by Eddie Mayrose

It’s one of baseball’s unusual feats.  Not so much achievement as oddity, hitting for the cycle is about as rare as a no-hitter.  Four hits in a game doesn’t happen very often; even to the game’s best hitters.  To not only bang out four knocks but a single, double, triple and homer in the same game is the baseball equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack.  We’ve all heard players during post-game interviews talking about how they were looking to drive a pitch out of the park in a given situation.  But, have you ever heard one say that he went up to the plate looking for a triple to complete a cycle?  Of course not.  It either happens or it doesn’t.  However, even with this example, many Fantasy Baseball owners in Roto formats turn a blind eye to the improbabilities; instead running up transaction bills while fruitlessly chasing their own version of the cycle.

For the most part, established MLB players will achieve totals within expected parameters.  However, the stats will more often be the end result of a season filled with hot streaks and slumps rather than one, long, consistent performance.  Imagine that you were one of the geniuses that inserted Pirates’ closer Joel Hanrahan into his lineup after the Pirates’ closer had 4 saves in the season’s first week.  You knew that Hanrahan, a talented pitcher with a great K ratio, wouldn’t get save opportunities with the struggling Bucs as would John Axford in Milwaukee.  But you’d seen Axford get cuffed around in his season debut and decided to make the switch and hit for the Cycle.  A week later, however, Hanrahan was still stuck on 4 while you’d missed 3 saves from Axford. Continue reading »

by Eddie Mayrose

Perhaps nothing in Fantasy Baseball is more uncertain than relief pitching.  Each year, there are closers coming off big seasons that lose their jobs, others whose names you’ve never heard who register 30 saves off of the waiver wire and those tragic few that spend more time on the disabled list than the mound.  Mix in the many different strategies regarding when they should be drafted and the value of set-up man and it’s easy to see why the bullpen causes so much stress to Fantasy Owners.

So, how to evaluate this fickle group; the only one in Roto Baseball that has a category all to themselves.  One, adapted by a few leagues, is to eliminate Saves as a category.  For the rest of us, a reliable system for evaluating closers is as elusive as it is necessary.

Because Saves, like Wins, are dependent on so many factors, they are relatively incidental.  The peripheral stats are also less of a concern, as the WHIP and ERA of a relief pitcher will not overly impact your team’s totals because of the low number of innings thrown.  It comes down, then, to two vital criteria: youth and strikeouts. Continue reading »

by Eddie Mayrose

This was a year ago, just a day after Gordon Hayward’s last second heave from half court had seemingly touched every inch of the rim before finally falling off; giving Duke the National Championship and ending Butler’s impossible bid for the title.  WFAN personality John Minko, a Butler grad, lamented his alma mater’s loss, pointing out how much it hurt because, as close as they’d come, a school like Butler, from a mid-major conference, would never get another chance to win it all.  Looking back, I can’t think of anyone that disagreed with Minko’s  sentiments.

Butler, a #5 seed, had worked its way through the tournament behind their baby-faced coach, Brad Stevens and on the shoulders of the Hayward, an All American who would become the first player in the program’s history to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft.  With Stevens, a rising star in the coaching ranks, sure to leave for a bigger payday, it was plain to see that the Bulldogs’ run was once in a lifetime. Continue reading »

by Eddie Mayrose

Too Early To Tell, Or Is It?

Was headed into work the other day with my radio tuned, as it is every morning, to Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio. The daily, often comedic give and take between hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic is my preferred choice on the AM dial during morning drive time as I respect the opinions and pedigree of each personality.  Friday morning, however,they gave me a hearty laugh that was, on  their part, completely unintentional.

In welcoming ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney for his regular guest spot, Greenie began his review of Opening Day by posing an absolutely ridiculous question. In discussing the terrible debut of Albert Pujols; one that saw the best player in the game ground into three double plays during the Cardinals’ opener, Greenberg asked Olney if, in light of the fact that Pujols is in a contract year, could we expect the slugger to begin pressing if he got off to a slow start.  Olney politely pointed out that he still expected Pujols to post an MVP season despite the hole he had dug for himself after one game.

Now, I appreciate that it is incumbent upon talk show hosts to generate topical conversation and that, every once in a while they’ll swing and miss.  Greenberg’s faux pas, however, is one committed by Fantasy Baseball owners every season, as they scramble to gain an advantage or atone for a sub-par draft.  Unlikely as it is that anyone traded Pujols off of Thursday’s oh-fer, there will be trades and acquisitions made over the first few weeks inspired more by impatience than intelligence. Continue reading »

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