Total baseball geekout:

A few of you know that I participate in fantasy sports leagues, particularly baseball ones. This season, in fact, I am in three different fantasy baseball leagues. I also partake in the fantasy football, however I know much, much less about football than I know about baseball. In comparing my performances in my baseball leagues this season to that of my football leagues this year, I’ve fared much better in the football leagues than I am in the baseball ones. In fact, this is probably my worst year of fantasy baseball.

Why is this? Who knows. Part of it certainly involves bad luck. I mean, you know the risks when you draft Mark Prior. But really, the crux of fantasy sports is really trying to predict how a player will do based on their performance the previous year. The rest is a combination of stabbing in the dark on who will improve, who might impress as a rookie and then the inevitable realization that at least three of your guys ain’t gonna put out like they did last year.

So in theory, fantasy leagues are won and lost on the waiver wire (most of the time). When I first read about Tim Hudson being called up from the minors, I added him to my then struggling team and rode him to the top of the standings that year. He became the foundation just like that. His performance didn’t singlehandedly win me the league, but it played a big part.

So in summary, I suppose: fantasy sports: 85% luck, 10% knowledge, 5% skill.

All that said, I recently completed season one of my MVP Baseball video game, losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Minnesota Twins. Typically I’d play another season, updating all the rosters to match the real MLB rosters, right up to the minute. But I bagged that idea and I’m going a different route this time. For my second season, I held a fantasy draft of sorts. I basically put all the players into the free agent pool and drafted my own team, while the computer auto-drafted the other 29 teams.

I did this to change things up a bit – it opens up the door for all kinds of trading and waiver wire pickups, which means I don’t have to be a slave to the daily MLB transaction wire and match the video game rosters with the real ones. That’s nice. I also did it because, unlike the real MLB, the door is now open for a “small-market” team to compete. Plus it’s neat to see where players end up, such as Derek Jeter playing for the Milwaukee Brewers. See? The playing field is even. All teams have the same budget. In support of the small market (and because they play in a great stadium), I’ve elected to be the Pittsburgh Pirates. The team:

C: Brian Schneider
1B: Albert Pujols
2B: Brian Roberts
SS: Jose Reyes
3B: Chipper Jones
OF: Scott Podsednik
OF: Trot Nixon
OF: Grady Sizemore

Starting Pitchers:
P: Mark Prior (injured after one pitch on opening day. Seriously)
P: Kerry Wood
P: Jon Garland
P: Cliff Lee
P: Dan Haren

P: Billy Wagner
P: Mike Gonzalez
P: Lance Carter
P: Mike Stanton
P: Chad Bradford
P: Ben Weber

C: Vance Wilson
OF: Jayson Werth
OF: Jason Lane
2B: Jorge Cantu
3B: Joe Crede

The computer did my minor league drafting, so complete blame goes to EA Sports and my motherboard for drafting Jeff Cirillo for my AAA team. Evil.