My fantasy life is shared, sorry, “co-habbed,” by fantasy boyfriends. These are the players whom I’ve become attached to for one reason or another: I drafted them as a prospect, I acquired them before they broke out, I still believe in them despite injury or age, they’re a Tiger/Piston/Lion/NY Liberty, they’re a perennial stud possibility, or they possess a sweetass nickname (El Oso Blanco, tu veo).
Here’s an example.
Earlier this season in my fantasy basketball league, I would not trade OG Anunoby, the French Resistance Frank Ntili, nor Professor Spencer “The Mayor” Dinwiddie. I wouldn’t trade those dudes for Chris Effing Paul, the Point God. (There were other pieces included, of course, but it was those guys who stopped me from making the trade.) I have since dumped OG, and cried for days and days and days. When another owner in my league picked OG up off the waiver wire, I acted like my best friend had slept with my wife. I’ll never speak to him again. But, if OG called and left a message about maybe grabbing a drink sometime, you’re goddamn right I’d say Yes, I Still Love You, Please Come Home! (But, like, in a super casual, whatever-I’m-over-you kinda way.)
Which leads us to my present quandary. With fantasy baseball heating up, I need to figure out whether I’m acting like an emotional moron with my fantasy baseball boyfriends or making the right decision. I have, ummm, a lot of them. I’m in a dynasty league, we have a minor league draft before every season, otherwise you just pick dudes up from the free agent pool. I have an illegal roster (no RPs, at all), but I don’t need a legal one until the games actually start later this month. So, I need your help to help me disentangle myself from fantasy boyfriends who will be less than fantastical in real life. I don’t want a boyfriend who will disappoint me, or make me feel stupid, or make me pay for dinner when dinner is Arby’s and Wendy’s. (Please, by all means, name a better combo than a Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich, and an Arby’s Big Montana. The Big Montana no longer exists, probably for very predictable and obvious health reasons, but when it did exist it was a dynamic duo with the WSCS. Also, Arby’s curly fries dipped in a Wendy’s Frosty. All day. Til you die. Blissfully. FYI, if you said “surf ‘n turf” to the better combo challenge, then you must be a US men’s jv soccer “team” fan, aka A POSER!)
Below are (some of) my fantasy baseball boyfriends. Which ones won’t break my heart? Which ones will cheat on me with other, perhaps taller, owners? Which ones will disappoint me in the first half, so I drop them, but then they decide to start working out, and start eating healthy, and stop smoking cigarettes, and they start dating their coworker just like I said they would, and, alla sudden!, their wRC+ in the second half is top 50 and I look like an idiot for dropping him before the All Star break for an RP I thought had a chance of becoming a closer, but who obviously never did. Like, I can’t tell you how many photos of Rhys Hoskins I burned last season out of pure, unadulterated fantasy-misery. Oh, Rhys! Why are you with Steve and not me?! What can Steve give you that I can’t? A steady job and the ability to ride the big boy roller coasters? Because, fine, I can’t satisfy that impossible standard, but I still love you! You’d be PERFECT on my team, PERFECT! PLEASE FORGIVE ME AND COME HOME!
Sigh. Fantasy relationships are hard. But, we’re all just Love Criminals on the Romance Highway, are we not? We’re all just trying not to get run over by a robot semi, or get run down by the Law. I mean, I’m just a normal guy tryna make the goddamn playoffs, y’know?
Without further ado, here they are:
El Oso Blanco, Evan Gattis, C/DH
I pick Gattis up about 4 times a year, and then keep him through the playoffs. I’ve been doing this since he was in Atlanta. I love Evan Gattis. That dude looks like he rips trees out the goddamn ground during the offseason. He looks like he actually could fight a bear. Houston totally sabotaged him last year by overstuffing their DH and signing McCann (I mean, they won the World Series, so I shouldn’t criticize, but their decisions had consequences for a certain somebody’s fantasy team, ahem ahem ahem). Hopefully, enough at bats this summer will equal Gattis hitting 40 homers. Notice I didn’t say “probably,” or even “possibly.” And, yet, I am hopeful. Like an astronaut on a dying spacestation who still believes in rescue missions, I am hopeful.
Mallex Smith, OF
Other owners, many of whom I will never speak to again, in my league tease me about Mallex. Let me respond to these taunts. First, his goddamn name is Mallex. That’s cooler than anything you, or I, or any of our offspring will ever do or be. Second, he’s got them wheels, man! He should be stealing eleventy billion bags a season. Hopefully, Tampa Bay (ugh) has rid themselves of enough filler so that they can actually start Mallex in left field. (By the way, Mallex in left and Kiermaier in center is probably going to be rillyrillyrilly good.)
Kevin Kiermaier, OF
I even know how to spell this dude’s last name! God Almighty, Kevin, PLEASE get me 20 and 20 this year, PLEASE!!
Derek Fisher, OF
I traded another one of my boyfriends, Jeff Samardzija (I know how to spell his name, too!), for Derek Fisher and a 3rd round draft pick. I’m a big believer in Houston’s ability to identify outfield talent (remember, they had JD Martinez before they, dumbdumbdumbly, let him go to Detroit for nothing). Fisher could be a power-speed combo guy, and so gold in fantasy, but he hasn’t gotten the playing time yet. Hopefully, this year is the year.
Socrates Brito, OF
His name is Socrates Brito. That is literally the only reason I’m fantasy baseball dating him. I don’t even care if he’s good. His name is Socrates. Good for his parents, man, that took some goddamn guts to name their kid that. The only way his name could be cooler is if Socrates was a family name, and he can trace his roots back to the ancient Athenian. I’ve always respected Socrates, not just because he was the first moral philosopher, but because he’d rather die than have to move to another town. Same, Socrates. Moving is the worst!
Kate Upton’s husband, Justin, SP
As a Tigers fan, I worship at the Holy Church of Verlander. If he doesn’t make the Hall of Fame, I’ll burn this entire MFer to the ground. I stuck with him through the bad times, when no one believed in him except me, and his parents, and Kate. When Verlander dies, he’ll just disappear into the Force like Yoda, and Ben, and Luke. Force projections of Jedi Master Verlander will help young padawan baseballers throughout the galaxy, and they will be the spark that ignites the Rebellion!
In other words, I’ll never abandon Justin Verlander. Because he’ll never abandon us.
Having said that, I would be totally fine with JV throwing a vintage 12-6 curve followed by some Force lightning this season, even if it meant he was succumbing to the Dark Side. When someone asks you if you’re a God, you say Yes, and when you have the chance to shoot lightning out of your fingers, you do it. Maybe that’s just how I was raised, but I believe in both of those things very strongly.
Sean Manaea, SP, another person whose name I can spell correctly
Either this dude will become the best pitcher in baseball, or all of my “friends” will tease me relentlessly for telling them that Sean Manaea will be the best pitcher in baseball for kiiiiiind of a long time now. Sean, please. Please, man! I need this! You don’t understand how much trash I’ve talked to my awful friends in this stupid league about you!
Santos Saldivar, SP
This was one of the dudes from Lindbergh’s and Miller’s excellent book, The Only Rule Is It Has To Work. Saldivar isn’t even available in my fantasy league, as in his name does not show up on CBS’s site. But, he’s an intriguing pitcher and seems to be an ultra cool guy. It would be amazing if he became a success story despite his humble beginning. I like nice stories, and thus, I like Santos Saldivar. He was in the Brewers system last year, but he’s now in a AAA Mexican league. The Tigers should go get him, since they’re going to be awful this year and should be looking for every opportunity to acquire talent, even unheralded talent. And, because I’d get to throw it in my “friends” faces. See?! I was right the whole time! KNEEL BEFORE ME IN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT!!
Brett Lawrie, IF
What the eff happened to Brett Lawrie?? He was going to be a solid infielder just a few years ago and now he’s out of baseball? Jesus. I really thought this dude had the tools. He’s still on my scout team! Curious case, that one, I wonder what happened.
Ryan Schimpf, Baseball Experiment That Gained Awareness
I ride and/or die for Jumbo Schimpf. Please, someone, let him hit 40 home runs and strike out 400 times and walk 400 times. I just want to see it. Three True Outcomes sounds like the title to a Toad the Wet Sprocket album. So, duh, of course I’m a fan! I imagine Jumbo Schimpf can walk on the water, no? “Wood becomes bone” sounds kinda baseball-ey.
What? Embarrassed? Why would I be embarrassed? Toad the Wet Sprocket was my generation’s Beatles. Right?
Jason Heyward, Serial Monogamist and Habitual Awful Fantasy Baseball Boyfriend
I mean, this is a tough relationship at this point. Real talk, I was congratulated by my league when I finally dropped Heyward last year (after having kept him since, well, the beginning of his career). It was like being hugged by your loved ones after an intervention, except I hate all of them for stealing my fantasy boyfriends over the years, and I’ll never, NEVER, get over the fact that Heyward was supposed to be the foundation of my fantasy team, except he didn’t live up to my lofty expectations. He betrayed my love.
Having said that, if he shows even the slightest sign of power in April, I will swoop him up with dash and an addict’s belief in atonement. I just can’t quit you, Jason.
Keon Broxton, OF
Yo, do you know how many 20-20 guys there were in baseball last year? There were 8. Eight players in all of the majors hit twenty home runs and stole twenty bases. There were 9 in 2016, there were 4(!) in 2015, there were 5 in 2014, and there were 9 in 2013. So, they’re pretty goddamn rare. Broxton is one of those rarities: Last year he stole 21 bases and hit 20 home runs. Now, he also struck out 175 times in 400 at bats (lol, whoa! That was the 10th most strikeouts in the majors last year, and Keon did it in fewer ABs than anyone else in the top, er, bottom 10.). Broxton’s batting average was, how you say, butt, and his line at season’s end was .220/.299/.420 (obv). Those ratios are NOT HELPFUL. But, being a 20-20 guy sure is.
If Broxton gets traded to a team that gives him a full time job, or if the Brewers platoon their outfield and first base so that Keon gets around 500 at bats, then there’s a good shot that Keon can replicate that 20-20 line IF he can keep his average around .240 and lay off some of the Ks. If he can replicate his walk rate from 2015, he could still be a good player (he had a 110 wRC+ that season in 200 ABs). There’s a 25-25 player in there, but it won’t emerge until his batting eye improves. He can’t hit righties, which is, like, a serious problem, but his hard hit rate is good, and when he gets volume at bats, he’s generally performed well. For his career, his best batting averages correlate to his number of at bats: if he gets over 100 a month, his batting average is mediocre-to-okay; if he gets fewer than 100, then his average plummets. His homers and steals also follow, so it just seems like he’s a rhythm hitter and needs to have everyday ABs in order to maintain that rhythm. Makes sense, but who’s going to afford him that kind of leash? The Brewers didn’t want to; can they trade him to a team that believes in my boyfriend as much as I do?
Jordan Zimmermann, SP
Who are your fantasy baseball (or just fantasy sports in general) boyfriends? Leave them in the comments!