May 27, 2009

Post-Memorial Day madness

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball, Fantasy

It’s that time of the year in baseball. With teams closing in on the 50 game mark and contenders, pretenders, sleepers and the just plain bad have all pretty much been sorted out, we now have some basis on how to judge what will happen for the remainder of the season.

You can look at a team like the Blue Jays, who after starting out 27-14, have now lost seven in a row. It turns out the Jays just can’t play against their own division, something a scheduling quirk kept them from doing the first month of the season. Throw in their poor road record and it’s easy to call Toronto a pretender. But hey, this could be cyclical and the Jays will beat up on the AL East later this season, as opposed to vice-versa.

The Yankees have been ridiculously hot since Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup, but it’s not just his bat that’s propelled the Yanks, Mark Teixeira finally started to pick up some steam. If those two can keep it up and their vaunted pitching staff can keep them in games, there’s no reason to think the Yanks won’t land at least the Wild Card.

I’m not surprised Boston’s taken over the AL East, I’m just surprised they’re doing it with zero production out their No. 3 slot in the lineup. No question, Big Papi has been an epic failure this season, but surprisingly, I actually expect him to turn it around after a long overdue drop in the lineup. Then, possibly a steroids bust.

The AL Central has been mediocre, with Detroit big-money roster leading the way. The only three big things to watch in the division are for a possible sell-off by the cash-strapped Tigers, joltin’ Joe Mauer and Zach Grienke. Mauer has been absolutely crushing the ball since returning from a back injury. So much so that even on his day off Monday, he hit a pinch-hit home run.

As for the Royals’ ace, that guy is the hottest pitcher in baseball and could very well be the AL’s answer to Tim Lincecum — a young ace with a ceiling in the ozone, but trapped on a horrible team.

Out in the AL West, Seattle and Oakland have been predictably crappy, but the Angels aren’t doing much better than the bottom two. That’s what happens when you lose the biggest bat in your lineup in the off-season and start the season with your three best starters out for at least a month. I don’t see the Rangers staying on top all season; with the Angels getting healthy and Texas’ pitching over-achieving, something’s got to give.

I bet you wouldn’t believe me if I told you that not only is Raul Ibanez leading the Philadelphia Phillies in homers, he’s leading the entire major leagues — well, he’s tied with Adrian Gonzalez at 17. But between Ibanez’s his 17, Chase Utley’s 11 and Ryan Howard’s 12, there’s nobody you can pitch around in the meat of that lineup.

In the Central is where the hottest NL race is. With Milwaukee, St. Louis, Cincinnati (surprisingly) and the Cubs lurking around the top of the standings, anything is possible in regards to how that race will turn out. Sure, you can make cases against any of those team — the Brewers don’t really have the pitching, the Cards lack depth, the Cubs have just lost seven in a row and the Reds, well, they’re the Reds — but isn’t that what makes a good race, teams that are even on the field? Should turn out to be a good one, even if the champion just provide playoff fodder for the better division winners.

Finally, there are the Dodgers with the most wins in baseball, even after Manny was suspended weeks ago. In a division as bad as the NL West, I wouldn’t be surprised if they essentially clinched a playoff spot BEFORE Man-Ram returns in July. With a 7.5 lead right now, they have a lot of cushion to play with.

Needless to say, not everything we can predict will happen, but at least we have a general idea now that we have a good sample size. But most importantly, you know if your fantasy team has a chance to take gold. Were you sitting on A-Rod or Mauer? If so, you’re reaping the benefits now. But the real difference maker in the fantasy world is a mid-rounder that you might’ve lucked out on. According to Yahoo! 36% of teams that have Zach Grienke are leading their leagues. It just goes to show that you don’t win your league with your top picks, it’s those mid-rounders that make all the difference.

1 Comment

  1. Great Post, Thanks.

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