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Andy Behrens

Our 24/7 Longoria coverage continues

Andy Behrens
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Here's a comment that's worth breaking out from yesterday's Longoria discussion:

The ranting about him is the same ranting I've heard about everybody who's highly touted. I just don't understand why fantasy experts get away with being wrong on such a regular basis. i mean you throw enough crap at a wall some of it's bound to stick but sheesh.

That's a pretty fair statement by Steve B. It addresses two unavoidable facts: 1) Fantasy experts produce a lot of prospect porn, especially early in the baseball season, and 2) we're often wrong.

Would it be so difficult to produce fantasy content that's always dead-on right? No, not really. All you'd have to do is recap games, recommend players who are widely-owned, and "predict" that veteran players will reach the numbers they usually reach. There are experts out there who've completely mastered this style. Some are entertaining and shockingly well-compensated.

But they'll rarely help you.

The writers who are useful -- not just here, but elsewhere -- have strongly-held opinions and they express them convincingly. That approach is going to lead to spectacular misses (like this one, for example), but also to seemingly prescient calls that win leagues. The only fantasy content that's actually worth reading, other than two-sentence notes on the players you own, is forward-looking and predictive. When you write forward-looking stuff, you're going to be wrong, and you're going to be wrong on a regular basis. It happens.

In baseball leagues, if you make 100 transactions in a season and 65 of them work out, you'll have given yourself a significant edge. If one or two of those transactions are huge successes -- like Ryan Braun in '07 or Jered Weaver in '06 -- then you're contending for a title. But you'll still have been wrong 35 times. That's the crap that falls from the wall.

This gets us to the issue of raving about everyone who's highly touted. This happens, no doubt. That's why many of us engage only in targeted raving. Here, we're not going to profile every highly regarded prospect in the high minors. We're just going to talk about the small number of them who have the greatest chance to achieve fantasy relevance this season -- and we'll hype the [profane] out of 'em.

Evan Longoria is one of those players. Still, if you asked me to project his 2008 season, I'd give you something safe and conservative: maybe 20 home runs, 70 RBI, and a batting average in the neighborhood of .270. That's not too impressive fantasy-wise, and it does not describe a player who should be owned in every league.

However, elite prospects aren't interesting because of what they'll most likely do. Instead, you own them because of what they might do, if things go well. The range of possible outcomes for a guy like Longoria is wide, and it's wildly impressive at the top end.

For comparison's sake, consider a third baseman like Ty Wigginton. He'll probably produce numbers similar to that Longoria forecast above. But what's his ceiling? It's also pretty similar to the forecast above. If you asked me what the best-case scenario is for both players, it wouldn't be close. Wigginton is 30, and last season looked an awful lot like the prior year. Longoria is 22, and he's widely considered to be a player who's going to be great, not merely good.

That's why you don't drop him in March, and that's why we rant. You don't win leagues without owning a few players who vastly exceed expectations. If Longoria is called up in late-May and he fails miserably, there are going to be plenty of un-owned corner infielders capable of that 20-70-.270 line. In mixed leagues they're available in the player pool all year. Is Casey Blake owned in your 14-team mixed league? Probably not.

But if Longoria is called up in May and he matches the hype -- not just the hype in the fantasy community, but the hype produced by virtually everyone who scouts baseball prospects for any purpose -- then you have an absolute star. You'll have the sort of player who wins fantasy championships.

And as I write this, he's been dropped 1175 times today.

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