"Diversity your portfolio" is one of the most basic elements of investment advice, whether in the financial markets or even in fantasy baseball.
In our game, there are many ways to diversify. Ensuring one drafts a balanced roster that provides a chance to lead in all 10 scoring categories (assuming 5x5 scoring) is important.
Making sure that we do not acquire too many injury risks, while balancing the ones we do take with steady, dependable performers, is another wise approach.
There are also risks in drafting too many players from a given Major League team. Not every example is as obvious as Colorado Rockies pitchers, however. Still, the basic thought of getting more players on good teams is preferable to a roster full of players on bad real-world teams.
I strayed from that approach in National League LABR this spring in a big way. I left the draft with a whopping five hitters from the worst team in baseball in 2015, the 99-loss Philadelphia Phillies – catcher Cameron Rupp ($5), first baseman Ryan Howard ($9), shortstop Freddy Galvis ($1) and outfielders Odubel Herrera ($18) and Aaron Altherr ($11) - for a total of $44 of my $260.
It was not my plan, though Herrera was a target if the price was in my range as I liked his combination of power and speed. Sure enough, he leads my roster at the break with 12 steals. The upside of Altherr made him a comfortable buy, but he suffered a serious wrist injury in spring training and is just now starting a rehab stint that could last up to 30 days. Getting two good months from Altherr as a late-season boost would be something, the promise of which being why I did not cash him in for FAAB reimbursement.
A dollar in the end game for Galvis did not bother me at all – if I had been successful at rostering his heir-apparent, J.P. Crawford. Unfortunately, I did not execute the latter part in the draft. While Galvis has been holding on – or should I say that Crawford hasn’t pushed him aside yet? – his 36 RBI does not remove the stench of his .234 average.
Not willing to pay inflated prices for catching led me to have to settle for Rupp as one of my backstops. Though there was spring speculation that his time as a starter would be short-lived, Rupp has hit for average (.287) and is showing decent pop, as well (nine home runs).
Unwilling to pay inflated prices for a first baseman, either, meant I took a well-known liability in Howard, as I feared my remaining roster was short of power. By June, Howard had lost his job to rookie Tommy Joseph and in hindsight, I should not have waited that long to throw him over the side. As bad as Galvis’ average is, it is 80 points higher than the deposed first sacker’s.
Speaking of first base, I filled my other corner positions with two players I had hoped to acquire coming in. The difference is that they play for a team that won 100 games last season – the St. Louis Cardinals.
Matt Carpenter ($25) experienced a breakout 2014 and while his average and OBP were flat from year to year, his slugging improved dramatically last season. I felt there was room for more in 2016 and Carpenter did not disappoint in the first half, with an OPS just under 1.000.
His teammate, Brandon Moss ($10), came to St. Louis from Cleveland at the trade deadline in 2015, but with his back not right, he fell flat. I may be right in my feeling that with the off-season to prepare, Moss would bounce back with 25 home runs. Moss will never win a batting title, but the first baseman-outfielder entered the break with 17 long balls already.
Last week, I was bitten hard by the injury bug, as both Cardinals infielders were placed on the disabled list within a three-day span.
Carpenter may miss a month or more with an oblique while Moss’ ankle injury could allow him back sooner – or not.
Though my corner infield is decimated with Carpenter and Moss out, I still don’t regret acquiring them, unlike Howard. While they were injured literally back-to-back, the fact they play for the same team is nothing more than coincidence.
Even with this rag-tag group of hitters, my offense is tied for tops in the league, with 51 points. While there are other contributors, the two Cardinals are a main reason why. Though not as strong, I really cannot complain about the Phillies - other than my mistake with Howard.
Bottom line, based on what I know now, I would not be any less motivated to get the players I want in future drafts no matter what team’s uniform they wear. In other words, I do not plan to let team diversification concerns get in my way, and you should not, either.
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 17-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.