With MLB Opening Day in the books, millions of Americans have just gotten their first looks at their favorite teams’ rosters, scrupulously rehashed and refined throughout the offseason. But for many of us it was also the first full day of fantasy baseball action, when all the amateur GMs out there finally saw our own hand-picked players filling the stat sheets in games that count.
After two brief—and wildly unsuccessful—sojourns into the world of fantasy hockey, I finally decided to have a go at its much more popular baseball counterpart. I had been avoiding this for the past few years because of all the horror stories I’d heard about fantasy managers burning out by the end of the 162-game season. But with the illusion of free time afforded by spring break, I coaxed myself into joining a simple, rotisserie-style ESPN league with an autopick draft made just for fantasy amateurs like me, knowing full well that we hadn’t done our preseason homework.
Clearly having learned nothing from my two fantasy hockey teams—which both crashed and burned due to their inordinately large concentrations of San Jose Sharks—I named my team the “Posey Posers” and bumped up San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, ace Tim Lincecum and bearded closer Brian Wilson significantly in my pre-draft player rankings. All three ended up on my team. (Needless to say, Scott Cousins didn’t make the cut.)
Looking at my squad the morning after the selections, I was surprised to see how many big-name hitters the autodraft had given me: Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Zimmerman, Shane Victorino, Yoenis Cespedes and Andre Ethier. Of course, a Los Angeles Dodger on the Posey Posers just wouldn’t do, so I quickly dumped Ethier in a trade for the speedy Jimmy Rollins, also giving me an extra slot to work with in the deep free-agent outfielder pool.
My starting pitchers were even more impressive. Besides Lincecum, I ended up with Rays rookie Matt Moore, Reds righty Mat Latos, Cardinals curveballer Adam Wainwright and Atlanta ace Tommy Hanson. Putting injured Yankee Michael Pineda on the DL let me add the risky Johan Santana to that group.
The one downside? The banged-up Wilson was my only true closer, with Javy Guerra fighting for the job in L.A. and newly converted Texas starter Neftali Feliz still labeled as a reliever by the autodraft. In the hopes of putting up a respectable showing in the saves column, I quickly proposed trades to six of the nine other teams, most of which had three or four closers, but all my offers were either ignored or rejected.
What can I say, there’s a first time for everything.
And my first few days as a fantasy baseball manager were much more enjoyable than I had expected. There’s a certain degree of excitement associated with playing a GM, trying to one-up all the bigwigs who are so fond of centering long-term payrolls around washed-up superstars (Giants fans: see Barry Zito) or letting homegrown heroes leave without putting up much of a fight (A’s fans: see Barry Zito).
In a way, the marathon that is the MLB season adds a level of intrigue to fantasy baseball. There’s more time to make up for early mistakes, more chances to come up with a high-risk trade and more need to follow the waiver wire religiously. And in a sport so heavily embodied by slumps and hot streaks, I’m going to have to face the fact that no one—not even Buster Posey—can be considered untouchable for the long haul.
So how did the Posey Posers do on Opening Day? We may have gone 5-30 without a single RBI, but Santana and Hanson—pitching against each other in the non-fantasy baseball world yesterday—combined for 10 six-hit, one-run innings, with an impressive WHIP of 1.10.
Sounds a lot like the Giants after all.
Joseph Beyda might start an all-Giants lineup if someone doesn’t stop him. Give him some quality fantasy baseball advice at [email protected]