Fantasy Baseball Experts League Results: Surprise, Surprise, Look At Those Standings

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With the season now in the books officially, Jason Hunt takes a look at the final results of the CBS Experts League he participated in, and ended up pleasantly surprised.

I've written about my experiences participating in an NL-only experts league this season, both immediately after the draft as well as about 2 months into the season. To be honest, I had planned on writing about how it was going in early August as well, and at least partially I forgot to do this. Another part, however, was the fact that I did not want to start messing with the karma, or any other thing in a similar manner to it, because a funny thing started to happen.

At the end of week 10, I had moved up into 7th place, but still almost 30 points behind the leader:

Screen_shot_2013-06-08_at_2

Three weeks later, I had picked up 9 points in the standings, but still had four teams in front of me. Fast forward three more weeks, and I had picked up another 7.5 points, but was still in 3rd place, well behind the first two teams. This progress continued on until about 4 weeks ago, when I finished a week in first place! It was beyond belief, honestly, as I had mentioned that the team needed help:

Realistically, a trade needs to be made to get either some pitching help or slightly better production at CI/3B. When Stanton returns, I probably have one too many outfielders and should probably try to move one of them.

At no point was a trade actually made by me in this league, despite my own apparent advice and thoughts to myself. Regardless of that fact, this (and all fantasy baseball leagues, for that matter) have finished up, and this is what I woke up to:

Screen_shot_2013-09-30_at_5

So how on earth did we get here, and what lessons can we take from it for next year?

Category

Value on 6/10

Points

Value on 9/30

Points

Difference

Batting Average .2489 1 .2583 5 +4
Home Runs 80 11 211 12 +1
Runs Batted In 298 11 816 12 +1
Runs 315 11 843 12 +1
Stolen Bases 31 5 89 7 +2
Strikeouts 425 7 1208 12 +5
ERA 3.783 6 3.561 7 +1
WHIP 1.3393 3 1.2229 9 +6
Wins 25 6 73 7 +1
Saves 12 5 42 6 +1

Total


66


89

+23

1. Sometimes a fluky season can carry you a lot further than you think (or than it really should).

When I start looking at the lineup I had on 6/10, and compare it to my season ending lineup, one player stands out to me: Marlon Byrd. Byrd was hitting .255 with 8 home runs on 6/10, and finished the season with a .291 average and 24 home runs. From a reserved player. I knew that Byrd had kept hitting, but I didn't realize that in 2/3 of a season he had raised his season average almost 40 points. Another player where this came to pass was Juan Uribe, who finished with a batting average approaching .280 with 12 home runs, and did this at a position where I had been extremely weak at the start of the year.

2. Pickups at the right time can mean everything.

Because so many things kept happening to players on my roster, I kept having to make moves to try and make sure I could fill out a lineup with players that were going to get at bats. I picked up Junior Lake on 6/10, purely as a speculative pick because it was possible he might get a call up, and he qualified at middle infield. He didn't get called up for another month, but the Cubs inserted him into the starting lineup after the Alfonso Soriano trade, and I was willing to take a shot on anyone in a utility spot after watching Derek Dietrich struggle for the previous month. Other players that fit this ended up being Khris Davis and Tanner Roark, as both ended up being picked up when their roles were in flux, but with the right set of coincidences (the Braun suspension and injuries to starters in the Nationals' rotation), they ended up being extremely valuable pickups.

3. Sometimes luck is with you, and sometimes it just isn't. (Related: It's always better to be lucky.)

When things are going your way, as the saying goes, everything's coming up Milhouse. Let's look at Lucas Duda as an example. Duda struggled, got hurt, and then ended up demoted. This is not great in a deep league like this, where there's not a ton on waivers. However, because the team demoted starting 1B Ike Davis, they decided to move Daniel Murphy over to first base instead of moving Duda in from the outfield initially. They did this for long enough for him to qualify at the position in CBS leagues, which meant that I could now play him at a CI slot instead of having to run the struggling Derek Dietrich out there. Having Duda get demoted ended up making my lineup stronger, even though he was not in it at the time.

As near as I can tell, the farthest I was from first place while being in second place was almost 13 points, and then players started getting hurt. Your opponent loses Hanley Ramirez for a week, then two. Matt Harvey gets shut down because his shoulder is balking. These things happen during the season, but timing can help you out sometimes. The last player I lost that was significant due to an injury was Ben Revere, while teams that were in front of me started losing players due to being shut down (Jose Fernandez), being injured (Harvey), and their real life teams being out of it. In a deep, single league format like this, not having too many of these things come back and take a knock at you can be the same as having a key player get really, really hot for a time.

4. Grab any player that has the potential to give you counting stats, even if it may hurt you in the ratio categories.

In a deep format like an NL-only league, pretty much anyone that's going to play 3+ games a week has at least some positive value, and anyone that's going to throw more than 4 innings in a week is probably just as valuable. It wasn't relevant whether or not Yusmeiro Petit or Tanner Roark could keep pitching the way they did after their first couple appearances. By the point in the season where they arrived, the possibility of them having such a horrendous outing that they could drastically affect my ERA or WHIP in a negative way was very low. If you need the help, you can't wait around to find out if it will work, because by the time it does, they're already on someone else's team.

The other thing to note with this is that my hitters ended up finishing with nearly 20% more at bats than the second place team, and nearly 5% more than the 3rd place team. As a result, my counting stats were improved just enough that I was able to pick up a few points there, despite some of the players individually not providing great numbers alone. Every single point in a rotisserie league counts, and it doesn't matter when you get the related stats.

So, how much of this is really repeatable? The answer is, I'm not really sure. The stats count the same at the beginning of the season as the end of the season, but the players providing them can absolutely change. That said, the tasks are absolutely repeatable (being diligent on the waiver wire and with your pickups, pushing for counting stats), but having luck break your way at times rather than toward your opponent is usually enough to make a difference in a lot of leagues. Overall it was a great experience, and I'm looking forward to the next opportunity to play in a league like this.

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