Mine for gems
The Oakland Athletics are driving for their third consecutive American League West title and to go with it some post season play.
Surely the brains behind this current team, and basically all of the Athletics' success -- for which there have indeed been more than failures over the past 15 seasons -- lie with iconoclastic Billy Beane.
When once asked how he liked his job, Beane replied something to the effect of, "are you kidding? I get to play fantasy baseball for real."
Beane does have his admirers as well as his detractors, but the reality is he has a couple of personality traits that mark the GM from his counterparts.
Surely Billy is most identified with the Moneyball era, and whether you like what that fostered or not, the guy who was the focus of much of the fanfare -- Nick Swisher -- has wound up having more than a successful career both as a ball player and fantasy investment.
But, Billy -- who is a very smart guy -- is not afraid to look for a path to success dismissed or overlooked by others, for one, and he is then willing to follow that path through, irrespective of what the world thinks or says.
For as we moved into the 2014 season, the Angels and the Rangers were the teams garnering the respect and projections as the best in the division in what I think is baseball's toughest division.
It is easy to understand this. The Angels have Mike Trout and Albert Pujols while the Rangers have Adrian Beltre and Alex Rios and Prince Fielder.
Who are the Oakland equivalents? Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson.
Now, I am not close to knocking either player, for I believe Donaldson is now among the best hitters in the league if not the game and Moss is going to be good again for 25-plus homers this season.
If Oakland has anything close to a superstar these days, it is the very good Yoenis Cespedes, although the speedy and powerful left fielder has not hit either the .300 milestone like Donaldson or the 30-homer benchmark like Moss.
So, what road did Billy Beane carve, with one of the lower payrolls in his industry, to build one of the best teams when he lacks a marquee players?
Well, first he pays a lot of attention to pitching, knowing he can never have too much, and that talent might be easy to spot, but elusive to exploit.
More on how Beane's philosophy applies to fantasy....
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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