by Moonlight Graham

The HK Fantasy Baseball League

Did he really do that?

Last Sunday morning, having received an absolute gem from Johan Santana the day before, Skippy Shakes owner Bob Carr looked at the HK Fantasy standings and found himself one point ahead of the Mean Street Posse and a point and a half ahead of Ricciardi Brothers Inc. Having waged a two month assault on the top spot from as far back as twenty seven points, Carr had finally grabbed the lead with just one day to go. Unfortunately, he couldn’t leave well enough alone and almost managed himself out of a title.

One of the deals that catapulted his Shakes squad in the last two months was the acquisition of C.C. Sabathia. As the Brewers’ ace carried his squad toward the playoffs, he also carried Carr; allowing the Shakes to make huge gains in the pitching categories. So, with C.C. on the bump for Milwaukee’s finale, Carr was sitting pretty. Santana had given him the slightest of leads in ERA and WHIP. Leads that were crucial to holding on to the top spot. So, what did Carr do? He reserved Sabathia rather than risk a bad outing. The plan was to stay right where he was and allow the others to fall back. Sadly, he paid no mind to the results of his last grand plan to protect his ERA; the ill fated benching of Hideo Nomo on the day he threw a no-no at Coor’s Field. Lightning couldn’t strike twice in the same place, could it?

As Sabathia was holding the Cubbies to just four hits and one run during his complete game, Carr watched in horror as Jerry Manuel summoned Luis Ayala from the bullpen for the Mets. True to form, Ayala grooved one for Dan Uggla, pushing Carr’s ERA just below Ricciardi Bros. and creating a three way tie. That Tim Lincecum and Ubaldo Jimenez had strong outings for RBI only served to drop the Shakes further down in the category. Carr was distraught.

Resigning himself to being the perpetrator of the biggest bonehead move in league history, he flipped through the channels to see if there were any games still going on. That’s when he stumbled across the ninth inning of the Mariners- A’s game and found the now beautiful J.J.Putz standing on the mound protecting a one run lead. Forgetting for the moment that he had cursed Putz’s incompetence for two months, he now begged his fellow redhead for just three outs. You see, Carr was also tied in the saves category and could gain a critical half point if Putz could only close out the A’s. He did and Carr had his league title by the slimmest of margins. He still pulled the biggest gaffe in fantasy league history but at least it didn’t cost him a Yoo-Hoo shower.

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Next week, we’ll start to look back at the 2008 season with Fantasy Awards and readers’ tales of their successes and failures, booms and busts and plans going forward. Enjoy the playoffs as we turn our focus back to the world where the only numbers that count are the ones on the scoreboard. Incidentally, I like a Rays- Cubs World Series so, you might want to put a little money down on any of the other six teams.

by Moonlight Graham

The Final Fantasy Baseball Forecast of the 2008 Regular Season

“This is it. Don’t get scared now.”

You probably started back in February when you first sat down and started poring over 2007 stats. You picked up momentum in late March as spring training wrapped up and you headed into your draft. You got rolling as your squad started the season well and, after a few key free agent pickups and solid trades, you find yourself heading into the season’s last series with a chance to win it all. Just three games standing between you and a title. So, after all of that work, can you afford to sit still? Not likely.

If your league is anything like the HK Fantasy league, the race will come down to one or two categories. Spots where things are so close, a single run batted in or earned run could decide the championship. Currently, Lou Carducci’s Mean Street Posse is trying to hold off late season charges from the Skippy Shakes and Ricciardi Brothers Inc. After leading for most of the season, the Posse has seen most of its lead slip away, resulting in a slim two point lead at the beginning of the final week. What will probably decide things is the WHIP category, where Carducci and Bobby Carr’s Shakes are hundredths of a point apart. As that total fluctuates, so do the standings. RBI has seen its pitching vault to the top of the ERA standings and bring him within three of the lead. His focus remains on his team’s win total.

So, here we are. One weekend for all of the marbles. In this final regular season forecast, we’ll talk about those players whose talents are category specific, are probably free agents and could be the one guy to put you over the top. Good luck.

Home Runs

Royals’ 1B Ryan Shealy has been a long time fantasy prospect who is finally starting to pay dividends. He’s got 6 HR in a month and has been given the starting job.

RBI

Shin Soo Choo has settled into the third spot in the Indians’ lineup while posting a .310 BA for a surging squad. His position between Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez should allow for him to see a lot of good pitches.

Batting Average

Edgar Renteria has quietly put together a solid 2nd half in Detroit yet remains a free agent in many leagues. He’s had a number of multiple hit games in the last few weeks.

R/SB

Michael Bourn’s terrible BA for the Astros have landed him on more than a few free agent lists. He is however, still leading off when he plays. In Atlanta, speedster Josh Anderson seems to be getting a long audition for the 2009 CF job. He has 8 SB to this point. Finally, Rajai Davis remains unclaimed in many leagues despite 29 SB in 243 AB. He’s not a regular, though, so make sure he’s in the lineup.

K

Tampa will likely give its top prospect, David Price, a start this weekend. His minor league K ratio was outstanding. Brandon Morrow is another free agent who averages better than a K per IP.

W

No particular pitcher comes to mind. Look to acquire young pitchers getting an audition and pitchers facing weak teams.

WHIP

Here’s my advice. Instead of picking guys up, pull your starters and leave your WHIP where it is. Look for your opponent to churn his staff and drop below you.

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