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February 10, 2005

ESPN Column

What To Play? A Few Suggestions
As always, ESPN will offer a variety of league sizes, scoring methods and draft systems to the fantasy owner. Based on several years of play, I offer the following recommendations. 1) Get your friends to join with you. The game is always more fun with people you know. 2) Take part in a live draft. I guarantee that the most fun you’ll have in the league all season will be on draft day. Set aside a block of time and draft the team you really want. If you absolutely can’t draft live, choose the Multi-List option. I’ve found that this option is more likely to give you a team that fits your draft strategy.

3) In mixed leagues, join a twelve-team league. Unless you’re completely new to the game, a twelve-team mixed league offers the best challenge. Smaller leagues will have too many good players on the waiver wire, tending to compress differences between teams. A larger league places more emphasis on the draft, clever trading, and strategic free-agent acquisitions. 4) In AL-only leagues, typical owners should choose an eight-team league. In a ten-team league, the combined fantasy rosters will require more hitters than real-life everyday players. If you’re a serious owner who seeks out small edges from platoons and injury substitutions, a larger league is definitely for you. Owners who don’t want to know every fifth outfielder in the AL will be happier in an eight-team league.

Questions About Teixeira
Reader “MP? recently sent in a well-reasoned explanation of why 1B MARK TEIXEIRA might not be as productive this season as most assume. He argues that Teixeira’s monstrous July -- .300/.379/.750, 13 homers, 30 RBI – was a performance that a Bonds, Guerrero or Pujols might accomplish once in a while, but for Teixeira it’s far less likely to reoccur. Thus, a potential owner might be wise to slightly discount his 2004 performance. It’s a valid argument, but in doing some research I discovered that such months are much more common than you might think. That July, Teixeira’s OPS of 1.129 was surpassed by seven players, including Bonds, Pujols, and lesser names like Carlos Lee and Jeromy Burnitz. A whopping 21 players had an OPS of 1.000 for the month. Other months are no different.

Almost any competent Major League hitter is capable of tossing out a line of .300/.400/.650 over a 25-game stretch. David Dellucci, of all people, did so twice last season. The important issue is how these players hit the rest of the time. In Teixeira’s case, he posted an OPS under .870 in only one month last season. Yes, July was an anomaly, but he also hit very well in four of the other five months. Meanwhile, Dellucci had a sub-.500 OPS in June and September and a .783 OPS on the season. The lesson is not to let short-term performances sway your assessments of players, especially in the first few weeks of the season. You should expect an occasional tremendous or terrifying month from just about every player.

Floyd And Other Outfielders
The Rumor Mill is churning out “Cliff Floyd To Texas? pulp again. If Texas does acquire another outfielder or legitimate DH, it won’t affect other fantasy-worthy Rangers much. Right now, Texas features the twin terrors of Dellucci and GREG COLBRUNN at DH. Another bat would cost them the most playing time, not KEVIN MENCH or LAYNCE NIX (who is fantasy-worthy now but has the potential). Incidentally, Texas is discussing a long-term deal with Mench, perhaps indicating that, yes, they intend to start him practically every game.

Vote For Pedro?
Texas won the dramatic PEDRO ASTACIO sweepstakes last week. The Major League contract bestowed upon him pretty much insures his place in the rotation barring injury or utter collapse. Historically, Astacio is a better pitcher than his career 4.61 ERA would indicate; four years in Colorado will ruin anyone’s numbers. More recently, injuries have limited him to a handful of mostly dismal innings. Hardcore owners in AL-only leagues might want to keep an eye on him as an extra double secret sleeper. The rest of you may ignore him with impunity. His signing makes the last rotation spot a horse race between CHRIS YOUNG, RICARDO RODRIGUEZ, and JUAN DOMINGUEZ.

Posted by Lucas at February 10, 2005 12:59 AM