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Friday 26th May 2017

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

Draft Street is doing something a little different this time. As you may have seen yesterday, Draft Street is sponsoring a championship where they will award $35,000 to the lucky winner. In order to enter the big dance, you need to win one of the 40 qualifying tournaments. Today’s FreeRoll will not only award $100 cash to the top-3 finishers, but the top-15 teams get a free spot in one of the 40 qualifying tournaments this coming Friday.

While I am working on a means to incorporate more “bang for the buck” valuation principles into the selection of my Draft Street teams, for the time being, we’re going to have to rely on the same philosophy I have employed thus far:

  • Start with pitchers at home, facing weaker lineups in good pitching parks
  • Move onto hitters with off-hand matchups, preferably at home facing a below average pitcher and if possible, include several players from the same team and go for it all.
  • I mostly held true to form, but with one exception as I opted to go with two starting pitchers and two closers since I could not find a combination under the cap using three starting pitchers I liked. To be honest, I am not warm and fuzzy about this squad. I think the reason is more so than previous weeks, I am forcing these players into my lineup in an effort to satisfy the above criteria.

    You know what that means. I’ll finish in the top-15, get a free entry into the $35K qualifier on Friday where I will draft a team I love. Of course, my beloved Friday team will spit the bit. Such is the nature of the beast in this part-time hobby, full-time obsession we call fantasy baseball.

    Without further adieu, here is my team:

    C: Wilin Rosario, COL ($7424) – Rosario is on the road, facing a thus far impressive southpaw in Wade Miley. But Arizona is a good place to hit and I anticipate some regression for Miley and hope Rosario benefits tonight.

    1B: Joey Votto, CIN ($10,283) – Truth be told, it was obstinacy keeping Votto in the lineup that resulted in difficulty finding the right combination, especially only using two starting pitchers. What I have witnessed with previous FreeRolls is the leaders always have someone that goes off that evening. While it is impossible to predict when a player will have one of those highlight reel nights,  it was usually a name player. My likely backwards thinking is Votto is capable of such a night and his high price tag will scare almost everyone else away. He’s at home, facing Brad Lincoln which is about as favorable as it gets.

    2B: Robinson Cano, NYY( $8027) – OK, maybe there were two players I am being extra stubborn about since I just have a feeling this will be Cano’s night, facing another impressive youngster in Alex Cobb.

    3B: Jordan Pacheco, COL ($5905) – I’m not warm and fuzzy about this, and quite frankly I wish I had more D-Backs facing the less than intimidating Josh Outman, but it didn’t work out that way. Pacheco makes good contact which portends well in this format as runs and RBI are helpful.

    SS: Erick Aybar, LAA ($4321) – Aybar is basically my salary relief. I really don’t like his profile of player in the format as he hits towards the bottom of the order meaning he has 20% less of a chance to score points.

    OF: Nick Swisher, NYY ($6751) – The Yankees versus Cobb were one of the teams I wanted to overload, hoping they get to the sophomore

    OF: Jay Bruce, CIN ($8348) – As suggested, I like the matchup against Lincoln and am hoping Bruce continues his damage against righties.

    OF: Justin Upton, ARO ($5989) – I’m going to have to check the lineups as J-Up was benched last night, hopefully he is back in there and returns with vengeance against the aforementioned Outman.

    UT: Chris Young, ARI ($6738) – I didn’t say I wish I had SOME D-Backs in against Outman, I said I wish I had MORE.

    UT: Hunter Pence, PHI ($9668) - No real reason here other than I had the money and couldn’t figure out anything else to do with it. Pence squares off at home against the tough but not invincible Chris Capuano.

    SP: Jerome Williams ($9702) – With the caveat that this is the same Mariner team that destroyed Derek Holland the other night, Williams at home versus Seattle was one of the more attractive pitching matchups.

    SP: Zack Greinke, MIL ($13, 581) – This is precisely why I need to set up a bang-for –the-buck means of analysis. Greinke versus the Cubs is a no-brainer matchup, but it is also the most expensive. The question is whether deploying the Brewer ace is an efficient use of funds given the salary cap implications.

    RP: Addison Reed, CHW ($1534) and RP: Jose Valverde, DET ($1696) – Not gonna lie here, took the two cheapest closers that I felt had reasonable shots at saves. I didn’t even pair them with my starters.

    What you got?

    Sorry to be so inconsistent with my posting lately. It’s no secret that I have been doing some freelance projects for ESPN, my first work of any kind since I was laid off from my biotech job over two years ago. I’m beginning to wonder if I have seen my last test tube.

    Anyway, one of the assignments with the World Wide Leader has been to help out with The Answer Guys service, a feature of ESPN Insider where you get to ask a question a week, usually seeking advice on a trade or roster move for your fantasy teams, and it is guaranteed answered within 24 hours. The service is very popular, as the guys that have been doing it for several years are top notch, both in terms of advice and customer service, as is evident by the tone of questions from regular users.

    I’m going to be honest. At first, I was struggling with the responsibility, since the questions and desired answers were “not my style”. It’s weird what we remember and what we forget, but something that has stayed with me is a comment made on the NFBC boards when the contest first originated. Someone, in a rather insulting manner warned users, “don’t bother getting into an argument with Zola, he’s only going to try to teach you something.” Little did the disgruntled guy know he just gave me what I consider to be one of the nicer compliments I have ever received.

    It was hard at the beginning (OK, it still is hard) to address questions like “Who wins this trade – Howard Kendrick for Matt Garza?” If we were to get this question on the Platinum Mastersball forum where we also have a 24-hour promise, we would respectfully ask for more information. What are the league format and the scoring? Who does Garza/Kendrick replace and who replaces them? Not to mention, the purpose is not to win a trade, but to make your team better and both sides can be winners.

    I’m not writing this to bash those that are asking those types of questions, far from it. I am actually writing it to bash my fellow industry brethren for looking down upon questions of this nature and not finding a way to educate those asking as opposed to at best ignoring and at worst, chiding. I see it on message forums, I hear it on the radio.

    Granted, not many of the “so-called experts” play in ten team head to head points leagues where Josh Beckett is available on the waiver wire. But, it wasn’t that long ago that you could fit everyone that made a living from fantasy baseball into one room. Now, you need a couple of hotels, preferably on the strip in Las Vegas if you have ever met one of these guys or gals, though I know a few of us that would be just as happy in the Double-Tree in Phoenix Arizona.

    My point is, we all had to crawl before we walked. Fantasy baseball is unique in that the games genesis was what we consider to be the most difficult variant, and it has been simplified over time to attract more players. Most things start simple and evolve, like fantasy football, for example. Those of us that have been in the industry for years cut our teeth on AL and NL only auctions, using 4x4 scoring with no reserve lists.

    Times have changed. Now the introductory format is the aforementioned ten-team head to head points league, or something similar. But instead of ignoring these leagues or insulting them, if we want to continue to be able to fill a few hotels on the Vegas strip, we, meaning my fellow “so-called experts” and I need to do a better job of teaching them something.

    Hmm, where have I heard that phrase before?

    OK, so this is rather embarrassing. I set up this whole “homework assignment” and it turns out I messed up the data a little. If you have not seen it, I posted a series of five pitcher rankings based on last season’s final stats and asked for opinions as to which list was favored with respect to how pitchers should be ranked for fantasy purposes. I have fixed the list, so if you took the time to go through them, I apologize. Everyone, please take a moment to look at the corrected lists, with the second series of names being the one that is changed. Of note is where relievers now fall, please click HERE.

    For those that picked the second, do you still feel that way?

    Here’s the deal. We all know how wacky this season has been with respect to closers. Even before this season. many leagues have addressed the issue by incorporating holds in different machinations. Three of these are included on the list, and for the record, I play in a league that uses each one.

    But I have an issue with that. I think holds are every bit as suspect as a stat as saves, perhaps even more so. It is still up to a manager’s whim and is just an artificial means of attempting to reduce the randomness relievers are awarded the closer role. Now, that same randomness extends to the set up guys.

    Perhaps the main reason I don’t like using both saves and holds is they violate what I feel is a basic tenet of the way fantasy baseball should be played. It is my opinion that the game should consist of the following:

     

    1. Project a reasonable level of performance for each player
    2. Convert this performance to a relative fantasy value
    3. Assemble a roster with the potential to score as many points as possible
    4. Manage the roster in-season to maximize the number of points scored

     

    The use of saves and holds violates the top line. Projecting saves and holds is a complete crapshoot. I hate to sound cliché, but there is no skill to assigning saves and holds. Granted, one can argue there is some degree of logic, but even that is more common sense and not based on anything analytical, derived from projection theory.

    And to anticipate those that (correctly) point out that there is a degree of this logic and common sense outside of projection theory when it comes to projecting wins, RBI and runs, you are right. That said, to me anyway, saves and holds are at another level of being whimsical. Better pitchers with better offenses and good bullpens should get more wins. Players hitting first and second should score more runs while those hitting after should get more RBI. Yes, these are all team-dependent, but they are less subject to the manager’s mood than setup men and closers. Lineups are designed based on the skills of the hitters. Rotations are constructed based on skills of the pitchers. Bullpens, however, are not always organized based on skills.

    You know the expression “don’t come to me with a problem unless you have a solution?” Well, here’s the solution.

    What skill is the most important for a pitcher? Shouldn’t this be what we use as a fantasy category? In my not so humble opinion, this skill is K/9. I know that no single skill is the be all end all, but if you had to use one skill as an initial filter and you were not allowed to use multiple, my choice would be K/9. Therefore, my ideal scoring system uses K/9.

    I realize an argument can be made that K/BB is arguably better and maybe it is. But from a fantasy baseball perspective, walks are already accounted for in WHIP, so having K/9 replace saves is my first suggestion.

    Uh oh, now we have K/9 and K’s as categories, we can’t have that. So here is what we do. Replace strikeouts with innings pitched. Think about it, this is representative of a pitcher’s skill, or at minimum, reflective of the pitcher’s contribution to his MLB team. Pitchers should be rewarded for the simple fact they threw an inning. Yeah, I know, batters don’t get credit for every at-bat, but in general, they don’t get pulled from the game if they are struggling either.

    This makes my ideal 5x5 scoring system W, IP, ERA, WHIP, K/9. OK, maybe this is not ideal as there are still some issues with W and even ERA, but we are having a hard enough of a time getting leagues to recognize on-base percentage is superior than batting average, how the heck can we get them to use QS and xFIP in roto-scoring? Let’s crawl before we walk.

    For those that doubt I can get the fantasy community to listen, guess who used what is now called the KDS draft spot designation process five years before the National Fantasy Baseball Championships revolutionized draft slot assignment? I’ll give you a hint; he’s the same guy that pestered the Tout Wars LLC for five years before they finally agreed to convert an outfielder spot to a swing position, capable of being filled by a pitcher or hitter – that’s right, THIS GUY.

    Let’s reveal the scoring systems used for the five sets of rankings and I again apologize for botching them.

     

    COLUMN 1: Saves + Holds/2
    COLUMN 2: K/9+IP
    COLUMN 3: Saves + Holds – Blown saves
    COLUMN 4: Saves + Holds
    COLUMN 5: standard 5x5

    As alluded to in the beginning, the telltale aspect of the K/9+IP list is the absence of a reliever until Craig Kimbrel at #36. Even more relevant is the subsequent order of relievers, which is a far better measure of the player’s skills and contributions. Here is just the reliever ranking within each list. Do you feel the relative rank is more representative than in standard scoring?

     

    SV + H/2 K/9+IP SV+H-BS SV+H STD 5x5
    Craig Kimbrel Craig Kimbrel Tyler Clippard Tyler Clippard Craig Kimbrel
    Tyler Clippard Tyler Clippard Jonny Venters Craig Kimbrel Drew Storen
    Drew Storen David Robertson Mike Adams Jonny Venters John Axford
    Mike Adams Jonny Venters Craig Kimbrel Mike Adams Mariano Rivera
    Jonny Venters Mike Adams David Robertson David Robertson Jose Valverde
    John Axford Koji Uehara Drew Storen Drew Storen J.J. Putz
    Mariano Rivera Alfredo Aceves John Axford Sean Marshall Joel Hanrahan
    Fernando Salas Greg Holland Sean Marshall Alfredo Aceves Fernando Salas
    J.J. Putz Sergio Romo Jose Valverde John Axford Francisco Cordero
    Jose Valverde Fernando Salas Eric O'Flaherty Eric O'Flaherty Jonathan Papelbon
    Alfredo Aceves Jonathan Papelbon Alfredo Aceves Fernando Salas Tyler Clippard
    Joel Hanrahan Sean Marshall Mariano Rivera Mariano Rivera Alfredo Aceves
    David Robertson Kenley Jansen J.J. Putz J.J. Putz Mike Adams
    Francisco Cordero John Axford Fernando Salas Jose Valverde Jonny Venters
    Jonathan Papelbon Eric O'Flaherty Joel Hanrahan Joel Hanrahan Ryan Madson
    Sean Marshall Antonio Bastardo Koji Uehara Jason Motte Kyle Farnsworth
    Eric O'Flaherty Drew Storen Greg Holland Francisco Cordero Sergio Santos
    Francisco Rodriguez Vinnie Pestano Jason Motte Koji Uehara Mark Melancon
    Jason Motte Jeff Samardzija Jonathan Papelbon Greg Holland Jordan Walden
    Ryan Madson Jason Motte Francisco Cordero Francisco Rodriguez Francisco Rodriguez
    Greg Holland Sergio Santos Francisco Rodriguez Jonathan Papelbon David Robertson
    Kyle Farnsworth Edward Mujica Sergio Romo Sergio Romo Jason Motte
    Koji Uehara Al Alburquerque Antonio Bastardo Scott Downs Sean Marshall
    Mark Melancon Jesse Crain Scott Downs Antonio Bastardo Greg Holland
    Antonio Bastardo Rafael Betancourt Ryan Madson Edward Mujica Antonio Bastardo
    Sergio Santos Francisco Rodriguez Edward Mujica Grant Balfour Eric O'Flaherty
    Sergio Romo Mark Melancon Daniel Bard Ryan Madson Koji Uehara
    Edward Mujica Mariano Rivera Rafael Betancourt Rafael Betancourt Edward Mujica
    Jordan Walden J.J. Putz David Hernandez Daniel Bard Sergio Romo
    Scott Downs Grant Balfour Grant Balfour Jesse Crain Carlos Marmol
    Rafael Betancourt David Hernandez Joel Peralta Kyle Farnsworth Rafael Betancourt
    Grant Balfour Daniel Bard Jesse Crain Mark Melancon Scott Downs
    David Hernandez Kyle Farnsworth Mark Melancon David Hernandez Joel Peralta
    Jesse Crain Joel Hanrahan Kyle Farnsworth Joel Peralta David Hernandez
    Joel Peralta Casey Janssen Joaquin Benoit Joaquin Benoit Jeff Samardzija
    Daniel Bard Joel Peralta Sergio Santos Sergio Santos Jesse Crain
    Jeff Samardzija Jose Valverde Tony Sipp Vinnie Pestano Grant Balfour
    Vinnie Pestano Ryan Madson Vinnie Pestano Jordan Walden Casey Janssen
    Joaquin Benoit Joaquin Benoit Jeff Samardzija Jeff Samardzija Kenley Jansen
    Tony Sipp Octavio Dotel Jordan Walden Tony Sipp Vinnie Pestano
    Carlos Marmol Scott Downs Joe Smith Joe Smith Matt Belisle
    Matt Belisle Glen Perkins Glen Perkins Matt Belisle Al Alburquerque
    Joe Smith Matt Belisle Kenley Jansen Glen Perkins Joe Smith
    Casey Janssen Ramon Ramirez Ramon Ramirez Casey Janssen Ramon Ramirez
    Kenley Jansen Jordan Walden Casey Janssen Darren Oliver Joaquin Benoit
    Ramon Ramirez Tony Sipp Darren Oliver Kenley Jansen Daniel Bard
    Glen Perkins Carlos Marmol Matt Belisle Ramon Ramirez Tony Sipp
    Al Alburquerque Francisco Cordero Al Alburquerque Al Alburquerque Octavio Dotel
    Darren Oliver Aroldis Chapman Octavio Dotel Carlos Marmol Glen Perkins
    Octavio Dotel Ernesto Frieri Carlos Marmol Octavio Dotel Darren Oliver
    Aroldis Chapman Joe Smith Aroldis Chapman Aroldis Chapman Aroldis Chapman
    Ernesto Frieri Mike Dunn Ernesto Frieri Ernesto Frieri Ernesto Frieri
    Mike Dunn Darren Oliver Mike Dunn Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
    Aaron Crow Aaron Crow Aaron Crow Aaron Crow Aaron Crow
    Tom Gorzelanny Tom Gorzelanny Tom Gorzelanny Tom Gorzelanny Tom Gorzelanny

    The 400-pound gorilla of this idea is Mariano Rivera. He checks in at #28 among relievers. Is Al Alburquerque really a better pitcher than Mo? But you can’t have it both ways. Either saves are meaningful or they are not. Well, that’s not exactly true. Maybe this is just a jumping off point and the wins category is altered to include saves.

    After all, there is a reason they call this fantasy baseball.


     

     

    It’s that time again as the fine folks at DraftStreet.com are sponsoring another $350 Freeroll for Mastersball readers. And I am here again to talk about the team I am entering. After cashing in the first two Freeroll contests, I had a rough week last time and I am anxious to get back to my old winning ways.

    A mistake often made, be it in standard fantasy baseball or daily formats is to have a knee-jerk reaction when things are not going your way. As such, I am going to hold firm to the stratagem I have used to this point:

    1. Ignore streaks
    2. Ignore historical hitters versus pitcher matchups
    3. Focus on using players at home
    4. Focus on off-handed hitting matchups in good hitting parks
    5. Focus on hitters facing below average pitchers and pitchers facing below average hitters

    The key is not to get so wrapped up in these “rules” to overlook other areas to gain an edge. The first thing that struck me when I took a look at the pitchers was for the first time, there were fewer aces than normal. My first thought was “cool, this will be a real test of the home-field theory” since I would be counting on the above to get an advantage and not just rely on talent.

    Then something else caught my eye. There are a couple of what I consider to be lesser hurlers working on the road, against better teams in good hitter’s parks. This goes against the spread the wealth mentality, but I opted to load up on hitters that follow the above and are facing these lesser starters. My two victims are Cleveland’s Jeanmar Gomez, facing the White Sox in the friendly Cell, rookie Christian Friedrich on the road versus the Reds in the Great American Ballpark.

    Real quick, by means of review, my means of assembling the squad is as follows:

     

    1. Start with pitching
    2. Go bottom-up through the positions, looking for the bargains
    3. Go top down, looking for the outstanding stud matchups
    4. Fili-in the blanks with what is left in terms of salary

    Here we go….

    SP: Jason Hammel ($10,594) – Hammel’s peripherals suggest his success is real and I am hoping it continues, though the Royals are surprisingly strong against RHP, sporting a .738 OBP.

    SP:  Tim Hudson ($11,728) – Hudson does not fan as many as I would like in this format and I suspect that is going to be another rule as I continue to learn the nuances, but I’ll take the chance against a middle of the pack Nationals’ attack when facing righties.

    SP: A.J. Burnett ($12,125) – Perhaps an over-compensation for wanting K’s, but Burnett is squaring off against the Cubs, who struggle against right-handers.

    RP: Jim Johnson ($2891) – I like to match up my closer with one of my starters. I cannot fit Craig Kimbel under the cap and I am more confident in Hammel than Burnett, so Joel Hanrahan loses out.

    C: A.J. Pierzynski ($7,513) – Let the piling on begin with this L-R match-up. I feel safe Pierzynski will play but with catcher, it is always best to keep your eye on lineups and have a Plan B in mind, just in case. Matt Wieters will be the backup if needed.

    1B: Adrian Gonzalez ($6,452) – Impressive rookie Alex Cobb will be on the bump, but the veteran Gonzalez should pose a threat in this L-R confrontation.

    2B: Dan Uggla ($5,694) – The primary reason for Uggla is none of the piling on matchups were attractive so I’ll take a power-hitting righty against the southpaw Ross Detwiler.

    3B: Todd Frazier ($4,640) – Cheap, right-handed and a Red – three for three. Let’s see if Frazier can handle Friedrich. There is some concern as if he can’t, the Rox rook is a strikeout guy which would be negative points.

    SS: Zack Cozart ($,4041) – Cozart has the same three traits as Frazier and he hits at the top of the order so he is a threat to score runs, which is important in this scoring system (and may soon become a rule; only draft players in the top-half of the batting order).

    OF: Kirk Nieuwenhuis ($4,604) – Nieuwenhuis is seeing regular at-bats versus righties. Anthony Bass, the opposition, has looked very good, but let’s see how he does outside of PETCO.

    OF: Alejandro De Aza ($6,823) – Pale Hose number two, De Aza is another top of the order lefty facing the RH Gomez.

    OF: Drew Stubbs ($5,187) – Our third Red, if he doesn’t fan, Stubbs is almost assured of scoring some points since he can do everything. I am sure Friedrich is a great guy, but let’s just say I am not going to be his biggest fan tonight.

    UT: Adam Dunn ($7882) – And now our third South Sider, Dunn is another strikeout threat but a homer threat as well. I’ll take the chance he can make contact against Gomez.

    UT: David Ortiz ($9,784) – Maybe a mini-piling on, Big Papi is the second BoSox and our final hitter. Cobb has looked good, but the patient approach of the suddenly effective Red Sox attack could cause issues.

    Well, here is it. I actually like the way this came together. If you’re not playing, wish me luck. If you are, let the best team win.

    It’s that time again, Draft Street is sponsoring another $350 Free Roll available to Mastersball readers. By means reminder, this will be a one day contest featuring the games played on Friday, May 11. It costs nothing to enter and seven spots will cash, totaling $350. All you have to do is choose 14 players that fit under the salary cap and watch your points add up. I’ve cashed in each of the first two promotions, though admittedly last time my alter ego, Lord Z took the honors in the Baseball HQ promotion. But the point is, if I can do it how hard can it be?

    As usual, my focus is going to be on LHB-RHP and RHB-LHP hitting matchups, favoring players at home in good hitting parks. For pitching, I want a guy at home, facing a lesser team and lower quality opponent on the mound, in an effort to increase win potential. I’ll choose three starters and pair up the cheapest closer corresponding to one of the starters.

    Like always, I refuse to be suckered into the hitter versus pitcher data that everyone seems to think is so vital to success. Google it if you don’t believe me, but the sample size is simply too small for past performance to be significant, regardless of how enticing it may seem.

    This week, I am going to introduce another factor into my selections, one which may seem counter-intuitive, but as it turns out, could end up playing to my advantage twice. You see, my own unpublished research as well as everything I have seen on the Internet all conclude the same thing, and that is deploying perceived hot players while avoiding what appear to be cold players is not a viable strategy, as recent performances is not an indicator of expected performance. That is, it is much better to rely on a player’s history than make a judgment on a couple of weeks, no matter how well the player has performed. I see this as an advantage since I sense others will shun these players, and their salaries are lower. The Draft Street salaries are at least in part based on recent and/or performance to date, so there are several notable star players with depressed salaries.

    To briefly review how I put the pieces into the puzzle, I start with the pitching, not necessarily looking for the bargain basement prices, but focusing more on juicy matchups. I’ll make up salary with hitters. To that end, I go through all the positions and try to find a viable player for under $5000. Then I raise the limit to $6000. At this point, I assess where I stand in terms of available salary and go through the higher players until I have one spot left, then it is a matter of finding the best player under that number, keeping in mind the goal is not to get as close to the cap as possible, but rather to find the best player as possible. That said, if I feel I am leaving too much cap space unspent, I will look to see if I can upgrade a spot.

    That’s the process, here’s the squad:

    C: Carlos Santana ($6717) – Santana is on the road, but he is facing Clay Buchholz, who is off to a very slow start. The Tribe has a bunch of lefties in their lineup which should lead to a few run producing and scoring chances.

    Albert_Pujols

    1B: Albert Pujols ($5636) – YIKES!! I know he is off to a slow start, but Pujols is priced like a platoon player. Adding to the intrigue is the opposing mounds man is Yu Darvish. The matchup defies two of my rules of thumb as Albert is facing a righty on the road, but at least the park is favorable. Plus, it’s Albert freaking Pujols, priced below such luminaries as Matt Downs, David Cooper, Brett Pill and Matt LaPorta.  Come on.

    2B: Danny Espinosa ($4055) – Here’s putting the slump theory to the test, I am pretty sure Espinosa will not be played a whole lot, even though his salary is quite low. He’s on the road, facing James McDonald who is on a roll, but like hitters, recent streaks are not a harbinger. Espinosa is a switch-hitter and can score points with his power or speed; I just have to hope he is able to make contact as strikeouts are counted against the total.

    3B: Chase Headley ($5900) – Headley is on the road, but at least it is in Philly, facing Vance Worley, not an overwhelming matchup. I like Headley because he’s a switch-hitter and I think he is underrated, leading to a reasonable salary. He’s a better base runner than many realize which can lead to runs and steals.

    SS: Jimmy Rollins ($5249) – While Rollins is no longer a roto-stud, he still profiles very well in this format since the only negatives are strikeouts and grounding into double plays, a couple of results Rollins is usually able to avoid. He’s a switcher, facing Richard at friendly Citizen's Bank Park. I know he’s in a “slump” which renders the veteran shortstop my third scuffler with a depressed salary.

    OF: Denard Span ($5115) – This is my least confident pick as Span turned out to be the “fit him in” guy. That said, the matchup against Kyle Drabek is in his favor and since Span’s game is running, the big park is not an issue. I’ll take a walk, steal and a run any day.

    OF: Hunter Pence: ($9145) – In a vacuum, Pence is a perfect selection since he fits the vitals: RHB vs. LHP at home in a great park. But there’s another reason I chose him.

    OF: John Mayberry ($3659) - Sensing a pattern? Hang in, there’s more to come. Along with fitting the criteria, Mayberry is dirt cheap, and that’s not all.

    UT: Ty Wigginton ($5291) – If you have not figured it out by now, I am going to have a Philly cheese steak for dinner then blast the theme from Rocky through my speakers as I get ready to cheer on my favorite team (for one night only), Philadelphia. It came about by accident, but as I was constructing the team, I decided to overload on Phillies, hoping to cash in on a slugfest. I’m not sure if this is a viable strategy, seems to me it may be a win or go home sort of play, but maybe that’s what it takes to win this thing. One note on Wigginton, he is a risk since he’s hurt, but I am covered by using him at utility and not third without another third baseman at utility. This way, if I am worried that he won’t play. I can look for a hitter at any position, not just the hot corner. My best backup option is Alfonso Soriano at Milwaukee against Randy Wolf, but I am eager to deploy the overload method so I hope to find a positive report on Wiggy early enough to lock in the best lineup.

    UT: David Ortiz ($9364) – Big Papi is at home, facing Ubaldo Jimenez. This is a lot of salary to spend, but I like the matchup. Something to note is especially when it comes to East Coast and Midwestern games, pay attention to the forecast, it would he harsh to lose a player due to a rainout. Friday night is supposed to be perfect in both Boston and Philadelphia.

    GENERAL WORD OF CAUTION: DO NOT TRUST THE PITCHERS TO BE ACCURATE! Last time C.C. Sabathia was listed as a probable for the Friday games and he did not pitch. It is well worth the effort to confirm that the listed starter is indeed scheduled, not to mention you could be basing hitting selections on hurlers not actually active that evening. Keep in mind that since Draft Street needs to set and lock the prices well in advance of the games, often something slips through the cracks.

    SP: Chris Capuano ($14,531): Capuano is one of the more under-appreciated fantasy performers. His peripherals have been solid for over a year. Dodger Stadium is a nice place to pitch and Jamie Moyer and the Rockies make for a nice matchup. Capuano should be able to neutralize the lefties in the Colorado lineup, which is their strength.

    SP: Jaime Garcia ($9747): Garcia at home is always a good thing. Mike Minor and the Atlanta Braves are not easy opponents, but to be completely upfront, the main reason this was chosen was to pair up Jason Motte with Garcia as Motte’s salary is surprisingly low.

    RP: Jason Motte ($1879): Unless I am missing something, there is no reason for Motte’s price to be this dirt cheap, figure I may as well take advantage.

    P: Gavin Floyd ($13,680): Pitcher strikeouts along with wins are what pump up the points and I like Floyd’s chanced for both as he faces off against the Kansas City Royals.

    Good luck to to your squad!

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