May 30, 2008
Editor's Note: The best thing about being a fantasy expert is the total lack of accountability. It took me years to find a job where nobody systematically tracked anyone's performance, but the search was totally worth it. However, being completely hypocritical, I demand accountability from others. That's why I've invited Ben Distler to update us on the success or failure of his unusual approach in head-to-head leagues. Also, I'm traveling today, and needed the content.
The following is all Ben...
"Eh, I just don't like you."
This was the reason given after I asked why a trade of mine was vetoed. While, judging from the "eh," he may just be an angry Canadian*, I suspect the real reason is because I'm this guy. The article regarding my unorthodox head-to-head strategy generated 219 comments, some of which threatened bodily harm, and many of which questioned my intelligence and/or sanity. More than a few questioned whether it would work at all. I'm happy to report I'm sitting at a decent 41-36-3. I've yet to be physically assaulted.
The reason I call a .531 winning percentage decent is that this year has been a little funky as far as pitching is concerned. C.C. Sabathia took a while to get going. Jake Peavy is sitting on the DL with, according to different reports, an injury that may cost him one start or one year (while things look good right now, I'm sticking pins in my Dr. James Andrews voodoo doll just in case). Closers have never been less of a sure thing than they are now, and that is saying something. Stolen bases per game are up -- from 1.06 per game in 2005 to 1.25 this year -- which is a detriment to this type of team.
All that being said, this season has a long way to go. As the dog days of summer approach, those 0-for-4s pop up more often (especially if your name happens to be Dan Uggla), and the strikeouts pile up. As teams like Kansas City and San Francisco have absolutely, positively nothing to play for (even more so than right now), it gets easier to dominate the pitching categories. This kind of team is a strong finisher. You never know when a waiver claim like Clayton Kershaw (obligatory Roto Arcade mention) will come along and propel you to the finish.
I'm more than confident that this strategy can nearly guarantee you a playoff spot in a head-to-head league. One thing that naysayers don't take into account is that this strategy flattens out the entire league's winning percentage. If one owner takes the majority of the good pitchers, everyone else basically goes .500 against each other on the pitching categories. Currently in my league, third through seventh place are separated by only 2.5 games. That is essentially nothing. You can go from third to completely out of it in a week. I believe this style will give you the consistency over the long haul to get a spot in the playoffs. And as Billy Beane says, the playoffs are essentially a crapshoot**.
Say what you will about head-to-head leagues. If you don't like them, don't play them. But they're offered as an option here on Yahoo!, and so long as they exist, I'm going to (and so should you) try and exploit them to the best of my ability. Nothing is unfair if it isn't specifically banned in the rules. So what if I don't have a C, 1B or 3B on my roster? The spirit of the game is not to play conventionally; the spirit of the game is to give your team the best chance to win. Period.
If that makes the other members of your league (and certain blog commenters) hate you, then so be it.
* The official position of this blog is that Canada is awesome, and Canadians are remarkably thoughtful commenters and emailers. Just so we're clear.
** They're less of a crapshoot if you earn a bye.