Thursday, July 16, 2009

But it's just a sweet, sweet, fantasy baby.

Now that the 2009 Major League Baseball season has officially passed its hump day and entered into the second half, it's that time once again for me to take stock in my fantasy baseball fortunes. As some of you readers may recall, I had posted two individual entries detailing my two yearly Yahoo! fantasy baseball teams way back at the beginning of April when the season was just beginning; when expectations were high, optimism was abundant, Manny Ramirez was free of steroid suspicions, and the Mets were fielding a competitive major league team. Oh, how long ago it all feels.

So how "gang aft agley" have my best laid fantasy plans gone? How surprisingly successful have been some of my outside hunches turned out? How cruelly or well has the unpredictable, invisible hand of the DL treated me? Did I really expect Jeff Francour to have a turn around season? Let's tally up the damages shall we?

Team 1
The Chan Ho Parks
Current Rank: 1st out of 12
Real Life All Stars: 9 (1B Prince Fielder, 3B Ryan Zimmerman, SS Hanley Ramirez, OF Curtis Granderson, OF Carlos Beltran, SP Ted Lilly, SP Zack Greinke, SP Chad Billingsley, RP Mariano Rivera)
Team MVP: SP Zack Greinke
Team Underperformer: 1B David Ortiz
Waiver Wire Star: OF Michael Cuddyer

The Good:
When your team is in first place, the good obviously comes more easily. At the risk of completely jinxing my dream season, I have to say the Chan Ho Parks are cruising along in their league, enjoying a comfortable double digit lead over the second place team. The team's success is buoyed by a pitching staff that is tops or near the top in every major pitching category. A huge amount of credit goes to first half MVP SP Zack Greinke, the 11th round afterthought 3rd pitcher who started out the year with a historic display of pitching dominance; perhaps the greatest start to a season in the rotisserie baseball era. He has somewhat cooled off over the past month but his numbers are still outrageous. Hitting wise, the team has top ranked power and batting average numbers which offset my league worst stolen base rank and middling runs scored. Everyone has essentially lived up to or surpassed their drafted expectations with a few minor exceptions.

The Bad:

The only real disappointment of the team was the thus far worthless season of the completely broken down 1B David Ortiz who the auto drafter saddled me with after showing up at the draft a little late. Fortunately I had plenty of other options to replace him with. Of course it's not hard to replace someone that until recently could only fit in the utility slot. 2B Jose Lopez has been relatively productive for a 2B, but hasn't quite lived up to my personal hype. Waiver wire pick up 1B, OF Nick Swisher was red hot at the beginning of the year but soon fell out of his everyday roster spot.

The DL:
As is the case with most successful teams, a light DL is usually a big key to success. For most of the season, the only resident on the DL was SP John Smoltz, who was a late draft flyer without much expectation to play anyway. The recent loss of OF Carlos Beltran has definitely hurt though (although obviously not as much as it hurt the real life Mets). Aside from that, the team has been a model of health.

Some of the more exceptional players will probably regress but if everyone plays to their expectations (and thus far there has been no indication that they won't), then I think I can ride this hot start straight to the title. Injuries are the only real threat to derail my lead.

Team 2
Team Korea All Stars
Current Rank: 4th out of 12
Real Life All Stars: 9 (C Joe Mauer, 1B, 3B Kevin Youkilis, 2B Freddy Sanchez, 3B Evan Longoria, OF Brad Hawpe, SP Ted Lilly, SP Zack Greinke, SP Zach Duke, SP Edwin Jackson)
Team MVP: SP Zack Greinke
Team Underperformer: SS Jimmy Rollins
Waiver Wire Star: SP Edwin Jackson

The Good:
The 4th place standing, although above average, actually short changes this team. This team has spent most of the season around 2nd and the current spread between 2nd and 4th is so thin that the spots constantly fluctuate. With that being said, the best this team can hope for is a 2nd place finish given the fact that the first place team is completely dominating the league with nearly 25 more points than the second place team. As for my team, I've once again enjoyed the fruits of a SP Zack Greinke (and SP Ted Lilly) containing pitching staff. In addition, my staff was saved by the waiver wire pick ups of both all stars SP Zach Duke and SP Edwin Jackson from the same day. Hittingwise, it's been fairly strong and consistent all around. Oddly enough, despite the All Star nod I don't even regularly start 2B Freddy Sanchez as I've opted for the versatile and surprisingly productive 2B, 3B, SS Macro Scutaro.

The Bad:
The two biggest disappointments on the hitting side were Team Underperformer winner and first round pick SS Jimmy Rollins who has been in a slump for most of the year and 5th round pick OF Matt Holiday, who appears to have lost all his slugging powers after leaving the state of Colorado. On the pitching side Cliff Lee has pitched decently but has come nowhere near his Cy Young season last year, especially on a lousy Indians team. There was also one other negative first half pitching performance that was so exemplary in its awfulness that I have to give it, its own category...

The Chien-Ming Wang:
Would you believe he was drafted by me one place ahead of All Star SP Ted Lilly? There has been a historic fantasy knock against the guy due to his paltry strikeout numbers and average ERA and WHIPs, but he had a reputation as being at least a dependable source of wins. Of course that was before he put together possibly the worst three consecutive starts in modern baseball history. In 6 innings of total work over three starts he had managed to give up 23 runs for a monstrous era of 34.50. I immediately banished him with extreme prejudice but I think the team is still paying the wages of those three horrible starts.

The DL:
The team has been pretty healthy as a whole. The only major DL stint is the current one that SP Brandon Webb has been on since leaving the first game of the season. had it not been for my timely waiver wire pickups, the team would have probably completely fallen out of contention without its ace. Although, it sure would have been nice to have his dependable numbers all year.

Barring a wave a crucial injuries or a series of sustained slumps for the team in first, the best I can hope for with this team is to get that second place sized piece of the pie. I would not be disappointed in this team one bit if it turned out that way, under most seasons this would be a top team. Optimistically I'm thinking 2nd, but more realistically I'm expecting 3rd or 4th.

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