By Andy Behrens
May 9, 2007
Roto Arcade This Week : May 7
| May 8
Barry Bonds hit his 11th home run of the season Tuesday night. It was the 745th of his career. He's now batting .338 with an OPS of 1.332. The only other player in MLB history to post an OPS over 1.300 for a full season was Babe Ruth, who last did it 84 years ago.
If you don't consider context, Barry Bonds is inarguably the greatest hitter of all-time. Spare me the rant about sports ethics. Don't bother me with your nonsense about whatever messages we should be sending to Little Leaguers. That has no place here. This is a fantasy column. Here's my message to Little Leaguers: Hey kids, don't draft a closer too early! And don't overpay for stolen bases! And be sure to get your parents permission before ordering StatTracker!
Whatever else I think about Barry Bonds, I'd be a bit negligent as a fantasy writer if I dismissed him as un-ownable. Yeah, he's on my team in the Yahoo! Friends and Family League, but I shouldn't really get kudos for drafting him. He fell to the 16th round. I took him three rounds after taking Carlos Quentin. Bobby Crosby went six picks before Bonds. Odds are, your draft was somewhat similar. In Yahoo! leagues, Bonds' average draft position was 161.5.
At this point, it's reasonable to say that the greatest hitter of all-time was grossly undervalued in fantasy drafts. Strange, eh? This says something about what a divisive and perplexing character Bonds has become. It also illustrates an important market inefficiency in fantasy sports: owners generally care too much about a player's likeability. Bonds is a seven-time MVP who hit 26 home runs in only 367 at bats last season. Even at 42, we really should have expected greatness from him. Roger Clemens is two years older than Bonds, and few fantasy owners or experts consider him un-ownable.
My intent here isn't simply to point out a tactical drafting error that many of us made. It's also to reinforce a suggestion put forth in the most recent round of fantasy SportStream-ing: if you happen to own Bonds, explore the trade market. As spectacular as Bonds has been this season and throughout his career, at least a few of the reservations that fantasy owners had about him before the season began were valid. He does have a tendency to miss games; he doesn't recover quickly from tweaks and strains; after he breaks the home run record, you can reasonably expect more recuperative off-days. While he's a tremendously useful fantasy player, you'll probably need to employ a Barry-caddy for all those games in which he'll sit. Thus, I don't think he's quite as valuable as many of the players he's getting dealt for in Yahoo! leagues. In the past week, he's been traded straight-up for Carl Crawford and Manny Ramirez, and he's been packaged with role players for Johan Santana and Ryan Howard. Those are deals I'd be willing to make. Knowing when to cash out an investment can be just as important as knowing how to identify one.
Without Freddy Sanchez, there would be no email. That's not to say he was a programmer back in the 1970s. No, I'm saying that if it weren't for the Pirates infielder, I wouldn't get nearly as much email. Most of the correspondence relating to Sanchez, the defending National League batting champ, begins the same way: "What should I do about … ?"
When you draft a one-category player in a 5x5 league and they struggle to produce in their area of usefulness, you tend to notice what a liability they are elsewhere. Robinson Cano owners are likely going through the same thing. Don't tell me that 85 R and 85 RBI are valuable, either. Those aren't quite league-average numbers in a 12-team mixed league. I'd keep Sanchez in large, deep-benched leagues where his multi-position eligibility is a big advantage, but his trade value is limited right now. He's just getting guys like Aaron Hill and Gil Meche in one-for-one deals. If you're looking to drop Sanchez, there's not much I can say in his defense. I can make a solid case to add any of these middle infielders, all of whom have a smaller percent-ownership than Sanchez: Howie Kendrick (76.9 percent owned and DL-eligible), Ty Wigginton (72.2), Tadahito Iguchi (63.6), Stephen Drew (61.4), Luis Castillo (18.8), and Ryan Theriot (17.3).
Felipe Lopez is down to 77.6 percent ownership. He was dropped in 2758 leagues on Tuesday. I own him in a couple leagues, and have no intention of cutting him loose. The guy has been a feast/famine sort of player the past two seasons, batting .250 one month and .310 the next. He hit his first home run of the season on Tuesday, and he's got five steals. I'd wager that the numbers you projected when you drafted him – something like 90 R, 10 HR, 35 SB, .270 AVG – are the numbers he'll have by the end of the season.
Not many high-upside streamable starting pitchers on Friday, but I'd be willing to own Tim Wakefield (51.8 percent owned) at Toronto and Daniel Cabrera (37.0) against Tampa Bay. Expect a few stolen bases from the Devil Rays against Cabrera, though.
Andy Behrens has written for ESPN.com, the Chicago Sports Review, NBA.com, the Chicago Reader and various other publications. In all likelihood, Andy owns more Artis Gilmore memorabilia than you. Follow him on Twitter. Send Andy a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Wednesday, May 9, 2007 4:41 pm, EDT
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