Fantasy baseball and the World Baseball Classic: a meditation

      January 14, 2013 @ 17:44:10 PDT

San Francisco Giants C Buster Posey
Posey passed

On both of my radio spots today (Mark Bloom, aka Dr. Roto, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio; and the Joel Henard-Albert Lang party on Blog Talk Radio - listen to both shows!), I was asked about how I value players that will participate in the World Baseball Classic. Staring at my blank Word screen, I figured, why not expand on that.

You should be more inclined to answer this as you get closer to your draft and can absorb tangible results from tournament play. Seeing how said commodities perform in the international time-biding tussle may reveal a strength or weakness that, to a degree, could predict future skills.

Pitchers usually garner the most skepticism from me overall, let alone those that will be upping their effort from their spring tries this year. Extra pitches are extra pitches, but those in game situations in which a pitcher may throw more than his get-back-in-shape allotment may throw off a preseason routine. And you know how pitchers get by on their routines.

It's also fair to guess that a dynamite performance against global competition might put a former no-namer on the fantasy radar, but keep in mind the (often weaker) lineups many hurlers will face, and the frequent fluke nature of small sample sizes. But if a tosser is unveiling, say, a new pitch or approach, or goes off against a stacked club like the USA or Dominican Republic, that's something to watch.

Of course, guys like Ryan Braun have been consistent enough that a non-injury stretch won't affect him. You're not suddenly staying away from Craig Kimbrel because of his mere presence on America's roster.

If it's a hobbled player like Troy Tulowitzki or Joey Votto, though, you could take either perspective: You may be happy that they're getting a warmup before the season starts, so they can shake off some rust. However, wasting what many will label as useless at-bats getting back in the swing could put off many.

Tulo has been injured so many times that his owners shouldn't want him spending extra energy running hard out of the box, sliding into second, diving for balls in the field, etc. A shortstop of his caliber has little to add to his fantasy resume by competing in the WBC, and he's better off resting.

The "get to the point" answer says to research the player's performance in the event; health reports before, during and following the games; and workload leading up to the competition. And most importantly, keep a WBC berth in perspective as a mere part of the player analysis process and not the end-all, be-all of determining draftability.

We'll have our updated thoughts on the participants as we approach the pick 'em parties.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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