The little things

At this point in the season, many of you are hunkered down, determined to identify your path to those three extra points that might mean the difference between cashing in and walking away an also-ran. I’m assuming you have read your fair share of strategy pieces and projections about who may be due for a turnaround in the coming months, who stands to lose playing time, and who may be shut down early. So, let’s take a break from that and lightheartedly commiserate—or celebrate, as the cased may be—around some of the idiosyncrasies unique to fantasy baseball.

Early in the season, the following occurrences are things you laugh off or don’t think much of but, down the stretch, even mundane strokes of luck can be excruciating or exhilarating, depending what side of the outcome you’re on and your desired result. Obviously, we hate seeing a five-RBI game on our bench or bullpens blowing our starters’ should-be wins. But, we’re geeks here, right? So, I’m going to get a little more esoteric with these.

The closer blown-save-win

How many times have you seen it, a closer comes in with a one- or two-run-lead, gives it up, but then benefits from his team scoring in the following inning, only to accrue a win. There are so many ways this can be either welcomed or cursed. Early in the season, I think these outcomes are quite welcome, as I enjoy seeing players accrue production in categories in which that aren’t expected to in the early going. Plus, a one-inning, one ER outing that nets you a win is a pretty efficient way to accrue one. However, later in the season your production needs often become more specialized. You expect players to know their roles and give you the production you need from them. Sometimes you’re in no-man’s land in Ws, but in a heated saves race, or vice versa. The blown-save-win can steal your heart or crush your soul.

On a related note, have you ever found yourself cursing one of your speedier players for getting an extra base hit, and therefore compromising their likelihood of stealing a base? No, Coco Crisp, how are you going to help me get the three steals I need today if that ball you just hit soars over the outfield fence?

The surprise DNP

I’ve been plagued all year by a run of bad luck surrounding a very specific kind of DNP, and frankly it’s gone beyond amusing and is rapidly becoming maddening. Here’s what happens—please tell me that some of you daily move leaguers have had this happen to you too. So, you think you’re being shrewd, you’ve read all the sound advice on the Hardball Times about maximizing your at bats and turning over your roster and you’ve decided to drop a replaceable middle reliever to add an extra bat for Thursday’s shortened game slate when you have empty roster spots. Great plan, right? You’re totally willing to see that player go 0-4 with zeroes across because, hey, you all picks can’t be winners.

But, what actually happens?

That player is given the day off! I can’t even begin to tell you how many times this has happened to me this season in my highest stakes league. It doesn’t seem to matter who I pick up—old players, young players, lefties scheduled to face righties, day games, night games—no matter who I pick up, he’s getting an off day!

Here’s the flip side peeve to this dynamic. Sometimes you’re responsible enough to actually check line-ups around the time games are beginning, and some of those times you find that one of your starters is getting the day off. Wonderful. You replace him with your bench player. The system works… But then, the inserted bench player goes 0-4, and the resting regular comes in to make a pinch hit appearance and drive in a pair with a key late inning double. This is positive behavior getting negatively reinforced and it makes me prone to unleashing long strings of impressively creative profanities.

The golden error

You get home after a long day of work, grab yourself some dinner, and sit down in front of the TV or computer to catch up what’s going on in the world of Major League Baseball. Aha, Gio Gonzalez is on the hill in Oakland—you know that because your closest rival owns him—and your eyes widen with satisfaction as you seen the A’s down 6-0 in the third inning. “I’m gonna gain some ground,” you start to chant silently—but jubilantly—as you navigate yourself intently toward the box score giddy with expectation. But, when you reach into the stocking, you retrieve a giant lump of coal! Five of those six runs came unearned in the first. Damn the arcane run and unearned designation!

Now, you’ve taken to composing a several page manifesto about the superiority of advanced pitching stats that you’re planning to post on the league message board. Bonus points for added scoring rule absurdity if the golden error that enabled all those runs to be unearned was charged to the pitcher himself.

Rain outs

Doubleheaders are a pain, and while they offer the opportunity for daily leaguers to pick up a player who may get eight to ten ABs in a single day, the promise of the doubleheader is often illusionary, like most get-rich-quick schemes. First of all, if you’ve suffered a rain out, the double header is a make-up game for your player, not an extra one.

Second of all, raise your hand if you’ve had this happen. You have a quality starting player ready to play, but a potential replacement on your bench is scheduled for a doubleheader. So, you defer to the higher volume of opportunity and play the guy with two games available to him, only to see him play only one of the two and not produce. Rainouts create a dynamic where fantasy managers often get punished for making the correct decision, and are therefore a source of frustration for me.

What are some of the situational anomalies and statistical quirks that make up your fantasy baseball pet peeves?

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  1. JBL said...

    I’ve been affected many times this year by the Lack Of Run Support bug.  At least 3 separate pitchers have pitched 9 shutout innings for me (Jered Weaver being the last) and not gotten a win.  What compounds this problem is my league gives 10 points for a win, 10 for a shutout and 5 for a complete game.  So because the Angels couldn’t get a single bloop hit with one of their many runners in scoring position I lost 25 points.

    What compounded that annoyance last week was I had Phil Hughes on the bench (properly, given his atrocious recent history and my starts cap for the week) and he pitched a rain-shortened shutout 6 innings against the White Sox.  That’s right, he got credit for a CG, SO, and W on my bench.  Joy.

  2. Derek Ambrosino said...


    As you may have guessed, I did not choose Gio by accident when I threw his name in this piece. I own Gio, and not only did he benefit from a mulligan in the rain out, but he’s also been granted impunity from a few blow-up innings by unearned runs. He has 10 unearned runs this year, which is on the high side for a pitcher of his overall caliber. Nick Blackburn has 16, to go along with his mid 4s ERA; I believe that’s the most in the league.


    Just to play devils advocate, the Angels opponent’s inability to get a single bloop hit with a RISP is what enabled Weaver not to get saddled with a tough luck loss. I totally get what you’re saying, but people often focus on what “should” have happened when they lose, but don’t really think about alternative likely scenarios when they win.

    …This happens with my softball team all the time. After losing by 1 run, at the bar guys will alway pipe up about how we should have won that game. However, after a 1 run win, people don’t usually bring up how we could have just as easily lost. I try to remind them, that plenty of weeks at some other bar there are teams strolling in dejected, having been swept by us in a doubleheader, who begin to rant about how they should have won.

  3. JBL said...

    Derek – regarding Weaver: point taken, normally, but in last week’s game he was so dominant the Mariners only got ONE batter into scoring position in nine innings (the 8th).  So really, they only had one opportunity to get a bloop hit and a run.  The Angels, on the other hand, had men reach second in 6 separate innings (including 2 innings with less than 2 out) and men reach third in 2 separate innings.  The blown opportunities in this case were what annoyed me.

  4. Drew said...

    Early on we had a guy in our league get a -30 point start from Gio Gonzalez erased due to a rain out. He went on to pitch ok in the makeup game, the guy won his matchup for the week, and the league hasn’t been the same since.

  5. Derek Ambrosino said...

    I hear ya, JBL.

    I addressed my point to your example, but it was really more of a general musing. Hopefully Jered still pulls down 18 – 20 wins, so he posts a win total generally befitting his complete dominance.

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