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Tuesday 19th Sep 2017

Assorted Rants, Rumblings and Ruminations from the Mind of a “So-Called” Expert

In honor of the full 2015 Mastersball Platinum launch on December 1, here's a sneak peak at the initial rankings. We launched our first set of projections on November 15 and after a bit of tweaking, what follows is the top-30 by way of projected dollar potential for a 15-team mixed league.

Please keep in mind that a ranking by dollars and a draft list based on these rankings often do not match. In other words, there are some players on this list I personally wouldn't take in this range and there are some I might jump up a bit based on reliability or upside.

30) Troy Tulowitzki - Skills still solid, it's all about the playing time. The good news is all his injuries are independent and not likely to recur. The bad news is a sentence containing the phrase "all his injuries" is necessary. Keep in mind you can always use a replacement when Tulo is hurt.

29) Ian Desmond - Desmond is the only player to have three 20/20 seasons the past three years. His batting average drops him down these ranks but he'll no doubt be off the board by this point.

28) Freddie Freeman - I'm doing an NFBC DC draft currently and Freeman was taken in the middle of the third. I say this because some may feel this is a low rank for Freeman. Truth be told, Freeman will be taken in the early second in some leagues as some will still be betting on the power. I'm more third round than I am second.

27) Max Scherzer - Once Scherzer signs, his relative rank will change. For me, he's firmly in the 1A tier. Clayton Kershaw is in a tier by himself with Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg and the pitchers yet to be revealed joining Scherzer in 1A. If Scherzer signs with a team having a pitcher-friendly venue, he could jump as high as #2 overall. Keep in mind Comerica has the rep of a pitcher's park but it really plays neutral.

26) Jose Abreu - Others are going to rank Abreu much higher but I see a whole lot of hinkyness to Abreu's rookie stat line. And yes, I am watching the NCIS marathon as I compose this hence pulling out the hinky card.

25) Jose Bautista - Joey Bats will be long gone by this point. The lower than expected rank is a health hedge. His skills are still strong though there is some evidence of the beginning of a decline.

24) Albert Pujols - Pujols is also an injury risk but with the ability to play DH, he has a good chance to match last season's plethora of playing time.

23) Yoenis Cespedes - With the note that it's very likely Cespedes is moved for pitching, the thought of him peppering the Green Monster all summer is quite enticing.

22) Victor Martinez - No one expects a repeat of last season's power. The question is where the fall lands. Obviously, the projection says pretty high; I'm not willing to take the chance. There's players with either more upside or longer track records available in this range.

21) Jacoby Ellsbury - Last year, I wrote that Ellsbury isn't injury prone, he's accident prone. And I've seen others quote it. I still feel the same way. Something to note, small sample size warnings apply, but Ellsbury hit 10 HR after the All-Star break last season.

20) Hanley Ramirez - Moving to Boston helped a bit but with Ramirez it's not about the park but his health. You're betting on at-bats, not skills.

19) Robinson Cano - Here's an example of a player I'd draft earlier than this based on reliability and durability.

18) Edwin Encarnacion - Some variance with batting average drops Encarnacion below where he'll likely be drafted.

17) Jose Altuve - Altuve's BABIP was on the lucky side and should fall, bringing with it fewer steals. But keep in mind Altuve was the top player in fantasy last season. There's only one direction he could go.

16) Jonathan Lucroy - This really isn't the place but catchers get a pretty significant position bump so it's best to think of this relative to other catchers as opposed to non-catchers. The real take-home message is Lucroy is closer to Posey than he is the next tier. The main reason is volume as he plays a ton and hits high in the Milwaukee order.

15) Matt Kemp - Cue the Monkees, "I'm a Believer."

14) Adam Jones - Once again, Jones baffled the camp that contends you can't maintain his level of consistent production with his plate skills.

13) Anthony Rendon - The key is going to be where Rendon hits in the order. If he sticks in the two-hole, this is warranted. If he drops to sixth or seventh, his production will fall and his rank will slide a bit.

12) Josh Donaldson - Park Factor, meet Josh Donaldson. Josh Donaldson, this is Park Factor. You two should get along famously.

NOTE TO MY TWITTER FOLLOWERS: Yeah, I plagiarized my own tweet. If you don't follow me @toddzola you're missing out on oodles of pithiness just like that.

11) Anthony Rizzo - If you insist on avoiding injury risks or require a two-year track record of elevated success, this is not the year for you. The bet here is Rizzo will maintain the huge power.

10) Chris Sale - Basal skills as good as Kershaw, just can't be relied upon to throw as many innings.

9) Buster Posey - By the numbers, Posey deserves this rank. It's a matter of your game theory and drafting philosophy whether you want to take the plunge this early.

8) Felix Hernandez - Lots of innings, lots of whiffs, lots of potential. He was drafted ninth in the draft alluded to above so this isn't a stretch.

7) Carlos Gomez - I know my editor just cringed but the numbers don't lie. Gomez has sustained a very productive level for several years and there's no indication it was luck or any sign of decline. Sorry Lawr.

6) Giancarlo Stanton - I've seen a lot of comments about Stanton's $325M contract and high fantasy rating with respect to his ability to stay healthy. I'm not going to comment on the money - that's out of my realm. But from a fantasy sense, a notion I need to embrace is in order to win a draft league, you need to draft to win and as opposed not to lose. It's subtle and a difficult concept to grasp for those of us weaned on auctions and have been programmed to be risk averse. I'm drafting Stanton third overall because he can hit 50 homers. I'm not fading him because he has trouble playing 150 games. All that said, I am fading him in auctions.

5) Miguel Cabrera - The news at the end of last season is worrisome. Cabrera's ankle was hurt worse than expected. This ranking is in flux, depending on the reports in the spring.

4) Paul Goldschmidt - Pre-injury Goldschmidt was up to his usual tricks. His hand should fully heel so another stellar season is on the docket.

3) Andrew McCutchen - Pretty rare you get consistency, reliability and durability AND UPSIDE this high in the draft.

2) Clayton Kershaw - Some systems may even rank Kershaw at the top. I have him a tick below. Taking him this early is defensible. I'm just not doing it.

1) Mike Trout - Like you expected someone else?

Mastersball Platinum was an integral information source for two of the last three National Fantasy Baseball Championship Main Event winners. Dave Potts won 100K in 2012 and our own Greg Morgan, along with his father Dale, split 125K and are the defending champions. In addition, Potts earned another 40K by winning one of the two 2014 NFBC Ultimate Auction Championships. The other was taken down by site subscriber Sam Botnick and your humble pundit.

For a preview of the 2015 Mastersball Player Profiles, click HERE

To subscribe, click HERE (you need to be logged into the site for the PayPal link to work).


The past couple of weeks, I’ve shared my initial view of how I will draft the first and second round of standard snake drafts. This isn’t how the 2015 Platinum projections will rank the players in terms of dollar potential but rather my meshing expectations with risk and overall drafting philosophy.

We’ll finish this series with some comments on players I left out that others will at least consider if not draft in the first two rounds. This shouldn’t be considered my third round, though admittedly they would certainly be on my radar.

Hunter Pence – Let’s start with a confession. The more I thought about it, the more I rued not including Pence in the second round with Charlie Blackmon and Yasiel Puig the most likely to be booted. Pence may not finish with second round value but he has a very high floor. Taking Pence late in the second would allow taking a chance early in the third and as will soon be evident, there’s a whole lot of high-risk, high-reward players available.

Ryan Braun – The narrative will likely be a healthy Braun is close to the player he was pre-nonsense. I’m not convinced, let alone confident he’ll ever be healthy enough to prove me wrong. His fly ball percent has always been low for a power hitter which means he’ll need to carry an elevated HR/FB and I don’t see it returning to past levels. He’ll run but not like before. I’m not saying Braun isn’t still solid, I just don’t trust him enough to be a foundation piece in an era where you can’t afford to mess up with a top hitting pick.

Bryce Harper – Same old story, the talent isn’t the question. Promise me Harper will play 150 games and he’s late first/early second round material with top-10 upside. If I started my draft with two solid hitters, I would seriously consider adding the risky Harper, but I doubt he’ll be available.

Buster Posey – I’ve done the first run of hitting projections and I can safely say Posey will be ranked in the first 15 hitters. He’s aided by the replacement catcher bump but since he plays so many games, he would still be ranked very highly if he were, as an example, first base only. The reason I’m passing on Posey until at least the third round and probably not taking the plunge even then has to do with the confidence I can get catchers I like later at a price where I can get some profit. I don’t feel catchers are priced properly so I can get an edge whenever I decide to grab a receiver – it doesn’t have to be early. Alternatively, it’s viable to completely punt the position and troll for emerging backstops. Many will scoff at this, especially in the high-stakes arena, but the reality is not much is needed from the last two roster spots to be worthy of that spot. The catcher pool is so homogenous at the end that I can just take the best two available really late and look to upgrade as the season progresses with the buffer that I need very little production to justify a 20th round pick.

Nelson Cruz – I’d feel the same way even if Cruz ends up returning to Baltimore. He’s too risky. The assumption is by playing designated hitter he will remain healthy but he played 70 games in the outfield last season and prefers to play defense so he’ll likely be chasing flies again in 2015. Plus, there’s gravity. He’s not likely to repeat a HR/FB of 20.4 percent. It will still be well above league average but between power regression and injury risk, I’ll pass early.

Victor Martinez – Speaking of gravity, V-Mart set a career high in HR/FB at 16 percent, which followed seasons of less than half of that. During his salad days, his HR/FB was about league average. He’ll be 36 on opening day and while David Ortiz has set the precedent of being able to reach and sustain a new skill level later in one’s career, I’ll take the under on just about everyone’s 2015 HR projection for Martinez.

Freddie Freeman – This one is tough for me because so many people I respect are Freeman believers. Considering that his HR/FB rate dropped in 2014 aside, unless he makes a mechanical adjustment to loft more fly balls, he’ll be a glorified John Olerud/Mark Grace/Sean Casey. Yeah, he’ll be better than that trio – so even glorified is a hyperbolic understatement, but Freeman is not on course to be a perennial 30-HR guy. Hmm, maybe a beefed up Don Mattingly is a better comp. Regardless, without the bump in fly balls necessary to hit more homers, I’m not willing to bet on him like some of my brethren.

Adrian Gonzalez – Actually, maybe A-Gonz is the best present day comp for Freeman. In fact, I’d have a real hard time deciding between the two if it came to that. Gonzalez is a bit like Pence but without the steals. His upside is limited but his downside is minimal. It really comes down to mindset. Some will look at the drop in hitting and want reliability. Others will say screw it, players are going to get hurt, may as well just go for it and see what happens. Gonzalez is a candidate for the former.

Max Scherzer – This is all subjective and has nothing to do with the numbers. Scherzer has been the exact same guy for three years – 3.00 ERA with a ton of whiffs. There’s nothing in his skill set that suggests a decline. I’m just concerned that he’s thrown well over 1000 innings the past five seasons. If I can’t get Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, Madison Bumgarner or Felix Hernandez, I’d rather wait and jump in a bit (but not too much) later. Sometimes I wish I didn’t do this for a living but that ship sailed a long time ago. My 2015 pitching strategy is likely MadBum in the third and if he’s gone, Cole Hamels a couple rounds later, depending on the flow.

Prince Fielder – This is all about risk. The best hitters in 2015 are mostly first basemen and outfielders. I’m not comfortable taking a chance at one of the few positions where there’s a reasonable level of reliability, especially early.

Thus concludes a little 2015 teaser. If there’s a player you’d like me to comment on, please feel free to ask below.

The Division Championship Series aren’t over yet and I’m 12 rounds into a National Fantasy Baseball Championship league that counts as well as taking part in an industry mini-mock. Others have already opined on how they feel the first few rounds of 2015 drafts will go, so I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring.

By means of some context, I have not yet begun the process of 2015 player projections, though I may be engrossed in that exercise as you’re reading this. My list is mostly intuitive, though I do have the luxury of seeing how a couple of other drafts have transpired. This has forced me to take a closer look at a couple of players I admittedly would have omitted otherwise.

In addition, I’m a firm believer that a draft list SHOULD NOT be a duplicate of ranking by projected dollar potential - I’m officially ceasing using the term value and replacing it with the more practical and accurate term of potential. I’m more concerned about roster construct than a rank. This is most prevalent with pitchers and hitters with either speed or batting average as their primary contribution.

Finally, I don’t consider position early on, save for eschewing pitchers and catchers for strategic reasons. As such, you won’t see either Clayton Kershaw or Buster Posey listed in my first round. This doesn’t mean my eventual rankings won’t have both worthy of a top pick. Heck, Kershaw will likely end up top-five if not better. I wrote at the All-Star break to get ready for an off-season of discussion pimping Kershaw for going first or second overall. I’m just not doing it, but that’s a story for another day.

Here’s my first round in a 15-team league. I’ll follow up with the second round on Tuesday then finish up with notable omissions on Thursday.

1. Mike Trout – What distinguishes the very top from the rest is runs and RBI. Especially in today’s offensive environment (double entendre intended), having a reasonable expectation of triple-digit runs and RBI is fantasy gold.

2. Andrew McCutchen – I chose Cutch second in the aforementioned industry mock. I love the across the board contributions as well as his durability and reliability. Add in McCutchen is still on the good side of the learning curve on a team with an improving offense (Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco) and McCutchen has a shot at 100/100, though I won’t be projecting that.

3. Giancarlo Stanton – The power potential was never in question. For most, durability was and to be honest, Stanton still only played 145 games, but that’s enough for me to count on a similar number which is plenty. My concern was the lack of run production. Those fears have been assuaged by Christian Yelich, who replaces Kole Calhoun as my current bromantic interest. For me, past Trout and Cutch, everyone has a wart. Stanton’s is health and I’m not all that worried.

4. Miguel Cabrera – Skills still solid, I’m nervous about health. I realize the current issue is bone spurs that should be completely fixed, but Miggy is getting on a bit and has dealt with pesky injuries for a couple seasons. This is enough for me to fade him when there’s other options to choose.

5. Carlos Gomez – This is probably a surprise. Not many will question the contention that Gomez has an upside higher than any player not sharing a last name with an aquatic animal. Their counter will be Gomez has a floor much lower than optimal for a foundation pick. He’s actually walking a tad more while maintaining an admittedly high, but acceptable strikeout rate when taken in concert with his high basal batting average on balls in play. Now factor in Gomez will be among the league leaders in homers plus steals and I’ll take him in this spot every time.

6. Paul Goldschmidt – Others will take him higher and I’m not going to argue. I can’t point to any one metric I expect to falter. Goldschmidt has displayed the ability to maintain a high BABIP and a high home run per fly ball which counters a low fly ball rate. His contact rate isn’t great but it’s similar to that of Gomez and Goldschmidt walks twice as much. My concern is Goldschmidt has nowhere to go but down, unless he whiffs less. I see more possible downside with Goldschmidt than those above.

7. Adam Jones – It helps if you read the following in the voice of the guy that does the truck and beef commercials. Consistency, reliability, durability – Adam Jones, he’s a fantasy winner.

8. Jacoby Ellsbury – He’s been a top-20 fantasy performer in five of the last seven seasons, three of which have been top-10. It’s cliché, but it’s my own cliché. Ellsbury isn’t injury prone, he’s accident prone. When healthy, he’s a top-10 guy.

9. Edwin Encarnacion – Any residual fears of a drop in power from his bum wrist were assuaged with six September bombs. That said, there’s some concern that Encarnacion smacked 16 in May, a monthly total that he won’t repeat. But in an era with waning power, Encarnacion’s pop is worth even more.

9A. Jose Bautista – Bautista and Encarnacion profile nearly identically. The only reason Joey Bats is 9A and not 9 is he was born two years earlier than Encarnacion.

11. Matt Kemp – The narrative will be if Kemp is healthy, he’ll put up first round numbers like before, but without the steals. Well, I’ll take that a step further and say I expect that he’ll be healthy. Chances are, Kemp won’t be picked this early (unless he kills it in the spring) so I should be able to get someone above at this spot then take Kemp in the second round.

12. Robinson Cano – Hey, everyone was right and Cano hit fewer homers. But we were really all wrong since no one thought they’d drop as much as they did. My expectations for Cano are basically what they were last season - .300 with low 20 HR with a sprinkle of steals. I think the Mariners will improve their attack which should aid in run production. As mentioned, I don’t pay for position, but I do pay for reliability and durability which pushes Cano into a late first-rounder.

13. Jose Abreu – Long story short is while Abreu’s .356 BABIP is supported by a high line drive rate, I’m not confident he’ll sustain that level of hard contact. Abreu also made better contact than was expected based on his numbers in Cuba. It remains to be seen if he can maintain that with a year’s worth of video to study. I may get burned but I need to see it again.

14. Anthony Rendon – My primary concern with Rendon isn’t skills, it’s remaining in the two-hole where he gets 30 or 40 more plate appearances than he would get if he hit lower. More than likely, Rendon will be the opening day third baseman and stay there all season which should help his offense. I love his contact rate along with a legit shot at 20/20 with a 25/25 upside. Others will push teammate Ian Desmond to this spot and rightfully so since his floor is 20/20 with a 30/30 ceiling. But I’ll take the additional plate appearances and better contact.

15. Ian Desmond – The spike in strikeouts is disconcerting, especially since he already carries a low contact rate. But the reward of a three-year average of 23 HR and 22 SB makes the risk palatable.

For those who missed it, here’s a review of my personal 2015 first round. Keep in mind this is what I would do if all the previous players were taken. It is not how I expect the rankings generated from projections to unfold.

Blech. That’s pretty much how I feel about the second round, at least as of this writing. Maybe after delving into the numbers I’ll change my mind, but as of now, just about every option will require going against one of my personal drafting doctrines. The choices will all be either injury risks or players with a limited track record at this level of success.

2.01 Jose Altuve - I’ll spare the regression narrative as there’s no way Altuve will repeat last season’s batting average. But here’s the thing. He’s still going to hit in the neighborhood of .300 and be among the league leaders in steals. He’s also going to score a ton of runs in an improving lineup (George Springer, Jon Singleton and Chris Carter). What separates Altuve from other stolen base artists like Billy Hamilton, Ben Revere and Dee Gordon is more pop and hitting atop an American League lineup so he’ll have a reasonable number of RBI – at least relative to the aforementioned troika. Circling back to the regression, there’s a very steep decline in dollars earned in the first round. The difference between the first pick overall and this pick is about 15 auction dollars. So yeah, Altuve won’t repeat but he has 15 dollars worth of buffer to work with. After all, he did lead all players in 2014 earnings.

2.02 Anthony Rizzo – While I’d be more confident if Rizzo had one more season under his belt, there are signs 2014 can be his expected baseline. There weren’t any metrics that spiked. Rizzo just put the best of 2012 and 2013 together. His contact is good but not great in today’s landscape of elevated strikeouts. His biggest improvement is the manner he handled southpaws. One concern is a career high in fly ball rate, so if there’s any regression, it will be fewer homers as a result of a drop in fly balls. That said, Rizzo missed time but should be healthy entering 2015 with the expectation of a full season. A full season of Arismendy Alcantara, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and possibly Kris Bryant should result in a bump in runs and RBI.

2.03 Charlie Blackmon – Yeah, Blackmon is a figment of Coors Feld, but last I checked, he’ll be manning center again in Colorado which means another run at 20 homers with even more steals.

2.04 Todd Frazier – This pick takes a leap of faith but perhaps not where you might assume. Frazier’s power spike wasn’t all that unexpected, considering his age and home park. What’s eye-popping is 20 steals as that’s what compensates for a lower average than others in this tier. It’s a bit disconcerting that 12 of the swipes came from April through June (eight in May) but it does appear like the Reds will run, which should mean at least double digits, hopefully high teens.

2.05 Adrian Beltre – Promise me he’ll stay healthy and I’ll bump Beltre up since I still believe in the skills.

2.06 Troy Tulowitzki – At what point does the injury risk fall behind the performance reward? That’s the question we’ll all have to ask ourselves and this is my answer. While I’m not going to use the same line as I did with Jacoby Ellsbury – he’s not injury prone, he’s accident prone – Tulo has missed enough time that he has to be considered a health risk. But at least nothing is chronic and he’s expected to fully recover from the hip procedure that cut his 2014 short.

2.07 Clayton Kershaw – As I mentioned last time, by the numbers Kershaw is worthy of the first overall pick and I expect an ADP between 3 and 5. It’s just that I believe in drafting to my strength and I’m confident in my ability to put together a competitive pitching staff without Kershaw. That said, there comes a time where the risk of the remaining hitters is too much. Realistically, it’s not going to come to this, but I’m listing my choices as if 15 Zola-clones were picking and the draft went chalk. Man, that’s a scary thought – 15 me’s. Whoever’s in charge of making Diet Mountain Dew would get a ton of overtime, that’s for sure.

2.08 Justin Upton – I’m not expecting the uber-stud we all thought was in store for Upton. But he’s now at the point where .270 with high 20s homers is bankable along with 180 runs plus RBI and a handful of bags. I’m paying for his floor, not his ceiling, which is exactly opposite of what many did a few years ago. There’s a good chance I use this exact same analysis in a couple of years, subbing in Bryce Harper.

2.09 Felix Hernandez – Again, I don’t love taking an arm this early but the reliability of The King trumps what’s left. I doubt I’ll have to make this pick since there aren’t 14 more of me populating the planet (I can’t speak for other galaxies) so someone already discussed will be available here.

2.10 Chris Sale – Sale may actually possess better skills than Hernandez but I feel the injury risk with the lanky southpaw is enough to drop him down a notch.

2.11 Madison Bumgarner – Check the numbers; he belongs in the tier below Kershaw, perhaps even at the top of it but I still like the preceding two guys a tad more.

2.12 Michael Brantley – Brantley’s numbers are awfully close to Blackmon’s but he’s dropped several spots since he’s more likely to incur a power drop. I can just as easily see Brantley hitting 10 homers as challenging 20 again.

2.13 Carlos Gonzalez – I’ll be honest, if I were to write this piece again, the order of the last three could be different. You know the narrative; CarGo is a stud between disabled list visits.

2.14 Hanley Ramirez – Similar to Gonzalez except Ramirez isn’t quite as consistent. His highs are higher than CarGo but his lows are also lower.

2.15 Yasiel Puig – Actually, not only could the order have been different, the names may also have varied. I considered Ryan Braun, Harper, Adrian Gonzalez and Max Scherzer – all of which will be discussed in the final installment of this series. Puig went through some down spells but the signs are there if he can mature and exhibit some consistency.

NEXT TIME – Notable omissions


As many of you know, our friend and colleague Ron Shandler has launched a new venture, Shandler Park. Ron has married the game theory and player evaluation of traditional fantasy with the faster-paced, more hands-on management of daily fantasy into an entertaining month long contest. Lawr Michaels, Perry Van Hook and I are doing some writing for Shandler Park and have been playing regularly since April.

It’s a pay-for-play setup but as site content contributors, we all have teams scattered throughout the leagues that are of course not eligible for prizes. But by playing, we get to put our theories into practice. In fact, we’re encouraged to experiment with different strategies and different lineups. Of the trio, Lawr has taken the best advantage of making these leagues his personal laboratory as he’s not afraid to try what some may consider out-of-the-box strategies.

In brief, Shandler Park is a salary cap game where you select a roster of 32 players whose collective prices cannot exceed the preset cap. The prices are based on a combination of a player’s historical performance and their current level. The cap only applies when choosing the 32 players at your disposal for the month. The active lineup is the same as traditional fantasy, with 14 hitters and 9 pitchers (leaving 9 on reserve). Hitting and pitching changes are allowed on Monday and Friday. Scoring is rotisserie style using modified 4x4 scoring.


  • On-Base Percentage
  • Home Runs
  • Runs Produced (Runs+RBI-HR)
  • Stolen Bases

  • Wins + Quality Starts
  • Saves + Holds
  • ERA
  • Strikeouts
  • This month, Ron decided to have a little fun and invited a group of fellow writers, analysts and radio hosts to join an industry showcase league. Brian Walton has joined Lawr and I in this publicly accessible contest. This is the final week, so we thought you may enjoy following along and hopefully joining the festivities in August. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

    To follow along, click HERE.

    Here are the standings entering the final week of the contest:

    1. ToddZola 87.5
    2. PhilHertz 86
    3. RonShandler 84.5
    4. RayMurphy 84
    5. Wolfman 83.5
    6. PatrickDavitt 81.5
    7. KyleElfrink 69
    8. Rotoman 68.5
    9. BrianWalton 67.5
    10. CederHomers 64
    11. SteveGardner 61
    12. JeffErickson 60.5
    13. DaveAdler 54
    14. DougDennis 48
    15. RayFlowers 44.5
    16. lawrmichaels 44

    Having lost Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind, it's going to take a little luck for yours truly to hold onto this precarious lead and finish atop this esteemed group. In lieu of Lind, I am using Manny Machado, so that's not too bad. The replacement for Encarnacion is either J.J. Hardy or Wilin Rosario. When we're talking about a month's worth of games, three homers can mean five or six points (not to mention points in the runs produced category), so the drop-off here is significant.

    While I'll decide when everything's said and done if I should have had another stick in reserve, my present focus is on maximizing pitching points since I have more available reserves to work with. Despite completely forgetting to change my roster the Friday before the All-Star break, my pitching has come through and I'm near the top in whiffs and W+QS. On the other hand, I'm lagging in SV+HLD. So what I'm doing is switching from 7 starters and 2 relievers to 6 starters and 3 relievers figuring to maintain my stead in strikeouts and W+QS while hoping for some good fortune with saves and holds, since one of my relievers is Joe Smith.

    Something I am regretting is not having a fourth reliever. The irony is I usually have four bullpen arms but I opted to go with three, wanting to make sure I had ample starters to handle the reshuffling of the rotations before and after the break (and of course I forgot to make the changes - sigh).

    Hopefully, by setting the stage for this exciting finish, you can see the multitude of strategies available in Shandler Park and in turn give it a try.

  • Budget dedicated to active roster spots versus reserves
  • Number of hitters versus number of pitchers
  • Number of starting pitchers versus number of relievers
  • Twice-a-week moves to maximize at-bats and innings
  • Final week strategies to maximize points
  • And the best part is you get to do it all over again every month.

    Hopefully, you'll take some time to root on my squad and check out some of the archived essays on Shandler Park. Who knows, maybe this time next month, you'll be battling for second place in my league!

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