Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

By the Numbers: Eight players who taught me a lesson

  •  

Fantasy is fun but it also serves an infinite supply of humble pie.

With each season, we make new mistakes and discover new blind spots, and sometimes we'll even revisit some of the old ones. If this was one of those seasons that has left you with a bitter aftertaste, you can wash it away by looking forward instead of backwards, recognizing that the players who frustrated you most are also your greatest teachers.

Check out our Fantasy Baseball podcast!
Stay a step ahead of your competition in 2014 by checking out our popular Fantasy Baseball Today podcasts. Adam Aizer, Scott White and Al Melchior will entertain you and help you dominate all season.
Latest episode | Subscribe!

Anyway, that's what I've attempted to do here. I can stew over the fact that I was the last owner on Earth to recognize Matt Carpenter was an elite at several positions, or I can figure out how to learn from my mistake. Likewise, I can determine how to better handle players like Chase Headley, in whom I invested a lot but got little back.

Along with Carpenter and Headley, I have found six other players who could be my mentors, if I just take a little time to listen to what their performances from the past season are telling me. Just maybe they'll provide a useful lesson or two for others as well, and while I'm at it, I'm also looking ahead to see which players I can apply these lessons to for next season.

It looks like Profs. Carpenter and Uehara are about to take the podium ...

Lesson #1: Don't let a player's previous roles interfere with your appreciation for a desirable skill set.

The teachers: Matt Carpenter, 1B/2B/3B, Cardinals and Koji Uehara, RP, Red Sox

The lesson in detail: Maybe I shouldn't be blamed for shying away from Carpenter on draft day, as it wasn't clear that he would be entrusted to hold down a full-time role. However, it became apparent early on that Carpenter would settle into everyday play as well as a spot at the top of the batting order. While it would have been impossible to predict the Cardinals' absolute mastery of hitting with runners in scoring position, Carpenter's knack for getting on base alone made him a threat to be one of the best sources of runs in Fantasy (if not the runaway leader in the category).

I was far too late to the Carpenter run-scoring party, as I let my perception of him as a utility player color my expectations, even when that perception became obviously outdated. Because he lacked a steady role in 2012 and entered the 2013 season as a 27-year-old, I discounted his prior major and minor league stats. Yet nearly every thing Carpenter did this season -- which landed him among the top six first- base eligible players -- was presaged by his statistical track record. Carpenter had been good at hitting for contact, getting base hits on balls in play and drawing walks for awhile, and only his 55 doubles stand out as a stat that is likely to drop off next season.

It took Uehara longer to establish himself in a high-profile role, but once there were even whispers about him taking over as Boston's closer, I should have been pursuing him in every league. As with Carpenter, I underestimated Uehara due to his age, but he was every bit as enticing as a closer-in-waiting option as Kenley Jansen. Uehara has been putting up crazy-good strikeout-to-walk ratios throughout his career as a reliever, and between his miserly walk and BABIP rates (the latter of which is not simply a matter of luck due to his flyball tendencies), he was a lock for an ultra-low WHIP.

Players lesson could apply to in 2014: Khris Davis, Eduardo Nunez, Grant Green, Elliot Johnson, DJ LeMahieu, Brandon Kintzler.

Lesson #2: Don't hold on to preseason expectations for too long.

The teacher: Chase Headley, 3B, Padres

The lesson in detail: I bought into Headley's 2012 breakout and made him my sixth-ranked third baseman during the preseason. The months rolled by with Headley providing only a portion of the production I expected from him. Headley did finish the season strong, hitting .305 in September with five home runs, but with the news that he played all season with a knee injury, it's clear I should have given more weight to his protracted struggles, at least when they spilled over into the second half. We may not always know the reasons why a player fails to meet expectations over a period of several months, but the time to move on should probably come before August, not after. Maybe for most owners this is not news, but I am heavily biased towards giving my early-round picks a very long leash.

Players lesson could apply to in 2014: We'll see next July.

Lesson #3: Keep minor league sample sizes in perspective.

The teacher: Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros

The lesson in detail: Heading into this season, I saw an opportunity for Altuve to break out. In his first season-and-a-half, he had already shown he could steal bases and hit for a decent average, but he had yet to duplicate the power he had shown in the minors. Altuve's most impressive power numbers came in Double-A and Advanced Class A, but that experience was comprised of all of 118 games. Only 35 of those games came at Double-A, yet I gave too much weight to a small sample of games in the minors as compared to a larger sample of major league games.

Going into 2014, now I know that the smarter move is to expect Altuve to be the Astros' answer to Elvis Andrus, but with fewer walks and run-producing opportunities.

Players lesson could apply to in 2014: Anthony Rendon, Leonys Martin, Adeiny Hechavarria.

Lesson #4: Target high upside players over steady but unspectacular types.

The teacher: Marco Scutaro, 2B/SS, Giants

The lesson in detail: I wound up with Scutaro in several leagues, as I figured he would be a reliable contributor with a batting average close to .300 and at least 80 runs. Scutaro delivered on the batting average, but the Giants had a less potent lineup this season, and his run production suffered greatly. Partly because of injuries and partly because of his team's lackluster offense, Scutaro was not able to build on a solid track record.

When you choose a player with little upside because he has been steady, when the unexpected happens, you have little to fall back on. Though it would have represented greater risk, I would have been better off with less-proven middle infield options like Carpenter, Jedd Gyorko, Jean Segura, Everth Cabrera and Andrelton Simmons, all of whom were far less known quantities and available later in most drafts. At the very least, I should have drafted a higher-upside hitter and stashed him in case he panned out.

Players lesson could apply to in 2014: Mark Trumbo, Todd Frazier, Michael Brantley, Matt Garza (as the steady types to be avoided).

Lesson #5: Do your homework on managers' tendencies to give the green light on stolen bases.

The teachers: Clint Hurdle, manager, and Starling Marte, OF, Pirates

The lesson in detail: Some managers, like Mike Scioscia and Joe Maddon, are notoriously aggressive about having their players steal bases, while others, like Buck Showalter and Fredi Gonzalez, have been more cautious. Most managers are somewhere in the middle, and the likelihood that they'll be aggressive will vary depending on their personnel.

This is something I ignored when making preseason projections for Marte. Despite reasonably good accuracy in many aspects of his projection (.269 Avg, 16 HR, 79 runs, 138 K, 28 BB vs. actual .280 Avg, 12 HR, 83 runs, 138 K, 25 BB), I was way off in terms of Marte's overall Fantasy value. That's because I projected him for 22 stolen bases instead of his actual 41. While Hurdle hasn't always been prone to sending his runners, he has done so when he's had a superior base-stealer, like when he had Willy Taveras with the Rockies. The 12 steals that Marte got under Hurdle in just 47 games in 2012 should have clued me in to his potential to far outstrip the relatively modest totals he accrued in Triple-A and Double-A.

Largely as a result of shortchanging Marte by 19 steals, I projected him as the 53rd most productive outfielder in Rotisserie leagues, but he finished the season ranked 18th among outfielder in standard Roto value.

Players lesson could apply to in 2014: Junior Lake, Nick Franklin.

Lesson #6: Be patient with top-flight players returning from injury.

The teacher: Victor Martinez, 1B/DH, Tigers

The lesson in detail: Even after missing the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL, Fantasy owners had to typically invest a mid-round pick to get Martinez. If he could pick up where he left off and hit .300 with double-digit homers and 100 RBI, owners would have a bargain on their hands, but that didn't look likely three months into the season. At the end of June, Martinez did have six home runs, but he was batting .232.

This was actually a lesson I didn't have to learn the hard way, as I stuck with Martinez through the bad months, and starting him finally paid off in July. Over the final three months, Martinez batted .367, as he started hitting more line drives and fewer grounders. He also finished with 14 home runs and 83 RBI.

Martinez's case doesn't prove that one-time star players will always be able to rebound after an injury-plagued season, much less a year-long layoff, but it does show that it's possible, and that patience is warranted.

Players lesson could apply to in 2014: Matt Kemp, Corey Hart, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, Ben Revere.

Lesson #7: Don't write off pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery, even if they were unsuccessful prior to the procedure.

The teacher: John Lackey, SP, Red Sox

The lesson in detail: Upon joining the Red Sox in 2010, Lackey's career went into free fall, with the descent accelerating in 2011. After having suffered through two years of disappointing stats, it was easy to forget how good Lackey was as an Angel and the role that health may have played in his decline. We were reminded of both once he returned from Tommy John surgery this season, as Lackey rediscovered his command. The possibility of a rebound season seemed remote before the 2013 season got under way, especially since he hadn't been especially effective in spring training. (Another lesson: Don't get fooled by spring training stats.)

Lackey finished as a top 60 starting pitcher and would have ranked much higher with better run support. The Red Sox's potent lineup somehow managed to give him only 3.8 runs of support per nine innings. I didn't even have Lackey ranked among the top 60 starters in the AL in my preseason projections, as I expected another season of mediocrity.

Players lesson could apply to in 2014: Joel Hanrahan, Chad Billingsley.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Diamondbacks' Chris Owings takes batting practice on Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:10 pm ET) Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings was able to take batting practice on Friday, according to MLB.com.

Owings is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, and has been limited early in camp. Manager Chip Hale said he was happy with Owings progress, and noted it was a big day for the infielder.

"Everything he's done has been right on time," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "We've slowed him down, because it's important that that swing is right. This was a huge day for him."

Owings will likely go through another round of BP before he's ready for game action. The team may also opt to give him at-bats in minor-league games before using him during actual spring training games.

The 23-year-old Owings hit .261/.300/.406 over 310 at-bats last season. He's expected to open the year as the team's starting shortstop. 


Angels' Matt Lindstrom feeling 100 percent this spring
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:03 pm ET) Angels reliever Matt Lindstrom is feeling pretty good after having ankle surgery last season, according to the Los Angeles Times

Lindstrom struggled with oblique and ankle injuries last season, but has drawn some rave reviews during camp. "Right now, his stuff is very similar to when he was throwing the ball well early last year," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "That's exciting. This guy has closer's stuff. It's just a matter of how consistent he is and if he can keep it going."

Lindstrom admitted he came back from ankle surgery too soon last year, and it impacted his numbers. He was able to rehab the injury during the offseason, though, and feels much better now. "I can tell the ball is coming out of my hand better, the way it's supposed to," Lindstrom said. "It wasn't right last year, but now, I don't have any reservations. I can concentrate on getting people out."

The 35-year-old posted a 5.03 ERA over 34 innings last season. He's competing for a role in the Angels bullpen this spring. 


Orioles sign Elih Villanueva to a minor-league deal
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:54 pm ET) The Orioles have signed pitcher Elih Villanueva to a minor-league deal, according to MLB.com.

Villanueva has played in just one game in the majors. He gave up eight runs over three innings in a start for the Marlins back in 2011. Villanueva had a strong showing in the Dominican League, leading the circuit with a 2.63 ERA.


Reds' Stephenson hoping to make an impact this season
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:49 pm ET) Reds pitcher Robert Stephenson is hoping to make an impact in the majors this season, according to MLB.com.

Stephenson may not open the year in the majors, but is hoping he arrives sooner rather than later. "My goal by the end of the year is to be in Cincinnati," Stephenson said. "It's your dream growing up as a kid. It would be awesome to be there but at the same time, I want to get to a point where I deserve to be there and belong there."

Stephenson is considered the team's top prospect. He dealt with shoulder issues earlier in camp, but is cleared for action now. 

Manager Bryan Price said Stephenson has a few things to work on, but seemed optimistic about his long-term outlook. With Robert, it's command -- not necessarily throwing strikes, but the quality of the strikes," Price said.

The 22-year-old should start the year in the minors, but could earn a promotion based on how well he pitches.


Mariners' Chris Taylor homers, triples on Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:42 pm ET) Mariners shortstop Chris Taylor hit a home run and tripled on Friday against the Dodgers.

Taylor came into camp competing for the team's shortstop position with Brad Miller. While Miller likely has the upper hand, he's coming off a down season. Taylor, on the other hand, played well in the minors in 2014, and hit .287 in a brief major-league debut. It's believed whoever loses out on the starting role will be sent to the minors. 


Reds' Tony Cingrani goes two scoreless innings in debut
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:36 pm ET) Reds pitcher Tony Cingrani tossed two scoreless innings in his spring debut on Friday.

Cingrani allowed two hits in two innings of work. He walked one and struck out two during the outing. After an injury-riddled 2014, Cingrani has received a clean bill of health, and is competing for a spot in the team's rotation. 

The 25-year-old posted a 4.55 ERA over 63 1/3 innings last season. 


Athletics' Graveman tosses two scoreless innings in debut
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:20 pm ET) Athletics pitcher Kendall Graveman tossed two scoreless innings in his spring debut on Friday.

Graveman was acquired by the club during the offseason, and is one of the few pitchers competing for the fifth spot in the team's rotation. He gave up two hits over two scoreless innings in his debut. Graveman struck out one and did not issue any walks.

Graveman came away satisfied with the outing. I thought it went well," he said. "Stuff felt good, and thought I located well today. All in all I thought it was a good first outing."

Graveman appeared in five games last season, putting up a 3.86 ERA. 


Rangers' Nick Tepesch gets crushed in first spring start
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:15 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Nick Tepesch got destroyed in his first spring start on Friday.

Tepesch allowed seven runs on seven hits over just 1 1/3 innings. He walked one and did not strike out any batters during the outing. Tepesch is competing for a spot in the team's rotation, but didn't make the best impression. It's still early in camp, and Tepesch admitted he was trying to be aggressive during the outing.

"I was just trying to attack hitters and get ahead of hitters," Tepesch said. "They took advantage of my mistakes. I didn't really have good command. They put some good swings on some balls."

The 26-year-old posted a 4.36 ERA over 126 innings last year. 


Padres' Despaigne, Morrow impress in bid to win fifth spot
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:09 pm ET) Padres pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne and Brandon Morrow impressed during their first taste of spring action, according to MLB.com.

"I thought they threw the ball well," said Padres manager Bud Black. Both Despaigne and Morrow are competing for the fifth spot in the team's rotation. While Despaigne got the start, Morrow came on and pitched two innings in relief.

Both players were effective, keeping the White Sox off the board for four innings. Despaigne struck out two batters to Morrow's one, but they posted identical stat lines otherwise. 

Despite the strong performances, Black said it was far too early to draw any conclusions about who will open the season in the rotation.


Indians' Danny Salazar gives up two runs in debut
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:03 pm ET) Indians pitcher Danny Salazar allowed two runs in his spring debut on Friday.

Salazar gave up two runs on three hits over two innings of work. He struck out four and walked one during the outing. Despite the shaky outing, manager Terry Francona came away impressed

"He made a couple mistakes along the way, but I thought he threw the ball really well," he said. "In the season, we can probably nitpick. But, in Spring Training for a first outing, I thought the ball came out of his hand really well and I thought he tried to drive it down with more intent. That's what he needs to do."

The 25-year-old Salazar is expected to compete for a spot in the team's rotation this spring. He posted a 4.25 ERA over 110 innings last season. 


 
 
 
Rankings