For the three years that I’ve been playing competitive fantasy baseball, I’ve had nothing but success. My first year playing in 2008, I rode first place pretty much all year long in a competitive 14-team league and then lost in the finals against the 6th seed team, which was the last seed. He had Mike Jacobs and Jorge Cantu who both hit grand slams that week which really killed me. Anyway, for a first timer in 08, making the championship game was an accomplishment in itself. The next year in 2009, I made the playoffs as the 3 seed in a competitive, 14-teamer and won the championship. I went on to repeat in 2010 and won the gold cup again.
After that third finals appearance in a row, I realized that maybe I had a template for consistent fantasy baseball success and that was to have great hitting and great pitching. I noticed that a lot of teams I was playing with had either phenomenal hitting and get-me-over pitching, or phenomenal pitching and get-me-over hitting. Those were the guys either not making playoffs or getting eliminated in the playoffs by me and other worthy teams. I realized that you can’t just have one or the other. You need them both—strong hitting and strong pitching. That way, you are indefensible and multi-dimensional. If your hitting sucks, then your pitching will back you up and vice versa.
This year however, in the 2011 fantasy baseball season, I tried a little something different just to see if there is another way of winning besides being dominant on both facets of the game. In my current 16-team league, I drafted all batters through the first 6 rounds and then ended up taking Brandon Morrow with my 7th pick. I wanted to have an all-star, power hitting lineup with average pitching. I just wanted to hit my way through the league. I wanted to strong-arm the other 15 teams with a skillful roster of speed and power. In my draft order, #1 I took Ryan Howard, #2 Prince Fielder, #3 Victor Martinez, #4 Brandon Phillips, #5 Paul Konerko, #6 Stephen Drew, #7 Brandon Morrow, #8 reached for Ryan Raburn, #9 Gio Gonzalez, #10 Pablo Sandonval, #11 Michael Bourn, #12 Edinson Volquez, #13 Aroldis Chapman, #14 Denard Span, #15 Brian Duensing, etc…
The point I’m trying to make here is that I’ve never waited so long to take a pitcher to be the ace of my team. I passed up on all the Lester’s, Halladay’s, Josh Johnson’s, Verlander’s and Dan Haren’s of the world, all in the name of hitting. Now in week 11 of the fantasy baseball season, I find myself hovering around .500 and in the longest winless streak of my career (7 weeks without a win to be exact). I am dead last in my league in team ERA and also WHIP. I’m at the bottom of the barrel in wins, losses and K/BB ratio. This has never happened to me before and I have to believe that it is because of the way that I drafted my pitching. I ignored the top aces and now I pay the price. I’m trying to trade some of my bats away for an ace arm but that is easier said than done. People are always going to be way too stingy and protective over their players. People are not always going to be quick to trade away their best pitcher when he’s got a 2.00 ERA, more strikeouts than innings and everything else that makes a pitcher look sweet.
So the lesson learned in all this, draft your hitting and pitching while you can! It is necessary for true fantasy baseball success. You must be strong on both facets of the game and this test year of 2011 for me is backing that statement up. What a coincidence that the one year I don’t draft pitching in the early rounds, I begin losing. That is no coincidence my friends that is what happens when you are weak on one end of the spectrum and not strong on both. You can call me Davo J. Lawson and I will spill fantasy knowledge into your head!
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