Reflecting on 2009: It's All About Guys Like Choo!

I gotta tell you folks, there is not enough love for a guy that saved my fantasy baseball season.  I picked him up on the Waiver Wire in Mid-May when one of my Utility slots opened up, Carlos Delgrado (Carlos Del WHO???)

I picked up a Shin-Soo Choo.  It's a guy that no one talks about, but was pretty valuable.  At the time he was batting .286 with 5 HR, 6 SB, 21 Runs, and 23 RBI. All he did when I picked him up in Mid-May was bat .304, go 15/15, drive in 63, and score 66 runs. On a team with Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley, Ryan Zimmerman, and Ryan Braun, you don't need a guy that does too much. Just someone who can add to your totals, and not hurt you anywhere.

What I don't understand why is there no love for Choo? No one really talks about him, and some even rip on him for how much he strikes out. If you look at his fantasy numbers, though, he batted .300, went 20/20, drove in 80+, and scored 80+. Not impressed? Do you know how many guys went 20/20+ this year? The Answer: 12.

He was rated 54th overall and was only owned by 77% of fantasy owners. I think his average and power are for real, but the steals came from nowhere. If he's committed to running on the bases, he is a solid under the radar guy that can help your roster out.

In fantasy baseball there is such a premium on basestealers. People are willing to take up a roster spot owning the Michael Bourns of the world, just so they can get their steals. In a 10 team, 10 batter lineup setting, it doesn't make any sense to me to waste a spot in a one-trick pony. I'd much rather have a 15/15 guy who hits for average, drives in runs, and scores, than a 3/40 guy. We put too much emphasis on picking up the steals at any cost. Don't be one of those people!

Take a look at the teams in my league that finished at the top in steals in 2009:

  • Team A: 1st in Steals, last in HRs, last in RBI, 6th in Runs, finished tied for 7th overall
  • Team B: 2nd in Steals, 5th in HRs, 5th in RBI, 9th in Runs, finished 6th overall
  • Team C: 3rd in Steals, 8th in HRs, 7th in RBI, 7th in Runs, finished tied for 7th overall

Now take a look at the guys who finished at the top of the league overall in 2009:

  • 1st Place: 2nd in runs, 2nd in HRs, 4th in RBI, 5th in Steals, 4th in Average. Pitching put him over the top
  • 2nd Place: 1st in runs, 1st in HRs, 1st in RBI, 4th in Steals, 3rd in Average
  • 3rd Place:  3rd in runs, 3rd in HRs, 2nd in RBI,  6th in Steals, 5th in Average

What do these guys have in common? They had great stats in 4/5 categories and were middle of the pack in steals.

All leagues are different. I'm sure there are lots of cases in which guys have won in steals and won their league. I'm not saying it's impossible, but I do think it's more difficult to do. I'd rather win the other 4 categories and get a 4 or 5 in steals, than winning steals and getting a 4 or 5 in the other categories.  This is a league of some knowledgeable baseball fans, and all I'm trying to point out is that you can win your league as long as you are just "good enough" in steals.

I think a mistake that many experts do is emphasize steals too much. It's a tricky category, so they spend lots of time covering it, and I think it gives the casual fantasy player the impression that you "must" get a 40+ steal guy or you won't win your league.

At the end of the day, I take the following approach: Pick up 15/15 and 20/20 guys (also potential 30/30 guys in the first round). Build up the the other 4 categories. Don't underestimate the guys that can give you a little bit of everything when you are in the middle rounds of your draft. Let the others in the league fish for steals at the expense of the rest of the offensive categories.

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