Fantasy Baseball's Tumbling Dice: Here We Go Again

by Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com on April 8, 2014 @ 08:50:06 PDT

 

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CC Sabathia, SP, New York Yankees
Will he be smiling by summertime?

Ever see the fanciful 1949 film It Happens Every Spring, in which Ray Milland is an egg-headed, die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan? The crux of the story is Milland -- aka Professor Vernon K. Simpson -- is a baseball nut, who in the throes of an experiment gone awry creates a substance that repels wood.

That means no one can hit his pitches, no matter how fast or slow, and the Professor drops out, quite literally cons his way onto the St. Louis team and, with the substance, helps the team win the pennant.

I guess the essence, though, is the title of the film, where the words "wait till next year" fade into the hope of a new beginning for all of us enamored with the magic of the game.

Sadly, though, just as we are hopeful with the first pitch, it is easy to become disillusioned with a few bad games and poor performances.

And just as we are all optimistic like Professor Simpson on draft day, it doesn't take much for a fantasy owner to lose faith in early desperation.

So let's look at a handful of pitchers who may be over- or undervalued by owners following the first week of play and see if there is anything to glean.

I want to start with the Rodney Dangerfield of fantasy pitchers, Mark Buehrle. Over his 15-year career, Buehrle has averaged 35 starts, 222 innings, a 3.83 ERA, and a 1.27 WHIP per season. What people hate is he only struck out 128 hitters as a mean. Buehrle began 2014 with 8 2/3 innings of four-hit, shutout ball, which is great, and the lefty usually has a great game like this the first month each season.

Still, expect the 35-year old to finish up right around the numbers noted. That means his savvy owners can quietly smile as to how cheap he was for a fifth or sixth starter. Especially when your league mates are scrambling trying to replace Tanner Scheppers with Tanner Scheppers hoping to fill a void.

Toast. That was dependable CC Sabathia after his first start this year. That word -- "dependable" -- is tough for a guy who used to be dominant and is still just 33. CC did pitch better in his second start, but the truth is last year in his first start CC went five innings and allowed four runs, and in 2012 surrendered five runs over his first six innings. Meaning a first start is usually not always his best.

Still, like Buehrle, CC is a horse, having thrown more than 200 innings every season since 2006 and never under 180 frames over his 14 years in The Show. CC's ERA (4.78) and WHIP (1.37) were up last year, but he also whiffed 175 hitters over 211 innings. I think he is simply adjusting to pitching, now as the art of a veteran, and those his numbers won't be commensurate with his prime, closer to the 15-10, 4.03 season he had with the Tribe in 2005 is reasonable. Most important, he goes out there and does his job -- just a little more quietly these days.

Click for some baffling Bay Area arms....

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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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