For the Lawr and Order: Special Mastersball Unit, that Todd and I drafted way back last March, finishing in the top three, and recouping at least our entry fee, probably won't happen.
Going into the final week of the season, we had dropped to 82 points, and seventh place in the league. That is 40 points behind the league leading Pizza Bagel team, 22 behind Matt Mchale, and 17 points behind the third place Baseball Furies.
So, the question is, what would, or should I have done differently?
Well, the truth is, nothing.
In drafting fifth, we picked Troy Tulowitzki, figuring he would not be around on the return, and that ideally following Hanley Ramirez, he was the most productive guy at a pivotal spot.
If you have followed the red hot Tulo, his season totals are now .323-28-96 with 12 swipes, and .313-12-35 over the past month (two swipes).
So, what is the fundamental difference, between these squads and ours?
Well, I can categorize in one word: injuries.
Now, I have to assume those teams between the Furies and us--The Alpacas of Doom, The Kendry 2-Step, and Jake's Bagel--were similarly bit, although in preparing this piece, I did not review their drafts or position (though for the Kendry 2-Step, the question is rhetorical). Just the top three teams, and ours. And, all of our teams--one through twelve--likely had both disappointments and surprises, as that is just part of the deal.
But, Pizza Bagel has survived pretty much as drafted, with no major injuries, and Matt Mchale has had one in Stephen Strasburg, who was a calculated risk at that.
As for us, Tulo missed six weeks, as did Asdrubal Cabrera, and Luke Scott. Then we lost playing time from Russell Martin, Kevin Youkilis, Jake Peavy, and Ryan Sweeney, looking conservatively, despite the fact that we would fill spots out of the reserve pool, there is no way we could replace the aggregate numbers of the players lost.
In fact, even discounting Tulo, Droobs, Cabrera, and Scott, figuring all teams lost some production to injuries, had Martin, Youk, and Peavy provided the following numbers, it would have made a 18 point difference in our totals:
- 16 runs
- 13 RBI
- One point in average
- Nine homers
- 10 steals
- 70 whiffs
- One point in WHIP
- One point in ERA
I know that combined with an extra two months of Youk, Martin, and Sweeney would have provided that offense had the troika simply kept on the season path on which they were headed.
As would have Jake Peavy, had he made 15 more starts--Peavy had 93 whiffs over 107 innings, with a 1.23 WHIP when he went down for the year--and again, he had both turned a corner, and has a resume full of solid seasons on which to base such an assumption.
So, just those somewhat meager totals would have been enough to put us in third, rather than seventh. Of course our moving up would mean lots of jumbling of the standings with the other teams involved, and I did not factor that closely. So, we might have even finished second (when Youk went down, we were in fifth, a handful of points from third, by the way).
But looking at it that closely is no different than the mental masturbation that sometimes has us ignore our instincts with too many charts and stats and cheat sheets at draft time. For, when we drafted, it was with a yellow legal pad and our magazine, and that was simply to confirm position eligibility and age, in a couple of instances.
So, in the end, I would have taken the same team and hoped the Red Cross would haunt someone else's roster. However, this is the game we play, and injury is as much a risk, as is having a down season (for there are those noted surprises, and while we did not have Jose Bautista, we did have Carl Pavano, for example).
Last year, when I won the American League Tout Wars title, I was lucky enough to have a team that had some surprises, but avoided any prolonged injury. In looking at last season, though I did win, the one difference I noted between my squad and that of second place finisher Mike Siano, was that I put myself in the position to take advantage of my luck.
Because in the end, that is what won it for me, and this year in the NFBC, being on the back end of the luck wand did me in. Plain and simple.
Now, as we close out the season, I hate, after all the stats and charts and programs and thought, for any of you reading to walk away cursing, that the game boils down to luck, for it does not.
But, it does indeed ride on being able to, as noted, take advantage of luck.
That means drafting players on teams who will contend, and picking players who do not have recurring histories of either injury or erratic totals.
So, as you enjoy the playoffs, and pending season, and gear up for the 2011 season, try to remember that. For, as stated, I would do nothing different (note I cannot say the same of my teams in other my other leagues). The only question is, can you same the same about your teams of 2010?
If the answer is yes, the off-season should be a breeze and pleasure. If not, you have some work to do.