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The League of Fake Teams: Championship Tale of the Tape

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Way back in April, we formed a league here of writers and readers based on the results of our mock draft. Let’s take a look at the championship matchup with some insights from one of the owners (aka me)

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With baseball’s regular season winding down, I thought it would be a good time to catch you up on Fake Teams’ own fantasy baseball league. Way back in March we started a long, slow, draft that didn’t end until April 15. Shortly thereafter, we formed a Yahoo! league using standard 5 x 5 categories (R, RBI, HR, SB, AVG, W, K, ERA, WHIP, SV).

Here are the participants in the league:

WRITERS:

  • Pete Rogers
  • Rob Parker
  • Punk is Dead
  • Ghoji Blackburn
  • Mark Abell
  • Eddy Almaguer
  • J.E. Barnett

READERS:

  • MIK57
  • SaucyTortugas
  • Travis Campo
  • GhostShow
  • Matbrekk
  • asaw780
  • Baker’s Dozen

With 14 teams, this league was fairly deep, but waiver wire gems were certainly available, as you will see. Most teams relied heavily on their drafted players, but not entirely. To see who everyone drafted, check out this Google spreadsheet.

After months of head-to-head matchups, the standings looked like this going into the playoffs:

And this is how the playoff bracket looks after two weeks of playoff action:

This is the part where you accuse me of bias or tooting my own horn as you notice where my team ended up. I can’t deny that I was certainly more likely to write this post sitting in the championship matchup than watching it from afar. However, it also means I can give an insider look into the final matchup and how I got to this point.

I had never previously played in a standard 5x5 league before. I have been a long time OBP and QS proponent, so I was hesitant to rely on fluky wins and give up the value of walks. Nonetheless, it was a good opportunity to engage with some of our great readers and be challenged by our writers.

And then there’s Pete. Sorry, man. It was his first fantasy baseball season ever, so keep that in mind. Better luck next year. He does a great job running this site, so don’t let his baseball record make you think less of him. I wouldn’t want to be in a football league with him, though. He would destroy me.

The Rosters

Anyway, it’s now down to Punk is Dead and myself. It is rare for the #1 and #2 seeds to meet in the championship, but it worked out this time. Here’s Punk is Dead’s roster:

Here’s my roster:

Breakout fantasy stars litter both our rosters. Punk has Travis Shaw, Eugenio Suarez, Aaron Judge, and Domingo Santana. All of those guys greatly exceeded expectations this year. On the pitching side, Gio Gonzalez was a huge surprise in 2017. As for me, Lindor’s power surge, Elvis Andrus suddenly becoming an offensive force, The Rhys Hoskins Experience, and my favorite breakout hitter of the year, Tommy Pham, carried me this far.

My pitching relied mostly on my aces, Carlos Martinez and Zack Greinke. Lance McCullers and Jake Faria were huge contributors when they were healthy, but aren’t doing well now when I need them most, so I dropped them.

As it is every year, finding reliable closers was a challenge. Punk at least got to use the MLB saves leader, Colome all year. I ended up with the trio of Parker, Treinen, and Vizcaino, but that’s far from where I started. My initial closers were Jim Johnson and Hector Neris. Johnson was ok for half the season, but of course lost his job. Neris would have been good to have late in the year, but early on he was locked in a committee and didn’t get any saves.

I was forced to abandon many of my draft picks over the course of the season. Evan Longoria, Lorenzo Cain, McCullers, Albert Pujols, Brandon Belt, Michael Pineda, Tyler Glasnow, Robert Gsellman, and Carlos Gomez all got dropped either due to injury, poor performance, or both.

Late Season Pickups

As the calendar turned to September, I picked up a few pieces for the playoff push. C.J. Cron got hot in August and carried most of that into September, so he filled the spot that Pujols started in to turn it over to Yonder Alonso, who was amazing until he wasn’t. I had to pick up Phillies phenom Rhys Hoskins as soon as he was called up. I believed in the hype around him, and, after seeing Cody Bellinger, Aaron Judge, Matt Olson, and others succeed in the majors this year as rookies, I had to jump on the chance to catch one of these stars while I still could.

I had no idea he would hit all the homers in just a few weeks. Justin Bour was another late addition. He came off the DL in the middle of the month and I pounced. He has been great when healthy for two years now and I needed to fill the corner infield slot that Brandon Belt originally had until he got hurt.

Adrian Beltre suddenly became available in September and once he was healthy again, I snatched him up to replace the disappearing Evan Longoria. Seriously, what happened to him this year? I tried Matt Chapman of the A’s in that slot for a while, but Beltre has been amazing at age 38. He’s hitting over 0.300 and has the 5th best wRC+ of his entire career. His first year was in 1998!

The #1 Pick

Obviously, having the first pick in the draft was a huge help, even if Mr. #1 Pick, Michael Nelson Trout, missed a month and a half. Trout has the best wRC+ of his career this year and has 31 HR and 22 steals in just 491 PA! He should remain the #1 pick in all drafts next year. His injury did open up an opportunity for someone else to finish #1 on ESPN’s player rater.

Can you guess who? Judge is a good guess. How about Charlie Blackmon? Nope. Apparently starting pitchers were the most valuable fantasy assets this year, with three of the top four players on the player rater being starters: Corey Kluber (#1!), Chris Sale, and Max Scherzer. Jose Altuve finishes at #2. Kluber’s 0.86 WHIP and 2.27 ERA really stand out, even among the best pitchers in baseball.

The Matchup

In evaluating my matchup with Punk is Dead, I think he has an advantage in the lineup. His Judge-Altuve-Turner-Correa-Cruz group is slightly better than the best group of five I’ve got: Trout-Lindor-Hoskins-Pham-Davis.

On the pitching side, I think I’ve got him beat, though. Drew Pomeranz is his best pitcher and he’s been declining for the past month. I’ve got Greinke, an inconsistent but mostly-ace-like Carlos Martinez, a surging Kyle Gibson, and three closers that are all better than his two options.

So, it’s already Wednesday night as I write this. “How’s the matchup going?”, you may or may not have asked. Let’s take a look:

His hitting is certainly outperforming mine and my pitching is looking better than his, especially once you factor in the innings difference. Blake Snell (later dropped), Drew Pomeranz, and Luke Weaver have ballooned his ERA and WHIP, but his strikeout total is still good.

It looks like it will be a close matchup all the way to the end. Best of luck to you, Punk is Dead. Thanks to everyone for participating and reading about the league this year. Next year, we will start the draft much sooner so we don’t have to start the league in late April. Tschus!