If you’ve played fantasy baseball for any length of time, you probably can think of nothing worse than the fate of having a computer draft your team. Obviously, given enough time, monkeys can produce a sonnet of Shakespeare, but what are the chances that the dastardly “auto-pick” feature on many popular fantasy league services can produce a successful fantasy baseball team?
I’ve given this question some thought over the weekend after following two developments.
The first was the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Each year, this nation goes crazy filling out March Madness brackets. President Barack Obama filled out his bracket. So too did my wife, who per her usual strategy leaned mostly on picking favorite after favorite. Guess what? Fourteen of the Sweet 16 teams this year are seeded 1, 2, 3, or 4 … and as a result, my wife stands pretty close to first place at the moment with as good a chance of bringing home the money this year as an AIG executive.
The second was the amusing note from a fantasy baseball blogger whose life blessed him with the birth of his fourth child and cursed him with a squad of auto-picks. Afterward, in assessing his team of computer misfits, the blogger couldn’t understand why the computer wouldn’t adjust itself for a draft run on starting pitchers. What good is artificial intelligence, after all, if it can’t be put to good fantasy baseball use?
Then again, despite what the blogger thinks of the computer’s fantasy baseball chops, here’s his team: C Brian McCann, 1B Joey Votto, 2B Chase Utley, SS Troy Tulowitzki, 3B Adrian Beltre, CI Pablo Sandoval, MI Kelly Johnson, OF Josh Hamilton, OF Matt Kemp, OF Jay Bruce, OF Bobby Abreu, OF Conor Jackson, SP Yovani Gallardo, SP Adam Wainwright, SP Zach Greinke, SP Josh Johnson, RP Joakim Soria, RP Brian Wilson, RP Chris Pérez.
We think this is a killer team and frankly, we’d love to go to war with this squad. We even like the pitching.
“I was reminded of the importance of perspective,” wrote the blogger, referring to the birth of his fourth son, who we hope is named “Auto-Pick Adam,” but frankly, this statement might apply much more generally. One man’s HAL 9000 is another man’s USS Enterprise.
Seriously, is outsourcing your draft decisions to a non-sentient being such a miserable fate?
Most people assume that success in fantasy baseball comes via uncovering sleepers and busts and adjusting oneself to the decision-making of others.
We’d guess these are wildly overrated skills and that a good portion of the population will out-smart themselves given the opportunity.
Most people assume that blindly following draft averages isn’t very skillful.
Our research shows that experts tend to stick extremely closely to the averages.
Most people spend a lot of time in the preseason obsessing over rankings and whether X player should be drafted before Y player.
Of course, most leagues have a handful of managers whose attention slips somewhere between the All-Star Game and the start of the football season. Most leagues also give managers the ability to tap a deep player pool with a limitless amount of transactions. The most successful teams are often the most active ones, from day one to the end of the season.
Drafting can make a difference. But don’t count out someone who auto-picks. In the list of pitfalls to drag a fantasy team through the mud, we would definitely not include letting a computer do the heavy lifting in the preseason.