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Offense first – that’s what they say. Pitching may win championships in the real world, but this is fantasy baseball we’re talking about and in fantasy, it is a dominant offense that wins it for you. It’s said so many times that you would think it would be ingrained in people’s heads by now, yet we still see starting pitchers get taken in the first round and people reaching for “aces” faster than they really should. It’s an age old debate that leaves most scratching their heads as to how and why it is still even up for discussion. Well, if there were ever a day to prove the point for the pro-offense side of the argument, it was Sunday.
It was the great Terrence Mann who once said, “The one constant through all the years…has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.” I know exactly where I was when I heard the news that Thurman Munson, my childhood idol, died in a plane crash. I had my first real kiss during the summer of the year Cal Ripken, Jr. won the Rookie of the Year award. Craig Biggio’s MLB debut was on the TV as I sat in the hospital waiting room following the worst car accident I’ve ever been in. A strike robbed the Montreal Expos of a probable World Series championship the year I met my wife and Albert Pujols won his first title the year we got married. So when I sat there watching Andy Pettitte pitch eight innings of one-run ball to shut down the Red Sox and Mariano Rivera closed it out for the team’s first win of the season, I have to admit, it felt a little strange as I knew I was literally watching the end of an era.
I definitely enjoyed Ray Flowers’ article the other day in which he broke down a number of the pitching performances from some of the aces we saw on Opening Day. There were, obviously, a number of names we expected to see, such as Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg, but we were also treated to some outstanding performances from guys like Jeff Samardzija, Jhoulys Chacin and even Ricky Nolasco. While you shouldn’t expect to see some of these guys pitching at that level each and every time out, their performances do give credence to the belief that starting pitching is crazy deep and you can, in fact, build a winning pitching staff without investing heavily in one of the top aces out there.
So it’s like that again, huh? Just the third day of the 2013 MLB season and we’re already staring at a perfect game? Well…..almost. Pretty damn close as Yu Darvish manhandled the Astros lineup and came just one out away from throwing baseball’s 24th perfect game and fourth in less than a full calendar year.
It was like the Year of the Pitcher on the first day of the 2013 Major League Baseball season. The batters were up at the plate with the lumber, but try as they might they were unable to make solid contact in a ton of their at-bats. Which pitchers excelled the first time they took the hill? Which of the arms that did excel should be looked at for big things in 2013? Which of the arms should you be a bit worried about? Should we all be worried about managers curtailing the workload of those arms after so many were seemingly pulled well before their pitch total went into the danger zone in their first outing? We'll explore those thoughts in this piece. What a great sentence.
And just like that, after the long, cold winter, the MLB season is back in full force and the fantasy baseball season has officially begun. Happy Opening Day to you all. Worth the wait? I’d say so. We got a nice, little taste on Sunday night as the Astros won their very first game as an American League team and then Monday was just one of those days that made you feel like a little kid all over again. We saw some great baseball played with the promise of so much more to come.
At no point in the season do 50 at-bats or 18 innings mean more than they do right now. A guy goes out and hits .222 in spring and people drop that player 14 spots in their rankings. Another player hits .386 and guess what, he's now a potential breakout star in fantasy baseball. I always caution people not to read too much into small sample sizes, and I also tell people not to put an overabundance of value into spring stats. Maybe a batter faced a lot of Double and Triple-A pitchers and he hit .480 off them. Maybe he hit only .190 against big league arms. You see him hitting .320 and think he's had a great spring. Is that really accurate? Maybe a pitcher, unconcerned with the results, went out and threw his curve ball 40 percent of the time and got hammered because he was working on honing a new grip with the pitch. Does he all of a sudden stink? The bottom line is that spring numbers don't always tell the whole story. I'll touch on a few players though that really stood out this spring and give you my thoughts on what some reasonable expectations should be for the players in 2013.
Though it makes it sound more like a Broadway show than a baseball game, we are less than a week away from Opening Night. That’s right. Sunday night the Rangers and Astros square off for the first official MLB game of the 2013 season. Excited? I know I am. But what makes it even better is that Sunday night is the first official set of stats recorded for the 2013 fantasy baseball season and after a long and arduous offseason filled with countless hours of draft prep work, it’s all about to start paying off. But before we get ahead of ourselves, there are still some who have yet to draft and are looking for a few last-minute nuggets of information. Well, with big decisions coming down here in the final week of spring training, I am always happy to oblige.
Every time we look up it seems like another player is hurt. Some of the players you could care less about, I didn't see anyone shed a tear when the Cubs announced that Ian Stewart's quad injury would cause him to miss Opening Day, but when the Dodgers started to tell us what the deal was with Zack Greinke's elbow, the Twitterverse went into a tizzy (Greinke might only misss one start from the sound of things). And that got me to thinking. I haven't written an article this year that deals directly with injured players and how we should treat those players in the fantasy game. Every player is different, some injuries are minor others major, but if we have a defined time-line for a return from injury, let's say 4-6 weeks as is the case with Chase Headley who we will discuss, what does that do to the value of the player in the fantasy game? If you've ever wondered how to think about injured players when trying to put together your fantasy squad, then this is the article for you.
As always, the most important aspect of your fantasy baseball draft prep is staying on top of all the latest news. There’s nothing worse than walking into your draft and grabbing a guy only to have that annoying league know-it-all chime in with news form two days ago saying that the guy you just drafted is banged up. But it’s more than just looking at injury updates. You need to take all of the information given and make certain assessments of how this latest news will impact the rest of the fantasy baseball world. Virtually every bit of information you get has a ripple effect and it’s important to look at how far the news carries. So here are a few of the latest headlines from spring training and what kind of fantasy baseball impact we can expect.