April 15, 2006


Fantasy Baseball: Parting's not such sweet sorrow (Jerry Faull, 4/12/06, Seattle Times)

There's a phrase I learned while attending the creative-writing program at Western Washington University that has served me well in fantasy-baseball roster maintenance, especially early in the season.

The line is "kill your darlings," which, when applied to writing, means one should edit out all passages they're keeping in just because they love them so much.

The phrase, sentence or paragraph might be a joy to read — confirming to the writer that he's brilliant, funny and insightful — but because it doesn't move the story forward it must be cut.

When applied to fantasy baseball, "kill your darlings" means dumping those middle- to late-round picks you loved on draft day but now just aren't moving your team forward.

Of course, it's not easy to cut a player you were once so convinced was going to be a key cog in your run to a championship. But it simply has to be done.

For example, I selected 1B/OF Nick Swisher in a daily, head-to-head league because I didn't think my top three outfielders — Carlos Beltran, Coco Crisp and Jeremy Hermida — were going to supply enough pop. I envisioned using Swisher late in weeks when I needed a home run or two and some runs batted in.

I was right about Beltran, Crisp and Hermida, who have combined for just two home runs and seven runs batted in through Tuesday — all from Beltran. But it soon became clear I needed to drop Swisher, who started just five of Oakland's first seven games and hit either eighth or ninth in each. And he didn't do much to earn a move up in the order, batting just .211 with one home run and eight strikeouts in 19 at-bats.

OK, you say, but if I'm going to drop someone I once liked so much I must replace him with player who has staying power.

Not necessarily true. When filling holes left by middling and underperforming players, I pretty much ignore staying power while concentrating on three things: Who's hot, who can contribute in categories I'm lacking and who has upcoming matchups that favor his splits tendencies.

Baseball Prospectus interviewd Sam Walker about his book Fantasyland on their April 8 show--it's pretty funny. At one point he asked David Ortiz if it was a good idea to trade him for Alfonso Soriano....

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 15, 2006 6:46 AM

"Hi, my name is Bartman and I'm a fantasy baseball junkie."

"Hi Bartman."

Posted by: Bartman at April 15, 2006 10:18 AM

I thought I was reading a stock market column! Because that's the exact same advice that good market advisors pound on. Don't fall in love with your picks. Dump the losers no matter how much you like them.

Posted by: ray at April 15, 2006 3:20 PM

A much better piece of roto-baseball advice is "don't panic." I don't know when the author wrote this piece of excrement, but here's Nick Swisher's stat line today:

BA .343; HR 3; RBI 8

After 12 years of this obsession, I've learned that players will play to their mean. A slow start will almost inevitably lead to a hot streak that balances it all back out.

Posted by: Jim at April 15, 2006 4:31 PM

Another homerun for Swisher tonight. Why is Jerry Faull paid to write such nonsense while I toil in obscurity.

Posted by: Jim at April 16, 2006 1:12 AM