So, for the 19th season in a row (I’ve been in ever since Yahoo! bought a site called Sportasy.com, which I’d never even heard of until I did some reading on Wikipedia the other day, and made it Yahoo! Fantasy Sports), and the 16th in a row in this particular league that I created, I’m playing fantasy baseball.
The pictures above are of my 2017 roster. We run a dynasty league, which means we can keep as few or as many players from the previous year’s 25 man roster as we like. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to keep one player who I’d have really liked to keep, for reasons so much bigger than fantasy baseball or even the actual games, because Jose Fernandez is gone now. That sad event aside, I ended up keeping 22 out of my remaining 24 players this off-season (I won the league last year for the first time since ’09, so my guys were pretty OK), which gave me 3 picks in the draft.
My picks were Clint Frazier, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Yulieski Gurriel. The first two are still prospects. Very good ones, but they’re not making the big leagues right away (Frazier’s closer than Vlad Jr., but he’s still a little ways off). This gave me two extra active roster spots, since we have 2 NA spots in our league for minor leaguers, players on suspensions and such, so it was both forward-thinking and very, very sneaky!
Gurriel, I remember as far back as the first World Baseball Classic in 2006, when he played some very good baseball for the Cuban national team. There was also a guy named Yoandy, or Yoandi Garlobo (I’ve seen it spelled both ways) on that team who was an extraordinary hitter, but as far as I know, he’s still in Cuba, he appears to have retired 4 years ago, and as he turns 40 this year, he’s likely not ever playing in Major League Baseball even if he leaves now. Back to Yuli, he had a long road to America and the majors, but he’s here now, and while practically, he’s already at least 32 years old and third baseman #3 on my team (I’m still trying to lock down a great 3B, though I’ve got hope for Jose Ramirez and Ryon Healy), he’s insurance if one of those guys doesn’t work out, and a guy I like rooting for.
Now, I mentioned the 2 extra roster spots I gained by putting the prospects in the minors. I used them to pick up the best starting pitchers I felt I could get my hands on after the draft. They were Ivan Nova and Robert Gsellman. Gsellman’s more of a risk than Nova, because there’s a lot of competition for the Mets’ 5th rotation spot (knowing the Mets, they’ll make room for him in some snakebitten kinda way), but Nova’s a guy I had good results with in ’16 (but no room on my keeper roster, as he was guy #26, with Trevor Story ending the season on the DL), and someone who’s done good things in camp so far.
I had no luck getting closers in this draft, so I’m either going to punt Saves for this year, or bottom feed as closers falter throughout the season. Hopefully the rest of my team’s good enough to let Kenley Jansen balance an entire category on his shoulders.
Our draft was fun as usual. We had 2 more teams this year than last (some turnover last year, as life happens), including one of our long-timers returning, and Kerry from Cards on Cards (who I’ve traded bubble gum cards a bunch with over the years) joining us. Good turnout, lots of time to catch up (as the draft app auto-drafted our keepers), and there were no real hitches on the tech end.
So, if you’re wondering if there’s a tie-in between this league and my collecting hobbies, there’s a thing I’m considering doing more actively, related to all this fantasy ball stuff. As I’m getting to keep my teams intact from year to year, I’m considering both collecting most of the players on my team more seriously, and doing what I can to fill my fantasy team with players I’d want to collect. I think it’ll be an interesting experiment. I mean, I’ve always tried to keep guys like Mark Buehrle and Adam Dunn on my teams, often well beyond the point where it made for sound game strategy, but I want to see how much synergy I can get going between my fantasy game and my card collection.
Right now, the sticking points would be Albert Pujols (great player, has helped my fantasy teams in 5 different seasons, but not a guy I like to root for; too chummy with Tony LaRussa, who’s kind of awful), Carlos Martinez (terrific pitcher who’s been the workhorse of my staff since I traded for him 2 years ago, but he’s on the Cardinals and I really don’t like the Cardinals, sorry, Kerry, more cards for you at least!), and the amount of fairly hot rookies I’ve got on my roster (those get pricey, and are hard to get people to let go of in trades), but otherwise, I like most of my team, and I think it’ll be fun to trade for more of their cards. So, I may see what I can do about making that a pretty integral part of my game and my collection.