OpinionApril 9, 2007

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Fantasy Madness: Week 1

By Steve DiMatteo

If the first week of the baseball season does not make you realize that there truly is a higher power in the universe and all that is good with the world comes in the form of baseball, then you do not have a soul… Sorry, that may have sounded a bit too strong, but you must understand the magnitude at which I love the sport. Trust me, I realize that my lack of physical ability to play the game will ultimately prevent me from playing in the major leagues, but the next best thing to do is to play fantasy baseball.

If you are a fantasy player who enjoys playing in more than one league (and I am hoping that everyone plays in at least two or three), then at some point you have to be willing to try a different kind of fantasy league. Everyone knows about the standard 5×5 format and how that scoring system works, and if you are feeling a little crazy, you may even join an AL or NL-only league.

Personally, I am playing in four leagues at the moment and three of them are fairly standard – full baseball universe, basic scoring levels, that sort of thing. Those are all well and good, but my prized league that I am spending the most time with and caring for as if it was my own child is my 10×10 AL-only roto league that I started. Again, if you are a fan of fantasy baseball (and if you are reading this, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be), you have to get out and try some different forms of the game.

Here’s how it works (25-man roster):

Offense: R, H, 2B, HR, RBI, SB, BB, TB, AVG, OBP

Pitching: IP, W, CG, SHO, SV, BB, K, ERA, WHIP, K/9

Current Lineup:

C – Mike Piazza

1B – Nick Swisher

2B – Brian Roberts

SS – Carlos Guillen

3B – Kevin Youkilis

OF – Manny Ramirez

OF – Bobby Abreu

OF – J.D. Drew

UTIL – Aubrey Huff

UTIL – Trot Nixon

As of right now, I’m pretty pleased with this lineup. As far as Trot Nixon goes, I know the Indians plan on playing him against right-handers, so I have plenty of backup options to fill up his spot when need be. I have guys like the versatile Esteban German, Reed Johnson, and Michael Cuddyer sitting on the bench, ready to go when I make the call. I realize I took some risks with Huff (who should be having a rebound year and is showing signs of it early) and Drew (great numbers in this particular league if he can stay healthy), but I am confident they will pay off in the end. The big stats that I looked for when I was drafting were runs, walks, on-base percentage, and doubles. I tried to find players who could hit a respectable amount of home runs along with providing me help in a number of the other categories.

Pitching Staff

SP – Jeremy Bonderman

SP – Kelvim Escobar

SP – Ervin Santana

SP – Gustavo Chacin

SP – Matt Garza

RP – Joel Zumaya

RP – Scot Shields

RP – Justin Duchscherer

You don’t need to remind me. I realize I don’t have a closer, but that is mainly because of how the draft ended up. At some point in the mid-rounds, a run of closers began taking place and I didn’t want to fall into it because I could have possibly missed out on valuable offensive guys. That’s one token of advice that everyone should consider: don’t give into the runs that happen in a draft, especially on pitchers. To me, offensive players are always much more valuable and pitching can always come in the later rounds.

For me, I picked up my ace, Jeremy Bonderman, in the 5th round. I waited until the 9th to get Ervin Santana and the 13th to get my first reliever, Joel Zumaya. Here’s to hoping that he takes over the closing job for the Tigers this year, but if he doesn’t, I won’t complain with his results anyway. When I picked him up, there were no more closers left on the board and he is easily the next best choice. I’m not that worried that I didn’t get a closer through the draft. Over the course of a season, closers come and go and new ones emerge out of nowhere. All it takes is a keen eye on the waiver wire and I’ll be fine, and you will be too if you fall into the same position.

Playing in a league such as mine offers a different perspective on fantasy baseball, and it makes different players more valuable. It requires just as much, if not more, research prior to a draft because the talent pool is essentially cut in half. If you’re looking for a new kind of fantasy league, try playing one as off-beat, or even crazier (because it can definitely be done), as this one; you’ll begin to appreciate guys like Youkilis, Huff, and Nixon.

Through the first week of the season, I have to admit that I am pretty pleased with my team. I’m currently in second place, but I’m getting a little fed up with these postponed games, especially in my other leagues that are close calls. I could really use the potential points by Grady Sizemore in my other leagues, and it’s not helping that the Indians haven’t played a game since what seems like 1995. Oh well, no amount of snow can keep me from feeling good about this baseball season. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Steve is a freelance writer from Painesville, Ohio. He has been into sports writing for years, and hopes that some of what he writes has an impact on the Cafe's visitors. You can catch up with Steve in the Cafe forums where he posts as teufelmann.
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