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September 25, 2013

Fantasy Baseball: One More Chance


Ok, you drafted Bryce Harper in the first round like I told you to. You probably lost like I did, especially if you had Cargo and Tulo from the Rockies, both of whom have been hurt far too much this season.

Fear not: there is still one last chance to strike fantasy baseball gold – the playoffs.

To win these types of leagues it's important to remember it's not about picking the best players, it's about picking the players who will play the most games.

For example, I won a $600 NFL pool last year simply because I had three guys from the Ravens on my team. Why did that matter? Well first of all, they were a Wild Card team, which meant they had to play an extra game just to get into the playoffs. Then, they went to the Super Bowl. The Ravens played one more game than the 49ers, their opponent in the Super Bowl, and at least two more than every other team. The more games a team plays, the more stats its players rack up.

The baseball playoffs begin with a one-game elimination for the wildcards in each league. Then there are best-of-five Division Series, best-of-seven League Championship Series, and then the seven-game World Series between the NL and AL champs.

To win, you almost surely must successfully forecast which two teams will make it. Usually, the team with the most dominant pitchers tends to make it deep into the playoffs. Let's look at the contenders.

Right now the American League team with the best record is the Boston Red Sox, but I'm not enamored with their starting pitching.

I actually believe Texas, which has been on a wicked losing streak, is a dark horse candidate to win the AL pennant. The Rangers have Yu Darvish (12-9), who I think is one of the best starters in the league. Alexi Ogando (6-4), who was injured, is back and is pitching well again.

Even though Matt Garza (9-5) has gotten roughed up of late, he's a money-pitcher and will be on his game come the playoffs, and Derek Holland (9-9) is a reliable fourth starter. The Rangers also get their best hitter, Nelson Cruz back for the playoffs.

The team to beat in my opinion, though, is Detroit. Max Scherzer (20-3) is going to win the Cy Young Award as the league's best pitcher, and he may not even be the Tigers' top starter – Justin Verlander (13-11) is as formidable as they come, though he did have an off year. Anibal Sanchez (14-7) will also get some consideration for the Cy Young Award, and Doug Fister (12-9) is a solid #4. That's baseball's best rotation.

Over in the National League, the Braves have the best record as of this writing but the Dodgers are the team to beat. Clayton Kershaw (14-9) is the league's best starter, and Zach Grineke has been nearly as good (14-3). Throw in Hyun-Jin Ryu (13-6) and Ricky Nolasco (13-10) and it gives LA four hard throwers, with an excellent bullpen behind them.

Given the emergence of Yasiel Puig and the return of Matt Kemp, the Dodgers are clearly the team to beat this year.

Not so fast, though – St. Louis may not have the starting pitching some of the other contenders do, but they sure can hit. Make St. Louis a long shot pick.

When picking your fantasy teams, remember to choose all your players from two teams, one in each league. I will load up on Detroit and LA players, but take a couple flyers pairing Texas with LA and with St. Louis and St. Louis with Detroit.

Hint: If two or more teams are tied at the end of the regular season there will be playoff games to determine which team goes on to play in the postseason.

Those games are considered regular season games, and that means the stats count for Fantasy purposes. Pick up as many of the players as you can off the waiver wire if you're locked in a close race.

"Skippy Brown" recently won the Draft King Spring Fling contest, besting over 1000 other professional fantasy baseball players. For comments, tips, advice, rants, or just to annoy him you can now contact the Skipper via email: skippybrown@yahoo.com

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