19th-rounder to another team for a player or another pick in the 35-round marathon each year.

What that means is if we all kept the max number of allowable players, we would still draft 384 bodies over the course of the afternoon.

Oakland Athletics SP Scott Kazmir
Consolation in Kazmir?

However -- and you knew there was a catch -- we can keep fewer than eight if we choose, thus the keepers are known as a "soft eight." What that means is if an owner thinks he has fewer than eight solid keepers, that is fine.

The result is that owners with fewer than eight freezes can select from the drops of the teams who had more than eight desirables, but were forced to make tough choices.

For example, I was on the bubble between shortstop Erick Aybar and outfielder Alex Gordon and made the decision of keeping Gordon simply because the Royals fly-chaser offers more offense.

However, in the Murphy setup, which pits nine-man rosters against one another, and where defense counts, having a guy like Aybar is not a bad thing.

This year, as noted above, I had my eye on a number of names. Marco Estrada, Kole Calhoun, and Hector Santiago were all intriguing players tossed back in the pool prior to the 2014 draft, so I imagined like in 2013, when I held on to only seven regulars.

Who was my No. 8 pick last year as I filled out my "soft eight"? Alex Cobb.

Hence, as the draft commenced, it did not seem unreasonable that I could nab one or two of the guys I coveted to help fill out my lineup and rotation, where I needed a shortstop, a couple of outfielders, and two starting pitchers to get my basic daily roster down.


They were all way gone by the time I got my first selection, 16 picks into the ninth round. In fact Yordano Ventura, whom I also had deluded myself might survive, was similarly in the serious rearview.

I did collect Aybar back with my first selection, but 14 picks later, when I got my second pick, I had to grab a fourth starter, my dreams of Santiago and Estrada had to be mollified by R.A. Dickey.


Not that I dislike the interesting Toronto pitcher, or even think he is a bad pick. He is just not the kind of guy I generally lean to because he is older, with a sort of trick pitch. I would rather have someone younger who throws really hard.

Building a strong five-man rotation is essential in the Murphy format, so by the time my next selection came, 32 picks later, I knew I had to grab a fifth starter and then move on to the more bounteous category of outfielders.

I am almost ashamed to say that my No. 5 starter pick was Scott Kazmir.

Now, I don't know why, since Kazmir, at 29, is younger than Dickey, and with 162 strikeouts over 158 innings last year, he throws hard enough. In fact, pitching in Oakland, having seemingly returned to the land of the live arms, Kazmir should be exactly the kind of guy I would want.

Still, Kazmir is hardly a Hector Santiago or even a Yordano Ventura.

The reality is by the time I plucked Scotty from the player heap in the 11th round, 260 players -- including those prospects -- were gone.

In fact, as the likes of Jordy Mercer and Jose Tabata and Joe Nathan were announced as possessions of my league mates, I heard the same reticence and fear I felt in getting Kazmir and Dickey in the voices of my fellow owners.

Now, I have to say that Murphy is a very deep league, and it is a very difficult league as well. And, though I have had good success over five years, even making it to the World Series twice, I have never won.

Furthermore, playing in tough leagues, where I had to grab Jordan Pacheco as a potential back-up first baseman to Albert Pujols and catcher to Jonathan Lucroy, is important to me.

I want the game to be competitive, and I love it when the reality of needing bench players of more marginal skill is important to winning. And, each team has to have those guys or risk Scoresheet filling a hole resulting from an injury with "Triple-A Shortstop," the guy I had a few years back when Aybar got hurt and I had no sub on my bench.

So, I guess the bottom line is that as funky or disappointed as I feel with my new acquisitions, I still fleshed out a competitive roster of starters with some backups and a team that is OK.

I have a pitching rotation that has Clayton Kershaw, Tony Cingrani, and Cobb at the top, with Dickey and Kazmir at the bottom, and all in all that is not nearly as bad as it felt at the time.

Such is the price of trying to emulate reality.

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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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