In Praise Of Unsexy Balanceby Eriq Gardner
March 17, 2009
Fantasy gamers have a healthy appreciation for eye-popping statistical achievements like 40 HR or 30 SB, tempted by the allure of a batter whose contributions at the plate promise single category nirvana.
These statistical achievements, however, come at a cost.
A batter like Adam Dunn takes his fantasy team closer to the top of the league's HR pack. A ballplayer like Ichiro Suzuki can use his swift feet to march his fantasy team up the steals race. Both of these players, and many others, have statistical downsides to their accomplishments. With Dunn, it's poor average. Any team that rosters Dunn will need several bonafide average studs to balance his yearly flirtation with the Mendoza Line. As for Ichiro, any team that rosters him will need to have high-powered sluggers to make up for the outfielder's woeful HR and RBI totals.
Maybe Dunn and Ichiro are a fantasy baseball love-match made in heaven. That's one way to look at it, and certainly, a great deal of teams this summer will try rostering both as teammates.
That strategy opens up some risk, however. A team comprised of single-dimension superstars will face an upward hill toward success should any of his players suffer injury, disappointment, or any other misfortunes.
Instead, some may wish to pay more attention to the ramifications of negative value, and strive towards a balanced roster that's a lot less sexy in its embrace of the average.
In a 12-team league, an average player might be expected to produce something along the order of 20 HR, 77 RBI, 81 R, 12 SB, and a .285 AVG.
A team comprised of players who each come close to these totals will typically go a long way towards wrapping up a fantasy title, become more resistant to injuries and disappointments, and allow teams to make changes as needed on the fly.
Here's our All Star Team of Statistical Balance heading into the 2009 season:
C: Russell Martin
1B: Joey Votto
2B: Brandon Phillips
SS: Jimmy Rollins
3B: Adrian Beltre
OF: Hunter Pence
OF: Torii Hunter
OF: Jay Bruce
Eriq Gardner is a New York-based writer and founder of Fantasy Ball Junkie, a website for advanced fantasy baseball enthusiasts.
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