April 11, 2011
It's not difficult to give simple, general, pre-packaged advice on Willie Bloomquist(notes) these days. Go with something like "he's not this good," or "sell high," or "ride him while he's hot." A brief perusal of Bloomquist's undistinguished decade-long career speaks for itself.
You can take this theme to other aspects of life, too. Will it stop raining? Always does. Will the economy come around? Eventually.
But let's just open our minds for a second and consider what positive things we can say about Willie Bloomquist. Other than the seven-game hot streak he's on, what is there to like here?
• He's always been a plus baserunner (110 career steals in 138 attempts). That's his one excellent skill. And for better or for worse, a speed specialist will always have value in some fantasy formats.
• He's got several potential ways into the lineup. He's played shortstop (while Stephen Drew(notes) was hurt) and left field this year, and he's played every spot but pitcher and catcher over his career. In Yahoo! leagues, he qualifies at short, third and outfield.
• Arizona manager Kirk Gibson seems to like him. Note that Bloomquist has batted leadoff in every game he's played this year, which is a more-important distinction in the National League. NL speedsters that bat low in the lineup often don't get running opportunities with the pitcher spot looming; teams want to either use the pitcher to bunt or get the weak at-bat out of the way if there's two outs.
Obviously no one is expecting Bloomquist to be a season-long revelation or the breakout star of the season. The best comparison here is probably Emilio Bonifacio(notes) 2009 (hat tip, Jeff Erickson), though Bonifacio didn't have Bloomquist's base-stealing acumen back then.
But I see three important themes to grasp with the Bloomquist story.
• Get used to building a potentially-positive case for any player, even if you don't really believe it. Just practice it. Look at differing factors. Be willing to ask "why not?" when others say "why bother?" The open-minded owners got Jose Bautista(notes) last year. You ultimately don't have to take an upside case and act on it, but at least get used to constructing them.
• Understand that in certain specialist areas, the barrier to fantasy worthiness is very low. Speedsters are like that and closers are like that. I don't care what any pitcher's career numbers look like, if you ask him to get three outs in the ninth with a lead (often of two runs or more) there's a fair chance he might take the job and run with it.
• At the end of the day, true fantasy nirvana is getting production from a "scrub." Sure, it's fun to own Peyton Manning or Henrik Sedin, but I've had just as much fun hitching up to Tyler Thigpen or Joe Pavelski at the right time. Stay open minded and remember, we're just in it for the numbers.
In the comments, let's pick our Bloomquist Pumpkin Day - the day he wakes up and goes back to being a fantasy-insignificant player. Maybe it's this week, maybe it's early May, maybe it's midseason. I don't know. But it's been fun finding money on the street with this lovable scrub in the meantime.
This game is supposed to be fun, isn't it?
Image courtesy Associated Press