Playing fantasy games can often be the paramount in the paradox of joy and frustration.
As with playing any kind of game or contest, while skill and experience are a force, luck must similarly be your friend or all the planning and savvy in the world will not help.
I look to my AL Tout Wars team of this year as a prime example: a team where I targeted just one player, in Justin Verlander, and got him for $31, outbidding current dominating leader Larry Schechter by a buck. Which brings question No. 1: Had Larry bid $32, and I passed, how different would the standings be today (though note, I was prepared to go up to $33 to secure the services of Mr. Verlander)?
Willingham: good idea, bad result
With my team treading water in seventh place, with around 60 points, I have been largely thinking about what I would have done differently, and how I may put that into play next year.
At the core is Verlander's somewhat disappointing year of 12-9, 3.51, with a decent 166 strikeouts to 160 innings, and a horrifying 1.338 WHIP (this is a guy with a 1.189 career ratio including this season).
Still, that is not enough to destroy a team totally, though a career WHIP norm could be worth four to five points in the standings alone.
What have really killed this year's squad are injuries. Josh Willingham, Alex Cobb, J.A. Happ, Kevin Youkilis, Mitch Moreland, Mike Morse, Colby Rasmus, John Jaso, and now Howie Kendrick have all spent protracted time on the injured list.
And, in deference to that previously noted experience, I knew what I was getting with Youkilis and Morse, but none of the rest of these players seemed to have much of a history of injury.
However, maybe that is the point: At some juncture injuries are inevitable, and a player who has gone four to five years without getting hurt is due.
Of course that notion seems ridiculous as one of the barometers I rely upon most in a league that is deep like AL Tout is the ability of the guy simply to march out every day and give me innings or at-bats.
Still, you do have to gamble on some picks to make the workmanlike numbers of players like Moreland meaningful, hence the crapshoots on Morse ($17) and Youkilis ($11).
And, let's face it: For the most part, winning a league -- any league -- is a tough thing to do. For in general we are not just playing against one or two players, but more like between 10 and 20 opponents.
Then, if you factor in those injuries, or Willingham costing $23, and only producing a .222-12-43 line, the prospect of winning gets harder. Or, it seems that way.
In the end, however, I believe the way to deal with the luck that kills Youk and Verlander, while at the same time making Chris Davis a bargain, is to try and put your team in a position to take advantage of that luck.
In other words, I think I was on the correct path in making the gambles on Morse and Youkilis, irrespective of whether the choices wound up being correct.
Sadly, things fell apart with my selection of those more dependable commodities, as in Verlander and Willingham.
For in the end hitting the career average mark for Justin (18-10, 3.41, 213 strikeouts, and a 1.189 WHIP) and Josh (.258-28-93 with 81 runs) would have made a huge difference.
In the end, I think the idea is to put yourself in the position to take advantage of that elusive luck.
Sometimes it works. This year it didn't.
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Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.
Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.