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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

2008 Fantasy Review

So another fantasy season has come to an end. And an unusual end at that. This season offered us a lot of fantasy firsts - including a first time league member winning the title. But most importantly, 2008 showed us that the Head-to-Head format, while undoubtedly more exciting, is the least accurate measure of team quality in fantasy sports.

This year's review was a little harder to write than usual. My annual whipping boy Steve made a cinderella run to the finals from the 6th seed (his highest regular season finish in 3 years). And since that run went right through my team, which I grossly mismanaged, I find myself in the odd position of having to be harsher toward myself than to Steve. This feels completely wrong, but much like spooning with Jon on a cold winter night (or let's face it, even a mildly cool early autumn night), my heart tells me I have to do it.

First off, let's get the regular awards out of the way.

Dustin Pedroia (145th Overall - Yanks Suck): Dave snagged the 14th overall player at a shallow position with this 19th round gem. Selected after highly productive names like Kenji Johjima, Manny Corpas, Dontrelle Willis and Jeff Francoeur.

Honorable Mentions
Josh Hamilton (Little Moe Sizlak): 121st overall pick - 12th overall Rank
Tim Lincecum (3 Guys 1 Cup): 94th overall pick - 10th overall Rank
Roy Halladay (Beantown Boners): 70th overall pick - 3rd overall Rank
Evan Longoria (Mercenary...): 170th overall - should have held on to him.....

It seems odd that the two teams to make the finals didn't have a single draft pick greatly exceed his draft position....

**For worst draft pick, I wasn't just looking just for someone taken high who didn't produce or got hurt like Hafner or Victor Martinez. I'm looking for picks that looked dumb when they were made and were proven more dumb by the end of the season.

Gary Sheffield (57th Overall - Little Moe Sizlak): There are earlier picks that ended up worse, but honestly, what the hell was I thinking. There are owners who like young guys (francis) and then there are owners like me who constantly think 3 years in the past. Sheffield had 2 good months last year. They were great months, but they did not warrant picking him, at the age of 39 and riddled with health and personality issues ahead of Cano (which didn't turn out any better), Oswalt, Lackey, Markakis and Halladay.

Also bad calls:
Carl Crawford (22nd overall - Beantown Boners): Selected ahead of a few guys named Pujols, Teixeira and Braun. Hello 8th place.

Eric Byrnes (57th Overall - Mercenary...): If ever there was a flash in the pan for 2007, Byrnes was it. Francis took the bait, clearly distracted if not blinded by my Sheffield pick just before it.

Dontrelle Willis (141st Overall - Wright Stuff): Simply put, he should not have been drafted at all. I guess drafting horrible pitchers with familiar names runs in the family, because Steve continues to draft Barry Zito each year (209th this year). Willis ended 2007 with 5.17 ERA and a WHIP of 1.60. Then he moved from NL to the AL, at which point Wright Stuff decided that Willis' three year trend of getting more and more atrocious was over and that he was a good bet for a turn around. Willis then threw out an ERA over 9 and a WHIP over 2.20. He should never be drafted. Least of all, ahead of players like Billingsley, Pedroia, Wang, Burrell, Damon and especially not by the eventual league champion. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Eric Bedard (Little Moe Sizlak): A complete bust. I assumed CC would be tired in 2008. For 1 month, I looked like a genius. Unfortunately, the season lasted 6 months and I looked like a moron for the last 5.

It seemed like there were more All-Star seasons on the waiver wire than ever in 2008 and nobody befitted more than Heartfelt Elements who rode Cliff Lee (10th overall), Carlos Quentin (36th), Ricky Nolasco (57th), Justin Ducsherer (49th), Andre Ethier (78th overall) Evan Longoria (119th) and Geovany Soto (153rd) to the best record in the league.

Honorable Mentions:
Ryan Ludwick (20th Overall) - 3 Guys 1 Cup
Aubry Huff (26th overall) Beantown Boners
Nate McLouth (28th overall) - Yanks Suck
Carlos Delgado (39th overall) - Go Kcuf Yourself
Milton Bradley (81st overall) - Mercenary...
Edinson Volquez (113th overall) - Little Moe Sizlak (about all that remained of my pitching staff at the end)

*There is nobody on Wright Stuff that fits this description. Looking again at his team now, I have no fucking clue how he won this thing. What's most amazing is that despite not getting necessarily great value from anybody in the draft, he also made less than 15 add/drops during the season. Joshwhite had that many in April. So while he didn't get any steals in the draft, he didn't pick very many duds either.

Dontrelle Willis (Wright Stuff): And even when he did make a TERRIBLE pick, he still held on tighter than Steve's wife to his balls. Wright Stuff held onto Willis until June 11th. JUNE 11TH!! At that point, Willis was sporting an ERA over 10, and had a K:BB ratio of 5:21. No, I didn't reverse those numbers. He didn't K his first batter until his 4th outing of the season. But Wright Stuff saw something he liked and giddily stashed Willis away on his DL, waiting, hoping for his return. The only person more confused and uninformed about Willis is Dave Dombrowski the Tigers GM, who gave Willis a 3 Year/$29million dollar extension that starts NEXT YEAR!

Also Bad:
Carlos Delgado (3 Guys 1 Cup): Hard to blame him, but this is the reason you would think. Dropped on May 10th, Delgado went on to post 4 straight months of 20+ RBI. While he has no business being in any NL MVP discussions, his second half surge carried Steve late in the season.
Not to mention the 1.297 OPS he put up against 3 Guys 1 Cup in the Semifinals.

3 Guys 1 Cup: Led by Lincecum, Liriano, Lilly, Billingsley, Lidge and anybody else with a bunch of L's in their last name. Jon's staff had a won-loss record of 103-60-12 for the season.

Heartfelt Elements: This was probably the best team in the league. Once I relinquished first place after week 14, Joshwhite held it for the rest of the season. His offense finished with a record of 96-71-8. If he hadn't lost Carlos Lee and Carlos Quentin to injury, who knows what might have happened.

Little Moe Sizlak started off hot with 5 straight wins and 10 wins in the first 13 weeks. I was in first place as late as July, but finished the year with 7 straight winless weeks, including the playoffs and consolation (in which 8 starts didn't even get me 40 innings) to finish 6th overall.
Looking back, I don't remember when exactly I lost control, but I do know that I ended the season counting on guys like Willie Harris and Omar Infante, clear cut evidence that something was horribly wrong.

League Notes:
For the second straight year, the defending champion was knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. By a woefully inferior team.

Steve reached the finals by beating two teams who were a combined 58.5 games ahead of him. Little Moe Sizlak - better by 19 games

3 Guys 1 Cup - better by 39.5 games

In his Semifinal matchup with Jon, Steve was losing 13-1 on Sunday morning. And he ended up winning.

Jon got a 2 hit, 3 walk complete game from Brett Myers late Sunday night, that should have clinched WHIP, the category that would determine the Semifinal winner. That same night, Steve got a no-hitter from Carlos Zambrano. It was the only September start in which Zambrano pitched more than 5 innings.

2008 marked the first time that BOTH the #1 and #2 seeds didn't make the finals.

2008 is also the only year that both teams in the finals were under .500 on the season.

In the 5 years that this league has been Head-to-Head, only once has the team with the best record won the championship (2007).

2008 was Dave's (Yanks Suck) second consecutive year missing the playoffs. This after 2006 when he had the best record in the league. Is he the new Steve? It's amazing what 0.5 games can do.

Steve's team (the #6 seed) made the playoffs by exactly 0.5 games. A feat accomplished when Mark Reynolds hit a meaningless home run in an 8-0 game that cost Beantown Boners half a point in the last week of the regular season.

Wright Stuff's 12-2 beating of Go Kcuf Yourself is now the most lopsided victory in our finals history, replacing my 10-2 soul crushing defeat of Jon last year.

In 5 years of playing head to head, Chris Fusco, Dave and Francis have each made it out of the first round and into the semi's only once and the 3 of them have never made the finals.

Amazingly, the eventual 8th place finisher, Beantown Boners put up monumental offensive numbers in his consolation showdown for 7th place. Numbers so impressive that he would have beaten the league champ during those last 2 weeks 8-6 if they had been matched up against each other. Sadly, he still finished 8th, on a tiebreaker.

8th place Boners also had the most top 20 players (4) of any team in the league. Surprisingly, league champion Wright Stuff had the fewest top 20 players, with just 1.

Wright Stuff's win becomes even more unlikely if you look at his cumulative finish in each category for the season:

Runs: 8th
Hits: 6th
HRs: 6th
RBI: 7th
SB: 4th
OBP: 8th
SLG: 7th

How the hell did he do it? He had one of the 2 or 3 worst offensive teams in the league. It must have been his pitching.

Wins: 6
Saves: 1
K: 5
ERA: 5
K/BB: 2nd (tied)
QS: 5th

His average pitching finish was 4th. So he won the league with the 6th or 7th best offense and the 4th best pitching staff.

Of course, it's really hard to mock anybody's team considering I added and dropped Juan Pierre 4 times this year. God help me.

What all this really tells is that the winner of the leauge in all but one year has just been the team that has gotten hot over the last month. The moral: Just make the playoffs.


We have some decisions to make for next seasons. Right now, we have too few teams, too many categories and too many roster spots. As of right now, I'm leaning toward making the following changes:

2 new teams in the league (no more keepers)

12 categories instead of 14 (no more Quality starts, and combining OPS and SLUG into OPS)

Regular sized rosters (no more 2nd MI, 2nd Util, 5th OF)

I'm also interested in making this a weekly league. That means that we set our rosters every sunday night at midnight for the upcoming week and then we cant make any changes to our active roster during the week. You can add/drop whenever you want, but if someone gets hurt on Monday, you're fucked. This is probably better because we're all getting older and we'll have less and less time for daily roster changes and pitchers going in and out and all that.

What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.