Sunday, March 04, 2007

ESPN the Magazine Dodger Fantasy Preview

I am not a fantasy baseball player, anymore that is. I played one summer when I was employed at this strategy consulting firm full of type-A and type-A-squared people. And overall I found the process really annoying, due to the relative lack of statistical information, the primitive and user-unfriendly website that "managed" our league, and the way it changed everyone in the league into a crazy daytrader (of players). My team ended up the season pretty well, too, I think coming in third place, mostly due to luck and a couple of key trades.

But what I recall the most was losing so much of my summer in this league. And so, I vowed not to play anymore. I have enough distractions (i.e., this blog) as it is.

Now, fantasy is a much bigger deal, the websites are much more advanced, and the stakes can be much higher. And ESPN signaled its increased emphasis on fantasy baseball this year, advertising its free league management on the .com site, buying Matthew Berry ("The Talented Mr. Roto") and his website, and running a 35-page insert in their magazine. "35 Pages You Can't Live Without," the cover screams, an assertion with which I disagree. But for the Dodger fan who wants the team highlights, here's the highlights (players organized by position and ranked by fantasy value, which obviously overemphasizes specific statistical categories):

Catcher had Russell Martin at #10: "A lot like young Pudge, with .300 potential plus the speed to steal double-digit bases. He may never hit more than 20 HRs a season, but pitchers love him, which should keep him behind the plate for a long time to come."

First baseman placed Nomar Garciaparra at #20 with an "injury risk" bullet: "Even in his first 'healthy' season since 2003, he produced just average numbers (.303/20/93) for a first baseman. So without SS or 3B eligibility, let someone else take the risk."

Second baseman had Jeff Kent #7 with a "slipper" bullet: "Failed to reach 500 ABs and 15 HRs for first time since 1996. Yeah, he had a strained oblique muscle, but his bat is slowing and his power decreasing. Chances are someone else will overpay."

Shortstop slotted Rafael Furcal at #7: "He's a line-drive hitter with surprising pop for such a short swing. Don't worry about him fading after a great season, not when his speed and power are stable and his patience (73BBs) is getting better."

No mention of any Dodger third baseman candidate.

Outfielder had Juan Pierre at #13 ("Draft him and you're all set for steals, even if his success rate is not what you'd like. His high contract rate leads to consistent AVGs, but his poor patience leads to subpar OBP and run production for a leadoff guy."). No other Dodgers were in the top 62.

Starters were abundant with Jason Schmidt #12 ("Though he'll never again be the ace who struck out 251 in '04, he's a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter who flashes three plus pitchers (fastball, curve, change). Expect a few more W's now that he isn't on a team with liver spots."); Derek Lowe #46 ("His stats the past two years are nearly identical, except for the records: 12-15 in '05 and 16-8 in '06. Why do we expect another 16? He cut his walk rate in half after the break and let opponents beat the sinker into the ground."); and Brad Penny #47 ("Arguably the best starter in the NL before the break; no question one of the worst after. He wound up with career-norm numbers. Go figure. As long as he pitches in Dodger Stadium, consider him a decent midrotation guy.")

Reliever had Takashi Saito #15: "In his first MLB season, he was death to righties with his solid fastball and sharp slider. Thing is, he's an older guy who benefited from deception, so expect hitters to catch up some in Year 2." Jonathan Broxton came in at #23 with a "scout special" bullet: "Few closers-in-waiting ooze this kind of promise. He's a top target if you're speculating for saves, and a worthy high-K setup guy, even if he gets only a few ninth-inning opportunities.


Anonymous said...

Do the Dodgers even have a 3rd baseman?

Steve Sax said...

If you mean someone who doesn't make two errors per game, no.